Showing Partiality

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 25 (Morning)
Psalm 9, 15 (Evening)
2 Chron. 6:32-7:7
James 2:1-13
Mark 14:53-65


Showing Partiality

A 2016 Pew Research Center poll found that 80% of Episcopalians have a total family income of $50,000 or more a year. By this measure, the Episcopal Church is the wealthiest Christian denomination in the country. This also means the Episcopal Church has the fewest poor members of any Christian denomination in the country.

With this in mind, today’s reading from the Epistle of James might make some of us pretty nervous. James writes to early Christians about how they shun members or “show partiality” based on wealth. A person who comes to church in gold rings and fine clothes is given a seat, while a person who enters in dirty clothes is made to stand. James warns “if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors,” putting us in the same category as murderers.

There are several historical reasons why the Episcopal Church has – on average – wealthier members than others. But James’ epistle invites us to examine ways we can do better – as parishes and as individuals. Are our ministries accessible to people of different incomes and educational experiences? Do we make an effort to befriend new parishioners of different economic backgrounds than ourselves?

How else can we be inclusive?

Written by Adam Call Roberts

Adam is a layperson who has been a member of the Episcopal Church since 2010. He works as a journalist for a local ABC television affiliate.

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