<--Window at Washington National Cathedral depicting James and the Council of Jerusalem
"No Further Burden than these Essentials"
I sometimes wonder whether we, knowingly or unknowingly, set a bar for others to clear before they can join our fellowship (and that fellowship can be a formal thing such as church membership, or other, less formalized, associations within our faith community). Do they need to look like we do? Have families that resemble ours? Speak in the manner that we speak? Dress in the style that we dress?
There is an implicit minimum, now as then, wrapped in that word essentials. But when James speaks of essentials, he refers only to things that are so far beyond the pale as to utterly preclude a faithful gathering. Every culture has certain taboos which have to be respected if one is to join them at a common meal. When we as Christians join at the Lord's Table, regardless of our individual backgrounds, all that we (should) ask is that those who join with us there share in the one purpose, "the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ."
May we extend that invitation daily in our lives, and never discourage anyone, by word or action, from joining us at the table which is not ours, but His alone. Amen.