“What kind of book is that?” she asked.
I looked up from my seat by the window in the Delta SkyClub to see the server who had cleared my plates and napkins and drink glasses for the last two hours.
“It’s my prayer book and Bible,” I replied. We spoke then of the ministry and her cousin who is a Methodist pastor.
Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you. (James 5:1-6)
On this Friday I am very mindful of the fact that I live in luxury.
I fly from place to place on business, I wear a new suit and sit in First Class and get my shoes shined regularly in the airport, I enjoy free drinks and excellent service in the SkyClub, I can afford an $80 leather-bound Book of Common Prayer and Bible combination, and my wife and I own two houses, one more than we need.
I am looking forward to a weekend in Chicago with our best friends at the Hard Rock Hotel, and to the Lyric Opera concert tomorrow night at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, and to dinner downtown with two other friends, and to a safe and comfortable drive home.
On this Friday I am also mindful of the Lord Jesus, who died for my sins and the sins of the whole world.
And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. (Mark 15:27-32)
On this Friday the psalmist’s words ring false in my ear, because I am not in duress.
I prayed with my whole heart, as one would for a friend or a brother; *
I behaved like one who mourns for his mother, bowed down and grieving.
But when I stumbled, they were glad and gathered together; they gathered against me; *
strangers whom I did not know tore me to pieces and would not stop.
They put me to the test and mocked me; *
they gnashed at me with their teeth. (Psalm 35:14-16)
Instead, I enjoy ease and comfort and shined shoes.