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Pastor's Corner: Follow example of Paul's letters

 

January 31, 2020



Most of the time, I do not check my mail more than once a week because, it is just cluttered with boring bills and junk mail. But nothing matches my excitement when I get a personal letter from a friend or family member or congregant! I think letter writing and sending is becoming a lost art, but think for a moment of all the occasions for which we send cards and letters — the holidays, thank yous, birthdays, anniversaries, new births, deaths, encouragement, transitions, such as graduations and retirements. In those moments of joy and sorrow and change, it is so meaningful to know that someone has taken the time to think of you and reach out to you.

Paul’s letters to his early Christian communities were no different. Whether he was writing to the people in Philippi, or Corinth, or Rome, he wrote to provide encouragement and instruction to the new followers of Christ, reminding them that they were not alone in this journey. Paul is with them, and so is God.

Paul has a very formulaic greeting to all his letters. First, he identifies who he is and whose he is. He describes to whom he is writing, clearly wrapping their identity in their call in Christ. He then greets them with “grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Finally, he gives thanks to God for them every time he thinks of them because of God’s grace which has been given to them.

It is only then that Paul dives deeper into correcting their beliefs and their practice of the Christian faith. There is no doubt in Paul’s letter that he is in deep relationship with them and that they are loved and claimed by Christ. Even though Paul was writing to a church that existed in a very different time, location, and culture, the church in our day, just like the early churches, has been called by God. We, like them, have been extravagantly equipped for faithful living. We, too, live in the midst of a culture that makes faithfulness a moral and intellectual challenge. We, too, ought to be committed to the truth and life-shaping power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which puts our lives in the world into a context that helps faithful living make sense. And we, like them, routinely fall short of the expectations of the Gospel and need to be called to greater faithful living. We should heed the example of Paul and encourage each other as the family of God, especially when life gets hard and even unbearable.

Friends, this week, I encourage you to give a positive message to someone. Call an old friend. Send a text or an email telling someone how much you appreciate them. Mail a thank-you note. Leave a sticky note with a positive quote on a co-worker’s desk. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or fancy — just a simple note of appreciate and word of encouragement. Be creative! Be a light!

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Maggie Lewis

First Presbyterian Church, Havre

Chinook Presbyterian Church

 

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