Some of the treasures of history are letters that have been written from man and women on distant battle fields of the Civil War, and the First and Second World Wars. We can also include letters from people separated from family and friends in distant lands for a variety of reasons. These give insight into the conditions of the times, but more importantly into the life and feelings of the person writing. When one takes time to put words on paper they are conveying something of themselves to the recipient. It is this personal bond with others, and ultimately with our God, that gives meaning to being human. I decry the loss of this skill (and also the ability to write in cursive, but that’s another issue!). I can’t really imagine our text messages being archived for a hundred years! God, Himself, came among us in His Son, and He has told us of his desire to dwell among us for eternity. All that we do now that deepens our personal bond with one another is a small taste of what we are intended to share eternally. Letters are just a small piece of that.
Personal letter writing is falling out of favor in our electronic era. Text messages and 140 character Tweets have taken their place, but it is not the same thing. I find it a sad loss because there is so little of one’s self shared in these quick bits of electronic information – as well as the loss of grammar, punctuation, etc. Thirteen of the book of our New Testament are letters from a deeply caring and loving man, Paul, to people with whom he shared a personal relationship. Much of his own soul is in those letters, poured out for the good of those to whom he wrote. Ten of those letters begin with the greeting, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Unfortunately, that would take up 50 of the 140 characters in a Tweet!) But look at the love and the desire for their good he conveys to them from the start. Maybe we should consider taking pen in hand to write a thoughtful letter to ones we care about. And there is nothing wrong with beginning with Paul’s greeting as our own.