Of today’s readings, the one that most captures my imagination is the first, probably the oldest, book in the New Testament. Written just a little more than 20 years after Jesus’ death and Resurrection, it is a letter really (not a book) that Paul wrote to a community of early Christians.
When I wonder how this letter was passed on to us today, I am reminded of the small collection of communications from loved ones that I hold very dear.
· There is a letter from my dad in the top drawer of my bureau dresser that he wrote to me just after I left for college in 1972. In it, he talks about missing me but finding my presence all around the house in the artwork and artifacts I made, and in my left-behind cat, Merlin. (Huge surprise that they became close!) Dad passed away just a few years later, so this treasure is one of few hand-written correspondences between us.
· I still have one of the first love notes my husband wrote to me. It is a delight to rediscover and reread it now and then, though it is no longer a whole sheet of paper from all of my folding and unfolding it, but it continues to give fresh perspective on the meaning of our relationship on every reading.
· When my mother passed away, for some reason I ended up with my grandmother’s “secretary,” a lovely, parquet-inlaid, hinged wooden box that opens to reveal a velvet-lined writing surface, inkwell, pen storage and compartment for paper, envelopes and correspondence. To my surprise, in addition to mom’s college grades, there is dad’s handwritten explanation of the speed of light (dad was an engineer) and sweet little notes my children had sent to her.
Here and there in my belongings are scraps of my son’s first poetry and sweet notes to “mommy” from my girls. I have these things — and we have this letter from Paul — to strengthen the meaning and bonds of love and relationship over time.
Let me never be seen as an anti-techno-age fuddy duddy! But please, put to paper your deepest and sweetest beliefs, and share them with those whom you love. The computer files I created since all of the above were written are no longer readable because programs and storage methods have changed. But we have the love of Christ through Paul, and I have the same through my dad, and mom, husband and children because of these marvelous scraps saved over time.
1 THESSALONIANS 1:1-5, 8B-10 ● PSALM 149:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6A AND 9B ● MATTHEW 23:13-22