On Being Well Read
Monday, March 5, 2018 at 5:39PM
Ralph West
My dear theologians,

 

I need to write a thank you letter this week. Email would be easier, but I don’t think nearly as personal.

 

Letter writing is a lost art; and it’s a real shame. Email, with its convenience and speed, has become the communiqué du jour (well, except for our Millennials who prefer texting). But the email phenomenon will never duplicate the gritty character of good ‘ol written letters.

 

Without fanfare, history was recorded through written letters. It was in a letter to Queen Isabella that Christopher Columbus first broke the news of the New World. It was in a letter to his colleagues that Galileo first revealed the secrets of his telescope. It was in a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt that pacifist Albert Einstein explained how to build, and why we needed, the atomic bomb.

 

Letters often tell us more about the writer than they do the subject. Leonardo de Vinci, perhaps the world’s greatest artist, wrote to the Duke of Milan applying for his dream job – that of a soldier. William Randolph Hearst, the man who preached, “Never let the facts interfere with a good story,” wrote his father with a strategy to make the San Francisco Examiner more profitable: “Let’s hire naïve young men from the East who still believe there’s fortune to be found in the West.”

 

WWII introduced V[ictory]-mail: a short one-page form that was fed into a photocopier, reduced to film and carried to military bases around the world. The letters were then reproduced and delivered to lonely G.I.s. Unfortunately, the technology bogged down as heavy lipstick imprints on the V-mails kept jamming the photocopiers.

 

Flashback nearly twenty wide centuries. Letters, especially from the apostle Paul, the church’s chief correspondent, were the most talked about documents of their day. They were the broadcasting system of the early church. Each new delivery was read and reread by those who were eager to know more of their newfound faith. His letters became the church’s sermon notes and Sunday School curriculum all rolled into one.

 

So closely was letter writing associated with the church, that Paul used this metaphor when he referred to the church in Corinth as his personal “letter of endorsement.” Their changed lives validated his ministry. They were an example of what God’s Word can do in a person’s life.

 

And who is the church? Good answer, “We are.” Every apprentice’s life becomes a letter to the world, “known and read by all…a letter of Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.” (Let me help you: NT, middle)

 

As you remember, you read God’s Word, every once in a while you study God’s Word, but every day you are a letter from God being read by a watching world.

 

Doesn’t happen with email. Be well read.

 

In Your Debt,

 

R                           A                          L                      P                    H

Article originally appeared on Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church | To Know Christ and Make Christ Known | (http://gmpc.org/).
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