Thursday, March 1, 2012
The Preacher’s Corner
Imagine St. Paul’s epistles as a text...
Nobody could get more writing on a penny postcard than my Auntie Fran. She would fill the regular message area, then she would write around the margins of the card, intruding into the area reserved for the address. Then she would turn the card over and write on the picture side, usually comments on what she and Uncle Bill had seen — they traveled the world in their 70+ years of marriage. You simply cannot perform such feats with emails, texts, and tweets.
I get great pleasure from going through old family letters. I love to analyze the old handwriting and examine the stamps. Postcards are particularly interesting. I enjoy it all except for the old telegrams — they always brought bad news. Whoever saved all these writings through the years did a great thing for me.
All of this was going through my mind as I prepared last Sunday’s sermon, for I wonder if the apostle Paul had any idea that his epistles would be collected, saved, and read in public assemblies 2,000 years after they were composed.
I am sorry that people do not write letters any-more, but we live in a world where interests and attention are more diffuse. My grandmother, who had five siblings and three children who lived far away, would sit at a small desk in her bedroom and write letters every night. She used an old fashioned fountain pen that she would refill from a bottle of Schaeffer’s ink that sat in a holder at the back of the desk. One night I raced into her room with some bit of news and upset the ink, staining her new wallpaper. The paperhanger had to be called back to make repairs. I am sure I was in a great deal of trouble!
Grandmother would wait near the mailbox for the letters she expected the postman to bring. I hope letter carriers realize how eagerly some people await their deliveries. I am afraid my postman brings me mostly bills.
That little desk sits in my house now, but no letters get written there. Like everybody else, I peck away at a computer. Think what Paul could have done with a computer! Or Jesus with Facebook and Twitter. It is hard to realize now, but the New Testament was not gathered all together for a couple hundred years after all the books were written. Now, Paul could just click a mouse and all his thoughts would be transmitted to each of the churches. This ability, however, begs the question of whether something is added by the reflection that happens when one holds a pen instead of sitting at a keyboard.
This column, by the way, is written on a computer and emailed to The South Reporter. They prefer it that way, for if it was handwritten, Kris Jones would have to type it. But I still enjoy reading all the old letters my great-grandmothers wrote to my grandparents. They died before I was born.
Nobody in future generations is going to do that with my emails, and I doubt St. Paul’s epistle to the Philippians would sound half as important had it come to Philippi as a text message!
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