Treasured Letters

Weekly Reflection, Friday, September 9

By: David May, Rector

The Apostle Paul’s letters follow a clear format. In Paul’s day there were no envelopes nor address, so each letter began by saying, ‘this is Paul writing to all the good people in Rome.’ Followed with a thanksgiving to God for the folks to whom he was writing. The body of the letter sorted through questions of faith and life that he knew a congregation was working on. He’d conclude by sending greetings from folks where he was (‘we all send you our love and prayers!’) to the congregation he was writing (‘be sure to give Chloe a hug from me!’). Congregations treasured those letters, held onto them, read them over and over again. We still do.

Letter writing is a lost art. Which is a shame because a real live letter written in a real live person’s handwriting has a special power. It’s as if that person is right there with you and you can keep something of that person. I’ve kept some letters from over the years, from my mother, my sons, a parishioner right after I was ordained urging me to hang in there, and a whole bunch from my wife Emmy. One I treasure is from over thirty years ago from someone I never met along with a picture of her grandson who was born with profound physical and mental disabilities. The letter includes words I know by heart: ‘please pray for him. He struggles so hard, and he is the light of my life.’

From time to time, I’ll take one out and re-read it. I realize that most of the letters I’ve kept came from pivotal moments in my life. When I re-read them, they guide me when I need guiding, encourage me when I need encouraging, or bless me when I stand in need of blessing.

The Vestry has written a letter to the people of St. Mary’s. Senior Warden, Missy Roberts, alongside Junior Warden, Wayne Dementi, will read it to you this Sunday morning. I am not going to steal their thunder, but it is not a letter asking for anything. It is a letter that comes at an important time in the life of our parish family. Like everyone else, we have been through such a hard few years. And hard for lots of reasons. And like everyone else, we are beginning to live our lives more fully again. God is putting us back together while the Spirit does her work to show us who we are and who we may be.

The Vestry’s beautiful letter is coming to you at the right moment with the right words full of the great hearts and spirits of the members of the Vestry. It may even be one you’ll end up keeping and taking out from time to time for guidance, encouragement, or blessing.