letters.

13 Jan
One of the classes I’m taking this January is a two week course, ending tomorrow afternoon, called Genesis to Revelation.  The course is as it says – each afternoon for three hours, we go through the Bible.  The whole thing.  Complete canon.  Genesis to Revelation.
It’s a great course, the ultimate goal being to make your own study Bible.  The professor lectures, sings and screams in animated fashion as we make our way through the Biblical narrative and it’s our job as students to mark the heck out of our Bibles.  Make notes.  Underline.  Highlight.  Make connections.
That’s been the best part of the class for me – the connections.  The connections between people, between places, between me and the Biblical story.  Think about it.  Where does John the Baptist do his ministry?  At the Jordan, where we last saw the prophet Elijah.  Jesus raises a widow’s son at Nain, just as Elijah and Elisha did years before.  King David had ran across the Mount of Olives, away from Jerusalem, running from his enemies.  Hundreds of years later, we read that Jesus – a different kind of king – crosses the Mount of Olives en route to Jerusalem to confront his enemies and ultimate death.  
The class is only two weeks long and the Bible has 66 books contained between its covers.  We move fast.  Today we made our way through modern-day Turkey, Greece, back to Jerusalem and finally to Rome with Acts and Paul’s letters.  Paul wrote a lot of letters.  Letters to churches and letters to specific people.  Letter of joy, of Christ’s love, and letters in the midst of conflict.  Letters filled with emotion. [For I wrote out of much distress, and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love I have for you.  2 Corinthians 2:4]  Letters were how Paul connected with those he could not immediately see.
There is something to be said about a letter.  In our time when communication is so immediate, letters are a lost art.  In Paul’s time, it was all he had to communicate with those distant churches and friends.  Letters are lasting.  They’re not lost in cell phone waves or cyber space.  We still read Paul’s letters nearly two thousand years later and in his words we feel the connection he had to other Christians and we feel our connection to Christ’s love.  
Letters remain.  I received a handwritten letter from my dad while at college the Friday that preceded the Sunday of his death.  He was never one for computers or email but he was so wonderful at writing letters in his perfect printing.  For the letters to include $20 and conclude with “Buy your friends pizza” was pretty standard.  That letter was the last communication I had with him, and I’m glad I have those words in print, to reread and to remember.
I have a terrible time getting rid of any letter I receive.  Knowing the time, the thought, and the energy that went into its writing, its creation and the motive behind its sending, I hold onto it.  It comes to the point where they fill a shoebox here, a wire basket there.  But I can’t throw them out.

Letters connect us.  I wrote two letters tonight.  [You’ll see my modern church history study guide hiding underneath the letters.  Guess where my priority was … um, not with defining fundamentalism and reform Judaism.  The test isn’t until Tuesday; I have time.]  One long overdue letter is to my Dawson penpal, C.  Another I wrote to someone I’ve never met.  I follow this blog.  Gussy.  She’s younger than I but a complete inspiration in her sewing creativity and the way she has built her business.  She’s lives in Minneapolis and I secretly want to meet her for coffee.  I think we would be the best of friends.  But for now, she invited blog readers to write to her.  So I did.  A connection.  
Letters connect us.
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