Today’s scripture: Romans 15:14-21 (NRSV)
I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ. Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.”
When I was a little girl, there were sooooo many things to plan for Christmas! My brothers and I would have a whole list of things to do.
– Help to decorate. Make sure that we each put up the ornaments that said our name on them.
– Make our Christmas lists. Make sure to look through toy catalogs thoroughly.
– Save up our money to buy Christmas gifts for others. This was especially key when the school had a little store to buy gifts from.
– Pull out the cookie cutters for when we were ready to decorate cookies. Bells? check. Stars? check. Angel? check.
– Continue to open our days on the Advent calendar. I am the oldest so I open first…just sayin.
– Only listen to Christmas music in December.
– Stack up the Christmas movies so we have easy access to them to watch all through December.
– Prepare to write letters to Santa. One letter to tell him what we want. One letter to leave for him with the cookies and milk. (PS. It doesn’t hurt to include Rudolph in your letter writing plans).
The letter writing piece was key. Santa had to get a feel of who you are and what you wanted. Plus then Santa had to know what was going on in your house on Christmas Eve. How could you possibly let that magical man know? A letter was the perfect solution! Even years and years later when I didn’t return to my parents house for Christmas Eve, my brothers wrote a letter explaining way (yeah, they think they are funny).
Letters convey some things we can’t convey in any other way.
There is something about the intentionality of putting pen to paper to speak to someone that makes a difference. Emails you can spout out but letters take a moment in time to process and think through and then write out. I love letters and cards. About once a month I wander into Hallmark to pick out 5ish cards. These are cards that I will send out to people throughout the month. The people who work at Hallmark have figured out which brand of card and the style of humor I like. When I now go in, it is not uncommon for someone to say, “oh hey, Court….check out these new ones!” I love that I can pick out a card that someone will relate to and will find in their mailbox. It gives me great joy to receive mail and I hope it gives great joy to someone to be send mail. The cards and letters are acts of love to convey to another.
In Paul’s day, letters were just about the only form of communicating to these churches. He could either visit or write letters. Since he couldn’t always get to the churches and they needed his words of direction now, we get to benefit by seeing the letters that he sent ahead. Letters could convey his feelings, his preaching, his concerns and joys. They were intentional and full of guidance. They could talk about the state of the world and how Jesus influences that state. The letters are personal and full of context. They are an act of love to the communities. They convey our anticipation for something to change and for Jesus to show up. What if we wrote down our waiting during Advent in a letter? What if we became intentional about communicating with people we love…letter form would be fun.
I have also been inspired about letters through this Ted talk. If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes and watch it. Then write a letter this season. Tell someone about the state of your house (you don’t have to ask for gifts like you would for Santa). Tell someone about your expectation this season. Tell them about your acts of writing boldly and convey to them how Jesus has changed your life and how he will on Christmas morning.
Ok…here is the talk…enjoy…