In this age of emails and text messages, there’s still something special about receiving a handwritten letter. The very fact that someone has taken time to write and post it in and of itself says something, and the hand crafted words provide a level of personal contact, of intimacy, that characters on a screen can rarely provide. Such a letter is unique, between you and the sender alone. It is a shame that they are a dying breed, although in saying that I must confess my hypocrisy in that I rarely write myself.
I have in my bedside table a number of letters which I have kept; letters from Kate, from my parents, special birthday cards, friends and the like. I keep them as they are special to me because they speak of the relationship I have with these people who are important to me. With letters being such an intimate form of communication, it is no surprise that much of the New Testament is made of letters from the early church leaders to congregations and individuals – at its heart the church is simply a web of relationships between people and between them and their God. I have even heard The Bible described as a love letter from God.
Of course the most obvious examples of letters from God are the seven letters in Revelation written to the church by Jesus through the Apostle John; letters that have intrigued and challenged the church since they were written. I have been reading a book recently inspired by them, ‘Letters to a Future Church: Words of Encouragement and Prophetic Appeals’ The editor of the book invited a number of Christian leaders to prayerfully write a letter to the Church today in the hope that through them they might discern what the Spirit might be saying to the Church today. A challenging task for the writers, to see beyond their pet loves and gripes about the Church to hear what God might be saying today.
I wonder what God might write in a letter to our church today? I recently asked our leadership team to prayerfully write such a letter and to pass them on to me without talking about their content with each other. My hope is that although they will inevitably reflect their human authors, their personalities and interests, that as I read them alongside each clear patterns might emerge as the Spirit speaks. I am a firm believer that all believers have access to God through the Spirit, and so I extend this challenge to you too.
Church newsletter article for 07.10.12