This entry can be classified as personal privilege, one of those times when a writer sets aside conventions and the normal odor of things in order to add the fresh air of personal greetings to what would otherwise seem to be generic thoughts.
This blog is not about any subject. If there was a file folder holding the following thoughts, it might be labeled, “Every time I think of you, I thank my God.” Philippians 1:3-4. (I label my files differently than most folks.) My intent is simple: To let you know that I am thankful for your readership.
When I started this series of blogs a few years back, I didn’t know who might read its entries. So I wrote generically. Because of the wonders of modern web-hosting, though, I realized that I could find the names of those who have chosen to subscribe. That’s when I changed my focus. It turns out that many of you and I know each other. Have even interacted for years. Some more recently, others back to high school days.
Why tell you this? Because over these blog years I have tried to keep you in mind as I wrote. Not just to narrate some of my life story or burden you with my insights. Instead, the simplest purpose: To provide you with useful words. Expressions and ideas that you could take off my word-shelf, and make useful congregational tools out of them. (Pastors Paul and Paul, and Karen: You come to mind immediately!)
Inside that intent is the additional thought that you and I might still be joined at the metaphorical hip, that we are still part of the multitude of witnesses, or maybe the cloud? That however long ago we first met, worked together, plotted world domination or were just silly in sync—we still know each other. And with that possibility has come the continuing responsibility and joy of crafting these entries for your benefit.
Today I just want to say hello to you. Not all of you, of course. I owe a hello to those of you with whom I don’t have regular contact—other than in my praying-the-map devotions. So what follows are those personal greetings. (Those close at hand: We have the continuing pleasure of frequent conversations and shared vision!) I’ve not used your last names and fuzzed some details so that the omnipresent Latvian bots—I am not making this up—won’t be able to find you.
So hello to….
HELEN – At Lutheran High, you were one of the sensible, kind-hearted folks who I could trust.
WALLY – No one crafts sermons like you; few have your sense of humor, either!
RALPH – As long as you live there, hope remains for West Virginia’s future.
HEPZIBAH – This person does NOT exist as a subscriber, but wouldn’t it be neat to have someone with that name reading what I wrote?
CAROL – Professionally you are a good listener. As a colleague and friend, the same is true, but even better.
GINNY – How encouraging to discover a kindred spirit working so mightily in the hills where my ancestors first homesteaded!
CHUCK – Too bad you left Wheaton before we had a chance to reconnect – about Seward and our other musical roots.
KAREN – With your pleasant disposition and eternal smiles, you remain a thoughtful creator of ministries!
LISA – I always wonder whether you’re still putting pen to paper, and then watching as your poetic voice emerges.
HOLLY and MIKE – We still owe you for how you cared for our children when they were young.
JULIE – How good to know you landed on your feet professionally! And that you prosper as a parent.
CINDY – You’re not done yet!
DAN – We kept them laughing. And thinking. And relaxed.
LORI – Now you’re the veteran churchwide leader!
LATVIAN BOTS –Someone’s got to do the dirty work of ruining civilization as we know it. And by the way: YOUR algorithms are being hacked.
CAROLE – Texas was good for all of us, and it remains part of our shared spirit even now.
PASTOR PAUL – From pastor to Churchwide Guy to pastor again, you carry wisdom in a satchel with your name on it!
PASTOR PAUL – Soon your interim work will end. Then you and your spouse can enjoy the prospect of being woven into this congregation!
TO THOSE OF YOU I DON’T KNOW OR WHO HAVE CHANGED THEIR LAST NAMES – I am always blown away to think that you would read anything coming onto a screen like this from fingers like mine. Thanks and thanks again.
TO NON-SUBSCRIBERS – Thanks for your readership, too. And really, subscribing doesn’t hurt. It just means that occasional carvings from my wordsmith bench hit your Inbox at about 2:00 AM….
To all of you, my fond greetings and my most sincere hope that 2020 gives you reason to keep on with the callings you have taken up. That you not give up or give in….
With joy and thanks,