You know I write these eNewsletters on the fly, right? I mean, pretty much whatever comes to mind in the moment is what I start typing. I pray that most of the time it’s something useful to you, although my ultimate goal each time is to bring to you God’s Word while at the same time keeping you connected to each and every little thing going on at your church.
Communication is key to so much, and it’s worth every keystroke on this well-worn keyboard. George Herbert, a Welsh poet, once said, “Good words are worth much, and cost little.” I agree. Good words can be the difference between clarity and confusion, winning and losing, hope and despair, joy and terror.
In a certain sense, we deal in words here at Our Savior. Of course we know that our most precious vernacular, the Word of God, isn’t just language. Rather, it is the very powerhouse asset that created the world and sustains us even now in the Christian faith. But as Christians having a good understanding of the importance of the Word of God, we’re already in a good place for observing how significant the use of language can be in its basic sense. Words are important. Personally, I think regular communication does so much among us to foster good relationships as well as build trust with the folks in leadership (who, by the way, deserve to be trusted because they are wonderfully faithful servants of Christ). I also think that it plays a huge role in helping the congregation as a whole overcome obstacles—whether those obstacles might be a financial crisis or something troubling someone on a personal level. When we’re talking to one another (and doing so regularly) so that we are working together, we can better chart the landscape before us. We can walk in stride and help one another. I suppose that another positive thing arising from regular communication is that very little can surprise us. And if something does surprise us, we’re more so ready to steer into it and deal with it.
All of this speaks to the positives of communicating through a regular email message each week, and it makes digital communication seem worthwhile.
But having said all of this, I watched a quick YouTube video last night before bed which showed scenes of various people in different locales locked in stares with the screens of their computers and smart devices rather than in conversation with the person beside them. The point of the video was to show how we’ve lost the ability to communicate, and in so doing, we’ve forfeited our ability to actually make friends with other people. The funny thing is, even well before digital devices would ever be a sparkling glint life in the corner of a warming transistor, Charles Dickens wrote something rather prophetic in one of his shorter books entitled The Wreck of the Golden Mary. He offered, “I have heard it broached that orders should be given in great new ships by electric telegraph. I admire machinery as much as any man, and am as thankful to it as any man can be for what it does for us. But, it will never be a substitute for the face of a man, with his soul in it, encouraging another man to be brave and true.”
Indeed. I communicate with you in so many ways—through this eNewsletter, through phone calls, through texts, through social media—and yet I’ll admit that no form of communication compares to the ability to sit beside you, to see your face, to be stirred by the contours there being shaped by emotion, tone, and so many other things that God has woven into the fabric of who you are as a person. It’s really quite wonderful when you think about it, and as a pastor, it is one of the joys of everyday service.
And so, I suppose I should thank you for taking the time to read these messages I send. But also, I’d like to thank you for the times we’ve sat together as friends, especially when those times have had as their goal the extension of Christ’s kingdom. And lastly, I suppose I’d like to encourage you the next time you’re sitting and reading this eNewsletter while drinking your coffee at Starbucks or the car repair shop or wherever, feel free to save it for later. Instead, say “hello” to the person next to you. And as you do, don’t forget that as a Christian, you bear a language within you that can convince and convert the heart in a way that stirs a friendship with the Savior of the world. “Season you speech,” Saint Paul says. In other words, communicate the Gospel in conversation as the opportunities arise. I dare say that those opportunities are all around us each and every day, and the best ones unfold in person.