“Dear Letter, go on your way over mountain, plain or sea.
God bless all who speed your flight to where I wish you to be.
And bless all beneath the roof where I would bid you rest;
but bless even more the one to whom this letter is addressed.”
William Barclay, the Scottish New Testament scholar, tells of receiving a letter from an unknown overseas correspondent with this written across the flap. It’s not poetry or even good verse. As Barclay pointed out, it nevertheless warms the heart.
During a pastoral call this week, my host remembered Dave Reppert’s personal notes to her: “he just wanted to make sure I stayed in touch with church.” Increasing medical issues over the years mean the person I was visiting cannot join us. She admits the transitions after Geneva left may also have contributed. But getting to church would entail a significant physical difficulty. I suspect that we thought she had wandered away or wasn’t any longer interested in being part of the church. Misunderstanding is easy and, I fear, frequent in such situations.
She and Dave have not corresponded for a few years, but Dave’s “ministry” (in quotes only because I’m not sure how formal it was, or if he considered it as such) still touches her. She also remembers the notes that Geneva would drop her from time to time, especially before she joined, when she would receive mail informing her of Visitors’ Sundays.
She had noticed she was not getting as much mail from the church. I explained we mostly rely on electronic messages these days for their time- and cost-efficiency. She’s on our e-mail list, receives the weekly E-pistle. Not always reading them, every once in a while she looks at them. I pointed out that they are also now “carrying” the news that used to come out in the newsletter (albeit in a rudimentary form before the new website upgrade).
A few weeks ago, it suddenly occurred to her: “If I hit ‘reply,’ I’ll be in contact with the church, can let them know I’d like a visit.” She was very surprised: not only did her response go right to me, but I called in a few hours.
Almost every week the E-pistle initiates some conversation. I enjoy your reactions. Please respond. I also try getting out personal notes (which reminds me I owe Ruth Merrill one right now), and want to increase communications, but can’t keep up with writing you all!
Also, feel free to ask for a pastoral visit. This is another area open to miscommunication: who do I give room to and who do I seek out? In UCC fashion, I probably err on the side of space and freedom, but love to be invited.
Mindy also sends out bulletins and sermons and E-pistles “hard copy” each week. (Let her know if you need to bo on one of those mailing lists.)
Right now, we are handing a letter out in person (about ending our financial year in the black) and putting the Stewardship Letter in the mail this week. Both those messages are about money, a spiritual matter too. Please read them also as personal notes, because they are just a few of the messages our church initiates each year.
But, as I explained on my pastoral visit this week, Dave is now the pastor of his own congregation. I wonder, does anyone want to take up the “letter ministry” of “keeping the church in correspondence, particularly with people who cannot join us on Sundays.”