I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. 1 Corinthians 16:21
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Galatians 6:11
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Colossians 4:18
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write. 2 Thessalonians 3:17
I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. Philemon 1:19
Paul had a vision problem, probably a left over from his conversion experience on the Road to Damascus:
And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,[b] who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
It is thought that he normally dictated his letters, which make up most of our New testament Bible. You’ll see the five references above where Paul made the effort to write the letters himself. He even references his disability, mentioning how large/distinctive his handwriting is in the case of his letters to Galatia and Thessalonica.
What was the point? It came to me on Reformation Sunday when Pastor had borrowed a Lutheran bible that was printed at the time of the Reformation. It is over 500 years old, and it is a physical connection for us to that time. People lined up after the service to get a glimpse of this old Bible up close!
It’s amazing how a physical artifact can make a connection between people!
I remember once seeing a shoddy, old pencil in a display case at the Hayes Presidential Museum in Fremont, Ohio. Looking at the display card, I saw that it was the pencil used by Generals Grant and Lee to sign the surrender at Appomattox, effectively ending the Civil War. WOW! Out of everything I saw there that day, that’s the one thing that really made an impression on me; a pencil. A really cool pencil!
So getting a letter from arguably the greatest of the apostles in his own handwriting would have an impact.
Emails. They’re easy, fast, and inexpensive…not counting the equipment and internet access needed! I used to write a lot of letters to friends over the summers between years at college. There was always a gathering around the student mailboxes during the school year every day to see if we got a letter from home, relatives…ANYBODY! Or maybe we just got “airmail”; an empty box.
The last time I visited The ‘Berg I don’t think there were any mailboxes. No need for them in the electronic age, I guess.
But then I got a letter from a friend a few months ago, and it was such a pleasure. A real letter in someone’s own handwriting! I mean, who does that anymore?
So I made an adjustment this week. I got a box of blank notecards. I sent one to the group that went to Haiti and made a presentation on it last Sunday. I just wanted to say thank you in a tangible, personal way.
This morning a I sent another card with a very brief note to a friend and her three grown children who lost their husband and father a few months ago. I continue to pray for them, but a thinking-of-you, handwritten note will have a much greater impact than a too-easy email.
This is part of a bigger imperative; doing things for people! Jesus was very plain that we should do good things for others, especially widows and orphans, the disadvantaged and defenseless.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17
If you really want to say hello to someone, say it in handwriting. Don’t go cheap, buy a card, and just sign it. Write something from you. Send it by snail mail. Stamp and everything.
Let’s…get personal. Again!