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Each Friday, Dr. Daniel Hagmaier posts his weekly newsletter. Catch up on what's happening and plan ahead.

I CORINTHIANS 1:1-9 | YOU’VE GOT MAIL

YOU’VE GOT MAIL

I CORINTHIANS 1:1-9

JANUARY 15, 2017

 

 

 

 

WHEN IT COMES TO SOME THINGS COMPUTER RELATED, ESPECIALLY, STAYING CONNECTED, I’M KIND OF OLD SCHOOL.

 

FOR INSTANCE, I STILL HAVE AN AOL EMAIL ACCOUNT.  AMERICA ONLINE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST INTERNET PROVIDERS, AND I JUMPED ON EARLY, AND HAVE STAYED WITH THEM EVER SINCE.

 

IT MAY BE THAT I’M SIMPLY LOYAL TO THINGS THAT SERVE ME WELL – I TEND TO BUY THE SAME DEODORANT, TOOTHPASTE, CEREAL, ETC. EVERY TIME.

 

PERHAPS, IT’S BECAUSE I’M TOO LAZY TO SWITCH, AND WOULD HAVE TO TELL EVERYONE I KNOW, AND WHO KNOWS ME, THAT I HAVE A NEW EMAIL ADDRESS; AND THAT JUST SEEMS LIKE A LOT OF WORK FOR EVERYONE.

 

MAYBE IT’S SOME SORT OF SENTIMENTAL CONNECTION I HAVE TO THE MEG RYAN/TOM HANKS FILM BY THE SAME NAME – YOU’VE GOT MAIL.

 

OR, PERHAPS, IT’S BECAUSE I LIKE MACHINES THAT TALK TO ME.  AOL STILL GREETS ME EVERY TIME IT COMES UP – “WELCOME!  YOU’VE GOT MAIL.”  I LIKE A NICE GREETING EVERY MORNING.

 

I LIKE THAT MY CAR’S GPS, NICKNAMED GABBY, BECAUSE SHE CAN GET KIND OF CHATTY AT TIMES, TELLS ME WHERE I AM GOING, AND HOW TO GET THERE.

 

I LIKE THAT I CAN POINT MY IPHONE AT A SPEAKER IN ONE OF THE STORES AROUND TOWN PLAYING MUSIC, AND ASK SIRI TO TELL ME WHAT SONG IT IS, AND WHO’S SINGING IT.  SHE ALMOST ALWAYS KNOWS, AND REPLIES WITH THE SWEETEST VOICE, AND AN OFFER TO BUY THE SONG, IF I WISH.

 

THEN THERE’S MY NEWEST PURCHASE, MY AMAZON ECHO, WHERE ALEXA CAN TELL ME JUST ABOUT ANYTHING I WANT TO KNOW; THE WEATHER, THE DEFINITION OF A WORD, AN ACTOR’S BIRTH DATE, AND SHE CAN PLAY MUSIC FOR ME ON COMMAND; BUT MOSTLY, I LIKE THAT SHE TALKS TO ME.

 

I’M BEGINNING TO WONDER IF I MIGHT NOT HAVE A BIT OF A PSYCHOLOGICAL ISSUE GOING ON, WHAT WITH ALL THESE ROBOTIC VOICES TALKING TO ME.

 

YOU’VE GOT MAIL – REMINDS US THAT VERY FEW OF US EVER REALLY DO ANYMORE – AT LEAST NOT IN THE TRADITIONAL SENSE OF LETTERS, WRITTEN IN LONG HAND.  (DO KIDS TODAY EVEN KNOW THAT TERM ANYMORE?).

 

VERY FEW OF US WRITE CARDS AND LETTERS BY HAND; AND CERTAINLY, NOTHING LIKE PEOPLE DID IN AGES PAST.

 

ONE OF THE MOST FASCINATING THINGS ABOUT THE PBS SPECIAL, KEN BURNS, THE CIVIL WAR, WAS THE MAGNIFICENT LETTERS WRITTEN BY SOLDIERS, AND FROM HOME, GIVING US A SENSE OF WHAT IT WAS REALLY LIKE.

 

IF YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE FAMILIES WHO HAVE KEPT LETTERS, OR DIARIES FROM YOUR ANCESTORS, AND EVER GONE BACK TO READ THEM, YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT, THE GRAND AND POETIC LANGUAGE WITH WHICH THEY WROTE.

 

ALL OF THIS HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH EMAILS, TEXTS, TWEETS, ETC.

 

ADMITTEDLY, THEY ARE MUCH MORE EFFICIENT, TIMELY, AND SHORTER – TO WRITE, AND TO READ; BUT THEY COME AT THE PRICE OF SWEEPING LANGUAGE AND GOOD GRAMMAR.

 

THIS SORT OF REDUCTIONISM IN LANGUAGE MAY HAVE ALLOWED US TO PICK UP SPEED AND CONVENIENCE, BUT THEY HAVE COST US THE ART OF MOVING LANGUAGE, POETIC BEAUTY, AND SWEEPING, MAGNIFICENT LETTERS.

 

THE APOSTLE PAUL WOULD NOT HAVE GOTTEN VERY FAR IF HE HAD BEEN LIMITED TO 140 CHARACTERS!  HE LIKED LONG, RUN ON SENTENCES.  IT TAKES HIM A PAGE AND A HALF JUST TO SAY “HELLO.”

 

HIS LETTERS, THOUGH NOT ORIGINALLY IN THE FORM WE HAVE THEM NOW, ARE CHAPTERS LONG.  HIS GREETINGS AND GOOD-BYES ARE LONGER THAN MOST PEOPLE’S COMPLETE EMAIL CORRESPONDENCES.

 

WHEN WE READ PAUL’S LETTERS – WE GET MAIL!

 

I THINK I’VE TOLD YOU THIS BEFORE, BUT RESIDENT PEANUTS’ THEOLOGIAN, LINUS, IN ONE OF THE OLD CARTOONS, CONFESSES THAT WHENEVER HE READS THE LETTERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL, HE FEELS LIKE HE’S READING SOMEONE ELSE’S MAIL – WHICH OF COURSE, IS EXACTLY WHAT HE’S DOING.  WHAT WE ARE DOING.

 

THIS MORNING I’M LIMITING US TO JUST THE INTRODUCTION TO PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS – THE ADDRESS, GREETING, AND SALUTATION.

 

AND WHILE THE LANGUAGE IS GRAND, IT IS NOT SO MUCH THE LANGUAGE ON WHICH I WANT US TO FOCUS;

 

AND NOT EVEN REALLY THE CONTENT OF HIS WORDS, BUT THE FACT THAT PAUL TAKES THE TIME TO GREET THE CORINTHIANS IN SUCH GRAND STYLE;

WITH BEAUTIFUL WORDS; HEARTFELT SENTIMENT; AND PRAYERFUL CONSIDERATION.

 

BEFORE I GET TO ALL OF THAT, LET’S GO BACK TO THE PORTION OF HIS LETTER WE READ A MOMENT AGO.

 

IT STARTS WITH THE ADDRESS – THE FROM AND TO:

 

FROM: PAUL, CALLED TO BE AN APOSTLE OF CHRIST JESUS BY THE WILL OF GOD, AND OUR BROTHER SOSTHENES;

 

HOW’D YOU LIKE TO GO AROUND INTRODUCING YOURSELF THAT WAY?  “HI, I’M LARRY (FILL IN YOUR OWN NAME) CALLED TO BE AN APOSTLE OF CHRIST JESUS BY THE WILL OF GOD… AND, YOU ARE?

 

BUT THIS IS – WHO WE ARE – AND WE’LL SAY MORE ABOUT THAT IN A MOMENT.

 

TO: THE ADDRESSEE – AND IF YOU THOUGHT PAUL’S INTRODUCTION OF HIMSELF WAS SOMETHING – JUST LISTEN TO HOW HE ADDRESSES THE CORINTHIANS:

 

“TO THE CHURCH OF GOD THAT IS IN CORINTH, TO THOSE WHO ARE SANCTIFIED IN CHRIST JESUS, CALLED TO BE SAINTS, TOGETHER WITH ALL THOSE WHO IN EVERY PLACE CALL ON THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, BOTH THEIR LORD AND OURS;”

 

WE’D NEVER GET DOWN THE STREET IF THAT’S HOW WE GREETED EVERYONE WE MET; AND YET, MANY OF THEM WOULD FIT THE BILL; SANCTIFIED; SAINTS; THOSE WHO CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD.

 

THEN COMES PAUL’S GREETING:

 

“GRACE TO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD OUR FATHER AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.” – A WORD OF GRACE AND GREETING; A WORD OF PEACE AND SALUTATION.

 

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: “I GIVE THANKS TO MY GOD ALWAYS FOR YOU BECAUSE OF THE GRACE OF GOD THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN YOU IN CHRIST JESUS, FOR IN EVERY WAY YOU HAVE BEEN ENRICHED IN HIM, IN SPEECH AND KNOWLEDGE OF EVERY KIND –

 

JUST AS THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST HAS BEEN STRENGTHENED AMONG YOU –

SO, THAT YOU ARE NOT LACKING IN ANY SPIRITUAL GIFT AS YOU WAIT FOR THE REVEALING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.”

 

THAT’S ALL ROUGHLY 295 CHARACTERS, BY THE WAY.

AGAIN, I WANT TO SAY MORE ABOUT WHAT PAUL’S WORDS AND STYLE MEAN FOR US, BUT LET ME FINISH WITH THE REST OF THE SECTION WE READ;

 

AND REMEMBER – THIS IS JUST PAUL’S GREETING TO THE CORINTHIANS.

 

“GOD WILL ALSO STRENGTHEN YOU TO THE END, SO THAT YOU MAY BE BLAMELESS ON THE DAY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.  GOD IS FAITHFUL; BY HIM YOU WERE CALLED INTO FELLOWSHIP WITH HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.”

 

WHEW!  THAT IS SOME KIND OF GREETING!

 

AGAIN, BEFORE I GET TO US, ONE LAST WORD ABOUT PAUL AND HIS STYLE OF WRITING.

 

PAUL MEANS WHAT HE SAYS HERE ABOUT THE CORINTHIANS –THE FLOWERY LANGUAGE ABOUT THEM; AND HOW GOD HAS BLESSED THEM; AND HOW WONDERFUL THEY ARE, BECAUSE OF HOW WONDERFUL GOD IS, AND HOW WONDERFULLY GOD HAS MADE THEM.

 

“YOU’RE GREAT – BECAUSE GOD IS GREAT – AND GOD HAS MADE YOU GREAT!”

 

NOW THOSE WHO STUDY SUCH THINGS, BIBLICAL SCHOLARS AND COMMENTATORS, WILL TELL YOU, THAT WHILE PAUL MEANS EVERY WORD OF WHAT HE’S SAYING HERE; HE IS ALSO BUTTERING UP HIS HEARERS;

 

HE’S GETTING THEM READY TO HEAR MORE THINGS FROM HIM, AND SOME OF THEM, NOT SO COMPLIMENTARY, OR AS EASY TO LISTEN TO.

 

IN FACT, PAUL OFTEN TIPS HIS HAND A BIT, OFFERING HIS ADDRESSEES A GLIMPSE INTO WHAT HE PLANS ON WRITING THEM ABOUT.

 

HE DOES IT HERE – SOME OF THE CORINTHIANS HAVE BEEN ARGUING OVER SPIRITUAL GIFTS; THE GIFT OF SPEAKING IN TONGUES IN PARTICULAR, THUS HIS EMPHASIS ON SPEECH IN HIS GREETING.

 

PAUL INTENDS TO COMBAT CERTAIN, AND VARIOUS TEACHINGS, AND TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE, THAT HAD BEEN LEADING SOME BELIEVERS ASTRAY, AND SO HE MENTIONS THAT IN HIS GREETING, AS WELL.

 

ALSO, THERE’S THE MATTER OF THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, AND AGAIN, HIS GREETING REEMPHASIZES THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST MANY TIMES.

 

FINALLY, THE CORINTHIANS HAD LOTS OF QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO US WHEN WE DIE, AND PAUL SUGGESTS IN HIS GREETING, THAT’LL HE’LL TELL THEM SOMETHING ABOUT THAT AS WELL.

SO, THERE’S A METHOD TO PAUL’S MADNESS; AGAIN, HE MEANS WHAT HE SAYS, BUT HE IS COMPLIMENTING THEM TO WIN A LISTENING EAR, AND AN OPEN SPIRIT, TO WHAT HE’S ABOUT TO TELL THEM, IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, IN THE BODY OF THE LETTER.

 

HE’S GOTTEN THEIR ATTENTION; THEY’RE ALL BUTTERED UP, AND READY TO LISTEN.

 

SUFFICIENTLY PRAISED AND FEELING GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES, THEY ARE WILLING TO HEAR WHATEVER HE HAS TO TELL THEM.

 

SO, THIS IS WHERE I’D LIKE TO JUMP TO US, AND WHAT PAUL’S WORDS, LANGUAGE, METHOD, ETC. SAY TO US ABOUT OUR DAILY LIVES;

 

AND OUR DAILY ENCOUNTERS WITH ONE ANOTHER.

 

IF WE WANT TO GET SOMEONE’S MOTOR RUNNING…  WANT THEM TO OPEN UP TO US…  TO BE OPEN TO WHAT WE HAVE TO SAY TO THEM…  TO WELCOME THE OPPORTUNITY OF OUR SPEAKING WITH THEM…

 

JUST THINK – HOW PEOPLE WOULD RESPOND – IF WE GREETED THEM LIKE PAUL GREETS THEM.

 

IMAGINE GREETING THEM IN THE NAME OF GOD AND OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, OF WHOM WE ARE APOSTLES… OF WISHING THEM GRACE AND PEACE…

 

OF TELLING THEM HOW BEAUTIFULLY AND WONDERFULLY THEY ARE MADE IN THE SIGHT OF GOD;

 

HOW GOD HAS GIVEN THEM EVERYTHING, AND BECAUSE OF THAT, THEY ARE GREAT!

 

NOW I KNOW WE AREN’T GOING TO DO THAT; AT LEAST NOT IN SO MANY WORDS;

 

BECAUSE MORE THAN LIKELY, IF WE WERE TO DO SO, THE AVERAGE PERSON WOULD RUN AWAY FROM US SCREAMING, THINKING WE ARE SOME SORT OF RELIGIOUS NUT!

 

SO, IT’S NOT PAUL’S EXACT WORDS, OR EVEN THE LENGTH OF HIS SALUTATIONS I AM SUGGESTING TO US THIS MORNING, BUT HIS ATTITUDE ABOUT OTHERS; HOW HE SEES THEM;

 

WHAT HE BELIEVES ABOUT THEM, BECAUSE OF WHAT HE BELIEVES ABOUT GOD, AND WHAT HE BELIEVES GOD HAS DONE FOR THEM.

 

PAUL SEES PEOPLE AS GOD SEES PEOPLE; AS CHRIST SEES PEOPLE.

 

PAUL BLESSES THEM WITH GOD’S GRACE AND PEACE, BUT HE DOES SO, BECAUSE HE ALREADY SEES THEM AS VESSELS OF GOD’S GRACE AND PEACE.

 

HE TELLS THEM HOW GREAT THEY ARE, BECAUSE HE BELIEVES THEY ARE GREAT; AND BECAUSE HE BELIEVES GOD HAS MADE THEM GREAT.

 

PAUL TELLS THEM GOD IS WITH THEM NOW, AND WILL BE, FOREVER.

 

YOU KNOW, THE WORLD FLOODS IN ON ALL OF US.  THE WORLD CAN BE KIND, AND IT CAN BE CRUEL.  THE WORLD CAN BE BEAUTIFUL, AND IT CAN BE APPALLING.

 

IT CAN GIVE US GOOD REASON TO HOPE, AND GOOD REASON TO GIVE UP ALL HOPE.  IT CAN STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH IN A LOVING GOD, AND IT CAN DECIMATE OUR FAITH.

 

THE WORLD CAN RESTORE OUR FAITH IN HUMANKIND, AND IT CAN DESTROY IT IN AN INSTANT.

 

AND EVERY PERSON WE MEET IS IN ONE OF THOSE TWO PLACES, OR SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN, AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT, AS WE, OURSELVES ARE.

 

WHO KNOWS WHERE PEOPLE ARE IN THEIR LIVES?  WHAT’S GOING ON INSIDE OF THEM?  WHAT TRIUMPH THEY ARE CELEBRATING; WHAT TRAGEDY THEY ARE MOURNING?

 

ARE THEY UP?  ARE THEY DOWN?  WHAT HAVE THEY LOST?  WHAT HAS BEEN LOST ON THEM?

 

AND WHY SHOULD WE CARE?  WHAT’S ALL OF THAT TO US?

 

WELL, AS GOD’S BELOVED, AS THOSE BLESSED IN JESUS CHRIST, AS THOSE WHO ARE CALLED AS APOSTLES AND SAINTS, IT’S UP TO US, TO GREET PEOPLE AS GOD WOULD GREET THEM; TO WELCOME THEM AS GOD WELCOMES THEM;

 

TO SEE PEOPLE AS GOD SEES THEM; TO BLESS THEM AS GOD BLESSES THEM.

 

IT’S UP TO US TO OFFER A KIND WORD; A SMILE; A HEARTFELT “HELLO.”

 

IT’S UP TO US TO BLESS THEIR SNEEZES; TO FORGIVE THEIR SLIGHTS, PERCEIVED OR REAL; TO BUILD THEM UP, RATHER THAN TEARING THEM DOWN.

 

IT IS UP TO US TO OFFER A PAT ON THE BACK, WHEN ALL THE WORLD’S KICKING THEM IN THE PANTS.

WE ARE THE ONES, GOD’S CHOSEN ONES; CHOSEN, NOT FOR SPECIAL STATUS, BUT FOR SERVANT STATUS, WHO ARE TO REMIND THEM THAT GOD LOVES THEM.

 

“WELCOME!”  “WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU?”  “HOW CAN I HELP YOU?”

 

“WOW, THAT’S A BEAUTIFUL COLOR ON YOU!”  “I LOVE YOUR DRESS.”

 

“HOW ARE YOU, TODAY?” “HAVE A GOOD DAY.”  “HAVE A BLESSED DAY.”

 

ALL OF THOSE ARE WELL UNDER 140 CHARACTERS, BY THE WAY.

 

AND WHAT’S MORE, WE MEAN WHAT WE SAY; BECAUSE IT’S WHAT GOD WOULD SAY, IF GOD COULD SAY; AND GOD CAN – THROUGH US.

 

WE ALL, ALL OF US, LIKE TO HEAR A GOOD WORD; A FRIENDLY VOICE; A WELL-INTENDED COMPLIMENT;

 

LET’S NOT ALLOW THE ROBOTIC VOICES IN OUR LIVES TO BE KINDER, GENTLER, FRIENDLIER, MORE HELPFUL, MORE LIFE AFFIRMING, THAN WE ARE, OURSELVES.

 

LET’S TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY GIVEN US, TO GREET ANOTHER:

 

“GRACE TO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD OUR FATHER AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST;”

 

EVEN IF THOSE ARE NOT EXACTLY THE WORDS WE CHOOSE, LET THEM BE OUR MOTIVATION;

 

WHAT WE HEAR IN OUR HEARTS, AND HEADS, AND SOULS, AS WE SAY IT; IN WHATEVER WORDS, WE USE TO SAY IT.

 

 

 

 

 

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