A lot of the New Testament consists of letters. (20 of the 27 Books.) Although we have the four gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John at the beginning, followed by the history of the earliest Christians, in Acts, it is likely that most of the letters were written earlier than the gospels. Paul became a prolific letter writer. Compelled by Christ to travel to spread the gospel, he founded churches in a number of cities, to which he wrote words of challenge and encouragement, as well as clarification of doctrine and practice. Sometimes Paul also included greetings from others who were with him, and gave his travel plans. Other letters have different authors, and are written to other communities and to individual Christian leaders. In short, most of the letters are just that, and have a recognisable structure even centuries after they were sent.
Letter-writing is part of the heritage of the Christian Church. We have always had something important to pass on. (And that is not counting all the other correspondence that didn’t make it into the Bible, because it wasn’t considered to be orthodox enough or of wider significance in telling good news of Jesus. It was judged, by those tasked with compiling the scriptures, to be inspired.)
Today we live in a media-soaked world – where it is hard to get away from the phone, the text, the tweet or however people like to receive their instant messaging. Although many of us of an older age group find it impossible to keep up, and others set their face against technology, there are a great many opportunities to share our stories and to discover God’s riches and blessing upon us and all the world. Although there might seem just too many people vying for our attention, and we may say we don’t know what to look for, all the traditional agencies, who produce Bible reading notes, and other devotional material, are still doing it, and this can usually be found online quite easily. So if you are worried about the authority of something you are reading, you can still check out whether it is a
familiar agency or publisher. There is no need to put up with “fake news” when it comes to the Bible.
The importance of written communication, traditional or contemporary, is one of the reasons why I have committed to the team who are continuing to produce the Newsletter. We need to be in touch with one another, since we are the body of Christ in this time and place. People have things to say, which others will benefit by reading. We need somewhere to read longer pieces than we can accommodate on our weekly Notice sheet. So please keep the correspondence coming – and just a few jokes!
“Finally beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”
(Paul’s Letter to The Philippians 4: 8 – 9)