Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, to God's holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~Ephesians 1:1-2
On our most recent trip to Mom's, I set about the task of going through seemingly endless piles of large envelopes filled with cards, letters and miscellaneous items my parents kept throughout the years. It is, in a word, overwhelming. I never realized what pack rats my folks were because their home is so large, and it is convenient to squirrel away untold trash and treasure where it isn't readily visible.
It is easy to toss Christmas cards, birthday cards and calendars dating back to the 90s without even looking closely inside the packets, but many others are problematic. Each of these envelopes demands the emptying of its contents in order to decide what's worth keeping and what should be cast aside.
There are plenty of sentimental items that I don't really want to keep, but don't feel I have the authority to throw away without my brother, Bill, getting a go-through first, so I leave quite a few piles on Mom's dining room table for him to peruse on his next visit. What I do bring home with me to sort and save are the hundreds of letters exchanged over the years between my grandparents, Mom and Dad, a dear relatives now departed. These are treasures, indeed, and it makes me grateful that my parents did make the effort to save these. I'm hoping, by the time I'm through reading and cataloguing all of these, that a bigger picture can be drawn of my family tree.
These are the contents of just ONE envelope! Does anyone remember those thin, flimsy air mail missives? I'm sure glad the envelopes were saved with the content as I'm counting on the postmarks to allow me to date the letters more accurately. I even find, at least in this pile, a letter I write to my Dad when he was away in Iowa for a summer of study on corn plants!
Oh, how precious these items are to me! But just imagine how powerfully impressive and precious Paul's letters were to the early Christian communities, eager to hear his inspirational messages and exhortations. There was no reading/hearing them once, then tossing them away like yesterday's news. These were pearls of infinite value to the often persecuted and struggling followers of Christ Jesus.
Without these early Christian converts, saving and savoring Paul's letters and, undoubtedly, copying them over and over and over for the sake of preservation, what would our beloved New Testament look like? I dare say we would be made all the poorer in our faith had these not been included.
So, I will save these letters, rewriting some if I have to, and pass them down to future generations. Perhaps, they will become just as meaningful to them as they are to me.