Christmas cards are on the decline, at least the ones that come by regular mail to our home. My parents used you received hundreds from relatives, friends, ministry contacts and others all over North America. I think a few letters and perhaps cards came from the United Kingdom some years or from Switzerland where my older brother, his wife and family spent several Christmases.
Greetings are exchanged in different ways around the world. I use social media as a tool and at times look back on past posts on Facebook or tweets on Twitter or blogs on these instruments of communication.
As the Apostle Paul wrapped up his letter to the Ephesian church, he extended a broad range of greetings. Tychicus, the presumed deliverer of this open letter to the congregation, was described by Paul as dear and faithful. Tychicus could bring the congregation the latest news, at least when he left Paul behind to begin this purposeful journey.
Paul had a strong connection with this body of believers having been a primary instructor in the faith and equipper of the elders (portrayed in Acts 20 – one of my favourite chapters on leadership in the entire New Testament). Now he wanted to communicate an honest update and bring encouragement to the congregation in which he had invested so much physical and spiritual energy.
What do congregations need? Exactly what is available to them from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who provides access to all of God’s infinite resources. So what does Paul desire God to grant them?
1) Peace – a settled calmness of heart regardless of circumstances.
2) Love – an overwhelming sense of being delighted in by God.
3) Faith – a deepening trust in God to face an uncertain future.
Paul wraps up the letter with a desire for grace, God’s unlimited riches, to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
So how should we greet each other? What ‘spiritual gifts’ would you desire God to grant to those who know Him? What divine attributes bring life-changing impact in the hearts and minds of those who receive them?
You may not receive a ‘Christmas card’ from us – though we might write a letter with some updates. Nevertheless my desire for each of you is that you would be encouraged and enriched by the only true God and that His grace brought to us in its fullness through the Lord Jesus Christ would be multiplied to you during these closing days of 2015 and throughout the new year. God bless. Merry CHRISTmas and Happy New Year!