As a freshman in high school I was happy for a course called “General Business” because we learned all sorts of practical things but nothing was too difficult. As I was trying to get my balance going from algebra to Latin class, it was always nice to sit in a class where we were learning things like how to write a check (not that any of us had a checking account in those days, much less a credit card!). One thing we learned was the difference in form of a business letter and a friendly letter. I’m sure business courses – even the most basic – are much more involved in high schools now but I have always been grateful for some of the practical things that I still use from my one and only business class.
I’m always uplifted when I read the salutations in Paul’s letters – today to the Thessalonians (1: 1-5). Paul writes:
Paul, Silvanus and Timothy to the Church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, as is fitting, because your faith flourishes ever more, and the love of every one of you for one another grows ever greater.
I rarely write “real” letters these days but I’m thinking this morning about the value in taking time to encourage people – either on paper or electronically – or simply to let them know I think of them, praying for them and thanking God for their presence in my life. It could take less time now – no need to look for a pen or their zip code – and I wouldn’t even need to buy a stamp unless I communicated in “the old-fashioned way” of snail-mail. The method isn’t as important as the product and neither is as vital as the intention. Paul was never too intent on his core message to overlook the importance of a positive “salutation” and, if we read to the end of the letters, we see the same in his “complementary closings” as well.
So today might be the day I send a shout out to my General Business teacher, Sister Patricia Gibson (aka Sister Marie Frederick) for all she taught me back then. Surely, it will be a grateful, friendly letter.