March has been a month of change for us. Has it been so for you too?
The weather has warmed, one-year Covid restrictions are loosening, our daughter Rebecca and her five kids came for a week (photos below) and hope is in the air. And as is true every year, March brings us close to Easter!
If you’ve been around Ever Thine Home for very long you know that Easter is the most important holiday for our faith and it’s the season I’ve focused on elevating since 2013. Every new year I enjoy writing about Lent and Easter, the cross and the Resurrection; the pinnacle of our faith.
As I’ve studied 1 and 2 Peter in my Bible study class, books written near the end of Peter’s life, I became curious about those early years of the church.
In January I began reading a book, Early Christian Fathers, which is a collection of letters to local congregations of believers to encourage them in the faith, written by church leaders in the first 300 years after Christ.
One was a letter to the Philippians by Polycarp, written around 115 A.D. when he was in his 40s. Polycarp was the bishop of the church of Smyrna and was discipled by the apostle John, who died after 95 A.D. Can you even imagine being discipled by and having face to face conversations with one of the 12 who saw and touched Jesus? Amazing.
In case you didn’t hear a ding-ding-ding of recognition at the name Smyrna, it’s the second church listed in those Jesus addressed through John in Revelation 2. In that letter Jesus commended them for their suffering, telling them they were rich because of it. Then He foretold that some would be imprisoned—we now know those included Polycarp—encouraging them to be faithful unto death.
Polycarp lived to be 86 and was then killed in Rome for his faith, joining the honored fraternity of martyrs. In his letter to the Philippians he challenged and encouraged the believers to pray.
“Pray for the saints,” Polycarp wrote. “Pray also for emperors and magistrates and rulers” and for “those who persecute and hate you” and for “the enemies of the cross, that your fruit may be manifest in all, so that you may be perfected in Him.’” All the quotations are phrases Polycarp borrowed from the New Testament letters of Paul, Timothy, Matthew and Luke, which means he was very familiar with those letters.
I was challenged while reading Polycarp’s words to pray for my enemies and for those who “feel” like enemies of the cross. I thought you too might need this reminder too, since our culture would rather yell at one another than pray for one another.
So, consider this letter from me to be in the tradition of those who have gone before: an encouragement and a challenge to live as Christ called us to live … holy, righteous and godly in this present age. Let’s challenge one another to be known by our prayers for all, even our enemies. If we do this we will become more like Jesus who first taught us to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Recently I talked to my friends Susan and Joanne about the value of letters today. Real, personal, heart-felt letters, hand-written if possible, mean more than ever because of their rarity amid the overwhelming volume of impersonal digital emails.
And perhaps you might think about writing some letters of your own to family or friends. Who knows the impact your words might have and how long your letter might last!
Here are some photos of the letters we are sending to the next generation; our grandkids.
Arriving in Little Rock!
Chalk art on our front patio
Playing in the lake on a walk with Rebecca
“White House” dinner. My friend Susan Yates originated this idea and it was fun fixing and serving an elegant meal to these grands and teaching them how they should act if they ever were invited to dinner at the real White House!
More memories are still being made today as this email/letter arrives in your box!
Until next month’s letter, walk with Jesus, listen for His voice to you, surrender over and over daily and be His letter to those around you: “you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God … on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:3).