"Look what large letters I make with my own hand!" - Galatians 6:11
Hand-written letters are full of personal touches, starting with the fact that you can actually touch them.
Electronic communication isn't the same. When was the last time you received an e-message and thought, "Wow, the font she chose is just so meaningful." Or "Those emoticons really spoke to my heart." I didn't think so.
In college, before anyone heard of email, my Dad wrote me a handwritten letter every month along with four weeks of Sunday comics from the Philadelphia Inquirer and several sermons from our minister. The familiar and exuberant writing made his voice jump off the page. One of my greatest regrets is that I did not save those letters. And now my Dad is gone.
The Apostle Paul also wrote energetic letters full of personal touches. At the end of his epistle to the Galatians he enlarges his script to emphasize the closing point. It was an ancient version of ALL CAPS. He might have been yelling but it was for a very good cause.
The letter forces a choice about salvation by either 1) the grace-filled work of Christ on the cross; or 2) fooling yourself into striving for salvation through moral and legal perfection. With those two options in view Paul emphatically said:
"FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE CHOOSE NUMBER ONE!"
Paul is long gone but thankfully his letters were saved, preserved, copied and passed down. Our Bibles have lost Paul's personal touches but the choice he presents is still speaking today.
God save us, for we can surely not save ourselves. Amen.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.