Dear Haley

Dear Haley,

I’ve heard that kids born since 1995 are hard for someone like me to reach, so I hope you’re one of those who actually checks your email. As someone born four decades before you, I still think email is the best thing since sliced bread. (No, I wasn’t around when sliced bread was invented. That’s just an expression.) If you do read this in between checking your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter messages, please let me know! I’d love to hear back from you.

The reason for my message is my joy at hearing from your grandfather (my brother) about your conversion to the Christian faith about five years ago. I want to encourage you to keep at it, because even though it’s not easy (nor is it supposed to be easy), it’s very much worth the effort.

It sounds strange for me to say that there’s effort involved in being a Christian, but nothing could be more true. Of course I find great comfort in the fact that I had very little to do with becoming a Christian. I was the dead clay, the Holy Spirit was the potter, and His divine hands worked through the gospel and holy baptism to bring me to spiritual life. Yes, there’s a lot of comfort in that.

Later I learned how He not only “called me by the Gospel” and “enlightened me with His gifts,” but also “kept me in the true faith.” The calling and enlightening were all Him, but to me it has been a personal challenge to stay in the true faith. Maybe your grandfather told you about my youth. I was confirmed in the Lutheran church. Memorized the Small Catechism and everything. But by the time I graduated from high school, my priorities were askew. It took about ten years for me to realize that. But what a joy it was when I finally paid attention again to the things that are most important! That’s why I wanted to reach out to you with a word of encouragement. Keep at it! Don’t give up!

Receiving God’s forgiveness of my sins and the personal promise of eternal life is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’m thrilled to say that it keeps happening every week when I go to church. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I pray that you have the same joy, and that the Holy Spirit will also keep you “with Jesus Christ in the one true Faith.”

Affectionately yours in Christ,

Uncle Ed

Hey Uncle Ed!

I got your message. It was a treat to hear from you, because it’s been such a long time. When did I see you last? Was it at Tom’s confirmation? I must have been 8 years old then. Or were you at his wedding, too? That would have been ten years ago. Your message brought back a lot of good memories.

Things have been okay here. My church was only started as a mission about five years ago, and we live in a place where everyone seems more concerned about having a good time than thinking about serious things. So it’s been a battle for the church, and it’s still pretty small. My pastor is great, though. He actually visited my house after the first couple times I went to church there! The mission work keeps him very busy, but I can tell he loves it and cares about his congregation. That must be the way Jesus was. I love to hear about Jesus.

But honestly, there are some things that bother me too. Some of the members at church are recent converts like me. (You remember I was never confirmed as a kid, right?) We’re doing our best to pitch in and help Pastor Haas when we can, though there’s not much time in the day for it. But some church members don’t seem to care much about helping the mission, and they tend to be life-long Christians! How can that be? I don’t want to think they’re hypocrites, but sometimes it looks that way. Sometimes their priorities look the same as the feel-good neighbors around us!

Another thing that bothers me is that when I bring my friends to church, they don’t understand what’s so great about it. It’s like they don’t really pay attention to what we’re hearing and singing. My friend Jordan even called it boring.

Then there’s all the “business” that happens at church. We’ve been talking about ways to advance the mission, but every time it comes up in a forum, we have an argument about money. Why are we talking about that in a church? Don’t we have better things to do? I just want to get on with things and tell others about Jesus.

Sorry to unload on you, but I guess you touched a nerve. I do have the joy you mentioned to know my Savior, but it sure comes with a lot of baggage. How can you stand it?


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