This “Behind the Banner” post is an adaptation of an essay written for an internal CRCNA-employee newsletter, distributed March 20, 2023.
I received an unexpected letter in the mail in mid-January. It got me thinking about letters, and I wrote about it when it was my turn to submit an entry for the CRCNA employee newsletter—a tool to connect and deepen our relationships as denominational staff. It was a handmade card created by a woman in the church where my family has been attending for the past year. We don't know one another very well, but we work together in the Friendship ministry (a fellowship and Christian discipleship group for adults with developmental disabilities alongside friends who don't have developmental disabilities). Brenda had heard that my mother-in-law is in hospice care, and she wrote us a 'thinking of you' note. What a tender thing to find in the mail.
I get letters as a Banner employee too. Usually they're through email, but every so often a letter will come by mail. There was an incarcerated man who found a copy of The Banner in the prison reading room. Our address was there, and he wrote to me to tell of his painful story—looking for hope from someone who might tell it. We can't always do these stories, but I did write back to him and tell him of the Christian Reformed prison chaplain, hoping they might connect.
Another was from a woman who sent a photo of herself and a longtime friend with whom she'd first connected via The Banner's pen pals section in 1949!
I also write to the contributors who write news articles for The Banner, sending weekly “Tip Tuesday” emails and yearly Christmas cards by mail. I think these acts are ways of connecting, keeping us on mission, reminding us that there are human hands, minds, and hearts connected to those Banner bylines and to those holding the printed pages or screening the digital copy online.
Greeting one another by words on paper (or the appropriate archeological equivalent) is ancient. The apostles did it. In January I used some of the words from the biblical letter to the Hebrews in my first correspondence of 2023 to The Banner's news writers. Now I'd like to share those with you, “Behind the Banner” readers and co-workers in this CRCNA mission. In the midst of a turning of the calendar to a new year, I reminded:
Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, "is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). My circumstances, those of our communities, those of our congregations or our denomination need not dictate how I feel. I can refocus my gaze on Jesus (Heb. 12:2) and press in to what he has called me to.
Hope this ‘letter’ finds you well, Banner readers.