I find mail addressed to “Occupant” to be very irritating. Almost as bad is receiving a phone call from someone who calls me James. Yes, that’s my formal name, but I go by Jim and anyone who really knows me will call me that. Our names are important to us because they are a part of our identity. To be called the wrong name, or to be addressed by something generic, robs us of our particularity in many ways. The author of 3 John makes an allusion to this fact in one of our readings for today. “Peace to you,” he writes. “The friends send you their greetings. Greet the friends there, each by name” (3 John 15). Greet the members of the community there, and call them each by his or her name.
I like the sentiment expressed in this verse. It is important to know and to respect those who share in the faith with us. It is important to value what each of us offers the community as a whole. While we will never know every other believer, we must recognize the unique gifts that God has given us all and the sacrifices that each of us makes. The author of 3 John is right to ask that each of the “friends” be greeted by name, even though the author did not know them, or did not have the space in which to write them.
I wish that I could call all of you who are reading these words by name. I wish I could acknowledge the unique gifts that each of you have received. I wish I had even an inkling of the sacrifices each of you make. Since I can not know these things I will simply tell you how blessed I feel to walk in faith with you and to know that others are serving our Lord and Savior the best they know how.
Prayer: Lord, bless each of us in our efforts to serve you that your love may spread to all in need. Amen.
(As this is my last post of 2011 I wish all of you a blessed 2012. May all of the challenges you face bring with them the sense of God’s presence.)