Eric, more than a few birthdays ago.

I have one just one sibling, my brother Eric, who is 3 years older than I am.  Looking at the calendar I realize that today is Eric’s birthday (which reminds me… I should give him a call).  Once Eric graduated high school and headed off to college, our relationship changed a lot.  Much about it, actually, got better.  We no longer fought or disagreed over the small things and we started to appreciate the unique gifts the other possessed.  For example, Eric possesses a freakishly deep well of trivial information about the world, which makes him an invaluable partner in any trivia contest.  I, on the other hand, continue to be better looking and have a more charming disposition ;).  As we’ve matured, these appreciations have only grown.

The other thing that changed drastically about our relationship post-childhood is that we are so seldom physically together.  After college, Eric moved to Atlanta and has never left.  I moved to Montana and now back to Minnesota.  To his credit, Eric has always been better at coming to visit me than I have been at visiting him in Georgia.  But much of our relationship has had to be maintained with long-distance communication:  cards in the mail, phone calls, emails, texts, Facebook, and video calls have all been part of the story.

How have you been maintaining the important relationships in your life?  One reality of Covid has been that even the people we were used to seeing in-person regularly, are now just as separated from us as someone who lives on the other side of the country.  I wonder if one beneficial by-product of this past year might be that we’re better skilled at staying connected.  I hope that’s the case.

This Sunday and in several of the weeks ahead, our readings will draw from the Apostle Paul’s letter written to the churches of Galatia (in present day Turkey).  Absent postal systems, smart phones, social media and computers connected to the internet, the way to stay in touch over long distance 2000 years ago was for someone to hand-carry a letter along on a long journey.  It’s amazing to think how the early churches stayed connected to each other when communication was such a challenge.  That these letters were treasured, copied and shared is no surprise then and we continue to be the beneficiaries of this treasure.

Today, let’s give thanks for all the ways we have to stay connected with those who mean so much in our lives.  Even if they live in Georgia.  Which reminds me… I should make a call.

May God’s peace find you this day. – Pastor Peter

Let us pray: 
Good and Gracious God, form the minds of your faithful people into your one will. Make us love like you love, forgive like you forgive, extend hospitality like you extend hospitality, and embody your grace. Fix our hearts where true joy is found, your son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Friend. Amen.