Grace and Peace to you.
A decade ago I was campus pastor at Montana State University-Billings. I occasionally e-mailed news updates to interested students. After a while the messages evolved into a daily reflection that I called Unfolding Light. The earliest piece I can trace was on January 16, 2002. I’ve been doing it ever since. So I guess this is our 10th Anniversary. Think of that. Some of you have been reading this for ten years. Thanks for hanging in there. (And thanks to my family, who’ve patiently endured the time and money I spend doing this.)
I’ve posted two thousand, two hundred and sixty-nine blurbs, written and sent from home (three homes in three states) and occasionally on the road, in airports, in church basements, retreat centers, and, yes, on the backs of envelopes. And you’ve read them, passed them on, responded, used them in worship, argued with me, thanked me, critiqued my poetry, sent prayer requests, gotten your mother on the mailing list, challenged my theology, pleaded with me to publish, end even occasionally visited my church in order to meet me. But mostly, you’ve quietly received and read and pondered. I never know where these words go, who they might touch, how they will live their own lives. But you have been there.
I used to know everybody on my list, but now there are over a thousand of you in seven countries. (I have to use six different email addresses to get around spam limits. I’ve got to streamline that.) Some have left the list; some have let me know when they get accidentally dropped off the list. Some of you are friends; some are just email addresses. And I don’t know how many read this on the web site I started a couple of years ago, or your sister forwards it to you every day, or how many innocent bystanders see it quoted in some church newsletter. But I know you’re there. I think of you. And I think of you as “my people.” I often pray for you. And I thank you. This has been an important part of my prayer discipline, and every weekday morning I know there are people waiting for this. It keeps me at it. Thank you for being there.
It’s like preaching: there are folks who are willing to listen. But it’s also like praying, and this is as true for you as for me: your prayers go somewhere. They are heard. They are received. You don’t know where your prayers end up, or what effect they have. But there are unseen multitudes who hear them. Your prayers go out into the world like seeds, and they spring to life and bless this world in ways you can never know. Prayer can sound one-sided. (I wish I could be as attentively silent as God.) But it’s a conversation.
I give thanks for the mystery by which we are in this together. And I rejoice that whether or not you have an electronic audience, you are heard. Your prayers matter to The One Who Listens, who waits eagerly for them every day. Have courage. Keep at it.