Patti and I were engaged for 13 months. (Way too long)
And we were apart for most of that time (Way too far)
So we wrote letters. Lots of letters. Full of hopes and plans and dreams. And love. Lots of love...
Paul writes to the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 16
1 -4Regarding the relief offering for poor Christians that is being collected, you get the same instructions I gave the churches in Galatia. Every Sunday each of you make an offering and put it in safekeeping. Be as generous as you can. When I get there you'll have it ready, and I won't have to make a special appeal. Then after I arrive, I'll write letters authorizing whomever you delegate, and send them off to Jerusalem to deliver your gift. If you think it best that I go along, I'll be glad to travel with them."
Paul is writing to a group of people he has become very fond of. He ends his letter with a series of love notes...
5 -9 "I plan to visit you after passing through northern Greece. I won't be staying long there, but maybe I can stay awhile with you—maybe even spend the winter? Then you could give me a good send-off, wherever I may be headed next. I don't want to just drop by in between other "primary" destinations. I want a good, long, leisurely visit. If the Master agrees, we'll have it! For the present, I'm staying right here in Ephesus. A huge door of opportunity for good work has opened up here. (There is also mushrooming opposition.)"
Instructions if beloved young Timothy shows up.
10 -11 "If Timothy shows up, take good care of him. Make him feel completely at home among you. He works so hard for the Master, just as I do. Don't let anyone disparage him. After a while, send him on to me with your blessing. Tell him I'm expecting him, and any friends he has with him."
Renowned preacher who they are trying to get to come and speak...
12 "About our friend Apollos, I've done my best to get him to pay you a visit, but haven't talked him into it yet. He doesn't think this is the right time. But there will be a "right time."
Some last minute instructions...
13 -14 "Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute, and love without stopping."
Give some honor to some honorable folks...
15 -16 "Would you do me a favor, friends, and give special recognition to the family of Stephanas? You know, they were among the first converts in Greece, and they've put themselves out, serving Christians ever since then. I want you to honor and look up to people like that: companions and workers who show us how to do it, giving us something to aspire to."
His delight in some of the young Christian workers coming up...
17 -18 "I want you to know how delighted I am to have Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus here with me. They partially make up for your absence! They've refreshed me by keeping me in touch with you. Be proud that you have people like this among you."
Hugs and kisses...
19 "The churches here in western Asia send greetings.
Aquila, Priscilla, and the church that meets in their house say hello.
20All the friends here say hello.
Pass the greetings around with holy embraces!
21 And I, Paul—in my own handwriting!—send you my regards."
And above all - love the Lord!
22 "If anyone won't love the Master, throw him out. Make room for the Master!
23 Our Master Jesus has his arms wide open for you.
24 And I love all of you in the Messiah, in Jesus."