January 26 – Happy 490th, LPC E-pistle

This coming Thursday, February 1, will mark the official Tenth Anniversary of Becky’s and my time at LPC.  Official duties began February 1, 2008, though I had started working off the clock a week earlier by attending a Men’s Retreat at Harvey Cedars Conference Center. It was my first time on the Jersey Shore and a wonderful introduction to the men of LPC.

February 1, 2008, was a Friday; the first of 490 Fridays on which this email/blog was sent to LPC folks and a few others.  Becky’s first volunteer work at LPC was setting up the WordPress platform for the E-pistle, and it was ready to go that first day on the job. Yes, according to WordPress there are now 490 E-pistle posts in the archives.  The math is pretty easy. 49 Fridays a year.

The tagline in the header of the email edition of the E-pistle reads, “News and Updates from LPC/Pastor Bill’s comments on faith, life, and the world.”  The blog edition sticks to the comments on faith, life, and the world.

In fact, some of the 490 E-pistles have been sent on other than Friday, but for the most part, Friday it has been.  Some of you know that Friday is my day off.  Most E-pistles are written from home on “my time.” Why on my day off?  Two reasons, as I recall.  First, I’ve always made it clear that the comments in the reflections section are mine alone. I’m not using church time to say what I say.  If you don’t like something I write, at least you know you didn’t pay me to say what I said. Even the news and notes in the e-mail version are those I choose to share.  I kind of like it that way.

The second reason I choose to write on Fridays is that it’s good therapy after a long week.  I like to write. My guess is that on about 400 of the 490 Fridays on which I have posted some E-pistle thoughts, I woke up not knowing what might appear when the figurative pen was put to the figurative paper.  As I take my Friday morning shower, drink my Friday morning coffee, read the Friday morning news, and ponder my Friday morning devotions, I’m looking for something about faith, life, or the world that sparks a thought. Then the keyboard begins to clack.  Typos and all, the E-pistle is first draft stuff.

Over the years, I have taken to adding a link to the online version of the E-pistle on social media, and I have picked up a few non-LPC readers along the way. Most are old friends; some take me by surprise.

Ten years. 490 editions. Thanks for reading and for commenting now and then.

By the way, ten years ago the New England Patriots were getting read for a Super Bowl contest with the New York Giants.  There had been a lot of trash talk, especially from Giants star receiver Plaxico Burress.  And Super Tuesday in the 2008 primaries was coming up and there had been a lot of trash talk from the Clinton and Obama camps.  I was thinking about trash talk that first day on the job at LPC, and wrote:

How about trash talk in the church?  Nothing wrong with some Super Bowl jawing. And, yes, let’s talk politics – if Jesus is Lord of all, he’s lord of the political process and Christians need to be informed and involved, even if the conversation gets a bit heated.  But there’s a difference between good-natured sparring and wrestling with tough issues and trash talk.  In fact, trash talk in the church is forbidden.  Paul tells the Ephesians, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) The word translated as “unwholesome” literally means decaying or rotten and was used to describe decaying fish or fruit no longer fit to eat, the stuff you throw into the trash.

Trash talk and the Gospel just don’t mix.  Among those who know the Good News the standards are edifying and beneficial. 

Plaxico Burress caught the winning touchdown in the 2008 Super Bowl.  Tom Brady and the Patriots occasionally lose.  A few years later Burress went to jail. Off the field trash talking and guns don’t mix, it seems.

The first day on the job at LPC, I was thinking about the danger of trash talking in the church. Hopefully, I have heeded my own words.

See you Sunday