"Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts."
(2 Corinthians 3:1-3)
It's scholarship season for many high school and college students. I write a fair amount of letters of recommendation every year. Committees need letter of rec, so they can get a better sense of the candidate applying for their grants. A well-written letter can be the difference in a person's application that separates him/her from the rest of the pack.
Paul knew about letter of recommendation. How important they can be in many situations. But he saw something even greater - the testimony of another person's life - especially in relationship to his own life! Paul loved the church in Corinth. They'd lived together, loved, laughed, cried, & struggled. But through it all, they were one! One body... one spirit... one Lord among them. Want to know what Paul was like? Look at the people of Corinth. They reflected Paul & his ministry. Paul didn't need any official letters from folks telling him how good of a pastor he was. No. Those relationships were already written on his heart in indelible ink, for all the world to see!
I kind of feel like this is what I'm going through now. As I get ready to depart, I know I've been shaped by the people of Aiea UMC. I know I've helped shape them, too. Do you want to know what our ministry was like together? Just look at the people. They're my letters of recommendation! People who laugh, love, care, commit, reach out, and feel for one another. Because that's the work of the Spirit in all of us. That's what we've tried to do together.
Will I be successful in Palmdale? Who knows. Personally, I don't think God calls us to be "successful." I think God calls us to be faithful. Will my ministry with the people of Palmdale be fruitful? I sure hope & pray that is so. But I don't need any "official" letters of recommendation from our denomination to tell me how well I did at Aiea UMC. Those letters of rec are already written on my heart... and on the hearts of those who make up our ohana.
Thank you, everyone.