Say Hello

Tom Hanks starred in a wonderful movie called “News of the World” a few years ago. It was the story of an itinerant news reader who traveled all over Texas in 1870 to read news stories about presidents, queens, disasters, and all kinds of adventures to people who had no access to newspapers and most likely were illiterate. Folks would gather in the community hall or a tent to sit and listen in awe as this former Civil War veteran read to them.

 It is hard for us to imagine such a world where even a basic newspaper isn’t available. We are spoiled by an overabundance of news outlets right at our fingertips, from 24-hour television news to online sources that update every few minutes.

We also have an amazing ability to keep in touch with our family members now, thanks to technology such as FaceTime and ZOOM. During the pandemic, my family started a weekly ZOOM call to keep everyone in touch with each other. From Germany to Montana to Georgia and Virginia, we connected electronically to share our weekly joys and sorrows and to see each other’s faces. We still continue that today.

When we read Paul’s letter to Colossae, we get a rare glimpse into the difficulties of keeping a large family of followers in touch with each other. Paul had to entrust his letters to people who took months to travel with them to their intended destinations. The fact that this letter even exists to be read by modern Christians today is a miracle of God’s making. Paul writes about the men with whom he is travelling, and the common work they are doing in spreading the gospel. 

Colossians 4:7-15 (Common English Bible)

Tychicus, our dearly loved brother, faithful minister, and fellow slave in the Lord, will inform you about everything that has happened to me. This is why I sent him to you, so that you’ll know all about us and so he can encourage your hearts. I sent him with Onesimus, our faithful and dearly loved brother, who is one of you. They will let you know about everything here.

10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, says hello to you. So does Mark, Barnabas’ cousin (you received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him). 11 Jesus, called Justus, also says hello. These are my only fellow workers for God’s kingdom who are Jewish converts. They have been an encouragement to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, says hello. He’s a slave of Christ Jesus who always wrestles for you in prayers so that you will stand firm and be fully mature and complete in the entire will of God. 13 I can vouch for him that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the dearly loved physician, and Demas say hello.

15 Say hello to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea, along with Nympha and the church that meets in her house.

He mentions two men of particular interest: Onesimus, a former slave whom he describes as a faithful and beloved brother of the church and should be welcomed as one of them; and Epaphras, who is described as a bondservant in Christ who has been laboring fervently in prayer for them. In so doing, Paul is strengthening the family ties between these diverse men and ensuring that they are all keeping up and strengthening their relationships with each other.

This gives us pause to think about our own relationships with our family, friends, coworkers, and church. Are we making it a priority to stay in touch, or do we let months (or years) go by? How hard is it to just say hello?

As people of God, we are invited to stay informed and pray with great fervor for one another. Is God calling you to pick up the phone and reach out to someone today? Don’t hesitate. You may not always have this chance.

Hello, OBX! by Michelle Robertson

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