January 19, 2020 • Second Sunday after The Epiphany
To whom it may concern.
I have always loved this salutation. It bespeaks the idea that I don’t know who will be reading my message. Their identity is a mystery. I might imagine all sorts of people. In my mind I might imagine my first grade teacher, gentle and nurturing, or a dismissive executive who doesn’t have the time for superfluous flourishes, or a grammarian who will reject my message for an extra comma or a split infinitive.
But it also indicates the idea that there is someone out there who is concerned with what I have to say. There is a secret, unrealized society of people, somehow united by a common concern. Emily Dickinson wrote that the soul has its own society. We occasionally meet people who we seem to share some unspoken concern that unites us, despite having no common history.
When we speak as a church, we speak as people who have received a letter that concerns us. We don’t exactly know from whence it came, we only know that we have been reached by word that speaks to some ill defined need for knowledge and wholeness.
Moreover, as recipients of this word of concern (aka the gospel), we are also called to be speakers of this word. A word of wisdom and grace. We don’t know exactly to whom we are speaking, we only know that if we speak it from our depths we are likely to reach some who are aware that they share our concern.
We are concerned with how we can be truly human, in spite of a living in a system that values us like commodities. We understand that love and mercy are more important than status and profit. Our gospel is always addressed to whom it may concern and so we speak clearly about this other way and leave the response to each individual.