Friday, May 15, 2009

My Final Email

Iknow all about the last will and testament. I’ve read them, written one personally, and as a minister I’ve helped folk with theirs. A friend recently introduced me to a whole new level of “last words” with the website “My Last Email.” It’s a website that allows you to write your own obituary and read or add to the obituary of others. What caught my attention is the option to send an email to loved ones after you die!

Their marketing schtick goes like this:

The two longest words in the English language are “If only.” We may regret not telling someone how much we love them, or regret the harsh words we once had with a friend. We regret not letting friends and family into our lives a little more and sharing our thoughts and feelings with them. “If only I had told them”, “If only they could have known.” And once we die that opportunity is lost – but it need not be. Here at we offer you the opportunity to make that “If only…” into a reality.

It sounds kind of creepy, I can only imagine the "weird factor" of receiving an email from a dead friend. But it’s not altogether unlike the words we find in John 15. Part of what the Bible scholars call Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse,” it’s a kind of “last will” from Jesus to his disciples, and a kind of “last email” to us today.

If it’s Jesus’ last email to us, perhaps we should read it closely, pondering and treasuring what he is still saying to us. Perhaps all of scripture should hold us captive in the same way? What would you see differently if you read the Bible this way?

Not my last email,
Pastor Gary

Long Story, Short is a column I write on Friday to get you thinking about church on Sunday. If you'd like it sent to your email inbox, let me know at I really like to hear from you, and frequently your responses wind up as a living part of a sermon on Sundays. For example, my friend Thom Gagne wrote this story in response to this week's thoughts:

Hey Gary,

Last Thursday morning my Dad died. I flew home from Mauritania N Africa Thursday night with my 15 year old son Elliot.My wife Connie stayed behind to finish closing down the house and the Cafe.

Your " My Last Email" bit on your blog became especially poignant.In 1991 my folks were traveling back from Florida and stopped in Atlanta to visit my brother Martin. My Mom was near the end of a twenty year battle with cancer. Knowing that she would precede Dad in death, she had a wish for his eventual memorial, which she entrusted to my brother.

That day as Dad and grand kids went outside to sit in the sun, Mom called Marty to the side.She handed him an old copy of the collected works of Shakespeare. She explained that she had purchased this volume for Dad early in their marriage, but that he had never read it. It would become readily apparent however, that she had.

"Turn to page 1086" she whispered.

There Marty found the following underlined passage:" ...and when he shall die, take him and cut him into little stars, and he shall make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will fall in love with night and pay no more worship to the garish sun." Romeo & Juliet - William Shakespeare

I just thought you would appreciate this,

John 15:9-17
9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

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