And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." Matthew 25:40
Recently, Pam and I were back in Chaska, Minnesota, to help celebrate our youngest grandson's birthday.
While there we found out that Juliann Sears, one of the members of our previous parish, had gone home to be with her Savior. News of her passing had not made it down to Texas where we currently live. That is, in part, because Juliann was not the kind of person whom the world acknowledges or applauds.
Even so, I remember Juliann. I can see her and her daughter sitting in church. In the best of Lutheran traditions, she sat in the same place every week. That spot was in the third row on the south side of the church. I can also recall how she traveled with us to Israel and to Germany. She was a great walker and endured the stress of travel with a smile and a joke. In short, she was a delightful lady.
Oh, one other thing you should know: Juliann will be missed.
You see, Juliann was a most special individual, special because every week she wrote letters to five people. Understand these people were not especially close to her. They were not family or part of an inner circle of friends. She wrote to them because she figured they were the kind of people who normally didn't get letters. "Hello," the letter began. "I am Juliann Sears, and I was thinking about you this week."
In the scheme of things those five letters weren't a big thing ... not big at all unless you happened to get one of those short, handwritten epistles. Those who did reacted pretty much the same way. First they said, "Nobody writes letters anymore." That was followed up with, "How nice. I wonder why she wrote to me." It always ended with five people feeling very, very special.
Yes, Juliann will be missed.
Having said that, I wonder how many people might be changed if some of us picked up where Juliann left off. No, I wouldn't expect anyone to write five letters, maybe not even three. But how about one? And if you don't like writing by hand, how about an e-mail or a phone call? A phone call might be better since it won't get caught and set aside by someone's spam filter.
And if you're wondering why you or anybody would do such a thing, Jesus reminds us, even as you do something good, nice or thoughtful to the least of the people in this world, you are doing that good, nice and thoughtful thing to Him.
Juliann understood that. And I pray all of us least and lowly souls who have been touched by the Savior's work can understand it too.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that Jesus has lived, died and risen so my life here and my eternity might be changed. May I thank Him by reflecting the Savior's love to others. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries