Thursday, December 15, 2016

tertius

I Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord.  Romans 16:22

Some people think he actually wrote this letter attributed to Paul.  Some think he had some notes and sermon scraps from Paul and from those, composed them into a logical form.  Some think he was Paul's amanuensis (your word for the day!).  His name, which means 'third,' was a common one for slaves, so he may have been one of Phoebe's servants, sent by his benefactor to help Paul.  We don't really know anything or anymore about Tertius, except this one line at the end of a lengthy letter.  Then, he simply disappears into the mists of history, only a tagline at the end of book that has transformed churches, as well as lives.  Forgotten.

Tertius was simply the conduit, the communicator, the intermediary who put Paul in touch with the good folks in Rome, as well as us.  In my mind's eye and in recent memory, he would be like the operators at telephone switchboards who would receive your call and then connect you with the person, the store, the company you were trying to reach.

Bill was our conduit, our communicator, our intermediary for years when we lived in Cincinnati and would call to speak to Teddy.  "Grounds, Bill!" would come his enthusiastic and generous welcome when we called the main number.  He would always ask how were doing and then connect us with Teddy.  When we started driving up every week, Bill was usually the one working at Grounds, where we would stop and take a pit stop, before heading over to pick up Teddy for an outing.

Bill was big and gruff, and gentle as a lamb.  It didn't matter what the weather, he always wore an Hawaiian shirt, and if the outside temps were above the teens, usually had shorts on.  We always enjoyed the few minutes we go to see him and talk with him because he shared his graciousness, his joy in life, his compassion on his sleeve.  It was a special treat for us, if Bill had his dogs with him, which he often did, giving us the opportunity to love them and receive their unconditional love. Since we moved to Columbus, we didn't see him as much, but still heard his voice on the phone, still bathed in his warmth when he answered.

The other morning, Bill went out on his back deck, to let the dogs outside.  And that is where his partner found him, sadly silenced by a fatal heart attack.  We will no longer hear his gruff and generous voice, no longer hear about or see his dogs, no longer be warmed by his spirit.

But Bill will not be lost in the mists of our history, or forgotten.

Prayer:  We give thanks for those good and generous folks, Listening God, who make it possible for us to be connected with families, friends, neighbors.  Amen.

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman

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