Happy Valentine’s Day! One of the Valentine’s themed things I listened to recently started off rather suspiciously. It began by making the assertion that millennials, those born between 1983 and 2000 are the most murderous generation in history. I was taken aback at first, but then the host’s evidence of some simple Google searches provided some ample evidence.

My generation and I are apparently the guilty culprits culpable for the deaths of numerous items; things like napkins, suits and wine corks; to industries like travel marketing, leisure, and golf; or even institutions and technologies like the 9-5 workday, the casual restaurant and the ubiquitous voicemail! Now, I have yet to actually own a full suit, so I am probably culpable in that murder yes, but as for voicemail, it’s probably more of a case of negligent homicide.

I still use it and find it incredibly useful! But just a simple glance at some of my friends’ phones and that glaring red notification number on their phone app icon indication their numerous unchecked voicemails lends much validity to this claim. Perhaps my fondness for it stems from my line of work. There are times when information just can’t be communicated via email or text. And yet I understand my fellow Millennial’s distain for this antiquated bit of tech.

There are too many of bots, businesses and let’s face it, family members who leave long and rambling messages that we just never get around to listening too. But unlike the original systems that recorded directly to tape, todays are stored digitally on our devices and can be saved for as long as we wish. This often-forgotten aspect of the voicemail was what became the host of this podcast’s favorite feature. His mother was notorious for those long rambling messages that he’d never listen to.

But then she had lost a rapid and shockingly fast battle with cancer. Suddenly, the only way this host could hear his mother, was by listening to those voicemails. Overnight, what was once only disdained, became beloved and was now his most cherished possession; a way to always hear his mother’s voice in his ear and in his heart.

I got to hear something like this for the first time recently too. It’s also a valued possession of mine, though looking at it looks just like any other random CD, or file on my computer (as I’ve backed it up!). My maternal grandmother Dorothy, my Mom’s mom, died of cancer when my mom was just 17. My Gramps remarried before I was born and Gram was the grandma I knew, but I also knew about Grandma Dorothy from pictures and stories.

One Christmas recently, my Great Uncle Myron handed us all identical envelopes, each containing a CD. He then pulled out his phone and said, here’s what you all have on those CD’s. Myron was in the Airforce in the ‘50s and my Grandma Dorothy would send him little tapes of recordings she’d made from the family: my Uncle Steve talking about Scouts, my Aunt Mary plucking a few notes on the piano, and baby Joyce (my mom) crying in the background. All the while Grandma Dorothy providing a running commentary throughout, giving the news of the day, from church, to family and city wide.

Myron had randomly found this one tape and straight away had it digitized. As we listened, there wasn’t a dry eye. My cousins and I had never heard our Grandmother’s voice. We knew of her, about her, who she was, but this was a whole level deeper. And then my mom and her siblings; they hadn’t heard their Mom’s voice in forty-two years. They, and we, now had a whole new tangible piece of her and we all had a whole other level of peace amongst us.

I kept hearing in my head this week, the refrain from Holden Evening Prayer, “God of Mercy, Hold Us in Love.” For just as God most certainly holds each and every one of us in love, we in turn hold so many in fervent love as well; whether it be someone else, or even just the voice or memento of those we love. But this Valentine’s day as we hold one another, who/what do you hold in love? Happy Valentine’s Day Dear Church!

God’s Peace & Valentine’s Blessings,

Pastor Dave Elliott