Tuesday, March 31, 2009

#72 Spiritual email signoffs


When a Christian emails another Christian, they are likely to use a signoff that acknowledges the Lord. If a secular signoff is “Sincerely” or “Best,” a spiritual signoff is “In Christ” or “Blessings.” It can also present itself in the following varieties:

In Him,
Your servant in Christ,
Complete in Him,
In His Service,
Covered in the blood,
In His grip,
Grace and peace,
<>< (an ichtheuse [that’s “ Jesus fish” to the non-seminaried hoi polloi])

New varities of these pop up all the time and the only hard and fast (yet unwritten) rule is that when a pronoun for God is used, it is always, always capitalized.

The apostle Paul signed his letters by gushing a bit about grace and peace, but then, he gushed throughout his letters. Screwtape signed his letters “Your affectionate uncle.” Charles Bukowski signed his letters with all kinds of weirdness like “7 comes eleven,” “Sure,” and “I have leukemia, Bukowski.” Sarah Palin signs her emails “With an Alaskan heart.” Maybe these signatures are as honoring to God as signing off with“In Him.” Who knows? People’s personal experiences inform how they receive everything. If they have spiritual abuse in their past, they may not feel “blessed” by such an email signature, and even a bit wounded. Just something to be aware of, I guess.



Lauren said...

My mom dated a guy who signed love letters "Under Aslan's paw."

Rich said...

Christian "sign offs" always drive me effin nuts! It is honestly one of my biggest pet peeves. You are right that Paul said shit (scubula in Greek) 'cuz he meant it, not like an 8 year old at the end of a dinner prayer rattling off forjesussakeamen. The eight year old can do it, but don't say, "Blessings" at the end of an email when it has no effin content!

In writing prayer letters, support letters, etc this is one of the areas where I am the most conscious about how full of shit I am prepared to be. I'm honestly not against signing "in Christ" or whatever, but for the love of God take some time to think about it as opposed to seeing it simply as "Rich Braaksma, pastor, VBF, cell 310-804-xxxx" etc.!!!

candacemorris said...

Under Aslan's Paw?! HAAAA.

Hugh said...

If I am e-mailing someone I know is a Christian I may sign off with "God Bless" but that does depend on the content and context of the message. Generally if it is to do with work I don't except occasionally, to my Christian boss.

God Bless

Good Girls Studio said...

Under Aslan's Paw..that's a bit creepy! What was he a zoo handler ??

Peace out Girl Scout

LKT said...

On one blog I frequent, one of the commenters signed off YSIC, which I could not figure out for the longest time. What does it say when you don't even write it out?

Yours Servant in Christ,

Unknown said...

I know a clergy person who always closes his e-mails with "Under the Lamb." My assistant forwarded me one of his e-mails and said, "'Under the Lamb'? What's he doing there?"

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go check the gel in my hair.


Anonymous said...

I never quite know how to sign off any of my correspondence, Christian or not. I am never ashamed to say I am a Christian but would not think of signing off a post to a non-Christian with an 'In Christ'. But I see nothing wrong with sharing the joy of my faith with another person who I am certain shares my faith by signing off with a conspicuously Christian complimentary closing.

I don't know where you have been in your Christian walk, nor what is meant by you specifically when you mention spiritual abuse. But I am quite sure I have been there, without a doubt. And back.

I rejoice that I came back, as I have gone beyond all the legalism and those things designed to bring ruination to something that is meant to be a beautiful, life giving experience. God did not create this breathtakingly beautiful world with the intent that we live in it and not enjoy it and live a full life. There is life beyond what we have first learned. I am so thankful that I came back to my Christianity after abandoning it for many years, for I have learned so much more than I thought I knew, since then.

Preacher's kid, or not, you can never know it all. There is a depth of knowledge in the Bible that goes beyond common understanding, beyond 20 years of fundamentalism and hard core bible learning, for myself. "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Proverbs 25:11. I heard the words before, I read the bible through several times. But I had to wait until now to hear the words in the right spirit, for God to remove the blinds from my eyes for me to see, learn, and believe the deeper truths. About God, His covenant (yes, I capitalize-He alone deserves it, for He alone is Holy), and His promises. I finally feel free, and all those verses such as those that say: "ye shall be free indeed" finally have meaning for me in the here and now.

I have not read much of your blog, yet, and I hope to be pleasantly surprised by the reading of it. You seem to be well-informed on modern day Christianity as far as its culture goes. But don't be too quick to brush it all off by cynicism.

There are many more wheat than tares in Christian culture today. And the fact of the matter is, they are getting out the gospel, feeding the hungry, housing the poor, and homeless, and bringing medical care to the sick through their ministries.

They may appear to be paralleling world values closer than their mid 20th century counterparts, but they are working very hard to do God's work. Don't be so quick to dismiss. There are many good Christians sitting in the pews by the thousands listening, learning, and being uplifted by these Christians you speak of. Pull the plank out of your own eye first, sister.

Anonymous said...

Wow, someone seriously needs to find a sense of humor.

Maybe all of the "wheat" ought to try feeding the hungry and clothing the naked without the ulterior motive of "witnessing the gospel" or whatever their particular warehouse church likes to call it. You know, do some good for the sole sake of doing good, not to increase church membership.

seeking whom I may devour,

Adolph von Satan

LKT said...


If you don't know where she has been, then how do you know if you have been there? And back?

I don't find this blog cynical so much as very astute in observing how the trappings of Christianity obscure Christ himself. Be careful not to be quick to judge, yourself. It may not look like what you're used to, but that doesn't mean it's not faithful. Too many negatives in that sentence.

The point being, Jesus said, "Take the plank out of your eye" to the people immersed in the religious culture. This blog is all about seeing the planks.

In all this I remain,

Your sister in Christ, washed in the blood of the Lamb and redeemed by Him who is Love, in the name of Christ, Amen,


Anonymous said...

Jesus declared, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” Our Lord wants us to go into the world and bring others to him. He declared that the harvest is ready, in other words, the world is ready to hear the gospel, but where are the people who will go? You who believe it is wrong to preach the gospel while doing good works have it all wrong. Christians have a responsiblility to God to spread the gospel, and what a wonderful way to combine that Christly commission with good works by telling the truly lost of the world that Jesus died for their sins, that they don't need to feel alone anymore in their suffering. And that because Jesus loves them, he sent us here to help you with your physical needs, as well.

God's word tells us that in many instances, we need to consider the physical with the spiritual, James 2:14-17 "What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister has no clothes, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit?"

You could say that Jesus was truly the first holisticly minded healer. He cares for the body, the mind, and the spirit. He desires that you be well, be fed, and be happy. He desires that you have a clean heart and a sound mind. All this stuff is in the bible, if you want to read it. If you need actual bible verses with their addresses to make it easier, I can give them to you. I would be more than happy to.

By the way, I do have a sense of humor, although it is rather dry. My kids have great humor, though. Each one of them! I love being with them because they are so naturally funny. Each in their own way, too. It is great! And they are all Christians, too. That is a joy to my heart.

They didn't become Christians because I forced them to. They became Christians of their own choosing, by watching my example, and because I loved them dearly and tenderly in Christ. Everything was under the banner of Christ, and that is how they were brought up, but with an incredible amount of love, because I let God love them through me.

When they witness to people, it is natural and in context. It is beautiful, and never forced. There are many ways to reach people with the gospel of the cross of Christ. Anyone who says there is only one way is lying, or listening to the father of lies.

Keep one thing in mind, above all else. God is Holy. He cannot be in the presence of sin.

In the beginning, God communed with his people. Then, man and woman fell into sin, by listening to the father of lies. While God meant for them to live eternally, their punishment for their disobedience to Him was to die a natural death, and be done with it, never to see God or to be in His presence again. They wanted their eternal life back, and did not want to be without God for all eternity. They were frightened out of their wits. God had compassion. God said something had to take the punishment for their sin, though, just the same, and while they still had to suffer the pangs of death, if they covered or hid their sins underneath the blood of a dead animal, while on earth, God would accept that as a substitute for their death. They could enter his presence at the end of their lives if they did this thing. Thus began the practice of animal sacrifice to atone for sin.

Fast forward to the time of Christ. Jews are still performing animal sacrifice to atone for their sin, in order that they may be reunited with God in eternity, and be worthy to enter into his presence.

Christ was sent to earth, God in the flesh, to die-a final blood sacrifice-a perfect, spotless sacrifice. That was his purpose. He came to die to make an end to the animal sacrifice. He came to the Jews, the people of God. While the Jews had been waiting for their Messiah to arrive for centuries, they, as you know, rejected Him. He then went to the Gentiles, and all the world. Christ is for everyone.

When he was nailed to the cross, just before he died, he said "It is finished." Meaning the animal sacrifice is finished. Meaning the law is finished. Meaning Grace is now in effect. Meaning if you believe that Christ can save you from your sins, you are saved by Grace, and you are now Holy. You are now righteous. You are now just. You are free from the Law (10 commandments). You are now under the covenant that God made with Abraham, which was before the law-Grace and Law are like oil and water: they don't mix. You can't have one with the other. You can't feel bad about your past if you are saved-you have been delivered by the stripes on Jesus back. You are under Grace! You are Holy! God told Abraham he would bless him with many blessings, that he would bless them that blessed him and curse them that cursed him. You may think God was only speaking about Jews, but Jesus said we have been grafted into the branch of Abraham if we believe in him. Abraham came before the law. So, we are truly free! Amen

Anonymous said...

Ha,ha good point Laura. I have been ravaged by Christians.. Note I did not do the "so-called" thing in front of the word. Because I know these people were Christians. Its just that they were inbred so deeply by the teachings of the pastor that they couldn't, wouldn't, didn't, shouldn't, be a blessing to me or my family when we were going through an unbelievable period of crisis. I never understood it, perhaps it was the type of crisis we were going through that made us "UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN" but it was their total lack of Christian love, and I mean total lack, even from the pastor, who was cold hearted and I hesitate to say, very, very, very badly behaved, (I believe he will be asked to answer for his behavior one day). It was a big determiner in my decision to leave the church.

As I said, I haven't read the blog very deeply yet. I like to write, just like Joyce Meyer loves to talk. I'm a former RN who had to write pages of documents daily and also have a BA in English Language and Literature with a minor in Graphic Design, so you get the picture. I love to use my words to try to paint a picture when I am not actually making a picture. I am disabled and housebound, even bedbound most of the time, so I have time on my hands.

Again, you don't know what I am used to. As I said, I am disabled and bedbound. What I am used to is what I can get on cable television. I can't get to church because I am too sick. But my heart for Christ grows daily as does my knowledge of His Kingdom here on earth and to come. I am interested in finding those gold nuggets of scripture that I have missed before when I was only ready for the milk of the word.

I know God yet has a ministry for me in spite of my disability, and I am ready to receive it. In the meantime, I am studying daily. That is how I came across this website, I was looking for something online.

One thing I always do is witness every chance I get if it is going to be profitable for Christ. Amen.

Emily said...

I have an idea for a new posting:
"Three Part Sermons"

I'm a P.K., married to a former youth pastor. I feel your pain, and totally get your humor. I love this website.

Emily said...

Also, how fantastic of some people to tell you things you already know. Does a pastor's kid need to be preached to... mmmm... no.

stephy said...

To anyone who cares, I've disabled anonymous posting. It just allows people to snark at others without any accountability, and I don't think that's good. I'm a fan of snark as long as the person can own it and not be subversively abusive. Thanks, all.

Mark (under construction) said...

I eally enjoyed this post.

Because of Him

Frankie Machine said...

I just read this comment thread on Sunday morning. Does that count as going to church? Because if it does, can I drink six beers and fall asleep in front of "This Week" now, as is my post-church ritual?

I voted for Obama,
Frankie Machine

faithlessinfatima said...

What comes first...the Spirit or the Formula?

dfrank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dfrank said...

I do get these from time to time:

"In Christs Love," or "Love in Him"

Because just "love" would be too akward?

Kimberly said...

Hi- A friend just sent me a link to your blog- I LOVE IT!!!!!

I just had someone do business with me online, and they were (in my opinion) somewhat inflexible and difficult to work with, then signed the e-mail "blessings," I don't get it! Our interaction was not at all a blessing!

My fave is:
love and peace,

Billy said...

I've never been a fan of Christian signoffs. I've been a worship leader, deacon and Sunday school teacher, so I guess I should, but I've always thought it was a little "look at how spiritual I am." A simple ~Billy does it for me.


Unknown said...

This little habit drives me berserk! People also use it on blogs and even in their voicemails. This type of display is exactly what Jesus was warning against when he exhorted his disciples to pray in the privacy of their homes.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is the real reason evangelicals are so anti-gay. If they wipe out homosexuality, nobody will giggle anymore when they get letters signed "In Him".

Anonymous said...

We've heard Narnia-related ones like

"In the paws of the lion"
"In the lion's mane"


Josh said...

"Covered in the blood"? really? If someone signed off with that frankly I'd be scared shitless.

And Mr. Anonymous preacher guy, Jesus was a guy who saw that the old way wasn't working anymore, saw that Jewish law had turned into something that had nothing to do with God anymore, and changed it to fit the times. We just need a new Jesus and he probably won't be on your side.

Currer813 said...

My grandfather signs all his e-mails with "I am what the I AM says I am," which just reminds me of Popeye.


Elizabeth said...

The one that always rankles me when I see it is, "Have a Blessed Day!"

It always sounds so chirpy and forcefully cheerful, but completely devoid of any meaning to the speaker/writer. I often think that they're relying on a platitude to convey their supposed care while checking out emotionally from the exchange.

Have a blesse(... mentally wanders away to look at something shiny)

Most certainly not anonymous,

P.S. I love this blog and it's healing insights. I have been able to contextualize and distance my prejudices of Christian Culture from Christians fairly well in the last 10 years or so, but never have I laughed so hard while doing it.

Anonymous said...

I actually loved the "Under Aslan's Paw" thingy. But then again, I'm not christian. But I am a bif geek. I only thought how cool it would be to actually know a talking lion. wooooo!!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Really? I guess I am surprised at all of the posts expressing annoyance and/or questioning the sincerity/motivation for using the "Christian" sign offs...
If (stress on the if) I do use a sign off expressing y faith or wishing blessings upon another person, it is always sincere... If I dont it is because I'm not feelin it right then. I have a friend who does it all the time, "have a blessed day" You know what? She is one of the most cheerful,well-meaning, big-hearted people I know---I hate to think there are people out there judging her sincerity...
You who are peeved by sign-offs that express a positiv, loving message...ummm..wtf???

stephy said...

Hi Anonymous,

Yeah, I get that. I'd just like to reiterate the last part of the post: "People’s personal experiences inform how they receive everything. If they have spiritual abuse in their past, they may not feel “blessed” by such an email signature, and even a bit wounded. Just something to be aware of, I guess."

Bill said...

OT, but in the picture isn't Jesus violating Paul's injunction against long hair in men?

Brian Fleming said...

Many in our parish at St Ann's in TX have been part of a parish renewal over the years which is is called Christ Renews His Parish and from there many have addressed each other with "Your Brother in Christ", "You Sister in Christ"

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Justin L. Brown said...

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