Pentecost 9/Lectionary 17B, John 6:1-21
Today we heard the story in John’s Gospel of Jesus feeding about five thousand people using a grand total of five barley loaves and two fish and ending up with twelve full baskets of leftovers.
How did Jesus do it? Jesus playfully set up the scene when he asked Philip rhetorically, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” Philip’s telling, realistic response was this: “Six months wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”
Acknowledging that a child was in possession of five barley loaves and two fish, the disciple Andrew observed also with sober judgment, “What are they among so many people?”
Indeed, how on earth could Jesus make so much out of so little?
The Modern mind might be inclined to de-mythologize the miraculous nature of the feeding of the five thousand. Some have posited, for example, that the generosity of the boy in making available to Jesus his five loaves and two fish inspired the generosity of others in the crowd such that everybody ended up sharing enough so that everyone could eat enough to be satisfied. And the generous sharing was such that they ended up with leftovers.
Thus, we could easily reduce this story in John to what happens at church potlucks when members bring food to share – a dish to pass – among the whole crowd. Certainly, our common experience of potlucks is that there is usually more than enough to go around.
But I am not one to explain away this story, reducing it to ordinary experience. But it is also true that I am not inclined to zero in on the story as a miracle that reveals Jesus’ supernatural powers. I don’t deny the supernatural, or the miraculous, but at the same time, I don’t think the miracle is the point.
In fact, John does not refer to what Jesus did or other things he did in the gospel narrative as miracles. Rather, John refers to Jesus’ activity as signs. Healing the sick was a sign. Feeding the five thousand was a sign. And so it goes in John.
A sign points beyond itself to something else. A sign is not the thing itself, but is a signal alerting us to some other reality.
Current Routine for Worship Indoors
We continue our worship indoors this Sunday at 9:30. To alleviate any concerns and to help prepare you for your return, here is what you can expect:
First, out of loving concern for young children and others not yet able to be vaccinated, we ask that ALL worshipers wear facial masks. Secondly, we will maintain physical distancing, erring on the side of caution. These two basic practices serve as the foundation for safety and guide all other practices.
Upon arrival: kindly find your seats promptly on arrival to avoid congregating in the narthex. Every other pew will be available for seating. Please do not try to sit in pews taped off. Ushers will be available to assist you with seating options.
Offering: your offerings will not be collected. However, offering plates located near the front of the church are available for your use. When you come forward for communion, you may place your offering in one of the plates on stands near the chancel.
Communion: Holy Communion will be offered in both kinds, with bread being dropped into your hands, palms facing up, and wine administered from a pouring chalice into a container you bring from home. Intinction, dipping bread into the cup, is not permitted for reasons of hygiene. Communion will be continuous, with worshipers forming one line in the center aisle to receive both bread and wine at the direction of ushers. One side of the church will commune first, and then we’ll move to communing the other side. Return to your seats via the side aisles closest to you.
Upon Departure: kindly leave the nave promptly at the direction of ushers and avoid once again congregating in the narthex. If you wish to remain on church grounds for conversation, and we hope you do, please adjourn to the fellowship hall downstairs or outdoors beyond the Washington Blvd. entrance.
Misc. Considerations: Automatic hand sanitizer dispensers on stands are available for your use in several locations in the church building. If you forget your face mask, we have extras for you, and likewise small paper cups if you forget a container for communion. Worship indoors will be very similar to that which we have been doing outdoors, a simplified, somewhat shorter version of Resurrection’s normal worship practice.
We very much look forward to seeing you in church!
For those still unable to worship with us in person, we are creating videos of our Sunday morning worship at the church making them available later in the day on YouTube with links sent via a Constant Contact message. The Sunday bulletin will also be available electronically in the message as well.
Collection of Food Items for AFAC, Sunday, August 1
We will receive donations of food items for AFAC on Sunday, August 1 in conjunction with our return to worship indoors.
Funeral for Jean Dick
Please join the family members of former active member, Jean Dick, for her funeral at Resurrection Church on Saturday, July 24 at 2:00 pm. She will be laid to rest in our Memorial Garden.
Faith Formation Calendar
Click below for the current faith formation calendar that includes activities and resources for all ages:
July Financial Update
The below chart is a summary of RELC’s finances for the year to date as of June 30, 2021. The columns titled “(a) YTD Giving,” “(b) YTD Expenses” and “(c) Giving minus Expenses” provide key data for our three primary financial funds.
This data shows that our general fund is currently running significantly below our actual expenses for the year and below our giving levels for this time last year. This trend has been worsening during the first half of 2021.
Please continue to send in your weekly contributions which can be made through Simply Giving, by using the “Donate Now” button on RELC’s website or by sending your contribution check to the church office in the US Mail. Please also consider completing your 2021 pledge form if you haven’t already.
Please prayerfully consider what this information means to you as we work together to support RELC’s ministries.
|(a) YTD Giving||(b) YTD Expenses||(c) Giving-Expenses||(d) Giving as %|
|(e) Change from|
Monday Evening Bible Study on Themes of Justice in the Bible
For Your Prayers at Home
In addition to our usual prayers of intercession in our home worship, we encourage your prayers throughout the week for the following: Gail Ramshaw; Carol Clements; Sandy Lindamood, Joana Plerpa; Jeanne Broyhill; Effice Stallsmith; Maggie Mount; Lee Hanson; Malcolm Stark; Norm Olsen; Barb Jensen; Charlotte Boeck; Lynn Kiewel; Phillip Swingler; Maria Liwski; Tucker Dean; Irene Belcher; Jacoby.
Arlington County Covid-19 Response
Click here for the latest updates on our county’s pandemic response as well as official and current information concerning vaccinations.
Pastor Linman’s Whereabouts
Pastor Linman and Nathan are traveling to North Carolina after worship this Sunday to speak a week with their family. On Sunday, August 1, Pastor Gordon Lathrop will preach and preside. Pastor Linman and Nathan return to Arlington late in the day on August 2.
The best ways to contact Pastor Linman
Week of the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Dear Friends in Christ:
For a few weeks now, we’ve returned to the privilege of worshiping upstairs in our nave – again, I say, thanks be to God. But the rest of our building is also open for creative use as well. Thus, I want to share with you thoughts on a lovely event that took place downstairs in our fellowship hall on Saturday evening, July 17.
Throughout the time of the pandemic, our Christian Education Committee has been meeting almost monthly via Zoom to continue to plan events and programs for Christian faith formation in our congregation. Of course, most of these initiatives have been creatively virtual. Given the current waning nature of the pandemic in our area, we wanted to host an event for and with our younger members in person. The plan was to undertake activities outdoors on the parsonage deck, patio, and yard. Mother Nature had other weather-related plans last Saturday evening with the threat of rain.
Here’s what happened, then, downstairs in the fellowship hall: just over 25 children and adults gathered for grilled hot dogs, among other picnic-style foods, and then, once fed, we all formed an assembly line to decorate and fill 120 paper bags with comparatively healthy snack foods to support the Arlington Housing Corporation’s summer tutoring efforts with children of low-income families in our area. The snacks are provided to keep kids energized while doing their homework during in-person summer camp. Arlington Housing Corporation, by the way, is a non-profit developer of affordable housing for low-income families and individuals in our region.
This three hour or so (when you count set up and clean up) represents our beginning to return to normal and routine programming beyond Sunday worship in the life of our congregation. But here’s what else I see as your pastor, as one called to teach about the bigger picture of how God is active in our life together, how the varied ministries of the church hold together in Christ. The tables we set with food for participants and the tables that comprised the focus of the assembly line to fill snack bags were all extensions downstairs of the table set directly upstairs that hosts Christ’s presence under the forms of bread and wine in the sacrament of the altar. Thus, upstairs links with downstairs as an extension of the sacrament, as an expression of ongoing sacramental living, when we go from one table to the others and back again. To put it more simply, we are fed by Christ upstairs so that we are energized downstairs for the work of feeding others who dwell well beyond the walls of our church building.
This simple event that took place Saturday evening links our congregation with our wider community and its varied organizations, in this case, Arlington Housing Corporation. And through this organizational linkage, God’s people at Resurrection, younger and older, were linked with God’s people among the low-income children and families of our area. It’s a beautiful occasion revealing our interdependence with people in our wider communities, even if we’ll never meet in person those who benefit from our ministry of diakonia, of loving serving to neighbors in need.
Resurrection Church is consistently very generous in our financial support of a wide variety of community social service organizations. On Saturday evening, July 17, over twenty-five of us put some skin in the game, as it were, in volunteering time and energy in person to benefit others. I hope and pray that there will be other such occasions when our members can volunteer their time and talents in person beyond our financial generosity in sending donations to benefit those in need.
The activities on Saturday evening were fun. Our younger ones had occasion to interact with each other again, albeit while wearing masks. Adults got to connect with each other, too, in socializing conversations. And the generations interacted together, when a number of adults, myself included, sat at the tables decorating the brown paper bags and getting in line to fill them with snacks. Saturday evening became for me a kind of fulfillment of my vision for ministries at Resurrection – different age groups working together in fun ways to also benefit those in need in our wider community. And all of this flowed from the fact that we gather each Sunday at our table upstairs to receive Christ so that we can adjourn downstairs to other tables to do the work – God’s work, our hands – that makes a contribution to the sacred mission of feeding and healing the world, one small step at a time. Thus it is that the ordinary becomes extraordinary as normal routine and churchly activities reveal their holiness. I thought you’d like to know!
In Jesus’ name,
Pastor Jonathan Linman
Pentecost 8/Lectionary 16, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
The disciples had just returned from casting out many demons and curing the sick. Jesus and the disciples were much in demand among the crowds, so much so that they didn’t even have time to eat.
So it is that Jesus said to the disciples, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” A lovely gesture from a loving teacher for his beleaguered students.
The crowds apparently caught wind of Jesus’ plan to go on retreat with his disciples. The crowds anticipated where Jesus and the disciples were headed, and arrived en masse before Jesus and his followers did.
If we take Jesus’ humanity seriously, and we must if indeed we confess that Jesus is fully human as well as fully divine, Jesus must have experienced exhaustion and the depleting nature of overly demanding crowds.
Still, Mark reports that Jesus had compassion for the crowd, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew’s version of this story adds that the crowds were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus’ compassion – a gut wrenching expression of mercy – was offered as a gift to the needy crowds despite Jesus’ weariness.
Harassed, helpless, leaderless crowds – this was a reality about which Jeremiah prophesied as we heard in today’s first reading: “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and have not attended to them.” (Jeremiah 23:1-2a)
Harassed, helpless, leaderless crowds – this speaks to realities of our days as well.
Dear Friends in Christ:
On Wednesday morning, the day of Epiphany, I recorded and uploaded my sermon for this coming Sunday, the Baptism of Our Lord. Then Wednesday afternoon happened. What a difference a few hours can make in what I might address in a sermon! Nonetheless, my sermon for Baptism of Our Lord has a relevant and important gospel message for the particularities of our time in the life of the world. Thus, I offer this special message to you concerning the events that occurred on the afternoon of the festival of Epiphany. Consider this message an anticipatory addendum to my Sunday sermon, or even an additional sermon in and of itself.
A popular saying is actually from the prophet Hosea: “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7a) Words that form speech are carried on the winds from our lungs. Words matter. Words do things; they have enormous power. Words can generate storms. Here’s how the writer of the letter of James (the study of which is the focus of a new congregational Bible Study) says it: “5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.” (James 3:5-10)
Consider the power of a word, the N word, and the social taboo against uttering it. In that word is cruel power to degrade and dehumanize, so much so that people of good will guard against giving voice to this word.
Some might say words are just words. What’s the harm in speaking our minds without editing our speech and choosing our words carefully? Well, we saw the power of words and of speech and their ill effects in visceral, raw, violent display on Wednesday afternoon on Capitol Hill, when mobs of people, incited by speech from various leaders and on various media, stormed the Capitol building and put a temporary stop to other forms of speech that focused on the peaceful transfer of power, a hallmark of democracy. It was an astonishing and dangerous display, the bitter fruit of months and years of forms of speech that glorified grievance, anger, fear, racism, and more, all forms of speech that serve to destroy, desecrate, to tear down, to end in the ways of chaos and death. Words that deal in desecration and death carry spirits, energies of powers and principalities that are sourced in darkness and evil, in diabolical spirits of deception and false accusation.
But, thanks be to God, that’s not the whole story. Words also serve to create, build up, to nurture life. The first reading for this coming Sunday consists of the first verses of the first creation story in the book of Genesis where “the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2a). A “wind from God swept over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2b). This wind carried the voice of God, the word from God: “‘Let there be light;’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) Once again, words made things happen. In this case, divine words brought light where there was only darkness, order where there was a void of chaos, and ultimately the beautiful created world we inhabit. Such words were full of the creative, life-giving energies of God, that is to say, the Spirit of God.
That same Spirit was active when Jesus was baptized by John in the River Jordan, the gospel reading for this Sunday from Mark. The Spirit there, “descending like a dove on [Jesus]” spoke a word from God: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:10b-11) As at the creation, this word from God served to proclaim and embody and give full expression to sacrality, love, relationship, good pleasure and ultimately the world’s salvation, its healing balm in Jesus Christ, the word of God made flesh.
Again, words matter. They have consequences. Words can serve to deal in death. They can serve to give and to nurture life. Words can tear down. They can build up. Spiritual energies are carried in words and in speech. Those spiritual energies can be demonic. They can be divine. Words resulting in ideas and policies ultimately give shape to realities all around us, realities that can degrade, and realities that make for well-being.
What are we to do in response to what unfolded on Wednesday afternoon on Capitol Hill? The forces of darkness at work there are not going away. Those forces have been around for centuries, but until more recently these energies inhabited more the fringes of society. Now, it’s as if these forces have been unleashed much more in the mainstream of public speech and popular media. Time will tell the extent to which the forces unleashed on Wednesday will persist and spread or retreat back into shadowy corners. So, again, what are we called upon to do and how are we to respond? As individuals? As disciples of Christ? As a congregation? As a nation? It may be too early to tell and to name concrete, specific actions. Let us be in conversation and communal discernment about the emergent particulars.
But in the meantime, there is some clarity. I believe that we are called upon to use our words and speech to name and call out language that emanates from dark and diabolical places, and to do so boldly and publicly. Too many people of good will have been passive and silent for too long, having the effect of appeasing those whose speech runs roughshod over norms of civility, giving the language of violence free reign that results in deeds of violence.
We can attend to our language and the speech of others at home, in the workplace, in places of commerce, at school, on social media, and yes, in church, nurturing in our own speech and in calling out the speech of others, language that makes for life and sacredness, words that are dimensions of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, namely, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22b-23a)
Vigilant attention to the words we choose is no small thing. It can be hard work, especially when the unseemly spirits in us are inclined to lash out in kind at others whose speech demeans, degrades and desacralizes. Moreover, holding others accountable for their speech also is profoundly difficult and requires a great deal of courage. But it is a sacred calling to take seriously the power of language and its effects for good and for ill. For again, speech results in behavior, in actions, in realities that make for life and for death.
Who knows what the coming days, weeks, months, and years will bring and require of us? Again, time will tell. But we are not left alone in these days and in the sacred work to which we are called. The Word and the Spirit that were present at creation and which were present at the Baptism of Our Lord are also present with us to this very day, at our own baptisms, in our own study of and engagement with sacred words of scripture, in words of forgiveness, in our holy conversations with each other. The Word from God, the Spirit of God, give shape and expression to the words we are beckoned to choose, and to the loving, life-giving speech we are compelled to offer for the sake of the world and its healing. In short, God in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit is with us, leading us all the way in our holy calling for such a time as this, come what may.
God in Christ help us, our nation, and our world,
Pastor Jonathan Linman
Dear Friends in Christ:
I want to let you all know that we just received confirmation that my son's surgery is indeed scheduled to take place tomorrow, Good Friday. This will be major surgery to correct the vascular malformation in Nathan's brain that first caused his stroke. Thus, Nathan, his mother, and I covet your prayers for effective, uncomplicated outcomes to this procedure.
Needless to say, my observance of home worship during this Holy Week will focus on my keeping vigil at my son's side, even as I also intend to share with you in using our congregation's worship resources to mark these Three Days. With Nathan's surgery in mind, I created video files of all of my Holy Week and Easter sermons early, so they are all uploaded and ready to go.
I don't know how many days Nathan will be in the hospital—it all depends on how the surgery and his recovery go. While attending to my son is my first priority in the coming days, I also intend to engage in my pastoral responsibilities as well, keeping abreast of church-related emails and phone messages and also preparing sermons for the next Sundays in Easter.
Thanks in advance for your prayers for us, and may you all have blessed and holy Three Days during these most trying and unprecedented times in the life of our congregation and in the world.
Sent with my own prayer for all of you in our life together.....
In Jesus' name,
Pastor Jonathan Linman
Beginning July 4, 2021
Service of Holy Communion will once again be held in the Sanctuary at 9:30am. Everyone is asked to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, and to maintain social dinstance out of respect for those who cannot receive or who have chosen not to receive a Covid vaccine. Please bring a small juice glass, so that you may receive wine with Communion.
The Stained Glass Windows in the Nave at Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church
Dr. Melvin S. Lange, pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church from 1958 to 1971, prepared the theological material for the artist, Roy Calligan, of the Hunt Stained Glass Studios in Pittsburgh, PA. The meaning of each of the seventeen windows is indicated by a Bible verse. The theme begins with the window to the left of the lectern (when facing the altar) and proceeds around the nave toward the back, and then forward on the opposite side toward the last window to the right of the pulpit.
We are a church that strives to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). We do justice by serving our community through our social outreach activities and through contributions of finances and member’s time to local programs, including, for example, Lutheran Social Services. We provide opportunities for a rich Christian education to our members and to the community. Many of our members are active in synod activities and in ecumenical activities with other Christians.
We love kindness in the Christian work we do, often quietly but resolutely, for our members and for the community. Benevolence has always been a priority for our church, and we are a significant donor both in our financial resources and, perhaps more importantly to us, our member’s time. We are active with food assistance programs in the Arlington area and to other social service organizations.
We strive to walk humbly with our God in our worship services. We take liturgy, prayer, and music very seriously in our church as a path through which our parishioners can experience the word and sacrament in their lives. Finally, we are excited about offering the sacrament of communion to our parishioners at every Sunday service and believe it is important that we continue to do so.