Please join us for a live stream of our 10:00am Worship Serivce on Sunday, May 15, 2022, the Fourth Sunday After Easter. If you missed the service, then please click below for a replay.

Please be aware that there may be moments of silence during the hymns, choral pieces, and organ voluntaries for which we have not been able to secure streaming rights from the music publishers. We apologize for this disruption and thank you for your understanding.

 

Fifth Sunday of Easter, John 13:31-35

Let’s do a little thought experiment, a little free association. If I say the word “glory” or the word “glorious,” what images immediately pop into your heads? Take a moment to review what comes to mind.

Maybe some of these images appeared on your mental horizons: Spectacular sunsets. Mountain vistas. Maybe opulent houses, mansions, palaces. Skyscrapers. Other great architecture. Great movies or theatrical productions and concerts. Huge crowds. People with big personalities. Celebrities. And more.

Or let’s try this: what words come to mind that are synonymous with “glory” and “glorious?” Again, take a moment to let those words emerge.

Maybe these words appeared in your mind: Renown, fame, prestige, honor, distinction, kudos, magnificence, splendor, resplendence, grandeur, spectacular. More.

Here’s the thing when it comes to our sinful, human condition: It may well be that some of the images of and words related to glory, and the things and people we associate with these qualities, can turn out to be inglorious, burdensome, death-dealing, the fruit of sin, of pride, greed, of hubris, arrogance, unbridled power and domination…

I can’t help but think of supertall buildings being built in many places in the world today – in New York City, Dubai, Shanghai – symbols and incarnations of extreme wealth inequality and sometimes corruption, of human achievement, but also arrogance and pride and raw power. And then I can’t help but think of the Tower of Babel in the Bible. Towers have a tendency to exacerbate confusion, and they are prone to come tumbling down….

Then there’s Jesus’ way of glory and being glorious. Today’s reading from John’s Gospel is part of Jesus’ so-called farewell discourse with his disciples in which he teaches and prays in their presence in the last hours of his earthly life before his death and resurrection. This discourse recorded by John tries to make sense of Jesus’ ways of being and doing that confound worldly logic.

For the sake of beginning to understand Jesus’ way of glory, listen again to this day’s reading from John: “When Judas had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in God’s own self and will glorify him at once.”
John connects Judas’ departure with Jesus being glorified. What did Judas go out to do? Judas went out to betray his teacher, his Lord, his friend, the action of which would put into motion all of the horrible things that would lead to a horrible death, but also to a mysterious resurrection to new life beyond death. At first glance, how can any of this in any way be connected with common views of glory?

What Judas intends for death, God intends for and uses to give new life. The bad news becomes good news. And it is, in fact, glorious in the logic of God’s intent.

Jesus on the cross: this is what it is for Jesus to be glorified according to John’s gospel. It’s all very inglorious by human standards when you recall some of the words and images that came to mind in the first moments of this sermon.

But I see this kind of cruciform glory that confounds human logic and sensibilities in each of the readings for today. Let’s take another look for the sake of deepening our understandings of our glorious crucified and risen Lord and Savior.

In the reading from Revelation, we hear about a new heaven and new earth, and a holy city, a new Jerusalem. Quite glorious sounding on the face of it.

But this new holy city comes down to us, to our human level, where God will make a home among us mortals that we may dwell with God, and mere mortals will be God’s people. Tears will be wiped from our eyes. Death and mourning and crying and pain will be no more. And there will be water aplenty to quench our thirst.

In popular imagination, glory tends to be up there in the clouds, not down in the lowly and humble places where we have known death and mourning and crying and pain. That God makes a home with us down here is glorious, but in its own cruciform ways.

Then there’s the vision of reconciling inclusion in the reading from Acts in the reported emerging reproachment between Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ. The vision had Peter eating that which was traditionally, religiously unclean. But the voice from heaven proclaimed: “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.”

This led to the Spirit’s intervention with this instruction which Peter reports: “The Spirit told me… [to] not make a distinction between [the Gentile believers] and the [Jewish believers]. So it was that Gentiles came to be included in what was emerging as the Christian fold. The new way in Christ finds glory in that which had been considered profane, unclean, outcast. Thus, another example of cruciform glory.

Then there’s also Jesus’ new commandment given to his disciples before Jesus’ departure recorded in today’s gospel: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Remember the context for giving this new commandment to love. It was when Jesus stripped himself of his outer garments, and got down on his knees to wash his disciples’ feet – not at all an image of glory from a human point of view. But glorious nonetheless, again, in cruciform ways.

Each example from today’s readings reveals aspects of Jesus’ cross-shaped glory that turns our logic on its head. When we look up for glory, Christ bids us to look down to the lowly places to find that which is truly glorious from God’s point of view.

And the lowly becomes glorious because in Christ God turned the whole world upside by transforming death into resurrected life, by converting bad news into good news, when the law leads to gospel, and by working with sin to make for forgiveness and salvation.

In Christ, by his death and resurrection, the deal is sealed. It’s done. It is finished. Complete. Perfect. Then the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, gives “water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.” This water washes over us in baptism at this very font, a humble point of origin for our participation in the glory of God.

Then also, in Christ coming down from heaven, we are invited to the marriage feast as “a bride adorned for her husband.” This glorious reality we know at the eucharistic table, in a humble meal of bread and wine, where metaphorically we recline in lowliness to eat with Christ, he who also ate with those inglorious by worldly standards, namely, outcasts and sinners, widows and orphans.

Through our sacramental participation in Christ, through baptism and eucharist, and the power of the en-Spirited word, we, too, become glorious in cruciform ways.

And leaving this place, having basked in God’s humble, cruciform glory in Christ, we show forth this same glory in our works of loving mercy for and with those deemed most inglorious by worldly standards, loving these our neighbors with the love that Christ loved us, and we offer the gift of inclusion, of welcome, making no distinction between us and them as is so common in the pretenses of our inglorious world.

In this, we share in God’s work of making old things new. And it’s all glorious indeed in the way of the cross.

Our sorry world needs a sense of God’s humble, cross-shaped glory apart from the false and seductive ways of worldly glory that in the end are idolatrous and ruinous of the lives of people and indeed all of creation.

May the way of Christ’s glory shine forth in all that we say and do, for Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed, alleluia. Amen.

The Bible in Christian Worship—May 18

This series continues next Wednesday, May 18. It is not too late to join in. Here again is a description of this series for those who may still wish to join in: beginning on May 18, Gail Ramshaw will describe how our lectionary uses the Bible on Sunday mornings. On May 18, she will focus on the Gospel reading, on May 25 the First reading, and on June 1, the Second reading. These classes involve a presentation and then a discussion and questions. Bring your Bible and copy of Evangelical Lutheran Worship and log on! The Zoom invitation will be included in the Constant Contact version of the Midweek Message each week.

Collection of Food Items for AFAC on Sunday, May 22

We will receive donations of food items for AFAC on Sunday, May 22, in conjunction with our regular worship service.

Outdoor Liturgy – May 22nd from 3:30-5:00 pm

This year's Confirmation class has designed a special all ages, experiential worship experience for the congregation. It will be facilitated by them on Sunday, May 22nd from 3:30 to 5 pm as this month's Outdoor Liturgy held outside the parsonage. Listen to the stories of Joseph the dream interpreter, and the women who encounter the resurrected Jesus first. Engage in partnered activities that include collaborative art and playful competition. Celebrate the newly graduated with a blessing and opportunity to write messages of support. Join in snacks and conversations. RSVPs are appreciated by Friday, May 20th to support setup, and friends of all ages are welcome.

This Saturday’s Teen Backyard Event Rescheduled

Please note a date change for the upcoming Teen Social. This Saturday’s backyard event is rescheduled for June 10th, with additional details to follow in coming announcements.

Submissions for Steeple Light?

Kindly let Pastor Linman know if you desire to have a submission to the next edition of Steeple Light, our now quarterly church newsletter. The due date for submissions is Sunday, May 22 at midnight. Thanks much!

2022 Annual Yard Sale – June 4th, 7:00 am to 1:00 pm

RELC will host a Yard Sale to support the cost of next summer's National Youth Gathering on Saturday, June 4th. There will be opportunities for Congregational volunteers of all ages to provide donations, support pricing and organizing, and to help staff the day of the Yard Sale. In particular volunteers to support transportation of remaining items during cleanup will be appreciated. In the next week more information will circulate about advertising, donation windows and volunteer slots, but please save the date. Spring Cleaning has commenced!

Social Justice Learning Group

The Social Justice Learning Group met on May 1, 2022 to focus on the topic of “education.”  Members shared resources (books, articles, etc.) as well as personal anecdotes from their own school and classroom experiences.  We discussed multiple aspects of American education (locally and nationally) from both a current and historical perspective.  Several major themes emerged from the discussion, including:  

  • As most American education is funded locally, differences are inherent.
  • Historical education differences based on race (e.g., funding differentials, segregation, and many other factors) were devastating, and they contribute to economic and other achievement gaps to this day.  Many attendees had personal experience in their own early educations. 
  • There are ongoing efforts in many areas to actively discourage teaching and discussion about past inequities (improper “banning” of CRT, etc.).    

We also discussed the necessity for action(s) beyond continued efforts to learn more on this topic.  We discussed potential actions the RELC congregation could be involved in.  Some suggestions included:  inviting knowledgeable speakers to address annual meeting or other well-attended gatherings; ensuring a line-item RELC budget items to specifically address and support social justice-related actions; funding scholarships for minority youth (perhaps even at the Village School); creating a volunteer force for a diverse local school (Edd Nolen and Gay Mount mentioned serving as volunteer reading coaches through Kiwanis).  

We also agreed that our Group would create an interim report for the Church Council about our activities and learnings to date.  

The Social Justice Learning Group continues to meet on the first Sunday of each month in Room 13 after the service (and after a brief visit to coffee hour).  The next meeting is June 5th, and the topic is “Transportation,” facilitated by Effie & Franz Stallsmith.  All are invited and welcome to attend.  

Judy & Charlie Hughes (co-facilitators) 

For More Information on United Lutheran Seminary

We are glad for the visit last Sunday of President Guy Erwin and Executive Staff Member Martin Zimmann from United Lutheran Seminary. Per the request from some at coffee hour, here is a link to more information about the seminary, its values, history, campuses, current programs, etc.

Children’s Ministry: Wee Ones through 5th grade

Sunday School has moved indoors. We meet in the Chapel and start promptly at 9:15am. Masks are required and we will have air purifiers along with windows that we can open. Following our lessons, I will bring your kids into the Sanctuary and you will find us in the PrayGround.

Our Nursery is not available at this time as we are cleaning and refreshing the space. If you are in need of a changing table or need to quiet a screaming child, please use our lounge. Once your child is comforted, please feel free to return. We do have a speaker system in the lounge which feeds the service so you won't miss anything while away.

If you are not on our mailing list and would like to join us, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Can't make it to church? Watch us Live! Now Livestreaming Worship

To view our 10:00 AM Sunday worship service on YouTube live, click on the live worship link on the RELC home page on Sunday mornings during the worship hour and be redirected to the YouTube live stream. The Live Stream will "go live" at 9:55AM on each Sunday morning. To view the service at a later time, go to our YouTube Channel. Click on the videos tab to browse archives of past services. Click on the Subscribe button and create an account to be notified when Live Streams are started or when other videos are added. For any questions, please contact the pastor.

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:

  • Lucas Carr
  • Carol Ward
  • Kevin Bhatt
  • Michael Dalton
  • Sandy Browne
  • Nicole O'Neil
  • Mark Basset
  • Rosa Maria Piai
  • Lee Hanson
  • Ray Perez
  • Roy Guenther
  • Mary Ann Glover
  • Teri Torres
  • Edna Frady
  • Janet Lewis
  • Krista Kurth
  • Evon Lippencot
  • Nancy MacDonald
  • Bob MacDonald
  • Grant Aldonas
  • Norm Olsen
  • Judy Frank
  • Barb Jensen
  • Lynn Kiewel
  • Phillip Swingler
  • Tucker Dean
  • Irene Belcher
  • Sharon Kravetz
  • John and Anneliese Arnold
  • Julie Bates

For those whom you know, consider sending a card, or an email, or make a phone call. These additional expressions of prayerfulness can make a big, healing difference in people’s lives and promote their sense of well-being. For current contact information, if you don’t have it, kindly reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Prayer Requests

Should you desire to make prayer requests for persons you care about, or desire prayer for other concerns, please contact Pastor Linman with those requests: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 703-972-2076. Pastor will make certain that the names you provide will be included in the Prayers of Intercession for Sundays, and for your prayers throughout the week. Making your requests known to Pastor Linman will allow him to follow up with you directly – as your requests for prayer help set the agenda for our Pastor’s ministry at Resurrection Church.

Arlington County Covid-19 Response

For the latest updates on our county’s pandemic response as well as official and current information concerning vaccinations, go to the following:

https://www.arlingtonva.us/covid-19/
https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/VAARLINGTON/bulletins/2f93e4f

The best ways to contact Pastor Linman

Here are the best and most direct ways to contact Pastor Linman. The email address given for his professional and pastoral use is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Pastor Linman’s direct dial phone number in the church office is: 703-972-2076. Please leave a message there if Pastor does not answer. He monitors and responds to his messages throughout the day even when he's not in the office. Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.

Other Announcements?

Should you have announcements that you wish to communicate in this weekly message as committee chairs or those responsible for other ministry initiatives at Resurrection, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by late Wednesday mornings for inclusion in the message for the coming Thursday. Thanks!

Week of Easter Four

Join Us for the Bible in Christian Worship this Wednesday:

Our explorations of the biblical foundations for Christian worship continue this Wednesday, May 11. A Zoom link for this discussion will be distributed via Constant Contact. If you are not receiving our Constant Contact messages and wish to do so, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“Reflections on Worship Livestreamed”

Dear Friends in Christ:

There have been some curious silver linings to the clouds of my Covid convalescence, one of which was having occasion to experience first-hand our Sunday worship livestreamed. While I’ve shared with others in the responsibilities for livestreaming our Sunday worship, I’ve obviously not had occasion to participate live online because of my calling otherwise to lead our worship in person. So, on the Third Sunday of Easter, when seminary President Guy Erwin preached and presided on my behalf, I shared in our worship life from a distance – not far at all geographically speaking, namely, next door in the parsonage.

For those in need, I am glad that we make this option available. Some, out of ongoing concern for coronavirus vulnerabilities, still cannot be present with us indoors and in person for worship. Others have temporary circumstances of one sort or another that keep them home or away on Sundays – recovery from illness or surgery, travel for business, generally being homebound, and other sundry reasons that may keep us from church. Worship livestreamed is a point of contact with our life together. It is a connection among our small diaspora of those who for whatever reasons cannot join us in person for worship. It’s not nothing.

Thus, especially as a ministry for our most vulnerable members, I am glad that we livestream our worship. And I am especially thankful for the team of members who expend a great deal of time and energy to make this happen. And given our limited resources and our desires to protect the privacy of those who worship in person in not having their identities revealed to the wider public of cyberspace, the production quality, in my experience, is quite reasonable, especially the quality and clarity of the audio aspects of the livestreaming. Thousand thanks to Steve Black, Paul Bastuscheck, Chris Smith, and their team for their work in providing this current outreach ministry in our pandemic life together.

All of this said, livestreamed worship is no substitute for our worship together in person, in the flesh, together in our nave. I would not want a steady diet of only the tangential participation that livestreaming affords. Especially at the time of Communion, when the video feed was turned off to protect the privacy of communicants going forward to share first-hand in Christ’s presence, I was reminded of those occasions when, as a young child before I was of age to receive the sacrament, I would sit alone in the pew as my mother and father and older brother went to the chancel to receive Christ’s body and blood. I recalled my longing to go up there myself (this was before the now common practice of giving blessings to the little children), but was instead left behind. That’s the memory of experience that came flooding back a week ago Sunday when I could not be present with you, the body of Christ next door, as the church, to receive and to abide with and share sacramentally in Christ! I was filled with desire for incarnate presence of the full sacred body of our Lord made known in the breaking of bread in the in-person community. My consolation prize at that moment was Steve’s beautifully rendered slide images of our building’s compelling stained-glass windows. Engaging those images meditatively helped redeem that moment from the pangs of longing to be present with you – and with Christ – in the flesh.

Worship livestreamed made for me at best a sense of tangential participation, largely as an onlooker from the back of the room – which is literally where our cameras are located up in the balcony. Even if our cameras were located more centrally in the nave and even if I could see all of your faces on the screen, it still would have been the experience of looking on from afar.

Moreover, sitting at home on my sofa with my laptop before me on a coffee table, I found it challenging to participate in worship, singing and speaking the words in the bulletin by myself in the parsonage living room. Maybe that’s just me, but it took some effort to do more than just view the screen. It didn’t seem natural to sing and speak all by myself. It might have helped if others were there with me. And I also found myself easily distracted by other things in the house – for example, what my two cats were up to in their usual playfulness with each other before their lunch. It was better than nothing, and I’m glad I viewed the livestream, but it was still not the fullness of the divine happening that was going on next door.

Still further, livestreamed worship, even at its best, is but another experience online in front of a screen when so much of the rest of our lives is undertaken online in front of screens. Which is to say, think about how comparatively countercultural is our habit of being assembled in person together each and every Sunday morning in a place apart from our homes. Fewer and fewer people do such things together these days on a regular basis, week after week. Yes, many folk attend sporting events in person, or go to the theater, or to concerts, but usually only on occasion and not as a regular, weekly habit. And worship of almighty God at its best and as intended is so much more than a concert or sporting event, which themselves are experiences of being spectators together but not active participants in the drama of what is going on in the room.

My absence a week ago Sunday underscored for me in renewed ways the central importance of the Sunday assembly in person, in the flesh. Worship on the Lord’s Day, the day of resurrection, is the centerpiece and organizing principle of all of Christian life. It is the focal point of our whole week as people of faith, people of Christ. Sunday serves as I imagine how a gyroscope functions – as that which stabilizes our life and helps to maintain equilibrium in forward missionary movement in and for the sake of the world. As such, as THE organizing principle of Christian life, the Sunday assembly best happens in person and together. Livestreamed worship is at most a thin approximation of the fullness of the incarnate reality of what we habitually do on Sundays.

Think of the multiplicity of gifts available to us when we are gathered in person by the Holy Spirit at our beloved Resurrection Church. We’re together in a three-dimensional space and not the comparative two-dimensionality of the experience of the screen. Our building becomes an extension of our embodiment and focuses our attention on the central things and places – the place of the baptismal bath, the place where the word is proclaimed, and the table at which we gather for the meal. Together as the body of Christ, even if our faces are covered with and obscured by masks, we nonetheless give to each other the gift of body language where so much communication takes place, communication that is largely impossible or confusing online. We sing together, we speak together, voices blending in unity in an increasingly divided, compartmentalized, isolated world. We may get wet by dipping our hands into the waters in the font in thankful remembrance of our baptism into Christ. We share the peace, even if it’s in truncated form still because of pandemic safety precautions. We get up out of our seats, making our offering in the plates provided as still more profoundly we move to the place of the table to eat and drink of Christ’s real presence in, with, and under the gifts of bread and wine. We benefit from the discipline of each other’s presence which helps us to stay focused on the central activities of the liturgy. We get to hear and enjoy the live music of our choir and the sounds of the pipes of the organ and sounds of the piano in a space with fine acoustics – in contrast to recorded music which is our more usual norm in life these days. Before and after worship, we enjoy the privilege of one-on-one conversations or holy conversation in small groups which contribute greatly to our well-being in Christ with each other, drawing us palpably together in community. Again, this is all so very counter cultural. It’s a dedicated hour and more away from the screens which otherwise dominate us in our contemporary daily lives. In short, our Sunday routine in person is an astonishing gift.

I know that I am preaching to the choir, as it were, as the vast majority of you reading this prefers what we do on Sundays to occur in person over against the lesser, but not insignificant-in-its-own-ways-option of worship livestreamed. Given the immense benefits of being together in person, I don’t understand the churches which expend undue energies, in my opinion, on attempts at doing church more and more online. What we do by way of livestreaming or other online video recordings should serve to point to and ultimately draw people to the in-person assembly. The tail of a complementary ministry initiative in livestreaming should not wag the dog of the centrality of Christian assembly in person. Anything short of this incarnate gathering is not ultimately faithful to the core principles of the Christian tradition. May livestreaming serve those in occasional, circumstantial need, but more importantly, may these efforts increase in us the desire, as it did for me, to gather in the flesh in Jesus’ name each Sunday.

In thanksgiving to God in Christ for the grace given us week after week on the Lord’s Day,

Pastor Jonathan Linman

Fourth Sunday of Easter, John 10:22-30

I don’t need to remind you that we are in the midst of and enduring an age of extreme divisiveness in our nation and in our world. As has been the case for so much of human history, these divisions occur in relation to all manner of issues and they have many causes and sources. In the past several days, abortion has again risen to the forefront of our divisions, a painful coincidence on Mother’s Day. But notable and related is also the division among people because of religion.

Take the case of religiously motivated hatred of Judaism and Jewish people. Reported cases of antisemitism have increased dramatically in recent months according to reporting in the New York Times.

So it is that John’s reporting of what Jesus said in the gospel of John about the Jewish people, some of which we heard in today’s reading, lands with an unnerving thud in our midst today. In today’s gospel reading, John reports the Jewish religious leaders enquired of Jesus about whether or not he was the expected Messiah. Jesus answered, according to John, “I have told you, and you do not believe.”

Then John reports that Jesus elaborated in this way – and these are the words that sting: “You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.”

You don’t belong are some of the worst words a human being can hear. Despite our individualistic bents, particularly in Western societies, human beings are social animals and we long to belong.

To be told that you don’t belong is horrible. Moreover, excluding others has historically been the excuse to vilify, dehumanize, enslave and kill others. Exclusion is a source of genocide.

In the first century, there was significant religious controversy when John’s gospel was compiled, a controversy between leaders of Judaism and what was emerging as Christianity. Alas, John’s gospel is filled with polemical references to this controversy. Today’s gospel passage gives expression to that controversy.

And given the divisiveness of our age and the re-emergence of both anti-Judaism and racial antisemitism in our day, I simply cannot pass over the difficulties with today’s texts. Nor do I wish to get hung up on them.

We, in our day, are called to fight against texts like those from John from being misused and abused in the service of antisemitism. Indeed, our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has worked hard at limiting such negative effects in the Christian scriptures even as we have repudiated Martin Luther’s own anti-Jewish writings.

So, in service of seeking greater harmony among religions and among peoples, but also in the service of actually preaching the gospel, let me explore with you what it might mean to belong to Jesus’ sheep, especially on this Fourth Sunday after Easter which is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday.

What Jesus promises to those who belong is lovely and compelling. Listen again to how John gives voice to Jesus’ words: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand….” How beautiful.

And we as tolerant, loving people want this blessing for everyone, don’t we? Perhaps especially those of Jesus’ own religious heritage. We don’t want the Jewish people excluded from the benefits and blessings which come with belonging to Christ.

But a sense of belonging to Christ that focuses only on privileged blessing to the exclusion of those who don’t belong is driven by what I believe are some problematic theological preoccupations common among popular appropriations of the Christian tradition.

It’s common, for example, to view passages such as today’s through the lenses of the saved vs. the damned, those going to heaven and those going to hell. While there is biblical material to promote this kind of dichotomizing thinking, preoccupations with heaven and hell, those saved and those damned, are arguably more the ruminations of medieval theology and Dante’s Inferno than they are of rigorous and faithful biblical and theological scholarship.

While we cannot get too deeply into all of this today in a sermon, we can take a look at the other readings appointed for today for what they might suggest about what it means to belong to Jesus’ sheep.

In short, what is revealed, I believe, is that belonging to Jesus’ sheep is less about privilege and more about responsibility. It’s less about being part of a select, elite in-group and more about a group forgiven and redeemed and called to engage the wider world in the spirit of Jesus’ sacrificial, servanthood ministry.

Look at today’s reading from Revelation, which focuses on a vision of a “multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” These throngs were crying out and singing praises to God. In the vision, the author wonders who these people are. The answer is this: “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal.”

And while they will no longer hunger and thirst and while their tears will be wiped from their faces, presumably in the great ordeal they knew such hunger and thirst along with scorching heat and many, many tears.

In short, having been washed in the blood of the Lamb, they took up their crosses and followed the Lamb who was also paradoxically their shepherd, and they followed the Shepherd Lamb in the way of suffering for the sake of the world.

Such suffering is not the stuff of belonging to a privileged, elite club which excludes everyone else and relishes their privileged status at the expense of the damned.

Then consider today’s reading from Acts, where Peter raises Tabitha who had fallen ill and then died. Tabitha was known for her devotion to good works and acts of charity in Jesus’ name.

The widows were there weeping – widows being the very ones who were on the receiving end of Tabitha’s goodness and kindness in giving them needed clothing which she had made.

Peter was called upon to kneel and pray and then to raise Tabitha up again. To what end? To be returned to the very widows that Tabitha had cared for and thus to continue her good works and acts of charity in Jesus’ name. In short, Tabitha was raised to continue her loving service of those in need.

Here again, the story is not about the privileges of salvation and restored life, about who belongs and who doesn’t, about who is damned and who is saved. No, not at all.

Belonging to Jesus’ sheep means enduring various versions of slaughter in loving service of our risen Lord. It means going through great ordeals for the sake of such loving service. Being saved for service involves shedding many, many tears. It means being raised by Christ again and again to return to the mission fields to care for the widows and those most vulnerable to being excluded by religious elites.

Given that such ordeals are in store for those who follow Jesus, we may not wish such privileged belonging on just anybody! We ourselves might think twice about belonging to such a sheepfold!

Yes, to be sure, there is great privilege in belonging to Christ, who is our Good Shepherd, who leads us beside still waters, baptizing us into himself through these same waters, and raising us up like Tabitha to share in the victory over death. Christ the shepherd, who is at the same time the sacrificial lamb, restores us, his rod and staff comforting us in the deathly places of the longest fearsome shadows. Christ bids us dine at a sumptuous feast at this sacramental table, where our cups overflow with his grace and mercy even in the presence of any our enemies.

Moreover, Christ is not only our shepherd, but our temple – he who walked in the temple in the portico of Solomon has himself become the temple, the holy of holies in whom we abide like branches to the vine, we who also become temples of the Holy Spirit. More still, Christ’s red blood washes us into brilliant, dazzling cleanliness. And in Christ, who is one with Father, we share in the dance of the Holy Trinity. All of these gifts and blessings generate and regenerate our faith and give us eternal life such that no one can snatch us from the loving, wounded hands of our Good Shepherd.

But all of this blessing is in the service of our offering sacrifices of thanksgiving in love for our neighbors, including perhaps especially those, like the Jewish people, who are persecuted for their own religious convictions, for example, in not claiming Jesus as their promised Messiah. We are called to protect them and their convictions of faith and certainly not to relegate them to the damned.

All of this brings us back to Lutheran ethical sensibilities, and Luther and his great paradox, expressed yet again in his treatise, “Freedom of a Christian.” Yes, by God’s grace in Christ, we are perfectly free, privileged, chosen, belonging sovereigns of all, subject to none – and at the same time in thanksgiving for graced privileges given, we are perfectly dutiful servants of all, subject to all. That’s what it means to belong to Jesus’ sheep. It’s being blessed to be a blessing, and shedding many tears in suffering for the sake of others not so privileged and blessed.

Belonging to Christ is not us vs. them, the saved vs. the damned, but a belonging that calls us to serve our neighbors with the same love and mercy that made us to belong to Christ in the first place.

Such belonging to the Good Shepherd is that which leads to our loving service in Jesus’ name, a loving service that will go a long, long way toward healing the sad and dangerous divisions of our day. God in Christ help us. Amen.

Please join us for a live stream of our 10:00am Worship Serivce on Sunday, May 8, 2022, the Fourth Sunday After Easter. If you missed the service, then please click below for a replay.

Please be aware that there may be moments of silence during the hymns, choral pieces, and organ voluntaries for which we have not been able to secure streaming rights from the music publishers. We apologize for this disruption and thank you for your understanding.

UPDATE: A brief power outage at the beginning of the Worship Service today, May 8, disrupted the livestream broadcast. Below is the recorded version of today's Worship Service:

 

Ms. Angie has a new Children's Message! Click below to watch:

Regular Worship Service

Service of Holy Communion will once again be held in the Sanctuary at 10:00am. 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.

Stained Glass Windows Information

 

 

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.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

Metropolitan Washington DC Synod (ELCA)