Pastoral Letter for March 2020

Dear People of God at Resurrection Church:

First off, I want you to know that I am delighted that you called me to be your pastor! Also, when I phoned my son, Nathan, later in the afternoon of the Call Sunday, his mother reported that he had a big grin on his face as I shared with him the good news of my call. My abiding thanks both to the members of the Call Committee and to the Congregation Council for shepherding a faithful process which resulted in my call to lead and to serve at Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church.

After my weekend with you all at Resurrection, I immediately made arrangements to move to Arlington on March 21, but then Covid-19, now declared a pandemic, intervened. “The best laid plans of mice and mortals….” Each time I have taken concrete steps to become your pastor, a crisis has interrupted the journey! On first blush, one might say that all of this is not meant to be. But I believe such a voice could well be that of the tempter, and not the divine voice. The paths that God’s call takes us on are seldom easy, uncomplicated ones. The biblical witness, from beginning to end, is rich with stories of harrowing holy journeys. The difficulties of the paths we are traveling together, thus, give as much evidence of the sacredness of what we’ve undertaken as anything else.

We are indeed on a holy journey, but the most obvious and clear paths to beginning ministry together are currently blocked, beckoning us to seek creative, alternative pathways and new formats for doing ministry. Thus, during this season of pandemic-induced social distancing and travel restrictions, video recordings of my sermons for the coming Sundays will be made available to you, beginning March 22, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. These recorded sermons will accompany liturgical material that Pastor Gordon Lathrop, Gail Ramshaw, and the Worship Committee are developing for your devotional, worshipful use at home. That we may give some expression to our communion among the saints, we strongly encourage you all to synchronously share in these materials at 10:00 am EST on Sunday mornings.

I hope that the video recorded sermons and electronically available worship materials are not the only examples of our creative insistence on being and doing church for such a time as this. Which is to say, I invite your creativity in seeking to be church when we cannot assemble in our usual ways. For example, how can we maintain a sense of community when we cannot assemble in person on the Lord’s Day? Think of various modes of communication as the circulatory system in the body of Christ. When one system of connecting is unavailable, other routes can be discovered and forged to circulate and communicate God’s healing word to each other. Which is to say, make the most of phone calls, text messages, Facebook, Facetime, emails, and more, intentionally reaching out to other members of Resurrection Church, and still others you know to be most vulnerable and isolated during this time.

Given that pandemic-related news changes each and every day, I cannot now predict when circumstances will make it practically possible for me to move to Arlington to begin my ministry with you in person. Moreover, as I reported to you on the weekend of March 1, my son also faces surgery to correct the vascular problem that led to his brain hemorrhage. That surgery is currently scheduled for March 27, but is potentially subject to change because of the global health crisis. I will keep leaders at Resurrection regularly informed about our circumstances. But please know of my eagerness to begin ministry with you in person, and that I will endeavor to move to Arlington as soon as is realistically possible.

In the meantime, my ministry with you will in fact begin even from my cross-country location in Phoenix. Which is to say, in addition to the sermons that will be available to you, I invite you to be in contact with me as you need and want to via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Coming weeks will no doubt reveal other ways we can begin to engage each other in shared ministry.

Curiously, and in a fitting manner given the circumstances, my call to be your pastor officially begins on April 1, April Fool’s Day, when together we will undertake to proclaim in word and deed the gospel of Jesus Christ – foolishness to the wisdom of the world, but healing salve for all nations and peoples.

May God in Christ lead and guide us in the power of the Holy Spirit as we creatively undertake our beginnings in ways we would not have imagined even several days ago. May God in Christ keep you well, encouraged, and hopeful in these unprecedented and extraordinarily trying and frightening times. May God in Christ reveal ways in which we can palpably and faithfully be church together in this season for the sake of the world.

With such prayer in Jesus’ name,

Pastor Jonathan Linman