Spiritual Reflections: "What's Going on at Church" Featured

Spiritual Reflections from Your Pastor, For Such a Time as This
The Rev. Jonathan Linman, Ph.D.
Week of the Sixth Sunday of Easter 2020: “What’s Going on at Church?”

Dear Friends in Christ:

I am delighted to be writing this piece in my home office at the parsonage here in Arlington. At long last, I am in residence among you, even if we cannot generally enjoy interactions in person. Despite these most unusual circumstances, I am doing now what I always do in a new call, namely, getting a sense of what is going on in ministry in this place. Because of the pandemic, and in a manner similar to the coronavirus, which is itself hidden to the naked eye, a lot of ministry at Resurrection right now is not particularly visible to everyone. But things are happening – perhaps in truncated form – and many of the essentials of Christian life together are being undertaken even apart from our ability to assemble on Sundays and at other times. Here is a snapshot of what I have witnessed in just the few days since I arrived in Arlington.

The gospel is preached – now in the currently sparsely furnished parlor of the parsonage. We worship at home engaging resources developed by our own members, which are not just used by us, but by many in the wider church. Through the wonders of video technology, and thanks to the leadership of Barbara, the Resurrection Choir even sang a wonderful anthem together this week.

Angie and Amanda develop and share weekly video and web-based resources for the Christian education and formation in faith of our children and youth. Confirmation instruction is undertaken by Zoom, in keeping with current online learning in schools. I exercise my own teaching ministry through the written word in the mid-week Pastor’s Spiritual Reflections.

Members are intentionally reaching out to each other by phone, email, and other ways, to make certain that our more vulnerable members are cared-for. As a newcomer residing in the parsonage without the benefit of my worldly belongings, I am the blessed and thankful recipient of Resurrection’s Meal Ministry, as members lavish on me their culinary gifts. Thank you!

The Congregation Council is active, along with other committees. The church building and parsonage continue to be taken care of. Monika continues capably to attend to the administrative ministry of the church office.

The communications and thus outreach efforts of the congregation are actually enhanced in this season of sheltering at home with the addition of the new web-based video resources made available each week.

The Social Ministry Committee has been collecting food items for distribution to those in need in our wider community. In fact, just this Sunday morning, I was blessed to be present when members came to the church, wearing their masks and keeping a healthy distance from each other, to offer their tangible gifts to feed the vulnerable and marginalized. This also became a lovely fellowship opportunity as folk lingered for a bit to engage in conversation with each other. Where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, there he is in the midst of them.

Financial gifts to the congregation are understandably less than they might otherwise be if we were worshiping together each Sunday, but members continue to give to support not just the work of our congregation, but the mission of our Synod and Churchwide organizations – which themselves are providing helpful resources as we begin to make plans for gradual re-openings in the coming months.

So, you can see that congregational life is still taking place, even if the pace of that life is slower and less extensive than would normally be the case. In fact, a lot is happening, and we are attending to the basics of Christian communal life. Again, what I provide here is but a snapshot of that which I have seen in the past few days. There are, to be sure, other congregational initiatives which I have not yet had occasion to participate in first-hand.

I am encouraged by what I see happening at Resurrection Church. In order to continue this kind of reporting, starting next week, I will include in these weekly submissions announcements of various activities at Resurrection – a feature not unlike the announcements insert that had been a regular part of the printed weekly Sunday bulletin. If you want a congregational initiative announced, please contact Monika in the office by Monday of each week in order for it to go out on Wednesday.

With thanks to you and to God for the opportunity to begin ministry with you in residence, and in Jesus’ name,

Pastor Jonathan Linman

Reminder of Home Worship for tomorrow, Ascension Day

Resources for Home Worship will be available for the Festival of the Ascension of our Lord on Thursday, May 21. Join us at 7:30 pm that day to mark this important festival. The Home Worship order of service will be complemented as usual by a sermon and musical accompaniment.