Week of the Third Sunday of Easter
Dear Christian Friends:
Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
“Mi casa es tu casa” – “My house is your house.” This is a phrase that expresses welcome and hospitality. But in my case, as your pastor living in the church’s parsonage, my house literally is your house. Resurrection Church holds title to the property. I am simply the privileged long-term guest in this great gift of a house. But this house has been made to become my home, and there is a distinction between house as a thing and home as a more existential quality of being.
Thus, it’s been my privilege now on two occasions – Easter Sunday and yesterday, the Third Sunday of Easter – to welcome you to the features of my home outdoors, namely, the deck, a new brick patio, and the yard shared by parsonage and church, along with our garden, the “Plot Against Hunger,” which is now sprouting new growth thanks to the ministrations of our gardeners.
As our response to the pandemic continues to evolve, we are now worshiping outdoors each Sunday – twice a month on the Potomac Street side of the church in conjunction with the food collections for AFAC to benefit those in need in our community, and the other Sundays on the parsonage side of the church. Thanks be to God for occasions safely to worship in person each week.
It’s not a perfect parallel, nor should it be, but it strikes me that there are aspects of our outdoor arrangement that are evocative of typical church interiors. The elevated deck is not unlike a chancel, where the table there could become something of an altar table. The new brick patio twice has served as a choir loft. The fence separating the parsonage yard from the church yard could be viewed as a chancel rail. And then the wider expanse of the church yard, centered in the garden, has served as the nave for the gathering of the assembly. Those who have shared in the recent worship events there have found the arrangement salutary.
Members and friends who have gathered at the exterior threshold of the parsonage have helped us to begin to live into the vision that I hold dear, and that is that your parsonage, my home, will be a place of hospitality for the congregation and for those traveling to and through Arlington from wider worlds. Indeed, our gatherings for worship have included occasions for hospitable conversations among those congregating, a wonderful way to stay connected safely and masked in person during these pandemic days.
I look for the day with eager anticipation when those who gather on the deck and patio and yards can enter the indoors of the parsonage where you will also encounter a place of beauty and hospitality, the “hearth” of the kitchen and dining area and a little “chapel,” which is a dedicated place for prayer, study, and holy conversation.
These worshipful and social occasions outdoors are beginning to make our life together feel more normal as we gain a track record demonstrating the safety of these gatherings, thus making some tangible progress toward returning indoors in due course.
There are still a number of you in our congregation whom I have not yet had occasion to meet for meaningful conversation. Our Zoom “Meet and Greet the Pastor” events were helpful some many weeks and months ago, but that format just didn’t gain traction perhaps because of people’s understandable Zoom fatigue. When I reach out to members by phone on baptism anniversary days, more often than not I find only an answering machine on which to leave a message. Thus, to those I’ve not yet had occasion to meaningfully engage, I extend a heartfelt invitation to you to join me and other congregation members on the parsonage deck and patio, or on the other AFAC Sundays on the Potomac side, for conversation in advance of our regularly scheduled outdoor worship services. I am present at least an hour before the service time. It would be great to make the most of these times to get to know you better!
Moving forward together in Jesus’ name,
Pastor Jonathan Linman