Midweek Message: “God’s Work, our Hands on Rally Day, September 12”

Week of the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Dear Friends in Christ:

Rally Day. Gathering Sunday. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a day commonly observed among many protestant churches to mark a return to a new program year in the church which coincides with the beginning of a new academic year in our nation’s schools. Thus, Sunday worship on September 12 will include a blessing of backpacks and prayers for students, teachers, and schools as part of our sending rite as we are propelled by the Holy Spirit back into the world to do the educational and formational work that God has entrusted to us. Prayers will thus also include our Sunday School, its teachers and students, and other Christian education and faith formation initiatives. It’s a day to recommit to our ongoing education and formation in the faith. That is to say, Rally Day is not just for kids. It’s intent is to summons people of all ages into more intentional discipleship. What is a disciple, etymologically speaking, but a student of Jesus Christ? We are all life-long learners on this Christian journey. Thus, if you are not currently active in an education or faith formation initiative of our congregation, I invite you to join in one of our programs. Currently, there’s available to you the Zoom Bible Study on Monday evenings and a Thursday morning Bible Study and Fellowship time, also via Zoom. There’s also the monthly Friday evening film series and discussions. Look for more intergenerational family events this fall led by Amanda and me. And I am open to planning and scheduling other such educational and faith formational initiatives according to your interest. Share with me your thoughts!

September 12 is also “God’s work, our hands” Sunday throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It’s a day when we partner with our siblings in our wider church throughout the country by participating in local initiatives to benefit those in need in our communities, an opportunity to give public witness to our faith through programs of loving care of our neighbors. This year, we at Resurrection Church will share in “God’s work, our hands” by collecting items of practical benefit to setting up house for refugees from Afghanistan who will settle in our area. Note this week’s announcements for specifics on how to participate in this endeavor.

“God’s work, our hands” on Rally Day 2021 also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon right here in our own backyard, and with the downed plane in rural Pennsylvania. Twenty years ago. Those who are old enough will likely remember exactly where they were and what they were doing on that fateful day when terrorism claimed the lives of so many, and altered our ways of life to this day. Indeed, it’s as if all hell broke loose on that day in September twenty years ago, and we in nation and world are still suffering the ill effects of what was unleashed on that day.

So it is that our modest efforts this coming Sunday have an added poignancy. Intersecting crises continue to confound and trouble us and make life unsustainable for the most vulnerable. Thus, activities after worship during our coffee hour will include opportunities for some letter writing – thanks to first responders to disaster and in managing Covid 19, and advocacy for Afghani refugees settling in our area, for climate justice, for tenant rights, especially those facing eviction. And more – again, please note this week’s announcements for further details. This Sunday is also our usual bi-monthly in-gathering of food items to benefit the hungry and food insecure in the Arlington area.

Still more, Rally Day also begins our attempted return to more usual programming and activities in our congregation. Beginning this Sunday, Worship will begin now at 10:00 am rather than 9:30 to accommodate Sunday morning choir rehearsal since our choir is coming back after their summer break. This week also marks the return of regular hours in the church office. Beginning on Monday, September 13 church office hours will generally be Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Monika Carney and I will engage our onsite, in person work during these times. But before you stop by, it may be wise to call or email us first in case one or both of us is called out on an errand, meetings, or emergency. Our Congregation Council this fall will also begin the task of discerning and deciding how in particular and concrete ways we will endeavor to live into our new vision statements for mission and ministry in our congregation and community. God’s work, our hands, to be sure.

Finally, Rally Day 2021 occurs amidst the ongoing claims of the pandemic. Thanks be to God this year that we are worshiping in person and indoors, and that our building is generally more available for use. But, because of the claims of the Delta variant of the coronavirus and the fact that children under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, programming for children and youth will continue online or in person outdoors with masks. Other meetings and activities may continue to occur via Zoom, also because of the vagaries and twists and turns of the coronavirus. We will be patient and flexible as we live into whatever our new realities will be.

This raises the question of who will rally with us on Rally Day. Who and how many of our members will regularly return to our congregation’s activities? That remains to be seen, and is a matter of concern. But whoever joins in will constitute the assembly of believers that makes for church who will have a share in God’s loving work for the world. God uses our own hands for this work. That’s a marvel to behold.

Thus, may God in Christ lead us into this new program year faithfully and with courage and hope in the power of the Spirit,

Pastor Jonathan Linman