Week of the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Dear Friends in Christ:
This week’s installment covers some miscellaneous territory.
First, These Weekly Messages:
I have been writing these almost weekly columns for seventeen months at this point in our shared life together. It was the pandemic and the fact that we could not gather in person a year and a half ago that motivated me to offer these weekly messages. I understood this platform as a means to engage in outreach to you through the written word, in a fashion that perhaps parallels the letters that comprise so much of the Christian scriptures in the New Testament – not that my musings would ever achieve scriptural status! No, this medium has been a means for you all to get to know me better as your Pastor, especially at a time when our routines were much truncated. Moreover, I conceived of these weekly messages also as an expression of my teaching ministry as a Pastor.
What pertained seventeen months ago still pertains today in many ways. The pandemic continues to limit our life together, even if we are doing more in person, especially with our Sunday worship. There have been times when I have thought maybe I need not write these columns each and every week. Maybe I should transition to twice a month or monthly, or on an as needed basis. But then each week presents new topics that I feel drawn to address in ways that I cannot appropriately address in a sermon or in other forms of teaching and interaction. I keep an ongoing list of possible topics, and circumstances in church and world keep adding to that list. At first, I wondered if there were enough topics to keep me writing week after week. As it turns out, our life together these days supplies plenty to write about.
It occurs to me that these midweek messages are becoming an archival record of my pastorate at Resurrection Church. Thus, these written statements also become part of our congregation’s history at a strikingly unique time in world history. Moreover, these messages are additionally an expression of our public ministry in that they live online and are widely available to those who may find their way to them.
All of this said, I confess that I wonder how many Resurrection members are drawn to reading and engaging these musings on a regular basis. Nonetheless, I persist in affirming and claiming the importance of the midweek message as an integral feature of my current ministry here.
I also want to reiterate an offer I made months and months ago, and that is to invite you to suggest to me topics you would like me to address in coming midweek messages. True correspondence is best a two-way street. I would love to know what’s on your hearts and minds, questions you have about our life together, about our church’s witness in response to our wider world. Don’t be shy in suggesting possible topics to me!
Secondly, Office Hours:
Now that we have embarked on a new program year with something of a return to normal-seeming routines, Office Administrator, Monika Carney, and I have resumed more or less regular office hours when one or the other of us, or both of us, are in the church office in person. These basic hours are Monday-Friday, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, though there are occasions when meetings, contingencies, errands, or emergencies may take one or both of us out of the office. So, you may want to call or email us before stopping by to confirm that someone will be here.
That said, we welcome your presence in the church building on days other than Sundays. Such casual encounters often result in important conversations about our life together, and also find their way to becoming occasions of Mutual Conversation and Consolation, which I’ve written about previously, and which Luther named as one of the means of grace alongside preaching, baptism, eucharist, and confession and forgiveness as forms of the gospel. When you’re here in the building for whatever sets of reasons, we never fail to gain what I am fond of calling a Christian quorum – “for where two or three are gathered in [Jesus’] name, [Jesus is] there among [us].” (Matthew 18:20) This is the only numbers game worth playing in church…. Please know that I am available to you as Pastor when I am in the office, even as I am available to you as Pastor when I am out and about visiting you in your homes and with you on other occasions of our life together, virtually or in person.
Finally, My Whereabouts This Coming Week:
In order to seek to give faithful expression to my calling as a dad, I will travel on October 6 to Phoenix where I will spend time with my son, Nathan, during his fall break from school, giving us opportunity for quality time together. I’ll return on Wednesday, October 13. During this week away from Arlington, I will continue to attend to my pastoral work remotely, and will be available via email, Zoom, and by phone, working half days and claiming the rest as vacation time. On Sunday, October 10, the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, we will welcome our member, Pastor Gordon Lathrop, as our preaching and presiding minister. Thanks be to God for Gordon’s willingness to serve us in this capacity.
Because of my time in Phoenix, I will take a break from offering a midweek message next week. But these messages will return, to be sure.
With prayerful best wishes to you all in Jesus’ name,
Pastor Jonathan Linman