Spiritual Reflections

Since we cannot assemble weekly in person for a full range of experiences of Christian community, I am endeavoring in the first weeks of my pastorate at Resurrection Church to offer weekly spiritual reflections in addition to my Sunday sermon videos. I see these mid-week written reflections as an exercise of my teaching ministry as a pastor, especially during this time of global pandemic and necessary sheltering at home and social distancing. Resurrection Church has a rich tradition of substantive adult Christian Education. These weekly reflections seek to fill, in some measure, the void created by the absence of our Sunday morning adult educational experiences. I long for the return of those Sunday morning offerings in person which feature the substantial gifts of our own members, but for now, I give you what I can in these weekly reflections. These messages also serve to nurture a sense of our Christian community during this time when we are apart.

May God in Christ bless your engagement with these pastoral offerings in the power of the Holy Spirit for your ongoing Christian formation for your journey of faith for such a time as this.

Advent Evening Prayer

Please join us for live worship via Zoom as we pray Advent Evening Prayer this coming Wednesday at 7:00 pm.

  • The Zoom link is available via Constant Contact mailings. If you are not receiving Constant Contact mailings from the church office, then please contact the church office
  • Here is the bulletin: pdfAdvent Evening Prayer Bulletin for December 23, 2020
  • To ensure a worshipful spirit that minimizes background noises, kindly participate in spoken responses at home and singing the hymn with your device’s microphone on mute. Thank you.

Dear Friends in Christ

As you receive this reflection, we’re just a day beyond Winter Solstice, the official beginning of winter, the time with the least daylight of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. As I’ve gotten older, Winter Solstice has taken on increasing significance for me, because these days I seem more attuned to the effects of light and dark, of day and night on my dispositions. While I am drawn to the stillness of night and the contemplative evocativeness of darkness and its own magnificent beauty, I prefer the light, especially in winter. Perhaps I carry in my body the experience of generations of Scandinavian ancestors who endured long winters of freezing, snowy days with precious little sunlight. Even at the point of the Summer Solstice, when the daylight begins to fade at the start of summer, I become a bit wistful and am aware of a hint of foreboding of the coming winter of deep night. In contrast, I rejoice at the Winter Solstice, because then the fulcrum tips and the days start to become longer, even as winter officially commences.

Advent Evening Prayer

Please join us for live worship via Zoom as we pray Evening Prayer on the Wednesdays in Advent at 7:00 pm.

  • The Zoom link is available via Constant Contact mailings. If you are not receiving Constant Contact mailings from the church office, then please contact the church office.
  • Here is the bulletin: pdfAdvent Evening Prayer for December 16, 2020
  • To ensure a worshipful spirit that minimizes background noises, kindly participate in spoken responses at home and singing the hymn with your device’s microphone on mute. Thank you.

 

Dear Friends in Christ:

What a time to share in my first holiday season in Arlington – during the pandemic. Had Nathan not had his stroke in the autumn of 2019, I may well have begun my pastorate with you about this time a year ago. The grand plan was to have been in place in time for me to celebrate Christmas 2019 with you as your new pastor. The best laid plans of mice and mortals….

So here we are now, unable to gather in person during a most precious time of the year known for such gatherings. Even if we were able to worship indoors, in person with proper precautions, those precautions would preclude singing Christmas carols. A Christmas Eve service devoid of favorite hymns for Christmas would indeed be a much diminished and perhaps sad experience.

Our Advent Evening Prayer services via Zoom have been devotional lifelines for the 15 or so persons who participate. We are planning a special worship video to accompany the Home Worship resources we provide for Christmas – suitable for use either on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day. This resource will be in a lessons and carols format with six readings appointed for Christmas and six pieces by the choir along with six Christmas hymns, this, in addition to a homily and prayers of intercession.

At its recent meeting, the Congregation Council commended the possibility of a very brief Christmas Carol sing in person, outdoors, physically distanced with masks at 4:00 pm on Christmas Eve. Or if that is not feasible should the infection rates worsen dramatically in northern Virginia by Christmas and if the weather is inclement, our plan B is a carol sing by Zoom followed by a time for conversation with each other, a kind of virtual “coffee hour.” Watch your Constant Contact messages for what we will do as the day approaches.

Those are the programmatic plans for our congregation this Christmas, the skeleton, as it were, of our planned celebrations. But what about the qualitative dimensions of our preparations during these remaining days of Advent and of our observance of Christmas? How do we make the most of our truncated celebrations both in church and in the wider secular society?

It seems to me that an opportunity before us is to reclaim the holidays as Holy Days. The pandemic has indeed upended our lives and routines for many months. Now it’s doing the same with this season. The opportunity in this time of crisis has always been to refocus on what is most important in our lives. There have been such silver linings for the privileged amidst the coronavirus’ ravages among those most afflicted.

I have to confess that I do not miss the usual holiday commotion that often inundates and obscures the reasons for the season. Perhaps it’s a function of my advancing age, but as each year passes, I have less and less patience for the commercialized franticness that accompanies the wider society’s observance (or appropriation?) of Christmas. I just cannot do the shopping, the partying, the busyness, the noise of the way the wider society has engaged the holidays the way I used to.

Frankly, I am drawn to the simpler, perhaps more subdued spirit of the season this year. It’s as if the clutter has cleared from the horizon opening up vistas to see again the holiness of these days – again, reclaiming the holidays as holy days.

Which is to say, in our perhaps less cluttered schedules this season, there is more occasion and room for devotional engagement, and for sitting quietly, prayerfully in holy contemplation of the mysteries of the Word of God made flesh in Jesus the Christ, whose birth among mortals we celebrate at Christmas.

Moreover, there are twelve days of Christmas to look to, and on many of those days, there are particular lesser festivals and commemorations in the church’s calendar: Stephen, Deacon and Martyr (December 26); John, Apostle and Evangelist (December 27, transferred this year to the 29th since the 27th is a Sunday); The Holy Innocents, Martyrs (December 28); Name of Jesus (January 1st). That you may observe these days devotionally, I commend again for your use More Days of Praise: Festivals and Commemorations in Evangelical Lutheran Worship by our own member, Gail Ramshaw, who offers both information about these occasions and suggestions for prayer, praise, and singing on these days.

Thus, we have opportunities before us during the coming Holy Days, a seasonal observance perhaps unlike any others in our lifetimes. By God’s grace and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may we be led to make the spiritual most of the days before us in the comparative simplicity induced by the pandemic. I, for one, and for example, have claimed more occasions just to sit quietly with the cats as together we gaze contemplatively at fires in the parsonage fireplace, now made safely functional again after a liner was installed in the chimney (for which I give thanks). Fire is primal and elemental. Sitting before the hearth calls to mind millennia of human beings gathered before fires in tribal villages. The fires before me in the parsonage living room also call to mind the new fire lit at the Easter Vigil, expressing Christ’s victorious light in conquering the night of death. Gazing at the fire is a grounding experience as a human being, but also transcendent as we celebrate the divine, eternal light of Christ.

May you find such occasions for devotion in the coming Holy Days.

Prayerfully in the warming, saving light of Christ,

Pastor Jonathan Linman

 

Tuesday, 08 December 2020 11:20

Midweek Message: "Musings on Advent"

Advent Evening Prayer

Please join us for a new venture of live worship via Zoom as we pray Evening Prayer on the Wednesdays in Advent at 7:00 pm:

  • The Zoom link is available via Constant Contact mailings. If you are not receiving Constant Contact mailings from the church office, then please contact the church office.
  • Here is the bulletin: pdfAdvent Evening Prayer Bulletin for December 9, 2020
  • To ensure a worshipful spirit that minimizes background noises, kindly participate in spoken responses at home and singing the hymn with your device’s microphone on mute. Thank you.

 

Dear Friends in Christ:

Advent is perhaps my favorite season of the church year, though I love them all. When I talk with pastor colleagues, they often agree that Advent is their favorite season, too. Why is that? Speaking for myself, part of Advent’s appeal is that many of my favorite hymns are appointed for this season – “Prepare the Royal Highway,” “Rejoice, Rejoice Believers,” “Comfort, Comfort Now My People,” “O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?” But it’s not just the hymns.

Another compelling feature is that Advent is one of the liturgical times of the year that has a decidedly future focus. Yes, one major aspect of Advent is preparation for and anticipation of Christmas when we celebrate the Word having been made flesh long ago. At the same time, though, Advent also looks to Christ’s coming again in a future determined only by God, a coming that promises to usher in the fullness, the completeness of God’s reign, God’s dominion in Christ Jesus. It’s a promise of a new heaven and a new earth. For the frustrated idealist in me, such a promised future engenders a renewed sense of hope for a better world in which all of God’s children and creatures will know God’s sholom, sacred and holistic well-being, the divine commonwealth. Looking for a healthier, more whole world is especially poignant this year, 2020, which many report that they are eager to leave behind.

Advent Evening Prayer

Please join us for a new venture of live worship via Zoom as we pray Evening Prayer on the Wednesdays in Advent at 7:00 pm.

  • The Zoom link is available via Constant Contact mailings. If you are not receiving Constant Contact mailings from the church office, then please contact the church office.
  • Here is the bulletin: pdfAdvent Evening Prayer Bulletin for December 2, 2020
  • To ensure a worshipful spirit that minimizes background noises, kindly participate in spoken responses at home and singing the hymn with your device’s microphone on mute. Thank you.

 

Dear Friends in Christ:

One of my early midweek messages, written just after I had taken up residence at the parsonage in mid-May, offered reflections on the natural seasons and growing cycles in relation to our life together as a congregation. This message was inspired by my devotional time sitting on the parsonage deck literally watching our garden grow, Resurrection Church’s “Plot Against Hunger,” which generates fresh produce for the benefit of those in need in our area.

At that time, our garden was just in the process of being planted. It was important and life-giving for me to engage on occasion our volunteers who offered their expertise and labor in our garden. This was an important way for me to begin to get to know some of our members outdoors, maintaining a safe distance during the pandemic.

Preparing and planting the garden also inspired my reflection on our life together as a congregation during this most unusual time of refraining from what congregations do, namely, congregate in person. In that midweek message early in my time here, I reflected on the importance in gardening of fallow seasons and of periods of dormancy, times for the ground to regain its nutrient-rich capacities, times to envision and prepare for the next growing season. I concluded that such fallow and dormant periods are an essential dimension of the whole gardening endeavor, and I suggested that our church’s pandemic-induced dormant period was a time for envisioning what our life together as a congregation might be in this emerging new period of Resurrection’s mission and ministry.

The seasons come and go. I arrived in the spring, have enjoyed the summer, and now we’re entering the waning days of autumn, anticipating the beginning of winter on the day of solstice around December 21. In terms of the church’s seasons, I took up residence during Eastertide. We celebrated Pentecost and have plowed our way through the entire season of ordinary time after Pentecost. Now it’s Advent, a new year liturgically speaking.

Week of Christ the King 2020

Dear Friends in Christ:

Thanks to all who responded to our recent survey concerning our life together as a congregation during this difficult time of the pandemic. Paul Bastuscheck, who faithfully oversees our Constant Contact communications efforts, has helpfully summarized the results of this survey to members of the congregation. His overview is as follows:

“A survey was administered to RELC Members by email on November 1 and they were given one week to respond. There were 44 total respondents. Overall participants felt that RELC was doing a good job adapting to a virtual worship-at-home format. What they said they missed the most was social interaction of in-person worship and a sense of community. People indicated that they wanted more connections with fellow members with virtual coffee hours, and introducing more Zoom groups to attend. Respondents also indicted they wanted more outdoor, socially distanced worship, communion and ways to meet in-person with Pastor Linman and other members. When asked, 55% of members said they would be willing to return to indoor worship with safety precautions. 68% of members also indicated that they would not be interested in a virtual 5K run for Thanksgiving.

Members generally gave Pastor Linman good reviews and appreciated the way he has guided the church during the past 8-months. Many also indicated that they wanted more in-person outreach to get to know the pastor better. Ideas included Virtual Zoom meetings, phone calls, in-person socially distanced meetings using the front porch of the parsonage, walks in the neighbourhood and Pastor led classes in appropriate formats.”

I am glad for this helpful overview and summary even as I am thankful for the particular comments of individual respondents. These responses both in summary and in particular will guide my own discernment about how we can undertake life together in Christ in the coming weeks and months. Some very good ideas were offered in the responses, even as the survey results will also serve as a foundation for future creative ideas and approaches.

Here is a listing of some current and future plans for initiatives which address many of the concerns and desires expressed in people’s responses. Some of what follows was already in the planning works. Other items are new possibilities based on the survey results.

Week of the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost 2020

Dear Friends in Christ:

We’ve been undertaking worship at home for some eight months now. Given the trajectory of the pandemic in what is clear is a nationwide intensified outbreak, we are likely to be worshiping at home for some time to come, even as we are also now holding brief services outdoors every two weeks in conjunction with the collection of food for the AFAC food pantry.

Worship at home is for many of us a solitary venture, even if we share common resources. I engage the materials by myself on Sunday mornings just before turning my attention to creating a first draft of my sermon for the next Sunday. I preach by myself in the pastor’s office in the church focused on the tiny blue-gray dot that is the camera lens on my laptop computer.

You may have your own solitary practices at home, or do home worship with your spouse or your family as a “pod” safely protected, but disconnected from others in our congregation. Even if your family, as a small gathering, worships together at home, it cannot compare with our full assemblies that we have known and enjoyed on Sunday mornings – and will again, we pray, sooner rather than later! It can seem so long ago….

So, we undertake worship at home separated from each other as a congregation. But providing resources for worship at home is far from a solitary endeavor. In fact, it is very much a communal effort of members and staff at Resurrection Church. Some members have wondered with me about how our home worship resources are crafted and produced. It is indeed a labor-intensive effort that is a focal point for our life together as a congregation, even if those efforts are largely unseen by most members of our church.

By way of illustrating the communal nature of this endeavor, here’s a description of how we put it all together to make the home worship resources available to you each week. Hymns are chosen well in advance and orders of worship are drafted under my care and in consultation with members of the Worship and Music Committee. Our Office Administrator, Monika Carney, then puts the well-crafted bulletin together. Member, Gordon Lathrop, conceived the basic order of worship that we employ even before I arrived on the scene as pastor. He also writes weekly the brief summary paragraph in the bulletin that helpfully weaves the themes of the lectionary readings together for our reflection. Member, Gail Ramshaw, beautifully crafts our prayers of intercession which speak to the current needs and opportunities of our days in church, nation and world, drawing on the themes of the lectionary passages for each Sunday. I should also say that Gordon and Gail’s resources are made available to everyone in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and are used in some cases even internationally.

Member, Kim Harriz, is the one who makes the calls to secure other members to serve as readers and leaders of prayer. She has done an excellent job of recruiting a wide and diverse representation of RELC members, sometimes whole families, and sometimes members who have not taken leadership roles in worship before. Our member readers and prayer leaders then create their video recordings to be uploaded for editing for the home worship video.

Our interim music director, Barbara Verdile, creates her lovely musical meditations and renditions of the psalm in our church’s nave. She also rehearses with our choir each week, and choir members then generate their own individual video and audio recordings of the hymns and anthems which are then sent to Barbara who weaves it all together for a single, ensemble choral experience online.

Once the individual video files are created by me, our readers and prayer leaders and Barbara and our choristers, then one of our videographers – either members Carson Brooke, Daniel Cuesta or Lizzy Schoen – puts the video and audio files together, editing it all into the watch-through video which accompanies the bulletin materials, and individual video files.

Also accompanying the resources for home worship are Angie Brooke’s weekly children’s messages and Amanda Lindamood’s weekly resources for faith formation at home. I commend these resources for use by adults, too, as they are salutary not just for our children and youth!

Once the resources are compiled, Barbara and I take a final look at the worship video, suggest any editorial changes, and ultimately approve it for distribution. That’s when member Chris Smith makes our many resources available on our church website and member Paul Bastuscheck crafts a message with links to the materials in the Constant Contact message that goes out to our members. Office Administrator, Monika, also sends out hard copies of our home worship resources to those members who do not have access to computers or internet.

So, you can see that crafting and compiling and sending our home worship resources each week is quite the team effort, again, largely unseen by most congregation members. I’ve tried here to give a comprehensive overview of the work we do each week. Kindly let me know if I have overlooked any parts of the process and any of the participants!

Thus, I want to thank our unsung heroes of home worship at RELC for their many, many efforts, for all the hours and energy expended over the course of these eight months and counting. Thousand thanks to our many worship team leaders and those in the choir who sing and the many members who have served as readers and prayer leaders! And thanks be to God for these efforts. It is popularly said that the word “liturgy” can basically be understood as “the work of the people.” This reality is very much conveyed and embodied in the many members who offer themselves in the service of our current practices of worship at home. It’s far from a solitary endeavor! It’s also true that many hands make for lighter work, for which I am thankful.

My prayer is that this recounting of what goes into making our home worship resources available each week will deepen and enhance your experience and practice of worship at home. My prayer is also that your awareness of the communal nature of our shared efforts will help you feel connected with other members of our congregation even when worship at home might otherwise be a rather solitary endeavor that happens apart from our longed-for assemblies in person.

With deep and abiding appreciation in Christ Jesus for all who lead and serve our home worship life,

Pastor Jonathan Linman

Week of the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost 2020
“Some Results are In – Now What?”

Dear Friends in Christ:

Well, we know some of the results of the recent elections. We have a president-elect, though some dispute that. The Senate remains up for grabs in terms of which party holds the majority. We do not yet know how transitions will proceed. Unknowns persist.

But one clear outcome of the elections is the revelation of the extent of apparent divisions in our nation, how evenly divided we are even down to razor thin margins in some areas. Red states and blue states. Urban and rural. Coasts and the country’s midsections. White and persons of color. Republican and Democrat. In the minds of many, winners and losers. A house divided cannot stand…. What remains to be seen is what our current divisions may lead to in the coming weeks, months, and years.

It may well be that the extent of our divisions is at some level actively curated by various entrenched interests that seek to divide the populace in the service of the protection of their interests. Divide and conquer as an age-old strategy which various “powers that be” have enacted across the globe throughout the centuries. Keeping people on edge is good for ratings and thus advertisers. Keeping people anxious and angry is the most seductively easy way to lead, and this is true on both the right and left sides of the political spectrum.

But I wonder if our country’s people are as divided as various media would have us believe. If we could turn down the volume on the cacophonous political rhetoric, again on both sides of the spectrum, if we could strip discourse of ideological labels and jargon, again on both the left and right, I wonder if we could discover more common ground.

Week of the Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost 2020
“Formation for Our Witness to the World – Especially Now”

Dear Friends in Christ:

As you receive this message, we await the outcome of the elections. Whatever the results will be, the days, weeks, and months that lie before us will undoubtedly present us with challenges on many different fronts. We will need to be well-equipped for offering to the world confident, hopeful Christian witness. Thus, our particular season in our life together as church and nation calls for intensified efforts concerning adult Christian education and formation. Being formed in the faith for the work that God has entrusted to us for the sake of the world is not just for children and youth, especially now. Thus, I am committed as your Pastor to shepherding occasions and resources for adult Christian education in our congregation. I envision Resurrection as a community in which people of all ages and in varieties of family circumstances routinely engage together in various opportunities for Christian education that not only inform the mind, but form the heart and character for our ministry in daily life. The world needs our mature, faithful Christian witness that has been well-formed by lifelong Christian education.

These weekly messages from me are one way that I seek to live into a vision for expanded ministries of education and formation. I intentionally address a wide array of topics that reflect the comprehensive nature of our ministry and mission. I am most heartened when you engage me in conversation with your responses to these messages – via email, in person, on the phone. Let’s be in dialogue. Disagree with me when you feel moved, and don’t be afraid to let me know. I delight in such engagement, as it affords me the opportunity to elaborate on topics, going beyond where I can go in just a couple of pages of essay. I also welcome your suggestions of topics for future messages.

Another expansion of opportunities for adult education and formation are Bible Studies that incorporate lectio divina as a format for engaging the scriptures in studied and devotional ways that attend to both head and heart. In addition to a group that meets with me via Zoom on Thursday mornings at 11:00 every other week, a second and newer group meets on Monday evenings at 6:30 to explore Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew’s Gospel. To date, about 15 people – a very heartening number – have committed to joining in this conversation. And I am pleasantly surprised that lectio divina as a format for engaging scripture works rather well via Zoom. It’s not too late to join in these opportunities – see specifics in the weekly announcement message.

Also heartening is the commitment to exploring racism in our church and nation and how we can be better formed to seek an end to this injustice. About 15 Resurrection members have committed to participating in monthly discussions of Pastor Lenny Duncan’s book, Dear Church: A Love Letter From a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S. Because of the provocative nature of Pastor Duncan’s prophetic witness, we incorporate prayerful, spiritual practices into these discussions to keep us tethered to the peace of God which rests within us and among us as we move forward in conversation. In addition to these monthly book discussions, there are also the monthly Friday evening film screenings on works which also seek to widen our horizons about racism. These film screenings are intentionally intergenerational. Again, see the coming announcement messages for further information.

Furthermore, we have a number of members who are very capable teachers. While I may shepherd our adult education and formation initiatives as Pastor, I am certainly not the only one who will teach. As one shining example, consider our member, Gail Ramshaw, who has written voluminously in the service of the church and its witness over many decades. Since we just celebrated All Saints Day, and I have recently commended to you our Lutheran calendar of commemorations of the saints, I call to your attention a book that Gail wrote which helps us derive spiritual benefit from the many commemorations on our calendar: More Days for Praise: Festivals and Commemorations in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Augsburg Fortress 2016). This lovely work contains information about each person commemorated along with devotional aids to help us gain a palpable sense that we are indeed surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses as we run the race that is set before us, ever looking to Jesus, to whom the saints point.

In short, we are attending to the life of the mind and heart at Resurrection Church, even when we cannot meet in person, so that we can be formed to proclaim a word of healing and hope to the world. I don’t think I’m misreading things, but I sense a good deal of energy and desire for occasions and resources for adult and intergenerational education and formation. Again, the number of participants is heartening to me, as are the resources and persons available to us. I also look forward to opportunities to expand on these current offerings. I am especially interested in exploring new formats for engaging in communal discernment about topics which generally create a lot of tension in our wider society. My prayer is that Resurrection Church in community will embody the kind of loving, respectful dialogue that is typically absent in other civic arenas currently. May our congregation grow to be a model for such respectful dialogue, especially when we can agree to disagree and still remain in genuine Christian community. For the church, as an embodiment of the dominion of God in Christ, is not a club for the like-minded. Rather, the church is inherently a very diverse community united in Christ for the world’s healing and salvation.

May God in Christ guide us in our holy conversations to form us for the work that God has entrusted to us for the sake of our broken world,

Pastor Jonathan Linman

Week of the Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost 2020
Prayers for Such a Time as This

Dear Friends in Christ:

I am drawn to call attention to what’s on the minds of most: Election Day is almost upon us, and many may feel like they are on pins and needles. The intersecting crises coinciding with this particular presidential election may seem too much to bear, especially when we have endured so much for so very many months. Given these realities, we need prayer more than ever. Bishop Ortiz invites you to daily prayer, as do I as your Pastor. Our Synod has crafted resources for our prayer during the days prior to and after the election.

Additionally, you may also be drawn to sing if you have a copy of Evangelical Lutheran Worship at home. Sing or pray through the texts of hymns such as "All our hope on God is founded" (ELW 757) or "God bless our native land" (ELW 891).

Here are excellent collects which I commend for your use at home, again from our Evangelical Lutheran Worship – pray these prayers even as you read them now:

God, our refuge and strength, you have bound us together in a common life. In all our conflicts, help us to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, to listen for your voice amid competing claims, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance. Where impossibilities close every door and window, grant imagination and resistance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination. Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lord God, you call your people to honor those in authority. Help us elect trustworthy leaders, participate in wise decisions for our common life, and serve our neighbors in local communities. Bless the leaders of our land, that we may be at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, pew edition, pages 76-77)

Our individual prayers may be quite particular and for specific outcomes. But all of our prayers are ultimately most faithfully rooted in the fundamental sacred utterances which emerge from the pages of scripture, to paraphrase them – “Your will, not mine, be done, O God;” “Into your hands, O Lord, we commend our spirits;” “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”

Remember also that when we do not know what to pray or how, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words (cf. Romans 8:26ff.). The Spirit’s prayer is the source of all of our other prayers.

With many heart-felt prayers for our life together in church, nation, and world in Jesus’ name,

Pastor Jonathan Linman

Midweek Message from Your Pastor, For Such a Time as This
Week of the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost 2020

Dear Friends in Christ:

The crisis of the pandemic wears on, continuing to lead us to refrain from gathering for worship in person. As Covid cases surge in many places throughout the country, including the Northeast which had the virus under control for a time, and as colder weather will keep people indoors, raising the specter of further outbreaks of illness, it’s hard to imagine in-person, in-door gatherings anytime soon. Perhaps the novelty of our home worship video resources has worn off, for viewership among members of the congregation has decreased steadily in the months we’ve been offering the videos. I am concerned about the devotional well-being of you, God’s people, at home. But every crisis holds promise also for opportunity. Thus, I want to revisit the theme of encouraging worship and prayer at home, in the domestic church, by calling attention to a particular treasure that is readily and literally at hand, namely our book called Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

To be sure, we will continue to provide the varied resources to assist weekly worship at home, resources which draw from the treasury which is Evangelical Lutheran Worship. But there is so much more to discover in the book which can serve your devotion at home.

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