Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

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August 16, 2015 – Clay Morrison

Daniel 1.1-7 : Psalm 111 : Luke 12.35-44

Listen to the songs here.

The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness

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August 9, 2015 – Clay Morrison

Ephesians 2.1-10 : Psalm 34.1-8 : Mark 10.17-22

Listen to the songs here.

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

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July 5, 2015 – Clay Morrison

1 John 4.7-12 : Psalm 136.1-9,23-26 : Luke 19.1-10

Listen to the songs here.

Restoration’s New Summer Schedule

Summer-Sunny-Morning-WallpaperHey Restoration,

During the summer, everyone’s schedule changes, and Restoration will be changing up our schedule as well.  Starting on June 28th, we’ll have only two services each Sunday: 9am and 11am. 

The result will be a slightly more relaxed schedule, two robustly attended services, and a chance to see some friends who have been spread over the three services.  We’ll have nursery through preschool downstairs for both services, and some kid friendly activities for the older kids upstairs.

Now, if you’re thinking, what?? No 5pm service??  Don’t fear!  It will be back on September 13th, just in time for getting back into the school routine.

We hope you have a great summer, and we look forward to worshipping with you.

Maundy Thursday Homily

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April 2, 2015 – Clay Morrison

Exodus 12.1-14 / Psalm 116.10-17 / John 18.1-11

Listen to the songs here.

Covering the Cross

Crossed-CoveredWhy did you Cover the Cross?

We began Ash Wednesday with a fast to humble ourselves before God. In the weakness of that hunger and in the outward presence of our ashes we anticipated the work of God to be present among us. During our moments of famine and meditation, I pray that He has revealed to us areas of our lives that we have failed to surrender to Him. Micah 6:8 reminds us that God is not concerned with mere external sacrifice; our lenten fasts (coffee, chocolate, social media, vegan diets, etc.) are a tool–at the most rudimentary level–to help us enter into the sufferings of Christ as we anticipate living in that resurrection glory with Him. So why veil the symbol of the victory of our glorious Lord and Savior? The veiled cross reminds us to be penitent and veils our view of the Triune God’s work. The veil also reminds us to focus on the process leading up to Christ’s crucifixion so that Easter’s beauty becomes a more glorious realization of our future hope.

Tradition

The English tradition of covering sacred objects with a veil during Lent can be traced back to the 9th century.[1] Along with the removal of “Allelujah” from the liturgy, the church removed other signs of joy and happiness from the church, which included covering the altar and other sacred objects. Although utilizing purple veils beginning on the 5th Sunday of Lent (Passiontide) is a more recent tradition, they both have as their base the same communicative force– to strengthen the penitential nature of Lenten devotion.

Increasing Lenten Devotion

Week five of Lent often contains the Gospel reading from John 8:46-59, recounting the story of Jesus elucidating true discipleship to a group of Jewish hearers. After Jesus proclaims that His word is superior to that of Abraham and the prophets, those standing by picked up rocks to stone Him. Verse 59 says, “Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” The veil over the cross invites us who follow Christ to open ourselves to those areas in which we fail to trust our God. Christ left, but those men still stood there with rocks in hand, unaware that their hearts were hardened beyond the hardness of the rocks they carried. When we experience Christ’s abandonment during our rebellion, what are we left carrying in our hands? A shrouded cross reminds us to drop what is in our hands–the rebellion we hold onto so tightly–and turn a tear-filled eye to the God who wants to renew our hearts.

Veiling Christ’s Work and our Victory

 The cross symbolizes God’s act of salvation and Christ’s ultimate suffering, so why veil this symbol? The cross is not only a symbol of salvation and suffering, but one of victory. When we look at the veil, we know what is behind it, but we can only see it in part. To borrow the Pauline metaphor, we only see through a mirror dimly (1 Cor 13:12). We are reminded that by God’s grace, the small victories we experience, the traces of God’s love we feel, and the small portions of His peace in which we share are all a merely veiled expression of the glory we will experience in His resurrection life.

Focus on Process

Because the cross is our mysterious entrance into victory of God, we often fail to focus on the process leading up to the crucifixion. The veil calls us to enter into the experience of Christ’s life and sufferings. Christ was not merely born and then hung on a cross; the crucifixion was three decades in the making. Multitudes hailed him as king, but traded him for a criminal. Mouths acclaimed Him as a great teacher only to falsely accused Him before the Sanhedrin. We veil the cross to enter into the narrative leading up to the betrayal of our Lord. As He divested Himself of all He was, so we come to God, divesting ourselves of the cares, sins, anxieties, fears, injustices, and the offenses that we carry. Dying daily becomes an imperative with a paradigm patterned on the life of Christ.

Conclusion

The veil shrouding the cross supports our penitential season by exhorting us to internalize our fasts and to enter into the sufferings of Christ. The veil reminds us that the glory of God we experience now is only a veiled look at the true glory of our future victory. A veiled cross focuses our gaze upon the process leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension. When the cross is finally unveiled, the joy of Christ’s victory inscribes an indelible mark upon our heart and mind.

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly

wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to

love what you command and desire what you promise; that,

among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts

may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.[2]



[1]          Christopher Yoder, “Veiling Crosses in Lent,” http://livingchurch.org/covenant/?p=5064 [accessed March 5, 2015].

[2]          A collect for the 5th Sunday of Lent, Book of Common Prayer, 219.

Ash Wednesday

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February 22, 2015 – Clay Morrison

Isaiah 58:6-12 / Psalm 103 / John 10:22-30

Listen to the songs here.

Morning Prayer: Fridays, 7:00-7:35

Friday Morning Prayer Image“Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our 
being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by 
your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our 
life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are 
ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen.”-BCP, 100.

We all cultivate disciplines to accomplish something: exercising daily to live a healthy lifestyle, reading foreign newspapers to cultivate our ability to learn a second language, or waking up early to accomplish tasks that would otherwise take time from our family. Our goals and values determine our discipline. What kind of disciplines do we cultivate in our spiritual growth? Through the community of Christ’s body, God has preserved the historic offices of daily prayer as a mechanism for His work in us and in our world. These times of prayer help us to meditate on our current rhythms of life, denounce our areas of negligence and disobedience, and incline us to holiness for God’s glory.

How I Discovered the Daily Office

I learned during my time in seminary that the church historically had its own version of devotional times that has roots in second temple Judaism (1 Chron 16:40; 23:30; 2 Chron 2:4; Dan 6:13). Because I incline towards avoiding innovation in Christian theology and discipline (i.e. reinventing the wheel), I began to research this “Prayer office”. Although the term “office” may sound unfamiliar to us, it merely refers to a dutiful service (cf. Hebrews 9:6, Vulgate) which in the Church was realized as designated hours of prayer.  Ashley and I were helping with a youth group at a church in Dallas; one of the students had a father who was an Anglican priest. I asked him where I could find the “Book of Common Prayer.” He smiled and told me to wait as he disappeared into another room. He later returned with a BCP in which he had inscribed a note of encouragement for me and signed it. This caring gesture became my warm invitation to Anglican devotion.

How Do Offices of Prayer Benefit?

When I got home and began to read this book, it confused me because I had no context for these prayers. The prayers were profound and wonderful, but I wanted to see their context, so I went with a friend to an Episcopal Church in Dallas to do the morning office. I began to experience God’s guiding hand throughout the day as the prayers that I prayed were recalled to mind throughout the rest of my day.

One evening I was heading from school to work, a bit upset that I would have to be out five nights that week and that I would be working until almost 11pm that night. I was reading through the daily office on the train on the way to work and I came upon this collect:

“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or

weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who

sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless

the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the

joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”-BCP, 124.

I meditated on the fact that at this moment (or soon thereafter or shortly before), other Anglicans would be praying this same prayer and that their prayer would look different than my own–their life circumstances varied. Whether we are in grievous turmoil or are tucking a child into bed at night, the offices of prayer are God’s tool for consecrating every action of our days (no matter how mundane) and redeeming every moment of our lives for His glory and our holiness. The frustration over my job situation was changed to thankfulness for God’s provision.

In the daily cycle of consecrating our day, we create contexts to recognize God’s work; God daily moves us from contrition to praise and thanksgiving. The prayer hours (or office, breviary, etc.) express our heartfelt desire to God while simultaneously setting our hearts aright despite the fluctuations of our lives.

This Lenten season we will begin doing the morning office on Friday mornings from 7-7:35 at Restoration. This complements Matt’s leadership of evening office on Sunday evenings. This time should serve to encourage reflection on our current habits and disciplines, repent of negligence or disobedience, and foster sanctified habits which serve to conform us into the image of Christ.  We hope you will join us.

Morgan Reed

Going deeper

confirmation picWe’ve just begun a new year, a time where we pause to take stock of our lives.  If you’ve been reflecting on where you are in your growth as a follower of Jesus, maybe you feel like there are some ways you could go deeper in your understanding of what our faith teaches.  Maybe you have questions like:

  • Does it really make sense to believe that there is one God but with three “persons”?
  • I keep hearing about the Book of Common Prayer, but I don’t really know why we use it and it seems intimidating.
  • Why do we baptize babies who have no idea what they believe?
  • What do I say when people ask me why I would be part of a church that was started by some king (Henry VIII) who really just wanted a divorce (I would offer you a slightly different interpretation of the history)?

If these kinds of questions have been on your mind, then I’d love to invite you to be part of the small group that I’ll be leading starting on January 22.   We’ll explore the basics of our faith like the trinity, scripture, prayer, the origin of our creeds, and the history of the Anglican Church.  Some of our time will involve learning new information, and we’ll also spend time praying for and supporting each other in understanding what these concepts mean for our lives.

This small group will also serve as preparation for confirmation.  If you’re wondering what that is, the simple answer is that it is a rite in which a baptized Christian makes a public declaration of his/her faith.  Whether you were baptized as a child or an adult, confirmation is an important step in the Christian life when you reaffirm that you intend to follow Christ in the context of our church community.  There is a time of preparation (my small group – did I mention you should join it?), after which the bishop comes and lays his hands on you to pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen you and to signify that you are part of a church that extends far beyond Restoration.

If you would like to be confirmed, you must be part of this small group.  But the small group is open to everyone, whether or not you’re interested in confirmation.  We’ll meet on Thursday nights, 7:30-9pm, at my house in Cherrydale.

You can sign up on the church website this Sunday, when registration for Tri1 small groups begins.  Feel free to let me know if you have any questions (clay@restorationarlington.org).  I look forward to getting to know you and exploring the beauty of our faith together.

Clay

 

 

 

The fruit of repentence

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December 21, 2014 – Clay Morrison

Isaiah 11:1-9 / Psalm 112 / Luke 3:7-18

Listen to the songs here.

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