I believe in the Holy Spirit

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August 20, 2017 – Liz Gray

Acts 10.1-8 : Psalm 67 : John 14.15-26

Listen to the songs here.

Sunday Music – August 20, 2017

Playlist:

Songs of Praise:

There is a Redeemer
God the Spirit

Response:

Yes Lord Yes
Oceans

Offertory:

Fall Afresh

Sanctus:

Salvation Belongs to Our God

Eucharist:

Deliverer
Holy Spirit – Getty

Equipo Bolivia Vuelve

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We are home.

Hey Restoration!  Our Bolivia Team arrived home around 9pm on Sunday night.  Thank you for reading our emails and blogs, for praying, and for generously helping with our trip costs.  Some of you came to the Bowlivia Dinner, others of you dropped your kids with us for a Date Night, lots of you gave specific gifts to help with flights, visas, and thousands of Perler Beads (more on that, soon).  Restoration gives so generously of its time, prayers, and money.  I am always grateful and humbled by your participation when the opportunity presents itself.  Thank you.

I get the honor of offering some initial thoughts as we re-enter to North American life and culture.  You will hear from other members of our team over the next couple of weeks.

Resto People are Incredible People.

Our team started meeting as a small group during the spring trimester.  This is the way we have been prepping for mission trips for about 5 years.  It gives us a great opportunity to get to know each other, to pray for each other, and to prepare to serve together.  Over and over, I said thanks to God for the incredible people He put on this team.  We were lead by the dynamic trio of Endel Liias, Kate Liias, and Eva-Elizabeth Chisholm.  They were extraordinary:  calm, attentive to details, and compassionate towards the rest of us.  At least half the team was fluent in Spanish and another 1/4 could function well on their own in Spanish conversation.  That left a few people like me with LOTS of help when we got stuck tripping over our limited vocabulary.  We loved living in a guest house together and doing compline each night.  We worked hard leading a retreat and serving lots of kids.  We laughed, mourned, and were touched by the things God is doing in Bolivia.

We have this thing called RestoGoes (look for the yellow flyer in the narthex).  We try to get teams to our partners in Cambodia (Jan2017), West Asia (Nov2017), and Bolivia (Aug2017) each year.  One of the best parts of RestoGoes are the people who go with you.  The next opportunity is West Asia in November.  Want to join an incredible team?

La Trinidad Anglican Church

Most of us left Dulles at 11:30am on Thur, Aug 3.  We arrived in Cochabamba around 8am on Fri, Aug 4.  It’s a long way.

Our first task was to lead a retreat (Sat-Mon) for La Trinidad Anglican Church.  The format was familiar to us–  it’s just like our Restoration Fall Retreat (10/14-15, registration is open, last year we maxed out, don’t miss it!).

For 4 months, our team had worked on stories in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus has a meal with a group of people (there are over half a dozen of them).  Our retreat theme was:  En la mesa con Jesus.
Over the course of the weekend, we had six sessions where one team member taught the passage and a second team member gave a testimony for how that story impacted their life.  The combo was so good.  Our team had prepared with excellence.  Many of the team taught and shared in Spanish.  Some of us were translated by other members of the team.

Before we went, we discussed cultural differences we would encounter.  We used the phrase–  it’s not right or wrong, it’s just different.  One of those differences was how we view vulnerability.  Restoration is a church that views vulnerability as a strength.  In our small groups and friendships, we want to be known, to be sincere, to not hide.  Vulnerability as a strength came out in the way our team courageously shared their testimonies and it was very attractive.

La Trinidad in particular and perhaps Bolivian culture in general views vulnerability as a weakness (again, not right or wrong, just different).  During the retreat, the people of La Trinidad greatly appreciated the vulnerability of our team and their appreciation lead to long discussions of how their church might become more transparent with each other–  for the sake of the Gospel and the healing work that Jesus wants to do in us.

Our team was grateful to be able to bring the gift of our stories and grateful to see how the Holy Spirit used them to bless our friends at La Trinidad during the retreat.

I hope you will be quick to sign up for a fall small group where you can be known and build friendships with other folks at Restoration.

Niños Con Valor

From Tuesday to Saturday we volunteered with the organization, Niños Con Valor.  It was a rewarding combination of affection, hard work, crafts, conversation, prayer, and learning.

There was a narrative that became very real to me that week.  We had a presentation on the history of Bolivia that taught us the economic and political fragility of that country (the presentation was entitled, ‘Bolivia Exists!’).  Bolivia is not a powerful economy compared with its neighbors.  In addition,  we were working with children who had been orphaned or abandoned.  Many of them had special needs and almost half had HIV.  These children became so precious to us.  Yet, according to the currency and value assessment of most of the world, they could be dismissed as ‘the least of these.’  The staff and volunteers of NCV are truly standing in the gap for about 40 kids that might not have any other place to turn.  It was our deep, profound privilege to get to serve alongside them and to experience the expansion of our hearts in exuberant affection for these children.

Now…

I loved our time in Bolivia.  I believe we did some good.  I know we built relational partnerships that will continue to strengthen.  As we grow our work with RILA, and dream about a future Spanish service, and partner with our good friends at Casa Chirilagua, and wonder about how God will materialize our hopes for Incarnation Anglican Church in South Arlington, I know that this companionship in Bolivia is a part of our Restoration story.  I love trusting that God is leading us and coordinating us.  It is such an adventure!

Good to be home.  See you on Sunday.

-David

Keeping God before our Eyes

Benedict

Rhythms

We accomplish so many tasks during the day without thinking about them: getting up, brushing our teeth, getting kids ready for school, having seemingly meaningless conversations at work, trying to make it through the day so that we can get home. And then once we get home what should we make for dinner? And once we finally get kids to bed or watch our favorite show we snuggle into our own sheets and maybe for a brief moment this thought pops into our head: “what just happened today?” Our rhythms often betray our own survival mentality which lacks coherence or purpose. It is this question (What just happened?) which reminds us of the importance of taking a spiritual inventory of the moments of our days.

Sunday Sermon

Rev. Liz just preached a sermon today (August 13– see here) as part of the series on the Apostles’ Creed which focused on the phrase “…He will come to judge the living and the dead…” and in her sermon there is a helpful reminder that we need to live our days with the reminder that God is Holy. Yes, God in His mercy has paid for the sins of His people, and yet it is also true that time itself is a stewardship from God to be used to show His glory and love to the world. Each day invites us to turn from our past sins and to see Christ in the people we meet and moments we are given. However, many of us struggle to create healthy rhythms of life which redeem our daily moments and relationships that God puts in our path.

Small Group

In the Fall, there will be a Thursday evening small group for those interested in reexamining how they live the daily rhythms of their lives. It’s like the old hymn says “…take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.” We’ll will look at how this can be done. This small group will be a foundational piece of who we will become as Incarnation Anglican Church (the future Restoration church plant in south Arlington) and as such this small group will be hosted and led in south Arlington so that we discover how we can daily love Jesus more in our work, families, and in our neighborhoods in south Arlington. We would love for you have the opportunity to invest in south Arlington through this small group by signing up here once the registrations open up. Again, we will meet Thursdays from 7:30-9pm. You might be wondering more about what we will study….

Rule of St. Benedict

Unreflective survival is not a new difficulty in the history of God’s Church, so one of the ways that earlier saints have responded to this problem is by creating a rule for communal life. Maybe you are afraid that using the word “rule” sounds legalistic. However, a “rule of life” is not the same thing as setting up a bunch of arbitrary rules to measure someone’s spiritual prowess. A rule of life is a bit more flexible and has a well thought through goal. One such rule of life was created by St. Benedict of Nursia (480-547 CE) and can be read in English translation here. No other prayer rule has had more impact on English spirituality (which includes its influence on the Book of Common Prayer itself). St. Benedict desired that people be daily turned towards repentance and a love of God (even though his audience were monks in a monastery and under an abbot). He writes about roles, relationships, desires, prayer, eating, sleeping, conversation, and other aspects of community life in order to bring them together into a cohesive life of holiness in which someone turns to God in the daily relationships they have and moments they experience. He says in his prologue (v. 44), “…While there is yet time, while we are still in the flesh and are able to fulfill all these things by the light which is given us–we must run and perform now what will profit us for all eternity.” This brings us back to Rev. Liz’s sermon in which we are called to contemplate the ways in which God judges his peoples’ deeds. The rule written by St. Benedict has now been tested and found helpful by the Church for almost 1500 years and I believe it still helps us today to frame the ways in which we keep a healthy fear of God before our eyes daily. We are not cloistered monks living under an abbot, but many of us are neighbors and in small groups together and as such we are called to work together for the same goal.

Want to know more about St. Benedict before you sign up? Here’s a cool video:

 -Authored by Morgan Reed+

Judgment is coming

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August 13, 2017 – Liz Gray

1 Thessalonians 5.1-11 : Psalm 50.3-6 : Matthew 25.31-46

Listen to the songs here.

Sunday Music – August 13, 2017

Playlist:

Songs of Praise:

Mighty to Save
Prayer of St Francis

Response:

O Worship the King – Immeasurable Love

Offertory:

Jesus Shall Reign

Sanctus:

Salvation Belongs to Our God

Eucharist:

O Come to the Altar
The Solid Rock

He has taken my little, and given me much

#RestoBolivia2 – Team reflections #1

Tu fe ha salvado; ve te en paz.

RestorationMission 2These are the words of Jesus as he blesses the woman who washed his feet with her tears. A simple sentence:

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

These are the words of Jesus that have been on repeat (in Spanish and in English) since Sunday morning, after Laurel and Desiree shared testimonies and teaching with members of La Trinidad, the church here in Cochabamba. Words that carry blessing and hope.

I wasn’t ready for this trip. We’d put months of preparation in to it – some of us had literally been talking about this trip since we left Cochabamba last July. Plans were set – we knew who would be speaking – we knew who would be leading kids time – hours of prayer and encouragement and listening and learning were put into this trip. And still my heart was not quite ready. I was tired, struggling with some familiar voices of shame and the question of “has it been enough?”

Late Friday night I sent around an update for our prayer partners. I was exhausted after a full day of travel and little sleep, and in all honesty struggling to find words. But last night my words were re-read to me, and I realized that the prayer I’d written for our friends at La Trinidad was in many ways a prayer for myself: “that they will be able to enter into the next few days with ready hearts.”

Now, on the other side of the retreat, I am grateful for the ways God took my little and reminded me that he is enough. Our plans were used and changed and shared in ways that we didn’t always understand, but they did not return empty. So many of us were privileged to see many at La Trinidad share their stories in new and vulnerable ways. There was weeping and rejoicing, celebration and struggle.

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We also discovered that the Hanke family knows a thing or two about llamas

As we reflected on the story of the woman weeping at Jesus’ feet, I shared with our small group that as I imagined myself in her place, there was an overwhelming sense that the need for healing was greater than the weight of shame that could leave her (me) isolated and alone – that risking the judgment of the people watching was worth the relief that would come from Jesus’ grace.

 

This is my benediction: Your faith has saved you; go in peace

~Eva-Elizabeth

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