I changed my bio this week.

DMH Bio

A screenshot of the bio that was on our website for the last 8 years.

I changed my bio on our website this week.

I have always listed out ‘random affections’ because hearing about what people love tells us a lot about them.  The people who influence us tell us a lot about who we are…  Can you list out the 4 or 5 people who have most shaped you as a friend, a spouse, or a parent?  Who are your vocational mentors?  What are your random affections?

I have been in vocational ministry and organizational leadership for almost 25 years.  During all that time, I have looked to and admired the work of Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church:

  • Back in the 90’s, I attended the (now renamed) Church Leadership Summit.
  • I had a subscription to their sermon recordings.  Each week I would get a cassette tape (!) in the mail with a sermon from John Ortberg or Bill Hybels.
  • I own and have read almost every book that Bill has written.
  • I have worshipped at Willow Creek a half dozen times.
  • I wanted to be passionate like Bill was passionate for the local church.
  • I wanted to tell riveting stories that make people laugh and cry… like he did to me.
  • I wanted to care about lost people being reconciled to God and take risks to tell them that God loves them… like he does.
  • I wanted to be excellent and confident in my leadership… like him.
  • I wanted to to launch and support transforming Kingdom works… like he did (the Care Center, Cars Ministry, raising awareness about Global Poverty, calling the church to care about prisoners in prison, and so many others…)
  • I rejoiced when Bill named his successor to be a leadership/preaching team of Heather Larson and Steve Carter.

In the past 4 months, all of that has unraveled…  very publicly, before our very eyes.  Bill resigned.  Steve resignedHeather resignedAll of the elders resigned.

The allegations against Bill are consistent.  The behavior of which he is accused is wrong (and so many other negative adjectives).  I wish he would publicly acknowledge what he actually did and put to rest the conjecture.  It is painful (heart-wrenching) to watch a legacy dissolve;  to witness the implosion of a church that changed the way we think about church.  

Bill did shape me as a leader.  But I have had to change my mind and repent of my aspirations to lead as one who is ‘mentored by Bill’ (from a distance through books and talks).  I can no longer affirm his ministry by listing him as an affection on my bio.

I am sorting through what it means when our ‘heroes’ fail us.  I am sad, sobered, cautious.  We have talked about these events on our staff team and among my ministry peers.  Our vestry, staff, and personnel team have taken time this summer to revise and strengthen our harassment policy.

I mourn for what is happening at Willow Creek.  I can’t imagine the pain that the congregation is experiencing.  I mourn for the degradation of the church (again) in the public’s eye.  These events and resignations are more fuel for the fire.

I continue to look for men and women who are leading thriving organizations with integrity, compassion, skill, competence, and love.  By God’s grace, there are thousands of these people!

May we all live lives of close accountability.  I really appreciate this blog to pastors from Rich Villados.  I think there is a lot of cross-over into your world as well.

We need to be known:

  • both our gifts and our shortcomings
  • both our strengths and our temptations
  • both our flourishing joy and our lonely deceptions.

I wanted you to know what’s been going on in my mind and heart over the last few weeks.  I am grateful to be your pastor.

-David

Announcing the hire of Rev. Beth Tipps!

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It brings me great joy to announce that we have hired Rev. Beth Tipps of Nashville, TN as an associate rector at Restoration.  Beth is a newly ordained Anglican Priest in the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others, which is under the leadership of Bishop Todd Hunter.   She received her ordination in September 2017. 

For the past 13 years Beth has worked in various political offices both on Capitol Hill and most recently in the governor’s office in Nashville. Currently she serves in a volunteer capacity at St. Mary of Bethany Anglican Parish, preaching and celebrating at services.

As an ordained Anglican priest, former DC resident, former volunteer and seminarian at The Falls Church Anglican, practiced small group leader, and life-long follower of Jesus, Beth will bring the set of skills, experiences, and spiritual gifts for which we have been searching.

She will start in October and will be with us at our fall retreat.  Thanks be to God!

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I also want to take a moment to thank Kat Downs and Becky Mohr who directed the 5 month process that lead to the hiring of Beth.  They created and managed an excellent search, they formed a team that gave dozens of hours to interview, review, and write feedback.  They have been tireless, cheerful, and hopeful throughout.  Thank you.  It was an honor to work alongside them in this project.

Thanks be to God for His gracious provision of Rev. Beth Tipps!  We look forward to getting to know her and working alongside her in the vision to see broken people restored by grace and finding their place in God’s story.

-David

GAFCON2018

GAFCON2018-FINAL

 

The Global Anglican Future Conference

I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend GAFCON last week.

I took my vows of ordination to the priesthood over ten years ago under the leadership of a missionary bishop from the Church of Nigeria.  I declared my trust in the Scriptures, my commitment to the preaching of the Gospel, and my calling to nourish God’s people in the community of the church.  I was delighted and humbled to join a multi-ethnic, world-wide fellowship.  I was grateful to be fed at the Lord’s Table each week.

At GAFCON, I was reminded of why I wholeheartedly pursued Anglican ordination.  I gave thanks to God for clear, faithful leaders.  I rejoiced in the conversations I had with men and women from around the world who love Jesus and love His church.

The Anglican Communion needs our fervent prayers as we continue to move through turbulent waters.  But there is hope.  There is a way forward.  There is fellowship and partnership for churches like Restoration.  Thanks be to God.

Want to know what it was like?  Here are links that will take you through the story.  You can go as deep as you want, but don’t miss the 90 second video.  It’s just 90 seconds.

 

GAFCON 2018 in 90 seconds from Sydneyanglicans.net on Vimeo.

 

GAFCON produced a statement called the ‘Letter to the Churches’.   It is excellent.  It takes about 5 minutes to read and by the end you will have a better sense of where we have been over the last 20 years and where we are going in the next 5 or so.  If you pair this with the video, you are well on your way to GAFCON COGNIZANCE.  Letter to the Churches

If the ‘Letter to the Churches’ left you with some questions…  Or if you are wondering how the rest of the Anglican Communion might react to the document, let me recommend Andrew Symes’ piece.  (And if you are asking these kinds of questions and reading this far, you are quickly advancing to ‘Synod of Whitby’ status.  It comes with free drinks on long-haul flights.)

Back to the realm of familiarity.  Sometimes YOU want to know what people you KNOW… KNOW.  I got to attend GAFCON with 3 other beloved Restoration/Incarnation folk:  Liz Gray, Jeff Walton, and Amy Rowe.  Here are Liz Gray’s reflections on GAFCON via ‘6 Loves’.  And here is Jeff Walton’s excellent reporting from early in the week of GAFCON.

Finally, if you want the keys to the whole house…  here is the GAFCON website which has a wealth of excellent information about the movement, including how to donate and the appointment of our Archbishop, Foley Beach, as the new GAFCON Chairman.

We give thanks to God for His faithful leadership of an imperfect and beautiful church.  May we persevere until the end and may Christ come quickly.  Amen.

Welcome back, Scott Buckhout!

Scott Buckhout

This Summer, Scott Buckhout is returning to Restoration to serve as our Summer Pastoral Associate.  You will see a lot of him on Sundays, leading us through the liturgy.  He will also be helping out with a summer small group and community fun.

Scott is a student at Gordon-Conwell and a postulant for ordination under the care of our bishop, John Guernsey.  I am grateful for all the ways he has served at Restoration in the past and I am excited about the opportunity we get to invest in his pastoral development this summer.  Look for him this Sunday and say, Welcome Back!

-David

A few words from Scott, himself…

I grew up in Northern Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio (The greatest city in the world!). My parents still live in the house where I grew up. It is a gift to still get to go “home.”

I went to greatest school in America: Davidson College (Fun facts: I was the back-up mascot, and Steph Curry came to my apartment Christmas party). Upon graduating, I moved up I-95 to DC where I was a Falls Church Fellow. I ended up staying in the DC area for 9 years, mostly working in the federal government.

In 2014, I left government and started actively discerning a call to pastoral ministry. In the fall of 2016, I started at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and I am somewhere between halfway and two-thirds of the way done. 🙂

The one consistent part of my 9 years in DC was being a part of the Restoration church family. My first Sunday was Restoration’s first Sunday, and I have been coming back ever since. Restoration has been the place where God has invited me to trust Him with more my life, and it is a joy to be back again this summer.

Becoming a trusted spouse.

couple laughing

After talking about 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 on Sunday, I received several questions that all began, ‘How?‘  How do I become a trusted spouse?  If I am not married, how do I find a trusted spouse?  How do I trust my spouse when they have not been trustworthy?

These are such good questions and they reveal such tender places from the one who is asking.  Fear, pain, hurt are regular companions in this life.  Trust is often a choice made ‘in spite of’ and not always ‘because of’.

Learning to trust God so that I can trust my spouse and be trustworthy is a life-long learning process.

So I’d like to offer a few thoughts about trusted spouses as we journey through this week.  Hope you can talk about them with your loved one and with your small group.

Build trust by voluntarily offering yourself.

  1. We would build trust emotionally by volunteering what is going on in our head and heart.  This takes intentionality as you re-enter from the day.  This takes ‘prior work’ to determine what we can volunteer.  You have to consider, ‘what am I feeling and thinking today?’  It is a risk to share a story or anecdote with your spouse.

    For married couples, one of the key friction points each day is moving from a state of being separate (geographically ‘at work’) and transitioning to a state of being together (geographically ‘at home’- for dinner, for the evening, for bed).  That transition requires excellent (your best!) communication.  One way to build trust is to offer as you enter in…  ‘This is what I have been thinking and feeling today.  This person or situation brought me joy or made me angry.  This is when I thought about you or missed you…’  Offering our ’emotional state’ by describing it with words and stories is way to build trust in that transition from separateness to togetherness.

  2. We would build trust spiritually by volunteering what God is teaching us (in prayer, through Bible reading, in our small group and mentoring relationships).  This takes intentionality as you leave for the day…  It can be quick (none of us have a lot of time as we run out the door):  ‘Here is a verse that I read this morning and it encouraged me, disturbed me, convicted me…  Can I pray for your meeting, the pain in your body, the hard conversation you need to have?’

    We all know that it can be chaotic as we ‘leave togetherness’, but taking seconds to communicate that ‘I have talked with God this morning and I am praying for you this day’ builds trust.

    There will be times when you want to talk for a longer period of time about your relationship with God.  Schedule a date!  Put it in the calendar!  Offer to your spouse-  ‘Can I tell you what I have been reading?  Can I share with you what I have been praying?’  I guarantee that they want to hear and I am confident that you sharing it will go a long way to building trust.

  3. We would build trust sexually by voluntarily not pursuing other sexual opportunities  (porn, fantasy, novels, streaming shows).  Decide now and renew your decision regularly to not meet your sexual needs outside of your marriage covenant.

    Instead, talk about those needs with your spouse.  Your  courage to initiate conversation about that topic builds intimacy.  It may not be easy, but it is brave.

    Also, talk about those temptations with your community (thinking of your small group or a few trusted(!) friends).  Being known, understood, and prayed for helps those temptations lose their power.

Build Trust by Fighting Fair

  • Be kind in the midst of conflict. 
  • Resist cursing (Cussing is cursing-  saying things that are intended to do harm.  As opposed to blessing-  saying things that are intended to bring life and goodness). 
  • Resist the urge to insult behaviors or body parts.  You will do damage that endures long after the conflict has ended. 
  • Make ‘I’ statements rather than universal declarations:  ‘I hear you saying…’ rather than ‘you always…’ 
  • Pay attention to body language- i.e. what your body position (and theirs) is communicating.  Your stance, your facial expression, the fold of your arms, and the clench of your fists all communicate…  
  • Listen actively.
  • Be quick to ask for help.  A 3rd person in the room is invaluable to help 2 people hear what the other is saying.  Reach out to your small group leader or to a pastoral staff member.  We have many resources that can help.

Build Trust by Renewing your Covenant

Covenant renewal:  When you get married, you make a solemn covenant with your spouse…  your covenant partner.  As time goes on, there is a need to rekindle the heart and renew the commitment.  There must be an opportunity to recall all that the other person means to you and to give yourself anew.  Sex between a husband and wife is a unique way to do that.  In fact, sex is perhaps the most powerful way to help you give your entire self to another human being.  Sex is God’s appointed way for 2 people to reciprocally say to one another, ‘I belong completely, permanently, and exclusively to you.”  You must not use sex to say anything less… 

So according to the Bible, a covenant is necessary for sex.  It creates a place of security for vulnerability and intimacy.  But though a marriage covenant is necessary for sex, sex is also necessary for the maintenance of the covenant.  It is your covenant renewal service.”

Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

Build trust by the way you say no to sex.

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again,  so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 7:5

There will be seasons when sex is not an option for a married couple.  As glorious as it is and as effective as it can be in the renewing of our promises and faithfulness to each other, sometimes it is not possible.

This verse gives simple, clear instruction on the conditions that need to be in place for a season of ‘no sex.’

  • by agreement:  Married couples decide together about sexual frequency or a period of sexual abstinence.  It’s a conversation and not an unforeseen consequence.  It is intended to be a help and not a punishment.
    For the next week or the next month, we are not going to have sex because…”
  1. We have hurt each other. (emotional trust is gone)
  2. It’s not possible physically.  (my body is too tired or my body is not present geographically)
  3. We are fasting so that we can pray about a major decision or for a major breakthrough.
  • For a limited time:  The period of abstinence needs to have an end date.  The goodness of that period is that it gives freedom for other intimacies to develop.  (Can I express love this way since sex is not an option?)

There will be times of abstinence, but they should be chosen by agreement and they should be finite in length.  As soon as possible, it would be good to re-introduce the act of covenant renewal…  for the good of the covenant and the joy of the couple.


Building trust requires our most deliberate and careful work.  May God pour out His grace upon you as you become a trusted spouse.

-David

An Update on Christine…

cliff_christine

As many of you have heard…  Christine Warner, the wife of Cliff, who is the rector of Christ Church Austin, was in a serious accident on April 10.  She was admitted into Intensive Care after being struck by a truck while standing on the side of the road.  She was taken to the hospital in critical condition.  She incurred broken facial bones, ribs, and damage to her carotid arteries and liver.

I want to thank you for praying for me as I went to Christ Church Austin this past weekend.  I joined in their corporate prayer, I preached during the Eucharist, and I wept with their sadness.  Christ Church was so grateful to you, Restoration, for sending me to be with them.  They are a strong, Spirit-filled, joyful, expectant community.  The church is caring well for each other and for the Warner family.  They are praying the Daily Office together-  both on-site and wherever they happen to be.  They are anticipating all the costs of this accident– from loss of Christine’s income to new vehicles.  They are settling in for the marathon that healing and recovering will be.

They are trusting God.

I want to answer some of the questions I have received since the accident:

  1. Here is the place you can read the most recent prayer requests and updates on healing.  Consider bookmarking this page and praying from it each day.
  2. Here is a pdf of the sermon that I preached at Christ Church on Sunday. Lift up the Light of your Face [FINAL]   Psalm 4 provided so many insights for us as we think about responding to tragedy.    (You can also listen to it, here.)

Thank you for praying.  Thank you for trusting.  Thank you for asking for God to change the course of this tragedy.

‘…the Lord hears when I call to him.’  (Psalm 4.3)

-David

More of life in resurrection…

butterfly landing

Last week we looked at 3 stories of Jesus appearing to people after His resurrection.  These case studies of ‘belief’ are such an encouragement to me.  I find myself in these people over and over again.  John 20 will take you 45 seconds to read and 45 years to digest.

Bottom line:  Jesus wants to make Himself real to you.  He will show up when you least expect it.  He will look different than you were anticipating.  He will speak to your particular and personal doubt.  He will give you purpose and send you out in adventure.  He will take what seemed to be the end and show you how it is just the beginning.

He is risen.  And we are living in the reality of resurrection.  Thanks be to God.

I’ve got another newsy update.  This one involves Eucharist words in Spanish, a church that is heartbroken, and a postponement.  Take a look.

Bolivia2018, Rev. Tammy Firestone and the Eucharist in Spanish

We have had a special treat this week.  Our friend, Rev. Tammy Firestone, the rector of La Trinidad Anglican Church in Cochabamba, Bolivia has been visiting.  On Thursday and Friday she spent time with our Bolivia2018 team orienting them for what they will be doing in August.  We are excited to lead a retreat that will train people to do prayer ministry.  This has been an exciting area of growth for Restoration and we are excited to keep learning about prayer ministry alongside our friends at La Trinidad.

Rev. Tammy will join us during the 9:00 and 11:00 liturgies this Sunday, April 15.  She will be the celebrant for the Eucharist and she will use the words she uses with her home church:  SPANISH!  Rev. Tammy was called to the priesthood while living in Bolivia and Spanish is the only language she has used while celebrating the Eucharist.  I am sure the experience will stretch her comfort level in a predominantly English speaking context and it will stretch the comfort level in our congregation for those for whom Spanish is not a familiar language.  I am grateful for this cross-cultural opportunity that we can experience as a church without having to leave the familiarity of our pews!

Please greet Rev. Tammy with your normal generous hospitality.

Please pray for our Bolivia Team that is prepping even now.

Please thank God that we are a part of His global church.

Christine W. and Christ Church Austin

Some of you know that Restoration has a special relationship with Christ Church Austin.  Our churches are similar in years of existence, similar in age demographic and proximity to a major metropolitan center, similar in our support of Jesse and Sarah Blaine (both churches send finances and teams of people to partner with them), and similar in our passions for Scriptural teaching, discipleship, and mission.  We have been on mission trips together as churches.  We have sent people to each other churches.  We share the Wheatley children (Resto gets Mac, Christ Church gets Meghan).

I have tragic news about Christine, the wife of Cliff who is the rector of Christ Church.

On April 10 Christine was hit in full force by a truck while attending to her son’s vehicle, which ran out of gas on a major freeway flyover in Austin TX.  Her injuries are massive and comprehensive: brain damage and some swelling and bleeding, her face was shattered and will need to be reconstructed later, her carotid arteries are damaged and this greatly concerns the doctors for if they close down it brings a massive stroke, she has broken ribs, possibly other broken bones, the liver is lacerated and bleeding—may need emergency surgery. We sense that God will heal her, and we will see miraculous actions of the Spirit of God.  PRAY PRAY PRAY!”

That is from Christine’s father.  Since that notice, Christine has had a craniotomy and is waiting for her body to stabilize so that she can have major liver surgery.  Please pray for Cliff, Christine, Brendan, Cormac, Skye, and Bronwyn.

Cliff is one of my closest friends and closest colleagues in ministry.  His Director of Operations called and asked if I would come to Christ Church to lead, preach and celebrate the Eucharist this weekend (April 15).  My bishop and vestry have encouraged me to go and to serve this church while they are reeling from the news about their beloved Christine.  After you pray for Christine and her family, please pray for me, that God would give me the words I need to say at the times I need to say them.

I will miss being with Restoration on Sunday, but I am grateful for our partnership with Christ Church and to be sent to them by you.

1 Corinthians 6 and 7

You may remember that we were studying the book of 1 Corinthians this year?  In March I was quite ill with a bacteria I picked up on a pastoral visit to West Asia so we had to pause our sermon series in 1 Corinthians.  We haven’t quite gotten back to it…

I was all ready to pick it up this weekend, but my need to be in Austin precludes that.  So, Lord willing, next week, we will re-enter the world of Corinth and pick up the Apostle Paul’s letter in chapter 6.  If you read chapter 6, you will see that his words are challenging in today’s milieu.  If you keep reading into chapter 7, you will see that the words don’t get any easier.

Because of the number of questions that can be generated as one preaches through these texts, we are creating 2 forums for you:

  1. After each service on each Sunday (April 22, 29, May 6, 13), David and another Restoration Pastoral Staff member will gather on the 3rd floor in the big window area that looks out on the sanctuary.  Please bring any question that comes up for you during the sermon.  We will have about 30 minutes to talk and we can schedule more time as needed.  The discussion will be like a forum, not one on one.  It’s a great chance to hear what other people are thinking and to drill deeper into things that are said during the sermon.
  2. We have created this form for you to submit questions at anytime over the next 4 weeks.  Your questions will help David hone the scope of topics he needs to address.  Some of the questions will be answered during the sermon.  Some of them will be answered in the post-service Q&A on the 3rd floor.  Some will be answered by blog post.  Thanks for your active listening and feedback.  Your questions help us learn together.

Thank you for praying.  Our church is desperate for God’s power and presence.  We go to places that are difficult and hard and we ask for God to bring His light and hope.

We need that for our friend, Christine.

We need that for discussions about human sexuality and marriage.

We need that to stay faithful in all that He calls us to do.

With you in it,

David

 

Random Musings of Life in Resurrection…

butterfly pt. 1

I loved the butterflies that framed our Easter Joy last Sunday.  They were subtle and emerging as we moved through Lent.  Then Saturday night, during the Vigil, our sanctuary exploded with beauty, with the promise that life that comes after death.  A huge thanks to our RestoArts team and their vision for us to ‘see’ Holy Week and Easter.

Sometimes I post about our life together.  Sometimes it’s random and newsy.

This is that.

Seeing Jesus

This Sunday, April 8, I will be preaching on 3 interactions with the post-resurrection Jesus from John 20:

  • Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene when she thought He was a gardener.
  • Jesus’ appearance to the disciples when they thought He was a ghost.
  • Jesus’ appearance to Thomas when he thought everyone else was lying.

If you or someone you know has doubts, questions, or wonderings about how this story can be true…  Or if you know someone who wants to believe it is true, but can’t see how it affects them…  This might be a great week to invite them to Resto.  Tell them with a wink, ‘Nobody goes to church the week AFTER Easter.  It’s a great time to see what it’s all about.’

These 3 little vignettes speak to our longings, our doubts, our fragile hope that just maybe…  Maybe resurrection really changed the world.

Remembering Ted Van Der Meid

Our church has been praying for Ted for a long time.  Just before Holy Week, Ted’s battle with pancreatic cancer ended.  Tomorrow, April 7, at 2pm at Little Falls Presbyterian Church, Restoration will remember the life of Ted Van Der Meid and celebrate our hope of resurrection. 

You might be wondering, ‘Why Little Falls and not Restoration?’  Ted served on Capital Hill for over 30 years and the family is expecting over 400 people to attend. This is one of those times that our sanctuary and fellowship hall would be strained to the point of discomfort.  I am really grateful for our friends and partners at Little Falls.  They have been such gracious hosts (again!) to us.

You are very warmly invited to attend Ted’s memorial service.  It was a privilege for our church to pray for him and walk alongside him in life and it is our privilege to remember him in death.

Our search for a Church Plant Resident

As many of you know, we have been working for over a year to identify, recruit, and hire a church plant resident.  This position would be filled by someone who would join our staff team for a couple of years and then take a launch team to plant a new Anglican congregation in the Metro DC area.  In March, a very promising candidate came down to Arlington for a day of interviews.  Our hiring team was really excited about his potential and made him an offer to come be our church plant resident.

A couple days ago, this candidate responded to our offer and graciously turned us down.  He is feeling called to pursue a different track of vocational development in the season to come.  We understood his reasons though we were very sad to not welcome him to our team.

We want Restoration to continue to be a place where people are developing their ministry gifts and we will keep thinking creatively about how to do that well.  I wanted you to know that this particular candidate will not be joining us this summer.

Incarnation Anglican Church

Things are really ramping up for our church plant, Incarnation Anglican Church.  They have had several ‘get to know us and our neighborhood’ events that have been well attended.  They are running their own Small Group Sign-Ups for the Spring Trimester.  They will begin weekly gatherings in June to get ready for their public launch in September.

This is going to be a GREAT church.  I am so excited about the leadership team and the people from Restoration who are joining in the project.  As the rector of Restoration, I am inviting every person in our church to ask, should I be a part of this?  Should I go out with the launch team?  Should I give a financial gift?  Should I pray for them in my weekly prayer rhythms?

I want you to know that when people come to me and say, ‘I want to be a part of what God is doing through Incarnation…’  I REJOICE!  I cheer!  I thank them for all that they have done at Resto and I pray that God would multiply the fruit of their service in this new church.  Think about joining with what God is doing through Incarnation.  I’ll celebrate with you too!

Building on Liz’s Legacy

As we eagerly anticipate Incarnation’s launch, we are concurrently working hard on the hiring process to build on Rev. Liz Gray’s legacy.  You can read the job description of the person we are seeking, here.  I invite you to consider it for yourself and to share it with people who feel a calling to church ministry.  We have had a great response and we are beginning the screening and interview process.  If you or someone you know is interested, this is the time to send in resume and cover letter.

 

Ok, that’s enough for now.  Like I said, random and newsy…  like a good phone call with your Mom.

See you Sunday,

David

Why do we sing songs in Spanish?

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Why would we not?

Over the last few months, Restoration has added three or four songs with Spanish lyrics to our canon of music.  Generally, we have chosen one each Sunday and sung it during the offertory.  Some of you have loved doing familiar songs with Spanish lyrics.  Some of you have wondered why this is happening.  Here are three reasons that are informing this practice:

It is Biblical.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Revelation 7: 9-10

As followers of Jesus who submit to the Scriptures, we have a long-used methodology for determining best practices:  protology and eschatology.  How did things begin (protology)?  How will things end (eschatology)?  As Christians, want to be moving either towards the way things were intended to be or the way things will be.

Revelation 7:9-10 gives a vivid description of the way things will be.  There will be multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual worship of the Lamb who was slain for all peoples.  Consequently, we seek a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual worship service in the present because we know that it is ‘the telos’, ‘the end’, ‘the eschaton’, ‘the goal’ to which we are headed.  Singing a familiar song with Spanish lyrics is a SMALL step towards the rich tapestry of linguistic diversity that we will enjoy in the age to come. 

Similarly, Revelation 19:9 says, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”  The ‘marriage supper of the lamb’ is the telos (the end) to which our current Eucharist points.  We eat a bite of bread and take a sip of wine in anticipation of the FEAST we will enjoy in the age to come.  Our eschatology (FEASTING) determines our present practice (TASTING).

It is kind.

Kind means “having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature.”  There are people in our congregation for whom Spanish IS their heart language, their first language.  When we sing familiar songs with Spanish lyrics, there is an ease and comprehension that opens for them that is not available when we only sing songs in English.  As majority English speakers, we extend ourselves to our brothers and sisters whose first language is not English when we sing songs that our less comfortable for us and more comfortable for them.  It is kind.

It represents who we want to be.

According to Statistical Atlas,

“14.1% of the total population living in Arlington County live in households where Spanish is spoken at home.”

According to Data USA,

“Arlington County, VA is home to a population of 223,945 people… The ethnic composition of the population of Arlington… is composed of:

  • 141,107 White residents (63%)
  • 34,629 Hispanic residents (15.5%)  (This is supported by the U.S. Census bureau which puts the population at 15.4% as of July 2016.)
  • 22,085 Asian residents (9.9%)
  • 18,584 Black residents (8.3%)
  • 5,777 Two+ residents (2.58%).

The most common foreign language in Arlington County is Spanish (29,482 speakers).

Restoration wants to love our neighbors and look like our neighborhoods.  We want to welcome anyone who is curious about Jesus and what it means to follow Him as the One who forgives our sins and leads our life.  To that end, we want our liturgy, our music, our volunteer opportunities, and our teaching to be accessible to all of our neighbors in all of our neighborhoods.

Are we there yet?  Not.  Even.  Close.

Can we do it by ourselves?  Never.

We will need to partner with our brothers and sisters in other churches across our region.  We will need to keep looking for the courageous steps that our particular congregation can take.  We will need to embrace uncomfortable.

So the next time you see Spanish lyrics, try this:

  1.  Say a quick prayer of thanks for all the people and households in our neighborhoods who speak Spanish.  We are so glad they are near us.
  2. Choose a language to sing.  We will always put English and Spanish on the slide.  Choose what feels right to sing so that you can worship.  You are worshiping God and he can sort out multiple languages at the same time.  No sweat.
  3. Consider taking a risk from time to time and singing the lyrics that are less familiar to you.
  4. Pray for the people standing around you that they would be the light of Christ to all the peoples in their neighborhoods.

For Me?  Well, so far I have stumbled through my Spanish during those songs.  Every time.  But as I bump along, embracing uncomfortable, I am so grateful that my voice gets drowned out by the volume of others singing next to me.  So grateful that we are a community.  I am so grateful to be in a community that is being kind and welcoming and hospitable.  I am grateful for really small steps that demonstrate trust in God and partnership in his mission.  And I look forward to that gigantic multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual worship of the Lamb in the age to come.

-David

 

The Corinthian Correspondence

 

Writing a Letter

2018

Happy New Year!  Restoration is starting a new sermon series and working our way through St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.  Make sure you read the first 2 sections of this post….

Why would you want to do that?  (Don’t you know that it’s long and says true things that lots of people find offensive. #spoileralert)

Well, there are actually several reasons that this book seems really good for who Restoration is at this point in time:

  1. First, I am very grateful for our hard work in Jeremiah all fall.  We got our heads and heart around a big, mildly unfamiliar story.  As we seek to cover all of the Scriptures, it’s a good time to pivot to the New Testament and young churches that were getting started.
  2. It’s been a while since we worked through an epistle (a letter) and a while since we have worked through an entire book from start to finish.  Let’s take that on this year!
  3. The issues they were dealing with in Corinth are raw and connected to the things we are dealing with at Restoration and in our world today:  the foolishness of faith in the Gospel, discerning what is real wisdom and real prosperity, the consequence of identifying ourselves with our leaders (or not), sexual purity, lawsuits, the role of men and women in the church and in the home, spiritual gifts and how the Holy Spirit manifests in our worship, getting drunk at the Eucharist, marriage, not marriage, temptation and idols and rights and eating meat.  As relevant as this morning’s headlines in the Post.
  4. I appreciate that the church in Corinth was young, freshly planted, and messy.  Their questions are good things for Restoration and Incarnation to consider while we are still together (one being about 10 years older than the other…)

Small Groups

As always, we will have 30 small groups starting up with about half of them talking about the passages from 1 Corinthians.  Registration opens on Sunday, January 7 and I hope that everyone who worships with us on Sunday will be actively involved in a Resto small group during the week.  It’s the best place to get to know people, to pray together, and to wrestle through how these truths in the Scripture affect our hustle and bustle life.

Ken Bailey

Feel free to skip this last section, I just want to give a shout out to one of the names you will hear me frequently quote during this series:  Ken Bailey.  He is a preeminent author and scholar in Middle Eastern New Testament Studies.  He teaches in English and Arabic and has written some of the most helpful stuff available for understanding First Century culture.  His book, Paul through Mediterranean Eyes, has been so helpful to my preparation for this series.  The book is almost 600 pages and heavily focused on Hebrew rhetorical style-  so not light reading.  But as appropriate, I will share helpful sections.

I love the way he describes himself:

Every commentator on the Scriptures writes in a context and out of a series of deep commitments.  I am a confessing Christian with a high reverence for the Bible as the inspired Word of God, which I approach with awe and gratitude.  Many of the ideas in this work come out of the non-Western world and have been presented by me in Arabic and in English to numerous audiences around the globe for more than 40 years…  I am writing for native English speakers, but also looking to the new Global South where the majority of the world’s Christians now live.”

His hermeneutical methodology helps us appreciate the logic and coherence of the book.

The view presented in this study is that 1 Corinthians has a carefully designed inner coherence that exhibits amazing precision in composition and admirable grandeur in overall theological concept…  the outline is as precise as any of Paul’s letters and it falls into 5 carefully constructed essays…

  1. The Cross and Christian Unity 1:5-4:16 (Epiphany)
  2. Men and Women in the Human Family 4:17-7:40 (Lent)
  3. Food offered to Idols (Christian and Pagan) 8:1-11:1  (post-Easter)
  4. Men and Women in Worship 11:2-14:40  (Autumn)
  5. The Resurrection 15  (Autumn)

As you look at those 5 essays, we discover that 3 principle ideas were on Paul’s mind as he wrote the letter:

  1. The Cross and Resurrection [1 and 5]
  2. Men and Women in the human family and in worship [2 and 4]
  3. Christians living among pagans:  to identify or not to identify [3]

It is my hope that this letter will increase our love for Jesus and His Church while also filling us with joy and hope as we live in this age and wait for the age to come.

Looking forward to it,

David

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