During a season of Israel’s life when they were remembering their story, this was the instruction that their leaders gave to them:
“Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
“You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.
Nehemiah 9: 5b-6
On this Thanksgiving of 2013, I am grateful for many things in the life of our church. For what did you say thanks?
- Like this season in Israel’s life, I am thankful that in 2103 we deliberately remembered our story. We spent almost 9 months studying the book of Luke. This fall we have gone deep into Genesis 1-4: looking at God’s good creation and how it was ruined. Our goal has been to help everyone at Restoration see the story that makes sense of their stories. We want to see broken people restored by grace living God’s story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration: Living God’s story connected to Him, to others, and to the needs of the world; Living God’s story in worship, community, and mission; Living God’s story in glory to the Father, through the work of Jesus the Son, in dependence on the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
- I am thankful for our facility transition. We spent 10 weeks (Jan-March) getting excited about a new space. We heard a top ten for the ages and sang ‘we will be together…’ right alongside ‘Christ the Lord is risen today’ on Easter. We had a rocking party and auction for us and the neighbors in May. District Taco brought their truck. Lars got some auctioneer training in VT. Pews scattered to homes all over Arlington.
- I am thankful for Little Falls Presbyterian. They have been incredible hosts. It is a beautiful building. We have had worship every Sunday since April, a couple weddings, a funeral, and the occasional Man Up. They have taught me how to be generous– how to say ‘yes’ whenever you can. I don’t think this interim season could have gone any better. Thank you Little Falls and your wonderful staff.
- I am thankful for our design and construction team: Franck and Lohsen Architects, Scott Long Construction, Walter Phillips Engineering. They all get the pleasure of interfacing with our own Kathy Kenyon who has done an incredible job staying on top of all the details. Our building will be beautiful, efficient, and a great tool for the ministry that God is calling us to on Quincy Street and beyond. I can’t wait!!
- I am thankful for the teams we sent to West Asia and to West Virginia. I have deep respect for people who take vacation time, raise money from family and friends, and give from their personal savings so that they can serve, tell the Gospel, and pray for people around the world. I am grateful for our growing local partnerships with Casa Chirilagua, ASPAN, Doorways for women and families, Courtney’s House, and Sunrise Assisted Living. Thank you Love Arlington small group for creating all kinds of opportunities for Restoration to love our neighbors.
- I am thankful for almost 90 different small groups that met over 3 trimesters this year. We had well over 50 small group leaders every tri and we were north of 200 people in small group each week. I am grateful that being in a small group is a part of normal life at Restoration. And I am grateful for such an effective system for getting people in to groups and giving them really good content. Make sure you consider David Griffin’s teaching on the New Testament, the West Asia small group, Financial Peace University, welcoming the stranger, or confirmation in Tri 1 2014. We have all kinds of cool things to stretch your mind and your heart.
- I am thankful for all that our kids experience at Restoration. I love their Sunday small groups and the dedicated team of Kids’ Small Group Leaders who give up ‘big church time’ to lead our kids. Our kids are learning God’s Big story too. These small group leaders connect the dots and show them the Big Picture. Apex has doubled and there are dedicated leaders who are mentoring High School students and thinking about building bridges to kids who don’t normally go to church. And did you know there have been 39 babies born in the last year? Seriously.
- In addition to hundreds of great volunteers, I am so thankful for our staff team of 8. They work very hard. They produce an EXCELLENT Sunday worship opportunity every single week. That kind of consistency is a learned and practiced skill. They pray and imagine and take risks and dream and listen to each other and create new things and make sure it is all excellent and glorifying to God. Every week their work is on display and I am grateful for them. As a team, we laugh, cry, celebrate birthdays [4 in October alone!], rejoice in what God is doing, hope that redemption will come, share responsibilities, and champion each others ideas. We love Jesus and we are so grateful for His church. It is a joy to serve Him alongside all of you.
We have much to be thankful for. Let us stand up and bless the Lord, who made heaven and earth and who will make them anew!