“My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (Psalm 84:2)
Thank you for my sabbatical. It is so good to be back with you and to be walking into these ‘Three Days’ (the Triduum) alongside you. My sabbatical was a gift. Thank you to our Executive Director, Kat Downs, for leading our staff and taking my place in vestry meetings. Thank you to our wardens, Dennis Wong and Jen Paterno, and our whole vestry for the work they did over the last eight weeks. Thank you to our clergy for preaching, leading retreats, and offering sacraments. Thank you to our whole staff team for providing pastoral care and encouraging volunteers. Thank you to all of our volunteers who serve in myriad ways as the Body of Christ. Thank you for my sabbatical, Restoration! I started my Doctor of Ministry program and had a surprisingly powerful experience of learning during the two week residency in Charlotte. God met me in ways that I was not expecting. I also practiced a lot of Chopin and humbly realized that I have a long way to go. I got to mountain bike in the GW National Forest, I learned how to use an Instant Pot, and I took a clergy retreat with a group of pastors that I have been meeting with twice annually for over fifteen years. Thank you for my sabbatical!
As we turn towards the cross and the tomb, all of the details that you need for yourself or your friend are right here. Last week, Beth provided some excellent annotations on everything that we will experience together and you can read those, here. I am seeking someone who can run slides during the Easter Vigil. If you are able to help, please shoot me a note.
I invite you to arrange the next four days to be with your church as we experience our Lord’s passion. I invite you to long for His courts and to bring your longing. These experiential opportunities of worship are so unique and such a vivid reminder of the grace we have received. We start tomorrow night (Thursday) at 7:30pm with a service of foot washing and stripping the chancel. I look forward to seeing you there.
We will take on offering during our worship on Thursday, Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Each year, Restoration gives all of these offerings away to an organization that is doing Kingdom work in another part of the world. This year, our Holy Week and Easter offering will go to İlk Umut Derneği—in English, First Hope Association (FHA), a Turkish Protestant NGO working closely with the local Red Crescent and AFAD, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority. You can read more about them in this Christianity Today article. Restoration has friends in Turkey and our friends know and trust the head of this organization. First Hope Association is on the ground in Turkey offering relief in the earthquake zone with trusted relationships. Restoration’s gift will go to purchasing supplies and direct assistance. I invite you to give this week to the work that is so needed in a place our church cares for deeply.
Two more invitations:
- Please RSVP for the ‘Navigating Relationships’ event by Tuesday, April 11. We need to have final numbers by Wednesday. Thanks!
- After Easter, we are starting a sermon series from the book of Romans. I will be preaching on Romans 1:18-32 on April 30th. This is a challenging text for a number of reasons so I would like to do something unusual before I preach it: I am offering a ‘Pre-Sermon Discussion’. I invite you to read the passage and to write down the questions that it raises for you. Then on Thursday, April 27th at 7:30pm in Fellowship Hall, I invite you to join me for a discussion of the passage. That discussion will shape how I preach the sermon on Sunday. It will be a big help to me and I hope for you! Please let me know you are coming on April 26th by rsvp’ing, here.
Thank you again Restoration for my sabbatical. I look forward to being in the Lord’s house this week with you!
‘O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!’ (Psalm 84:12)