Advent at Restoration

Advent imageHey Restoration,

Advent has begun, the season when we remember how the people of God longed for our Savior to come, and how we long for his second coming and the fullness of our salvation.  We have several ways that we’ll be  focusing our thoughts on these themes as a community.

On Sundays, we’ll be preaching on the life and teachings of John the Baptist and his model of faithful anticipation for God to act in our world.  As we see his courageous faith in proclaiming the Kingdom of God, we look forward to learning new ways of following God’s call to do the same in Arlington and beyond.

One special tradition that we’ll be continuing is to have different households light the Advent wreath each week and share a reflection on how Christ’s presence has brought them joy in unexpected ways.  Also, Restoarts will be on the job to shape our experience through music and visual art.  They’ve designed some beautiful cards that will be handed out each week with an image, the collect, the Scripture, and some reflection questions on the sermon.

In addition to what’s happening on Sundays, we have some other opportunities to focus our hearts this season.  Here are a few dates to get on our calendar:

  • Fireside Chats – Dec 2, 9, 16 at 7:30 at Erica Chapman’s House
  • Making Cookies for Our Neighbors – Dec 14 with APEX
  • Caroling – Dec 21 at 7 pm at Sunrise Senior Living Center
  • Christmas Eve Service – Dec 24 at 4pm and 6pm

We’re about to enter into a busy time of the year.  But Advent is also a great opportunity for reflection on our longings for God to act, our need for a Savior, and the ways his presence brings us joy.  So while you take advantage of the moments to celebrate with family, friends, and coworkers, I hope this is a season where you can set aside some time to connect with the powerful themes of Advent.

Have a great week,

Understanding our moment

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November 30, 2014 – Clay Morrison

Malachi 4 / Psalm 139:13-18 / Luke 1:5-17

Listen to the songs here.

Join the After-service Prayer Team – This Sunday

Praying TogetherHave you ever had a moment where you just weren’t sure what to do, or you were overwhelmed by your circumstances, and someone said, “Can I pray for you?” It’s a simple act, but so often exactly what you need – someone to simultaneously show that they care about you and help you create a space where you can release whatever you’re experiencing and feeling to God.

That’s what the after-service prayer team is all about: having caring individuals in place after the service to pray for anyone who is going through a rough time, needs guidance, or wants to respond in some way to the worship service.

Right now, we’re looking to add folks to the ASP team, and I’d like to invite you to consider joining. If you’ve gone up for prayer in the past and would like to play that role in someone else’s life, or you would just like to make yourself available to serve others, this is a great way to do so. It’s not a significant time commitment, but you could make a significant difference in someone’s day, and it’s an honor to be there for someone at a potentially crucial moment.

This Sunday, November 2nd, 2-4pm, we’re having an ASP training in the fellowship hall. We’ll go over things like listening well, etiquette, sensitivity, confidentiality, and ideas for how you might pray for someone. Even if you’re not sure about joining the team, go ahead and come out to the training – that’ll be the best way to find out!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Hope to see you there!


Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Small Group

Hey Restoration,

I’m excited about a small that Cathy Guiles and I will be leading this trimester.  Cathy has provided a description below, and I hope you’ll consider joining.  We’d love to have you!  – Clay


“It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” – from “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero

Do you agree or disagree with that statement? Are you wondering what it means to be spiritually and emotionally mature? Are you dealing with depression, anxiety, grief, loss, anger, conflict or disappointment? Are you interested in how Christian spiritual disciplines can relate to and shape your emotional health, and vice versa?

If any of these apply to you — or even if they don’t — I encourage you to sign up for the “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” small group this trimester. I was first introduced to Peter Scazzero’s book by a pastor at my former church when I was going through a difficult time, and it helped me a lot. Each week, we’ll be discussing chapters from the book as well as a Bible passage to address subjects such as how our families of origin affect us today and how to correct Christian misunderstandings about our emotional lives. We’ll be using the main book along with the accompanying workbook and prayer book, which together cost about $30 (the church has funds to cover these costs if that’s helpful, so don’t hesitate to ask!). 

My hope is that, unlike Cloud Cuckoo Land in “The Lego Movie,” where there’s “no negativity of any kind” and Princess Unikitty has to always put on a happy face, this group will be a safe place where you can open up about the negative stuff in your life, work through it, get tools to help you in the future and grow closer to God and other believers in the process.

So, come join us Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. in North Arlington. We look forward to seeing you!

– Cathy Guiles

Bridging the Gap tomorrow

Youth Outreach PicHey Restoration,

As David said on Sunday, the Bridging the Gap team is gearing up for another year of outreach to Washington-Lee High School.  Specifically, we’ll be teaming up with some folks from Young Life to intentionally get to know students, establish a presence there, and ultimately work towards forming a club on campus.

Here are a couple of important things I’d love for you to know about this opportunity:

  • The Bridging the Gap team is still taking shape – you could be on the team!  We’re looking to expand the team, so if this is something you feel God is calling you to, we’d love to have you.
  • This is going to be challenging in all the right ways.  One of the best ways to grow in your faith is to step out and do something scary – like walking up to a group of teenagers you don’t know and talking to them!
  • You will be trained.  We’re going to be shepherded by Carlos Dimas, who has years of experience working with youth generally and with starting Young Life clubs specifically. He’s a great guy and a great teacher.  We’ll also be working as a team, so you’ll be well-taken care of.
  • This is directly in line with our church’s vision for the next five years.  At the last parish meeting, David laid out our vision for the next stage in Restoration’s life – to reach 2000 disciples.  This opportunity will be a very concrete way to begin implementing that vision, as some of us to step out in faith to make connections with the people around us. And what better place to begin than virtually across the street from our church.  There are a lot of amazing kids at this school who need to know that God loves them, and I’m looking forward to Restoration playing a role in making that happen.

Tomorrow we will be having a meeting for anyone who’s interested.  Even if you’re not sure you can make a commitment just yet, come on out and hear more about what’s going on.

Here are the details:

Time: Wednesday, August 20th, 7:30pm.
Place: 4636 3rd St. South, in Arlington.
Contact: You can reach me at 202-459-7203 or

Hope to see you there!

– Clay

Wrestling with God

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August 10, 2014 – Clay Morrison

Genesis 32:22-30 / Luke 2:25-38 / Psalm 10:12-18

Listen to Sunday’s songs here.

West Virginia 2014, Home Again

West VA team sendoff, along with the Bolivia Team

West VA team sendoff, along with the Bolivia Team

Dear Restoration,

The West Virginia 2014 team is back, safe and sound. For the sixth time, a team of 17 from Restoration (and one Falls Church Anglican member!) spent four days last week in Chestnut Ridge, a community near Philippi, WV. We partnered with Appalachian Community Care (ACC) to serve and build relationships with the community there.

Our team was divided into four crews and worked on five construction sites. The projects included painting the basement of a church, staining a deck and painting a porch, building a greenhouse and planting some crops in it, framing the flooring and walls of a 12′ x 16′ addition to a home, and assisting with the demolition of a trailer on a property where a new trailer has been installed. By God’s grace, everyone was safe, despite working with power tools and climbing ladders at times, and the projects were really successful.

While the hands-on projects are important in and of themselves, their main purpose is to facilitate building relationships. It’s amazing what kind of conversations you can have, even when you spend just a couple of days with someone. I loved hearing the stories from team members at the end of the day: about being able to encourage a local pastor in a struggling congregation, praying with an individual who is just entering recovery from substance abuse, and hanging out with teenagers and offering them perspective on life. Weber Ivy and I had a conversation with a person who was convinced that she had blown it too many times for God to still love her, and we were able to give her a message of hope that God’s grace goes beyond anything we can imagine because of what Christ has done.

I was also really pleased to see the affect that the trip had on the team. I heard a number of comments about the benefit of being in a place that hasn’t fallen prey to idols like materialism, busyness, and success at all costs in the way that many of us in the DC metro area have. It was a great time for us to learn how to care for one another as we processed and reflected on our experience. And several of the team members shared that this trip was a significant step forward in their sense of belonging at Restoration.

As a team, we’d like to say thank you. Thank you for a lovely sendoff the week before the trip (pictured above), and thank you for your support at our spaghetti fundraiser and in so many other ways. Also, we’d like to say please join us next year! It’s a great experience where you have fun and grow spiritually at the same time. We’d love to have you.


Bridging the Gap – Join us

Youth Outreach PicHey Restoration,

Over the last year, the Bridging the Gap team has been getting together to pray and brainstorm about ways that we can love our local high school, Washington-Lee. We’ve also spent a significant amount of time on the campus volunteering for their basketball and baseball games and getting to know folks in the process.

This coming school year – as Restoration prepares to move back to Quincy Street, virtually across the street from the school – our team is taking our outreach efforts at W-L to a new level. We’ll be partnering with Young Life to reach out to students and work towards forming a club on campus.

In order to do this, we need more people to be part of the team. This is a unique opportunity to be trained and be part of a team that connects with teenagers and makes a difference at our neighborhood high school. We’ll be on the front lines of something new, which will be challenging but also really exciting.

If you’d like to know more, we’ll be having a meeting on July 8th, 7:30pm, at 4636 3rd St. South, in Arlington. If you plan to come, or have any other questions, please let me know at

Hope to see you there!

Help the West VA Team – Get Spaghetti

Hey folks,

You may have heard that the West Virginia team is headed back to Philippi, WV to see our friends there work with Appalachia Community Care.  In order for us to make this trip, we need your help.  And we’ve come up with a delicious and fun way for you to do so.

This Sunday, we’ll be having a spaghetti dinner right after church.  There will be great food, live music, a raffle, and a great time of hanging out with people from the church.

Here are the details:

pastaWhat: The best spaghetti and fixin’s you’ve ever had

When: This Sunday, June 1st, right after church

Where: In friendship hall

How much: $10 per adult, $5 per kid, $30 max per family  (Cash or check will work best, so please bring those if you can!)

Some bonuses: There will also be some cool items raffled off and some services provided by our team members (think babysitting, yard work) that you can purchase.

Look forward to seeing you there!


Gaps and Growth on Ascension Thursday

ascensionOn Sunday, I talked about acknowledging gaps in our faith, including our knowledge.  When I woke up this morning, I realized I had gaps in my understanding of the Ascension.   Today is the day that the church celebrates Jesus’s ascension into heaven, and while I’ve studied this before, it’s not the easiest concept to wrap our minds around.  So I spent a little time digging, and what I found was really encouraging to me.

We’re all familiar with the concept.  We say it each week in the creed: “On the third day he rose again, he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”  But this idea provokes some significant questions in us:  Why did Jesus go back to heaven?  Why, after this amazing victory over his enemies and death itself, would he go away to a place where we could no longer see him?

The apostles had a similar question in Acts 1:1-11.  They assumed Jesus would establish his kingdom here, now that he had risen from the dead.  But instead, he proceeded to float into the air and vanish from sight.  Kind of a let down, right?  But Jesus had already told them this was going to happen and that it was going to be for their benefit and ours.  He said in John 16:7 that “… it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper [the Holy Spirit] will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.”

So, let me get this straight: the guy who is amazing to be with and does awesome miracles is about to disappear, and instead we get the Holy Spirit, whom we can’t see?  And this is supposed to be to our advantage?

One thing to keep in mind is that God works in ways that are often counterintuitive to us and that we don’t always understand.  But we can try to at least get a sense for why God might do things the way he does.  And I think one key to understanding why Jesus had to ascend is to think about God’s presence in the world.  At the beginning, his Spirit was present in an intimate way with his creation (Gen. 1:2).  It was normal for him to communicate directly with humans (Gen. 3:8a).  But after sin entered the world, this intimacy was broken.

Only after a long period did God establish his temple where humanity could experience his presence.  This was a gift, but it was limited by the fact that you had to go to a specific place on the planet, and even then, only certain people were allowed.  Then Jesus came as the true temple, the place where God’s presence could be encountered.  This was a huge leap forward, because not only could you talk to him, he accepted anyone, saint/sinner, Jew/Gentile.  But still – and here’s the important thing to note – access to God was limited to a particular place, namely, wherever Jesus happened to be.

But because Jesus ascended into heaven and poured out his Spirit on the earth, what we have now is a return to his original intent for his presence in the world.  Now God, by his Spirit, can relate to the whole world in an intimate way, and he does so on the terms set by Jesus, terms where we relate to God based on our identity as sons and daughters reconciled to him by Christ’s work.  No longer do we need to go to a specific place, accessible only by those who have the wherewithal to go there, financial or otherwise.  The God revealed by Christ is accessible anywhere, any time, by his Spirit.

I’ve said before that we’re right to desire more intimacy with God, because he has plans to bring us into greater intimacy with him (Rev. 22:4).  But in the meantime, while it can be difficult to walk by faith and not by sight, it’s really important for us to keep in mind that things are better than they once were.  You and I can live in the D.C. area, of all places, and have direct access to the God who made us.

I’m excited to be alive during this period when we can relate to God in this way.  I’m excited to encounter him in the various places I find myself today.  This is one example of how acknowledging a gap in my understanding has caused my relationship with God to grow.  I hope that coming to a deeper understanding of the Ascension might help you grow closer to God today, and I hope that you’ll continue to grow closer to him the more you understand the story of his love for the world.



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