Confession: Good for our Souls

The eight-year-old atheist

Every Wednesday, when I was 8 years of age, I would leave school an hour early with about 10 other children to walk to a nearby home for time-release-bible-study. As the door to the house opened, our host would greet us with a smile and tins of butter cookies. After gorging ourselves on butter cookies, we would sit down in her living room where we learned about Jesus through felt board stories and cool songs like “I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N”:

God bless these faithful women for the ways that they shared the love of Jesus with us. I did not know it at the time, but according to my Enneagram scores, I’m pretty strong on the “challenger”, and looking back I can see it as early as 8-years-old. I was that kid in the group that sought to interrupt the teachers and be a nuisance to the rest of the class. One week I had had enough and loudly proclaimed to the teachers and children that all this Jesus stuff was rubbish and that there was no God. Everyone sat in awkward silence for a few moments, and then I was walked into the dining room where I sat while the kids finished their story. I got no gold star that day. These faithful women asked that I not come back, which of course mortified my parents!

Confession

My parents rightly appropriated a penitence befitting my pugnacious persistence. The very next week my mom accompanied me to meet with the leader of the group. I had an entire week to dwell on my wrongdoings (more my disruptive presence than my disbelieve) and the things that I would say to the teacher. I dreaded that moment when I had to be vulnerable, to feel embarrassed, and to own up to my rebellion. But mom faithfully came along to make sure that I did the deed. That Wednesday I came to the teacher, told her what I had done wrong and asked for forgiveness. She genuinely offered me forgiveness, but I never did go back to this group. This was not the first time in life I needed to ask for forgiveness, and it will surely not be the last, but there is something powerfully transformative that happens to us when we must ruminate on our misdeeds in anticipation of someone else’s offer of forgiveness. The same is true when we think about our relationship to God. This is one of the reasons that the Church has set Advent and Lent apart as seasons of penitence (symbolized by purple vestments).

During Advent, we will be offering morning prayer (see liturgy here) on December 5, 12, and 19 from 7-7:35am, then again on December 24 at 8am (at Restoration Anglican Church). In the course of morning prayer we will have a chance to confess our sins corporately and receive the forgiveness offered by God through the work of Christ. And yet if I am honest, I know that there are so many times that I pray the prayer of confession without adequately thinking of what needs confessing, and then once it is done, having forgotten what I just confessed. One practice of the Church that helps us to cast aside our specific stumbling blocks and be renewed in our life in Christ is the practice of private confession (what we call the Reconciliation of Penitents). The following book has been an incredible help to me:

The benefit of private confession has been described beautifully in this way,

“The responsibility of spelling out our sins in confession counteracts our tendency to be fuzzy and general in our penitence…False notions of guilt and self-blame can be set aside, and real responsibility for our omissions and transgressions taken up. Because in confession we need to make ourselves intelligible to another person, we have to cut to the chase and own up to what we have done and not done, painstakingly finding the words to name our particular sins…As a result we can move past the blur of hazy guilt feelings to a sharp and liberating penitence.” (Go in Peace: The Art of Hearing Confessions, 28).

As we look forward to planting Incarnation Anglican Church in South Arlington, both corporate and private confession will be a regular part of our sacramental life together. We all need God’s healing and this is another platform for God to meet us with His healing grace. After morning prayer on December 5, 12, and 19, we (Fr. Nathan and me) will be available to hear confessions from the end of morning prayer until 8am. If you would like to schedule a time slot for this, or if you would like to chat more about this practice and how to make it a regular rhythm of your life, please email me at morgan@incarnationanglican.org. I would love to talk more.

-Fr. Morgan Reed, Church Planter at Restoration Anglican Church

Reflection on Multi-Ethnic Unity

15895181731_27781e34d0_bI woke up at 5am on Nov. 23, 2006 to the sounds of my dad’s footsteps and something being dragged into the kitchen. Rising from my bed, I opened my door, peered out, and saw the small television under his arm. It occurred to me that it was Thanksgiving! This day each year my dad got up early, set up the television in the kitchen and we would watch the parade while cutting apples and walnuts for stuffing, preparing the gravy, and stuffing the turkey in preparation for a family feast. Family would come from all over Sonoma County and Lake County to gorge themselves at 2 o’clock in the afternoon – a strange, yet wonderful tradition. It was the one time during the year in which each disparate part of the family united to share a meal and recount the memories of what had happened over the last year.

The 5am ritual happened one final time for me in 2006 because the next year I would move to Chicago and since then Thanksgiving has looked a little different every year. Ashley and I moved to Arlington in 2012, and having gotten to know a few of our neighbors, we threw our first “friends-giving” in our apartment in South Arlington. The best part of friends-giving was that each person contributed their absolute best recipe: the best pumpkin pie, the best turkey, the best stuffing, the best sweet potato casserole. And as we sat and ate, we shared stories of Thanksgivings from our family traditions growing up. Each local custom had its own beautiful particularities and yet each person’s custom would have felt foreign to recreate in its entirety for this current table (for example, we ate at 4pm rather than my 2pm tradition). This new table had a new family-like quality which provided a new way of relating to one another individually even after these friends would leave our table. The act of taking disparate families, united around food and thankfulness, displays in a small way the conversation which happened last weekend.

Retreat

Last weekend, Restoration Anglican Church had its fall retreat at Massanetta Springs, where Joe Ho (National Director for Asian American Ministries for InterVarsity) spoke the Gospel’s message of reconciliation not only between God and humanity but between various groups of humanity. He demonstrated how God had scattered humanity in Genesis 11 because of their collective desire to join for the sake of their own pride-of-name and for their own security. He called us from Ephesians 2 to be reconciled with God and with one another. The implication is that we are good at proclaiming reconciliation with God, but that in many ways, the Church must repent of the ways in which she fails to be reconciled one to another. This weekend was a helpful link in the chain of conversation regarding reconciliation that Restoration has already begun. One of Joe’s major contributions to this ongoing discussion was to raise an important question for us to consider: What does it mean for us to pursue substantive multi-ethnic unity?

On Sunday we celebrated the Eucharist together and one line of the liturgy captivated my heart and imagination. We pray with angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven (a vertical relationship), but during the prayer of consecration, the priest prays, “…After he ascended to your right hand in glory, you sent your Holy Spirit, that we might become your holy people.” (a horizontal relationship). This is a reference to Acts 2, where the Holy Spirit being given is presented as an undoing of Babel. This act of giving thanks (which is what the word ‘eucharist’ means) and partaking of the body and blood of Christ is a physical, spiritual, and political act. According to 1 Pet. 2:9 God has constituted a new people, a new priesthood, a new nation (Gk. ethnos, where we get the word “ethnicity”) who belong to God and bring praises to Him who called them from darkness to light.

Questions to consider

Living Diversity: The Arlington Photographic Documentary Projectbook cover & interior

Living Diversity: The Arlington Photographic Documentary Project

People enter the one body of Christ with its one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, and yet their entry does not dissolve their personal distinctiveness. Restoration reflects part of the catholic tradition of the Church (through time and across ethno-linguistic boundaries) in several important ways: we have a liturgy that moves from repentance to praise, we have a Bishop, we are creedal, and we are sacramental. And yet there are many ways in which Restoration has a local culture: type of music, manner of preaching, food, technology, etc.

Joe’s talks bid us to be self-aware of our local custom. As Christians we should always embrace what is catholic (i.e. universal), and yet we should also love what is local (and appreciate it as being local). This is a commitment to prioritizing our new-ethnos as citizens of the kingdom over our ethnoi/nations on earth (however we want to define this). If a parish should take its local customs (which might be good and helpful) and mistakenly believe them to be catholic, the parish runs the risk of colonizing our brothers and sisters in Christ who have other good and helpful local customs. All of us who are in Christ are called to be agents of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:16-21), but maybe we don’t know what this looks like.

Above all, Joe’s talks encouraged me to adopt a posture of  listening with frequent repentance. Substantive multi-ethnic unity can happen only with repentance and the cultivation of self-awareness (which involves a listening posture). Diversity and unity have been a major part of the discussion surrounding Incarnation Anglican Church (the church plant in South Arlington) since the very beginning. Columbia Pike is so diverse that a book exists highlighting its diversity, and therefore we are asking the Holy Spirit what unity will look like in South Arlington. One of the podcasts I have found most helpful has been Truth’s Table (though let me know if you find others as well), which has stretched me in my own thinking and has given some solid, practical ways to build substantive unity–the unity to which I am called each week in the Eucharist.

Time with friends around the friends-giving table gave each person an opportunity to share snippets of his or her local custom, creating a new community around a table built of various different stories. Each contribution was good, helpful and fun! And each person’s contribution added to this new experience of being around the table. Powerful discussion happens when we meet together frequently, eat together, pray together, worship together, and most importantly, listen to one another. The Church, being fed on the body of Christ, participates each week in the very physical, spiritual, and political act where we remind ourselves frequently that we (the Church across time and ethno-linguist boundaries) are one new nation, a royal priesthood, created to praise Him who has called us from darkness to His glorious light.

-Fr. Morgan Reed, Church Planter for Incarnation Anglican Church

Pentecost Sunday 2016

Pentecost 2016 Dove

Pentecost Sunday (May 15) is just around the corner and it will be quite a busy day at Restoration Anglican Church! The Easter season has invited us to explore areas in which we need the power of Jesus’ resurrection life. Ascension Day (May 5) reminds us of Christ’s being seated at God’s right hand in glory, far above all earthly rule (Ephesians 5:21) to give us a heavenly abode for our earthly mind.

Pentecost begins the longest season in the church’s calendar and this seems rather appropriate, for while Christ’s earthly ministry lasted roughly three decades, the Holy Spirit has been indwelling and empowering Christ’s body to do the work of the His kingdom for over 2,000 years! So what is so amazing about Pentecost Sunday 2016 at Restoration? I am glad that you asked. . .

The Rev. Jesse Blaine will be among us! He is currently in the USA with Sarah and the girls on home leave from Cambodia, and he will bring God’s word to us during the 9am and 11am services and share a bit of what God has been doing in his family’s life and their ministry in Cambodia. If you would like to know more about Restoration’s involvement with the Blaines and Cambodia, visit our Global Outreach page where you will find more information about our involvement with Cambodia.

During the 9am and 11am services we will have baptisms. We will have the pleasure of welcoming some in our community into body of Christ and celebrating their new life in Christ together with them! If you would like more information on baptism at Restoration, please visit our Baptism page.

Restoration has been blessed to see several of its members called to serve God’s church in Holy Orders (i.e. becoming Deacons and Priests). On Pentecost Sunday at the 5pm service, Morgan Reed will be ordained to the sacred Order of Deacons. We will have incense, Bishop John Guernsey will be present to ordain Morgan, and the Rev. Liz Gray will be preaching. There will be a reception immediately following the service.

Pentecost Sunday will remind us of the thrilling ways in which the Holy Spirit is at work in our community here at Restoration! 

Confirmation 2016

seedssoilWhat is this Confirmation Thing All About?

Last Sunday several members of our Restoration family were confirmed or received into the Anglican tradition! While it is a blessing to hear of God’s gracious working, confirmation may confuse those who did not grow up in a tradition which practiced confirmation and infant baptism. It is likely that many at Restoration come to our community with similar questions and I would like to try to break down why confirmation is good and helpful. While we as Anglicans believe that Christianity is far greater than Anglicanism, we also believe that the Anglican tradition offers a beautiful expression of the body of Christ into which a Christian will grow in the grace and knowledge of God.

Why be Confirmed if I am Already a Member at Restoration? 

Being a member at Restoration is a great thing! We are blessed with a loving, godly, and diverse community. However, membership doth not an Anglican make. So what is the spiritual benefit to being Anglican? Becoming Anglican through confirmation/reception will benefit your life in Christ in at least three ways: we need tangible signs of God’s grace, we need to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, and your testimony will encourage other Christians.

God’s Sacramental Grace

God’s love often meets us in very tangible ways: a hug, an encouraging word, an unexpected kindness shown to us. God’s attributes and actions are often felt through very tangible, sacramental deeds upon which we look back as an outward sign of an inward spiritual grace. Two such sacraments were given by Christ in the Holy Scriptures: Holy Communion and Baptism (cf. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, no. 104). Although only two were mentioned in Scripture, the Anglican tradition has commonly included other Sacraments: confirmation, absolution, ordination, marriage, and the anointing of the sick (cf. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, no. 116). It is the Bishop’s joy as well as his Apostolic ministry to lay hands on Christians after their baptism and to pray for a daily increase of the Holy Spirit and empowerment for Christian service (2 Timothy 1:6-7; Acts 8:14-17; 19:6; cf. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, nos. 118-119). Confirmation and reception are tangible and outward signs of what God is doing spiritually within us. On days in which we feel overwhelmed, or as though we have failed in our tasks as a father, husband, wife, employee, etc., we can look back not only to our standing as a child of God, but to the moment when we professed our faith in Christ before His church and when the Bishop laid his hands on our head and prayed, “Almighty and everliving God, we ask you to strengthen this your servant for witness and ministry, through the power of your Holy Spirit. Daily increase in him/her the gift of your grace and the fruit of your Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Be Filled with the Spirit

Not only do we (in our frailty) need an outward sign of God’s grace, but the Scriptures also exhort us to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). I imagine that we would all like to see the Holy Spirit at work more powerfully in our daily walk with Christ! Confirmation invites us to grow into the fullness of the Holy Spirit through the Anglican tradition more fully each and every day.

Stories of God’s Faithfulness

Finally, other Christians are blessed when they hear public testimony of God’s saving help. God uses the stories of redemption and restoration in our lives to awaken some out of their spiritual slumber and to encourage others who have grown weakened and frustrated by failed expectations. Those being received, confirmed, or reaffirming their baptismal vows are a testimony of the God who loves us and desires for us to experience His saving help and fulness of joy! Please continue to pray for those in our community who were confirmed or received last Sunday: Ryan Bettwy, Matt Hoppe, Becky Mohr, Dietrich Kuhlmann, Meredith Lloyd, and Michael Dodson. As you see these folks around Restoration, why don’t you ask them to share a bit of their story with you? It is so good to hear how God has brought us all along on our journeys.

Please note that this is a very abbreviated blog entry about confirmation and more information can be found in our Diocesan policy on Confirmation, Reception and Reaffirmation. Also note that the Anglican Church in North America has produced a catechism which can be downloaded here for free!

Holy Week 2016

daffodil 3

Holy Week is coming soon and we do not want you to miss any of the wonderful things happening at Restoration! During Lent we have focused on turning away from our vices to virtue and turning our gaze toward the face of the God who restores us. This season of repentance finds its crescendo in Holy Week – an opportunity to fix our gaze on the process leading up to Christ’s crucifixion.

You might notice that the cross will be veiled and the colors will change which will invite the church to pay attention to the sufferings of Christ leading up to His crucifixion. The brevity of time elapsing from Palm Sunday to the Great Vigil brings to the fore how quickly one can acclaim Christ as king, and subsequently turn away. St. Paul reminds us that it is his aim to know Christ in the power of His resurrection, but also to share in Christ’s sufferings (Phil 3:10). Holy Week sets the sufferings of Christ before our eyes and calls us not only to reflect, but to examine our lives with questions such as, “Where is my will set over God’s will?” “Where am I tempted to deny Christ in my professional and familial relationships?” or “When does it cost me something to love God each day?”

Come join us during the following times:

Palm Sunday: March 20, begin outside with services at 9am, 11am, and 5pm.

Morning Prayer: March 21-24, 7-7:30am on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (NB: We use incense in morning prayer).

Maundy Thursday: March 24, 7:30pm. Shuttle service and nursery provided.

Stations of the Cross: Friday March 25, 10am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm. Children and the young at heart are encouraged to come at 10am, but are welcome later as well. A priest will be available to hear confessions, so please schedule a time by emailing Morgan in advance.

Good Friday: March 25, 7:30pm. Shuttle service and nursery provided.

The Great Vigil: March 26, 8:30pm. Shuttle service provided, but no nursery. Bring food or a fun beverage to share. If you would like to help with set-up or clean-up, please contact Erica ChapmanBring a bell!

Easter Sunday: March 27, we will resume our standard service times at 9am, 11am and 5pm.

~Morgan

Lent 2016 | Back to Virtue

Photo courtesy of Sherri Reed Studios

In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis reminds us that, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’” (34). Lent prepares us to expose our souls to the God who enables us to change. In other words, Lent invites us to ask where God’s will should be done in our lives. In this Lenten season at Restoration we will focus on returning back to virtue and what it means to live a life blessed by God.

 

 How? 

Back-to-Virtue

We are inviting everyone to take photos each week during Lent and post them to Instagram and tag them #restoarts and then another # corresponding to the week’s vice or virtue. The themes will be given each week with further explanation. In addition to photography, we are focusing on what it means to live into the promises of the Beatitudes of Matthew 5 by reading Peter Kreeft’s, Back to Virtue, which can be found for sale here or other online retailers. Kreeft’s work explains the vices which so easily entangle us and how we might combat them with the virtues which Jesus presents in the Beatitudes.

Want to participate with Instagram?

  • In Instagram, follow @restoarts, and then @restoarts will follow you.
  • Each day, take a photo, tag it with #restoarts, and tag it with that week’s corresponding vice or virtue (example: #humility or #pride). Share it on Facebook too!

 

What’s happening?

  • Parish Meeting: Join us on Shrove Tuesday, February 9, at 5:30pm for pancakes and merriment! The pancakes will be followed by a parish meeting from 7-7:45pm.  Nursery will be available during the parish meeting from 7-7:45pm.
  • Ash Wednesday: Lent will begin February 10 on Ash Wednesday with three services: 6:30am, noon, and 7:30pm. Nursery will be available at the noon and 7:30pm services only. The shuttle will be available for the 7:30pm service only.
  • Morning Prayer and Confession: Each Wednesday of Lent at 7am morning prayer will be offered at Restoration which will last approximately 30 minutes. There will be no childcare, nursery, or shuttle. From 8-8:30am a priest will be available to hear confessions.
  • Evensong: Each Sunday during Lent, Evensong will take place from 7-8pm in the sanctuary. Please feel free to bring a candle!
  • Healing Prayer and Eucharist: Tuesday, March 1, Restoration will hold a service of healing prayer and the Eucharist at 7:30pm.
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