Good Things Happened in our Prayers

Restoration,

I am grateful to God for our week of unceasing intercession.  Thank you for participating with such great anticipation.  I am writing with 2 quick updates and a longer reflection.

Ordination on Sunday at 3pm

We are grateful for the privilege of having shepherded 2 curates through the ordination process to priesthood:  Isaiah Brooms and Scott Buckhout.  They have been working, studying, observing, and practicing for 5 years!  Those years of preparation come to a fulfillment on Sunday at 3pm.  We invite you to witness their vows and celebrate their ordinations by praying and watching on our YouTube Live channel.  

The good things that happened while we prayed

Thank you for taking a few minutes to record what God said to you during your hour of prayer last week.  We had well over 200 responses and reading through them has been a rich experience.  The leadership team for our week of prayer anonymized them and posted them, here.  I commend them to you as a tangible reminder of God’s faithful companionship during our times of intercession.  

My Sunday night reflection at the end of our week of prayer

Last Sunday, at 5pm, we closed our week by receiving the Eucharist together and then worshiping through hour 169 (we got a bonus hour because of daylight savings time!).  Please find below the reflections I shared during that time of worship.  May they encourage us to keep praying!

-David

David’s Reflection on Good Things Grow through Prayer

Thank you for praying this week. 

We felt united and together, even as we were praying on our own.  I went to the Sign Up Genius multiple times a day to see who was praying, to say thank you God for their intercession!

It was special to have an hour dedicated to be with God and nothing else.  Because you had signed up.  Because it was on your calendar, you felt free to say no to everything else-  to sleep, to food, to work, to household responsibilities.  You made your decision ahead of time for what you would be doing during that hour.  And you were earnest in your prayer.  Thank you.  Perhaps you will keep reserving a regular hour to just pray?

Thank you to Endel Liias, Sandra Rushedge, Roland Binker, Erica Chapman, Sarah Pullen, Kate Liias, John Foote, Caneel Cotton, Liza Draper, and Nathan Dickerson for working on and leading this project. 

Themes of what we heard

  1. Joy:  Many of you weren’t sure what to expect in your hour.  Then you were surprised by how fast the hour went by.  You were relaxed and comforted by the structure of the prayer guide.  You loved praying the Psalms-  and the Psalms prayed us.  They gave us language for our anxieties, fears, hopes, and longings-  and you used that psalm language to describe what you heard from God.  Psalm 34 was referenced many times.  You loved the music.  Thanks to Endel for curating the playlist, for the songs he has been building into our corporate worship life.
     
  2. Our joy was fueled by anticipation of what is coming:
    You talked of new wineskins for prayer and the desire to live out 1 Thessalonians 5:19- to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in all circumstances, to not quench the Spirit, to listen.

    You prayed for new staff positions and the changes happening on our staff team.  You prayed for new vestry members, new small group leaders, new volunteers. 

    You acknowledge the reorganizing that is happening in our church that is happening because of COVID-19, because of racial injustice, because of vocational movement, and new opportunities to serve.  
     
  3. Anticipation can fuel our joy because over and over you declared the sovereignty of God. You trust Him.  Because of COVID.  Because of the election.  Because of racial injustice.  Because of the economy.  You kept coming back to God’s sovereignty and His trustworthiness.  ‘God’s been in charge for a long time and we can trust Him.’ “All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth, and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.’ Psalm 138:4-5

With joy, anticipation, and trust, I offer you 3 invitations as we come out of our week:

  1. Release clenched fists.   This image of opening clenched fists came up multiple times in the reflections.  So let’s do it.  Let’s open our hands.  Let’s weep instead of rage. Let’s confess our bitterness and resentment.  Let’s shed shackles.  Let’s pray boldly for darkness to be vanquished rather than just ‘good things to happen.’  

    As we unclench our fists, we will be released to love like the Father loves.  With the division politically, racially, and within families, there was a lot of sharing about the need to love in the way Christ calls us. We are supposed to be markedly different; salt and light. 
     
  2. Ask for humility.  Praying is fundamentally a humble choice.  It is by definition reaching out for help and acknowledging one’s limits.  Let’s be humble in everything.  Let’s seek the Lord.  Let’s invite others to seek the Lord.  There were multiple images of our church building becoming personified as the staircases became arms and embraced people who were coming to worship. Let it be.
     
  3. Be responsive.  When God nudges you, do it.  
    Someone wrote the following at the end of their hour of prayer.  It is a beautiful picture of responsiveness.  This is what it looks like to do what God says.

    “Reading the Psalm after 30 minutes of prayer and praise was a much more intimate experience than usual.  Somehow holding my bible at that point was a sacred experience.  It was a reminder that preparing my heart is really important, and that it takes time to do that. 

    During prayer and listening, the phrase “rest in the Lord” came to me and I thought on that.  I’ve been seeking rest lately, but on my terms (like hiding in a room watching netflix on my ipad).  Resting in the Lord brought to mind walking in the woods with any family members who wanted to come, so I paused to text my family I’d be going for a walk at the end of the hour.

    Also the video from Sunday’s service about Ninos con Valor came back to me with a calling to sponsor a child, so I did that right after my prayer hour.

    Of all the prayer topics, the one on relationships was what I felt most deeply.  It reminded me that many people are feeling lonely through the pandemic, and I should be proactive about nurturing those relationships.

May we all unclench our fists, practice humility, and respond quickly to everything God says.  Amen.  Let it be.

Wardens’ Report: October 2020

The vestry met on Tuesday, October 27th, remotely. Dan Vogel led us in our time of prayer this month and it was a privilege to know we were praying alongside Good Things Grow Through Prayer. We hope each of you will join us (the spots are full, but there is no limit to the number who can join us in praying!) in this weeklong opportunity for us to pray together.

We received an update from David Hanke about the vestry nomination and election process. We are grateful for all who were nominated this year and invite you to join us in praying over the slate of nominees who will be presented to the congregation in mid-November. 

The Vestry approved changes to our Child Protection Policy for APEX (middle and high school programming) in order to help grow relationships between our leaders and students while preserving a safe environment both in person and virtually. APEX parents can expect details on these changes in the coming weeks. 

The Vestry reviewed and approved changes developed by Kevin Marshall to our Bylaws, which had not received a thorough update since our inception 10+ years ago. The primary changes seek to improve our deliberations, institutional memory, and ability to work effectively with the Rector, including codifying practices that have worked well.

Dan Vogel, the vestry liaison to our Outreach Steering Team (OST), presented, and the Vestry approved, a policy to guide OST’s giving, ensuring that it is aligned with our beliefs and mission while also allowing flexibility. As we have done in previous years, we will continue to give our Christmas offering to a local outreach partner and our Lenten/Holy Week offerings to a global outreach partner. Additionally, we approved additional gifts to some of our outreach partners based on additional funds we had available at the end of FY2020 (which ended in August). Thank you Restoration for enabling us to give generously to these partners!

Brad Jones, our treasurer, gave an update on our finances and in-person and virtual attendance. Brad also led discussions of recommendations from the Finance Team regarding best practices for allocating and distributing OST grant amounts each year and regarding what to do about our mortgage. As we continue to think about how best to use the birthday gift from our ten year celebration last November, our Finance Team has offered us several options on how to move forward with our mortgage. We look forward to seeing more details and reaching a decision in the months to come.

Finally, Lorene Eberhart, our personnel chair, gave an update on the hiring process for the Director of Worship Arts and Director of APEX positions. We invite you to join us in praying for our hiring teams led by Kat Downs, our Director of Operations. Details about both positions can be found on our website.

As always, we welcome your questions and feedback. You can read an archive of past Wardens’ Reports on our website or Vestry Meeting minutes on CCB, under the ‘Files’ tab in the ‘Entire Church Group’.

– Johanna Montague and Kevin Marshall, Wardens

Rector’s Update: Election, Eucharist, Prayer

Good morning Restoration,

It has brought me great joy this week to both offer prayer and receive prayer as we join together in Good Things Grow Through Prayer.  Multiple times throughout the day I have realized (remembered!) ‘someone is praying for me right now!’  I open the sign-up.  I smile.  I say, ‘thanks God that they are praying for us.’  I keep going with the work God has given me to do.  I love the connection I feel by the Holy Spirit in our ceaseless intercession together.  Thank you for praying.

Tonight!  At 7:30pm over Zoom, we get another chance to “Think Wisely about the Election”.  This is part 2 of the conversation we hosted with Navs 20s/30s back in February.  We are excited to hear from Kaitlyn Schiess (pronounced Shess, as in ‘chess’), author of The Liturgy of Politics.  You can still register for the event, here, and the Zoom link for tonight is here.  We invite you and your small group to join us this evening!

Sunday!  168 hours of prayer eventually counts down to 2.  We want to close out our week of individual, ceaseless intercession with 2 hours of corporate worship and prayer-  TOGETHER!!  At 5pm on Sunday, Nov 1, I will celebrate the Eucharist outside at Restoration.  You will find us under the big tent or in the lush backyard.  Bring a warm coat and hat, people!  It’s getting cold.  Then at 5:30, we will worship and pray together inside the sanctuary.  You can get one of the 23 inside spots, here.  Make sure you scroll down to ‘Closing Week of Prayer’ at 5:30pm.  We will also broadcast this time of corporate worship and prayer on our YouTube Live Channel.  Please subscribe!

Tuesday!  Election day.  Nov 3.  I invite you to celebrate the Eucharist at Restoration at 8am, 12pm, and 7pm, outside.  We are all experiencing uncertainty and turmoil.  Let’s deliberately step away from the tumult and step towards our Savior.  He is our rock and refuge.  He is the Lord.  He is the King of Kings.  “…all things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”  Thank God!  (Colossians 1:16-17)  I hope you can join us for this special opportunity to be nourished by the sacrament of the Eucharist on November 3.

“…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him…”  Colossians 1:9-10a

Praying with you,
David

Good Things Grow Through Prayer: Testimonies

From October 25th to November 1st, we as a Restoration family prayed for 168 hours straight — two people at a time! It was a powerful time of corporate intercession, and we received over 200 testimonies from participants about their experiences. Check out their responses below, as well as the prayer guide we used for the week.

  1. Feedback from prayer. We asked people to share about their time in prayer — what they prayed for, what they experienced, what the Lord brought to mind. Check ’em out.
  2. The prayer guide and topics. This document includes the 5-step prayer guide we used to structure our time as well as a list of suggested daily prayer topics, one for each of the seven days.

Why we prayed for a week straight?

We are living in a moment with more uncertainty, unrest, overwhelm, and anxiety than many of us have ever experienced. And it is precisely moments like this when prayer is most important. It has the power to transform hearts, change outcomes, and reveal God’s will — in our lives, church, community, country, and world.

So, it is in this context that we as a Restoration family joined together for a week of continuous prayer from 7pm on Sunday, October 25th until 7pm on Sunday, November 1st. It was a wonderful way to remain together in this season of being apart, and share ways we hear the Lord speaking to us. Thank you to everyone who took part. We are excited to see what God does next!

Praying like Jesus by Praying the Psalms

This teaching is from the Friday night session of our 2020 Fall Retreat, featuring author and professor David Taylor.

An at-home Fall Retreat for Kids+Families

This weekend is the Fall Retreat, only it’s unlike any that I’ve been to at Restoration the past 11 years. I’m missing our time to scamper and explore and laugh and sing together. In case your kids are missing it, too, your family might want to use these ideas to have your own at-home Fall Retreat.

Read Psalm 104 (or even just a portion of it) then head outside to your backyard or the park or the woods. Potomac Overlook Park and Lubber Run are some great local areas to explore. 

While outside, go on a scavenger hunt to find all the different things the psalmist writes about. Move slowly. It’s not a race, but rather a chance to dwell IN and EXPERIENCE God’s word. 

I wonder what captures your attention:

In the Psalm?

In nature?

Zoom in to take a closer look at one word or phrase of the Psalm. Here is something that may help.

Zoom in to take a closer look at something in nature. Here are some suggestions about how to do that.

Zoom in to listen to a particular sound that you hear. What is it? 

As you reflect on Psalm 104, how do you see God — the creator of the universe and everything in it — taking care of you? Are there words in this psalm that you can pray back to him as you give thanks or ask for help?

Create a simple journal and write or draw some of the things you experienced today. 

What are you thankful for today?

What emotions are you feeling about today? 

Did you feel different things at different times? 

What was going on as you were feeling those things?

Is there one moment of the day that stands out? What might you say to God about it as you write or draw?

Where can you ask God for help and hope as you look forward to the rest of the day or to tomorrow?

Remember that the God of the universe knows you, is crazy about you, and goes with you EVERYWHERE!

Love,

Miss Louise

Rector’s Update: nominations, hiring, and retreat!

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night… (Psalm 92:1)

We prayed this psalm during morning prayer today.  It is a ‘song for the sabbath’ and a wonderful reminder of how sabbath rest is a demonstration of active trust in the midst of work, deadlines, enemies, fools, too-long task lists, and disappointing outcomes.  God refreshes us.  ‘You have poured over me fresh oil.’  God sustains us.  ‘The righteous flourish… He is my rock.’  

We trust the Lord and He will never fail us.  

May I remind you of 3 prior invitations?

  1. This weekend is our reimagined Fall Retreat!  Today is the deadline to sign up for the seminar on Friday, the bonfires on Saturday, and the picnic on Sunday.  It’s all free, but we would love to know who is coming so that we can send you Zoom links, put you in small groups, and welcome you in people’s yards. We are thrilled that bunches of you have already registered.  Yay!  Can’t wait to see you and we don’t want to miss anybody.  So, please sign up before it closes.  Sign up today!  
     
  2. Last week I wrote to you about Vestry Nominations.  Nominations close on Sunday, October 11.  You are free to nominate any person at Restoration, including yourself!  Please send your nomination, here, and include the nominees name and 2 or 3 sentences describing why you are nominating this person.  We are so grateful for our vestry.
     
  3. Do you know someone who might want to work at Restoration?  We have two job openings and I would love your help resourcing candidates for the positions.  Do you have a favorite worship leader (and the ability to email them :)?  Send them the job description for our Director of Worship Arts.  Do you know a Youth Pastor who really connects with this generation of students?  Send them the job description for our Director of Apex. 

    You know Restoration and you know people who are doing excellent ministry.  We would love to talk with them or their friends about the opportunities that are open to work here.  If you have any questions about our hiring process, you can reach out to Kat Downs who is overseeing it in partnership with our personnel team.

Guess what?  There is even more that is happening at Restoration…

But this is enough for now.  I am so looking forward to this weekend.  I’ll see you on Zoom on Friday, at a bonfire on Saturday, and at the picnic on Sunday.  So fun.

-David

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