Jan 25: Restoration Launch Team begins worship

From Jan 25, 2009 until Easter, Restoration will be worshipping as a launch team at our facility on Quincy St.  These three months are a critical time for us to grow in friendship as a community, to practice our liturgical mechanics (how we structure the service, move people around the sanctuary, welcome new-comers), and to establish our nascent childrens and small group ministry.  We have a committed core of 55 adults and 35 kids.  Over the next 3 months, our hope is to pray and practice and pray and listen and pray and worship and pray and be ready to love our neighbors and love Arlington with the great news about Jesus.

Jan 18: Restoration sent out from TFC

On January 18, at the 9 and 11 services at The Falls Church, Restoration Anglican Church will be commissioned, blessed, and prayed out.  We are so thankful to be a part of the TFC mission to follow Christ the King.  Planting a daughter congregation in Arlington is a strategic next step as we seek to plant Gospel Churches all around the beltway corridor.  Join us at TFC on the 18th or in thanksgiving from a distance as we worship in gratitude for what the Lord has done.

hospitality and the pool

One of the activities I love to hate is swimming.  Arlington has great pools that are so convenient.  It is one of the things I love about this county.  The pool I swim in has a cadre of fiercely loyal denizens.  These men are there (early) every morning.  They bang out 80-100 laps (way more than me) then afterwards chat it up in the locker room.  Yesterday, the place was PACKED.  6 lanes of 5 swimmers.  People were grumpy.  The post-swim ‘regulars’ chatter centered around ‘how do we get these extra people to go away’?  There was no celebration that more people were swimming.  There was no delight in welcoming extra folks to the pool.  Instead–  ‘it’s supposed to get really cold this week, maybe that will keep people away.’  Or ‘I hear they might turn the heat down in the locker rooms, maybe that will discourage new-comers.’

Can’t blame ’em.  If I have a set way of doing things…  If I love my lane all to myself…  Then people get in the way.  Restoration worships in a small building.  We are new.  Many folks will check us out.  How do we communicate sheer delight that lots of people have come to hear about Jesus, to be in community, to take our pew and parking space?

Why Restoration?

The Biblical promise that gives me the most hope is that Jesus is coming back as King to restore all things and to reconcile all things to God.  He is bringing a new heavens and a new earth.  In those last days, there will be a judgment and a separation.  Truth will be vindicated.  We will receive beauty for ashes.  The broken will be bound up.  The devastations of many generations shall be repaired.  Tears will go away.  All of the scents and tastes we get of this coming Kingdom (seen in beauty, truth, kindness, grace) will be fully consummated in the fully-disclosed reign of our Sovereign King.  It is a day that demands our lives.  It is a day that is worth our lives.

It is a day to come that instructs our conduct in the present.  In technical words, our eschatology determines our ethics.  What we believe about Jesus’ coming reign determines how we live in this present time.  It affects our materialism, our generosity, our priorities, our relationships, everything.  We are people who live between 2 days (the day of atonement, when Jesus forgave us, set us free, and provided his spirit and the day of consummated restoration, when He comes back).  We are people who live in the constant tension of the already and the not yet.  This tension makes it hard for those on the outside to understand why we live the way we do.  This tension pleads with us to use every ounce of our creativity and drive to implore ‘outside people’ to be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20).  This tension is why we are planting a new church.

In restoration, we capture our core value–  the Gospel changes everything.  Grace wins, Truth wins.  Love wins.  The sweeping biblical narrative can be summarized by: creation, fall, exile, restoration.  This is the big picture story from Genesis to Revelation.  It is seen in smaller vignettes throughout the Scriptures.  We are a church compelled by God’s project of restoration.

We value beauty

I have been asked by several people why our church values ‘beauty’.

Beauty is not attached to belief. Yet it provides an access point to the soul. Two people can find something beautiful, but believe different things about Jesus. Beauty becomes a contact between them. Sometimes a conversation about belief will come from that.

Beauty is an inherent characteristic of the Trinity. Like Charis (grace) and Chesed (steadfast love). Beauty is grace. You cannot manufacture it. It happens. Beauty is a gift. Beauty reveals the character of its Creator. It is a way for people to ‘get’ grace in a way that is slant, not overt (like a tract, or a big poster that says John 3.16)

Beauty is a gift of common grace. We value the way God is at work around us, whether we know it, participate in it, or not. He is extending grace to those who by definition don’t deserve it and drawing to himself those whom he dearly loves.

Saints for sinners

Nov 1 is historically the day the church remembers those whom have died in the previous calendar year:  All Saints Day.  ‘Saint’ is quite a loaded term in our culture.  It is used throughout the New Testament to refer to those who have been ‘set apart’ or made holy by their relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  All who follow Jesus are biblically known as ‘saints’.

But there are some common saint-beliefs that we need to de-bunk.  We don’t pray TO the saints.

1Timothy 2:5 (ESV) For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

We have do not need extra mediators, extra saints to go between us and God.  Our relationship with God is based exclusively on the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  He is our only ‘go-between’.  We don’t need help from saint so-and-so to get ahead.

Secondly, we don’t pray FOR the saints.

Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

We all get one shot, one life, to decide who we will follow.  Once that life is over, our decision is made.  We cannot pray people into heaven once they have died.  We cannot wish them out of some purgatory-esque after-life.  One shot.  So, decide who you will follow while you walk this earth.  Will you be a saint?

Thumbs up? Thumbs down

One of my favorite games to play with Bennett happens on the way to school each morning. We put my ipod on shuffle and listen to the songs that come up. He is allowed to vote on each song with a Caesar-like thumbs-up or thumbs-down. He usually makes the call within 10 seconds. What is remarkable to me is how consistent he is based almost completely on 10 second intros. I confess his penchant runs towards the 80s– specifically big hair and great guitar riffs: Van Halen, Def Leppard, U2. He also bleeds into the 90s: Smashing Pumpkins. He consistently rejects Peter Gabriel, Bruce Hornsby, and anything that smells like sap. Look for us rocking out on Lee Highway around 8:55am on MWF.

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