Living New Creation

I used to be like this.  But Jesus rose from the dead.  Now, I’m like this.

The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection by Eugene Bernand

I used to be like this.

But Jesus rose from the dead.

Now, I’m like this.

I am captivated by how these sentences changed the world.  I can’t stop thinking about them.  St. Paul said, “I was the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” [1 Corinthians 15: 9-10]

I am grateful for the post-Easter space to reflect on Jesus’ resurrection and mine.  I am grateful to have to drill in to ‘what will really happen’?  What does this really mean for me?

One thing for sure…  I have a story to tell.

I used to be like this.

But Jesus rose from the dead.

Now, I’m like this.

Over and over, through millenia and across miles, people realized that the power that raised Jesus from the dead was power that could change their life.  Over and over people experienced new creation–  and they knew it was resurrection.

Being forgiven is a taste of resurrection.  We know what guilt and shame tastes like–  like chewing on pennies.  But forgiveness is your soul experiencing new creation.  It is literally new life replacing the death of guilt.

I used to be like this.

But Jesus rose from the dead.

Now, I’m like this.

What’s on either side of the story for you?  Who were you?  Who have you become?  I loved talking about this with our confirmation class back in March.  And now, I am thrilled that 13 people will stand before our congregation on Sunday to bear witness that:

I used to be like this.

But Jesus rose from the dead.

Now, I’m like this.

What new creation is God doing in you?

Find Your Sacred Space

RSVP to the Invitation to a Holy Lent

We’re two weeks into the Lenten season, a third of the way through to the “Allelulia” shouts of Easter morning. On Ash Wednesday our priests invited us to a Holy Lent. Did you RSVP?

Are you finding a rhythm in your sacrifice? Have you forgotten or slipped up in your fast? If so, know you are in good company. I’ve had a few “oops—I gave that up” moments. No matter how you started, remember that this season is precisely about coming to grips with our shortcomings and pointing us to the perfect provision of Christ.

So often we do the same things the same way and find ourselves in the same ruts with the same disappointments. That’s an irritating amount of sameness. Observing and engaging the liturgical seasons have given me a way to push back on the monotonous march of sameness.

Although the Lord certainly calls for us to do our good works in secret, (prayer closets, ambidextrous giving, and fresh-faced fasting references come to mind), it can be helpful to know we are working out our salvation in community—with others on the same journey with the same goal.

So two weeks into Lent, it’s a good time to remember–Restoration is observing this season together.

This could be a season where God could be giving you a chance to be vulnerable in your faith walk in new ways. You could be surprised at His provision from unexpected people. He may awaken you to needs in unexpected places. Whatever he is teaching you, share it!

As roommates, we (Megan and Erica) have fasted according to the traditional Byzantine Great Fast . That spiritual exercise took a lot of intentional effort—and boy did we look forward to the Easter Vigil!

Now that we don’t live together, we’ve made our fast choices independently this year. It was so much easier…together–we shared groceries and made food choices together. This year, I’ve been keenly aware of the gift of sharing my Lenten fast with a fellow sojourner.

As a community, may we find sacred space together. A few suggestions for sharing the benefits of a Holy Lent:

  • Chat with someone in your small group about your favorite bits from the Henri Nouwen devotional that week
  •  Pray with your roommates or spouse, giving thanks for how God is meeting you in newfound sacred spaces
  • Reference the  Barnabas Aid Lenten Prayer Guideto talk to your children about the plight of the Persecuted Church and pray together for their relief (pick one up in the back of the sanctuary).
  • Ask a friend to keep you accountable to a financial gift that the Lord may be challenging you to give

There are so many other ways to experience sacred space together.  When you find it, what does this sacred space look like? How are you sharing that space with the Restoration family? With the curious?

We are called to be secretly steadfast in our spiritual disciplines; YET, the effects and lessons are meant to be shared!

“So, you’re planning for a Holy Lent, too? …Wanna carpool?”

– Erica Chapman

Where will you be tonight?


Restoration, we got a lot going on tonight at the church.  Hope to see a lot of you here!

Weekly Prayer on Tuesdays [W-POT TM pending]

Each Tuesday at 7:30, we have an opportunity to pray with other people.  Each week has a different theme.  Tonight we focus on our worship of Jesus and the places we need healing–  physically, emotionally, spiritually.  The prayer time is informal but guided by the lovely Liz Gray and Matt Hoppe.  If you want to learn to pray… if you want to worship with others…  if you are hurting…  this is a great opportunity for you.


Confirmation Small Group

Our 3 week confirmation small group begins tonight at 7:30 at the church.   Wondering what confirmation is?  This will help.  In our tradition, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to stand before their community and confirm the vows that were made on their behalf at baptism.  If you were baptized as a baby, this is your chance to do that.  We also believe that everyone is called to use their gifts to strengthen the Body of Christ and build the Kingdom of God.  When our bishop prays for you during the confirmation service and asks God to fill you with His Spirit, he is praying for you to use your gifts in the venues to which you have been called.  This is your chance to do that.

This little small group will meet on March 6, 13, and 27.  It is necessary to attend in order to be confirmed on April 22.  I’d love to have you.  There is always room for another…


Volunteer Training

On Sundays, we have about 50 volunteers who serve at our three services.  Everything from reading the Scriptures, to ushering, to greeting, to serving the Eucharistic elements.  We would love for everyone who calls Restoration home to have the opportunity to serve our community as a Sunday Liturgical Volunteer [SLV–  TM pending].  Tonight at 7:30 is another chance to receive simple instruction in how to serve.  It is a necessary prior step to being a SLV.  Erin, liturgical guru, will be training you this month.

So lots of people will be wandering the green carpet tonight at 7:30.  We’ll have snacks, singing, good Bible study, helpful training, heartfelt prayers.  There is something for everyone.


scrubbing off the ash…

Remember that you are dust.  And to dust you shall return.

I loved worshiping with Restoration yesterday.  3 services at 6:30am, noon, and 7:30pm.  I love getting to see people in the midst of their work day.  I love starting the day in prayer and singing with Restoration peeps.  Last night was a profound quiet and waiting on the Holy Spirit.

I told a story from a friend, Mark Buchanan.  He writes about a millwright in a factory near his church.  He was the best this factory had ever seen.  He was unerring in his ability to hone in on the exact trouble spot in a machine, and then he was swift and sure in repairing it.  The other employees notice that this man would always leave the lunchroom 10 minutes before everyone else.  At first they thought he was going for a smoke, to check his email or something.  But one day they followed him.  What he found was the maintenance mechanic standing in the middle of the machine room, eyes closed, LISTENING.  “In the silence, in the absence of workers working and talking, he could tune his ears to catch the most subtle pitch and timber, cadence and inflection of those machines,  He could hear what was working well and what wasn’t.  And he could locate the problem.”

 Buchanan writes:

Our lives swarm with noise and in the din there is no place for listening.  We know there are problems.  Things keep breaking down all the time, but we have no idea how to remedy it.  Silence is for listening.

As you scrub off the ash, my prayer for Restoration is that you would create space during this Lent to listen.  We are talking a lot about spiritual formation–  yet, so much of it is just paying attention.  As you give up chocolate or booze or TV, may you have space to listen–  not just exercise discipline.


Show Me The Way by Henri Nouwen

During the season of Lent, our Discipleship Task Force has recommended that Restoration read a book together.  On Ash Wednesday we handed out over 100 copies of Show Me The Way by Henri Nouwen.  It contains readings, scripture, and prayers for every day of Lent.  We will have more on Sunday.  [interesting side note–  you’ll notice that Amazon is now taking 7-10 days to ship the book, because we bought them all :)]  Please take one and join us in this corporate discipline.  If you would like to off-set the cost of the book, a donation of $10 is suggested, but definitely not required.  We want everyone who will use it to take it.

And here’s 2 minutes on ash wednesday…


Confirmation Class

I am teaching a 3 week class in March [March 6,13,27].  In our tradition, if you were baptized as a baby, there comes a time when you need to stand in front of your community and say, this IS what I believe–  to confirm your baptismal vows.  There will be an opportunity to do this on April 22 (age high school and up).  This class is required for confirmation.  But the class is also a great reminder/intro to the Gospel, to Anglicanism.  It’s a chance to get to know more of what we believe at Restoration.  Everyone is invited to participate if they would like.  The first week will be on Romans 5-8.  The second week on Anglican history, polity, and current issues.  The third week on the Eucharist.  I love these conversations.  If you want to participate, please email Becky to rsvp.


Christmas @ Restoration: a look at some new traditions

Being a young church that is part of the Anglican tradition, gives us the freedom to begin new traditions within the context of the old; within the context of all that is right and true and good about this season of joy and hope and love.   In the past few years at Restoration we have waited well during Advent by joining in corporate worship, individual daily devotions, ”Advent-y fireside chats,” and caroling with our neighbors at Sunrise Community Center.  This year, we introduce three new traditions.


1.  Keeping watch.  Each week in the Sanctuary, we’ve “hidden” a lamb.  It has been a “Where’s Waldo” kind of way to remind us to wait and watch for the coming Lamb.  I need those physical reminders to connect my brain to what my heart needs, too.  Looking.  Watching.  Waiting.  Seeing.


2.  Joining in.  At the 4 o’clock Christmas Eve service we invite children of all ages to be part of the Christmas story by dressing up as your favorite Nativity character.  This allows for a bit of fun as we all experience the Christmas story anew!  So, dig through your dress up bins and pull out your finest!  Or, just come as you are — dressed in God’s grace and mercy as a loved and forgiven child of God!


3.  Giving gifts.  Also at the Christmas Eve services we get to gather and give gifts to infants and children in our area – in much the same way that the wise men gave gifts to the Baby King.  So, join us by donating an new, unwrapped item from the following list to be given to Doorways for Women and Children:


children’s toothbrushes

children’s toothpaste

children’s t-shirts

children’s pajamas

Avent baby bottles with fast/medium flow nipples

baby oil

baby “no tears” body wash

baby clothes in a variety of sizes

hair brushes and hair ties

shower caps

shower shoes for kids and adults


As we celebrate the never-changing story of God’s gift – Emmanuel – join us in living the story anew this year.  Come, let us adore Him!




All Saints’ Day

There’s a big holiday next week — and it doesn’t involve costumes or candy. Throughout the history of the church, November 1st has been celebrated as All Saints’ Day. It’s one of the major feast, or celebration, days of the church year. This year, All Saints’ falls on a Tuesday, but we’ll be celebrating it the following Sunday, November 6th.

So what’s All Saints’ about? Well, it’s about all the saints. Not just the folks with “St.” in front of their name, but all Christians throughout the whole history of the church. It’s a day when we celebrate the “communion of the saints,” as we say in the Apostles’ Creed — the fact that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, all followers of Jesus across space and time are joined together in one body. That’s why it’s a great time to baptize people — because in baptism, the Holy Spirit joins us into the communion of saints. I’m thrilled that we’ll be baptizing eight people on that Sunday!

All Saints’ has also become an occasion when we take time to remember loved ones who have died — those saints who’ve gone before us into God’s kingdom. We know that many of you have lost loved ones this year, and we want to take time in our worship to remember them. If someone you love has died in the last year, we invite you to send us their name and a photo. We will put all of these together and include them in remembrance and celebration in our worship. Just email them to becky [at] restorationarlington [dot] org by Wednesday, November 3.

– Erin

Loving Anglicanism

What a glorious day of worship we had yesterday.  3 Ash Wednesday services at 6:30, Noon, and 7:30.  I loved the fact that I got to be at all 3.  It made the day so rich.

The Ash Wednesday liturgy captures some of what I love best about Anglicanism—  beauty, intentional words, silence, kneeling, sacrament, tactile helps, Eucharist, confession, Scripture, hope, history, prayer, deep hymns, visible reminders.

One of my dear friends, Cliff Warner is an Anglican priest in Austin, TX. He just wrote his top 5 reasons [in no particular order] for being Anglican.  He says it well…

1. Because I am part of something bigger than myself. Anglicanism is global and historic; it stretches across both space and time.

2. Because Anglicanism has a robust track record of theological reflection, thinking the faith and engaging contemporary issues (William Wilberforce, C. S. Lewis, J. I. Packer, John Stott, N. T. Wright).

3. Because Anglicanism appreciates the role of beauty in worship and formation, paying close attention to the use of words, space and music.

4. Because Anglicanism observes a rhythm of life and worship, from framing our days with Morning and Evening Prayer, to the church calendar.

5. Because the liturgical format of worship is Christ-centered, scripture-saturated and shaped to bring me face to face with my desperate need and God’s glorious mercy, then brings me and all the saints to the Lord’s Table.

Relish this season of Lent.  Be intentional.

Choose to be small.  Let God be big.

Monday thoughts from Texas

Hello from Plano, Texas!  I’m here this week for the annual synod of the Diocese of the Holy Spirit (which is the diocese in which I am “canonically resident”) and then for the Anglican1000 Summit, a meeting of church planters from all across the country. In addition to eating some fantastic Texas chili, I’m having a great time hearing about the work that God is doing in churches all across the country… and sharing what he’s doing at Restoration, too!

In lots of ways, Sunday’s worship exemplified much of what God is doing in and through our church:

  • True worship – Andrew invited us to ask ourselves what God asked Elijah: “What are you doing here?” And Matt led us in music that answered that question: joyfully praising the God of glory and love, declaring that we’d rather spend one day in God’s presence than countless others anywhere else.
  • Faithful leadership – David introduced and prayed for our vestry, the nine faithful men and women who provide spiritual leadership our congregation. Please pray for them as they continue to discern God’s vision for our church!
  • Joyful community – Yet again, the pews were packed, and it was so encouraging to see relationships being formed and deepened in this community that God has called together.  Just a note to those who thought there was a little too much community at 11:00: Come at 9:00!  There’s a little more elbow room!
  • Volitional sadness – It’s a little different from the other things on this list, but the title of David’s sermon captures the compelling, upside-down reality of the gospel. It’s by choosing to mourn — to enter into the places of our deepest hurt and sadness — that we find the blessing of Jesus’ comfort.

I do want to add a counterpoint, though, to the idea of the value of volitional sadness.  Entering into sadness isn’t always a good thing. For those who struggle with depression — and we are many — sadness is sometimes a place of stagnation or suffocation rather than of growth. So if you are someone dealing with depression, I want you to hear this: it can be just as faithful for you to seek and experience Jesus’ healing from your sadness as it can be for someone else to seek to enter into theirs.  It’s part of why I’m so grateful that God knows the needs of each of our hearts and meets us exactly where we are.

Where are you? And how is God meeting you there?

You are invited to Erin’s Ordination!

On September 15, 2010 at 7:30pm, Erin Bair will be made a transitional Deacon in the Anglican Communion by Bishop John Guernsey at Restoration Anglican Church.

That is a mouthful!

I am so excited for Erin and so proud of the way she has walked this journey.  It has been a long road from The Falls Church to Harvard to Iowa for clinical pastoral training to Restoration.  God has clearly had his hand on her every step of the way.  She has completed a Masters of Divinity.  She has completed an additional year of pastoral care training in a rigorous hospital environment.  And she has spent the last 2 years giving her sweat, blood, and tears to planting Restoration!

Everyone who follows Jesus is given the calling of building His Kingdom.  Every vocation matters. Yet, the church has always set aside some of its members for the task of leading the church.  The New Testament affirms 3 offices of church leadership:  deacon, presbyter (elder), and bishop/overseer (episcopos).  Erin will be ordained a transitional deacon, which means she will be recognized as a member of the clergy, a set apart leader of the church.  But she is on her way to being ordained a presbyter (sometimes called priests).

The next months are a special time of self-evaluation, reflection, and listening to God for Erin.  She is preparing to take significant vows to serve Christ and His bride, the church.  I invite us all to pray regularly for Erin over the next 8 months.  This is an exciting and sober season.

This is what Bishop Guernsey will pray on Sept. 15

Make her, O Lord, modest and humble, strong and constant, to observe the discipline of Christ.  Let her life and teaching so reflect your commandments, that through her many may come to know you and love you.  As your Son came not to be served but to serve, may this deacon share in Christ’s service, and come to the unending glory of Him who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.


Powerful words.  I hope you will join us on Sept 15 at 7:30 as we celebrate what God is doing in and through our dear sister in Christ.

Living and Leading By Faith

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the annual CANA Council with Restoration’s other representatives–David Hanke, Richard Hines, and Ramsey Wilson.  One of the highlights was Bishop Martyn Minns’s annual Pastoral Call to all the CANA churches.  Restoration got a special shout-out, and Bishop Minns put forward a bold vision for what it means for us to “be Church in the world” — to be faithful witnesses to Christ who are engaged in the world around us without being consumed by its values.

Bishop Minns looked at Hebrews 12:28 – 13:14 as a description of that kind of church.  You can read the full text of his talk here, but I wanted to share one passage that really grabbed my attention:

THEY LIVE BY FAITH – Leaders are people of faith living in such a way that if God fails to come through they are through! They are the people that I want to follow!

Notice also that the text assumes that there will always be a plurality of leaders. Biblical leadership is always shared leadership. The Bible knows nothing of the solitary clergy leader that is so prevalent in our churches today.

We should also remember that in addition to bishops, priests and deacons the New Testament makes clear that the church needs some to be “apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”22

I look forward to the day when CANA has many more of these kinds of leaders.

As someone who has the privilege to be one of the leaders of Restoration, I feel totally convicted, challenged, and humbled by that first sentence.  To live in such a way that if God doesn’t come through, I am through…  Wow.  I would love to live that way (I think!) but acknowledge that so often I don’t.  I am wrestling and praying through what that looks like.  I would love your prayers as I do!

I also find this passage hugely encouraging.  Because I look around Restoration and, in so many ways, see exactly the kind of church that Bishop Minns is talking about. Restoration is a place blessed with so many gifted leaders.  Not just the staff, but the vestry, small group leaders, our outreach team, children’s small group leaders… So many of you are sharing the gifts that God has given you in so many creative ways.  Our church is enormously blessed by it, and God is using you to build his kingdom!  So be encouraged — I am!

And I am so grateful to be on this adventure with you…

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