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

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.


Holy Week at Restoration

I got to read the Passion Gospel three times on Sunday, at each of our three services. That’s a lot of verses. One of the things that struck me as I read them over and over was just how intentional and deliberate Jesus was at each step along the way to the cross. He was intentional in sharing the Last Supper and in washing the disciples’ feet. Intentional in going to the garden to pray. Intentional in the way he responded to Judas, to his sword-happy disciple, to Caiaphas and Pilate and the jeering crowd. Jesus wasn’t the helpless victim of an angry crowd or a jealous high priest or a cowardly governor. He willingly, deliberately, intentionally chose to walk the way of the cross.

Part of what I love about Holy Week is that it invites us also to intentionally walk alongside Jesus on the way of the cross. From Maundy Thursday all the way through to Easter Sunday, we take time to be with our Savior at each step of the way. There’s nothing new about the story, of course. But there’s always something new in our story — in the things we’ve experienced, the ways we’ve been challenged and grown in the year past. So I find that each year, as I walk through this week, God shows me something new about what Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection mean for me and for our world.

Will you join me this week on the way to the cross? I hope to see you at one or all of these special Holy Week services.

  • Maundy Thursday
    • 7:30pm – Holy Eucharist and footwashing service*
  • Good Friday
    • 12 – 3pm – Church open for prayer and reflection
    • 7:30pm – The Seven Last Words of Christ*
  • Holy Saturday
    • 8:30pm – The Great Vigil of Easter – Baptisms, Holy Eucharist, and a great Resurrection Party!
  • Easter Sunday
    • 9am, 11am, and 5pm – Holy Eucharist*

* – nursery care provided

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.

Confession and Ashes

Yesterday I went for a long run and listened to this story.  I love the way they tell a story. The premise is the consequence to a man who is wrongfully accused because of a confession that is wrongfully dragged out of someone.  I just read a book by John Grisham with the same plot, so this theme must be cutting edge…

The first 30 minutes of the story are painful.  All of your righteous indignation gets boiled up.  You can’t believe that this kind of injustice is happening.  You want to scream it’s not fair!! I actually didn’t enjoy it (nor did I enjoy that part of Grisham’s book).

The second 30 minutes is this incredible picture of confession and redemption.  Twenty years after a man was wrongfully sent to prison, his friends re-investigate the case.  They find the ‘witnesses’ who made up the story that sent their friend to jail.  As soon as they mention his name to them, the truth comes gushing out– alongside lots of emotion.  They talk about the anxiety and stress they have been carrying from the wrong they did.

Confession sets them free.

Then one of the lawyers describes the man who went to prison meeting the man who’s story wrongfully put him there.  He says, ‘he looked like Jesus Himself come down off a stained glass window.’  He was describing his outward appearance.

Forgiveness.  Redemption.  The grace noted story line shows up all the time.  We long for this.  We live among so many broken people who want it.  The story is real.  He doesn’t just live on stained glass windows.

Ash Wednesday is a gift.  There will be 3 services:  6:30am, Noon, and 7:30pm that end with Eucharist.  The service centers around confession.  The prayer leads us way beyond ‘what we have done and what we have left undone’ and gives us lots of categories and venues where we have hurt, ignored, and left behind.  Confession sets us free.

The season of Epiphany ends today.  Our service on Sunday had some real highlights.  I admire and respect the people who stood up and make public commitments to the Restoration community. Being a member is not about privileges, it is a choice to use our resources and to live our lives alongside others who are wanting to look more like Jesus.  Everyone should be a member of a church.  I am so thankful to live life with ours.

The ashes wait.  See you tomorrow.

Merry Christmas

The Lord has come!

This morning I am sitting under my tree–  enjoying the lights and the last few minutes of calm before the kids wake up.  My first Christmas gift:  a little peace.

I am overwhelmed by the idea that God, (GOD!!) took on humanity.  That He walked around.  God (!) wanted to have a relationship with me so He came for me.  I know what it is like to be human.  God came so that I could see what creation was meant to be at its best–  what the new creation will be like.

Following Jesus is the most satisfying, exciting, never-boring decision I ever made.  I am overwhelmed.

It was great to worship with you last night.  I loved the kids singing Silent Night, Bev’s solo (wow!), Matt’s instrumental interludes, responding at the Lord’s table, listening to Erin read the Luke story, seeing the church bathed in candle-light, grabbing soup in between services, the pictures Becky found for the readings, the violin and piano, the amazing volunteers (and Andrew’s family!!) who loved on our kids in the nursery, getting to see dear friends in the pews, the floodlights on the banner and the door wreaths, seeing my boys in a tie 🙂

Merry Christmas my friends.

Christmas Eve at Restoration

We can’t wait to see you on Christmas Eve!!  Wondering what to expect? Here is a Christmas list…

  1. Candles. Lots of candles.  On the Advent wreath.  In people’s hands.  Lots and lots of candles.
  2. Carols. We are singing like 36 of ’em.  Ok, more like 11.  If you’ve been longing for carols while we wait in Advent, come get your sing on.
  3. Parking Shuttles! There will be a shuttle running continuously from the Washington-Lee High School Parking garage up to Restoration from 3:30-7:30 on Christmas Eve.  If you are visiting Restoration, please use our lot behind the church. If this is your regular gig, please park at W-L.
  4. Children. Singing!  When we sing Silent Night, we are inviting all the children to the front of the sanctuary to sing the first verse by themselves (this is also our chance to light all those hand-held candles, without children in the pews…).  We would love for your child to join in this spontaneously planned impromptu children’s choir.
  5. The Story.  It’s an old one, told by many voices.  We will read ‘the lessons’ and remember the tale– that God came for us.
  6. Generous Giving. We will take on offering during the service.  All of the money will go outside Restoration to 2 projects we are supporting around the world.  (1) A homework club at a church in Moldova—  Our gifts will enable them to provide tutoring after school and a warm meal for every child for a year.  (2) And the refurbishment of a community center in Philippi, WV where we send a mission team each summer.
  7. Beautiful Art. The walls are decked with images from our Advent series.  During the readings, there will be beauty that draws our eyes and heart into the story.
  8. Squished pews. There will be a nursery for children 2 and under.  Everyone else will be together in the sanctuary (children worship guides are available).  We encourage you to come early and to be flexible!
  9. Eucharist. We remember that Jesus did not just come as a baby.  He grew to a man who was like us in every respect (except our sin).  We remember that He came to save His people and deliver them.  We remember at His table, which is open to anyone who is baptized and trying to follow Jesus as the One who leads their life.
  10. Angels, ornaments, smiles, and giggles. This service just makes you smile.  Being immersed in the beauty of song and space is the best place to be on Christmas Eve.  Joy to the world!  The Lord is come!

See you on Christmas Eve!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year?

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Part Two)

I am thankful for more reflections from Cindy Darnell about this time of year…

As some of you may remember, this time last year, I wrote a blog about the challenges of Christmas time. Erica recently referred to it in a conversation we were having so I went back and read it and was really encouraged by the conversation it spawned and thought it would be good to open the door again this year for similar conversation. Just to recap… last year I basically outed myself in admitting that Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year for me for many reasons. I know lots of people struggle with some very real things during the holidays and in the spirit of making Restoration a place where we can be open with and pray for one another, my heart is to shine light in the darkness and provide an avenue for conversation.

In looking back over last year, I can see some small signs of progress. First and foremost, as a dear mentor of mine says, I have decided to “make peace with my reality”. The reality of my situation is that my immediate family lives hundreds of miles away and I’d rather be with them than home alone, so that means I have to travel at Christmas because it’s easier for me to do so than them for many reasons. The angst I had about the travel last year did me no good in the grand scheme of things. The other reality of my situation is that while I’d love to be celebrating Christmas with a husband, I’m still single. While it’s good to acknowledge the disappointment that comes with that reality and pray through it, it doesn’t do any good to dwell in it. So, taking the emotion out of it I am better able this year to accept my situation for what it is, even though it’s not what I would prefer, and just get on with it.

Secondly, I’m realizing that choices have consequences. (Duh, right?) I made a choice 12 years ago to live away from my family. This Thanksgiving, I made a choice to stay home rather than travel to be with family. Consequently, I was bummed to not be with family on Thanksgiving but it was a result of two choices I made. Even my parents’ decision to divorce over 30 years ago still has consequences in that if I want to see both sets of parents, I have to travel both to PA and New England.

Thirdly, I need to have the courage and humility to ask for what I need. As I was thinking about what I would do for Thanksgiving this year instead of being with my own family, I knew I wanted to be with A family that is part of my extended family in Christ for the holidays. God brought a couple folks to mind and I finally got up the courage to ask. I was totally blessed by the result. I ended up spending the majority of the day with the mentor I mentioned above. I’ve heard a lot about her family over the years and it was a blessing to be able to spend time with them and see how they interact and just soak in the experience. I heard later from a mutual friend that she was thrilled that I asked and my mentor has told me since that she is “adopting me as her grandchild”. What a blessing!

To summarize the lessons, I would say the bottom line is I need to put aside the emotion and not let it drive me. If I’m able to see the situation more clearly and not be blinded by sadness or pride or anxiety it makes things much easier (not easy…easier). This is something I need to learn throughout my life, not just at Christmastime.

Finally, as Cameron pointed out in the blog comments last year, Advent essentially is all about the tension of the longing for Christ in a broken world. I think so often that is lost in the midst of all the commercialized holiday cheer. When I really focus on the true meaning of this season, it makes me feel a whole lot less guilty about not being very cheerful at Christmas. I recently saw the quote below written about advent on this website. I pray that it helps to reframe the way you look at this season.

If you are struggling this season – talk to someone:  friends, family, your small group leader, me – just don’t sit in the darkness.

Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance!

It is that hope, however faint at times, and that God, however distant He sometimes seems, which brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth and justice and righteousness over His people and in His creation. It is that hope that once anticipated, and now anticipates anew, the reign of an Anointed One, a Messiah, who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world.

Get my purple stole

Advent starts this Sunday.

Advent is the first season of the Christian year.  It is a 4 week time of preparation for the incarnation of Christ.  Historically the church has used these weeks for quiet, reflection, repentance, and fasting.  Traditionally, the parties happen AFTER the 25th, during the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany.  (Perhaps you’ve heard a song about this…)

We will be digging in to Matthew 1, the genealogy of Jesus.  That’s right…  Matthew’s begats.  Lots of fun names and who gave birth to who.

Now before you yawn, let me tell you my premise:  if you really want to understand the incarnation, then the genealogy tells the stories of how Jesus really ‘gets’ us.  Very simply, the junk in your family tree is the same junk that was in Christ’s. That is an encouragement to me.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

I look with great anticipation towards experiencing these next 4 weeks with you.

See ya on Sunday.

Praying through Holy Week

I won’t lie: 6 a.m. is tough.  As those who were at Morning Prayer this morning can attest, my voice is still scratchy, my words come slowly, my thoughts don’t focus. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus finds his disciples slumbering in Gethsemane, “sleeping for sorrow.”  Even they are one up on me; I’m more likely to be sleeping just for tiredness.

And yet.  There’s something about the quiet drive to church, the dimly lit sanctuary, the creak of the pew as I settle in. There’s something about the ancient words of scripture and prayers and the quiet periods of stillness and reflection. There’s something about this discipline of prayer that is at once personal and communal that makes me set the alarm early and will my feet to the floor when it goes off well before daylight. I think that something is the fact that, for reasons I don’t fully know, God chooses to meet me in unique and powerful ways in these bleary-eyed early mornings.

I’m grateful to have these opportunities for prayer and worship as we journey through this Holy Week. In yesterday’s collect for Palm Sunday, we asked God to “mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of Jesus’ suffering, and also share in his resurrection.” It’s an audacious prayer, frighteningly bold on both counts. But one of the gifts of the church is its rich tradition of Holy Week services that guide us through Jesus’ last days — a kind of road map through that daunting prayer. From the quiet mornings in the beginning of the week, through the mounting intensity of the last supper (Maundy Thursday) and the crucifixion (Good Friday), on through the dramatic proclamation of Saturday’s Great Vigil and the joyful triumph of Easter Sunday — it’s a profoundly powerful journey.  And it’s one that never fails to open my heart in new ways to the unspeakable goodness of the Gospel.

I hope you’ll join me on that journey this week. Set your alarm early, or make a change in your usual evening routine. Choose to follow Jesus in the way of his suffering.  I think you’ll find that your “Alleluia!” will be that much more joyful when we reach the empty tomb on Sunday morning.

  • Tuesday — 6 am — Morning Prayer
  • Wednesday — 6 am — Morning Prayer
  • Maundy Thursday — 7:30 pm — Eucharist and Footwashing
  • Good Friday — 12:00 – 3:00 pm — Church is open for prayer and the liturgy of reconciliation
  • Good Friday — 7:30 pm — Seven Last Words of Christ
  • Holy Saturday — 8:30 pm — Great Vigil of Easter
  • Easter Sunday — 8:30 and 10:00 am — Holy Eucharist
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