more than songs and a nice speech


I am so thankful for our musical worship on Sundays.  There is so much thought that goes in to the sets each week.

I am so thankful that we are a teachable community.  We come wanting to learn about the Scriptures and how they point to our need for a forgiver and one who can lead our life.

I am so thankful that our worship is more than songs and a nice speech.

I love our liturgy–  that we are connected to a pattern of worship that has happened for thousands of years.  I love that it is ‘the work of the people’–  that we play a part in our responses, our prayers [Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer], in our posture [we stand, we sit, someday we will kneel].

And I love this passage from 2 Samuel 6:

17 And they brought in the ark of the LORD and set it  in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it.  And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.  18 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings,  he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts 19 and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat,  and a cake of raisins to each one.  Then all the people departed, each to his house.

David lead a worship service that feels a lot like the rich liturgy we follow each week.

  • They set the ark of the Lord in its place.  We enter the building and we are called to worship.  We are called to lift up our hearts.  We are called to shift our attention from the details and noise that has been clamoring at us and to be attentive to what God is saying to us.  We remind ourselves of Jesus’ rightful place.
  • They had burnt offerings and peace offerings.  Each week we are given the privilege of confessing our wrongs against God and against our neighbor.  Each week we are reminded that we are only forgiven because of what Jesus did on the cross and as far as it depends on us, we are to live at peace with those around us.
  • They were blessed.  To be blessed is to be given a gift.  It is to receive the wholeness and kindness of the Lord.  We make the sign of the cross as we receive blessing.  It is an ‘action prayer’.  It is using our body to receive what was prayed.
  • They were given special food.  Every human needs a certain amount of calories a day.  Needing to eat may be our most ‘in common’ need.  God is so deliberate to build eating into worship.  The message could not be clearer–  I have food that your soul needs.  I have means of sustaining you that are similar to putting in calories, but they feed your spirit.

Worship is so much more than some nice songs and a pretty speech.  King David said, ‘I was glad when they said, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord” because he knew that being with people in worship met one of his deepest needs.

I am looking forward to being with you tonight at 7:30 at Restoration as we continue to dream about our new facility and the way we will use it in our worship!  Hope you can be with us.



vestry, vacation, and budgets…

So by the time you read this, I will be safely tucked away in the ‘mountains’ of western Maryland, sitting on my porch, picking David Whitfield’s mandolin, and wondering why I brought 7 bikes for 5 riders…  Aaaah, vacation. I am so thankful for a couple weeks away with just my family, a couple kayaks, and some cool water.  Thank you to our staff who lead with such excellence.  Thank you to our vestry who generously said, go!!

I wanted to make sure I told you about our vestry meeting last Tuesday.  We approved our budget for Fiscal Year 2012!! It goes into effect on September 1.  If you’ve been attentive over the last 6 months, you know that Restoration has been laboring to pray, listen, and discern ‘what’s next’.  We feel this budget funds the vision to which God is calling us and we’ll tell you all about it and give you a chance to ask questions at our parish meeting on September 27.  This budget will help us make disciples, here are some highlights:

  • We budgeted money to pay for a modular unit that will go in our backyard.  Kathy K. has begun the (probably slow) permitting process with the county.  We hope to have it in place by September 11 when the fall programming kicks off. We also set aside money to fund research into more significant building changes.
  • We created a new leadership position on our staff team.  We are receiving resumes and creating a hire team that will interview applicants.  We hope to have this person on-site in early 2012. One of the things I like about this budget is that we included some faith goals.  If our income is at a certain level this fall, there is an opportunity for us to hire a second staff person who might focus exclusively on our youth.  We’ll see what God does.
  • The budget is a careful, disciplined, faith-full stretch.  It acknowledges the growth we have experienced while being prudent about the current economy and the growth limits our facility may place on us in the near future.  It comes in just over $800k. I am so thankful for the long hours and loving work that our finance team gave to this effort.  They have served us all so well.  Again, I look forward to our treasurer walking you through it and answering your questions on September 27.

Other highlights:

  • We are starting to receive proposals for our seed fund!  People are thinking creatively about how they might build a relationship with their neighbor and Restoration is paying for it. One guy is handing out breakfast burritos!  Another group is using the grant to build momentum for an ESOL program here in Arlington.  The seed fund is a brilliant idea–  cause you guys are so smart and creative.  Go for it!
  • You might have heard by now that our beloved Ken and Mary Vinson are moving to VA Beach this fall. Ken’s company was awarded a contract with the Navy–  but he comes with the package.  Ken and Mary have been gifted, tireless, stalwart pillars of service to Restoration.  They were on the original servant team back in 2008.  Mary has served as a warden and also directed our personnel team.  ‘Grateful’ just barely begins to describe how I feel.  Because of the move, Mary resigned from our vestry last month. In our bylaws, if someone is not able to finish their vestry term, we have an alternate who steps in for that person.  The alternate is the person who finished ‘4th’ in the most recent vestry election.  That was Cindy Darnell. In God’s foresight, Cindy had already joined our personnel team this year.  Consequently, she was able to both take Mary’s spot on vestry AND move into a facilitator role on the personnel team.  God is good.  The transition has been smooth.
  • One more…  Restoration is served by 4 ‘Advisory Teams’: personnel, finance, outreach, and facility.  These teams have no governance power, but they serve the church by making recommendations to the vestry on policy and action.  These teams are a HUGE gift.  Folks serve on these teams for 3 years with a third of the team rolling off each year.  If you are interested in serving this way, feel free to contact the team facilitator or staff liaison. Most of them will be adding new folks this fall.  Here is the facilitator:
    • Personnel:  Cindy Darnell
    • Outreach:  Mitch Wallin
    • Finance:  Jan Ryerson
    • Facility:  Kathy Kenyon (team is forming, Kathy is staff liaison)

Thanks for reading this far.  I love being the Rector of this church.

Because I love the people with whom I get to serve, pastor, and partner in leadership.

Because I love Jesus and the way He is worshiped, proclaimed, and followed when we get together.

I’ll miss ya.  See you in August.


Alarming Grace

I set off the alarm at church a couple weeks ago.  It was awful.  I unlocked the door, ready to punch in the code, which I did.  But, it was the wrong code.  The blinking red light indicated as much.  And, so, I punched the wrong code in again.  And again.  Beads of sweat formed on my brow as I realized that my time in which to get it right before the alarm went off was dwindling.  But I persisted.  The same numbers over and over.  The same wrong numbers over and over.  And then, I ran out of time.  The alarm shrieked at a decibel-level that, I am sure, sent wild dogs howling.  I dashed to the phone and called in my mistake, giving not only my address and phone number, but my full name and a description of what I had done wrong.  The gentleman with whom I spoke was so polite.  Kind.  Gentle.  Forgiving.  He turned off the alarm and those wild dogs and I returned with relief.

As the now-silenced shriek continued to resonate as a dull whoosh-whoosh-whooshing sound in my ears, I was struck by it all.  There I was, trying to enter the code.  My mistake was met first by a blinking red light, indicating that something was wrong.  But, I persisted, knowing full well that it must be the light that was wrong, not I.  Punch.  Blink.  Punch.  Blink.  Punch.  Shriek!  The sound of the alarm not only halted my punching, but sent me running to the phone, and, eventually, to read the words on the keypad that told me what I had been doing wrong; what I should have done.  This was followed by the conversation with the gentleman from the alarm company who graciously walked me through what I should have done and then helped me to correct it.  Our conversation ended with my apology and his forgiveness and his setting things right again.

Isn’t that so like our Heavenly Father?  We are heading down a path of destruction and He gives us a warning.  We continue until we take notice of His “noisier” warning.  We run to His word for guidance.  Talk with Him and repent of our mistake.  He forgives and sets all things right again.  Praise be to the One whose alarming grace is sufficient for us!


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.  (Ephesians 1:7)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

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Hanke 3

What a celebration we had on Sunday!  So thankful for +Minns, for John Yates, for Wendell Kimbrough and his team, and for all the people from Restoration who made it happen.  It is so good to stop and say thank you.  Some of my favorite moments:

  • praying that ‘Rector’ prayer.  super powerful.  It was still ringing in my brain when I started serving communion and several times, I could barely get out: ‘the body of Christ which was broken for you.’
  • the slide show–  as a friend said, ‘got a little dusty in there during the slide show, couldn’t make my eyes stop watering.’  Seeing the faces of people I dearly love and knowing we are walking this road together–  doesn’t get much better than that on this side of heaven.
  • the ‘symbol gifts’ from the congregation.  what a profound bit of liturgy.  a weighty calling to be that kind of Rector.  loved it.
  • Henry Wildman bringing me a scone when I told him I was hungry…
  • Knowing Colin and Daniel arrived at 6am to set up sound, knowing Colin stayed until late to tear it back down.  The worship guide Erin and Lacey created.  Mary’s work with the hotel.  The bread that Hannah baked…
  • being all together.

What do you think about worshiping in a hotel?

  The obvious up-side is that it is big enough to hold our whole church for one service.  What are some other positives?  A downside is the aesthetics–  takes work to make it feel like a church.  What are some other downsides?  We are praying about our facility needs and looking for wisdom and counsel.  If you have thoughts on worshiping in a hotel, throw them up here.  It would be a GREAT help to me.

The hierarchy of success

Picture 1

The hierarchy of success.

This morning our long range facility team gathered over early pancakes.  Our conversation was focused on big picture hopes and dreams for the building from which we might someday minister.  What do we think is most important–  location, available time, space, catalyst for community?  Obviously we value all of them, but how do we rank them and prioritize so that we can evaluate options that are on the market?  Great conversation.   SMART conversation partners.  BIG GOD with lots of resources.

As I read Seth’s blog post, I realized we were doing what he is talking about:  Practicing the discipline of not jumping to execution, so we can prayerfully listen to God’s direction, strategy, and come in line with his core values for our church.  I am so thankful for this community and the ways I am growing as a leader as I spend time with people way more gifted than I.

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