Tackling the Big Stuff

God’s beloved children, the orphans in our world, have been our outreach focus this month.

Psalm 10:14b …to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.

The expansive heart of the Lord is vast. It can be tough to emulate the depth and breadth of His care. Knowing that His heart is not strapped by the devastating needs of the world helps me not to be overwhelmed. But it does drive me to pray.

Prayer is the best way I know to tackle the big stuff. The enormous needs of so many are more than my mind and heart can grasp. I often feel powerless, but I don’t want to become numb to these needs.

It is in prayer that I can exercise the power of the Spirit—the very power of the resurrection— entrusted to me as a believer. I can ask the God of Heaven to work His will on earth.

The only way to mirror the Lord’s expansive heart—a heart that faces the hurts and heartaches in this world and is never overwhelmed—is to first invite the Spirit’s work in my own heart and in my own needs.

Then as people who are convinced of His great care for us, we are invited, compelled even, to join Him in that miraculous work of caring for others, most especially the least of these.

In my small group we’ve talked about the difficulty in spotting such folks in the insulated experience of our day to day routines. Sometimes it does take the intentional move on our part to step towards these people and their experiences. Sometimes we need to choose to submit ourselves to their stories, their heartaches, and their pain. We can take a step closer to their
experiences by hearing from friends who have seen and know how God is working among them. And this can show us how to pray and believe for more.

We have a chance to do just that this Tues., May 29 at 7:30 -8:45 pm. To make room for all the awesome folks who will be at the newcomer’s dinner, our weekly prayer meeting will be held at Liz & Simon’s house, 4318 39th st N, arlington VA 22207. More info liz@restorationarlington.org

  • Liz will share about God’s care for the orphans in Myanmar, and then
  • We’ll pray for the needs of orphans around the world and
  • Explore how our own hearts can expand in prayer and praise.

Hope you can join us!

Erica Chapman

Pastor Pearl and the orphans

The little girl standing next to Fiona in this picture was fascinated by her skin – she stood and stroked it for ages – eventually saying “your skin is so lovely, it is white like the mug” – Fiona had been hoping to acquire a tan whilst abroad so this didn’t come across as the huge compliment that was intended! Isn’t it funny how different our perspectives and dreams can be?

Pastor Pearl is ethnically half-Chinese and half-Burman, and we met her in a township just outside Yangon. Ethnicity is always one of the first things you are told about someone in Myanmar as both historically (the government recognizes over 135 distinct ethnic groups) and geographically (they are surrounded by 5 countries), ethnicity is a significant source of identity, but one thing became clear as we visited a number of different pastors, ethnicity was no barrier to adoption! I’m not too sure how many orphans Pearl cares for – or widows – but her house was FULL: she is a walking, living, breathing Prov 31:20 woman, She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

Orphans is a term which is often used quite broadly – Pearl’s orphans could have lost one or both parents or be ‘economic’ orphans (abandoned permanently or temporarily because the family can’t afford to keep them) – but what is true about all of them is that they need care. Pearl welcomes them all – and feeds, clothes, loves them and teaches them about Jesus, whilst also pastoring a church and caring for a number of widows, and other poorer families. The development term often used for children like these is OVCs (orphans and vulnerable children) and in May OVCs are our focus at Restoration. The Weekly Good Ideas on the bulletin each week will run with the theme and we will spend time at the Tuesday prayer meetings interceding for children.

As a church community we try to support a few things well – Casa Chirilagua (and Dawnielle, the Hoppes and others) www.casachirilagua.org and World Orphans (and the Blaines) www.worldorphans.org are our two major connections in this area. Within the congregation many individuals are involved in other organizations: e.g. Cindy Darnell is an enthusiastic board member for David’s Hope http://www.davidshope.org , Jade and Melanie Totman advocate for Compassion (Simon and I also support five children through Compassion) http://www.compassion.com/ and I expect that friends in your circle of influence can recommend similar organizations. We also have a number of families in the congregation who have adopted children, or who are fostering. Look out for them, talk to them and ask them their stories! And, please tell me your story. How are you involved? How are you walking or would you like to walk with the poor, the widow and the orphan?

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27 ESV)

Next Thursday, May 10th, 7.30pm come to church and hear from the Blaines about their imminent departure for Cambodia. It will be a great opportunity to listen to their story, learn more about Cambodia, and what God is doing to reach orphans in a different land. Bring your friends – and expect to hear from God!

 

Homeless Care Packages

If we did a word association test on Arlington County, ‘poverty’ and ‘need’ probably wouldn’t rank very high. Consistently ranked by Forbes magazine (alongside neighboring Fairfax, Loudon and Montgomery Counties) as among the nation’s most affluent places, it’s possible to live in Arlington and forget that there are still a large number of needy residents here.

Cardboard sign-bearing men at intersections and panhandlers at metro stations remind us that we still live in a broken place with hurting people. How would Jesus have us respond to the destitute and needy?

St. Matthew writes in chapter 25 verses 37-40 of what we are to do:

37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

This stands in stark contrast to common responses to the homeless: ignore the panhandlers (walling ourselves off from others in our community), give out spare change (potentially exacerbating the substance abuse that plagues homeless populations) or politely decline to give out money on the street and pray for them instead (leaving a physical need unmet). A potential fourth option is to carry a homeless care pack that can be distributed to those in need, filled with items that advocates for the homeless list as beneficial.

This Sunday (March 25) members of our Restoration family are invited to bring donated goods (from the list below). Small group volunteers will collect and sort the items into individual care packs, which will then be made available for the congregation to distribute starting April 1.

I don’t claim that these care packs are the solution to long-term homelessness in Arlington, but they do enable us to connect with our neighbors in need. In addition to the donated goods, we will provide a list of resources for Arlington homeless persons, as well as scripture.

Prayer For the Poor and the Neglected (BCP pg. 826)

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Please consider bringing any of the following items to the church on March 25:

  • Wet wipes (preferably individual anti-bacterial wipes)
  • Nutrition bars (soft, chewy cereal bars rather than hard granola bars)
  • Fruit or pudding cups
  • White socks
  • Toothbrush / toothpaste
  • Chap stick
  • Small New Testament
  • Bottle of water
  • Soap / shampoo / conditioner / deodorant
  • Poncho
  • Razor / shaving cream
  • Gloves
  • Comb / brush

Questions? Contact Jeff Walton at jwalton[at]spu[dot]edu.

– Jeff Walton

 

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

Christian Character Matters

Making choices… how do I spend my time? My money? My energy? Where do I go in my thought life? What do I worry about? What and whom do I love? What gets me excited? Hopeful? What makes me laugh, or cry?

Who am I – and who do I want to be? There are so many questions which govern our daily choices… and we’d be exhausted if we thought about them all, all the time. And so the habits we form, the character we develop is critical in how we live our lives. I have just finished reading, “After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters” by NT Wright. It is an excellent and inspiring read.

Amongst other things, he urges Christians to pursue justice, beauty and freedom. He calls us to be people who cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, which come both by infusion and acquisition, commenting that self-discipline is listed in the fruit! And he reminds us to pursue the four virtues: humility, patience, chastity and charity (love).

Growing in these areas is done both individually and corporately – and we want to be a church crammed with character-full individuals, whilst recognizing that we need each other in order to grow. Two ways of developing character are praying together and serving together – and opportunities for both of these are available at Restoration. This weekend, for example, you could:

  • Join others to pray for justice and freedom for others tomorrow morning  at the Grays’ house (8:45-10am, 4318 39th St N, Arlington, VA 222207), or
  • You could serve at A-SPAN with Mitch Wallin on Sunday evening (mtwallin[at]gmail[dot]com), or
  •  You could sign up to go on the W VA trip at the end of June, or
  • You could come and pray with others at the prayer workshop at the Grays’ house on Monday evening at 7:30pm.

Think about how you are going to work on your character this week… and make some choices! Not necessarily to do any of the above – but to do something. Anything which makes you more like Jesus.

– Liz Gray, Seminarian.

Operation Christmas Child

Can a gift change a life?
I recently watched several of the videos on the Operation Christmas Child website showing joyful children all over the world receiving Christmas gifts in shoeboxes.  They are amazing!! In one of these videos titled “Blessing Children and Churches in Sudan” something said by James Abdella in Lainya, Southern Sudan caught my attention.  He said:

“A child, from America, or Canada or somewhere, sending a box to a specific child in Sudan and [the children] pray for him.  That is a turning point in the life of that child.  That child will never be the same.  That’s why it’s not just a gift.  It is changing the lives of the children.”

I stopped to think about this some.  I thought about the shoeboxes we sent last year, one from my then 6-year-old son to a boy in his age category one from my then 3-year-old daughter, to a girl in her age category.  We had filled those boxes with markers and crayons, soap and toothbrushes, candy, and a few new small toys like slinkies and kazoos.  Surely, the children that received those shoeboxes must have been thrilled, especially considering those were probably the only gifts they received at Christmas.  But could those gifts have changed their lives?

In pondering this question I was instantly reminded of a time that I too was a child in need when seemingly out of the blue, I received an amazing gift.  My need was not the same need as an impoverished child living in difficult circumstances, but life certainly felt pretty dark and without much hope at times.  The gift I received was from someone I thought was a stranger but who, in reality, had been loving me my entire life, I just didn’t know it.  When I think about the Lord’s grace, really think about it, it is entirely upending to me – generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved.  And for a needy child, isn’t it possible that their perspective and openness to being loved could also be completely altered when they receive a shoebox gift from a complete stranger?

Also, wherever appropriate, the children receiving shoeboxes are offered a copy of “The Greatest Gift of All” booklet in their own language by local churches and ministry partners.  Thus, OCC is not just providing shoebox gifts for children living in dire circumstances, but is a tangible expression of Jesus’ love and an opportunity to tell children we have never met that Jesus is their Lord and Savior.  Will you join me in sending some more shoeboxes this year?

Mt. Olivet is serving as the OCC shoebox relay center for our area and has asked for volunteers during collection week – Nov. 14 through Nov. 21.  If interested, you can sign up here.

Packing a Shoebox:

1) Use an empty shoe box (standard size) or a plastic container about the same size. You can gift wrap the box (lid separately), but wrapping is not required.

2) Use the label from the Operation Christmas Child brochure (on the table in the back of the church) or print out a label from Operation Christmas Child’s website.  You can also print a label after making your online donation ($7 per box).  Using this latter option will enable you to “Follow Your Box” (or find out where your shoebox was delivered).

3) Once you have your label, determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child’s age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Mark the correct age category on the label, and tape the label to the top of your box.

4) Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child. Need ideas? Check here.

5)  If you did not use the “Follow Your Box” online donation option, please write a $7 check to Samaritan’s Purse (note “OCC” on memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the gift items inside your box.  If you or your family are preparing more than one shoebox, please make one combined donation.

6)  Place a rubber band around each closed shoe box and drop off at Restoration this Sunday, Nov. 20.  We will deliver them for you!

Have questions? Please send me a note at cara.voth[at]gmail[dot]com

– Cara Voth

Teaching English and Reaching Out

A post from Christine Jones, a member at Restoration:

Teaching English is a great way to meet your immigrant neighbors!
Sarita is living the American dream.  Maybe not the way one might imagine, but Sarita and her husband came to the USA ten years ago from Nepal in search of a better life.  In the time I’ve known her, she has given birth to a second son, passed her driver’s exam, received accolades from her boss for excellent customer service, had her older son short-listed for the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School, and most recently, bought a townhouse in Manassas!  Although Sarita used to live and work near me, I actually met Sarita through an ESOL ministry.

I’ll miss seeing Sarita now that she lives further away.  But I won’t miss all that I learned from her, including what it means to be an immigrant in this country.  Of course, every immigrant story is different, but by teaching English to immigrants, I have learned many of these stories.  Some are heartbreaking, but many are full of small successes that are easy to celebrate.

And the best part of teaching English to immigrants in our area is the ease with which I can share my faith with them. Teaching in a church-based program, the students expect to learn about my faith, especially when it is my motivation for serving.  It is so easy to bring up Jesus (and “act normal”) in the context of holidays, illness, even back to school – as I mention how I pray over my kids each morning as they leave the house.

ESOL is an easy way to reach out to our immigrant neighbors. And we are exploring this possibility along the Ballston Corridor.  Come join us for an international meal and a chance to hear stories. There is no long term commitment to serve.  We are simply praying, sharing and discerning where and how we might be led to serve this population.

The dinner will be Sunday, September 11, 6:30pm at a home in N. Arlington. RVSP to Julianna Hutchins (julianna.hutchins[at]gmail[dot]com) and we’ll send you the exact address. And we’d love to hear your stories of times you’ve reached out to an immigrant and been blessed!

“You and the foreigner shall be the same before the LORD.” Numbers 15:15b (NIV)
– Christine Jones

Outreach Seed Fund

Hey! Do you have an idea for reaching out to your friends and neighbors in Arlington? We want to help!


You know better than anyone how to reach the people in your spheres of influence: your neighbors, your colleagues, the parents or nannies you see at the park… What are their needs that you could help meet? What are creative ways that you could introduce them to the gospel or what it means to be part of a church community?

Here are a couple of ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Restoration is going to a Nationals game on July 27. Why not invite your neighbors to tag along, and have Restoration pay for their tickets?
  • Invite some of your Restoration friends and some of your non-Restoration friends over for dinner, or a wine tasting, or to watch a game. Restoration will pick up the tab.
  • Bring a box of Starbucks with you to the park or your kid’s soccer game and offer coffee to the other adults there. Let them know it’s a gift from Restoration.
  • Dreaming big? You could host a VBS or a sports camp for kids in your neighborhood one week this summer!

These are just a few ideas. We know you’ve got lots more. What we can provide is the funding. So get thinking, and then fill out one of these proposals. It won’t take more than 5 minutes.  Send it to outreach@restorationarlington.com by July 1. Then watch the Holy Spirit show up!

– The Outreach Team

a call to pray and listen

My Dear Restoration,

Back in 2008, early in our life together, we gathered once a month to pray and ask what sort of church God might be calling us to plant in Arlington.  Over an 8 month period, Restoration was born with a mission to connect people to God, to others, and to the needs around us.

We have now been faithfully worshipping together for over 2 years.  God has grown us in numbers and in depth with Him.  God has provided generous resources for us to serve people and to see lives transformed.  God has gathered people with significant gifts to be salt and light to their friends, neighbors and workplace.  The past 2 years have been cause for much rejoicing and thankfulness.

  • Our Sunday worship now happens over 3 service times.  The music, liturgy, APEX, Eucharist, children’s ministry, and preaching are connecting people to God.  People are opening more areas of their life to His Gospel leadership.
  • Our Small Groups are meeting all over the Metro area.  Hundreds of people are connecting to others and wrestling with the Scriptures.  People are being prayed for and choosing opportunities to serve others.
  • Our connection to the needs around us has exploded.  In Chirilagua there are lots of Restoration people tutoring, mentoring, and playing soccer.  At AFAC, we are moving thousands of pounds of food from farmer’s markets to folks who need it.  In Philippi, WV we are sending a huge team of men, women, and kids to repair homes and be messengers of hope.  In Moldova, there are teenage girls who have a safe place to call home because of our financial gifts and our Restoration people who showed up to love.

Worship, community, mission.  These are the marks of a follower of Jesus.  These are the ways broken people find their place in God’s story.  These are the things that Restoration will continue to do.

What’s next?

What’s the next chapter in Restoration’s story?  To be honest, for our first 2 years, we were praying like crazy that God would establish a new church.  He did.

Now I would like to call us to pray again.  God, how do we keep moving forward?  How do we keep building on the good things you have done?  What would you have us do next?  There are a myriad of answers.  We want to listen for the answer God has for Restoration.

The leadership of Restoration would like to request a season of prayer and listening from the congregation between now and our parish meeting on May 24. To that end

  • We have created a Restoration Prayer Guide for your devotional time.  It is divided over 10 weeks.  Each week has a prayer, 5 Scripture readings, and a discernment question.  We are hoping that everyone will pray, read, and listen each week.  You may choose to keep a journal to record what you are hearing.
  • We have created 4 forums for you to share what you are hearing and to pray together as a church.
    • Week of March 20:  at your small group, you will have a chance to pray about and respond to the question:  “How can Restoration help people go deeper in their relationship with Jesus?”
    • March 29 @7:30pm:  Corporate prayer and feedback at Restoration
    • April 10 @12:45pm:  Corporate prayer and feedback at Restoration
    • May 3 @7:30pm:  corporate prayer and feedback at Restoration

These will culminate on May 24 @7:30pm:  Parish Meeting at Restoration

  • We have created a special email address for your feedback:  thenextchapter ‘at’ restorationarlington ‘dot’ org Some of you may prefer to write about what you are hearing from the Lord during this season of prayer and listening.

The budget process for our next year begins in May and the budget is finalized in late summer.  We wanted to take the 2 months before that budget process to pray and to listen.

Quick pastoral caveat–  David, how are you going to implement every idea that people hear from the Lord?  We can’t.  We want everyone who desires to pray, to listen, and to share what they hear to have that opportunity.  But we won’t be able to do everything.  We will be looking for those themes and ideas that have broad consensus from the congregation.  Please hold what you hear with a humble, open hand.

This discernment process is not intended to throw out the good stuff that God has already done at Restoration [this is not a blank slate :)].  But we are rolling out a long sheet of paper and asking, “God, based on who we are and what you have done, how does the story keep moving forward?”

I am confident that God will guide us. Thanks for getting excited about the next chapter.

With love,  David

Come one, come all…

Was Sunday your first visit to Restoration?

Have you been coming for a few months and gotten interested in learning more and getting more involved?

Have you been here for two years but have never been able to make it to one of those “newcomer dinners”?

Have you ever even thought about setting foot in Restoration’s doors?

If your answer to any of these is yes, then please join us this Tuesday, March 1, at 7:30pm for a Newcomer Dinner!  We’ll feed you a hot meal, give you a chance to get to know some other Restoration folks, and talk together about our vision for the church, how you can be a part of it, and what it means to be a member of Restoration.

We’ll be accepting new members on Sunday, March 6. If you’d like to become a member at this time, you must attend the dinner on Tuesday.

If you’re interested in coming, please leave a comment below or contact us here so that we know how much food to have.

Please do come — we’d love to see you there!

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