Rector’s Update: July 8, 2020

“…I will feed them in justice.”  Ezekiel 34: 16b

Dear Restoration,

Hope you are doing well!  I am writing to remind you of 2 special things that are happening this week.

A Zoom Discussion about Racial Injustice in the Church
It starts tonight at 7:30pm.  We will keep it to a firm hour- so log on a few minutes early to say hi and plan on being finished by 8:30.  This is a three week conversation that will build on prior weeks.   You are welcome to join any or all of them, but the content will be different each time.  You are also welcome to invite a friend.

We will break our time into thirds with lecture, moderated breakout discussions, and Q&A for all participants.  I have no idea how many people will join the call tonight and I ask for your flexibility if we need to adjust certain things.

We will be using the book, The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby.  It is organized chronologically.  Tonight we will discuss the years up to the Civil War (beginning of book to page 70).  Next week, we will look at the post Civil War period to Civil Rights legislation (pages 70-152).  The final week will examine the last 50 years of our history, (pages 152-216).   Each week we will be asking God to lead us as a church in how we should respond to these things. 

Here is the link to join the conversation which begins tonight at 7:30pm.  I look forward to talking with you!

Yard Worship on July 12
Last week, our wardens introduced Phase Alpha of our re-opening plan for corporate worship.  You can read their letter, here, which references the detailed plan that can be read, here, in its entirety.

We know that all of us are carefully watching what is happening in our community in relation to the coronavirus.  Each of us is making decisions about public gatherings that correspond with our medical and living situations.  I have been grateful for the opportunity to correspond and pray with many of you as you discern what is best for you and for your household.  Because of the diversity of our situations, we are continuing to offer our YouTube Livestream for Sunday worship as the safest and most remote way for us to worship together.  We are also beginning to offer some in-person opportunities for those who feel comfortable gathering with others.  Both options are great!

This Sunday, July 12, our YouTube Livestream will start at 10am.  I will be preaching the next installment of our Joseph story.  We are also offering 4 opportunities to gather for Yard Worship at Restoration and the homes of several Restoration members.  You can sign up, here and read all of the details for how it will work.  We warmly invite you to join us.

As always, I am grateful for the creativity of our staff and volunteers, grateful for the faithfulness of our congregation, and grateful to God as He leads us through these challenging times.

Sincerely,
David

An Update from our Wardens about Reopening

“But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.” (Ps. 5:7)

Dear Restoration,

We are delighted to announce that the Restoration Vestry has adopted, and our staff now is beginning to implement, a plan to bring us back together to worship, this summer.  Our Re-opening Team has been toiling since May, and the Vestry on Tuesday, after a lot of discussion and a few tweaks, unanimously approved its recommendation. David has details in his Rector’s Update video (here), and you can read the full plan here, but here are the basics:
 

We will begin “Phase Alpha” on July 12 with “Yard Worship” with clergy in four outdoor locations around Northern Virginia (one being Restoration’s parking lot). You can find more details and sign up here. We are excited for this opportunity to be together, and soon! That said, if you are not comfortable or unable to join those gatherings, that’s ok. We get it. These are unprecedented times and we each are evaluating risk differently.  We will also stream our service that day on our YouTube Channel at 10am with David preaching the next installment of the Joseph story. 
 

Then, on July 26, we will have our first service in the Sanctuary, starting with 50 adults.  Further services will be August 2 and, after a pause for staff to assess and adjust, August 23 and 30, September 6 (Labor Day weekend) and 13.  Look for a sign-up for these Phase Alpha services on July 15.  We will begin welcoming kids back in the Sanctuary gradually by age starting with kids 6th grade and older on August 23 and kids of any age on August 30th.  We will not be able to offer nursery or in-person Kids’ Small Groups or in-person APEX during Phase Alpha.  We anticipate that in this phase, some families will take turns:  sending one adult to worship in the sanctuary while one adult stays home.  We look forward to having entire households in our sanctuary by September.
 

We will continue to broadcast on YouTube Live for the foreseeable future. Restoration’s plan complies with all of the Governor’s requirements and recommendations from his Phase Two ‘Safer at Home’ plan, and Bishop Guernsey has advised us on it. So, although we must hold everything loosely these days, we are confident it is responsible and sustainable for us and for our neighbors on Quincy Street.

This won’t be our old “normal,” and much work remains to carry out the plan, but we are excited to begin returning. Please join us in prayers of gratitude, and in thanks particularly for the devoted and diligent work of the Re-opening Team:  Louise Brooks, Kat Downs, Adam Guzzo (vestry representative), David Hanke (rector), Kathy Kenyon, Dietrich Kuhlmann, and Jennifer Tibus. If you have questions or comments, please let us know:  johanna.montague@gmail.com or ckmarsha@hotmail.com

Sincerely,
Johanna Montague and Kevin Marshall 
Vestry Wardens

Rector’s Update: June 25, 2020

Dear Restoration,

This week we finished our series on 1 John.  We have been preaching through it since Easter and it has provided deep theology and rich vocabulary for what it means to know that we know the living God.  

The final verse in the letter is “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5: 21)  

It’s an important and interesting way to wind up a book.  

On the one hand, John has been saying this for 5 chapters.  Don’t give your trust and worship to anything besides God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We have eternal life!  Christians live every moment in a relationship with God that has already begun and will continue forever.  We are His children.  Jesus has defeated the power and consequence of sin.  The Spirit is in us.  

The other way of saying this positive exhortation is the sentence he uses to close-  keep yourselves from idols.  At this moment in time, we are experiencing the exposure and limitations of lots of idols.  I invite you to pray and listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to you about the idols that are active in your own life. 

In case you missed the end of my sermon from Sunday, here are my reflections on the idols that are failing us in this cultural moment. I hope you will watch it again or for the first time.  

On Sunday I invited you again to consider purchasing The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby and to reserve the evenings of July 8, 15, 22 for a 3 week conversation on racial injustice and the church.  You can find the book, here, at one of our VA, independent booksellers.

Some of you have asked why am I inviting us to read this particular book and to have this particular conversation?  Here are a few thoughts:

First, I want to be clear on what I am not doing.  My agenda is not to heap guilt and shame on white people (like myself).  Christians have been set free from guilt by the finished work of Jesus on the cross and shame never moves people in a direction for real and lasting change.  

Instead of guilt and shame, it may be that God moves us to feel grief and lament.  These have always been the Biblical precursors to real change and amendment of life.  The good news is that God always joins us in our grief, for Jesus promised that those who mourn will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).  Thus, lament is a place to meet God.  I want us to meet God as we have this conversation.

Second, let me tell you about Jemar Tisby.  Mr. Tisby is a Christian, black, historian, who was trained in the evangelical tradition (he has an MDiv. from Reformed Theological Seminary) that trained most of the pastors Restoration people already trust.  Mr. Tisby is writing about church history from his academic work (he is a PhD candidate at the University of Mississippi) and from his lived experience as a black follower of Jesus.  Unless you have read other Christian, evangelically trained, black historians, I would encourage you to read this.  It will help you to understand the way many, many black people view the church’s role in bringing us to this particular moment in the summer of 2020.  I am not asking you to agree with that viewpoint.  I am inviting you to learn from it and to talk about it.

Third, I want to have this conversation because the direction the ‘church’ (that’s ‘church’ for any racial hue) should go from this point in time in regards to racial injustice is not at all clear.  Although there have been many policy suggestions over the last few weeks that will require each of us to decide what we think about their merit, the church has not yet offered guidance for how Christians should move forward together.  I would like to hear from you and to discuss with you how the church should respond-  how our church should respond.  In order to have that conversation, I submit that we need to know the history that got us to this conversation in 2020 and Mr. Tisby’s book is a helpful resource to engage the sins and the transgressions of the church over the last 400 years.  

So, I invite you to read it.  I invite you to attend all 3 Zoom conversations.  I invite you to pray for the church, for our church, and for the conversation we need to have about moving forward in reconciliation, justice, and hope.  I am grateful to be on this journey with you.

-David     

Rector’s Update: June 10, 2020

Dear Restoration,

It has been a full week.  I am grateful for the words we prayed in morning prayer today from Psalm 100:

‘Know that the Lord, he is God!  It is He who made us, and we are his;  we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.’  

I am so grateful to be HIS.

I have 4 things for you this week and I am sincerely asking that you would respond to each one.  I want you to know about our plans.  I want to hear how you are doing.  I want you to have opportunities to gather with friends.  I want you to listen and learn about the racial injustice moment in which we find ourselves.  Thanks.  You are a responsive church and there are several responses I am requesting from you this week.

1.  Watch the Parish Meeting:  Ou wardens, treasurer, and I hosted 2 parish meetings this week.  Well over 200 of you listened in-  which is record-breaking for a parish meeting by a long shot.  Thanks.  If you already heard the parish meeting, you can skip this one!  If you missed it, please take 45 minutes and listen as I recount the last 3 months and suggest how the next few months could look at Restoration.  This is information you want.

2.  Fill out the survey:  We want to know how you are doing now and how you are feeling about the possibility of re-opening our facility for public gatherings and worship in the future.  I would love for every person who gets this email to fill it out.  Thank you!

3.  Host a Summer Gathering:  As I explained at the parish meeting, we are seeking to offer a variety of small, outdoor opportunities for people in our congregation to connect to each other this summer.  Perhaps you would like to host a yard Eucharist, or popsicles in your driveway, or pizza on your patio, or ‘sitting in adirondack chairs with no kids around for quiet conversation’, or something we haven’t thought of yet…  Fill out this form with your awesome idea this week.  Then, next week, look for a sign-up genius with lots of summer gathering opportunities!

4.  Read this book.  Listen to this lecture.  Join this conversation.  In this time of unrest over racial injustice, I am going to lead a Zoom discussion on Jemar Tisby’s book, The Color of Compromise:  the truth about the American church’s complicity in racism.  You can get the book, here.  Not sure you want to read the book?  Please listen to this lecture that Jemar did last year on a ‘A Racial Reformation in the 21st Century’.  You will be challenged by the book and the lecture.  You will disagree with some of it.  You will learn stuff you didn’t know.  Let’s talk about it.  On July 8, 15, and 22 at 7pm, I will host a Zoom discussion on the book.  It is open to anyone who wants to participate from anywhere in the world.  Invite a friend.  

Thank you for reading and responding, Restoration!  Thank you for faithfully joining in to the significant work that God is doing in us and through our church.  I look forward to seeing more of you in person as the weeks go by!

So glad to be His.
-David 

Rector’s Update: June 3, 2020

Hi Restoration,

So much is happening.  So many voices.  So many words. 

Thanks for taking the time to engage with what we are saying at Restoration.  Cling to the truth that our Lord reigns.  He is a very present help right now.

TONIGHT:  a prayer meeting 

If you’re like me, current events have left me drained, discouraged and at a loss. I long with you for a world made right; where righteousness and justice reign. We look forward to the heavenly reign of Christ and yet we need wisdom, courage and strength to live as kingdom citizens right now. To this end we must pray.

Tonight I am gathering with the leaders of other churches in Arlington and I invite you to join us.  It will begin at 6pm.  You can access it on YouTube, here or through Restoration’s FB page, here

I apologize for the late notice.  This event just came together today.

Parish Meeting Warm-Up Questions

We have a parish meeting on June 7 at 11:15am (right after the service) and June 9 at 8pm.  We will talk about re-opening, finances, and summer plans.  I would love to know what you want to hear.  If you have a question about life in our congregation, hit reply (today!) and let me know.  We want to be prepared with the information you most need.  

A conversation about racism, the church, grief, and hope

This is my rector’s update for this week.  I invite you to take time to listen to the whole thing.

  • In the update, I will read a letter from four of our Anglican bishop’s that articulates Restoration’s position about the killing of George Floyd.  You can read it, here.
  • We will also mention a Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called The Danger of a Single Story

When we come to God in prayer, we feel our grief and we are strengthened by His presence.  

“But for me it is good to be near God;  I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”  Psalm 73: 28

-David

Rector’s Update: May 20, 2020

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Rector’s Update: May 15

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Rector’s Update: May 15, 2020

“He let you hunger” – Rector’s Update: 8 May 2020

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Rector’s Update on 8 May 2020

Letter to the Congregation from David (5/1/20)

Dear Restoration,

My favorite CoronaRhythm has been daily morning and evening prayer.  I love the faces I see each day.  I love reading methodically through the Scriptures together.  I love hearing the prayers of our people as they give thanks to God and ask Him to move in power.  Have you tried it?  Logging in is easy.  You can keep your video off and muted if you are just ‘checking it out’.  I invite you to make this rhythm a part of your day as well!

This week, on Wednesday, the text for Morning Prayer was Numbers 25.  Because of the apostasy and infidelity that is described, it is one of the most painful chapters in all of the Bible, made even more excruciating by the prophecy of grace and blessing that is given right before it in Numbers 24.  The 70 of us who were in morning prayer that day were sobered by how quickly we can forget God’s faithfulness to us and how easily we can give our trust and affection to something besides Him.  As we concluded our prayers, I was overwhelmed by God’s grace and mercy to us-  that He keeps pursuing us, that He made a way for redemption, that He is making all things new.  I love experiencing those moments with you, Restoration.  I love how God speaks to our community-  through His word, His Spirit, and His people.  I am so grateful for daily morning and evening prayer.

Serving our Neighbors and Supporting our Community

We know the global response to the novel coronavirus has created a lot of vocational and income uncertainty. Restoration is responding. The vestry created a benevolence fund to provide financial resources for people who attend our church.  We have identified three categories of need:  lost wages, health care costs, and unexpected costs due to quarantine.  If you are experiencing a gap in your financial provision, we want to help.  Please let us know, here.  The small team of clergy, vestry, and leaders that receives your request is private.  Your information is kept confidential.  We want to help.  Please let us know.

I have been so proud of Restoration’s partnership with Arlington churches to serve Arlington school social workers.  The Church at Work has now provided $250,000 of rent assistance to households in Arlington County.  Last night WUSA channel 9 did a news story about it–  live from my bedroom on zoom.  Praise God for His generous church!  We are taking rent sponsors until May 15 to provide rent assistance in May and June.  If you want to help, please let us know.

We are also continuing to partner with Glebe Elementary in providing Safeway Gift Cards for 40 families in our neighborhood each week.  If you would like to help, please let us know!

Exploratory Teams and New Conversations about old Ways of Being Church

People ask how I am spending my time.  In addition to leading morning and evening prayer and prepping for Sunday worship, a lot of my time is in conversation with Restoration leaders and pastors across the country who are re-thinking how church will look now and in the future.  We know that we are in an unexpected, generational change.  These are not conversations that we anticipated having 2 months ago, but now they are critical and they take a lot of hours each week.

Our vestry and staff have been reading the excellent materials coming out of Praxis, like this and this.  Categories of ‘blizzard’, ‘winter’, and ‘ice-age’, have provided a common vocabulary as we assess changes and consider new ideas.  Our Restoration leadership team is exploring how the coronavirus consequences will affect sacraments, connection, and content.  This week we spent a lot of time critiquing and improving our YouTube Live presence.  It will be on-going, but we hope to take incremental steps each week.  In the future, we intend to explore new prototypes for content and sacraments.  We are asking how small groups (for all ages) will adjust and how things like Baptism and Eucharist will happen within these socially-distanced constraints.  So much is still uncertain… and so much is possible.  Please pray for us and participate in the conversations when the opportunities come.

Living God’s Story at Restoration

The next thing we are trying is a remote ‘New to Restoration’ gathering.  It will happen on May 19 at 7:30pmEST via Zoom.  You are welcome to attend no matter where you live.  So many of you are joining us from places near and far.  We would love an opportunity to tell you the story of what God has done at Restoration and to get to know you.  Please rsvp here.  We look forward to ‘seeing you’ in a couple of weeks!

Remote Worship

All of our public gatherings for worship are listed here.  I am sure you have realized that inviting a friend (from anywhere in the world) has never been easier.  Text them the link and invite them to check it out.

God is at work.
His grace never fails us.
He is making all things new.

I can’t wait to see you online soon.

-David

Letter to the Congregation from David (4/24/20)

Hi Restoration,

Today we prayed this during Morning Prayer and my heart ached to be in our house of the Lord together on Quincy Street.  I can only imagine how glad I will be when they say unto me…  you can gather again with Restoration.

I miss you.

Just a few updates this week as we head into the weekend.
1.  Thank you for your responses to our survey on Zoom v. YouTube Live for Sunday worship.  The overwhelming feedback was in favor of YouTube Live.  Our staff team agrees.  It allows us to integrate music into our liturgy and broadcast from our sanctuary.  It affords greater security and is an easier first step for our friends who might want to check it out.  We will be back on Sunday at 10.  Consider inviting a friend to try it!

We will also have opportunities to see each other on Zoom on Sundays.
1.  We have created the Resto Coffee and Chat Zoom from 9:45-9:59 on Sundays.  Bring your own coffee.  Log in to Zoom.  Rev. Beth Tipps will welcome you.  You can say hi to your friends, see people, even grab a smaller Zoom room if you are trying to catch up a group of people.
2.  Kids get to see each other in our awesome Kids’ Small Groups.  You can access them here.  From 8:45-9:15, all our kids who are nursery to 1st grade are together.  Then, from 9:15-9:45, all of our kids who are 2nd to 5th grade are together.  We can’t wait to see you there.
3.  As the service ends, Rev. Nathan Dickerson will be waiting here on Zoom to help you get connected for intercessory prayer.

We can’t wait to see you on Sunday.

Our spring sermon series has begun.
Small groups are rolling for APEXcollege, and adults.
We hope everyone is in as we study 1 John and pray for each other!

Psalm 122 ends with a repeated refrain of “Peace!  Peace be with you!”
It has been my daily prayer for our congregation:
Give peace in our time, Oh Lord.  And defend us by your mighty power.

Amen.

Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.  See you soon.
-David

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