Good Things Happened in our Prayers

Restoration,

I am grateful to God for our week of unceasing intercession.  Thank you for participating with such great anticipation.  I am writing with 2 quick updates and a longer reflection.

Ordination on Sunday at 3pm

We are grateful for the privilege of having shepherded 2 curates through the ordination process to priesthood:  Isaiah Brooms and Scott Buckhout.  They have been working, studying, observing, and practicing for 5 years!  Those years of preparation come to a fulfillment on Sunday at 3pm.  We invite you to witness their vows and celebrate their ordinations by praying and watching on our YouTube Live channel.  

The good things that happened while we prayed

Thank you for taking a few minutes to record what God said to you during your hour of prayer last week.  We had well over 200 responses and reading through them has been a rich experience.  The leadership team for our week of prayer anonymized them and posted them, here.  I commend them to you as a tangible reminder of God’s faithful companionship during our times of intercession.  

My Sunday night reflection at the end of our week of prayer

Last Sunday, at 5pm, we closed our week by receiving the Eucharist together and then worshiping through hour 169 (we got a bonus hour because of daylight savings time!).  Please find below the reflections I shared during that time of worship.  May they encourage us to keep praying!

-David

David’s Reflection on Good Things Grow through Prayer

Thank you for praying this week. 

We felt united and together, even as we were praying on our own.  I went to the Sign Up Genius multiple times a day to see who was praying, to say thank you God for their intercession!

It was special to have an hour dedicated to be with God and nothing else.  Because you had signed up.  Because it was on your calendar, you felt free to say no to everything else-  to sleep, to food, to work, to household responsibilities.  You made your decision ahead of time for what you would be doing during that hour.  And you were earnest in your prayer.  Thank you.  Perhaps you will keep reserving a regular hour to just pray?

Thank you to Endel Liias, Sandra Rushedge, Roland Binker, Erica Chapman, Sarah Pullen, Kate Liias, John Foote, Caneel Cotton, Liza Draper, and Nathan Dickerson for working on and leading this project. 

Themes of what we heard

  1. Joy:  Many of you weren’t sure what to expect in your hour.  Then you were surprised by how fast the hour went by.  You were relaxed and comforted by the structure of the prayer guide.  You loved praying the Psalms-  and the Psalms prayed us.  They gave us language for our anxieties, fears, hopes, and longings-  and you used that psalm language to describe what you heard from God.  Psalm 34 was referenced many times.  You loved the music.  Thanks to Endel for curating the playlist, for the songs he has been building into our corporate worship life.
     
  2. Our joy was fueled by anticipation of what is coming:
    You talked of new wineskins for prayer and the desire to live out 1 Thessalonians 5:19- to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in all circumstances, to not quench the Spirit, to listen.

    You prayed for new staff positions and the changes happening on our staff team.  You prayed for new vestry members, new small group leaders, new volunteers. 

    You acknowledge the reorganizing that is happening in our church that is happening because of COVID-19, because of racial injustice, because of vocational movement, and new opportunities to serve.  
     
  3. Anticipation can fuel our joy because over and over you declared the sovereignty of God. You trust Him.  Because of COVID.  Because of the election.  Because of racial injustice.  Because of the economy.  You kept coming back to God’s sovereignty and His trustworthiness.  ‘God’s been in charge for a long time and we can trust Him.’ “All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth, and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.’ Psalm 138:4-5

With joy, anticipation, and trust, I offer you 3 invitations as we come out of our week:

  1. Release clenched fists.   This image of opening clenched fists came up multiple times in the reflections.  So let’s do it.  Let’s open our hands.  Let’s weep instead of rage. Let’s confess our bitterness and resentment.  Let’s shed shackles.  Let’s pray boldly for darkness to be vanquished rather than just ‘good things to happen.’  

    As we unclench our fists, we will be released to love like the Father loves.  With the division politically, racially, and within families, there was a lot of sharing about the need to love in the way Christ calls us. We are supposed to be markedly different; salt and light. 
     
  2. Ask for humility.  Praying is fundamentally a humble choice.  It is by definition reaching out for help and acknowledging one’s limits.  Let’s be humble in everything.  Let’s seek the Lord.  Let’s invite others to seek the Lord.  There were multiple images of our church building becoming personified as the staircases became arms and embraced people who were coming to worship. Let it be.
     
  3. Be responsive.  When God nudges you, do it.  
    Someone wrote the following at the end of their hour of prayer.  It is a beautiful picture of responsiveness.  This is what it looks like to do what God says.

    “Reading the Psalm after 30 minutes of prayer and praise was a much more intimate experience than usual.  Somehow holding my bible at that point was a sacred experience.  It was a reminder that preparing my heart is really important, and that it takes time to do that. 

    During prayer and listening, the phrase “rest in the Lord” came to me and I thought on that.  I’ve been seeking rest lately, but on my terms (like hiding in a room watching netflix on my ipad).  Resting in the Lord brought to mind walking in the woods with any family members who wanted to come, so I paused to text my family I’d be going for a walk at the end of the hour.

    Also the video from Sunday’s service about Ninos con Valor came back to me with a calling to sponsor a child, so I did that right after my prayer hour.

    Of all the prayer topics, the one on relationships was what I felt most deeply.  It reminded me that many people are feeling lonely through the pandemic, and I should be proactive about nurturing those relationships.

May we all unclench our fists, practice humility, and respond quickly to everything God says.  Amen.  Let it be.

Rector’s Update: Election, Eucharist, Prayer

Good morning Restoration,

It has brought me great joy this week to both offer prayer and receive prayer as we join together in Good Things Grow Through Prayer.  Multiple times throughout the day I have realized (remembered!) ‘someone is praying for me right now!’  I open the sign-up.  I smile.  I say, ‘thanks God that they are praying for us.’  I keep going with the work God has given me to do.  I love the connection I feel by the Holy Spirit in our ceaseless intercession together.  Thank you for praying.

Tonight!  At 7:30pm over Zoom, we get another chance to “Think Wisely about the Election”.  This is part 2 of the conversation we hosted with Navs 20s/30s back in February.  We are excited to hear from Kaitlyn Schiess (pronounced Shess, as in ‘chess’), author of The Liturgy of Politics.  You can still register for the event, here, and the Zoom link for tonight is here.  We invite you and your small group to join us this evening!

Sunday!  168 hours of prayer eventually counts down to 2.  We want to close out our week of individual, ceaseless intercession with 2 hours of corporate worship and prayer-  TOGETHER!!  At 5pm on Sunday, Nov 1, I will celebrate the Eucharist outside at Restoration.  You will find us under the big tent or in the lush backyard.  Bring a warm coat and hat, people!  It’s getting cold.  Then at 5:30, we will worship and pray together inside the sanctuary.  You can get one of the 23 inside spots, here.  Make sure you scroll down to ‘Closing Week of Prayer’ at 5:30pm.  We will also broadcast this time of corporate worship and prayer on our YouTube Live Channel.  Please subscribe!

Tuesday!  Election day.  Nov 3.  I invite you to celebrate the Eucharist at Restoration at 8am, 12pm, and 7pm, outside.  We are all experiencing uncertainty and turmoil.  Let’s deliberately step away from the tumult and step towards our Savior.  He is our rock and refuge.  He is the Lord.  He is the King of Kings.  “…all things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”  Thank God!  (Colossians 1:16-17)  I hope you can join us for this special opportunity to be nourished by the sacrament of the Eucharist on November 3.

“…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him…”  Colossians 1:9-10a

Praying with you,
David

Rector’s Update: nominations, hiring, and retreat!

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night… (Psalm 92:1)

We prayed this psalm during morning prayer today.  It is a ‘song for the sabbath’ and a wonderful reminder of how sabbath rest is a demonstration of active trust in the midst of work, deadlines, enemies, fools, too-long task lists, and disappointing outcomes.  God refreshes us.  ‘You have poured over me fresh oil.’  God sustains us.  ‘The righteous flourish… He is my rock.’  

We trust the Lord and He will never fail us.  

May I remind you of 3 prior invitations?

  1. This weekend is our reimagined Fall Retreat!  Today is the deadline to sign up for the seminar on Friday, the bonfires on Saturday, and the picnic on Sunday.  It’s all free, but we would love to know who is coming so that we can send you Zoom links, put you in small groups, and welcome you in people’s yards. We are thrilled that bunches of you have already registered.  Yay!  Can’t wait to see you and we don’t want to miss anybody.  So, please sign up before it closes.  Sign up today!  
     
  2. Last week I wrote to you about Vestry Nominations.  Nominations close on Sunday, October 11.  You are free to nominate any person at Restoration, including yourself!  Please send your nomination, here, and include the nominees name and 2 or 3 sentences describing why you are nominating this person.  We are so grateful for our vestry.
     
  3. Do you know someone who might want to work at Restoration?  We have two job openings and I would love your help resourcing candidates for the positions.  Do you have a favorite worship leader (and the ability to email them :)?  Send them the job description for our Director of Worship Arts.  Do you know a Youth Pastor who really connects with this generation of students?  Send them the job description for our Director of Apex. 

    You know Restoration and you know people who are doing excellent ministry.  We would love to talk with them or their friends about the opportunities that are open to work here.  If you have any questions about our hiring process, you can reach out to Kat Downs who is overseeing it in partnership with our personnel team.

Guess what?  There is even more that is happening at Restoration…

But this is enough for now.  I am so looking forward to this weekend.  I’ll see you on Zoom on Friday, at a bonfire on Saturday, and at the picnic on Sunday.  So fun.

-David

Fall Retreat 2020

We have four events for you during this special fall weekend. The deadline to register is Wednesday, October 7.


Praying Like Jesus by Praying the Psalms — Friday, October 9 at 7:30 pm

David Taylor, Associate Professor of Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, will lead us through “Praying Like Jesus by Praying the Psalms.” In this seminar, we’ll learn how the psalms teach us to pray like Jesus prayed.

From David Taylor,

“In light of the duress that all of us have experienced over the past half-year and in view of the stresses that will only increase as we head to the end of the year, I think many of us are struggling in our prayer life, resorting to perfunctory habits or succumbing to despair or praying only survivalist prayers. The psalms can help.”

You can see a brief welcome from David Taylor on our YouTube channel.

We hope you’ll join us for this time of teaching, Q&A with David Taylor, and small group breakout sessions, from the comfort of your home. Registering for the seminar helps us plan how many small group leaders we need.


Bonfires around the DMV — Saturday, October 10 at 6:30/7:30/8:30pm

Craving a s’more? We thought so. We have over fifteen bonfire sites for you to choose from on Saturday evening. Kids are welcome at many of the sites so this can be a family affair! Each host has carefully thought about how many people they can have socially distanced in their yard; all those details can be found on our Sign Up Genius.


YouTube Live + Sunday Worship — Sunday, October 11 at 10 am

David Taylor will be with us again, preaching from Matthew, continuing our sermon series this fall. Sign up to attend in-person or log on to YouTube Live.


Picnic at Oak Grove Park — Sunday, October 11 at 12 pm

Bring your own everything and gather with your Restoration friends after the worship service for a socially distanced picnic lunch in the park.


Ready to register? We thought so. The deadline to register is Wednesday, October 7.

You can sign up for everything (except to attend Restoration on Sunday morning, which can be done here) using this Sign Up Genius.

Rector’s Update: Autumn! (and more APEX news!)

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  If I would count them, they are more than the sand.  I awake, and I am still with you.  Psalm 139: 17-18
 Friends,

Hope you are having a great week.  We prayed this psalm during morning prayer today.  It is such a rich reminder of God’s attentiveness to us.  He doesn’t miss a thing.  Quick reminder that starting September 1, morning prayer will start at 8:00am.  I hope this time shift makes it possible for you to join us in this daily rhythm.  

FALL SMALL GROUPS
Each week, I host a 15 minute call with Restoration’s small group leaders and ministry volunteers.  This week, I am sending the video of it as part of my rector’s update.  You can see how we check in about life in our church and the programs we are offering.  Perhaps you’d like to serve as a small group leader?

I am so grateful for our small group leaders who pray for you, facilitate Bible discussions, and walk alongside you in the joy and pain of life. Small groups have become even more important in this time of social distancing.  We want to make sure everyone can be in one this fall.  The deadline to submit your leader form is this Sunday, Aug. 30.  If you have questions about leading a small group, reach out to Nathan, today.  Registration for adult small groups will open to everyone on Sept. 6 and they all kick off (Kids’, Apex, and Adults!) the week of September 13.  

MORE APEX NEWS!!
Speaking of Apex, we have exciting news!  A couple weeks ago I announced that Nathan Dickerson would be serving as the interim Apex Director.  This week, I get to tell you that we have added 2 Apex coordinators to our Youth Ministry team:  Lexi (Wiles) McMann and Ryan Goyer.  Thanks be to God! 

Would you like to know a little bit more about them?  Of course you would!  Here ya go:

Lexi hails from Richmond, VA and the University of Richmond, and has lived in Arlington since fall 2013! She came to the area after completing a year in Raleigh, NC with The Fellows Initiative to work for FOCUS (Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools). She spent 6 years exploring faith with middle and high school students at independent schools all around the DC Area, and taking them up to Martha’s Vineyard for camp adventures in the summers. Lexi loves her community of friends in Arlington, all things outdoors, music and art, her husband Jonathan, and her new puppy Haven! She can’t wait to spend more time with Resto’s Apex community, growing in relationship with each other and Jesus.

Ryan writes, “I am very excited to begin working with Apex! I have spent the last six years working with students, as a Young Life leader in college at Christopher Newport University, and then as a staff member and volunteer at The Falls Church Anglican since 2017. I had the privilege of being John Yates’ study assistant before joining the Restoration team last summer. I can’t wait to work with Lexi to build upon the foundation Isaiah has built here over the past few years.

I love to read, hike, and play (and watch!) sports. I hope to earn a degree in counseling sometime soon, and love to walk with people through challenging times. I’ve spent the summer watching bubble sports (go Bruins & Celtics!) and planning a wedding with my fiancée, Callie Gaskins. We’ll be married on September 5, and couldn’t be more excited to start our life together at Restoration. You’ll be able to find us about a minute away from Restoration, in a little condo on Monroe Street.”

The close reader will be wondering, ‘Wait. Doesn’t Ryan already work for Restoration?’  Yes he does.  He has been our Communications Coordinator and Facility manager for the last year.  We are glad that we were able to adjust his job description so that he can give a good portion of his week to Apex.

THIS SUNDAY
Thanks for reading along and joining us in thanksgiving to God.  I am looking forward to this Sunday, Aug. 30:  I will wrap up our series on Joseph and we will have the first of weekly, outdoor, in the Resto backyard, Eucharists!  The liturgy starts around 11:15, right after the YouTube livestream ends.

Praying for you. 

“The Lord hems you in, behind and before.  His hand is upon you.” 
(Psalm 139: 5)

-David

Rector’s Update: 22 July 2020

“God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!”
                                                                       Psalm 57:3b

Dear Restoration,

We have been sharing with you our plans to gather in person in the sanctuary for worship.  It starts this Sunday, July 26!  Our team created a fun video to show you what it will look like and to remind you of things you need to remember-  like entering through the second floor doors!  Make sure you watch it before you arrive on a Sunday!  

We know that most of you will worship with us remotely on our YouTube Channel.  Some of you might want to join us in the sanctuary.  We’ve got room!  And we need to know if you are coming.  So please sign up by 4pm on the Friday before the Sunday you want to attend.

TONIGHT:  A Zoom Discussion about Racial Injustice in the Church
This is our last week! We will again start at 7:30 tonight and keep it to a firm hour- so log on a few minutes early to say hi and plan on being finished by 8:30. You are welcome to invite a friend.

We break our time into thirds with lecture, moderated breakout discussions, and Q&A for all participants.  We are using the book, The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby.  It is organized chronologically.  Tonight we will discuss the period from 1968-the present (pages 152-end).

When we have our breakout sessions, I will ask you to consider this question:  “What is troubling to you?”  It is intentionally open-ended.  You could be troubled by the content of the book or the way it is presented.  You could be troubled by something new that you learned.  You could be troubled by the behavior of Christians and the Church during this time period:  “by what we have done and by what we have left undone.”  All of us have opinions about these things and not all of our opinions are the same!!  We want Restoration to be a place where we can talk openly, honestly, and charitably about things that are difficult.   I hope you will join us tonight and share the things that you find troubling.

You can join the conversation, here, or through the ‘This summer at Resto’ box on our website.

Things on the horizon…
Phase Alpha of reopening started with 4 Yard Worship sites on July 12.  That was a roaring success!  So we are bringing it back. Stay tuned for more information about locations and time for Yard Worship on August 16!

Many of you have asked about the sacrament of Holy Baptism.  We have a plan!  In the long tradition of Yard Eucharist and Yard Worship, we present to you:  Yard Baptism.  They will happen outside, in Restoration’s Yard, on September 21, October 18, and November 1.  We will time it so you can watch the Sunday service on YouTube Live and then show up at Restoration for baptism.  You do not have to attend worship inside the sanctuary to participate in the outdoor baptisms.  More details and a sign up form will be coming soon.  We look forward to celebrating baptisms with you.

I’ll let the words of Psalm 57 take us out:  “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!”  Amen and amen.

-David

Rector’s Update: 15 July 2020

“Give glory to the God of Israel.”  1 Samuel 6:5

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”  Psalm 37:3

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! 
Give thanks to Him; bless His name!”  Psalm 100:4

Dear Restoration,

It grieves me to write and tell you of the death of our dear friend and brother in Christ, Evan Pollack.  Evan died peacefully on Monday, July 13, surrounded by his wife, Cathy, son, Jesse, and daughter, Leah.  Evan had been a faithful part of Restoration since our days ‘in the old building’.  He was baptized at our Easter Vigil.  He was a gifted musician and a gifted teacher.  He helped us “Enter His courts with praise.”  He made us laugh.  I loved praying with him because Evan prayed in unabashed familiarity with His heavenly father.  He showed me what it is like to honestly tell God what I think and to feel safe in the telling.  I will miss him.

I invite your prayers for Evan’s family.  I will lead just the family through a small, graveside service this weekend.  We will not be able to have a public funeral. 

Some of you may want to serve the family by bringing or sending them a meal.  You can do that, here

Some of you may want to give a memorial gift as a way to worship God and to give thanks for Evan’s life.  Cathy has suggested a few recipients for you to consider:

  1. Hungry for Music.  This is a local non-profit that collects and refurbishes used instruments and donates them to beginning musicians in school bands. Over the course of his life, Evan spent several thousands of his own dollars refurbishing drums for area students.
  2. Restoration Anglican Church General Offering Fund.  Restoration had a significant impact on Evan’s life and Evan had a significant impact on Restoration.
  3. Glebe Elementary School PTA where he volunteered and worked teaching music.  You can give a gift in his memory to the PTA through PayPal.

Almighty God, grant us, with all who have died in the hope of the resurrection, the fullness of life in your eternal and everlasting glory.  Amen.

Phase Alpha:  small congregations in our sanctuary
Two weeks ago, our wardens introduced Phase Alpha of our reopening 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 socially distant 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!

On July 26, we will begin hosting small congregations in our sanctuary.  If you are interested in participating, we ask that you read our reopening plan.  It will answer the majority of your questions.  You can sign up for a spot at one of our five Phase Alpha services, here.  We look forward to seeing those who want to come and we are praying for all of us as we move through this challenging season.

A Zoom Discussion about Racial Injustice in the Church
It started last week!  If you missed it or if you want to review the notes from my lecture, you can find them, here.  We will again start at 7:30 tonight and 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 break our time into thirds with lecture, moderated breakout discussions, and Q&A for all participants.  Last week we had about 100 people join the conversation.

We are using the book, The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby.  It is organized chronologically.  Tonight we will discuss the post Civil War period to Civil Rights legislation (pages 70-152).  When we have our breakout sessions, I will ask you to consider this question:  “What is troubling to you?”  It is intentionally open-ended.  You could be troubled by the content of the book or the way it is presented.  You could be troubled by something new that you learned.  You could be troubled by the behavior of Christians and the Church during this time period:  “by what we have done and by what we have left undone.”  All of us have opinions about these things and not all of our opinions are the same!!  We want Restoration to be a place where we can talk openly, honestly, and charitably about things that are difficult.   I hope you will join us tonight and share the things that you find troubling.

Here is the link to join the conversation.  We start at 7:30.  I look forward to talking with you!

-David

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     

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