God is in His Holy Temple, Let All the Earth be Silent

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Habakkuk, one of the minor prophets in the Bible, is one of the few books that expresses dialogue between a person and God. It’s a great picture of some aspects of the life of prayer! There’s honest outpouring of emotion, requests and pleading for intercession, worship, listening and being listened to, and yes, at times, silence. The dialogue crescendos to a call to silence.

Leading up to this moment, Habakkuk expresses two complaints that sound familiar to my heart. He asks a question I ask, “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Hab. 1:2)  I am tempted to believe the lie that if my request is not seemingly resolved, then I am unheard. The distressed logic continues asking with Habakkuk, “Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (Hab. 1:13), or perhaps in my own tongue, “Why aren’t you doing anything when things are going terribly wrong?”. I am tempted to believe the lie that silence means idleness. At the root, in both of these questions, I fear I am not cared for or loved because my requests are not fulfilled and there seems to be no response.

God loves us. God cares for us. God responds. He does hear us. He is living and active. To the lies of “God’s not listening” and “God’s idly inactive,” He declares: “For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” (Hab. 1:5) God does hear us and is working; it just may be beyond our comprehension or awareness at the moment. God’s responses paint a picture of his power and redemptive work.

At the crescendo of the complaints and chaotic imagery, God ends with this line (Hab. 2:20):

“The Lord is in his holy temple;

    let all the earth be silent before him.”

 

In response to complaints of God’s silence there is a call for all of us, all the earth, to be silent before God! He provides the perspective. God is still God. He is still in His place of authority. God literally hushes the lies and our very real fears, worry, and anguish, in addition to the chaos itself.  He asks us to be silent before Him, our powerful God. Could we adopt a posture of silence with God, and embrace what our silence would imply? Trust. Dependence. Hope. Faith. Worship.

In silence, may we embody the truth that God does listen and care for us, saying with Habakkuk, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me…” (Hab. 2:1). And through that experience in silence may we come to declare the truth that God is active and we are loved, singing in hope and trust “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines… yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Hab. 3:17-18)

We would like to invite you to an evening of silence before the Lord. Please join us for Silent Soaking Prayer on Saturday, October 26 from 7:30-9 pm in the Fellowship Hall. Come and go as you wish. Prayer ministers will silently interceded for all participants as you pray and listen to the Lord.

 

Peace,

Lauren L.

Silent Soaking Prayer – June 30

“How can I pray for you?”

It’s a genuine, loving question, but so often I don’t know how to respond. Sometimes I have something specific that is easy to articulate like I’ve been sick, or my job is difficult, or someone I love has died. But more often than not, the longing, fear or pain deep within me is beyond descriptive words, and I just sheepishly smile and shrug, uttering, “Just pray.”

I find such comfort in Paul’s words to us in Romans 8:26, “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” The Holy Spirit interceder is always at work in prayer, and especially I think, when we are praying for one another.

On Sunday evening, June 30, from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m., Restoration will host a night of Silent Soaking Prayer in the Fellowship Hall. It’s an opportunity to enter into a quiet, restful space where you can be still and prayerful before the Lord.

If you’ve never been to an evening like this, you’ll notice the lowered lights and soft, instrumental music in the background. There will be chairs set-up around the room in addition to mats and blankets on the floor. You can sit wherever is comfortable. You may want to bring your Bible or a journal. And if it’s helpful, you may write your confidential prayer requests on a note card we will provide and set beside you. Four or five prayer ministers will circulate the room, praying silently for individuals.

To feel the presence of another near you, praying for you, but not be distracted by their audible words has been an incredibly holy experience for me. Instead of trying to understand what  they were praying and if  they really understood my needs, I was, instead, able to open my heart and ears to what the Lord was saying to me in the depths of my soul. It’s healing and restorative.

I hope you’ll consider coming,

Beth

 

Healing Prayer – God loves to work through you!

I grew up believing that the gifts of the Spirit stopped with the deaths of the original Apostles; but over the past six months, I’ve experienced and learned something different.  Every time that I have prayed healing for people, some kind of healing has happened – physical, emotional, relational, mental, spiritual, etc.  And it’s not me!  It’s God!  And he’s awesome!

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There is no real trick to healing prayer, but like any gift that God gives us, we are responsible to develop it and steward it to the glory of God and for the good of his people.  I invite you to this training at Restoration on Sat, July 14 from 8:30am to 1pm for a crash course on healing prayer.

That morning Kathleen Christopher with the Christian Healing Institute will be our primary facilitator.  I have had the pleasure of partnering with Kathleen in healing prayer for others multiple times a month over the past year, and she has such a gentle, matter-of-fact way about her that you will not want to miss the opportunity to receive this brief instruction from her.

We have about 35 people signed up already, and I would love for you to be the next person (whether you believe this stuff or not).  This will be the beginning (or the refresher) for many of you that will set you on a surprising path of being used as an agent of God’s healing.

Sign up, and bring a friend!  I look forward to doing this with you.

Matthew Hoppe
Director of Worship Arts and Prayer

An Update on Christine…

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As many of you have heard…  Christine Warner, the wife of Cliff, who is the rector of Christ Church Austin, was in a serious accident on April 10.  She was admitted into Intensive Care after being struck by a truck while standing on the side of the road.  She was taken to the hospital in critical condition.  She incurred broken facial bones, ribs, and damage to her carotid arteries and liver.

I want to thank you for praying for me as I went to Christ Church Austin this past weekend.  I joined in their corporate prayer, I preached during the Eucharist, and I wept with their sadness.  Christ Church was so grateful to you, Restoration, for sending me to be with them.  They are a strong, Spirit-filled, joyful, expectant community.  The church is caring well for each other and for the Warner family.  They are praying the Daily Office together-  both on-site and wherever they happen to be.  They are anticipating all the costs of this accident– from loss of Christine’s income to new vehicles.  They are settling in for the marathon that healing and recovering will be.

They are trusting God.

I want to answer some of the questions I have received since the accident:

  1. Here is the place you can read the most recent prayer requests and updates on healing.  Consider bookmarking this page and praying from it each day.
  2. Here is a pdf of the sermon that I preached at Christ Church on Sunday. Lift up the Light of your Face [FINAL]   Psalm 4 provided so many insights for us as we think about responding to tragedy.    (You can also listen to it, here.)

Thank you for praying.  Thank you for trusting.  Thank you for asking for God to change the course of this tragedy.

‘…the Lord hears when I call to him.’  (Psalm 4.3)

-David

The Humility of Stillness and Rest

Have you ever had one of those busy seasons?  You know the ones, where you seem to be the solution for every problem at work or at home, not enough hours in the day, overscheduled, depleted.  I experienced one of these all-consuming seasons this fall with both my work and personal commitments.  I was exhausted; staying up way later than a mother of two young kids reasonably should in order to get work done- up either for work or  for keeping up with things around the house.  Self care was definitely not happening.  Rest was not happening.  Quiet times were sporadic at best.  Stress was high.  I was trying to do it all!  And sort of, maybe, sometimes, succeeding?  At least I thought I was.  

While I was doing my small group Bible Study homework in the midst of all my craziness, I was struck by an observation made by the author, Priscilla Shirer, “pride causes us to think we can do more than we can….”

Ouch!

Instantly I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking to my weary and busy heart.  I was not respecting the boundaries of my own humanity, my own body, my own capability.  I kept pushing myself to do more, and, if I am honest with myself, I was taking pride in being able to accomplish so much and to be seemingly more “valued” by my work as a result of my extra efforts.  But the truth was that, as much as I wish I was as strong and amazing as Wonder Woman, I am not her.  I cannot do it all.  And to act as if I can, not respecting the God given need and call to rest, is pride.  Moreso, to act as if I can accomplish all these things in my own power without consulting God, is prideful.

Jesus praying in the Garden of GethsemaneI am struck by the way Jesus often rested and by the great humility he displayed in spending time with God.  Repeatedly throughout the gospels we are given accounts of Jesus stealing away by himself to pray and be alone with God as well as resting.  Often his time seemingly could have been spent doing better things, like ministering to people.  

Jesus, fully God and fully man, took time to rest and to pray.  If anyone was a superhero and could do it all it was Jesus- he could have called 10,000 angels to set him free from the cross afterall!   He did not put the bottom line, getting something off “the list,” achieving success, or being awesome above the need to rest and be with God.  He humbled himself by stilling himself- both physically in resting as well as in prayer.

I would like to invite you to engage in an opportunity to rest and pray.  On Wednesday, January 10 at 730 pm in the sanctuary we will have our third Be Still and Know Contemplative Prayer Night.  It is an opportunity for you, perhaps like me, to intentionally rest from all the busyness and striving and succeeding in order to humbly ask God to give you true rest and to provide for you and speak to you.  Even in the situations where you think you are Wonder Woman.  I hope you will join us.

Peace, Lauren

How Can I Pray for You?

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Each year, in January, I take a few days to pray for Restoration and to plan our preaching series.  I get out of town where I can be still and quiet and alone.  I look forward to this opportunity to connect with God about you and what He is doing in our church.  It will happen during the week of January 7.

I would be honored to pray for the needs and concerns that are most pressing to you.  Would you be open to sharing them with me?

This is the link where you can share your prayer request.

Your confidentiality is important and I will be the only one who sees these requests.  In addition, you will have a choice to share them anonymously or to indicate your name so that I can pray for you personally.  Totally up to you.  God knows what you need.

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was give you in Christ Jesus…”  1 Corinthians 1:4

 

Grateful to be one of your pastors,

David

Why do we pray scripted prayers?

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Last week we handed out a simplified version of our Anglican Book of Common Prayer called Praying through the Year. We’ve loved hearing the ways many of you are integrating this booklet into your daily life. We will have more copies of this resource available on Sunday in the narthex, and we’d love for you to take one home.

But some of you may wonder why we use scripted prayers at all. Why not pray from our thoughts and feelings and impressions? Isn’t scripted prayer needlessly rigid and archaic? Two responses come to mind.

The first response is that both modes of prayer are great and have their place in our lives. In fact, The Book of Common Prayer always leaves space for “free intercessions” in its liturgies, a place for the extemporaneous prayer to which many of us are accustomed. Using scripted prayers doesn’t replace unscripted prayers or all the wonderful, surprising ways the Holy Spirit shows up in them. Instead, it complements them, rooting them in the words of Scripture and of Christians who have prayed before us through the ages.

The second response, though, is a story from my own experience. A little over a decade ago, I nearly abandoned my faith. I was consumed by doubts I couldn’t reconcile; I was tired of Christians whose lives were squeaky clean but who cared little about justice and mercy; and I was crowding God out of my life by pouring myself into a career that tempted me with moral compromises. For over a year, I didn’t read scripture and I didn’t pray. And I didn’t care. I told God that I barely believed this stuff anymore, but that if it was true, he was going to need to convince me himself.

And he did. Late one night, I was anxious and sleepless and found myself really wanting to cry out to God, but I realized that I’d forgotten how. A phrase from the Sunday liturgy popped into my brain: “whose property is always to have mercy” (we now use the words, “who always delights in showing mercy”). That seemed as good a prayer as any, so I simply prayed it, over and over, to God: “Your property is always to have mercy. Your property is always to have mercy.” As I did, I realized that if God’s property is always to have mercy, then he had mercy for me in that moment, and in every faithless, cynical moment that had preceded it.

That sustaining thought carried me through a long night of anxiety to the morning. And it carried me through the next night, and the next. It marked the beginning of my returning to God, re-discovering that ‘the stories are true,’ and re-learning how to pray. It also marked the beginning of my use of The Book of Common Prayer as a regular part of my prayer life.

For someone like me, who easily lives inside my thoughts, the pressure to manufacture extemporaneous prayers can feel like a chore and a performance. And when I’m tired or uninspired or consumed with doubts, it’s barely possible. Instead, I found a liberating self-forgetfulness in The Book of Common Prayer, as I began to lean on the words and faith of the millions of Christians who had gone before me, who had prayed these prayers for centuries to sustain their faith. One of the gifts of being Anglican has been discovering this weird and wonderful fellowship with Christians throughout time and space whose prayers support my own.

These days, I do both: I pray scripted prayers in a more-or-less regular rhythm, and I pray extemporaneous prayers that vary from the transcendent to the absurd (“help me find a parking spot, Jesus!”). I think both kinds of prayer delight God, both draw me into a pattern of daily dependence and closer relationship, and both connect me to a global community of other praying Christians.

This Advent, we’d love for you to join us in adding scripted prayer to your daily rhythms. Pick up Praying Through the Year on Sunday!

Common Prayer…Simplified

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Hey Restos! It’s me again, that woman who can’t seem to make it to church on time and talks an awful lot about toast. I was overwhelmed by the response to my recent blog about running late for church. So many of you reached out and shared stories of how you, like me, are hungry for the feast that God is offering us, but can’t quite figure out how to show up for it. To everyone who kindly commented or emailed me: thanks. I’m so glad we’re in this together.

And one of the ways that we are really, truly, profoundly in this together is through prayer. I love that we are a community that prays, and I know that many of us are constantly longing to grow in our habits of prayer. As Anglicans, we have a rich prayer resource in the Book of Common Prayer, a centuries-old book crammed full of scripture, statements of faith, and prayers. We hold these prayers in “common” with one another at Restoration, and with other Christians all over the world and throughout history. And these prayers are “common” in another sense: with practice, they become commonplace rhythms that shape our everyday lives. But what does that practice look like? How do we engage with our prayer book in a way that is life-giving and doable, when the book itself seems so complicated and intimidating?

Restoration has created two resources to help. The first is a RestoKids Advent daily devotional called Almost…Not Yet…Already…Soon. It’s full of space to doodle, simple explanations of this season of waiting, and peaceful invitations to enjoy God’s presence with us through prayer, scripture, stillness, and creativity. If you live in a house with kids, or if you’d like to approach God in a kid-like way this season, we would love for you to take one home on Sunday.

The second resource is a simplified version of the Book of Common Prayer called Praying through the Year, which takes you through the entire Christian year, beginning in Advent 2017 and ending just before Advent 2018. Each season contains short prayer guides for morning, noon, evening, and compline (bedtime), as well as daily daily prayer book coverreading plans and helpful prayers for a variety of circumstances. It includes explanations of the liturgical seasons and guidance on how to use the prayers. Everything in this book is taken straight from our Anglican Book of Common Prayer, but the confusing elements have been removed and the order has been rearranged to facilitate easy daily use. This book can be used alone or with others, around your breakfast table, at your desk, or on your nightstand — however works best to make these ancient prayer rhythms more “common” in your daily life.

If you have young kids at home, you may want to set aside this longer prayer book during Advent, and use our RestoKids devotional instead (they actually contain a lot of similar language!). Then, as Advent concludes and you find you want to continue the simple daily rhythms, pick up the prayer book again and adjust the daily prayer times in whatever way works best for your family. When my own children were young, we used these same liturgies around our breakfast table. We’d light a candle, get out paper and markers, and I’d read just a few fragments from morning prayer while they colored. Over time, my kids naturally absorbed a lot of scripture and theology (as did I!). But what works in my house might not work in yours, and that’s okay. This Advent, we would love for everyone to engage with these resources and find what works best in their own context, so that we can practice praying in common as a Resto community. We invite you to pick up one or both prayer guides this Sunday!

Women Unscripted: Tuesday September 26, 2017

Prayer Painting - Prayer by Angu Walters

Calling all RestoWomen: would you like some fresh energy and ideas for your prayer life as you head into Fall?

New season. New habits. New workout program…. New prayer life?

This Tuesday, September 26, we will have our first Women Unscripted of the season 7.30pm – 9pm – and we have an incredible line-up of women who will lead our time together.

There will be six workshops, including 

• praying for our parents,

• praying for others with the Book of Common Prayer

• praying for and with our kids, 

• praying for the persecuted church 

• praying for our families

• praying for the nations

Each workshop led by an AMAZING RestoWoman (or two)!

Will you join us? You will get to go to two workshops out of the six in the time we have… and you will WANT to go to all six. Each workshop will give you some ideas, tools and a chance to practice.

It will be fun. And you will learn new ways to pray… Do come!

And bring a friend.

So looking forward to re-connecting with you, 

~Liz

Oh and by the way: three more notices!
1. Do you want to be a mentor? Email Liz and she will connect you to Cindy and the team ( all women welcomed, special place for those 40+) No skills needed… just lived experience!

2. Nov 7: gatherings in homes. Save the date – and would you like to be a hostess? Email Liz and she will connect you to Kara Stevenson for more info

3. The Retreat: Feb 9-11, 2018 Save the date and sign up after the fall retreat. Email Liz and she will connect you to Jennifer if you would like to be involved in planning.

Listening

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Yesterday, while I was in the grocery store, I was starkly reminded of how hard it can be to listen. I was pushing my daughter around the store, trying to grab everything that was on and was not on my list while also somehow avoiding hitting other shoppers with our mondo car shopping cart. And trying to accomplish all of this in time to get home to unpack everything and then pick up my son from preschool. The store was playing music, people were talking, workers were stocking the shelves, kids were making noises. Then all of the sudden, barely audible because of all the noise, a clerk came over the intercom and asked all the workers and shoppers to observe a moment of silence for September 11. It took me a second to process what the voice was saying and to stop walking down the aisle and turn off my headphones, an additional noise on top of everything else. The store music ceased. Other shoppers that heard the announcement stopped in their tracks.  

The normally bustling grocery store was suddenly quiet, a unique, almost unsettling, scene. For perhaps 30 seconds, everyone participated in the moment of silence. Then the music came back on and everyone started going about their busy business again, with all the noise that went along with it.

Not everyone heard the announcement- perhaps because it was too noisy in the store or they thought it was another “commercial” from the grocery store or they simply didn’t listen/pay attention- and did not stop to observe the silence. Some did stop for the silence when they visually noticed the other shoppers not shopping and became aware of the lack of noise. But others continued to go about their way, unaware of the invitation and opportunity to engage in this solemn moment. In fact, I barely heard the announcement to be silent over the loudspeaker because of all the other noise going on around me and the noise that I myself was creating.

Listening to God can be difficult and requires discernment. We know what types of things to be listening for and the ways that God can speak to us: scripture, times of prayer, community, circumstances, Holy Spirit encounters. But more fundamentally, in order to “hear” or “see” any of these things an intentionality is needed; a posture of listening and watchfulness is assumed. How can we know what we are to do or what God is saying if we have not listened? If we have not taken the time and space to listen? If we have not removed our headphones? If we have not been watchful to the situation around us?

Taking time for silence is an opportunity for us to assume this posture of listening and watchfulness. We can be sure that God is speaking; He is living and active. He has given us His Holy Spirit to direct and comfort us. It is hard to hear, to be watchful, especially in our busy Washington D.C. pace of life. Join us for a time of listening to the Lord during “Be Still and Know,” a contemplative prayer night, on Wednesday, September 13 at 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary.  Intercessors will be present to pray silently for you as you pray and seek the Lord. Bring your thoughts, bring your questions, bring your expectant heart to hear what the Lord might say to you.

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people;

Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who

calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with

you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever

and ever. Amen.

~Lauren

Interested in learning more about listening to the Holy Spirit and pursuing a posture of listening? Ladies are welcome to join Rebecca Reck and Lauren Lessels’ small group on Fridays at 10 am in the Church for Priscilla Shirer’s “He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear from God” study.

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