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

Lecture 1:  Racial Injustice in the Church

Welcome!

  1. Limitations of Zoom-  please don’t try and do something else.  We will break into smaller rooms and we will ask you to talk.
  2. Limitations of 3 weeks-  
  3. I am a white evangelical, which is not defined by party alliance but by submission to Scripture and the way I get treated in society because of the amount of melanin in my skin.
    As a white evangelical, I am inviting my church to think about racial injustice.
  4. I am the rector of Restoration Anglican Church and I am your pastor.  In order for you to be fully formed into the image of Christ, you have to consider this history and be open to lament, repentance, and repair.  That is me speaking as your spiritual authority.  This is an important part of our discipleship.
  5. We have all experienced injustice.  Many of us have experienced abuse and trauma.  Our personal experience influences how we come to this conversation and we need to be aware of it.  If we can acknowledge our personal experience, we can actually set it next to us, knowing that it is our experience, but working to hear the experience of another.  

Ezekiel 34:  a snapshot that illustrates Biblical Justice

Explain the fall of Jerusalem and what went wrong.

The prophet Ezekiel was exiled to Babylon in 597 BC.  He was called by God to his office at the age of 30 and his particular ministry extended over 23 years.  The city of Jerusalem and the temple of God were destroyed by the Babylonians in 586BC.  “Like all the prophets, this book is not a manual of theology, but the word of God to a battered remnant in exile that is experiencing what the theologians of the time had considered impossible.”  Ezekiel experienced exile—  the consequence of Israel’s sin.  From exile, he wrote of a future restoration.

Why did this happen?  Chapter 34 is one snapshot that explains what Israel did wrong which lead to this consequence of exile.  It is a chapter that helps us understand and see the heart of God for justice and mercy.  

Read verses 1-2

1   The word of the LORD came to me:  2  “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD:  Ah, shepherds of Israel  who have been feeding yourselves!  Should not shepherds feed the sheep?

The shepherds were the leaders of Israel—  politically the kings and leaders, religiously the priests—  those who were entrusted with the care and protection of the people.  Those who were called to feed the sheep.  Of course!  Righteous leaders are called to create systems where people have the opportunity to flourish—  systems of justice. 

Shepherds, leaders create systems where people experience justice and have access to what they are due as image bearers of God.  Biblical justice begins in being created in the image of God.

The Problem (3-4):   Instead, the shepherds have created a system of injustice that benefits themselves.  They are feeding themselves instead of feeding the sheep.

  • They use them:  They eat the fat, clothe with the wool.  They don’t feed the sheep.
  • They don’t take care of the vulnerable:  you have not strengthened the weak, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought.
  • And…  as leaders over systems of injustice often do, they have ruled with force and harshness.   Because when some people get more than they are due and others get less, you have to keep them in line—  mute their voice, limit their access. 

The result (5-6):  They were scattered.  

5  So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and  they became food for all the wild beasts.  6 My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth,  with none to search or seek for them. 

Being scattered is such an effective picture of the results of sin, of what it means to be in exile, of the fruit of injustice.  Scattered sheep are vulnerable to wolves and predators.  They are unable to take care of themselves.  Bad things can happen and good things (like rest and food) can’t happen.  Systems of racial injustice scatter, create vulnerable people.  It grieves you.  It grieves God. 

God’s Character:  

10 Thus says the Lord GOD,  Behold, I am against the shepherds, and  I will require my sheep at their hand and  put a stop to their feeding the sheep.  No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves.  I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. 

He is against the shepherds.  God holds people and systems accountable for the way they treat the least, the last, and the left out. 

God becomes very personal and very possessive.  I will require MY sheep at their hand.  

“God is talking about his own people.  This is repeated no fewer than 5x up to v. 10 alone.  It not only expresses Yahweh’s personal concern for the flock that is being so badly treated, but also makes clear where the true ownership lies.  The shepherds did not own the flock; they were simply employed to look after it.  The Kings did not own the people; they were simply entrusted with exercising justice and leadership in their midst.  But the temptation to regard those entrusted to one’s care or leadership as one’s personal property, a mini-empire, is powerful.”  Chris Wright

Because they are His, God will do what the shepherds did not (verses 11-12).  He will search, seek, and rescue.  His response corresponds perfectly to the problem.  What is scattered must be gathered.

God’s intervention in a system of injustice is His means of rescue.   

God’s purpose in rescue is to restore, to make right, to make what is what was intended to be.  In response to His question in v. 2—  should not shepherds feed the sheep?  YES! He answers it himself in v. 14 ‘I will feed them with good pasture….and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land.  There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.  15  I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep…’  

Which is of course what He always has been.  God is always God.  He is always King over the universe.

They were never NOT his sheep.  He didn’t stop shepherding.  He entrusted HIS sheep to people and to systems where they could flourish but instead they were wronged, abused, and scattered.  //  God does not miss that.  God will make it right.  Now his shepherding is to be against those who were supposed to be shepherding on His behalf.

READ THIS:  16  I will seek the lost,  and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and  the fat and the strong I will destroy.  I will feed them in justice. 

Let me remind you of the Biblical arc of justice:

Creation.  What ought to be—  shepherds feeding the sheep.

Fall.  What is—  shepherds consuming the sheep

Redemption.  What can be—  rescue, God feeding us in justice

Restoration.  What will be—  the renewal of all things, security, provision, abundance

The Bible begins with creation:  every person has been made in the image of God with inherent worth and dignity.  The Bible ends with restoration:  a beautiful picture of heaven where people from every language, tongue, and tribe gather around the throne to worship the risen Christ.  

In between, we know that we are called to love our neighbor and we know that the Lord hates injustice.  

Today…

These are precious truths and a high calling.  Which brings us to our current experience as American Christians.  We ask for humble discernment as we talk about our history and the racial injustice of the church.  We recognize that we have come a long way from 1619 and we acknowledge that many agents of change have been followers of Jesus and we accept that we still have a long way to go to see God’s justice for all people.

Notes on TCOC Chapters 1-4

Chapter 1:  The Color of Compromise

“Our country’s complicated, imperfect history…”  Lecrae

He defines terms and identifies objections.

p.15 ‘History and Scripture teaches us that there can be no reconciliation without repentance… no repentance without confession… no confession without truth.  TCOC is about telling the truth so that reconciliation-  robust, consistent, honest reconciliation- might occur across racial lines…’

p. 16 Racism:  a system of oppression based on race.  Beverly Daniel Tatum

prejudice plus power-  not only personal bigotry toward someone of a different race, includes the imposition of bigoted ideas on groups of people.  

p.16 white supremacy-  identifies white people and white culture as normal and superior

p.17 complicity-  involved

p.21 ‘people who will reject this book will leave several common objections’  What are yours?  

  • too liberal
  • too Marxist communist
  • the extended discussion reduces black people to a state of helplessness and a ‘victim mentality’
  • point to counterexamples and say that racists do not represent the ‘real’ American church
  • the historical facts are wrong or misinterpreted
  • a discussion of race is ‘abandoning the gospel’

Chapter 2  Making Race in the Colonial Era

Thesis of this chapter:  Nothing about American racism was inevitable.  1500-1700 race was still being made.  The foundations were laid for race-based stratification.

p.18  Things could have been different.  At several points in American history-  colonial era, Reconstruction, demise of Jim Crow, Xian’s could have confronted racism instead of compromising.  Although the missed opportunities are heartbreaking, the fact that people can choose is also empowering.  Christians deliberately chose complicity with racism in the past, but the choice to confront racism remains a possibility today.

p.19  skin color is simply a physical trait.  It is a feature that has no bearing on one’s intrinsic dignity.  People invented racial categories.  Race and racism are social constructs.  

p. 27  No biological basis for the superiority or inferiority of any human being based on the amount of melanin in her or his skin.  The development of the idea of race required the intentional actions of people to decide that skin color determined who would be enslaved and who would be free.

African Slave Trade in N. America

1619 arrival of slaves in VA.  

p.34 Colonists may have initially seen Africans in America as laborers just like any other and patterned their economy and politics to allow for their full inclusion.  American history could have happened another way.  Instead, racist attitudes and the pursuit of wealth increasingly relegated black people to a position of perpetual servitude and exploitation.  

p. 35 shift towards slavery over indentured servitude happened gradually over the last few decades of 17th century.  

  • life expectancy increased making lifelong labor a more lucrative investment
  • scarcity of labor, fewer new Europeans, indigenous population decreased.  

p. 35 mid 17th C-  slave codes  

p. 36 hereditary heathenism:  tethered race to religion.  European meant ‘Christian’ and native American or African meant ‘heathen’.  Could be interrupted by marrying into the ‘better’ spiritual lineage of English Christians.

p.38  the separation between spiritual and physical freedom.  “You declare in the present of God… that you do not ask for holy baptism out of any desire to free yourself from the Duty and Obedience you owe to your master…”  

p.39  a way to spread faith without confronting the exploitative economic system of slavery and the emerging social inequality based on color.

“It took decades for patterns of unfree labor to harden into a from of slavery that treated human beings as property and dictated a person’s station in life based on skin color.  Christianity became identified with the emerging concept of ‘whiteness’ while people of color, including indigenous peoples and Africans, became identified with unbelief.”  p.39

Chapter 3:  Understanding Liberty in the age of Revolution and Revival

Thesis:  The ironic formation of the Declaration of Independence

p.41 “While white soldiers and political leaders were declaring their inalienable right to independence, they were also enslaving countless women’s men, and children of African descent.  

p.43 ‘Whatever religion they practiced, the authors of the Declaration of Independence appealed to the idea of universal human liberty passed down from an all-powerful deity.  Many Christians of the time would have understood this language as a reference to their God.”  

Great Awakening: 

p.44 moved American Christians toward more informal and less structured forms of worship.  

Enslaved Africans did not merely adopt Christianity, they made it their own.  

p.45 Why were Black people attracted to Christianity?  To revival preaching?

p.46 George Whitefield.  moderation on slavery morphed into outright support.

1738-  planning for the Bethesda Orphanage.  purchased a 640 acre plantation, with slaves, to support the work of the orphanage.

p.49 Jonathan Edwards.  

1731, compromised Christian principles by enslaving human beings.  Purchased his first enslaved African, owned several other people.  

p.50  He seemed to accept slavery, so long as masters treated their enslaved persons with dignity, on the basis of slavery’s apparently tacit acceptance in the Bible.  

p.51  a moderate view of slavery:

both accepted spiritual equality of black and white people

both preached message of salvation to all

neither had concern that extended to advocating for physical emancipation

neither saw anything in the Bible that forbade slavery

white Christians believed that the Bible merely regulated slavery in order to mitigate its most brutal abuses.

p.54 “Racial segregation in Christian churches occurred in the 18th century in large part because white believers did not oppose the enslavement of African persons.  Instead, Christians sought to reform slavery and evangelize the enslaved.  In the process, they learned to rationalize the continued existence of slavery.  Many white Christians comforted themselves with the myth that slavery allowed them to more adequately care for the material and spiritual needs of enslaved Africans.”  

Chapter 4 Institutionalizing Race in the Antebellum Era

St. Philips-  not admitted to diocese of NY in 1846

p.57 ‘At the outset of the 19thC, the USA could have become a worldwide beacon of diversity and equality.  It could have adopted the noble ideals written in the Declaration of Independence.

Instead…  

  1. Fugitive Slave Clause
  2. 3/5s Compromise-  south did not want to be taxed for its slaves, the north did not want slaves counted for representation in congress.  

p.59  The nation’s political leaders used black lives as bargaining chips to preserve the union of states and to gain leverage for other policy issues.  Although the abolition movement started gaining momentum during this time, America made its peace with slavery for the next several decades.  

p.60 The Chattel Principle-  the social alchemy that transformed a human being made in the image of God into a piece of property.  “The being of slavery, its soul and its body, lives and moves in the chattel principle, the property principle, the bill of sale principle:  the cart whip, starvation, and nakedness are its inevitable consequences.”  

  • break up of nuclear families and marriages
  • black women valued for productive and reproductive abilities
  • rape was inevitable aspect of slave life.

p.66  Paternalistic and Proslavery Christianity

interracial interaction in church did not come from the egalitarian aspirations of white Christians; rather, interracial congregations were an expression of paternalism and a means of controlling slave beliefs and preventing slave insurrection.  

p.69  Charles Finney, president of Oberlin College, great preacher of the 2nd Great Awakening.  

He stood for abolition but against integration:  social reform would come through individual conversion not through the reform of institutions.  Social change comes about through evangelization.  ‘Once a person believes in Christ as Savior and Lord, he or she would naturally work toward justice and change.’  

“This belief led to a fixation on individual conversion without a corresponding focus on transforming the racist policies and practices of institutions, a stance that has remained a constant feature of American evangelicalism and has furthered the American church’s easy compromise with slavery and racism.” 

Breakout Rooms

1.  What did you notice in pages 1-70 that was new to you?  This is very open-ended.  Please make note of any themes and repeated questions.

2.  What is the connection between the points that David made about Ezekiel 34 and the experience of racial injustice in the church?  

3.  From the opening third of the book, how might God be leading Restoration to respond?  Very open-ended.  We will ask this question regularly, listening for congruence and repeated themes

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

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

A statement on the death of George Floyd and so many others

God formed all of us in His image: male and female. He said that we are good. He delighted in what He had made.

But each of us, in our own way, chose something besides God to trust and worship. We ended up far from Him- alone, burdened by guilt.

God did not forget us. He came for us. Jesus took us and stood in place for us and died for us and rose again as a promise for us.

One day, all of us, every person of every skin tone and culture, who has been redeemed by Christ’s finished work will reign together in the renewal of all things. Together.

This is our confident hope.

The tragic murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests around the country have exposed how busted this world is. They have reminded that while we have been focusing on the ‘new normal’ that is coming out of this pandemic, there is an ‘old normal’ that has caused longstanding fractures, injustice, and suffering in our communities. We got rightly distracted by a pandemic. But the pain that was there before is still there. The evil of racial injustice persists.

Restoration mourns the death of our brother in Christ, George Floyd. We mourn the loss of yet another precious human who was made in the image of God and was taken out by the injustice and evil in this world. Every person is of immense worth because they bear the fingerprint of their Maker. We work urgently to help them be reconciled to God and to each other. We feel the loss when one of us dies.

A couple days before Pentecost, four Anglican bishops composed a statement on George Floyd’s death that articulates our grief and our hope. We are grateful for these words and they describe Restoration’s viewpoint on Mr. Floyd’s death. I commend them to you. May these words keep your heart tender and guide your prayers.

-The Rev. David Hanke, Rector

A Letter Concerning the Death of George Floyd and So Many Others

George Floyd was made in the image of God and as such is a person of utmost value. This is not true because a few Anglican Bishops issue a letter. This conviction arises from our reading of Scripture. The Psalmist said:

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well (Psalm 139:13-14).

The opening book of our Scriptures declares the value of all human life:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27)

What happened to George is an affront to God because his status as an image-bearer was not respected. He was treated in a way that denied his basic humanity. Our lament is real. But our lament is not limited to George and his family. We mourn alongside the wider Black community for whom this tragedy awakens memories of their own traumas and the larger history of systemic oppression that still plagues this country.

George’s death is not merely the most recent evidence that proves racism exists against Black people in this country. But it is a vivid manifestation of the ongoing devaluation of black life. At the root of all racism is a heretical anthropology that devalues the Imago Dei in us all.  The gospel reveals that all are equally created, sinful, and equally in the need of the saving work of Christ. The racism we lament is not just interpersonal. It exists in the implicit and explicit customs and attitudes that do disproportionate harm to ethnic minorities in the country. In other words, too often racial bias has been combined with political power to create inequalities that still need to be eradicated.

As bishops in the ACNA, we commit ourselves to stand alongside those in the Black community as they contend for a just society, not as some attempt to transform America into the kingdom of God, but as a manifestation of neighborly love and bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ.  We confess that too often ethnic minorities have felt like contending for biblical justice has been a burden that they bear alone.

In the end, our hope is not in our efforts but in the shed blood of Jesus that reconciles God to humanity and humans to each other. Our hope is that our churches become places where the power of the gospel to bring together the nations of the earth (Rev 7:9) is seen in our life together as disciples. Such work cannot be carried out by an individual letter in a time of crisis. We commit to educating ourselves and the churches under our charge within a biblical and theological frame to face the problems of our day. We likewise commit to partnering with like-minded churches in the work of justice and reconciliation.

The Feast of Pentecost is here in a couple of days. The power of the Spirit is loosed to convict of sin and deliver us from its power. Our prayer is that in a country as diverse as these United States, the church will be united in the essential truths of Christianity including its concern for the most vulnerable. So…Come Holy Spirit. Mediate to us and all the earth, we pray, the victory of Jesus over the principalities and powers that seek to rule and cause death and destruction in this time between the times. Come Holy Spirit.

Almighty God, on this day, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, you revealed the way of eternal life to every race and nation: Pour out this gift anew, that by the preaching of the Gospel your salvation may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, you created us in your own image: Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and help us to use our freedom rightly in the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Sincerely in Christ,

Bishops Jim Hobby, Todd Hunter, Stewart Ruch III, and Steve Wood

Rector’s Update: May 20, 2020

Screen Shot 2020-05-20 at 12.52.35 PM

 

Rector’s Update: May 15

SCREEN SHOT 2020-05-15 AT 12.03.51 PM

Rector’s Update: May 15, 2020

© Copyright Restoration Anglican Church