Alarming Grace

I set off the alarm at church a couple weeks ago.  It was awful.  I unlocked the door, ready to punch in the code, which I did.  But, it was the wrong code.  The blinking red light indicated as much.  And, so, I punched the wrong code in again.  And again.  Beads of sweat formed on my brow as I realized that my time in which to get it right before the alarm went off was dwindling.  But I persisted.  The same numbers over and over.  The same wrong numbers over and over.  And then, I ran out of time.  The alarm shrieked at a decibel-level that, I am sure, sent wild dogs howling.  I dashed to the phone and called in my mistake, giving not only my address and phone number, but my full name and a description of what I had done wrong.  The gentleman with whom I spoke was so polite.  Kind.  Gentle.  Forgiving.  He turned off the alarm and those wild dogs and I returned with relief.

As the now-silenced shriek continued to resonate as a dull whoosh-whoosh-whooshing sound in my ears, I was struck by it all.  There I was, trying to enter the code.  My mistake was met first by a blinking red light, indicating that something was wrong.  But, I persisted, knowing full well that it must be the light that was wrong, not I.  Punch.  Blink.  Punch.  Blink.  Punch.  Shriek!  The sound of the alarm not only halted my punching, but sent me running to the phone, and, eventually, to read the words on the keypad that told me what I had been doing wrong; what I should have done.  This was followed by the conversation with the gentleman from the alarm company who graciously walked me through what I should have done and then helped me to correct it.  Our conversation ended with my apology and his forgiveness and his setting things right again.

Isn’t that so like our Heavenly Father?  We are heading down a path of destruction and He gives us a warning.  We continue until we take notice of His “noisier” warning.  We run to His word for guidance.  Talk with Him and repent of our mistake.  He forgives and sets all things right again.  Praise be to the One whose alarming grace is sufficient for us!

-Louise-

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.  (Ephesians 1:7)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Making a Difference in Moldova

A post from Jesse Blaine:

Recently, a friend of mine sent over a link for me to watch a YouTube video titled “Stella’s Voice”.   Based on what he heard about our church’s involvement in a far off land called Moldova, he thought that his video was worth the watch.  He was right.

The short set of clips tells the story of what happening in Moldova from the point of view of those who have been affected by the conditions the most.  Because I work for a ministry that has been drawn into these types of situations I spend a lot of time trying to understand and explains situations like those portrayed in the clip.  I think from now on, I’m just going to play this clip and end with, “any questions?”

While there are a few things in this video people might not call “best practices”, it’s amazing to see the impact that God has when He uses His disciples to be a part of changing lives.

I count it a privilege to be a part of a congregation that displays its values by real involvement with real issues that exist both in the immediate vicinity and those found in a forgotten former Soviet Republic.

It’s hard sometimes to be a few levels removed from the specific lives our congregation is touching….which is precisely why we wanted this video on our website.  The project that we – that is, you and me – are involved with in Moldova is making a real impact in the lives of girls just like these.  They have come to know protection, love, job skills, and most importantly the one who makes all things new!

Here’s a quick video of our own. Not as cool, I know, but it’s of me walking through the tailoring shop we all helped to fund.  This shop is going to provide these girls with job skills, and some income!

Thanks Restoration!
Jesse Blaine

From Bananas to Jesus

From Bananas to Jesus

a post from Louise Brooks

I am so grateful that I have friends and family who like bananas.  Really.  Like.  Bananas.  This week I needed to have some ready to eat the day I bought them and others for later in the week.  So, at the grocery store on Wednesday, I bought LOTS of bananas.  Some really ripe and some slightly green.  Some in bunches and some single.  As the cashier at the grocery store was piling and balancing this assortment of yummy-ness on the scale, I felt compelled to explain why I had so many bananas.  And, as God would have it, the cashier and I began chatting.  First, about bananas, then about how they ate them in her country, and then I asked her more about her home and her family.  And that’s when the conversation shifted.

I asked her if she still had family in her country in Africa and she waved her hand and said, “Mother.  Father.  Sister.  Brother.  All gone.  My sister . . . The medicine . . . They couldn’t . . . She died . . .” and her eyes filled with tears.

“Oh.  I am so sorry.  That must be so hard,” I bumbled.  And then I said, “My friend recently went to Africa on a medical missions trip.  He went to find out if he wants to be a doctor.  He told me it was hard.  He told me he loved the people and the country.  He’s going to go to school now to become a doctor.”

And then she smiled and said, “Yes.  It is hard, but in our country we have God and we go to church and we pray to God.  And that gives us hope!”

“Amen!” I proclaimed.  “I don’t know what I would do without God!”  And we knew then that we were sisters.  So, I charged ahead and asked, “Have you found a church here?  Where are you going to church?”

The smile faded.  The hand waved.  The tears came again.  “It’s just . . . It’s hard . . . It’s not . . .”

And, so, I invited her to Restoration.  “You should come to our church!  We would love to have you!  We meet on Quincy Street in a little brick church not far from here.”  And I blurted out all the details I could in the hopes that she might say “Yes!”; that she might want to come to this place where we love and are loved; where we worship and encourage and support.  She asked me to write down all those details.  So now she has a little piece of paper with a name and an address and a phone number and nearby landmarks and an invitation to come be part of the hope that is in Christ Jesus.

I think about those bananas and how by peeling that protective skin piece by piece – question by question – you get to the sweet, nutritious fruit within.

May our conversations with others yield great fruit.

Be still . . .

Post by Louise Brooks

Outside my kitchen window, in a tree at the edge of my little Arlington backyard, there was a bird that sat on a branch.  But this bird was so still that I thought it was simply a leaf shaped like a bird.  I spent at least one full minute staring out the window in study and examination as my thoughts fluttered between being sure that what I saw was a leaf . . . no, a bird!  Wait!  Then – just when I squinted hard enough to see that, yes, indeed, it was just a leaf shaped like a bird – it flew away.

I am stunned by the stillness of this bird.  Not a twitch or a ruffle or a song to hint at what it is.  Just a bird.  At rest.  And I am convinced once again that if I, too, were more like this bird – still, at rest, not distracted – not only would I have better eyesight, but then I, too, could fly.

Be still.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10)

“The LORD gives sight to the blind.”  (Psalm 146:8)

“My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.”  (Psalm 25:15)

There and Back Again

A post from Global Outreach Team leader Mary Ann Calhoun:

I remember being pretty intimidated by the thought of going on a “mission trip.” I didn’t think I was a spiritual giant and was pretty sure I didn’t have a whole lot to offer.  I loved the thought of adventure but was wondering things like how do I “share the gospel” when I don’t speak the language? How do I survive a week without a blow dryer? Starbucks? Will God show up? These questions were all answered because I went. And God showed up — much to my surprise.

We have three who ‘went’ and returned and would love to tell how they saw God working and to invite us all to hear what God might be calling us as a church to.

  • Andrew ThompsonUganda: the Batwa hospital and development project
  • Cindy DarnellKenya: David’s Hope
  • Jesse BlaineMoldova: Restoration-supported girls’ home and new sustainability projects.

This Friday, March 25 at 7:30 pm at the church.

Wine, cheese and other treats served 🙂

See you there!

a call to pray and listen

My Dear Restoration,

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

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

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

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

What’s next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love,  David

What do you do?


What do you do? I love this question.  Especially when it is followed by–  I see you on Sundays, but…  what do you do?  How do you spend your time?  I really do love this question–  and I love hearing about how you all spend your time.  I’m always curious about what lawyers and bankers and Hill Staffers do during the week.  We all seem very busy.  What are we DOING?  This is a good week to give you a peek into my world.

Mondays: I’m off.  I sleep in.  I read the Sunday Washington Post.  I take my kids to school.  I have lunch with Laurel.  I read stuff that has nothing to do with ‘church’.  I have a more leisurely workout.  I pick my kids up from school.  I try to not check any email.  Mondays are my Sabbath.  I’m trying to get better at resting…

Tuesday: I get up between 5 and 5:30, have some time with God and 30 minutes of exercise.  This week I had a breakfast meeting at 6:30 with the Long Range Facility Team.  These fantastic servants meet once a month.  I run home to help get the kids out the door.  My office is in the Southgate complex at The Falls Church (Erin and Becky also have offices here, Andrew has an office in a closet at TFC–  we hope to be moving to new office space this summer.)  I work on my sermon from 9:30-12:00 with a 30 minute interruption for a conference call with Anglican District of VA pastors at 10.  At noon, I drive to McLean to have lunch with a new couple at our church.  I get to hear their story, their passions, what makes them tick…  I love these conversations.  From McLean, I drive to the ‘bucks in Arlington at Spout Run (I spend a lot of time here).  For about 45 minutes I answer email as fast as I can, then I meet a colleague who is considering a vocation shift.  I love this guy and his heart for ministry.  He leaves after an hour and Matt Hoppe walks in after a long day teaching 5th grade.  Matt and I talk for an hour about worship equipment, worship music, worship space, kids, family, houses…  I have one of these meetings with each of our staff once a month.  This is my chance to hear and pray about what is happening below the task lists and agendas.  Matt is such a gift to Restoration.  I throw Matt out of ‘bucks at 4:25 so I can write a few more emails, then I sprint home for my weekly piano lesson at 5.  My boys go first and I roll in for the grand finale.  Fun to do this together.  5:40 I throw all 3 kids in the car and take Macrae and a friend to lacrosse practice.  Home by 6:15–  hand the kids to Laurel and I leave for the church to meet the caterer.  40 people show up around 7 for our new member dinner.  We have tables set up in every open space downstairs.  What a fun night–  great conversations, great ideas and dreams for Restoration.  I am so thankful for the people God keeps bringing to Restoration.  The dinner wraps up at 9.  I usually have an evening meeting on every Tuesday–  vestry, small group leaders, etc.  Andrew T, his brother, and I tear everything down and put the tables away.  Home around 10, house is asleep…

Wednesday:  up early again.  I lead a weekly small group at 6:30am.  As usual, I’m a few minutes late…  Back home by 7:45–  we have plumbers and pest control people arriving at 8 because our house has been infested with rats.  I greet them and help them find everything they need.  I say a big prayer that they finally get rid of them all…  yuck.  9-11:30 is spent in sermon prep.  At 11:30 I touch base with Becky about the worship guide, expense reports, paying the caterer, re-keying the doors at church, mailing thank you notes, purchasing stationary and 9volt batteries…  at 12:30 I arrive in Alexandria to have lunch with David Glade, the pastor of TFC’s Alexandria church plant, Christ the King.  Nothing urgent on the agenda–  just talking about buildings, vestries, staff hires, vision for the future, and families.  Glade is a great guy and I appreciate him as a colleague.  About 2, I arrive at the Lee-Heights ‘bucks in Arlington (I spend a lot of time here, too) and furiously write email for 30 minutes.  Erin Bair walks in at 2:30 and we have our monthly ‘below the surface’ check in like I had with Matt the day before.  I am so thankful for Erin’s partnership and concerned as she limps around from her sprained ankle–  pastoring is a dangerous job 🙂  At 3:45 all the staff gather at Louise Brooks’ house for our weekly staff meeting.  We spend 10 minutes in silence, listening to God and what He is saying about us, our roles, and the church.  We share for a few minutes, then we pray for a while about what God is doing in us and through us.  Around 4:30 we talk through business–  issues with the facility, outreach plans in May, a car wash for AFAC, middle school plans, creating better systems for connecting new comers to the church, any special needs for the Sundays in May…  staff meetings are mostly a chance for us to pray together and to talk about any issues that are concerning us.  God is really developing us into a team and I’m thankful for that.  At 5:30 I get home, help with dinner, get the kids down, and enjoy a night at home.

Thursday:  2 writing blocks of 2 hours today.  A conference call at noon with our treasurer, vestry folks, and facility folks.  Thursdays are the day I write the small group leader guide and pull the sermon into a rough presentable format…  ideally 🙂

Friday: I take Helen to pre-school.  I have lunch with people in the church.  I finish writing in the afternoon.

Thursdays and Fridays have much fewer meetings and much more time to write and pray.  I like having days like Tue/wed AND having days like Thur/Fri.  It is a fun, high energy week.  Saturday night, after the kids are down, I’ll do one more review of stuff for Sunday.  Then I’ll get up early on Sunday and look at it again.  Staff and volunteers start arriving at church at 7 and we are ready to go by 8:15–  usually 🙂

Bottom line, I love this job.  I love how I spend my time.  I love the variety of meetings and people I talk with.  I love how many different kinds of things I have to think about and do each week–  keeps me interested and out of trouble.  What are your favorite blocks of time during the week?


Art Music Justice


Here’s something several Restoration members are working on that you’ll want to make space for in your calendar:

Art/Music/Justice

It’s a weekend event featuring concerts (Sara Groves & Jars of Clay), an art show, and a day full of thought-provoking speakers in interactive seminars.  Come for all or part of it!  Throughout the weekend, we’ll have the opportunity to talk in new ways about stewardship and integration.  We’ll think about ideas to incorporate our faith into all the corners of our lives.  And we’ll ask what it means to follow a loving and just God who has equipped us to do something about injustice.

Overall, we’ll be challenged to think in new ways about the resources God has given each of us–  our skills, passions and circumstances–  and how we can fully use them for God’s good purposes.

Tickets are only available on the AMJ website. Set aside the day to have your heart stirred.

Restoration

Hope you are enjoying a different kind of weekend.  As you watch and shovel snow, I invite you to take a few minutes to read some thoughts from Cindy D.  Where is God bringing restoration for you?

Cindy: I’ve been pondering what “restoration” means and I’m curious what it means to you. Right now I have three main thoughts bumping around in my brain and I’m curious what you all think. I thought this would be a timely discussion given we are celebrating a year of this thing called Restoration Anglican Church. Here goes…


First: I heard this awesome song on my iPod that haven’t heard in ages (gotta love the ability to shuffle through my 3000 songs and find buried treasures!)…Nichole Nordeman’s Anyway (lyrics below). I’ve always loved this song and its imagery of a beautiful painting buried underneath dirt and grime that is wiped away over time. See picture from www.alamrestorations.com/). I think it’s an amazing picture of the sanctification process that is at work in us after we choose to follow Jesus– being ever more transformed in to the image of Christ until the day we are finally and ultimately restored and we see Him face to face.

Even better though is the idea that God loves us anyway and places us on His “wall”. In all honesty, I’m still working on fully grasping this one. How He can see my dirt and grime (i.e. sin) and love me anyway is beyond me, but I am humbled and thankful for it! Much more comfortable for me is the idea that’s also painted here of our own efforts to scrape and scuff away the dirt that don’t ultimately make any difference in God’s love for us. He loves us regardless of the dirt and grime because He sees the beauty He created in us. This is not to say the polishing and shining here on earth are useless – as He polishes and shines us (through the conviction of the Holy Spirit among other things) it allows us to shine His light more fully in a dark world.

Anyway – Nichole Nordeman

Bless the day this restoration is complete
.  Dirty dusty something must be underneath.  
So I scrape and I scuff
–  Though it’s never quite enough
.  I’m starting to see me finally

.

A gallery of paintings new and paintings old
.  I guess it’s no surprise that I’m no Michelangelo
.  Every layer of mine hides a lovely design.  
It might take a little patience.  
It might take a little time.  

But you called me beautiful
–  When you saw my shame
.  And you placed me on the wall
, Anyway
.

You who have begun this work will someday see.  
A portrait of the holiness you meant for me
.  So I polish and shine
–  til it’s easier to find even an outline of mine.

But you called me beautiful.  
When you saw my shame.  
And you placed me on the wall
, Anyway.

Second: As one who is experienced at waiting, Joel 2:25 (“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten”) is a concept I have seen play out in my own life as well as many others. It’s encouraging to remember God’s promises and the fulfillment I’ve seen and experienced. On a lighter note, a friend recently joked about this verse with regard to their waiting, “Those are some pretty fat locusts!”

Finally, as I’ve been pondering this idea of restoration, I did a little word study on it. Amazingly the Hebrew word occurs 1,066 times in the Old Testament! The general themes are restoring the people of Israel to the Promised Land, restoring people to their fortunes as well as restoring people to God. Even more amazing is the fact that the Greek word for restoration only occurs 13 times in the New Testament. My thought on this is that Jesus, as the fulfillment of so many of God’s promises, embodies the idea of restoration that was so prevalent in the Old Testament…pretty cool!

So, those are my thoughts… What does Restoration mean to you? How can we encourage each other to be more and more fully “restored”?

And it came to pass in those days…

Chinese_Nativity-782935 We’re gathering this evening at 4:00 and at 7:00 to hear the great good news of God’s love for us, from the beginning all the way to that manger in Bethlehem.  Come hear the story and join in singing some of the great Christmas carols!

Whether you can recite Luke’s gospel right along with Linus or this is all brand new for you, come!  We’d love to have you.

Merry Christmas!

(PS — Nursery available at the 4:00 service only.)

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