Anglican — what’s that?

I’ve been told by Liz and David that shameless self-promotion of our small groups is perfectly acceptable, so here goes:

You should really join my small group.

David with fellow Anglicans in Nairobi

David with fellow Anglicans in Nairobi

Why? Because we’re going to be talking about what it means to be Anglican. After all, it’s a third of our name. The “Restoration” part comes from the big project God is up to in the world, and the “Church” part is pretty self-evident. But that whole “Anglican” bit? Not so much.

“Anglican” is part of our name. And it’s the name of our denomination. But it’s more than that. I describe Anglicanism as a particular way of being a Christian. It’s certainly not the only way of being a Christian. But it’s a really good one. And at Restoration, it shapes our worship, grounds our theology, provides a pattern to our spiritual lives, and connects us to an entire community of Christians throughout the world.

So why would you want to learn more about what it means to be Anglican?

  • You, like me, are kind of a church nerd, and just think this stuff is interesting. [Crickets…]
  • You really like Restoration, but you don’t really know why we do a lot of the stuff we do (like reciting scripted prayers, or baptizing babies, or making the sign of the cross, or having Communion every week). You’d like to learn more about the church, what we believe, where all this stuff came from, and why it’s relevant today.
  • You’ve decided Restoration is where you belong, and you’d like to take the next step in your faith commitment — by being confirmed.

What’s it mean to be confirmed? I’ve written about it more extensively here and here (ignore the date-specific details — the posts are a couple of years old), but the brief explanation is that confirmation is an opportunity to make a public declaration of your Christian faith, to express your desire to live out that faith in an Anglican context, and to have a bishop lay hands on you and pray for you to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit for the work God has called you to do. It’s a powerful experience.

Greg, a Restoration member who was confirmed last year, described why he was choosing to be confirmed:

My time at Restoration has truly cemented much of the transformation that was begun in 2005.  Restoration truly has been a source of healing from wounds that I am still identifying. Communing with fellow members weekly, hearing the word from David, singing as a community with Matt, and our fellowship with Erin, has given me a taste of the redemptive beauty of the body that Christ suffered and died to create. The intimacy that Elaine and I shared with Ray and BJ during pre-marital counseling offered a glimpse of the type of fellowship described of the Churches in Acts. And, perhaps most important of all, I am astonished by the beauty that is the Anglican liturgy and the manifestations of our faith at Restoration. My confirmation in the Anglican Church of North America is the next step of God’s redemption of my life.

If you’ve experienced something like Greg has during your time at Restoration, then confirmation might be a great next step for you.

Bishop John Guernsey will be visiting Restoration on March 30, 2014, and he will celebrate confirmations then. If you would like to be confirmed, you must be part of this small group. But the small group is open to everyone, whether or not you’re interested in confirmation. We’ll meet Monday evenings beginning on January 27 from 7:30 – 9:00 pm in the Library at Little Falls.

So go ahead and register today! Questions? Leave a comment below, or hop over here and choose “Confirmation” from the drop-down menu.

– Erin

Welcoming the Stranger Followup

 

Entertaining Angels Unawares by David Avisar

Over the last couple of weeks, we invited anyone who was interested to come to two open events hosted by the Welcoming the Stranger small group. Both events were a great combination of being challenging and a lot of fun.

On October 30th, Dawnielle Miller shared how she and others founded Casa Chirilagua. It was so helpful to hear her perspective on the practical ways that she responded to God’s call to welcome the stranger and the ways that God has led and provided for them over the last several years. If you feel led to reach out to internationals but aren’t sure where to begin, the folks at Casa Chirilagua have done a lot of hard work to provide venues and opportunities to do so. Check out what’s going on at www.casachirilagua.

On November 6th, James and Faith Cha, of the Crescent Project, came to tell their story of being welcomed to the U.S. as kids, particularly the simple yet life-changing ways that members of local churches reached out to them. They also shared the ways they’ve found of sharing the Gospel with the people they come into contact with, especially people from different cultural backgrounds. Two things stood out to me:

1) One way they challenged us was to be more spontaneous. We can miss opportunities to love the people around us (in all sorts of ways, not just limited to evangelism!) because we’re so intent on getting to the next thing on our list. Having even just a little flexibility in our schedules can go a long way towards being open to respond to the people that God brings across our path.

2) A second challenge that I found convicting was to simply be bold. It’s just not that big of a deal to tell someone you’re a Christian. It’s not that big of a deal to invite someone to church. It’s not even that big of a deal to offer to pray for someone on the spot who isn’t a Christian. It is remarkable how much more open people are to us expressing our Christianity than we might expect, especially those who come from highly religious cultures.

Thanks to those of you who were able to join us. Our small group will be spending the next couple of weeks thinking and praying about how to build on the conversations we’ve been having this trimester, and particularly what the next trimester will look like. If you’re interested in being part of this aspect of our church’s life, we’d love to have you.   Feel free to contact me at clay@restorationarlington.org.

Clay

Welcoming the Stranger – You’re invited!

This trimester, one of the small groups at Restoration is trying something new.  Our small group is called Welcoming the Stranger, and we’re focusing on making connections with immigrants – those we already know and some we have yet to come into contact with.

Welcome the Stranger Pic

One of the themes that we’ve been discussing is God’s passionate concern for those who are far from home (Deut. 10:18-19; Jer. 7:5-7; Ps. 68:6).  It’s a beautiful thing to discover that the God of the universe truly cares about people who are potentially lonely, marginalized, stigmatized, or at an economic disadvantage.  In fact, he actually gets pretty upset when his people are apathetic about these situations (Matt. 25:43).

A second theme we’ve been discussing is the way God’s passion is expressed – in the form of a relatively simple call to us to extend a welcome to the stranger (Matt. 25:35; Hebrews 13:2).  When we were far from God, he welcomed us into his family, and welcoming the stranger is one way that we can extend that same type of love to others.  Our small group has been thinking and praying about what this might look like in our lives.

Each of us has thought of simple but creative ways to put this into practice: signing up for ESOL and conversation partner programs; allowing time in our schedules to stop and have conversations with people that we come into contact with at stores or at work; or becoming a presence in places where immigrant communities tend to spend their time, such as parks and coffee shops.  These open up possibilities for meaningful conversations throughout the day and even opportunities for the kind of deeper relationship where you might welcome someone into your home for a meal.

Our discussions have been informative about the different facets of immigration and the demographics of Arlington and the DC area.  They’ve also been convicting at a heart level as we’ve wrestled with making lifestyle changes for God’s kingdom.  But most of all, we’ve gotten a deeper sense of excitement for the possibility that the church could be known as a welcoming place for immigrants who move to our neighborhoods.

We’d love to share this vision with the church, and we have two events coming up that might be of interest to you. 

  • On October 30th, at 7:30pm, Dawnielle Miller (who is well-known to many of us!) is going to share about how Casa Chirilagua has worked to build relationships with, provide resources for, and share Christ with immigrants from Latin America. 
  • On November 6th, James and Faith Cha, who work with the Crescent Project, will be sharing their story of how churches welcomed them as immigrants to the U.S.  They have, in turn, responded to God’s call to welcome the stranger here and found very creative, practical ways of doing so.

We’d love it if you joined us for these events.  We’re excited about what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives, and it would be great if you joined the conversation.  If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to contact me at clay@restorationarlington.org.

-Clay

The Love Arlington Small Group speaks out!

I am drawn to the Gospel because of the density of the stories and teaching, and I am consistently enthralled with Jesus’s love and service to the marginalized. Of course Jesus interacted with priests, leaders, and the wealthy, but it is obvious that Jesus intended to interact with and engage with those less fortunate. Likewise, the marginalized are drawn to Jesus as these same stories demonstrate people’s motivation to reach out to Jesus (digging holes in roofs, climbing trees, pressing forward in crowds to touch cloaks).

Jesus provides us direction to continue this ministry by asking us to love our neighbors (Luke 10:30-37) and the Love Arlington small group kicked off an effort to do this last spring. I was surprised by the breadth and depth of the needs of our marginalized community even though Arlington is a wealthy and sophisticated town.  However, I was personally amazed and thankful for the level of conviction and love our small group members demonstrated.photo

We reached out to the marginalized, they responded warmly and we had the opportunity to love and serve the elderly, homeless, ex-offenders, the trafficked, and the hungry. We felt God guiding our efforts and facilitating interactions with the community. Some moments particularly struck me:

  • Love Arlington folks warmly embracing the elderly –  talking, praying, and singing together
  • Establishing relationships with the homeless and supporting their journey to securing subsidized housing
  • Refreshing and cleaning a drop in center serving trafficked youth to let them know they are important and loved
  • Brokering introductions between the jobless and the local business community
  • Being invited to hang out and spend time with where the homeless gather because we were accepted as friends

We intended to serve and pour out love, but we oftentimes felt like the recipients of warmth and grace. Serving together as Love Arlington also provided an unparalleled opportunity to develop relationships with each other and we are thankful for the new friendships.

I believe we are called and encouraged to try and live out God’s kingdom on earth. In fact, God may be asking our assistance in helping keep appointments for Him. Serving the local community through outreach is an opportunity to make a small contribution to helping the marginalized and it will also strengthen your connection to God by surrendering yourself to his will.

We look forward to a new semester of growth and opportunity this fall. Why not join us?

Love Arlington, Weds 7.30pm – sign up here!

Brent Jones

Worship is for Lovers: summertime at Restoration

Sign-up here now!

“Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

 (Psalm 1:1-2)

Thousands of years ago, the Psalmist recognized something that our modern era is only slowly learning to appreciate again: ritual. If there’s a word in our Christian vocabulary that’s gotten a bad rap in the last couple centuries, it’s “ritual.” Sometimes you hear it as shorthand for mindless acts of devotion that keep religious people busy, or for something quaint and sentimental, like when secular people put up Christmas trees in December.

Psalm 1 speaks of ritual practice, but it’s hardly mindless or sentimental. Granted, it doesn’t deal with “rituals” like religious festivals or fasting. But notice how the Psalm speaks of routine activities we perform with our bodies: walking, standing, sitting, meditating, and that day and night. That’s because the “law of the Lord” is a four-dimensional thing, something lived in space and time (though also contemplated in the mind). Israel’s book of worship opens with this hymn, suggesting that this is somehow what worship—indeed, life—is all about. We train our affections to delight in the law of the Lord.

I think the book of Psalms begins like this because rituals are routine practices that shape who we are at the most fundamental level of our lives. They give shape to our desires and fashion our loves. They are everywhere, and most of the time we aren’t even aware of it when we perform them. As Christian philosopher James K. A. Smith puts it, we are worshipping animals.

You know who really gets this? Starbucks. When I worked there as a barista, their mission was to become our clientele’s “third place,” after their home and work places. So we hoped to seduce coffee-lovers through what might be called a Starbucks liturgy. A smiling barista would greet you from behind the counter as soon as you enter the door, and (if possible) would welcome you by name. After reading the bulletin (our menu), admiring the icons (our quirky wall-art), and making an offering (at the register), you would partake of the elements in your favorite pew (a plush loveseat) with the rest of the congregants enjoying the aroma of the coffee-scented incense. Ideally for Starbucks, this simple routine would become embedded in your daily rhythm of life.

The Christian Church, of course, has its own liturgy or set of rituals, which are designed to channel our deepest desires to the Triune God, who is love. And this Church exists in a world of competing liturgies, like those of Starbucks (or nation states, neighborhood associations, fraternity and sorority houses, corporate structures, etc.), which are always trying to direct our loves toward other things. In this class I want to examine how Christian practices (ancient, everyday-things-people-got-martyred-for practices that we still do today) play this role of formation in our lives.

In our first four weeks, we’ll study in depth the practices of worship and devotion that the Holy Spirit has used over the centuries to shape the church into the Bride of Christ, who adores (imperfectly, in this life) her all-loving Husband. These include our Sunday liturgy (especially the Eucharist), scripture reading, daily prayer, the creeds, the church year, etc. I am an historian of the Bible and ancient church by training, so my hope is that you’ll gain a fresh appreciation for what we do in the present by digging into the past.

In the last four weeks, we’ll turn our attention to the situation in which we find ourselves in the postmodern world. This part of the class will be much more creative. What forces are at work in our culture, at the level of practice, competing for our loves in our corner of the world in 2013? How can we identify and respond to them in a way that is relevant yet rooted in our historic faith? I’m open to seeing what issues are of interest to the group; potential topics include the arts, internet and social media, the institutions in which we work, etc.

So please join me Wednesday nights in July and August to study (or, better, pursue) the Christian life as one of worship. It is something we do body and soul, “day and night.” It is a historic pattern of practices, and the goal to “delight in the Lord.” That is: worship is for lovers.

David Griffin

Time: Wednesdays at 7:30pm – 9:00pm

Dates: July 3- Aug. 21

Location: The Treehouse Room, Little Falls Presbyterian Church

From Lies to Light – New ID Small Group

I like to think I can tell lies from truth, but it is surprisingly difficult at times. The hardest lies to decipher are often the one that swarm around inside of our heads, trapping us in dark places and keeping us away from the light of truth.

On April 24 I will start leading New ID, a six week course with teachings, testimonies, discussion groups and prayer for anyone struggling with disordered eating. As I prepare, old lies come to mind. I went through New ID at my church in Charlotte, NC in 2007 after an almost 10 year battle with disordered eating. I came SO close to not attending the course. “Surely you don’t struggle with food THAT much, Christie,” I told myself.  “You have been so much better this week! I bet that means you don’t need help after all.” Another lie.

These lies I told myself almost kept me from truth and freedom. Almost.

Instead, by God’s grace, I went through the course, fought the battle of recovery and have experienced freedom in Christ I never dreamt possible. I was brought out of captivity and am now called to help the many other men and women that struggle in those chains I wore for far too long.

Restoration is a place where broken people are being made whole. I love that our church is not afraid of getting our hands dirty, being honest with ourselves and each other and loving each other deeply throughout the process. Being involved in a small group keeps us out of isolation and in the light.

Please pray that those in our church body currently experiencing bondage to food and weight would step into the light of truth and find their true identity in Christ.

To learn more about New ID email me christine.dondero@gmail.com at  or read my blog.

And register for the small group  TODAY! It’s number 14 in the SG list .

In His Marvelous Light,

Christie

 

 

What if every person…

On Sunday we gathered for the first time at Little Falls Presbyterian Church at 5pm.  We considered that the disciples were waiting for the Holy Spirit in those 50 days after Easter because they needed to be prepared for the Holy Spirit.  Waiting got them ready.

Our church is now in a season of waiting–  for a new building, for the incubation of vision and plans.

So if that’s what God is up to at Restoration, what if we all responded by saying yes to a few thing?

  • What if all of us came to the 4pm pre-service prayer meeting?  What if our posture for 40 minutes was–  God we want to hear what you have for us next.  We are opening our hearts to you.  We are willing for you to send us.  We are willing to change our behavior.  We’ll sing.  We’ll hear Scripture.  We’ll pray.  And we will listen.  What if all of us made a little more space on Sundays to pray?
  • What if all of us signed up for a small group this trimester?  We have some really interesting topics–  St. Augustine’s Confessions;  Vocation, Work, and Faith;  Thinking Rightly about Food and our Bodies [New Id for women only]; plus our normal allotment of small groups that are digging into the Bible texts that are being preached on Sundays.  What if every person who worshiped on Sunday was in a small group during the week?  They start this Sunday.
  • What if every man came to the Men’s Retreat on April 27-28?  What if every man had 36 hours to meet new guys, pray, laugh, study the Bible, and eat meat?  What if we decided to pursue God in the company of friends?
  • What if all of us considered going deeper in with one of our outreach partners?  Would you consider being on a team that is serving people we love in West VA from July 3-7?  Would you consider being on a team that is building relationships in Asia?  Would you consider serving with our friends at Casa Chirilagua?  Send us a note if you are interested.  We believe that God has opportunities for us to go deeper in each of these places.  What if all of us considered going?

We are in a season of waiting.  It could be the most exciting season yet at Restoration.  What if all of us said yes?

-David

Love Arlington Small Group

While driving to church recently, my wife Melody and I were talking about how we explore and align our interests in serving our local community. The Lord responded the instant we walked into RAC’s door. We were handed the official “RAC Outreach Guide” outlining the incredible work underway by our church body, and we listened to a sermon about Jesus declaring his ministry to the marginalized.

RAC’s active support and prayer for these diverse outreach initiatives has built our church’s institutional wisdom in how to reveal Christ to the world, and has created a greater awareness of the needs of our community. We are all generally aware that Arlington has good job availability, solid schools, and an appealing environment. However, Arlington is also a community to the homeless, trafficked women and immigrants, under loved children, and the unemployed.

The Love Arlington Small Group will kick off this spring to explore and determine where Jesus is directing us to serve.

We will meet weekly and engage with people on the margins of society in order to develop relationships. Our endeavors will range from the pedestrian to the adventuresome, but will always be guided by a spirit of service. We expect to share more information at services over the next few weeks – but if you are already interested please email me or Liz.

Brent Jones

Friday Meanderings

The tension of Freedom and the Common Good

This is one of those days when all the tensions of personal freedom come front and center.  I love our country and that we have endeavored to provide a place that provides liberty and self-direction.  But I am reminded that there are limits.  As much as we value liberty, we are not truly free to do whatever we want.  Nor would we want to live in a place like that.  We all give up some of our liberty for the sake of the common good.

We give up some privacy for the sake of security.  We give up some personal money for the sake of collective services that benefit all.  And we give up our ability to choose whatever we want to do, when our actions have consequences for those around us.

The place where we wrestle, fight, and scream at each other is where the lines on those continuums fall.   None of us wants total, self-determined freedom.  We all want to live in a society whose members value each other and take responsibility not only for their own interests but for the interests of all its members.  We know there is an inherent good in collective responsibility, so we are willing to sacrifice some liberty and some personal choice for the sake of others.  May God give us ever more humility, compassion, and wisdom as we live together around issues like marriage, taxes, abortion, and immigrants.  God help us.

My Grandma Dupler died this morning.

She lived a really good life and was so excited to be with Jesus. I will miss playing Uno and going for walks.  She was a bit of a food nut and I loved her ‘really healthy’ bread.  Laurel and I often baked her recipe when we first got married.  She was faithful to be at graduations and my wedding.  I know that she prayed for me every day…  and that it made a difference.

I finally saw Les Miserables last night.

I was a wreck.  Just bawled.  When Laurel and I came out of the theater, someone from our church was in the lobby and I couldn’t even put words to describe what happened to me.  Still can’t.

I am somewhere between the poignant horror of how we can dispose of humanity as seen in Fantine, the gut-wrenching loss of friends for Marius, the Gospel picture of rescue and deliverance as Valjean carried Marius through the sewers of Paris [You want to know what incarnation is??  That’s it.], the inability to receive grace as seen in Javert, and the climactic end where Fantine and the Bishop welcome him into heaven.  So many themes of redemption and so, so sad.

I can’t believe people will watch this movie but not go to church….

Life Around Restoration–

On Sunday we will close all of our small groups, so if you still haven’t signed up…  seriously?

And then on February 3, we’ll close registration for the women’s retreat—  we’ve got scholarship money, people you want to hang out with, and a chance to get out of town for the weekend.  If you are still trying to decide…  let me push you off the fence.  You’ll love it.

Mark your calendar for February 12.  Pancakes and Parish Meeting.  We want to show you the new building design.  We want to tell you about the transition to our temporary space on April 7.  And we want to update you on vision and finances.  We’ll start eating at 6:30 and start talking at 7:30.  If this is your church home, this is your family meeting.

-David

Small Groups & Our Life Together

Hey everyone,

Small Groups have officially begun and we are so excited! Robert Moore, a member of Restoration, has had an incredible experience through small groups and has graciously offered to share some of his story.

“Being a part of a small group at Restoration has not just been a good experience for me from a spiritual standpoint, but completely redefined who I was in the DC area as a Christian. Before visiting Restoration and joining an all-guys group on Wednesday evenings, I had been church hopping for 2 years and never laid down roots nor developed a Christian community in the area. In that small group I was able to meet and have fellowship with guys who were experiencing similar aspects of life such as starting our careers, dating, and living as Christians in a secular and transient part of the world. I have since expanded into other small groups and was able to learn from Christians with different backgrounds and experiences, and work with those who were experiencing things that I had been through before. Some of the guys who I met in small group I now count among my closest friends, and look to them for accountability and love. Finally, being a part of Restoration small groups has given me courage to live as a Christian outside of my church community in DC. Knowing that I have the support and prayers of good friends in Christ has strengthened my faith and allowed me to have a more joyous and free walk with the Lord.”

We’re so thankful for a community as close as ours that truly wants to do life together. Robert’s story is one of the many awesome stories of being in a small group, and we’d love for you to be a part of one as well. If you haven’t signed up yet, go here. Registration goes through the end of the month.

-Hillary

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