Tuesday of Passion Week

So I never knew that the week before ‘Holy Week’ is called ‘Passion Week’.  Thank you, Show me the way and Henri Nouwen.  Apparently, the 5th Sunday of Lent was called Passion Sunday.  The Gospel reading from the lectionary is usually one of Jesus’ predictions of his death [His Passion].  I have been challenged by our conversations about paradox during Lent–  all the ways Jesus flips what the disciples were expecting in a Messiah and what they were expecting for themselves as they followed Him.  These are the teachings to which I consistently need to return with my assumptions and comfort.  This is where I need a prayer for humility and teachability–  Jesus help me be faithful to you and what you rightly expect of me.  Help me not to recreate you in my own image and understanding.

This week I talked about our love of money.  Specifically, that the best way to deal with the amount of real estate money takes in our heart is to generously give it away.  To that end, here are a few reminders:

  • If you are a member of Restoration, remember that you have committed [to the Lord and to each other] to give a deliberate, annual portion of your money to the work God is doing through our church.  Making an annual commitment before the Lord helps you avoid the traps of impulsiveness, consumerism, and convenience.  It helps you plan.  It helps you to pray and talk as a household about the number that gets returned to God as an act of generous, cheerful worship.  Remember how we prayed Psalm 116?  

What shall I  render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?  I will lift up  the cup of salvation and  call on the name of the LORD, I will  pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.

There are other opportunities to be generous in the weeks to come…

  • We are collecting items to create care packages for homeless folks.  We want to be deliberate and prepared as we look at those who are expressing need around us.  Theses packages [prepared ahead of time] will give us something to give.  According to our FB page, we still need white socks, individually wrapped wet wipes, and shaving cream.  Check out our FB page for details on how to give these.
  • During Holy Week (the services on Thursday, Saturday, and Easter Sunday) we give all of our offerings away to people outside of Restoration’s normal context.  This year, we are giving all of our offerings to a non-profit that is serving severely struggling folks in Syria.  It is a way for us to include all of our visitors in the generosity opportunities and a way for our church to practice radical generosity that helps us say no to the love of money.

Money is such an amazing resource for good.  And money is so dangerous to our souls.  Because we can trust and serve and worship it.

So as we prepare for the passion and death of our Savior, let’s humbly invite the Lord to put this ‘love of money’ in its right place.  I invite you to generous and cheerful giving.

See you on Palm Sunday!


Good Morning…

I am praying for your process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.


St. Paul with Priscilla and Aquila

Happy New Year!

Hi Everybody,

I hope that you have had a great week opening gifts, seeing friends and family, watching football, eating too much, reading great books, finding a moment for a nap or 2…  As 2011 comes to a close, I want to remind you of a few things.

  1. Tomorrow, we will have only one worship service at 11am.  We know that there are lots of things happening this weekend in many different places.  If you are in Arlington, we invite you to gather with us for carols, prayer, and the Eucharist.  The service will be casual.  Musical worship will be lead by Wendell Kimbrough.  Our brand new seminarian, Liz Gray, will be giving the message.  Christmas day was such a sweet service.  I am looking forward to tomorrow!
  2. January 8–  everything returns to ‘normal’.  We will have all 3 services (9,11,5).  Kid’s small groups will fire back up downstairs.  Matt will return from much deserved vacation.  I will kick off a new sermon series.  And we will celebrate baptisms.  If you missed the announcements about baptism in December, but you are interested, please shoot a quick email to Erin as soon as you can.  We ask that everyone attend an orientation evening before baptism.  It will be fun!
  3. Many of you will be thinking about ‘resolutions’ for the new year.  This is a great tradition.  Anyone involved in mentorship, growth, or leadership will tell you that reflection, evaluation, and goal setting is a great way to intentionally move toward a desired end.  May I encourage you to consider a resolution about Bible reading?  This is one of the (top 3?) most effective ways to grow in your intimacy, understanding, and love of our triune God.  Here is a blog post I wrote with great resources for daily Bible reading.

Happy New Year!  I can’t wait to see what God does in 2012.


Celebrate Christmas With Us

We’ve been waiting and longing through the dark days of Advent, and finally Christmas is nearly here. Please come celebrate with us!

Christmas Eve we’ll be telling the story and singing the songs, with two Eucharist services of lessons and carols:

  • 4:00 pm — This one’s geared toward kids and families. Come dressed as your favorite person from the nativity story!
  • 8:00 pm — A little quieter, a little more candlelight, and jazz quartet… It’s going to be beautiful.

A nursery will be available at both services.

On Sunday morning, Christmas Day, join us for one service at 11:00 am! We’ll be casual (pj’s welcome!), the sermon will be short, and we’ll sing and celebrate Jesus’ birthday.

Hope to see you on Saturday and Sunday!

– Erin

Psalm 90



Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days…

…yes, establish the work of our hands!

Friday LogJam

Some stuff I’ve been thinking about:

Really sad, horrified, mourning the stuff at Penn State.  What a loss to Joe Paterno and his long career.  What a horrible consequence to these boys.  If you are a parent of kids from 7 on up, take a moment to talk through it with your children.  Make sure they know good boundaries, the kinds of people who are out there, what they should do.  We want our kids to be aware and prepared.  We want them to know that Jesus is always with them.  Use the opportunity to help them be vigilant.

I have spent a lot of time this week thinking about the inverse relationship of eating and hunger when it comes to Jesus.  I want to be ravenous for him.  I don’t want my heart to be cold.  I don’t want to be satisfied with checking a demographic box that I’m a Christian.  I want to consume Christ and come back wanting more.  I’m tired of trying to fill myself with myself by myself.  Really doesn’t work.

Today I am thankful for our veterans.  In fact I took one to lunch.  Last week I was with a different one.  I was privileged to give the invocation (fancy name for opening prayer) at (now) Rear Admiral Lower Half Dietrich Kuhlmann’s promotion from Captain.  The Navy did a great job honoring his baptism vow(!), his marriage vow, and his vow to his country.  They told stories of his career.  I loved it.  I was proud of Admiral Kuhlmann and proud of our nation.  This is a great church with great people.

On Sunday we have vestry elections.  This group of 9 men and women provided spiritual partnership to me and fiscal oversight to our church.  We are so blessed by the folks who lead in this way.  So blessed.  Please pray for the election.  Please pray for our vestry.  Because we have so many great opportunities as a church, they have to work extra hard to listen, discern, and follow in faith where God is leading.

Have a great weekend.  See ya on Sunday.  Come early to get a seat.  🙂 

All Saints’ Day

There’s a big holiday next week — and it doesn’t involve costumes or candy. Throughout the history of the church, November 1st has been celebrated as All Saints’ Day. It’s one of the major feast, or celebration, days of the church year. This year, All Saints’ falls on a Tuesday, but we’ll be celebrating it the following Sunday, November 6th.

So what’s All Saints’ about? Well, it’s about all the saints. Not just the folks with “St.” in front of their name, but all Christians throughout the whole history of the church. It’s a day when we celebrate the “communion of the saints,” as we say in the Apostles’ Creed — the fact that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, all followers of Jesus across space and time are joined together in one body. That’s why it’s a great time to baptize people — because in baptism, the Holy Spirit joins us into the communion of saints. I’m thrilled that we’ll be baptizing eight people on that Sunday!

All Saints’ has also become an occasion when we take time to remember loved ones who have died — those saints who’ve gone before us into God’s kingdom. We know that many of you have lost loved ones this year, and we want to take time in our worship to remember them. If someone you love has died in the last year, we invite you to send us their name and a photo. We will put all of these together and include them in remembrance and celebration in our worship. Just email them to becky [at] restorationarlington [dot] org by Wednesday, November 3.

– Erin

In Spirit and Truth: Sunday Music Preview

On Sunday our church body gathers to praise God and encourage one another toward knowing him and serving him better.  One of my jobs is sharing music that helps us to corporately adore our Savior and speak truth about our God, so I want to give you the opportunity to see the mindset behind the opening set of music for this Sunday.  I desire for this to more adequately prepare you to adore our God in spirit and truth.

The thought process:

“I Sing the Mighty Power of God” will start us out reflecting and proclaiming the power of God as Creator, Provider, and Sustainer.  Only once we have some context for the one whom we are praising can we rightly sing “Blessed Be Your Name.”  Because he is our Creator/Provider/Sustainer we can trust him even in the most difficult circumstances.

In the midst of suffering, Job expressed, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)  Job knew the context of God as Creator/Provider/Sustainer or he would have been surprised by the Lord’s rhetorical questions through the last chapters: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding…” (Job 38:4), and Yahweh goes on and on describing his own sufficient actions and character to Job.  It’s as if he is saying, “Job, in the midst of these horrific times, I am more than enough for you!  I am more awesome than you could ever know!”

As we sing our opening songs this Sunday, feast on the greatness of our God and respond by blessing his name and proclaiming him as more than enough for he is our Creator, our Provider, and our Sustainer.  May his name be praised as we gather this Sunday.

The songs:

I Sing the Mighty Power of God

I sing the mighty pow’r of God,
That made the mountains rise;
That spread the flowing seas abroad,
And built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
The sun to rule the day;
The moon shins full at His command
And all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord,
That filled the earth with food;
He formed the creatures with His word,
And then pronounced them good
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed
Where’er I turn my eye;
If I survey the ground I tread
Or gaze upon the sky!

There’s not a plant or flow’r below,
But makes thy glories known;
And clouds arise, and tempests blow,
By order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee
Is ever in Thy care,
And ev’ry where that man can be
Thou, God, art present there.

Blessed Be Your Name

Blessed be Your Name in the land that is plentiful,
Where your streams of abundance flow…Blessed be Your Name
And Blessed be Your Name when I’m found in the desert place,
Though I walk through the wilderness…Blessed be Your Name

Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say

Blessed be the Name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious Name

Blessed Be Your Name when the sun’s shining down on me,
When the world’s “all as it should be”… Blessed be Your Name
And blessed be Your Name on the road marked with suffering,
Though there’s pain in the offering…Blessed be Your Name

You give and take away, You give and take away
My heart will choose to say, “Lord, blessed be Your Name.”

Blessed be the Name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious Name


You are my supply, my breath of life, still more awesome than I know
You are my reward worth living for, still more awesome than I know

All of You is more than enough for all of me, for every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love, and all I have in You is more than enough

Your my sacrifice of greatest price, still more awesome than I know
You’re my coming King, You are everything, Still more awesome than I know.

More than all I want, more than all I need, You are more than enough for me.
More than all I know, More than all I can see, You are more than enough for me

Closing suggestion:

If you desire to meditate on this concept before Sunday, I would encourage you to read from Job 38 to the end of the book.  Simply scan it and find a portion of it to meditate upon in preparation for our time of proclaiming/singing this Sunday.  I’m looking forward to worshiping our God with you!


“I Sing the Mighty Power of God” words by Isaac Watts and music by William H. Monk ©1868 Public Domain CCLI License #11026168 “Blessed Be Your Name” words and music by Beth Redman and Matt Redman ©2002 Thankyou Music CCLI License #11026168; “Enough” words and music by Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio ©2002 worshiptogether.com songs | sixsteps Music CCLI License #11026168

What’s Really Real

“[Revelation] is above all else an unveiling of the greatness and glory of Jesus Christ. For this is what a beleaguered and persecuted church needs more than anything else, not a series of prophecies about the past or the future, nor even a coded panorama of church history, but a disclosure of the incomparable Christ, once crucified, now resurrected and reigning, and one day returning in power and great glory.”

John Stott

Tomorrow we dive in.

Building an old/new cross

In case you haven’t seen it, there is a new cross in the Sanctuary.  It’s a gift from a guy who likes wood and likes to make stuff out of wood.  Here’s the story behind it . . .

Building an Old/New Cross

By Steve Brooks

September 11, 2011

My dad is a retired furniture refinisher and as a kid I worked with him sanding table-tops, stripping off old finishes and fixing broken furniture. Every time I smell lacquer or see a cool power tool, fond memories bubble up from my childhood.  I am reminded of the countless hours working with my dad, brothers and friends in his shop.  My dad is a true craftsman and he taught me how to fix furniture and make stuff.  He also taught me how to appreciate all things made of wood.

I love the smell of newly cut wood, the colors and visual affects of stained wood, but most of all, I love creating something from a piece of wood.  I don’t do it often, but when I do, I have a hard time stopping until I finish – I just can’t wait to see the final product.

My most recent wood project was building an old – well, new – cross for our church.  It’s actually an old oak barn beam and is now a new cross for the sanctuary.  The beam from which this cross was cut came from a barn in Pennsylvania that was built circa 1830.  So the wood in its current form is about 180-years-old.  The actual tree from which the wood was cut – if we are counting growth rings – is estimated to be between 600-800 years old.  When this cross was a living organism, Scottish rebel William Wallace was leading his ragtag band of Scottish clans to victory against the English Monarchy.

I came across this piece of ancient oak at a small company in Pennsylvania that reclaims old wood from barns, factories, houses and churches.  They buy the wood from people tearing down these places and they re-cut the beams and make flooring or furniture.  Or they sell it to people like me who want a new/old fire place mantel.  I was searching for a beam for a mantel in our house and ended up buying two beams – not knowing which one would look the best.  So I used a 170 year-old hand-hewn piece of American Chestnut for the mantel and decided I had to make something out of the unused oak beam.

As the oak beam sat in my garage, I had a vision of making a cross and figured I could make it without a lot of fuss.  A few cuts here, some sanding there, then oil and a final finish – 40 hours later and after coaxing my neighbor Joe into helping (he has some really cool tools) it was finally finished.  Joe was great.  He listened as I told him the whole story of Restoration and what led me to build this cross and I took the opportunity to tell him how I came to know Christ.

When I presented the cross to David Hanke, he said how my working with wood is a “labor of love.”  And it is, but more.  When I work with wood –- especially in making this cross – it was a very spiritual time for me.  I listened to music, talked to God, listened and thought a lot about my life and family.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how God restores us in all things.  His restoration goes beyond a few cuts here, some sanding there – then oil and a final finish.  His restoration brings us back to life.  I can’t do that with an old barn beam, but He can do it with us.  And I am thankful for His Restoration.

-Steve Brooks-

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