Incarnation Anglican

unspecifiedAbout 10 days ago we had our first ‘Interested in South Arlington’ evening. It was a lovely time. 35 people came and we talked about South Arlington, Restoration and the strategic plan; the what and why and some of the how of a church plant.  We announced that this new worshipping community is going to be called ‘Incarnation Anglican’.

So let’s start there – why ‘Incarnation’? Well, to be honest, it’s how God finally wooed me to saying ‘yes’ to leading this whole crazy adventure! I was praying one day and he dropped the idea into my brain – and my excitement level rose perceptibly! Why? One of my favorite Bible accounts is Luke 8:43–48 where Jesus heals a hemorrhaging woman with his ’contagious holiness’. She reaches out and touches the hem of his garment and is instantly healed. He then turns around and ensures that her healing is not just physical but social and relational and emotional as well. God in flesh ‘incarnate’ bringing wholeness.

Touching Jesus brings healing. And hope. And fullness. And an encounter with the Holy Spirit. And forgiveness. And life. And as we are called to be the people of God, we are called to be ones who help others to encounter Jesus and his amazing contagious holiness. Jesus touched people who were ‘unclean’ in that culture, and yet they became ‘clean’ rather than him being contaminated. This is our dream – to head into a part of town where people are perhaps not aware that they are looking for Jesus, but are aware of their own brokenness.bus stop

We will go and pray and talk to people at bus stops and in coffee shops. We will look for opportunities to chat and drink tea. We will search out corners of South Arlington where there are people who have struggled with ‘internal bleeding for 12 years’and who know they need answers. We will keep our eyes open for men and women ‘of peace’ (Luke 10.6) who are ready to hear about Jesus. We want to help people see that the incarnate Christ is in their midst and all they need to do is reach out and touch him.

We are glad to be Anglican. There is much to be delighted about: our liturgy brings a sense of history, permanence, and tradition; the delight in beauty brings a sense of the transcendence of God; being Anglican brings a reminder that we are part of an historic, global church, reaching all nations; and so much more…20170222_112820 (1)

Do you live in South Arlington? Or might you move there? Do you have a heart for the nations (108 languages are spoken along Columbia Pike!)?

The Incarnation core team comprises Liz Gray, Morgan Reed and Amy Rowe. If you want to learn more, do reach out to one of us, we’d love to tell you more. After Easter there will be an ‘Interested in Incarnation’ small group – sign up, come and help us pray as we refine our vision and begin to plan our next steps. Come even if you are just curious! We will also be arranging prayer walks, ‘compline in the park’, and other events over the next months… all are invited!

Whether or not you are interested in joining Incarnation, please pray for the team, and for this tiny seedling plant: for ideas, inspiration and most of all for God’s favor (and a place to worship!). Send us an e-mail if you’d like to be kept in the loop.

Rev. Liz Gray,

Rev. Morgan Reed,

Amy Rowe,

Romans and Lecrae

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I thank God for Pandora radio.  He has used these random mixes of songs to edify my soul so many times.  A number of the songs that we sing on Sunday have shuffled into my radar at just the right time.  Some notable songs that we sing from Pandora stations are Psalm 46 and Esther.

After my men’s small group this morning, Romans 6.1-16 and David’s sermon were swirling around in my head, and as I traveled home I decided to press the “shuffle all” button on the Pandora app, and Lecrae’s tune “Tell the World” began to pulse through my car speakers, and hearing the gospel restated through his voice hit me at a fresh and beautiful angle.  If we could sing this corporately, I would try it. 🙂  So here he is – a gifted hip hop artist proclaiming Jesus as Lord and using the gifts that God has given him to point people to the one who makes us brand new:

1. Tell the World - Lecrae feat Mali Music     
Now, i’mma tell the world, tell ‘em
I’mma tell it everywhere I go
Tell the world, tell ‘em
Yeah, i’m a billboard
Tell the world, tell ‘em
And i’m broadcastin’ like a radio
Tell the world
You ought to know, i’m brand new

I know one thing’s true: I don’t even really deserve to know you
But, I-i’m a witness that you did this, and I’m brand new
So, I-I’m read’ to go, and i’mma tell the world what they need to know
A slave to myself, but you let me go, I tried getting high but it left me low
You did what they could never do
You cleaned up my soul and
Gave me new life – I’m so brand new
And that’s all that matters
I-I ain’t love you first, but you first loved me
In my heart I cursed you, but you set me free
I gave you no reason to give me new seasons, to give new life, new breathing
But you hung there bleedin’, and ya’ died for my lies and my cheatin’, my lust and my greed, (and lord!)
What is a man that you mindful of him?
And what do I have to deserve this lovin’?

Tryna make the moments last
Holdin’ on to the past
But, like a hero in a dream
Christ came, and he rescued me
Now, i’mma tell the world
Tell the world, tell ‘em
I’mma tell it everywhere I go
Tell the world, tell ‘em
Yeah, i’m a billboard
Tell the world, tell ‘em
And i’m broadcastin’ like a radio
Tell the world
You ought to know, i’m brand new

I can’t offer you nothin’, but your care & kindness keeps comin’
And your love is so unconditional, I get butterflies in my stomach
I got the old me in the rearview, now the new me got a clear view
And I was so dead, I couldn’t hear you, too deep in sin to come near you
But you drew me in, you cleaned me up, so take me home, beam me up
Before you do, just let me tell the truth
And let these folks know that I done seen ya’ love
And it’s everlasting, infinite, it goes on and on, you can’t measure it
Can’t quench ya’ love, they can’t separate us from the love of god, there’s no estimate
My face look the same, my frame ain’t rearranged
But i’m changed; I promise I ain’t the same
Your love’s so deep you suffered and took pain
You died on the cross to give me a new name
Ain’t nothing like I’ve seen before, I got a beaming glow
I was low, down, and dirty, but you cleaned me, lord
You adopted me, you keep rocking me
I’mma tell the world, and ain’t nobody stopping me!

Tryna make the moments last
Holdin’ on to the past
But, like a hero in a dream
Christ came, and he rescued me

Lecrae featuring Mali Music, 2012, from the album “Gravity”

Praise God,

Christmas Eve . . . and all the trimmings


We are so excited about Christmas Eve at Restoration!

Restoration will have 3 services on December 24 to celebrate the incarnation of God in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Before I describe what to expect at each service, let me answer the most important logistical question:  

Where should I park?

Restoration uses a parking garage that is located over I-66 at the corner of 15th and Quincy Streets.  You can see a map of it here.   This garage is HUGE!  Feel free to use the entire thing.  You will see signs that say ‘permit only’ but they do not apply on Christmas Eve.

Restoration will hire 2 shuttles to move people from the garage to our building.  If it is a nice evening, feel free to take the 7-minute walk.  Otherwise, we hope that one of the shuttles will be at the lot every five minutes.

We encourage you to arrive early.

3 Services?  Wow!  Tell me about them.  The services at 3pm and 5pm will be identical and geared toward the attention span of a child.   The 9pm will feel different–  more contemplative, traditional, quiet, and candle-lit.  Generally, the 3 services will have the same readings, same preacher, same progression of carols.

Will there be candles?  Yep.  A bunch of them.   All around.  We will sing Silent Night while holding candles.  The kids will get glow sticks to hold at the 3pm and 5pm.  It will be beautiful!

Will there be childcare?  Yes, at the 3pm and 5pm services there will be fully-staffed nurseries for children who are the age of 2 or younger.  Kids from pre-k on up are welcome to participate in the worship service in the sanctuary.  At the 3pm and 5pm, there will be take-home goodie bags with items to help kids engage in the service.  We are totally fine if kids get a little wiggly, but there is enough singing and candles and pictures and stories that they stay pretty engaged.

What should the kids wear?  At the 3pm and 5pm, kids come dressed as their favorite character from the nativity story.  During the Gospel reading, they will have the opportunity to stand when their character is mentioned.  We always love having ‘a Christmas pageant in the pews’ at this time of year…  We usually have a whole gaggle of shepherds, sheep, stars, angels, wisemen, and beautiful Mary(s).  An old robe does the trick.  We have also had Buzz Lightyear make a cameo in the nativity.

What should the adults wear?  Well if you aren’t going to come as ‘Joseph’, just come as you are.  There will be people in their holiday best, people who love a nice pair of jeans, and everything in between.

Will there be presents?  Of course!  All of the children will receive an ornament in their goodie bag.  The ornament – for their tree at home –  is a sweet reminder that God loves them.

Will there be an opportunity to give?  Yes!  On Christmas Eve, all of our offerings are given to organizations outside of Restoration who are locally doing good and beautiful work for the sake of the vulnerable and those on the margins.  Our church does not keep anything that is given at these services.  This year, we will give our financial offerings to support the work of Little Lights Urban Ministries which empowers underserved youth, families, and communities in Washington DC by sharing the hope of Christ through compassionate action, caring relationships, and racial reconciliation.

Can I give anything else?  Definitely.  Each year, on Christmas Eve, Restoration has given gifts to Doorways, a safe place where women and families can receive help. This year Restoration has been invited to bring in bedroom items. Here is a list of specific items most useful to the women and families Doorways supports. Bring your gifts to the Restoration Christmas Eve services at 3pm, 5pm, or 9pm. You’ll have a chance to bring them forward during the offering part of the service.

Do you need volunteers?  We sure do.  If you are already a Sunday volunteer log onto MSP and select something.  If you have never volunteered, don’t worry.  It’s easy!  We would love you to help us.  Contact Kathy Kenyon ( and she can get you squared away.

How long will the service last?  The 3pm and 5pm will be about 75 minutes.  We sing 5 or 6 carols, with parts of the Christmas story read in between, then we close with The Holy Eucharist.  The 9pm will be closer to 90 minutes.

Anything else distinct about the 9pm?  Yes!  We will have incense in the procession and the Eucharist will be sung in a fashion similar to our Easter Vigil service.  The music team will include a bassoon, cello, and clarinet!

What about Christmas Day?  It’s on a Sunday!  We will have one service at 10am and we would love for you to come back.  You could even wear your Christmas pjs!  [What could be better than waking up Christmas morning to open stockings and have a little breakfast, followed by a church family celebration of Jesus’ birthday, then home again to unwrap gifts and have lunch?]

Anything else I should know?  We love Christmas and the chance to meet lots of neighbors, family members, and folks who don’t normally come to Restoration.  We offer you a warm welcome this Christmas season and all of the Sundays that follow.  We are grateful to be a part of the Arlington Community, and we pray for it every day.



Embracing the Awkward for God’s Glory and my Own Good


I find much of Anglicanism to be awkward.

I was chatting with one of my coworkers yesterday about the word choices in the 1979 prayer book compared to the new ACNA liturgy (please don’t stop reading this if that sounds like a really boring conversation).  He mentioned that the response “and with your spirit” feels awkward.  I agreed.  He then contrasted it to “and also with you” which he thought felt more normal.  I thought about it, and I disagreed.  I find them both awkward.

A big part of my engagement with Anglicanism coming from an Evangelical background has been learning to pursue the beauty and truth in the words or actions that might at first feel awkward.

A couple years ago I was getting tired of the really old Eucharist liturgy that we were using during Lent (the one with all the “heartilies” and “oblations”), and the Lord gently corrected me through one of the men’s small group elders who that morning had intentionally read the old english Oswald Chambers’ daily reflection in order to get out of his own head.  I was convicted by his humility in his approach to God’s transforming his life.  He was not looking for the perfect fit for him.  He was looking for something that would reshape his soul by pushing against the resistance in his heart.

I don’t kneel out of physical comfort.  I don’t take a sip from the chalice to quench physical thirst.  I don’t always sing out of wanting to.  I don’t respond with “and with your spirit” as if I think it’s the perfect personal response.  I don’t raise my hands during the Collect for Purity as if they’re just itching to be above my head.  These are ways that I command my soul, my heart, my mind, and my body to bless the Lord.

I am thankful that these Anglican forms of worship have been forming me.  And I exhort you to revisit the kneeling, the clunky phrases, the bread and wine, the hand raising, and other strange acts in order to let them more intentionally shape your posture before the Lord.  To Him be all glory and honor forever and ever.

– Matt

Glen Packium with Rooted Network has written a quick and extremely practical blog on the physicality of worship.  I invite you to check it out.

Stars and our Worshipful Gaze

Tudor Ceiling - The Chapel Royal - long

Because of the belief that a church is a median between heaven and earth, Christians have regularly painted stars on on the ceilings of churches. For instance, stars are a major symbol of Eastern Orthodox architecture, and they were even part of church design in the early Anglican church, as evidenced by the ceiling of the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. These stars helped Christians imagine the heavens when they looked up to worship.

Even in modern times, as our churches have become simpler and perhaps less numerous, the actual stars continue to inspire awe of creation and worship of God. For instance, on Christmas Eve in 1968, after a year of unrest and assassinations on earth, the astronauts of Apollo 8 read the Genesis Creation account from space as their capsule orbited around the moon, the first human-created vessel to do so. Broadcasted around the world, the reading was the most watched television program in history, so successful that the astronauts won an Emmy that year.

Six months later, the first liquid poured out and the first food eaten on the moon were communion elements, self-administered by Presbyterian astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon. There, in the lunar one-sixth gravity, the wine curled up the side of the cup. Aldrin later reflected to Time Magazine, “At the time I could think of no better way to acknowledge the enormity of the Apollo 11 experience than by giving thanks to God.”

As the 20th Century continued, the stars continued to inspire majesty and awe even in secular contexts. Perhaps nowhere have stars been more romanticized in recent American culture than by Carl Sagan in his 1980s television program Cosmos. On the show, (aided by choice 1980s computer graphics) Sagan proposed that technology, not God, had been human being’s salvation for millennia. Yet his poetic narration about the heavens instilled a curiosity and beauty about the stars that lifted them out of sterile science.

In the Bible, David uses the heavens to instill worship. For Abraham, God uses the multiplicity of the stars to demonstrate his promise and unbelievable blessing to a wandering nomad. For the Magi, who traded in the movement of stars, God uses a single one to quite literally lead them to Jesus. How compassionate is a God who uses mediums that inspire to lead us back to the promise of his Son.

Despite cultural unmooring from the Christian faith, stars remain objects that have the potential to lift the human heart to heaven just as they did with Abraham, the Magi and the early Christians and astronauts. As we enter into Advent, how is God calling you to understand and worship him through awe-inspiring, unexplored environments like outer space?

Carrie W. Montalto
Restoration Member


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