This is a guest post by Candi Shelton. Candi is a member of the Parish Leadership Team and will be helping lead our Parish Formation groups.
“And You make things new,
You will right what is wrong.
Healing flows from You,
And restoration is Your song.”
The theme of restoration has been an important one for me, even before I was old enough to know what to call it. My childhood years, although full of fond memories and wonderful experiences, were also marked by divorce, death, church separation, and family troubles. I remember the pain of each of these experiences, but I also remember the feeling that God hadn’t had the last word; that, despite the circumstances and the finality of some of them, He could still make things better.
Fast forward to present day, and I can’t tell you how overjoyed I am at being part of a church body that considers restoration to be one of its core values. Today we are going to look at restoration as one of the foundations of The Parish. As we begin this blog series that dives a little deeper into each of these four values, I pray that we would see these become realities in our lives, both individually and as a church family, and that we would find ourselves desiring these expressions of God’s heart to be manifested in us.
In trying to make my thoughts on restoration more cohesive, I figured the best way to start is with the definition of the word itself:
: the act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.
: the act of bringing back something that existed before
: the act of returning something that was stolen or taken
Truly, there is so much goodness in those few sentences that we could spend hours and hours unpacking these and still feel like we’re just getting started. But for the sake of time and clarity, I’ll narrow it down to 2 main points.
1. Restoration gets ugly
The sometimes unpleasant truth is that, in restoration, things may get uglier before they get beautiful. If the intention is to return something to its original condition, then the repair that will be necessary will no doubt get messy. The cleaning that might be required could get really painful, scrubbing and scouring and sanding just to get to ground zero so that the rebuilding can take place. When we hear the word restoration, often we think of the beauty of the finished product. Not many people want to look behind the curtain of the process that leads to the beauty.
We want to be a people who aren’t afraid to run into the messes, in our own lives or in our friends’ and neighbors’ lives. The only way for restoration to take place, the only way for the beautiful finish, is to get our hands dirty in the process. The Parish wants to be marked by the sweat of labor, by the grit of dirt under our nails, and by the sawdust-covered floors that denote a work is being done. We aren’t afraid of the messes because that’s where we find the most fertile ground for astonishing beauty to grow.
2. Jesus was Restoration Incarnate
Jesus’ life was marked by restoration. He ate dinner with the corrupt; he spent time with prostitutes and crooks, with women and children, with the sick and the disenfranchised. He walked toward those who had only seen the backs of others for so long. Jesus was scandalous in His love and with His tenderness, sowing seeds of hope and beauty where decay had once thrived. He wrecked preconceptions and stirred the proverbial pot. But He made things better wherever he went. “Better” wasn’t always safe, and just like Aslan of Narnia, “of course he’s not safe. But he’s good.”
We desire to breathe life into the stagnant. We want to “do justice” in our community, and by our presence we hope that those who are in need will be refreshed and cared for. We want to be extensions for the healing that flows from Christ- healing for physical needs, for strained relationships, for broken marriages, for the spiritually dead. We want to embrace those who may squirm out of our arms and run away. We want to love scandalously and live with a graciousness that makes people uncomfortable because we believe that safety is overrated, and that His goodness is unparalleled.
Just as the song lyrics above say, we believe that restoration is the song that Jesus sings. It’s the life that he lived and spilled out wherever he went. It’s the promise of what is to come and what is happening right now. And if restoration is His song, then we believe it should be ours as well.