Order the Flags at Half Staff, Mr. President


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Order the flags at half-staff, Mr. President. Not just for Sam DuBose, executed by a University of Cincinnati police officer and then supported in lies by fellow officers, but for our nation. We are lost.

Even when an officer’s body camera shows us his execution of an unarmed Black man, an entire chorus of White folk rush to defend the murderer.  Perhaps this is simply the real world where governments arm agents who in turn kill citizens and then pronounce in Orwellian-speak their lies for why they had to do it.  Okay.  So we have a government and tens of thousands of local governments that arm their deputies and a substantial number of White Americans will never indict or convict an officer who claims to murder in the name of God, safety and country.  Wickedness is pervasive.  But Christians and other persons of faith and good will ought to raise their voices in times like these and demand an account and justice.  This too is apparently too much to ask or conceive as a possibility.  At least quit singing “God bless America” at your stadiums.

Guns are a scourge in this nation. Wielded by officers, brigands, gang members and children who find them unlocked in their parent’s bedroom, we are reaping a whirlwind.  It is particularly heinous, however, when an agent of the government charged with keeping the peace and protecting all of us, murders a citizen.  African-American men are 21 times more likely to lose their lives at the hands of police than their white counterparts, according to Attorney and President of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks.  I pray that the Church might find its voice and say “enough.”    Let us say then and not tire of saying it, Justice!  Justice for Sam Dubose.  

Shame, shame, shame on the complicit, the silent and the perpetrators.  


Trump Is not the Problem


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I am not suggesting by the title to this brief excursus that Donald Trump is not “a” problem or “has” no problems. That he is and has is more than obvious to anyone with a modicum of good sense, civility and intelligence.  But he is not THE problem in our country at the moment. The problem is the death of civic discourse.  Period.

Blame whomever you want and whom you blame will likely depend upon your political allegiances, but the discourse in the Congress rivals the flame throwing  demagogues of slavery and civil war in the 19th century. This is not just sad and if it were only sad then we could wait for this phase to be finished and move on, but this is dangerous.  This kind of discourse has led to wars, not just in the 19th century in our bloodiest conflict, The Civil War, but most recently in our country’s invasion of a nation (Iraq) that had not attacked us.  A Christian should be able to discern these things, discerning crooked speech (as Proverbs would describe it) and the difference between just wars and unjust wars.

Fan or no fan of John McCain, we know that he was a prisoner of war in a Hanoi prison having his body beaten and his mind robbed of any peace while Donald Trump was very, very, very comfortable and pursuing a hedonistic life style.  Oh, well.  As I said, a Christian should be able to discern crooked speech from just speech.  Psalm 34:13-14, for example:

Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.

and Psalm 37:30:

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak justice.

We could be here all week proof-texting the scripture and its emphasis upon telling truth, pursuing peace and how the wise, unlike the fools, do this.  We need someone to educate and train us about a civic discourse that listens to others and to contrary opinions in constructive ways and how to engage others with the very dignity we expect and desire for ourselves.

The problem most likely goes deeper than what I’ve stated.  It is not just that we are observing the death of civil discourse, but we are witnessing what happens when people give up on each other because they have given up on any idea that they are soul-ful creatures who are expected to live on a higher plane than brute, Darwinist principles of survival.  Let me end with this strand of verse from Proverbs 16:27:

Scoundrels create trouble;
their words are a destructive blaze.

Avoid scoundrels.  If you see smoke and fire rising out of words of persons who seek nothing less than to be your ruler, your President, then by all means, think again.  With a heart full of gratitude for God’s abiding love and mercy, let our speech adorn our lives with truth, kindness and wisdom.


Thirsting in the 21st Century


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We who live in Washington DC live in the midst of background radiation.  I don’t mean that literally but figuratively to refer to the stresses of being ever on the watch for terrorist acts, political fallout and economic catastrophe.  Of course, this is not just the case for DC but in a smaller world increasingly interdependent, most of us slog through a day of noise and radiation.  It is not unusual to feel like someone has torn the bark off you.

What I don’t quite comprehend is why persons who are weary and beat up and despairing from the turmoil around them do not take advantage of resources.  Can you imagine a thirsty marathon runner passing by a table of paper cups filled with water?  Not likely. And yet, people will unpack themselves off metro cars, walk out of the labyrinth of office politics and world politics only to enter their residence alone and–drum roll–turn on the television or computer and feed upon more news that deepens the stress levels.

Here’s what else I don’t get:  how people who know where some water is don’t offer it.  I’ll cut to the chase here–most of us know that on the Cross of Shame, Jesus cried out, “I thirst.”  The Roman soldiers took a sponge of vinegar and gave him a swig. How’s that for cruelty?  But you already knew the world was cruel.  Jesus in turn, prayed, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

On a corner in the Empire is an intimate congregation of inclusion and peace.  A stream runs through it.  Come and drink.  And if you have drunk from this stream, then tell someone where they can slake their thirst.  You’re thirsty.  We have water.  ~See you Sunday


Dancing Baptists, Worship July 12th


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Parking Lot Concert A Success!

Saturday, July 11th, the Riverside Choir led by Lauren White and accompanied by Kevin Twine on piano, Anthony Maimer on bass and Dominic Taylor on drums, filled our parking lot with praise and music.  DJ Chris Barnett filled in the spaces and transitioned to upbeat and groovy tunes.  Darrell Burnette deserves a special shout out for his organization and logistical support of this wonderful afternoon. And to all our volunteers, thank you!  We enjoyed meeting neighbors and taking the joy from inside our church to the outside.  Keep your eyes open for another event sometime in the Fall…

Worship tomorrow, July 12th at 10 a.m. will feature our choir and Pastor Bledsoe will be preaching from the lectionary reading from Ephesians chapter one where we are told that we are chosen.  This idea of “election” or being chosen is a strong theme in the bible but also a difficult idea in 2015.  We hope you’ll join us for deeply gratifying worship–worship that connects emotionally and intellectually.  ~ See you Sunday.

Sometimes people can’t figure out Baptists (well, who can?) But one way to distinguish say, arch-conservative Southern Baptists from us progressive Baptists who believe in soul freedom, ordination of women and ecumenical relations is by dancing. We’re the dancing Baptists.  LOL  For an example, see the movie below of Riversiders groovin’ to the music.

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50th Anniversary of Vietnam War, Worship July 5th, Parking Lot Concert July 11th


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Riverside Baptist Church is a Commemorative Partner with the United States Vietnam War Commemoration that honors servicemen and their families on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.  The primary goal of the commemoration is to thank and honor veterans of the war and their families. This Sunday, July 5th, we will be honoring those in our congregation with family members who served.  Gen. Arnold Fields will present our certification as a partner and then we will read aloud the names of those who served.  Three veterans on our list will also receive pins for their service.

Parking Lot Concert is scheduled for July 11th, Saturday, 11 a.m.  - 1 p.m.  Our choir will be singing and food and fellowship offered as we bring outside a little bit of what happens inside our church on a weekly basis.  Be sure to drop by and participate.  Pastor Bledsoe will be present.

Sunday Service July 5th  Pastor Bledsoe will be preaching. The sermon title is, UNTIL WE LEARN WAR NO MORE…WE REMEMBER.  Along with Holy Communion and our Commemorative celebration of Vietnam veterans, this should prove to be a wonderful and meaningful day of worship.  ~ See you Sunday


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Sunday June 28


This Sunday, June 28th, Dr. Bledsoe is preaching from the lectionary, Gospel reading: Mark 5:21-43. His sermon title: A Supreme Love.

Parking is available both in our lot and along Maine Avenue.  We are easily accessible via L’Enfant and Waterside Metro stations.  Why not begin a new week steeped in ancient disciplines of prayer, praise and proclamation of scripture?  ~See you Sunday