Marine Corps Marathon: Prepare to Adjust and Overcome


Another Sunday, another marathon.  We wish the participants well as they gather by the thousands to participate in the Marine Corps Marathon Sunday morning, October 30th.  Check the MAP and plan your route.  We will worship at Jefferson Middle School at 10 a.m.  because we too are running a race with perseverance.



A Silk Glove For Tyranny’s Fist

In Scene IV of Act I, Hamlet and his colleagues are struggling to understand what appears to be the dead King and father of Hamlet.  It is an apparition that waves to Hamlet and seems to want to speak with him. Against the advice of his colleagues guarding the wall that evening, Hamlet goes to the apparition.  Marcellus, a friend and guard, says what is obvious, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

Democracy in the United States of America in 2016 is rotten.  A neo-fascist movement is afoot in our country, rotting with sordid ideologies of misogyny and racism.  It is one thing to have such citizens in a country as large as ours. It is another to have a major political party embrace a candidate for President who not only is unapologetic but stokes these ideologies like a scout stoking a bonfire.

Our history, however, is more than adequate to illustrate that these kinds of persons have been here for a very long time and—though the process has been sometimes too slow and an ordeal—we have overcome them.  The way we overcome them is to speak up when the time demands that we speak. To remain silent is to be a conspirator with what is cheap and tawdry and sometimes wicked in us.  You must speak with your vote.  Too many have died and suffered to provide this right and privilege.  Exercise your right to vote then and let us be on our way to exorcising ghosts and fiends.

There will never be a perfect candidate. We will always have to make choices that sift and sort through the flaws of people.  Not to vote is a silk glove for tyranny’s fist.  Christian citizenship is not about electing a Christian or a minister.  Instead, it is about living honorably and doing our best to fulfill the promises and responsibilities of our constitution.  After you vote, perhaps even as you vote, you might whisper to yourself Jesus’ teaching “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”  You belong ultimately to the Kingdom of God.  Live honorably in this moment and be assured that if the world is dishonorable, your destiny rests in the the nobility and honor of the Prince of Peace.

~See you Sunday

Retreat, Ascend

Near the Zen garden at Bons Secour Center. photo by Pastor Michael Bledsoe.

Near the Zen garden at Bons Secour Center. photo by Pastor Michael Bledsoe.

Last Saturday we had a one-day church retreat at a beautiful center in Maryland called Bons Secour.  Since seminary days, I have been blessed to have found my way into the streams of contemplative Christianity provided by our Catholic brothers and sisters.  And Bons Secour did not disappoint–they have created a treasure of a contemplative space.

Our facilitator, Rev. Paul Clark, was also fantastic.  He is measured, wise, and insightful.  Paul designed the interactive part of our retreat and drew us into thoughtful process about our transitions in life, particularly our transition in this interim journey as a church.  Of course, as he said to me, he was blessed to work with such loving Christians.

On my own, during my individual contemplation, I discovered several places of solitude and beauty that registered cadences and notes of peace and quiet. The picture of the stone steps was at the bottom of a circle of a Zen garden out in the woods.  Its message to me is clear anyway:  in order to ascend, we need to retreat at times.  Finding a way to do that annually or every season is important but here is the lesson from Catholic contemplation:  the hours of the day offer us moments to retreat; the phases of the day from dawn to noon to dusk, provide us an opportunity to step aside and center, breathing deep and through prayerful mindfulness, achieve a peace and calm that empowers us forward into our life and the world around us.  Retreat, ascend.  ~See you Sunday

apsen sky

Tweetless, Restorative Silence and God’s Word

Do we really need another sham debate in this gruesome election cycle?  This is not unlike one more nuclear weapon—for what? To bounce the rubble?  What a shameful spectacle the United States has put on for the rest of the world and I’m not talking solely about the politicians who befoul the public square but I am talking about the citizens of this country that put up with this, promote it and behave like craven lunatics.

How many hours in a day do you devote your eyes and ears to the rhetoric of political discourse and news in this country? Take a break.  Seriously. For your own well-being, turn off the taps at the t.v., the computer, your smart phone and whatever other device you rely on to fill your mind with the bleak words of a dying culture.

The world has always been somewhat noisy.  John the Baptizer was out in the wilderness tweetless for a reason.  Silence may be the most underrated power available to us for healing and restoration.  Aren’t you sick and tired of all those words chewed on, the cow curd of a debased society tossed up for us every day over and over and over?

There is a Word from the Lord, however, that is restorative and in one hour in a week, in a middle school auditorium (Jefferson Middle School Academy where we worship for the near future and interim) you can access both silence and that Word; contemplation and proclamation aimed at your soul.  Isn’t it time for some soul care?

The Word of God severs and dissembles/the Word of God repairs and restores. The Word of God shatters and shakes/the Word of God rattles bone to bone and remakes. The Word of God pierces hearts and minds, unveiling all it finds/the Word of God clothes hopelessness with the raiment of grace.  The Word of God confounds the unrighteous and the wicked/the Word enlightens the wise and provides for the weak.  The Word of God divides the sea, straightens crooked paths, makes low every mountain, lifts valleys so that the uneven ground is made level and all flesh will behold the glory of God because, as Isaiah said, “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” [Isaiah 40:1-5]

We need to hear the Word of the Lord.  May the Word of God in Christ remove the stigma of your wounding, restore you heart, soul, mind and body.  Let nothing terrify you; but in all you face and within all you do, may the Word of Christ so fill you with courage that you withstand and stand.  The triune God engrave the eternal name upon your hearts.  Stand on your feet and live.  Enter the silence. Hear the Word.

~See you Sunday

Army Ten Miler Interferes with Some Streets Sunday

October 9th

smack-self-in-the-headOnce again, a Sunday in DC is made more difficult to navigate because of a marathon.  Here is a link to the map for the Army Ten Miler.  Streets around Jefferson Middle School (where we worship) are not closed but be sure to check the map against your route.  For those coming across the 14th St. Bridge, only the HOV lanes are effected; you can come across, take the Southwest Freeway and Maine Ave. exit.   Be mindful that the race on the map is painted yellow.

What I Learned In Middle School

arkThis past Sunday we began our interim worship journey at Jefferson Academy Middle School.  We are worshipping there at the same time we have worshipped these many years, 10 a.m.  There is parking off of 7th Street.  Since it is located across the street from our church building, getting there couldn’t be simpler.  No change in routine, same hour and basically same location.  And the congregation turned out which made for a beautiful day indeed.

I learned some things in the middle school on Sunday:

*Riverside is not so much a building as it is a people. Maybe it is fair to say that Jefferson is an ark for us at this moment.

*Worship is impacted by the configuration of a space, of that there is no doubt, but worship also transforms whatever space in which it takes place.

*People who are positive, passionate and full of purpose overcome  issues that emerge.  We are blessed with leaders and volunteers who have a can-do attitude and their example inspires the rest of us to pull together.  We’re going to grow in this place!

*The choir is composed of exceptional individuals–not just those gifted to sing or play an instrument, but those who by their faith sacrifice time to practice and then do their best to lead us in worship in a place that is not precisely set up for a congregation.

God bless all of you.  We are journeying together, worshipping together and we will grow both numerically and in our faith. Bring a chair cushion if you want.  See you Sunday in middle school!    ~Pastor Bledsoe