Sunday, October 2nd, we begin our interim journey when we worship at the auditorium at Jefferson Academy Middle School. We are blessed to be worshipping in the same hour on nearly the same corner with parking. Our choir will also be able to rehearse on the same nights at the same time as they are used to. Nonetheless, it will take us some time to adjust to our new setting and find our way. Hence, our slogan in these coming days: ADJUST AND OVERCOME.
We will find solutions to problems and we’ll accept what we cannot change so we can focus on those things that we can change. We are grateful to Jefferson and the DC Public School system for leasing us this space as we witness the building of a new church edifice. Our main office will move in the next week or so into an office across the street at the Wharf Headquarters. Your church secretary, deacons and pastor are still available to you. May the words written to the Hebrews (10:25) inspire us as we cross the street:
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…
~See you Sunday
Sunday September 25th is the last service to be held in the current building. We’ll begin worshipping in the auditorium of Jefferson Academy Middle School the first Sunday in October, the 2nd.
This process of exchanging our current configuration–a parking lot with a church building–for a new building closer to Maine Avenue and across from the Wharf–began in 2007. I and the chairman of Trustees sat informally in my office with the previous and beloved pastor of fourteen years, Robert Troutman. He blessed us as we began a process of questioning and pondering our future.
After many, many meetings and countless discussions and endless hoops jumped through and navigated, here we are: we are about to exit this building and cross over into our future. We are ready. We are brave. We are full of hope. When Joshua, the heir apparent to Moses, took the children of Israel across the Jordan River into their land of promise, he ordered them to take twelve stones out of the river bed and make a memorial. The scripture says, “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord.”
At some juncture three years from now, we’ll step into a new church building on the same corner. We will have secured our church financially for another fifty to one hundred years if those who come after us are as prudent and careful as we have been. I can hear a child ask what those stones mean–the stone from the First Baptist Church in America that will be placed near the date stone of the new edifice; the stone from the Sea of Galilee that Rabbi Zemel was so kind to have arranged delivery of and will be placed near the threshold of the new sanctuary. And the answer will echo through the millennia: God made a way for us to cross. Hallelujah! ~See you Sunday.
Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.
Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy
How many times must we turn to one another and ask that the violence stop? Race and violence in America is a problem. That is an understatement. Gun violence continues to strike at the heart of our nation and yet, the idol worshippers of Moloch insist on feeding our children and their future to the Gun god. Lay down your sword. Do not give your allegiance or your hearts to those who divide, hate and insist on violence. There is no way to peace, peace is the way as the Fellowship of Reconciliation chants it. Below is a compilation of statements made over the last few years that speak to these issues.
Open Letter to White Christians
The Mocking of Christ
Guns + Hatred in America
The Scourge of Gun Violence
Defying Injustice, Speaking Truth
Shame on Jerry Falwell
Mourning Brooklyn Police Officers
Mr. Beck & Some Lives Matter
Order the Flags at Half Staff
Refuge in a Profanely Violent World
The State of Race in America
Please note that traffic patterns will be impacted by the Navy-Airforce half marathon Sunday. While not directly effecting the church, it may impact your commute in. Be sure to check their course map and determine if you need to alter your route to church Sunday
What is time? It is the ticking of the clock on the wall. It is the metronome of hours, providing rhythm to our lives. It is a template we place over the unfolding days and nights. It is the stuff of our lives.
The New Testament has a couple of words for what we translate “time.” There is Chronos time, which is the ticking of the clock on the wall. And there is Kairos, which is an altogether different kind of time. Because while everything I listed in that first paragraph is true as far as it goes, there is something else about time that the bible knows is most important. Kairos time is when the tomatoes on the vine burst red. Kairos is the moment of birth, when labor pains begin to radiate along the lower back and the mother knows the time has come. Kairos is always judgement and opportunity, the end of something and the beginning of another.
We live much of our lives along the flat road of Chronos. That road is grooved by our constant travel of it. We know the way to the coffee maker in the morning. We travel the same way to work day in and out. We have the same conversations over and again, day in and out. Chronological time is a monochrome rust.
Kairos is seasonal. Moments erupt out of the flat surfaces of life like fountains of water suddenly spraying into the hot desert air. Spring spills its riot of colors into the black and white pictures of our daily grind. Fall does the same thing. There are moments when our chronological time is shattered by Kairos, the ripening of a moment that chooses us and calls to us through the thick brick, insulated routines through which we travel. What time do we find ourselves in right now?
For Riverside Baptist Church, we find the fabric of time is opened along a seam of opportunity. This Sunday, September 18th, we will host a “Welcome Home Sunday,” inviting former members and friends to return to the church to honor its past even as we make our way from the shore to set off for a new future. After worship, we’ll linger over lunch and then return to the sanctuary for some music and testimonies. Chronos will be suspended. Kairos will clutch at our hearts and our minds. ~I hope to see you Sunday
[there is] a time to throw away stones,
and a time to gather stones together
Last week I traveled to Providence, Rhode Island in order to retrieve a stone from the First Baptist Church in America, first gathered by Roger Williams in 1638. We will take this cobblestone–about the size of a baseball—and lodge it into our new building’s date stone. As far as I’m concerned, this stone is as alien and revelatory as that bit of moon stone lodged into the Space Window at the National Cathedral, except our stone shouts for liberty of conscience and freedom from the tyranny of governments or religions.
Last month my dear friend, Rabbi Zemel, presented me with a stone from the Sea of Galilee, brought back from Israel by the generosity of his daughter’s in-laws. It is a large stone that resembles in color a piece of toast. This stone too will be inserted in the new church building at the threshold of our sanctuary, a reminder of the incarnated particularity of the Gospel, fashioned from the yearnings for justice and mercy of a people occupied and oppressed by Rome in the First Century.
We will take some of the existing stone of the current edifice and use it in our new church, thus linking us to the generations who assembled here for worship and for the declaration of those historic Baptist values so valiantly and brilliantly articulated by Roger Williams. Since Fifth Baptist Church became Riverside Baptist Church in 1967, this church has been a “civil rights” church, a people dedicated to racial reconciliation and justice, gender equality and justice, LGBT equality and justice and the enduring belief that loving God and one’s neighbor is the sum of the Law. These stones we bring with us will link us to the past and hopefully remind us of who we are to become in the years and even decades ahead.
In a month, we will vacate this building, and beginning October the first Sunday, we will worship at Jefferson Academy Middle School, same hour (10 a.m.) and same corner. We will leave this building we love and cherish but we will not vacate the principles and values upon which it is founded. We bring these values with us. We carry them into the future. Deliberately, methodically and with our eyes on the prize, we go forward, throwing away stones only to gather them together again in an effort to proclaim the love and justice of God in this place.
~See you Sunday
The threat, even a veiled threat, promoting the assassination of the opposing candidate in the race for the Presidency disqualifies anyone. Period. In a time when gun violence destroys so many families; when our politicians are polarized and incapable of coming together for the good of the nation they are called upon to serve; the vile rhetoric of Mr. Trump suggesting that his opponent might be assassinated as recourse to her appointment of judges to the Supreme Court is an automatic disqualification. If he will not withdraw then it is simply morally imperative that persons of conscience who value this democracy denounce his veiled threat and demand he withdraw. We may have just witnessed the nadir of our very uncivil civic discourse in America. SHAME