All posts by pstrbled

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The Courageous, The Just, Right Now

MARCH FOR OUR LIVES young people:

we believe in you, we pray for your success because your courage and commitment to justice can change our nation.

BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS RIGHT NOW

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Put down your guns. Stop taking blood money from the NRA.  And by all means, stop giving the NRA money to perpetuate the madness of gun violence in the United States.

Welcome to Washington DC:  We need you, we applaud you.

Time Is Filled With Swift Transition

New Church of Riverside Baptist, rendering from 7th and Maine.

New Church of Riverside Baptist, rendering from 7th and Maine.

The Gospel song, Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand, begins with this noble truth:  ”Time is filled with swift transition…”

Riverside Baptist Church has for seventeen months worshipped at Jefferson Middle School. We are so grateful to Jefferson and the DC Public Schools for allowing us to worship in their auditorium on Sundays and have choir rehearsal on Thursday evenings.  We will always remember this kindness extended to us when others in our community could not open their doors to us. We have been in SW since 1857 and yet, it was this middle school that opened their doors and let us in. Thank you, Jefferson!

The school will be renovating soon and we are happy for this moment when their school is updated and modernized. For us, it means we need to find another location to worship until we enter our new church.  We should have news about this very soon. Meanwhile, we anticipate our last service at Jefferson to be Sunday, June 10th.

Our foundation is due to be completed by end of March. We will see the steel structure go up in April. Pentecost Sunday, May 20, we will have a “topping out” ceremony, walking from Jefferson over to the construction site to see the steel structure and say a prayer and sing a song.  We are being told the building will be completed November of this year.  So “hold on to God’s unchanging hand” as the song goes.  How long? Not long.  Time is filled with swift transition. We are marching onward and forward in the light of God.  See you Sunday.

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Another Bend In The River

Pastor Bledsoe returns to the pulpit this Sunday, March 18. In a sermon entitled, “Another Bend in The River,” he will provide important news on our interim journey that will impact us for the next several months.  You’ll want to be here for this.

Our new church “milestones” are tacking along well.  Our foundation will be completed by end of this month and the steel structure for the church should be up by end of April. We will have a “topping out” celebration on Pentecost Sunday, May 20th, when we will walk over from Jefferson Middle School School the site so we can see the structure and offer a prayer of thanksgiving.  We are being told that sometime in the  first week of November, our new church will be ready to enter. These are milestones, mind you, not guarantees but the construction firm and development team seem confident of these dates.  May God watch over those who work on our site and keep them safe.  May the Lord lead us, the sheep of his pasture, safely home. ~ See you Sunday.

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The Falconer Calls

The Gospel is overheard as much as it is directly preached to persons.  Like a beggar who overhears where there is bread, the Gospel is handed out in crust and slices to those who find their way to the servers.  We preach the Gospel, sing the Gospel, proclaim it through prayer and meditate on it like an artist meditates on the painting of another artist, searching for clues— and we do that every Sunday.  But Monday – Saturday, we practice it in a myriad of kindnesses, mercies, affirmations, and sometimes by bold and prophetic action as we stand beside the weak, the marginal, the bullied, the elderly, the young and all who inhabit the continuum of what we call existence. And along that continuum, as its string of “present” episodes become a string of pearls we call a day or a week, people overhear the Gospel.  And there are days, not always, but sometimes there are days when the entire web of existence is a shimmering vibration of light and goodness. To stand in that light!  ah. To resonate so that we vibrate in our own goodness!  wow.  To be part of a community of faith, hope and love!  OMG meets ML&MG (my Lord and my God, the confession of Doubting Thomas).

Now what has any of this to do with anything.  Simply this: when the center holds, the circle of life revolves and holds.  The orbit of our daily existences spins in symmetric harmony.  When the center does not hold or there is no center or someone has replaced the Holy One with an idol like a gun or war or hatred then, well,  as W. B. Yates said it in his fantastic and alarming herald of a poem, The Second Coming, in that first stanza:

 Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 

The best lack all conviction, while the worst   

Are full of passionate intensity. 

I ask you, has the blood-dimmed tide been loosed?  Indeed, it is praised by the craven and the posers of patriotism.  Where are the best among us, ready to serve and to stand? Are not the worst full of passionate intensity? We have seen them in the streets of Charlottesville.

There is a center, however. It holds. We gather ‘round it on Sundays at 10 a.m. over at Jefferson Middle School Auditorium (for now).  The Falconer calls.

~See you Sunday

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The Beloved Community in a Middle School Auditorium

On Sunday, February 25th, we handed out grants to seven of the ten groups our Endowment Team had chosen in an effort to “bless those who heal the world.”  This year we heard from each of the grantees in what I can only describe as a crescendo of joy and hope.  Each of these recipients represented their organization in splendid fashion. We were moved to tears by their testimony and their work.  It occurred to me as I listened that we were seeing nothing less than an actualization of the Beloved Community in a middle school auditorium.  With squeaky chairs, powerful songs and a modest room with two banners and a table with candles, we were transformed.

I couldn’t help but think as well that we were sitting inside a public school where children are sent every day of the week, Monday through Friday. They arrive to learn, not to shiver in fear for being shot.  We who worship there pray fervently for these children at Jefferson Middle School and of course, in schools throughout our nation.  As a nation, we can do far better than proposing mad “solutions” like arming teachers.  This suggestion made by the President is especially grievous and utterly illogical.  Let us as a church discover ways to bless the school in which we find ourselves.  Of course, we can say that we provided both Jefferson and Amidon with $4,000 grants last year. And that is a way to bless them of course. But above all, let us advocate for their safety and let us vote people into Congress who will stand up to the bloody NRA.  It is past time to get a grip on this and stop allowing one group to pervert the second amendment into a formula for carnage throughout the schools, venues and streets of our country.

Yesterday, we illustrated that people who are very different and do not see eye-to-eye on any number of theological or social matters can reach across that chasm and embrace one another.  Jewish, Islamic, Christian and Agnostic people, working to heal the world, found each other yesterday and in the process of finding one another and embracing, we ourselves were healed and filled with hope. This is how it should be.  Put down your guns.  Put away your sword.  Let us do better.

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Riverside Grants For Those Who Heal Our World

Join us this Sunday as we once again distribute grants to those who heal our world!  One year ago on Martin Luther King Sunday, Riverside Baptist Church dispersed $100,000 in nearly 30  small grants to groups who are healing our world. We did this because we believed good stewardship responds to the world out of the storehouse of one’s blessings–we had just secured an endowment that will hopefully protect and serve our church for decades to come. So the first thing we “spent” money on were these grants to support and empower those who heal the world.

One year later, the Endowment Team selected and the church unanimously voted to approve the dispensing of $25,000 in grants to ten institutions that are busy healing our world. Below you will see a list of those recipients.  All we can say is how moved we are by the courage and mercy extended by these institutions and their volunteers! They inspire us to compassion and action on behalf of others.  And I am proud to serve as pastor to a church that wants to share its blessings with those who heal and mend our world. The grantees:

The Arc of Montgomery County
The Arc supports families by providing child care, work skills training, employment, community living services, resources, respite care and advocacy.
 
Children’s National Medical Center
Provider of pediatric critical care and essential medical services to children, regardless of insurance or ability to pay.
City Gate Ministries
 Their mission in a sentence:  ”To provide quality education for children in Washington DC’s neighborhoods of greatest need.” Besides seeding our money into local Baptist efforts to heal the world, City Gate offers us the chance to supplement programs for children in some of our city’s neediest neighborhoods. 
 
Commission Baptist Institute
Commission Baptist Church in Monrovia, Liberia, operates a school for 200 children. Liberia is, as you know, one of the poorest countries in Africa with 60-80% living below poverty level.  Commission Baptist Institute needs aid to keep these children in school.
 
DC Center for the LGBT Community
The DC LGBT Center educates, empowers, celebrates, and connects the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.

 
Doctors Without Borders
Provides emergency medical care to patients who are victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural or man-made disasters – worldwide.
The Holocaust Museum
In honor of Rabbi Zemel and Temple Micah and in memory of Otto Feuer.  Otto was a survivor of the camps and his son, Michael, is a member of Temple Micah and has donated to the museum Otto’s pants and shirt from the camp and a jacket he wore.  A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.
 
House of Ruth
Non-profit community-based organization caring for families, including women and children, victimized by domestic violence.
Safe Shores – The DC Children’s Advocacy Center
Safe Shores provides children with therapy, clothing, meals, books, financial assistance, advocacy and forensic interviews — all free of charge and in a welcoming, child-friendly and safe space.
 
Syrian-American Medical Society
A non-political, non-profit medical relief organization that is working on the front lines of crisis relief in Syria and neighboring countries to alleviate suffering and save lives.  SAMS has supported over 400,000 surgeries during the 6-year conflict in Syria.