Crowds surrounding the Reflecting Pool, during the 1963 March on Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Our worship service on Sunday, August 25th, celebrated with the thousands who came to Washington DC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. And what a great service we had! Terryn began us with an introit, Woke Up This Morning With My Mind Stayed on Freedom, and she was later joined by her nephew, Hasaan, as he recited a portion of Dr. King’s I’ve Been to the Moutaintop sermon. At the offertory we had the joy of watching Jack and Freda’s grandchildren–Dike, Arianna, Amara and Ikenna–recite portions of I Have A Dream followed by their grandfather, Jack, singing one of King’s favorite songs, Precious Lord.
Much could be said about our worship today but none so eloquent as our Music Coordinator, Kevin Twine’s, thoughts which he posted to his Facebook page. I share his thoughts with you as they sum up not only our day but the spirit and passion of our church:
“I’m so glad that I found Riverside Baptist Church. After years of letting other people decide that I was an abomination and not fit to know my Creator, I found a loving, inclusive, multi-racial home.”
Amen . Great day!
Backpack, check! School supplies, check! Thank you Riverside.
We saw many smiles from children elementary school-bound and high school students as well, as they arrived on Saturday August 24th to receive backpacks filled with school supplies. Led by In Session, Riverside Baptist Church once again provided these supplies in our annual effort to equip young people in the educational journey. Special thanks to Margo Baker who spearheaded this effort along with the Chairperson of In Session, Jacquelyn McCullough and all those who helped put the packs together as well as distributing them.
Cloister of the Quattro Coronati, Rome, May 2012
Journey’s end is journey’s beginning. My month sabbatical completed, I returned home Thursday to begin another journey: my pastorate with a congregation that is growing, whose distinctive voice on behalf of the marginal is very much needed in a world riven by hatreds and bigotries.
There are so many lessons from a pilgrimage (or travel) that to enumerate them all would be a disservice to them I suppose. Planning, connections, patience, risk, serendipity, boundaries, hospitality to strangers, openness to the other and God’s universal presence incapable of being grasped by any one geography, ethnicity or religion. You can tease these lessons out without having stepped foot in another country. But the physicality, the incarnational quality of actually placing oneself in a context outside of one’s comfort zone or routine is simply invaluable for receiving these lessons. A pilgrimage is a baptism of sorts where one is immersed within the language, customs, perceptions and beliefs of those who are different. It is waking up to being the stranger. The Gospel of John says in the first chapter that Christ appeared to us as a stranger. Suddenly we can loop such an insight into a theology of journey. I could go on…
I am grateful for the leadership of our church who advocated my taking a sabbatical after twenty years of service, grateful for a congregation willing to be engaged and to engage the ministry of another servant of God (Michael Kinnamon) and grateful for all who served and kept being the church in this place for this time. I will enter our sanctuary with joy tomorrow and hope and pray you will join me there, not only for our reunion but for the beginning of a new journey. Grace & peace,
postscript The picture in my post is of the cloister of the convent called The Basilica Santi Quattro Coronati. It is near the Coliseum in Rome. I had discovered it eight years ago when I traveled to Rome for the first time for my 50th birthday. I was so pleased to be near it this trip, for my hotel was just down the hill from it. My first night in Rome, I ambled up the hill and entered the small, ancient sanctuary for Vespers, led by the chants of about a dozen nuns. My first trip, however, I did not even know there was a cloister available for visiting. One day I entered its quiet, peaceful square of light and took this picture.