New Year’s is nearly here: what you need to know


a crèche at the Barcelona Cathedral outside in the cloister. ~pstrbled 2016

a crèche at the Barcelona Cathedral outside in the cloister. ~pstrbled 2016

Because we worship in the auditorium of Jefferson Academy Middle School and because the school system does not open buildings on New Year’s Day,  we will not have worship service on Sunday, January 1.

Martin Luther King Sunday is January 15th and this happens to be the Sunday prior to the inauguration of the President-elect.  On that day, we will worship in truth and power, not only recalling the Dreamer’s legacy but dispensing grants totaling $100,000 to organizations that repair and heal our world. Groups like the Malala Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative, the Evangelical Environmental Network, local schools in SW, food banks, an LGBT shelter and civil rights groups and the list goes on.  We are doing this as a sign of hope in darkness.  We are doing this to declare that the marginal should not be oppressed or made to suffer more than they already do.  We do it because we have been blessed and to whom much is given, much is required. So what you need to know:  there is a candle of justice and peace burning in our world and the darkness will not overcome it.  A blessed and happy new year to all of you!

~See you Sunday, January 8th at 10 a.m.


christmas_candles

Christmas Is Nearly Here: What You Need To Know


This is our first year (and hopefully only one of two) in our interim journey. We worship in a middle school, for which we are grateful. Trust me, other institutions in SW would not have us, apparently dismayed that we’re a religious organization.  But the DC Public School system allowed us to lease a space and for that, we are indeed thankful. But as you might imagine, the school system does not open buildings on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day, both of which fall on a Sunday this year.  So what you need to know:  there will be no services on Christmas Sunday or New Years Sunday.  Enjoy your family, worship where you’d like and then be sure to return on Sunday, January 8th!

This Sunday our choir presents their Christmas music.   Surely one of the favorite scenes in the birth narratives is Luke’s presentation of angels singing and offering good news to shepherds tending their flocks in the fields.  In the night of Roman oppression, they received news of a light that the darkness cannot overcome.  So what you need to know:  the Choir will bring you angelic news on Sunday Dec 18th at 10 a.m.  Given the gloom enveloping our nation, you might find this a very good moment to reprise the role of the shepherds.

Martin Luther King Sunday is January 15th and this happens to be the Sunday prior to the inauguration of the President-elect.  On that day, we will worship in truth and power, not only recalling the Dreamer’s legacy but dispensing grants totaling $100,000 to organizations that repair and heal our world. Groups like the Malala Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative, the Evangelical Environmental Network, local schools in SW, food banks, an LGBT shelter and civil rights groups and the list goes on.  We are doing this as a sign of hope in darkness.  We are doing this to declare that the marginal should not be oppressed or made to suffer more than they already do.  We do it because we have been blessed and to whom much is given, much is required. So what you need to know there is a candle of justice and peace burning in our world and the darkness will not overcome it.  A blessed and Merry Christmas to all of you!

~See you Sunday


nativity

You’re About To Be Fleeced: Russians, Intelligence Agencies, and Oligarchs


What a turbulent mess is the state of our social and political bonds. We are presently haunted by the specter of not Communists, but of Russians.  Our President-Elect might be a Manchurian candidate but then again, he may merely be playing a Ouija board, consulting Putin in back channels.  But no one seems certain.  Intelligence Agencies that are in place to ostensibly protect the people of the United States are, it appears, opposed to each other (but then anyone who read Lawrence Wright’s brilliant book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 is not going to be surprised by the lack of cooperation between these two agencies and the deadly consequences that result from such division in the intelligence communities).  The nation voted by over 2.5 million votes for Hillary Clinton but the electoral college was won solidly by Donald Trump. We are now a divided nation that is watching the creation of a presidential cabinet dominated by oligarchs and generals.

These kinds of stories abound in the Bible.  The scriptures are not naive about the world in which we live which is a very good reason for you to read the Bible.  Listen to what the old prophet and judge, Samuel, warned his people about when they expressed their desire to have a king rule them [chapter 8 of First Samuel]:

11 Samuel said, “Here are the policies of the king who will rule over you: He will conscript your sons and put them in his chariot forces and in his cavalry; they will run in front of his chariot. 12 He will appoint for himself leaders of thousands and leaders of fifties, as well as those who plow his ground, reap his harvest, and make his weapons of war and his chariot equipment.13 He will take your daughters to be ointment makers, cooks, and bakers. 14 He will take your best fields and vineyards and give them to his own servants. 15 He will demand a tenth of your seed and of the produce of your vineyards and give it to his administrators and his servants. 16 He will take your male and female servants, as well as your best cattle and your donkeys, and assign them for his own use. 17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will be his servants. 18 In that day you will cry out because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord won’t answer you in that day.”

It’s not a happy picture.  True, some of the language and terms are old and differ from our situation but I think the basic point Samuel made is, you’re about to be fleeced.  So here we are.  We are living in an age of relentless, unceasing war.  And the wealthiest are about to be put in charge over us.  In these coming days it is important that we seek the Kingdom of God.  And certainly the message of this season of Advent and political inauguration is this: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.  Rulers and cabals come and go. The Light of Christ shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.  Light that candle of truth and keep it lit.  ~See You Sunday


shelter_rain

Beyond the tweeted trifling nonsense: Now is the time to worship


It is storming and you’re outside in it.  Rain in sheets and at times metal pellets of water.  Lightening, thunder, flash flood threatening you. There is a small, warm shelter nearby. What do you do?
You enter that warm shelter.
The office, the train car, the world around you is toxic.  It’s hard to breathe.  It is hard to see.  Nearby is a transparent tent.  You can see the air inside is clear and clean.  The toxic vapors are repelled and flow past it, a vapor trail.  What do you do?
You enter the clean air of that tent.
 Weariness grips you in a bone-deep ache.  Despair like shadows descend.  You see people exiting a building who seem invigorated, empowered, full of courage and hope.  They point you to the building, saying that each week they enter it and are filled, their humanity and dignity repaired.  What do you do?
Every Sunday a group of us, approximately 70, sometimes ten more sometime ten less, enter a middle school auditorium in SW Washington DC. For an hour we make that space a sanctuary of peace and a refuge, a safe place free of toxicity and hatred, a place of empowerment to all who would work for justice and peace. We sing. We pray. We listen to scripture and the Word of God is proclaimed—a Word that endures beyond the tweeted trifling nonsense of our culture.  You can taste some of this by clicking on a sermon and listening to it. Try, for example, this past Sunday’s sermon, “The Joy Formidable.”
You know when and how to get out of a storm.  You know you prefer peace to toxic rhetoric.  So what’s keeping you?  Get out of the rain.  Come, now is the time to worship. ~See you Sunday

Augustus_Caesar

Lines to Deliver to Caesar & Other Princes at Advent


Never underestimate what one person inspired by the just God can do.  I can imagine that line being voiced by an actor of some gravitas, playing Moses, standing before the Pharaoh who enslaved his people.  The Hebrews, by the way, got free.

Do not confuse your election as a divine appointment. Instead, think of your election as an appointment with the Divine who has the only mandate worth considering and it is a mandate for justice and for the protection of the weak, the meek and the marginal.  I can imagine that line being voiced by a certain Galilean to a certain regional prince selected by his god, the Roman Emperor, a man named Pilate who coyly asked the Nazarene what was truth.  By the way, the Christ overcome hatred and the grave.  There’s a mandate for you.

We outnumber those who voted for you. We are legion. We also aren’t going anywhereI can imagine Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering those lines to Gov. Wallace who was delusional when he thought that by standing in front of the doors leading to the University of Alabama that he could block not only Black students but Black civil rights nationally.  The governor was mistaken.

Christ the Lord is born in your midst.  Be fearless.  The angel said this to shepherds one night out in  a field.  Caesar Augustus was called by his minions, Savior.  The angel said in so many words, actually the Savior is here, in Bethlehem.  And I can imagine that angel, on this First Advent Sunday, looking at us and telling us the same thing.

ADVENT is upon us. Be alert. And do not be confused or intimidated by the megalomaniacal princes of the earth or their tweeting band of sycophants nor their preachers of the State religion, wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Be fearless, beloved.    ~See you Sunday


Riverside_Fall

THANKS BE TO GOD


Thankful for the love and mercy of God sewn into the fabric of the universe, both in seen and unseen ways too complex and numerous to count;

Thankful for human love, the capacity and power to bless others, heal others, restore the world and repair and especially grateful for all those who step into the world each day to embrace it with human love and joy;

Thankful for animals who befriend us, provide us their comfort and love without condition when others have taken from us or sinned against us. For meows and barks, tweets and songs, even the silent but electric motion of creatures great and small who deepen our humanity;

Thanks be to God.  Wear this as a shield against all cynics and nihilists who though given up on the world still somehow expect more from the world and by so doing, rightly point to that which is greater than cynical or nihilist complaint. We are better than the worst in us, we can respond to the better angels of our nature. Thanks be to God for the ineffable, the immeasurable, the great depth and breadth of what it means to be human.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING.  ~See you Sunday