Marathons Will Challenge Route to Church Oct 20 & 27

English: Marine Corps Marathon logo - from off...

English: Marine Corps Marathon logo – from official Marine Corps logo site at (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Army ten-miler is set for Sunday, October 20th.  Please check out the link to the course route and see how your trip will be impacted or not.

Army Ten Mile Race Route

Then the following Sunday, October 27th, the Marine Corps Marathon will interfere with your travel to church.  Look here for the route:  Marine Marathon Map

Please do your best to join us in worship. Even the New Testament spoke about running the race of faith–may these marathoners inspire you to be faithful in worship!


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Repentance, Restitution, Respect and Righteousness


Imagine going through a democratic process in your church, offering persons opportunities to participate and speak to issues then passing whatever it is you’re faced with passing and you pass it with a significant majority but the minority who were in opposition decide to lock the doors to your church and dangle the pastor and other leaders over the ledge of the roof unless they change what was just voted on. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it?  It sounds like sacrilege.  It certainly is not how the democratic polity of a congregational church is supposed to work.  Were such a thing to happen, we would be outraged.

 This just happened to our country.  If you are feeling polluted and violated by these past few weeks, it is little wonder.  People took what is sacred and used it as an excuse to wreak havoc.  It is one thing to pollute, defile or violate something but to do it in the name of love of country or love of God is doubly repulsive.

 We are better than this.  What should be expected of persons who engage in this kind of behavior?  Often there is a misguided effort to “move on” and forgive.  Well, forgiveness is certainly a goal and mandate of the Christian life. But so are repentance and restitution.  There are plenty of ways to illustrate this principle in scripture but just think of the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector.  The bible says he was a chief tax collector and wealthy.  He invited Jesus to his home and to make the story short, he was converted. What did he do?  He gave half of all he had to the poor and he paid back four times what he cheated anyone. Now that is repentance and restitution.

 The State is not the Church.  I don’t expect its members to be Christians but they should live up to the principles of a democratic government and our constitution. Stop singing hymns in Congress and start governing with wisdom.  We don’t need a chaplain praying in the Senate, pray in your homes and places of worship.  Just show up and do your duty and govern with wisdom and compassion.  If you can’t find the courage to resign after having intentionally inflicted pain and suffering on millions of Americans, then at least repent and stop using these methods to subvert good governance.  And by all means, remember the poor. To balance the budget on the backs of the poor is many things but one thing it is not, righteous.  Practice justice as you proceed to your meetings and negotiations.

 As for the Church, take a look at how these congresspersons behaved and ask yourself how you conduct your own church business. Too often we resemble the world and not Christ’s church.  Respect and regard your leaders even as you express your disagreement or difference. President Obama has been called everything in the book. The office of the presidency has been disrespected and defiled by ideologues.  Church members are guilty of the same kind of behavior. You may dislike the pastor, but at the very least, a regard and respect for the pastoral office should always be evident.  Democracy is a wonderful polity but as we have just witnessed and experienced, it can be used for positively devilish ends.  Repentance, Restitution, Respect and Righteousness. These are words that come to my mind at the conclusion of the nation’s near default.


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WWJD: Open the Government, Pay Our Debts


Dear Christian politician:

  I am not your pastor but I am a pastor and a professor and a brother in Christ.  Your position in the Congress of the United States is a remarkable accomplishment, a high honor and a grave responsibility.  Though you may differ from me in my political philosophy, I commend you for your desire to be servants.

 But I appeal to you from within our shared theological circle and ask you to consider how you reduce the Gospel to pulp and shred the compassionate teachings of the compassionate Christ when you deny health care to people but find a way to purchase the most heinous weapons conceived by humanity and science; when you vote to take food stamps away from hungry children and single mothers; when you shut down the government out of a fanciful and misguided rage, affecting the lives of millions of your fellow citizens.

 Right now, at what is a most precarious moment in the life of our nation and world, I would ask you to take with utmost seriousness the acronym engraved on your bracelets and bibles: WWJD, remembering he was hungry and made feeding the hungry the center of the prayer he taught his disciples; recalling that his mother and father had no place to stay for the night as she entered labor and thus gave birth to our Savior in a cave; that he whom we follow, worship and adore, was led to death by citizens of another empire who believed him to be smitten of God because of his poverty and his radical call to compassion.

  Open the government so servants can return to their jobs and citizens can benefit by processes currently shut off to them.  Pay for the debt you have already incurred.  Twenty Christian politicians could turn this around before we all head over the cliff.  You should do that. Do it without hesitation and give no consideration to the petulant crowd that takes pleasure in suffering and death.  Open the government. Pay our bills.  Stop talking to the echo chamber. Listen to the still small voice. May God grant you wisdom and courage. May the idolatry of ideologies fall crashing to the ground so the people are raised up.

 Pax Christi,

Pastor Michael Bledsoe


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Death: A Christian Study

Melencolia I by Albrecht Dürer, the first appe...

Melencolia I by Albrecht Dürer, the first appearance of Dürer’s solid (1514). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday, October 13th:

We will begin a five week study on “death.”  Importantly, we are going to use a resource we have used in the past, a periodical entitled, Christian Reflection: A Series in Faith and Ethics produced out of Baylor University.  One of the beautiful things about using this free resource is that it is easily accessed online where you can print out the entire issue (that would take a lot of paper) or read it online (easy). As well, there are five study guides available. So when you go to the web page and select the current issue on Death, I would suggest you print out the study guides and then proceed to read the issue online.  There are extra resources in their library on Death that I will also suggest to you as this study unfolds.  Feel free to give them a donation.

Here is the web site:  Christian Reflection.


Bible study is at 9 a.m. in the Foster Room.  Please join us and let’s study and discuss this very important issue in our lives that configures us so much by way of fear and faith.
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Hands to Work, Hearts to God

Riverside Church Washington, DC

Riverside Church Washington, DC

Hands to work, hearts to God

That headline is a Shaker motto that Melinda favors.  A great motto it is indeed.  There is a surging energy in our church that will, I pray, joyfully carry us along to the next great moment in our history.  We have wonderful young adults who are putting their shoulder to the wheel in an effort to expand our friendship opportunities.  If you haven’t seen Ri-Set (Riverside Social Events Team) listings, take a look at the calendar on our site.  Opportunities have come along side now to Koinonia monthly luncheons (3rd Sunday after worship), choir rehearsal (now moved to Monday evenings and ably led by Kevin and Lauren) and service opportunities like S.O.M.E. ( So Others Might Eat) and non-perishable goods given monthly to Martha’s Table.  We have a member who is seriously talking about engaging us both in growing food for the hungry and providing a spiritual retreat in the same effort.  We continue to provide study and reflection time on Sundays at 9 a.m. and of course, we worship which is the Opus Dei, the work of God.

Rippling through this is also an excitement that we are on an intentional path to secure our church financially for another generation, providing relief to our budget from constant maintenance issues and positioning our church for the future along Maine Avenue where a major renaissance of The Wharf is about to unfold.  This is an exciting time to be at Riverside.

Where are your hands in all of this?  Let us give our hearts to God and roll up our sleeves–everyone of us.  I like this verse from the Letter to the Hebrews (12:12-13):  “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet…”

Join us this Sunday in worship.  Be part of this.  Step out of the wrecked world a while and replenish your spirit; turn away from the negative, energy-consuming  chatter of media talking heads and gossips and place your life before Christ in Word proclaimed and Communion shared.   Bring your hands and your hearts. ~PSTR

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Democracy, Division and Unity

United States Capitol

United States Capitol (Photo credit: Jack in DC)

A democracy can be painfully messy at times. Trying to gain a consensus around an issue or issues will try the souls of people.  We are standing on a precipice of a government shut-down. We have a divided congress whose gears are frozen in gridlock.  Democratic consensus then relies crucially upon persons not merely stating their opinion and advocating a position, but it requires persons to find a way toward each other for the sake and good of the entire country.


The Affordable Care Act was passed by a majority in both houses and signed into law.  It seems odd that now it is being attached to the negotiations for raising the debt ceiling and the continuing resolution for funding our government.  I am not a politician. I wish I had a solution to offer but I do have a pastoral encouragement to make to our Congress and to any who participate in democratic polity:  our unity is essential for accomplishing great things, therefore, put aside the arguments and argumentative behavior and do your best to help us start rowing in the same direction.  Otherwise, we will either float purposely at sea or drown.


The people have spoken.  Move on now and deal with these other issues in a mature and wise manner.  We are praying for those of you whose jobs will be adversely impacted.  God grant you strength and patience and shield you from harm.  ~ PSTR






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