Tag Archives: baptist inclusive church

A swamp

How to Live in the Toxic Atmosphere of Political Strife

I was struck Sunday in our worship service by the power and the simple eloquence of the lectionary reading take from Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter 12.  As you embark upon another week and ponder how you’re going to deal with the various catastrophes, hatreds and toxic rhetoric, I urge you to read these words. Print them out and attach them to the refrigerator or  recite them into your life every day this week.  They are words to live by.  They are words that can help us live in the toxic atmosphere of political strife that has permeated our culture.

ROMANS 12:

9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 

10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.

11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.

12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 

13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 

16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly;do not claim to be wiser than you are. 

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 

18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

AMEN.  So be it…in our own lives, in the lives of our leaders and within the sacred bounds of our beloved community.

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Houston & Nashville: What To Do and What Not To Do In A Flood

Houston  We pray for Houston in the aftermath of this terrible storm.  The misery index is off the scales.  I have reached out to an inclusive Baptist church, Covenant Baptist, in Houston to say we are praying for them and have asked if we might offer them help in some way. They seem safe but once the rains have relented, they may get back to us.  Please pray for this sister church.

Meanwhile, I have requested that our Shepherd’s Purse offering this communion Sunday be dedicated to relief efforts in Houston.  You (we) may also want to donate through the One Great Hour of Sharing Donations that can be made through the church: either by visiting www.abc-usa.org and clicking “Give Online” at the top right of the page and then in the “Comments” section, type “OGHS-Hurricane Harvey.” Or give and designate through the church and we’ll send a  collective donation to the OGHS.  By the way, 100% of these offerings go to relief efforts, not a penny is used for administrative purposes.  I encourage you to give to the Shepherd’s Purse this Sunday and from there we will send our financial support.

Nashville  In a flood we reach out to others and help them. It matters not (or should not) that these Americans reside in a “red” state or a “blue” state—a lesson some Texas representatives and senators might have learned during the disaster of Hurricane Sandy.  Be that as it may, “Evangelicals” have convened in Nashville and issued a statement insisting upon the sinfulness of being GLBT.  When you look at the signatories of the Nashville Statement, it is overwhelmingly Southern Baptist.  It includes persons who have spent a lifetime discriminating and heaping abuse on GLBT persons and look, not only GLBT, but Southern Baptists were formed explicitly to defend slavery (Slave-owning missionaries). They repented of that just a decade or two ago.  As well, they continue to treat women as second-class citizens.  In 2008 a Professor Ware of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville was cited by Ethics Daily as suggesting that “women wouldn’t have to worry as much about spousal abuse if they were more obedient to their husbands.”  I listened to Ware’s sermon from which that summary was made and then wrote him a letter expressing my dismay and calling on him to repent from such hideous commentary. Perhaps the book of Genesis should be off limits to these scholars and pastors!  There is a pattern here with the SBC and these Evangelicals.  They are uniquely unqualified to speak with moral authority on this issue and given the many issues from climate change to war, poverty, extrajudicial executions of Black citizens and the rise of neo-Nazi and Klan members in their regions, that they would choose to “clarify” continued discrimination of GLBT persons is especially disgusting.

There will be those who issue counter statements of equal or greater length (such as the Denver Statement) but instead of pegging a statement to a city, I’d prefer to quote the Lord himself who denounced such persons when he exclaimed:  You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? With that, remove the dust from your shoes and move on. The Evangelicals who signed this statement are nothing new and have nothing to say that will clarify anything. Indeed, their statement will be used to wreck families and abuse children.  By the way, one  of the signers was the CEO of Lifeway Bible Bookstores.  Need I say you should consider never buying another religious item from that store?

So we’ll send money to relief efforts in Houston. We’ll stop giving money to homophobic institutions like the Southern Baptist Convention or Lifeway bible bookstore.  We’ll pray for the thousands whose lives have been upended in Houston and we’ll pray for those whose lives have been upended by the Nashville Statement of gnat-slapping evangelicals.  And importantly, we will continue to support and celebrate our church which is a haven of peace and justice. Because, you see, in a flood we help everyone and we do not issue condemnations of people whose only crime is their existence.  ~See you Sunday

eclipse watcher

Meanwhile Back On Earth

This week many of us were vividly reminded that we are part of a larger universe.  And our solar system is a cul de sac in a very big neighborhood of stars and galaxies.   And we were reminded that  remarkable balances and exchanges are made every day within the concourse and discourse of these very many variables that result somehow in our being sentient beings.  The Eclipse confronted us with these facts about us.  Totality, while not apparent  to everyone who gazed into the heavens, was brief–a brief moment of darkness that allowed brother moon to steal some of the sun king’s glory but even so, blocked by the moon, the sun still wore a diamond crown.

Meanwhile back on earth…  we have been dealing with the eclipse of the presidency and unfortunately, the darkness has only just begun. There is no end in sight as our congress stands by twiddling its thumbs as Rome burns.  One can only hope that the glory of our democracy will withstand this assault on it by an incompetent White Nationalist president.  We should not assume that it will.  And not assuming this brings an urgency to the moment.  Someone or some group of persons who are responsible under the constitution should courageously stand up and confront the eclipse brought about by a lunar-tic disregard for the dignity of that office.

Meanwhile back on earth… hatreds and simmering racist ideologies have boiled over.  This too is an eclipse of our culture.  Taking us back to the dark ages of segregation, unbridled violence, misogyny and White Supremacist delusions, those gathered in Charlottesville and elsewhere are like the proverbial barbarians at the gate.  The time to stand up to this is now, not after the gates have been breached.

Every Sunday, our congregation in SW stands up for peace, love and justice. We worship together not only as a testament of our love for God but of our belief in the enduring dignity of all human beings.  We let our “little light” shine.  We break the darkness, not with a curse, but with light and love.  Join us.  Let’s be the Beloved Community.  ~See you Sunday

By muralist Judy Baca

Overcoming Racists, Nazis and White Supremacy

When faced with a power outage and the storm rages around you and darkness has descended, what do you do?  This question is posed as a way of cutting through the voluminous commentary and our panic about klansmen, nazis and assorted other White Supremacists marching by tiki torch in celebration of the President’s dog whistle to “make America great again.”  I have written many posts critiquing campaigner Trump and now President Trump.  I don’t want to revisit those posts—you can read them on this site.  Instead, I want to go directly to our spiritual and moral center and consider what one or two things we can do as a way of resistance and reacquiring our balance.

So in that storm and in the darkness what do you do?  You find a safe place in your residence and you either light a candle or find a flashlight to break the darkness.  Now, as the hideous faces of Nazi and Klan and White Supremacy have been revealed, it is important to take simple but powerful steps to resist and overcome.  Find a safe place of refuge where those critical and sacred values of human worth and dignity are safeguarded.  Light a candle because even a small wick of light overcomes darkness.

There is a church in SW DC that has for decades now proclaimed justice, equality, dignity, peace and love and in this church people of diversity find a safe place wherein we embrace each other as fully human. We are brave. We speak truth to power. We are compassionate.  In a simple way of saying it, we light a candle and provide a safe place in the darkness and storm of these days.  This is a community of faith, hope and love. I invited you to  be part of that, to be wedded by mutual love and to find strength in one another.

Darkness will not have the last word.  The vile racist and anti-Jewish ideologies of the past that have appeared amongst us in recent days, will not have the final say.  We have overcome before. We will overcome again.  We meet in the auditorium of a middle school but do not be deceived –we are a refuge and place of empowerment. Join us and if you have been part of us, do not give up coming together.

We have a candle. We are a safe place.  We shall overcome.    ~See you Sunday

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Dial It Down

You may have noticed I have been away from the pulpit and from the blog post.  Vacation beckoned me and I responded and how glad I was to break away.  Re-creation is an important theological idea, folks.  It is interconnected with Sabbath rest and biological aspects of renewal we depend upon, like sleep!  I rested a while and frankly, not waking up each day dailed into the Trump Soap Opera was a gift.

Returned now, I am very tempted to speak to the continued shredding of our democratic core values and hopes as a diverse and unified nation.  The failure of diplomatic and mature solutions to Korea, the abysmal silence in the face of White Supremacists in Charlottesville, and the myriad other subjects that occupy us each day now since the inauguration of a White Nationalist to the Presidency of the United States.

But here is what I’d like to say to you as you begin your week:  dial it down. Turn off the news.  See if you can go twelve hours without reading any news or commentary.  In that time, dial into prayer and contemplation, rest and renewal.  Your mind really does not need to access all the information out there.  And I use “information” in its broadest sense.  Don’t tweet for a morning or an afternoon.  When you do this you recognize and honor the truth that Christ holds all things together, not any president.  When you dial it down, you turn off those dripping faucets of anger and resentment.  Take a break. Take a vacation. Take a Sabbath.  The Apostle Paul said it beautifully in his tender letter to the church at Philippi:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” [4:8]  Dial it down and contemplate these things. Start today.

~See you Sunday, Pastor Bledsoe

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The Humanity of LGBT Citizens

Wednesday July 26 was a day of assault on LGBT citizens. First we heard the President of the United States declare via tweet that Transgendered persons could no longer serve in the U.S. military in any capacity.  Then we were alerted to the fact that the Justice Department under the leadership of Mr. Sessions has filed an amicus brief in a  civil rights case, arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect against job bias with reference to sexual orientation.

I pastor a church that is inclusive.  And it is inclusive not by mere rhetoric but we are blessed by LGBT persons in the life of our church at every level, from ushers to Deacons.  The humanity of these individuals is obvious and look, once a person admits that another person is a human being then it becomes virtually impossible to subject the Other to slavery, abuse or disenfranchisement.  I would plead with those in the Evangelical and Catholic communities to confess this:  LGBT citizens are fully human, deserving of the same legal protections any citizen enjoys under our constitution.  Do not lend the name of Christ to bigotry, abuse and disenfranchisement!

Speaking as a citizen, I do not take any comfort or feel any safer because a straight male is in the White House with his finger near the nuclear button.  At the end of the day, it is not his gender that makes us unsafe but it is his impulsive, cruel disposition that does so.  Let me quote Jesus, “snakes and vipers” occupy the White House and the President’s cabinet.  Repent and start living up to the spirit of our country’s sacred documents and ideals.