*This Sunday, the Marine Marathon. Yep, we need to navigate yet another race. Plan ahead and give yourselves plenty of time to get here.
*Book Club led by Tonetta, after worship at the church office (there is no parking available so plan to walk over)–the club is reading A Nun On The Bus.
*Servanthood Meeting falls on the fifth Sunday, October 29th, following service.
*Plan now to turn your clocks back one hour on November 4th as you go to bed because Daylight Savings Time ends.
*A Caregiver Support Group is forming and will be led by Howard Divinity intern, Kristy Hunt. The group will meet on Second Sundays face-to-face in the church office beginning in November and immediately (once an agreed upon time is arrived at) once in the week through an online chat. If you have ever felt like you needed to just talk and share resources or get some resources for your own care or the care of others, let the pastor or Kristy know so you can be plugged into the support network.
Worship is this Sunday at 10 a.m. Enter a place of sacred dignity and joy. An hour of worship is worth a week of pacing the floor or thumbing through the internet. Be connected to the Holy One. ~See you Sunday
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.
Our church building at 7th and Maine Ave., a sanctuary that has served us and our community since 1968, will begin to be razed this week. As one might expect, there are mixed emotions with regard to this moment.
Sadness for seeing it forever gone. Elation that we have secured our financial future for another generation. Excitement that we will have a 21st century building (of similar size) built on the same corner. Grief for giving up the sacred space we have cherished. To have ambivalent feelings about this is quite human and expected.
We are reminded in such a moment of the impermanence of the world. Riverside Baptist Church was built after the razing of Fifth Baptist Church in the first urban renewal project in the country here in South West. Fifth Baptist traversed the 19th and 20th centuries. Riverside will have traversed the 20th and 21st centuries. Think of that—we have been here longer than most of the community partners who share our quadrant. Before airplanes flew. Before the atom bomb. Before the interstate highway system. Before the microwave and cell phones. The congregants of these churches have seen Presidents since James Buchanan, fought in and survived wars dating from the Civil War, bore witness to the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement and assorted other human rights actions to include Gay persons, protect the elderly from the scourge of abandonment by securing Social Security, and including disabled persons in the mainstream of civil discourse and opportunity. This congregation has lived in a few different “skins” or buildings and now has once again responded to its ecosystem and boldly taken steps to insure that yet another generation can step into a sacred sanctuary of peace.
We say farewell to a building but we take with us our history, our collective memories and our passion for speaking the Gospel with power and truth. For all those who made this building possible, we are grateful. Now, as we turn to the future, we say our thanks to those presently who have secured our church for another fifty or one hundred years. We are still worshipping (at Jefferson Middle School) on Sundays at 10 a.m. This coming Martin Luther King Sunday, we will welcome thirty groups to whom we will gift with a grant of money. Thirty grants totaling 100,000 dollars. Before we spend a dime of our endowment, before we invest it, we are giving this money to American heroes who heal and repair our world. I hope to see you Sunday the 15th. It will be a powerful day, celebrating the legacy of Dr. King, empowering those who stand up for the marginal, and vibrantly carrying on the mission and ministry of this church we love.
~See you Sunday
Seasonal transformation is all around us. True, we had snow last week and the temperatures have been below average so many of us are walking around with our heads down as we walk into wind gusts and wind chills that elicit grunts and curses. Where is Spring!? we ask.
Of course, Spring has erupted already. The Forsythia, the leafing out of trees, the buds and flowers that ornament streets we pass through and lanes we walk down, all remind us of this fact. The grass is greener. The transformation is under way and evolves until one magical moment when sun and warmth coincide with brilliant sky blue and landscapes of trees and flowers and we know… we have passed across the threshold of Winter into Spring.
Little wonder then that this season fills us with hope for the transformation of our own lives. Now we can take all of this for granted. We can chalk it up to how things “just happen” and pretend the world around us is deaf and dumb. But oh, it is not. The world is talking to us, it is a dialogical masterpiece threaded with conversation and information that, should we take time to hear, will inform our own lives. The psalmist declared [139:14],
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works
In this season of transformation may your and my life be transformed. May the Spirit of change and renewal restore you and make you whole. This Sunday, let us join together in praise with the entire earth, for “the time of singing has come.” ~See you Sunday
“He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53: 12)
Crux sola nostra theologica est
The Cross alone is our salvation. ~Martin Luther
On this Good Friday, may we find our way through contemplation and prayer to the garden of resurrection and hope. ~ See you Sunday
I am the Road
I’ve been walking daily since about May, trying to be a good scout. Well, I’m no scout but I’m trying to do well by the gift of my life. And my walks are usually along the bike path near our home in Arlington. As you can imagine, this time of year is quite lovely. This morning (Tuesday the 6th) I was walking at about 7 a.m. To see the light of the sun reflected off a bank of trees in the horizon as I walk along what is a dimly lit and chilly path is quite a spectacle. We are so removed from nature that just taking a walk near trees and rushing water in a creek, sung to by birds singing and shouting their codes into the bright oblivion of sky and light, this is a tonic for the mind if not the soul.
You know by now of course that your life is a winding road. What you may not know or struggle with is an equally important truth: your life is a sacred journey. In this culture in love with death (a phrase I have taken from the fourth century bishop of Hippo in North Africa, Augustine), you must awaken to that truth and do your utmost to resist with your might all those who would steal, diminish or otherwise convince you to give up that truth. Do not be satisfied with a simplistic reduction of your life to the material. You are not a frog dissected on a table and then discarded. You are soulful. You are bearing in your life the image of God. Walk that road. Indeed, remember that Christ identified himself this way: I am the road. Walk it. ~See you Sunday