Tag Archives: baptist inclusive churches

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Riverside: Past Riverside: Born Anew

Riverside_FallOur 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

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Riverside Church Cherry Blossoms

Seasonal Transformation

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

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The Cross Alone

“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

Rejecting Simplistic Materialism For The Sacred Journey

I am the Road

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

Trump Is not the Problem

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I am not suggesting by the title to this brief excursus that Donald Trump is not “a” problem or “has” no problems. That he is and has is more than obvious to anyone with a modicum of good sense, civility and intelligence.  But he is not THE problem in our country at the moment. The problem is the death of civic discourse.  Period.

Blame whomever you want and whom you blame will likely depend upon your political allegiances, but the discourse in the Congress rivals the flame throwing  demagogues of slavery and civil war in the 19th century. This is not just sad and if it were only sad then we could wait for this phase to be finished and move on, but this is dangerous.  This kind of discourse has led to wars, not just in the 19th century in our bloodiest conflict, The Civil War, but most recently in our country’s invasion of a nation (Iraq) that had not attacked us.  A Christian should be able to discern these things, discerning crooked speech (as Proverbs would describe it) and the difference between just wars and unjust wars.

Fan or no fan of John McCain, we know that he was a prisoner of war in a Hanoi prison having his body beaten and his mind robbed of any peace while Donald Trump was very, very, very comfortable and pursuing a hedonistic life style.  Oh, well.  As I said, a Christian should be able to discern crooked speech from just speech.  Psalm 34:13-14, for example:

Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.

and Psalm 37:30:

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak justice.

We could be here all week proof-texting the scripture and its emphasis upon telling truth, pursuing peace and how the wise, unlike the fools, do this.  We need someone to educate and train us about a civic discourse that listens to others and to contrary opinions in constructive ways and how to engage others with the very dignity we expect and desire for ourselves.

The problem most likely goes deeper than what I’ve stated.  It is not just that we are observing the death of civil discourse, but we are witnessing what happens when people give up on each other because they have given up on any idea that they are soul-ful creatures who are expected to live on a higher plane than brute, Darwinist principles of survival.  Let me end with this strand of verse from Proverbs 16:27:

Scoundrels create trouble;
their words are a destructive blaze.

Avoid scoundrels.  If you see smoke and fire rising out of words of persons who seek nothing less than to be your ruler, your President, then by all means, think again.  With a heart full of gratitude for God’s abiding love and mercy, let our speech adorn our lives with truth, kindness and wisdom.

What’s Going On

Emma Wright's Cherry Tree

A tree ascended there. O pure Transcendence!
~Rainer Maria Rilke

CROP Walk is coming up, we continue to collect non-perishable food items on the third Sunday each month for Martha’s Table since we have Koinonia Lunches on the third Sunday after worship and we have a dedicated group of volunteers who serve monthly at S.O.M.E. Choir practice is going to take place on Sunday mornings in the Foster Room from now on or into the foreseeable future, we’re working on an idea to have Parking Lot Concerts in the church parking lot at least once this summer, offering perhaps music and food and importantly a chance for our community to interact with our congregation outside the walls of the church, this will be coordinated with our RISET team as we plan more get-togethers as we had this past week-end; Book Club is going to return soon, Pastor is working on seminarians to supplement ministry here and at the same time offer them a chance for mentoring and field experience; speaking of books, our First Sunday Bible Study that began in January continues this Sunday (May 3) after worship and for ninety minutes we’ll study the book of Acts; development meetings and processes continue as we work hard to secure the legacy and future of our church in SW; worship is the cornerstone of all these efforts, as we gather as the People of God on Sunday mornings for prayer, scripture, praise and proclamation.  There are plenty of things to plug into and be part of.  You are the Church.  Let’s be the Church.

~ See you Sunday