Tag Archives: churches in SW DC

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Vexation and Belligerence

Listening to some Anglican chant on a youtube channel to which I subscribe, I came across the 143rd psalm and the 4th verse:

Therefore is my spirit | vexed with- | in me : and my | heart with- | in me . is | desolate.

I cut and pasted this from the text from which the choir sang it on that channel (ArchivesofSound).  I like that old English. “Vexed” is not a word we use very often but the vexation of the current political turmoil–the wholesale rending of the safety net, the belligerent rhetoric spewing from the White House and the drum beat of not just war but nuclear war–is a great weight on the shoulders of the multitudes.  Here is a more contemporary translation (NRSV):

So my spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed.

A spiritual discipline that can infuse hope into your life; that rises above the belligerent, maniacal cawing of tyrants and politicians; that incorporates mercy and grace into the tick-tock rhythms of your daily life–that discipline is worth pursuing!  Pursuing peace we are less pursued by the harrowing tragedies and exploits of our world. We come to a moment such as the one that arises within this psalm of desolation, verse 8:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.

Faith, hope, and love. Live fearlessly for we are shepherded by the Great Shepherd.  I hope you will begin or continue as it may be, your spiritual discipline and worship with us Sunday morning at 10.

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Balance: Turn Off the “News”

In Washington DC, the swirling currents of power and those who want it or those who attempt to live near it, threaten to overwhelm and diminish everything else.  It is difficult to maintain balance and perspective.

Reduce by half the time you spend watching the news.  I use “news” in its broadest terms as an entertainment product produced by a range of radio, print, and internet media.  Reduce the time you devote to that by half.

We have had illustrated for us in recent weeks how a hurricane can inundate every aspect of a person’s life.  The power, the devastation and ruin are so vast that persons living within that matrix are in danger of being swept away by the sheer number of issues and tasks they must undertake to regain their lives.  In such times, you must focus on the most immediate tasks that will insure your safety and health.  Find those few things that you must accomplish this week and then bracket out all of the other issues until such a time arrives that you can sort through them. And while weather reports are important (anyone who lives in a hurricane zone will have to keep an eye on the weather reports), watching those reports on the hour every hour will actually paralyze you.  Reduce your time watching reports to morning and evening and in between, get on with your life.

This is applicable to we who live in D.C.  There is an entire world that can be explored. There are other dimensions of your life that need and deserve attention.  The political vortex of “news” however can pull you in and deplete you of the joy of living in balance.

I pastor a church on the corner of 7th Street and Maine Avenue. Currently we are building a new sanctuary.  And as we do, we worship across the street at Jefferson Middle School.  Every Sunday, at 10 a.m., we dial down the noise and rhetoric and dial into the still, small voice of a merciful Shepherd. We sing, we pray, we live in the light of a greater Good.  Peace like petals from tree blossoms fall around us.  Dignity and blessing are handed out by hands and hugs.  If there is one thing in your routine that might immediately propel you out of the raging currents into a harbor of peace, worship is it.  ~See you Sunday, 10 a.m.

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Fog Lights Through A Disaster

In recent days since Hurricane Irma wrecked much of Florida, I have been dealing on a very personal basis with that wreckage for my mother’s home was ruined by the storm.  I won’t go into those details but suffice it to say I’m learning some things along the way as I navigate this disaster.

A disaster is always personal even when it is regional  One way we naturally gauge disasters like a hurricane is by satellite images and radar or even drones that hover above the landscape and provide us a perspective of the breadth of a disaster. The depth of a disaster, however, lie at the deep level of individual lives. Their narratives are comprised of trauma, harrowing escapes and sometimes unutterable loss.

When the storm dust is in the air, use fog lights.  The first time I learned this lesson was as a child in the back seat of a car. My father was driving and we went down a hill and as we did, suddenly a storm of dust out of nowhere filled the air.  He turned on his lights so he could be seen (ever see folks ride through rain storms without headlights on? they think they can see, and perhaps they can, but we need to see you!) but my father also pointed out that persons headed our way had their bright lights on which filled the dust with light and blinded everyone.  Dim lights or fog lights are the best way to navigate one’s path through.  But of course, people turn on their bright lights and with that they turn up their volume, yelling and frantically lashing out in panic. Turn your fog lights on, turn down the volume and find the path out.

We are interdependent and rely on the kindness of strangers.  I hope the country can finally come to terms with a covenantal view of human interdependency and be done with the half-truths of libertarian and other conservative ideologies that extol the individual’s liberty at the expense of our biblically mandated obligation to care for one another.  The question is not whether or not people “deserve” our help–we all need the help of one another. Living selfishly, as the monk Thomas Merton pointed out, is living at the doorstep of hell.  My mother has now made two trips to two different hotels. This morning, as she drank her coffee in the free breakfast area of the hotel, a stranger helped her with getting some hot water and other items.  Kindness is a hand that lifts our chin. We are humanized by those kindnesses and when we are the ones offering the kindness then we are also humanized in the process.

Life is a storm.  The Buddha’s first noble truth is, life is suffering.  Christianity has at its very center the suffering (the Passion) of the Christ.  To live is to navigate storms and loss.  We all suffer.  For me, at this frantic time, I am doing my best to get to Sunday. Why? Because I know when I get to Sunday, I get to peace and communion with others, hymns of joy and prayers of sustenance.  I hope you can find an oar and paddle your way over to our safe harbor.

~See you Sunday

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Dignity in the midst of the storms

We pray for:

THOSE IN THE PATHWAY OF STORMS  We are especially mindful of all those who reside in Florida and Georgia and the Carolinas, the Bahamas and Caribbean who, at this moment on Friday,  seem to be in peril as Hurricane Irma makes its way closer to the United States.  And for those who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.  Christ, have mercy.

THOSE IN MEXICO  We remember especially those in the state of Oaxaca and beyond who had family and homes destroyed.  Lord, have mercy.

DREAMERS  We pray for those children who have known only the United States and came here or were born here with families who had illegally entered the country but by no fault of their own were raised here and dared to dream they could be part of the American Dream.  This administration and the Congress seems prepared to do them great harm.  May it not be so.  Christ, have mercy.

FOR ALL OF US  We who toil day by day and attempt to do better by ourselves, our families and our communities are under great stress, carrying large burdens.  May these burdens be lifted and in their place may we receive courage and strength.  Lord, have mercy.

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Sunday I will be asking the following questions and I hope to give some guidance in my sermon entitled, “Superman’s Cape, A Clerical Collar and Clothed in Christ”:  How are you navigating this apocalyptic landscape?  How are you making sense of your lives as you daily wade through the swamp of political rhetoric, assorted hatreds, natural catastrophes, not to mention trying to find an affordable plumber on the week-end?  How are you living between sun up and sun down?  What strategy for maintaining your human dignity and the dignity of others do you have when the power goes out and the storm is raging around you?

Join us in worship Sunday at 10 a.m. at Jefferson Middle School.  Because there in that auditorium, we embrace each other as fully human. We carry one another’s burdens and share in each other’s joys.  ~See you Sunday

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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