August 19th, time to worship! We’ll be at Westminster Presbyterian at 11 a.m. Riverside singers are singing and playing. Pastor Bledsoe is not preaching but will be there to greet you. This is an opportunity to worship as one. One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. That is how the Apostle Paul put it. Christ prayed that we would be one. So let’s fulfill scripture this morning. Let’s be one. One human race. One big love (nod to Patty Griffith who is surely nodding to Holy Scripture). One People of God. A bunch of Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists and Pentecostals and others–singing and praying together. ~See you soon
If you can retweet tweets you consider valuable then why can’t a pastor re-preach a sermon? My Easter sermon this year got a lot of hits. It was entitled Why I Believe. It just might be worth twenty minutes of your time this week. Below is an excerpt but you can of course listen online by clicking on that title which is linked.
Why do I believe in God? Because I do not believe in Humankind. You have likely noticed that the militant atheist swears by the power of reason and consigns religious belief to the kindergarten of intellectual development. I will simply point out what should be obvious to anyone who is awake that intellectual, educated persons who have great powers of reason do terrible things. Consider the Holocaust. Consider slavery. Far be it for me, a simple Baptist pastor who dares to believe in God, that one only need read the headlines for a week to come to an empirical conclusion that human beings are not gods nor does their reason cure their madness for violence. I do not believe in Humankind. We are flawed in ways our reason cannot reach. Just think about the psychiatrist who treated Anthony Soprano. That was an HBO series about a mob boss who sought treatment for his depression and it was riveting for how his therapist could not reach him because her medical vocabulary did not contain a word like “wicked.” Which quickly brings me to another reason I believe in God and it will sound strange to you but listen carefully and see if I can make sense of it. I noted that Anthony Soprano was a wicked man. He was violent to the point of being a monster. Now of course, the Sopranos was a fictional television series but do I really need to spend time making the case that monstrous human beings prowl our world?
Why do I believe in God? Because I think there is something called evil…
Coming soon: Pier Perspective. Saturday morning, August 25th at 10:30 at the end of the Recreation Pier on The Wharf. Pastor B will gather with any who are interested in chatting about the topic, “If You Have A Holy Book, You Have Issues.” We’ll leisurely walk along the Wharf, stopping occasionally to chat (as we walk, we’ll ponder a question or thought provided by Pastor and Professor Bledsoe). Why this topic? Some of us are recovering fundamentalists and others are damaged or have been assaulted by bible thumpers. Many of us simply would like to know how we can approach a revered sacred book without compromising our intellects. And there are those who have given up on faith but would like to know how to recover a spiritual life. No need to rsvp. Just show up with comfortable shoes and an open mind.
The neo-Nazis and white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville a year ago have secured a permit to parade their hatred this week-end in Washington, DC. What a vivid illustration of the utter moral failure of the Trump White House and administration. But that aside, what do people of good will do when the haters parade?
Should people counter-protest? Obviously many will and the exercise of their free speech to denounce haters and hatred is probably a good thing.
Should people fight and attack the haters, neo-Nazis and white supremacists? As tempting as that may sound to some it is not only self-defeating but actually empowers them. Nazis and white supremacists were defeated in WWII and of course white supremacy was defeated in the Civil War. These paraders are the defeated. It is a sad and pathetic spectacle.
So I am going to do two things. I’m going to worship this week-end along with millions of other Americans who will be praying and thanking God for mercy and justice in mosques, synagogues and churches across the United States. MILLIONS of us who believe in love and justice will worship. The neo-Nazis and white supremacists might have 500 people show up in their parade. They could have 5,000 and it would come absolutely no where near the number of people who believe in the more noble calling of loving God and neighbor. I know there are denominations and churches that plan to rally elsewhere in the city and that’s great. But I’m “rallying” by worshipping with the People of God. That act of devotion dwarfs the pitiable band of haters who will be banging their trash-can-lid shields.
The second thing I’m doing is ignoring this parade of defeated, sad and pathetic haters. I won’t go near them. Won’t shout at them or try to have a rational discussion with them. I certainly won’t be trying to violently attack them. The ignore button will be on.
The most important thing we can do is vote in November. Those who have abandoned civility, abandoned their oaths of office to protect and defend the constitution, and betrayed the the sick, the poor, the elderly and the workers of this country need to be voted out of office. So do that this Fall. Because the ballot is still more powerful than a gun.
Neo-Nazis and white supremacists! Go home. Go back to your homes and ponder how you chose to walk a path of hatred and by doing so, have diminished yourselves.
August 5th and we enter the “dog days” of summer (hopefully with a break from the rain). Whatever the weather, don’t let it be an excuse for not gathering as the People of God. We are worshipping at 11 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 401 I St., SW. Pastor Bledsoe is preaching (All Who Wander Are Not Lost), Jonathan is leading our Gates of Praise, Terryn is singing special music and it is a communion Sunday–given our shared context with Westminster, we are blessed to share across denominational lines in Holy Communion with our Presbyterian brothers and sisters. Above all, in our gathering in Christ’s name, we are assured by Scripture that Christ is with us. That friends is worth missing the talking heads on t.v., the regurgitation of news on news programs and even brunch (though you should get out in plenty of time to eat).
~See you Sunday.
I am working very hard with our Outreach Coordinator, Jonathan, and our Social Media Coordinator, Anna, in an effort to promote our new church that opens in November.
You will be alerted eventually and likely soon about how to “like”us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We need a push from members and friends to get the word out about our church. So that is coming but I thought I would begin with a “slide” that is emblematic of our identity. Of course, if you have read many of my blog posts or listened to sermons, you already grasp the message in the slide above.
Please, in these waning summer weeks, do not neglect your church. We need you in worship. We need your financial support. And we need your passion for a new day on the corner of Maine Avenue & 7th Street, SW, DC. We have been and remain Riverside Baptist Church but we have also become RIVERSIDE CHURCH @ THE WHARF. I hope to see you in worship with our friends at Westminster Presbyterian Church this Sunday at 11. It is a communion Sunday and I’ll be preaching. Terryn is singing and Jonathan is leading our Gates of Praise. Let’s worship! ~PSTR