SUNDAY SERVICES CANCELED
Stay safe, read or listen to a sermon under the sermon tab, pray and return to us Sunday, January 31st. The Lord bless and keep you +
So my snow shovel from the last two years is pretty worn and I thought I might buy me one on Weds, two days before the end of the world as we know it (this is actually a song by R.E.M. and I think you might want to listen to it as you watch the blizzard roll in, while drinking some hot cocoa of course)… so I was hoping to buy me one (I admit this is poor grammar) and Home Depot was completely out of snow removal implements. Like there was a rapture, but only snow removal tools were taken and we’re left behind (that is a title too of a bad movie about “THE rapture” but I’m not linking to it). This got me thinking: if the world were really to be near an end then would people rush to churches to care for their souls? And the answer to that is, I’m afraid, no. How would I know this? Because even if people as a rule (at least in America the united states of entertainment) do not believe they have a soul much less that their souls might be in any danger, they do know beyond any measurable doubt that their lives are limited. Finite. Brief. The world is ending every day. People know this but… yeah. Life pretty much goes on until it doesn’t and lots of people ponder at that moment why they didn’t prepare for the fact that their lives end, that life is very precious and might should be lived justly and in harmony with God. Yes, you could use a shovel in DC this week-end but you need your soul any day and anywhere.
Be careful. Stay tuned. If we must cancel church then we will post an announcement to that effect right here. Check in on Sunday morning before you head out. If the meteorologists are wrong and it just rains then I look forward to seeing you Sunday. You can put your snow shovel back in the shed or wherever you store it and bring your soul into a holy place. Because we need soulcare. Just look around: the warnings are up, the evidence is glaringly obvious: something is awry.
Leave the “tournament of lies”* (*R.E.M. in the song noted above), turn off the talking heads, and enter a sanctuary of peace. ~ See you next Sunday, January 31st, snowflakes.
On Monday, January 11th, the Zoning Commission voted 5-0 to approve our PUD. We move forward into the future now, securing our past by seizing the day and securing our future. A voice for the Compassionate Christ, for inclusion, reconciliation, justice and ecumenical and interfaith cooperation will continue to be heard in Southwest Washington DC and the world for decades to come. We are grateful to so many who have worked so very hard to bring us to this transitional moment in our history, a continuous history begun in 1857. We are grateful to God whose promise to Joshua and the children of Israel about to cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land is also our promise: ”the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Pastor Bledsoe will be preaching this Sunday on the topic, “I Hereby Command You: Be Strong And Courageous.” ~ See you Sunday
By the second Sunday of a “new” year, exactly 10 days in, we are haunted by headlines of last year. The forces of evil –and if you do not like that term, “evil,” then you are pressed to come up with some other term that captures the depravity of the human race and its nations roiling in war and terrorism–as I was saying, the forces of evil have marched into the new year, trampling the confetti and ribbons of our New Year’s celebrations underfoot.
What are we to do? What am I to do? The purveyors of violence have bought politicians; guns flood our streets; governmental and police response to perpetrators of violence is predicated on race or ethnicity; our cities implode; riding on the metro is not just a consideration about timeliness but one’s safety. Who are we? Who am I?
Perhaps the first pair of questions–rotated around the question of action–can only be answered by answering that second pair of questions–which rotate around identity and self-awareness.
Here is how we describe ourselves at Riverside Baptist Church, declaring at the close of our communion Sundays: we are a table fellowship, a covenant people, a welcoming table; we are a people loved by Christ and are in turn sent into the world to love the world, heal it, repair it and redeem it. When the question of identity is answered that way, then it becomes imperative that we treat others not only as we ourselves wish to be treated, but as Christ has loved us. By this power, the world can be transformed. Gandhi called this satyagraha or truth force. King created a non-violent movement that was founded on this idea. What are we to do? What am I to do? Resist for the truth, defy injustice, speak up for lovingly regarding others as fully human. And you might consider joining us in worship where every week, we remind one another about who we are and Whose we are. ~ See you Sunday
*Pastor Bledsoe’s sermon title for this Sunday is, myCloud (of witnesses)
It is always fun to watch the irony unfold at this time of year when persons who ridicule the Christian holy days as so much superstition and pagan sampling, line up to celebrate the great superstition that one more trip around the sun means we will have a new year. Really? The clock strikes midnight on the 31st of December and we turn into new pumpkins. Or something like that.
This reminds me of a wonderful story told by the great Danish theologian, Soren Kierkegaard. A peasant had come barefoot to town, having made enough money to buy himself a pair of stockings and shoes and still have enough left over to get himself drunk. On his way home in his drunken state he lay down in the middle of the road and fell asleep. A carriage came along, and the coachman shouted to him to move aside or else he would drive over his legs. The drunken peasant woke up, looked down at his legs and, not recognizing them because of the stockings and shoes, said: “Go ahead, they aren’t my legs.”
In two days many of our fellow citizens will lie in a drunken state, believing they have entered a new year when in fact, their hang-over will sound like the preacher of Ecclesiastes, hammering their noggins over and again, “there is nothing new under the sun.”
But still, we’ll go along and wish everyone ~a happy new year!~ while realizing it is a superstition. That what we need is a transformation of our lives by the One who makes all things new, even Jesus Christ, the great Redeemer who loved the world so much… Have a safe and meaningful New Year’s Eve. ~ See you Sunday.
*Pastor Bledsoe will be preaching on: A New Year’s Day Enchiridion. Communion will be served. This first Sunday of 2016 offers you the opportunity to begin the year off by worshipping with others. Let’s come together.
Exactly how much mayhem does one need to witness before concluding that something is terribly wrong? Daily headlines of extrajudicial killings of African-American citizens, war, mass migrations of persons fleeing from war, terrorist attacks in the name of God and the rude slander of persons by leading presidential contenders are enough to convince us that something is off balance. Right? But the fact is, Americans polarize into extremes and some, on the left, want to naively believe in the last superstition, progress (as Christopher Lasch wrote in his book, The True and Only Heaven). Or those on the right hunker down, double down and promote more violence as the solution to violence. It is a self-defeating proposition but logic is not a strong suit of the NRApocalyptic view of the world.
Enter the biblical narrative of Advent, which is to say, the coming of the Christ in our midst. This Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent. How much we need to hear this account again! The world is plunged into darkness. It is more than evident to anyone willing to put down their ideological playbook that human beings are sinners in need of a Redeemer. Don’t like the word “sin?” Try this: human beings are deeply alienated and in need of reconciliation. However we state the obvious, we would do well to begin our journey to a sanctuary of peace such is offered by our church. Not to the mall, clawing our way through crowds and the push-and-shove of consumer frenzy. Not to a party. But to the sanctuary of the Holy One who would speak to us again of peace and justice and a Redeemer.
See that field of shepherds? It is night. And it is night in more ways than one, for they are poor and live in the midst of a brutal Roman occupation. Set in the night sky is a star. That is a luminous symbol of Christ’s presence in our world as the dim tides of history and the inhumane plots of wicked persons blot out the light. The Gospel of John captures that scene in another way, saying, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (1:5)
This is the First Sunday of Advent. Let us take a step toward light, toward love and peace. ~See you Sunday.