Tag Archives: churches SW DC

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Houston & Nashville: What To Do and What Not To Do In A Flood

Houston  We pray for Houston in the aftermath of this terrible storm.  The misery index is off the scales.  I have reached out to an inclusive Baptist church, Covenant Baptist, in Houston to say we are praying for them and have asked if we might offer them help in some way. They seem safe but once the rains have relented, they may get back to us.  Please pray for this sister church.

Meanwhile, I have requested that our Shepherd’s Purse offering this communion Sunday be dedicated to relief efforts in Houston.  You (we) may also want to donate through the One Great Hour of Sharing Donations that can be made through the church: either by visiting www.abc-usa.org and clicking “Give Online” at the top right of the page and then in the “Comments” section, type “OGHS-Hurricane Harvey.” Or give and designate through the church and we’ll send a  collective donation to the OGHS.  By the way, 100% of these offerings go to relief efforts, not a penny is used for administrative purposes.  I encourage you to give to the Shepherd’s Purse this Sunday and from there we will send our financial support.

Nashville  In a flood we reach out to others and help them. It matters not (or should not) that these Americans reside in a “red” state or a “blue” state—a lesson some Texas representatives and senators might have learned during the disaster of Hurricane Sandy.  Be that as it may, “Evangelicals” have convened in Nashville and issued a statement insisting upon the sinfulness of being GLBT.  When you look at the signatories of the Nashville Statement, it is overwhelmingly Southern Baptist.  It includes persons who have spent a lifetime discriminating and heaping abuse on GLBT persons and look, not only GLBT, but Southern Baptists were formed explicitly to defend slavery (Slave-owning missionaries). They repented of that just a decade or two ago.  As well, they continue to treat women as second-class citizens.  In 2008 a Professor Ware of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville was cited by Ethics Daily as suggesting that “women wouldn’t have to worry as much about spousal abuse if they were more obedient to their husbands.”  I listened to Ware’s sermon from which that summary was made and then wrote him a letter expressing my dismay and calling on him to repent from such hideous commentary. Perhaps the book of Genesis should be off limits to these scholars and pastors!  There is a pattern here with the SBC and these Evangelicals.  They are uniquely unqualified to speak with moral authority on this issue and given the many issues from climate change to war, poverty, extrajudicial executions of Black citizens and the rise of neo-Nazi and Klan members in their regions, that they would choose to “clarify” continued discrimination of GLBT persons is especially disgusting.

There will be those who issue counter statements of equal or greater length (such as the Denver Statement) but instead of pegging a statement to a city, I’d prefer to quote the Lord himself who denounced such persons when he exclaimed:  You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? With that, remove the dust from your shoes and move on. The Evangelicals who signed this statement are nothing new and have nothing to say that will clarify anything. Indeed, their statement will be used to wreck families and abuse children.  By the way, one  of the signers was the CEO of Lifeway Bible Bookstores.  Need I say you should consider never buying another religious item from that store?

So we’ll send money to relief efforts in Houston. We’ll stop giving money to homophobic institutions like the Southern Baptist Convention or Lifeway bible bookstore.  We’ll pray for the thousands whose lives have been upended in Houston and we’ll pray for those whose lives have been upended by the Nashville Statement of gnat-slapping evangelicals.  And importantly, we will continue to support and celebrate our church which is a haven of peace and justice. Because, you see, in a flood we help everyone and we do not issue condemnations of people whose only crime is their existence.  ~See you Sunday

How To Begin Holy Week How to End Holy Week

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Holy Week begins this Sunday, Palm Sunday.
This is how to begin Holy Week: take one step toward Jerusalem, very carefully look for a Galilean whose face is set like flint and who holds in hand a trampled palm frond.
On Monday, be brave and ask him where he is headed.
 On Tuesday, offer him your pillow, because for three years, his head has rested on a stone each night.
 On Wednesday, do not say a word. Do not try to talk him out of where he is going.  Cry for yourself and all that is irretrievably lost in the world.  Then smell your favorite perfume or cologne and pretend you have anointed him for his burial even while he was taking bread from a leper’s hand.
 On Thursday, drink wine and rejoice in the presence of the Galilean and then look at it and think, this looks like blood.  Sing a hymn.  Worship with others if you can so you are not alone in the night, as he prays over there in the garden alone.
 On Friday.  On Friday.  On Friday.   Hammer a nail into a tree. In the evening of the Sabbath, weep because we killed the Son of God.
 Saturday, find some holy place in order to ponder how it is that humans always name holy ground after the most unholy things possible, like battle fields, cemeteries, and a hill of skulls called Calvary.
 On Sunday, when the sun dances along the edge of the horizon and birds sing doxologies worthy of Mozart, put on  fresh clothes and run to a holy place, so you can hear the news that Magdalene proclaimed first  . . . so you can hear the words that Magdalene proclaimed … so you can hear.
 Pray this all week long.  Christ have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.
In the Name of Christ let us walk now, bravely, fully, into Holy Week. I will see you on the other side of Friday.  Sunday is coming.
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Synergy Spirit

The Cambridge Dictionary defines synergy this way:  “the ​combined ​power of a ​group of things when they are ​working together that is ​greater than the ​total ​power ​achieved by each ​working ​separately…”
In Acts 10:38, the Apostle Peter reflected on the ministry of Christ: ”You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
The word “power” in the scripture comes from a Greek word dynamis, the word we turn into English as dynamite.  Dynamite when used carefully and intelligently can remove obstacles.  Synergy is a combined power.  It is a word that speaks to the greater achievements of a group of things as opposed to one thing working by itself.  Such a word, synergy, can describe the Church.
We come together to work in  harmony and with each other in order to heal the world, thwart oppression and by God’s Spirit, remove obstacles that prevent persons from fulfilling their God-given humanity.  When this happens, it is a wondrous thing to behold.  This past Sunday, I thought of the synergy of spirit as our choir sang, musicians played and we, the congregation prayed and worshipped together. I beheld this synergy again when after worship our Faith and Justice Team inaugurated its ministry around a table with more than a dozen persons passionate to “weld words to deeds” as I had said in my sermon for the day.  (by the way, the web site now has a Faith and Justice Team page so we can communicate our efforts and share resources)
Love begets love.  Grace abounds. May the Spirit anoint us for this day and this hour and may the power of Christ and the synergy of our mutual devotion and affection help transform and heal the world.  ~See you Sunday

Zombie Life, Spiritual Life

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Zombieland with Woody Harrelson is the only zombie movie I have watched completely.  You can go to my sermon from this past Sunday, August 2nd, and listen to the insights, such as they are, that I drew from this film.   Referencing Zombie movies provides a stark contrast to the spiritual life encouraged by Holy Scripture.  While it is a humorous reference of sorts, it is nonetheless offered as way of seriously considering what kind of life we are called to live within the matrix of human interaction.

The word “matrix” sends us off into another direction with movies since a very popular movie by that name caught our attention years ago.  I may be inspired by all of this to provide some sermons in August that could easily be categorized as a series around films.  Let’s see where I can go with that.

In the mean time, be aware and awake.  Your spiritual life is the most valuable “thing” you have, though it is not  a thing at all. You cannot deposit it in a bank, you can’t frame it and hang it, it is not a chunk of technology but everything–EVERYTHING–depends upon it.  Join us in worship this Sunday.  Or, “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe,” as  Morpheus warns Neo in The Matrix.  The One is waiting for us, however, in the midst of the holy.  ~See you Sunday.

Pastor Bledsoe’s sermon for Sunday, August 9th:  

A Message From Trinity to Truman, orLife Cinematic

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50th Anniversary of Vietnam War, Worship July 5th, Parking Lot Concert July 11th

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Riverside Baptist Church is a Commemorative Partner with the United States Vietnam War Commemoration that honors servicemen and their families on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.  The primary goal of the commemoration is to thank and honor veterans of the war and their families. This Sunday, July 5th, we will be honoring those in our congregation with family members who served.  Gen. Arnold Fields will present our certification as a partner and then we will read aloud the names of those who served.  Three veterans on our list will also receive pins for their service.

Parking Lot Concert is scheduled for July 11th, Saturday, 11 a.m.  - 1 p.m.  Our choir will be singing and food and fellowship offered as we bring outside a little bit of what happens inside our church on a weekly basis.  Be sure to drop by and participate.  Pastor Bledsoe will be present.

Sunday Service July 5th  Pastor Bledsoe will be preaching. The sermon title is, UNTIL WE LEARN WAR NO MORE…WE REMEMBER.  Along with Holy Communion and our Commemorative celebration of Vietnam veterans, this should prove to be a wonderful and meaningful day of worship.  ~ See you Sunday

Riverside Church Cherry Blossoms

Sunday June 28

This Sunday, June 28th, Dr. Bledsoe is preaching from the lectionary, Gospel reading: Mark 5:21-43. His sermon title: A Supreme Love.

Parking is available both in our lot and along Maine Avenue.  We are easily accessible via L’Enfant and Waterside Metro stations.  Why not begin a new week steeped in ancient disciplines of prayer, praise and proclamation of scripture?  ~See you Sunday