Tag Archives: interim worship

The Interim Journey: November 2016

A Stone from the Sea of Galilee, gifted to Riverside Baptist Church by Rabbi Daniel Zemel of Temple Micah.

A Stone from the Sea of Galilee, gifted to Riverside Baptist Church by Rabbi Daniel Zemel of Temple Micah.

For a while now those of you who have been attending worship have realized that I really like this text from the book of Numbers, the tenth chapter, in the Hebrew scriptures, that speaks to the wilderness wandering led by Moses after the people have been to Sinai and covenanted with God.

11 In the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth day of the month, the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle of the testimony, 12 and the people of Israel set out by stages from the wilderness of Sinai. . .

I love the texture of those verses, their concreteness, their particularity, striking into time itself the moment when they got up and began to journey.  So it is, that in November of 2016, Riverside Baptist Church is also on a journey.  We can call it our interim journey since we have an endpoint or goal to our “wandering.”  The old church building is about to be deconstructed, its stained glass saved for the new building and then in December it may come down.  The expectation is that we will enter our new church building by September 30, 2018.  We might want to enter on Reformation Sunday of 2018–that would be fitting and an inspiration all by itself!

We are carrying with us during this time a stone from the First Baptist Church in America gathered by Roger Williams in 1638 and we’ll place this stone near the date stone of our new building; we are carrying with us a stone from the Sea of Galilee where Christ ministered and first called disciples and we will place that at the threshold of the new sanctuary once we reach our destination.  And we carry with us the vision of this collective of radical Baptists who believe in soul freedom, the separation of Church and State, and the priesthood of believers, believing our voice raised for justice and peace is as vital now as ever.

Meanwhile, we worship in the auditorium of Jefferson Middle School Academy on Seventh Street at 10 a.m. Sundays.  We are vibrant. We are full of hope.  And we invite you to worship and travel with us.  ~See you Sunday

Preparing to Leave, Preparing to Arrive

stack of books

Strewn along the tops of the tables in the Foster Room are books from the Jerry Davis Library. There are books from the 1960s, some of which deal with issues that threatened the unity of churches (Black Power and Civil Rights, homosexuality, gender equality) and on this side of the 21st Century, it is fascinating to see how our brave little church stood up for Civil Rights, women and gay men and women. Those issues at that time were fuzzy, murky and unclear but our church found a way (and still does) to speak with clarity.  There are books about war and politics and there are of course a myriad of religious books.

Speaking of which, I noticed there are several hymnbooks (some given as gifts to the church in honor of loved ones at Fifth Baptist Church).  These hymnbooks are somewhat dated but I have said more than once that a practice of piety that you can count on is to have a hymnbook at your night stand so when you cannot sleep or are troubled, you can open that hymnbook and read a hymn as a prayer.  There are several–help yourselves and in the process, enrich  and encourage your spiritual life.

We are sifting and sorting now.  Our summer will be a time for such and then, end of September, we should be exiting this building and stepping into our interim worship arrangements.  It is not easy to say goodbye to a building that has offered us sanctuary and where we have evolved as individuals and as a congregation into God’s people. We will do so with dignity and hope. Christ tells the Church (in The Revelation of John), “Behold, I make all things new.”  We will trust in him to do so with us, for we have been and are in dialogue not only with our architect (Phillip Renfrow), but we are and have been in prayer with the Architect and Designer of worlds.  Of all the things we take with us, let us be sure to take our brave discipleship.  Of all we leave behind, may we leave malice, anger, grudges or anything else that weighs us down in our journey.  I love how Numbers (10:11) describes the journey about to begin as Moses led the children of Israel into their interim wandering through the wilderness:

Then the Israelites set out by stages

from the wilderness of Sinai

By stages, methodically, full of faith and dedicated to Christ who calls us to the future, let us prepare to leave. Let us prepare to arrive! ~ See you Sunday