Tag Archives: interracial church dc

White_House_Black_and_White_Photograph

40 Days, Not 100, Are Sufficient

There is a fascination politically and in the media with the first 100 days of the Presidency (or any given presidency).  I can’t account for it though I’ve read a few pieces about this, one tracing it to the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  No matter, consider this:  there is a fascination in scripture with 40 days.

For example, in the Flood narrative in Genesis, it rains for 40 days.  Moses and the Hebrew children wander the wilderness for 40 years.  Years!  But there is that number again, 40.  Moses went into the Cloud on the Mountain for 40 days.  And later, when Moses is on the mountain inscribing the Ten Commandments, he is there 40 days and nights and does not eat or drink.  Moses sent spies into the Promised Land and they remained there 40 days.   In the temptation narrative of Christ in the Gospels, Jesus is said to have remained in the wilderness for 40 days.

I suppose what is going on here,  not only with the 40 days in scripture but with our own country’s fascination with the first 100 days of a presidency,  is that the number more or less represents a sufficient amount of time for accomplishing a task or revealing what needs to be unveiled.  The character of a person or of an event needs some time to unfold before we can assess its meaning—so 40 days or 100, by then you can gather what the significance of an event means or what the nature of the character of a person is.

We don’t need 100 days to determine this for the current occupant of the White House.  40 days was sufficient for us to realize that there is a level of intense hostility aimed at those who are at-risk in our country.  You can name it what you want, but “repeal and replace” is an effort at deny and damage.  40 days has been sufficient to unveil a level of ineptitude not only with regard to governance but with regard to a basic appreciation for how our democratic institutions function.  40 days has been sufficient to recognize that not only is this administration oblivious to climate change science, but it is intentionally dedicated to polluting our air and streams.   And of course, the mixed signals with regard to both allies and adversaries has signaled to us all that the concern that a narcissist and pathological Orwellian has his finger near the nuclear button is not over-wrought but legitimate, rational concern.

The country does not need 100 days to figure this out.  40 was sufficient.  We are in a wilderness.  We are, however, not led by Moses, but we’re being led by ruthless, duplicitous politicians whose singular goal is power, not patriotic duty.  In the mean time, we should take this lesson from scripture:  whether it is 40 days, 100 days or 40 years, the princes of this world pass but the Kingdom of God is enduring from everlasting to everlasting.  Come out of the wilderness wandering this Sunday and rest a while in a place of peace.  You have a place at the table with us.  My hunch is, if you linger with us for 40 days, you will discover a source of strength and courage for the living of your lives.

~ See you Sunday

By muralist Judy Baca

MLK Sunday: $100,000 to heal our world

One Sunday from the inauguration of President-Elect Trump, many in our area are trying to find a way to step out of that drama.  How about this alternative?  This Sunday is also Martin Luther King Sunday, a day we remember the Baptist preacher and dreamer who led the “second revolution,” the Civil Rights Movement.  And we at Riverside will not only worship and sing in celebration of the values of the Civil Rights Movement–the enduring dignity of human beings, the worth of all of God’s children and the constitutional mandate to protect all of our citizens–but we will be dispensing thirty grants totaling $100,000 to groups who help heal, repair and redeem the world.  Want to be inspired and plugged into those values in a powerful way?  Join us Sunday for worship at 10 a.m.

Among those we’ll be offering grants to are the Malala Fund, Temple Micah’s Micah House, the Equal Justice Initiative and many local groups that carry out humane and just actions on behalf of the marginal.  Schools in Southwest like Jefferson Academy, Amidon Elementary, Apple Early Learning; shelters, hunger solutions like Martha’s Table and S.O.M.E; housing like Casa Ruby and Mary’s House, Sasha Bruce Youthwork; LGBT advocacy groups like Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, the Gay Christian Network and DC LGBT Center’s Global Division;   special needs children who, with their families, find support through ARC of Montgomery County; and many more.  We are doing this for a few reasons. First, because we are blessed to have secured an endowment for our church that will safeguard it for decades to come. Second, because we can think of no better way to counter the extreme right-wing rhetoric that would put these very persons and families at risk than to make a donation to the urgent work of these groups.  Third, because as our Lord taught, “to whom much is given, much is required.”

This Sunday, join us. Together, let’s honor the Dreamer and his legacy and worship in power and truth as we bless those who heal the world. ~See you Sunday

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Dial into Silence

Perhaps you are old enough to remember or have simply seen an old radio with a tuning dial.  With deft fingers and patience, one could turn the dial slowly to eventually land on a radio station. With fine-tuning and precision, the noise and static would give way to a clear–if faint–station.

And this is analogous to prayer.  Now I grew up in a noisy church.  The electric organ would vine leaves of notes around prayers. The choir sang. The church, which is to say, the congregants, would exhort with “amen” like a boy throwing a firecracker on the pavement on the Fourth of July.  And the preacher would proclaim for well over thirty minutes and very often forty-five minutes, a sermon that now seems to me in hindsight to have been more stream-of-consciousness than a crafted commentary upon holy writ.  Church was noisy. Silence was not even a word in our theological vocabulary.

We live in a very noisy world. I am sure you have noticed this, especially during these weeks of political conventions that provide a stage for our culture’s anxiety.  The rhetoric, protests, speeches and and speeches and speeches, pelt us with words.  It is little wonder that we feel confused, agitated or simply worn out after listening to even a little bit of all this.  What to do?

Prayer and worship offer us a still point of silence.  You can listen to my sermon, Still Point,  from this past Sunday to ferret out the deeper meanings here. This week, I urge you to patiently tune the dial of your inner life until you find that still point of quiet where you are met by “the peace that passes all understanding.”  Turn off the news for a while.  Barricade yourself against the noise.  Dial into the center where, to borrow from Eliot,

the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.

~See you Sunday  where silence and peace meet praise