Tag Archives: peace and justice church

Two Kinds of Steel

steel_frame_day6Monday morning, April 23rd, the first steel beam was put into place by a crane on our construction site. By Saturday, much of the steel frame was in place.  We thank God for this progress and for the many workers who work tirelessly to construct our church.  The picture you see was taken on Saturday morning, just six days into the process.

Another kind of steel caught my eye this week.  The steel of character.  Let me tell you what I mean and the discovery of it was very exciting and joyful.

On Thursday morning I noticed that Google was honoring a 1948 London Olympian from the Netherlands, Fanny Blankers.  And clicking on that link, I noticed a Youtube film of the 1948 Olympics that is an hour in length.  I immediately thought of Riverside’s own Olympian, Emma Wright, who had grown up in Mississippi, and found her way onto the first American Olympic Team after WWII. She competed in the broad jump.  Emma was a gentle, kind, wonderful Christian woman.  And how proud we were and are of her!  So I began to watch this film from 1948 in hopes that I might see Emma.  Sure enough, the film begins with the processional of the athletes into the Olympic Stadium.  Late in the processional came the Americans and soon, walking across the screen, there she was!  A young woman, proudly representing her country and her family. You can see her in the photo below where she is second from the right.  I have made the photo black and white except for Emma.  How amazing to reach back into time and find this.  She possessed a character of steel. While she is no longer with us and will not walk into our new building in November, we nonetheless sense her presence and remember her. Tomorrow, Sunday, I will preach on “The Horizon of Expectation.” I’ll talk a little about steel and the future.  ~See you Sunday

Processional of American athletes in the 1948 London Olympics.

Processional of American athletes in the 1948 London Olympics.

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The Courageous, The Just, Right Now

MARCH FOR OUR LIVES young people:

we believe in you, we pray for your success because your courage and commitment to justice can change our nation.

BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS RIGHT NOW

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Put down your guns. Stop taking blood money from the NRA.  And by all means, stop giving the NRA money to perpetuate the madness of gun violence in the United States.

Welcome to Washington DC:  We need you, we applaud you.

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Riverside Grants For Those Who Heal Our World

Join us this Sunday as we once again distribute grants to those who heal our world!  One year ago on Martin Luther King Sunday, Riverside Baptist Church dispersed $100,000 in nearly 30  small grants to groups who are healing our world. We did this because we believed good stewardship responds to the world out of the storehouse of one’s blessings–we had just secured an endowment that will hopefully protect and serve our church for decades to come. So the first thing we “spent” money on were these grants to support and empower those who heal the world.

One year later, the Endowment Team selected and the church unanimously voted to approve the dispensing of $25,000 in grants to ten institutions that are busy healing our world. Below you will see a list of those recipients.  All we can say is how moved we are by the courage and mercy extended by these institutions and their volunteers! They inspire us to compassion and action on behalf of others.  And I am proud to serve as pastor to a church that wants to share its blessings with those who heal and mend our world. The grantees:

The Arc of Montgomery County
The Arc supports families by providing child care, work skills training, employment, community living services, resources, respite care and advocacy.
 
Children’s National Medical Center
Provider of pediatric critical care and essential medical services to children, regardless of insurance or ability to pay.
City Gate Ministries
 Their mission in a sentence:  ”To provide quality education for children in Washington DC’s neighborhoods of greatest need.” Besides seeding our money into local Baptist efforts to heal the world, City Gate offers us the chance to supplement programs for children in some of our city’s neediest neighborhoods. 
 
Commission Baptist Institute
Commission Baptist Church in Monrovia, Liberia, operates a school for 200 children. Liberia is, as you know, one of the poorest countries in Africa with 60-80% living below poverty level.  Commission Baptist Institute needs aid to keep these children in school.
 
DC Center for the LGBT Community
The DC LGBT Center educates, empowers, celebrates, and connects the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.

 
Doctors Without Borders
Provides emergency medical care to patients who are victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural or man-made disasters – worldwide.
The Holocaust Museum
In honor of Rabbi Zemel and Temple Micah and in memory of Otto Feuer.  Otto was a survivor of the camps and his son, Michael, is a member of Temple Micah and has donated to the museum Otto’s pants and shirt from the camp and a jacket he wore.  A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.
 
House of Ruth
Non-profit community-based organization caring for families, including women and children, victimized by domestic violence.
Safe Shores – The DC Children’s Advocacy Center
Safe Shores provides children with therapy, clothing, meals, books, financial assistance, advocacy and forensic interviews — all free of charge and in a welcoming, child-friendly and safe space.
 
Syrian-American Medical Society
A non-political, non-profit medical relief organization that is working on the front lines of crisis relief in Syria and neighboring countries to alleviate suffering and save lives.  SAMS has supported over 400,000 surgeries during the 6-year conflict in Syria.
 

 

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Budget Time: Fix Your Mind on These Things

Most of us are forced to work out a financial budget. We have only so many dollars and so, we sort out the obligations we have from food to rent to travel and medical and subtract that from what we have coming in.  My uncle used to say “so and so has a champagne taste but lives on a beer salary.”  This was his way of pointing out what is obvious: too many of us live beyond our means.

I’m writing this not in order to have a financial discussion with you but in order to have you take the discipline of your financial planning and apply it to your attention span this week and month.  And I’m doing so because what I see around me—not just in our church but in our community and country—are persons who spend nearly every dime of their time on the news, commentary and assorted media outlets.  When a person lives beyond their means long enough, they are at risk of losing everything.  When a person spends all of their time devoted to news and political information across a hundred platforms, it is little wonder that one day they wake up depressed, cynical, exhausted or all three.

Starting now, count out the time you have as change to be spent.  If you have ten hours of time away from your obligations, how will you “spend” the change?  Try not to spend all of it on the news or entertainment.  Where can you spend the hours of your life?  Here is how the Apostle Paul instructed the Philippians:  “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” [Philippians 4:8]

When you do that then the anger begins to dissipate and lessen, the bitterness is removed and in their place we receive joy and peace, wisdom and grace.  Meditate, contemplate, fix your mind on truth, honor, justice, integrity—all manner of things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

~I hope to see you Sunday clothed in our right minds.

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Epistle From a Birmingham Jail, Memo to Washington

This coming Sunday, January 14th, is Martin Luther King Sunday. Pastor Bledsoe will be preaching on:  ”Epistle From a Birmingham Jail, Memo to Washington.”  This Sunday has always been about more than remembering events in the past–we at Riverside take the opportunity to speak to issues of concern for our nation and world as we live up and through Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community.  Join us for an effervescent Sunday of music and proclamation.

If you’re going to give into something this year, give into hope.  If you’re going to throw up your hands and resign yourself to something, let it be love.  If you are indignant and angry (and if you’re not then you are not, as the saying goes, paying attention), then wage peace.  There is a world to heal, be a healer.  Enough with self-hate. Enough with ruining or being complicit in the ruin of the world. Let’s come together. Right now.  ~See you Sunday