Tag Archives: peace and justice church


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

Chartres Cathedral


This coming Sunday, the first Sunday of 2018, we will return to Jefferson Middle School for our worship at 10 a.m.  Back to an auditorium that has served us well for over one year now.  And hopefully, prayerfully, we will walk into a new sanctuary sometime this Fall.  Return. Come back.

Though we were never truly apart. Our worship with Westminster Presbyterian Church on Christmas Eve was a delight.  How great it was to worship with our friends, our brothers and sisters there. They welcomed us and made us feel so at home in a true illustration of ecumenical life. We are better for having come together.  Thanks to Pastor Ruth and Pastor Brian and the entire congregation there. I will be working with SW clergy and especially Ruth to guide our congregations to more shared experiences and shared ministries in 2018.  Then this past Sunday on New Year’s Eve, Christ United Methodist welcomed us into their beautiful sanctuary. Their reception of us was as warm as it was warm inside on a cold day.  And again, we felt the strength and joy of being together with fellow believers.  Their new pastor, Monica Raines, is fresh out of Wesley Seminary and offers them (and our community) energy and vision.  We pray for your ministry and presence, Christ United.

Now it is time to return to our “church” such as it is and this we have learned:  while a building is wonderful (how wonderful it was to be inside those two churches!) we the people are the church.  Return and let us begin this year with renewed commitment and purpose. Be here as often as you possibly can.  Step up and support our ministry.  Reach out and embrace one another.  Let us be the Church.

And for any who have searched and longed for a church of peace, justice and Christ-centered joy, come with us this year.  Return. Come home.  Your spirituality and life in God can begin or continue here.  As we embark on this journey together, may Christ the Good Shepherd gather us, guide us and bring us to his Kingdom.  ~See you Sunday


Advent and Christmas at Riverside

Advent and Christmas reminders: 

Please note:  Because DC Public Schools will not open the school for us on a holiday,  New Year’s Eve Sunday service will worship elsewhere.  Where?

Sunday morning New Year’s Eve, 10 a.m., some of us will worship at Christ United Methodist Church (we will not be involved in leading the worship or participating in the worship). 900 4th Street, SW. You may park at Jefferson and walk over to Christ United Methodist.

Please remember our church depends solely on your offerings and since we will miss two Sundays of collection, we encourage you to mail in your offering or use the PayPal button on this site.

The Peace of the angelic presence and announcement to shepherds in the field abide with you throughout this season of hope.  ~See you Sunday


The Peace of Jerusalem

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

“May they prosper who love you.

 Peace be within your walls,

    and security within your towers.”

Psalm 122:6-7

In November of 1995, one week after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, I sat on a hill just outside the Seven Arches Hotel, overlooking the city of Jerusalem.  It was and is a honeycomb of the Sacred.  The molten golden color of its stones in the setting sun, the call of the minaret, church bells ringing, great stone walls with gates, intoxicated me.  A city over 3,000 years old and the hub of sacred stories and events, this city is deeply loved by persons of many faith traditions.  I am not surprised that some religious pilgrims come to the City of David and lose their identity, overcome by what is called “the Jerusalem syndrome.”

Unfortunately, it is not only individuals who can lose their minds but also nations.  President Trump, in what many of his Evangelical followers applaud as a right thing to do, has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the modern state of Israel.  He has been moved to this decision by who knows whom but the Evangelicals seem to think that such recognition is both a biblical right and a contribution toward the actualization of what they call the Second Coming of Christ.  It is neither. It is the politicization of a complicated religious history and a beautiful, sacred city.

If we want to honor Jerusalem and work to safeguard the peace of that city then Jews, Christians and Muslims should be working toward a de-politicization of Jerusalem so its sacred streets and shrines are accessible to all.  That history is polluted by efforts by all three of those religions to thwart the others from such access.  When the President acts to place the American embassy inside Jerusalem, he not only complicates what is already complicated but he immediately acts to thwart a particular group of people, as so many have acted in the past two thousand years. Mr. Trump is anti-Muslim. He has spewed his distrust and stereotyped that religion since he began his campaign to become President. There is simply no way for his action to be perceived by Islam but as a hostile act.  I can only assert that as a Christian, he does not speak for me, nor do the Evangelicals.  Stop conflating biblical hopes for shalom with Machiavellian nation states that could care less about those hopes.  The other problem with the President’s action is this:  while on the surface he seems to be raising the stature of Jerusalem and Israel, he is undermining its security. He has made the world unsafe for Jewish and Christian residents of Jerusalem as well.  This is a shame.

Jerusalem is such a bright light that we are drawn to it like a moth to flame.  Those who carelessly fumble their way toward it risk being consumed by that flame.  Not only religious individuals, but entire nations.  I pray that the President retracts this action.  For the peace of Jerusalem to be a reality, the city should be protected as the shrine it is and no religion and no government should deny its mysteries to others.  I am a realist though.  Mr. Trump will kick a canister of tear gas, a can of hot coals, into a crowd just because he can—the spectacle of that appeals to him. Alas, this raises other questions about American governance and his psychology that need to be addressed. For now, let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem and ask our nation to facilitate dialogue, not exacerbate tensions.