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
Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.
Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy
How many times must we turn to one another and ask that the violence stop? Race and violence in America is a problem. That is an understatement. Gun violence continues to strike at the heart of our nation and yet, the idol worshippers of Moloch insist on feeding our children and their future to the Gun god. Lay down your sword. Do not give your allegiance or your hearts to those who divide, hate and insist on violence. There is no way to peace, peace is the way as the Fellowship of Reconciliation chants it. Below is a compilation of statements made over the last few years that speak to these issues.
Open Letter to White Christians
The Mocking of Christ
Guns + Hatred in America
The Scourge of Gun Violence
Defying Injustice, Speaking Truth
Shame on Jerry Falwell
Mourning Brooklyn Police Officers
Mr. Beck & Some Lives Matter
Order the Flags at Half Staff
Refuge in a Profanely Violent World
The State of Race in America
In 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote a pamphlet entitled, “The Communist Manifesto” which began this way, “A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter…”
Today, in the United States of America, the ghost of fascism is haunting the country. It shows up at rallies, froths with fear about the alien, the foreigner, the different. But unlike the 1848 revolutionary period of which Marx and Engels wrote, there is no holy alliance to exorcise this ghost. Indeed, and sadly, we find an unholy alliance of Evangelicals and ne’er-do-wells hawking a syrupy concoction of patriotism and poison.
I am not a politician. I am not a psychologist. But I am a clergyman and I join with others in denouncing the emaciated spirituality that parades at this moment in our country as Christianity. Resist this xenophobic fascist movement that spews its hatred against women, minorities, and anyone who appears different to it. Let your voice be heard. Christ practiced a radical table fellowship. He healed the sick. He denounced puppet rulers and megalomaniacal princes of this world. A specter is haunting America, it is the specter of ghosts we thought we had conquered in World War Two. Come together. For justice. For peace. For merciful and kind citizenship. ~ See you Sunday. ~PSTR
Exactly how much mayhem does one need to witness before concluding that something is terribly wrong? Daily headlines of extrajudicial killings of African-American citizens, war, mass migrations of persons fleeing from war, terrorist attacks in the name of God and the rude slander of persons by leading presidential contenders are enough to convince us that something is off balance. Right? But the fact is, Americans polarize into extremes and some, on the left, want to naively believe in the last superstition, progress (as Christopher Lasch wrote in his book, The True and Only Heaven). Or those on the right hunker down, double down and promote more violence as the solution to violence. It is a self-defeating proposition but logic is not a strong suit of the NRApocalyptic view of the world.
Enter the biblical narrative of Advent, which is to say, the coming of the Christ in our midst. This Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent. How much we need to hear this account again! The world is plunged into darkness. It is more than evident to anyone willing to put down their ideological playbook that human beings are sinners in need of a Redeemer. Don’t like the word “sin?” Try this: human beings are deeply alienated and in need of reconciliation. However we state the obvious, we would do well to begin our journey to a sanctuary of peace such is offered by our church. Not to the mall, clawing our way through crowds and the push-and-shove of consumer frenzy. Not to a party. But to the sanctuary of the Holy One who would speak to us again of peace and justice and a Redeemer.
See that field of shepherds? It is night. And it is night in more ways than one, for they are poor and live in the midst of a brutal Roman occupation. Set in the night sky is a star. That is a luminous symbol of Christ’s presence in our world as the dim tides of history and the inhumane plots of wicked persons blot out the light. The Gospel of John captures that scene in another way, saying, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (1:5)
This is the First Sunday of Advent. Let us take a step toward light, toward love and peace. ~See you Sunday.