This is our first year (and hopefully only one of two) in our interim journey. We worship in a middle school, for which we are grateful. Trust me, other institutions in SW would not have us, apparently dismayed that we’re a religious organization. But the DC Public School system allowed us to lease a space and for that, we are indeed thankful. But as you might imagine, the school system does not open buildings on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day, both of which fall on a Sunday this year. So what you need to know: there will be no services on Christmas Sunday or New Years Sunday. Enjoy your family, worship where you’d like and then be sure to return on Sunday, January 8th!
This Sunday our choir presents their Christmas music. Surely one of the favorite scenes in the birth narratives is Luke’s presentation of angels singing and offering good news to shepherds tending their flocks in the fields. In the night of Roman oppression, they received news of a light that the darkness cannot overcome. So what you need to know: the Choir will bring you angelic news on Sunday Dec 18th at 10 a.m. Given the gloom enveloping our nation, you might find this a very good moment to reprise the role of the shepherds.
Martin Luther King Sunday is January 15th and this happens to be the Sunday prior to the inauguration of the President-elect. On that day, we will worship in truth and power, not only recalling the Dreamer’s legacy but dispensing grants totaling $100,000 to organizations that repair and heal our world. Groups like the Malala Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative, the Evangelical Environmental Network, local schools in SW, food banks, an LGBT shelter and civil rights groups and the list goes on. We are doing this as a sign of hope in darkness. We are doing this to declare that the marginal should not be oppressed or made to suffer more than they already do. We do it because we have been blessed and to whom much is given, much is required. So what you need to know: there is a candle of justice and peace burning in our world and the darkness will not overcome it. A blessed and Merry Christmas to all of you!
~See you Sunday
This past Sunday we began our interim worship journey at Jefferson Academy Middle School. We are worshipping there at the same time we have worshipped these many years, 10 a.m. There is parking off of 7th Street. Since it is located across the street from our church building, getting there couldn’t be simpler. No change in routine, same hour and basically same location. And the congregation turned out which made for a beautiful day indeed.
I learned some things in the middle school on Sunday:
*Riverside is not so much a building as it is a people. Maybe it is fair to say that Jefferson is an ark for us at this moment.
*Worship is impacted by the configuration of a space, of that there is no doubt, but worship also transforms whatever space in which it takes place.
*People who are positive, passionate and full of purpose overcome issues that emerge. We are blessed with leaders and volunteers who have a can-do attitude and their example inspires the rest of us to pull together. We’re going to grow in this place!
*The choir is composed of exceptional individuals–not just those gifted to sing or play an instrument, but those who by their faith sacrifice time to practice and then do their best to lead us in worship in a place that is not precisely set up for a congregation.
God bless all of you. We are journeying together, worshipping together and we will grow both numerically and in our faith. Bring a chair cushion if you want. See you Sunday in middle school! ~Pastor Bledsoe
Sunday September 25th is the last service to be held in the current building. We’ll begin worshipping in the auditorium of Jefferson Academy Middle School the first Sunday in October, the 2nd.
This process of exchanging our current configuration–a parking lot with a church building–for a new building closer to Maine Avenue and across from the Wharf–began in 2007. I and the chairman of Trustees sat informally in my office with the previous and beloved pastor of fourteen years, Robert Troutman. He blessed us as we began a process of questioning and pondering our future.
After many, many meetings and countless discussions and endless hoops jumped through and navigated, here we are: we are about to exit this building and cross over into our future. We are ready. We are brave. We are full of hope. When Joshua, the heir apparent to Moses, took the children of Israel across the Jordan River into their land of promise, he ordered them to take twelve stones out of the river bed and make a memorial. The scripture says, “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord.”
At some juncture three years from now, we’ll step into a new church building on the same corner. We will have secured our church financially for another fifty to one hundred years if those who come after us are as prudent and careful as we have been. I can hear a child ask what those stones mean–the stone from the First Baptist Church in America that will be placed near the date stone of the new edifice; the stone from the Sea of Galilee that Rabbi Zemel was so kind to have arranged delivery of and will be placed near the threshold of the new sanctuary. And the answer will echo through the millennia: God made a way for us to cross. Hallelujah! ~See you Sunday.
Please note that traffic patterns will be impacted by the Navy-Airforce half marathon Sunday. While not directly effecting the church, it may impact your commute in. Be sure to check their course map and determine if you need to alter your route to church Sunday
What is time? It is the ticking of the clock on the wall. It is the metronome of hours, providing rhythm to our lives. It is a template we place over the unfolding days and nights. It is the stuff of our lives.
The New Testament has a couple of words for what we translate “time.” There is Chronos time, which is the ticking of the clock on the wall. And there is Kairos, which is an altogether different kind of time. Because while everything I listed in that first paragraph is true as far as it goes, there is something else about time that the bible knows is most important. Kairos time is when the tomatoes on the vine burst red. Kairos is the moment of birth, when labor pains begin to radiate along the lower back and the mother knows the time has come. Kairos is always judgement and opportunity, the end of something and the beginning of another.
We live much of our lives along the flat road of Chronos. That road is grooved by our constant travel of it. We know the way to the coffee maker in the morning. We travel the same way to work day in and out. We have the same conversations over and again, day in and out. Chronological time is a monochrome rust.
Kairos is seasonal. Moments erupt out of the flat surfaces of life like fountains of water suddenly spraying into the hot desert air. Spring spills its riot of colors into the black and white pictures of our daily grind. Fall does the same thing. There are moments when our chronological time is shattered by Kairos, the ripening of a moment that chooses us and calls to us through the thick brick, insulated routines through which we travel. What time do we find ourselves in right now?
For Riverside Baptist Church, we find the fabric of time is opened along a seam of opportunity. This Sunday, September 18th, we will host a “Welcome Home Sunday,” inviting former members and friends to return to the church to honor its past even as we make our way from the shore to set off for a new future. After worship, we’ll linger over lunch and then return to the sanctuary for some music and testimonies. Chronos will be suspended. Kairos will clutch at our hearts and our minds. ~I hope to see you Sunday
Parking Lot Concert A Success!
Saturday, July 11th, the Riverside Choir led by Lauren White and accompanied by Kevin Twine on piano, Anthony Maimer on bass and Dominic Taylor on drums, filled our parking lot with praise and music. DJ Chris Barnett filled in the spaces and transitioned to upbeat and groovy tunes. Darrell Burnette deserves a special shout out for his organization and logistical support of this wonderful afternoon. And to all our volunteers, thank you! We enjoyed meeting neighbors and taking the joy from inside our church to the outside. Keep your eyes open for another event sometime in the Fall…
Worship tomorrow, July 12th at 10 a.m. will feature our choir and Pastor Bledsoe will be preaching from the lectionary reading from Ephesians chapter one where we are told that we are chosen. This idea of “election” or being chosen is a strong theme in the bible but also a difficult idea in 2015. We hope you’ll join us for deeply gratifying worship–worship that connects emotionally and intellectually. ~ See you Sunday.
Sometimes people can’t figure out Baptists (well, who can?) But one way to distinguish say, arch-conservative Southern Baptists from us progressive Baptists who believe in soul freedom, ordination of women and ecumenical relations is by dancing. We’re the dancing Baptists. LOL For an example, see the movie below of Riversiders groovin’ to the music.