Tag Archives: SW churches

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Pick One Knot and Untie It This Week

I came upon The Ashley Book of Knots when I began reading Annie Proulx’ novel, The Shipping News.  She uses quotes from the Book of Knots throughout her novel and explains that she came upon that book, written in 1944, in a yard sale and bought it for a quarter.  It inspired her to write a novel which won the Pulitzer Prize for literature.  Anyway, she begins her entire novel with a quote from the Ashley Book of Knots and I want you to hear it because I think it might lend us some hope and inspiration as we try to think how we work through the double knottedness of our lives.  Here is the quote from the Book of Knots:

In a knot of eight crossings, which is about the average-size knot, there are 256 different ‘over-and-under’ arrangements possible…Make only one change in this ‘over and under’ sequence and either an entirely different knot is made or no knot at all may result.

I had to read that a few times before it sunk in as to why this passage is such a hopeful one.  Did you catch it?  “Make only one change …and either an entirely different knot is made or no knot at all may result.”  Keep this in mind as you meditate and think about your lives this week.  You don’t have to solve everything today or this week. But find that one knot, that one sequence, and see if you can’t see unfold an entire series of changes for life, for peace and hope.

The Mocking of the Christ: Guns, Pontifical Symbols and Betrayal

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Friday rain.  With a week-end of more rain and the deluge of the wicked and the lost is upon us. First in slow drizzle and a myriad of betrayals.  The drip, drip, dripping of half-truths and lies until soaked and chilled we are.  Defiled and chilled.

You would be hard pressed to find an institution more intensely focused on symbols than the Roman Catholic Church.  Its liturgy is a tapestry of symbols, ornate, beautiful, compelling, richly textured by all five senses.  Hence, it is inconceivable that the pontiff did not know with whom he met and embraced in the person of Kim Davis. She is a symbol for the denial of human rights to Gay persons as Gov. George Wallace was a symbol of denial to full citizenship to African-Americans.  In 1963, Gov. Wallace stood at the entrance of the University of Alabama, defying the federal government’s order to move and allow Black students entrance into the university.  He refused and like Kim Davis, asserted legal arguments for defying the federal government’s order.  Was his act an act of conscience? of course it was and like Kim Davis’ act of conscience, a misguided and corrupted conscience.  That the pontiff met her in secret alerts us to the fact that he knew what she represents.  Can you imagine the pontiff meeting with George Wallace soon after his blocking the school house door and offering the excuse that he meets with a lot of people?  Please.  This kind of excuse is an insult to our intelligence.

Once again we are subjected to the vile news that a man with a gun has shot down ten people and wounded tens of others.  He apparently took glee in singling out Christians to kill.  And yet, the Christian Right, the NRA and just good ole patriotic Americans feel no pang of conscience when something like this happens. We are defiled and chilled.  This is The Mocking of Christ, as depicted by the Fifteenth Century artist, Matthias Grünewald.  Look at who carries out this mockery in that painting. They are upright citizens, they are good old boys, they are the upright religious brigades.  How awful.  How shameful.

I have no political stratagem to offer. Just a lament and cry for God’s mercy in our lives and in our world.  Today, find time to listen to a Kyrie.  Get alone in a quiet place and pray.  For we are a corrupted people whose hearts, like a branch infested by insects, are hollowed out.  Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.

The Metronome of Worship

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I have never taken piano lessons (or any music lessons for that matter) but my children did.  We bought an inexpensive Kurzweil digital piano (back in the ’90s) when a local university was clearing its stock.  I also bought a metronome.  Tick-tock, back and forth, consistently keeping time and rhythm, the instrument works to keep the musician tacked to the flow of a song.

Admittedly, I have trouble with rhythm.  When we sing, as we do each Sunday, “We Are Marching In The Light of God,” and all of us clap, I have to be sure to stay focused on the worship leader in order to keep clapping in rhythm.  Otherwise, I get lost.  It strikes me that worship is a kind of metronome.  And when you worship consistently, you are tacked to the flow of time–that seventh day of rest providing a timing and rhythm to everything else that occurs in your week.  Do that over the course of months and even years and you will find that for the most part, you don’t get lost even in seasons of loss; you discover a symmetry to life and your inner, spiritual life that otherwise evades people who are scurrying aboard the slippery deck of the Titanic.

Summer has ended. A new season has begun.  Make worship your metronome and enter into the delight of the symmetry of a well-lived spiritual life.  ~See you Sunday.

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Life Cinematic Sermon Series Continues

So far we’ve heard from the pulpit in this summer sermon series, references to Zombieland, The Matrix, The Truman Show and now this Sunday, August 16, we’ll refer to O Brother, Where Art Thou in an effort to understand how the Gospel connects to comedy and humor.  The sermon title:  ”O, Brother Where Art Thou? or, Slapstick and Comedy in the Gospels.”

We are familiar with “the shortest verse” in the bible:  Jesus wept.  But where is Christ depicted as laughing?  Does religion and the bible have to be all seriousness all the time?  Why do we have this emotional range in our lives, from weeping to laughing, from joy to sorrow?  And if humor is part of being human, then why are churches so deadly boring so much of the time?

Anyway, those are just some of the questions that come to mind with a topic like this.  It’s summer, folks are away (laughing and enjoying themselves, I hope) but if you’re in town, join us on Sunday at 10 a.m.  ~ See you Sunday.

 

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Get Ready: Events at Riverside

As we move out of summer, the following events and ideas are being put into play.  Find a way to engage, interact, and link up.

Riverside Social Events Team (RISET) Game Night & Cook Out

Saturday, August 29th at 5pm we’ll meet at the church and play games. Make sure you respond to the Evite sent out by the RISET team or let Deacon Bukola know of your interest.  As always, bring something to share–a game and a dish.

Faith and Justice Team

Many of you signed up to be part of an effort to reach out to our community, first of all to identify with and help educate young people at risk and then to help create an event that will reach out to predominantly White clergy and churches in an effort to educate why Black Lives Matter is so important for our country at this point. Led by Cedric Lawson, we will meet after church on September 13th for further information and to brain storm about how we go forward.

Book Club

BOOK CLUB RETURNS IN OCTOBER (the 25th after worship)  Join the Riverside Book Club as we read Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River . The book explores the 1950s Midwest through the eyes of an asthmatic, 11 year old boy trying to make sense of good and evil as well as the miracles that seem to follow his father. First timers are always welcome.  We will be led by seminarian in residence, Aspirant Tonetta Landis-Aina.

Vietnam Veterans & Families Commemorated and Honored

As a Commemorative Partner, our church joins with other organizations across the country to honor our Vietnam veterans. The Commemorative Partner Program is designed for federal, state and local communities, veterans’ organizations and other nongovernmental organizations to assist a grateful nation in thanking and honoring our Vietnam Veterans and their families.  On July 5th, we began in our own church family, honoring over a dozen veterans and pinning several who were in attendance. It was a moving service as Trustee and Sgt. Robert Nelson, joined by Major Gen. Arnold Fields, spoke to us and then honored these veterans and their families.  We want to reach out to veterans in our immediate community this Veteran’s Day in November.  We will establish a date soon to do that but in the mean time, if you are a veteran or family member or simply someone who would like to participate and help organize this effort, please let Pastor Bledsoe know.

Finally, worship this Sunday continues with the pastor’s sermon series around movies.  So far we have had a sermon that referenced zombies and Zombieland, The Matrix and The Truman Show and this Sunday, August 16, the sermon will consider the comic aspects of the Gospels and religion. The title of the sermon is:  O, Brother Where Art Thou? or, Slapstick and Comedy in the Gospels

~See you Sunday (it’s Koinonia Sunday, so plan to hang out after worship and eat lunch with us. Bring a non-perishable item to share with Martha’s Table)

Trump Is not the Problem

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I am not suggesting by the title to this brief excursus that Donald Trump is not “a” problem or “has” no problems. That he is and has is more than obvious to anyone with a modicum of good sense, civility and intelligence.  But he is not THE problem in our country at the moment. The problem is the death of civic discourse.  Period.

Blame whomever you want and whom you blame will likely depend upon your political allegiances, but the discourse in the Congress rivals the flame throwing  demagogues of slavery and civil war in the 19th century. This is not just sad and if it were only sad then we could wait for this phase to be finished and move on, but this is dangerous.  This kind of discourse has led to wars, not just in the 19th century in our bloodiest conflict, The Civil War, but most recently in our country’s invasion of a nation (Iraq) that had not attacked us.  A Christian should be able to discern these things, discerning crooked speech (as Proverbs would describe it) and the difference between just wars and unjust wars.

Fan or no fan of John McCain, we know that he was a prisoner of war in a Hanoi prison having his body beaten and his mind robbed of any peace while Donald Trump was very, very, very comfortable and pursuing a hedonistic life style.  Oh, well.  As I said, a Christian should be able to discern crooked speech from just speech.  Psalm 34:13-14, for example:

Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.

and Psalm 37:30:

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak justice.

We could be here all week proof-texting the scripture and its emphasis upon telling truth, pursuing peace and how the wise, unlike the fools, do this.  We need someone to educate and train us about a civic discourse that listens to others and to contrary opinions in constructive ways and how to engage others with the very dignity we expect and desire for ourselves.

The problem most likely goes deeper than what I’ve stated.  It is not just that we are observing the death of civil discourse, but we are witnessing what happens when people give up on each other because they have given up on any idea that they are soul-ful creatures who are expected to live on a higher plane than brute, Darwinist principles of survival.  Let me end with this strand of verse from Proverbs 16:27:

Scoundrels create trouble;
their words are a destructive blaze.

Avoid scoundrels.  If you see smoke and fire rising out of words of persons who seek nothing less than to be your ruler, your President, then by all means, think again.  With a heart full of gratitude for God’s abiding love and mercy, let our speech adorn our lives with truth, kindness and wisdom.