We continue to worship at 11am at Westminster Presbyterian Church SW. Pastor Brian is preaching this Sunday. I will be a greeter! And Pastor Ruth is working with Godly Play and the children.
You know, of course, that ours is caffeinated culture. Got to get going in the morning. Need that afternoon break. And of course, our soda pop and products are laced with caffein. I mention this to say, we are ever finding ways to keep us awake and moving; we are trying to charge our lives. Nothing quite compares to worship. It is a shot of love as Bob Dylan sang. We worship. We love. We live. Join us.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a concert over at The Anthem on The Wharf. These folks are technically our neighbors now and as you know, Riverside sits at the gateway into the Wharf. The Anthem is just an incredible venue, by the way.
Today (Sunday) I walked down to gaze at our building and then decided to visit the Blue Bottle Cafe. I used the app on my smart phone to unlock an electric scooter and scooted over there. Had a delicious Macchiato. Then I got back on the scooter and parked across the street from the church, ended my ride and walked to Westminster for our worship. I had used a scooter on Saturday to travel from the Wharf Recreation Pier to visit a congregant over near 4th and G Streets. Awesome way to move about.
The weave of opportunities and travel options, the remarkable array of entertainment options and restaurants and the interweave of individuals making their way to and fro create a synergy and vibrancy to our community. I use that last word broadly because as a church, we know that the word “community” derives from the word “communion” and I’m not really sure how much communion there is in all of this. It is a powerful mix though. Potent. The Anthem provides an ecstatic experience to thousands nearly every night. People are lined up to enter restaurants and bars. And thousands more simply want to stroll through this cultural-entertainment-web. But community? Communion? I’ll just say I’m an agnostic about that at this point. I’m open though because the other thing I know is this: when people encounter other people, whether or not they intend to commune or communicate, they inevitably exchange information about themselves to others and often without saying a word. We are interesting and complex creatures and everything from our facial expressions to the clothes we wear tell the world around us something about us. And each of us–get this–carries the Image of God.
I write all this to say that I’m processing this information in an effort to understand what the role of our church is and will be on that corner at 7th & Maine Ave. Materially speaking, it is very clear to me that our architect and the builders have made a wonderful contribution to the aesthetic on that avenue. That stone wall, the swerve and wave of the roofline, the bell tower/ship stack, the stained glass and pearl white prefab—it is a handsome building that anchors the corner and it is a contribution to the architectural vernacular of SW. But we are not the Anthem. No way we can compete nor would we try. We serve coffee but we’re not Blue Bottle. We’ll have potlucks but we’re not Kith & Ken. We’re a church. We are communion. And we engage holistically soulful human beings. And that, beloved, is something not offered across the exchange at any counter at the Wharf or online. I invite you to ponder with me about these things. In a few months, we will step into a holy space, open its doors to our community, and commune and worship. And I will catch a scooter for that any day and every time!
Don’t you weary of reading the news every day through its various entertainment platforms? There are few of us who would keep a window open if a bus was running outside spewing its exhaust or a jackhammer were pounding the concrete 24/7. That would be a form of torture. My question for so many of us is, why are you subjecting yourself to torture? Turn OFF the “news.” Commend 45 to Almighty God, the Just and Holy.
People wonder what they can do. We march, we advocate for policy change, we denounce and post our opinions. And that is good and even needed. But if that is all you do day in and out, don’t be surprised when you’re constantly angry, nauseous, short with those you love and then crash and burn. Because the spirit needs the Spirit. My hope is this: that you will commit 10% of the time you spend on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the internet period toward worship. Worship as Resistance means you enter a congregation that loves others and is thus involved in creating the Beloved Community. Worship as Resistance means, you get your soul fed. How many hours do you spend a week posting and reading online? I would say it is a safe guess that you spend 10 hours. That means 10% would be 1 hour in worship. See you in worship tomorrow. We have singers singing, deacons praying, we’re combined in worship with Westminster Presbyterian and are thus fulfilling the prayer of our Lord to be One, and we are replenishing our souls. Oh, and I’m preaching a cinnamon stick sermon. ~See you Sunday
August 5th and we enter the “dog days” of summer (hopefully with a break from the rain). Whatever the weather, don’t let it be an excuse for not gathering as the People of God. We are worshipping at 11 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 401 I St., SW. Pastor Bledsoe is preaching (All Who Wander Are Not Lost), Jonathan is leading our Gates of Praise, Terryn is singing special music and it is a communion Sunday–given our shared context with Westminster, we are blessed to share across denominational lines in Holy Communion with our Presbyterian brothers and sisters. Above all, in our gathering in Christ’s name, we are assured by Scripture that Christ is with us. That friends is worth missing the talking heads on t.v., the regurgitation of news on news programs and even brunch (though you should get out in plenty of time to eat).
~See you Sunday.
Monday 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.
This past week I had more than one conversation with some individuals who were seeking a way to deepen their spiritual lives. As a pastor, these kinds of conversation are what I and other pastors long for–we want to lead our brothers and sisters to a well where they can drink deeply. As it turns out–and it always seems to turn out like this in our spiritual journeys–a serendipitous discovery came across my footpath and is often the case in my life, I was guided to this discovery by my wife who was reading the 2018 updated version of What Color Is Your Parachute? and she offered me a link to a site that the author had mentioned in the book. I went there. I found an ad for another site and it is this site I want to suggest to you as a tool for your daily practice of spirit and spirituality.
The site comes to us via the Jesuits who are trained in the discipline of Ignatius of Loyola. They have created a marvelous site and a very practical and cool app that you can download called “Pray As You Go.” If you are trying to find a way to kindle a spark in your faith or simply add sparkle to your walk in God, then go to the site. You can listen to daily prayers on their web site (you don’t need the app to do that). I have tried it and find it to be soothing, peaceful, and yet willing to confront questions about our spiritual lives that can get us unglued from the traps of a too-busy culture.
Finally, there is one practice you are urged to make part of your life by the scriptures. It is there from the moments of Creation. It is enshrined at Sinai. And the Church insists that this practice is the work of the Church: W O R S H I P. Standing together as those called out by Christ; embracing one another fully as made in God’s Image; Rejoicing and Praying and Loving; this practice every week lends a rhythm and sense to our scattered activities and infuses us with hope. Join us Sundays at 10 a.m. where, in the auditorium of Jefferson Academy Middle School, we become the People of God. Practice makes perfect. ~See you Sunday