Sunday Service for October 18 Is Now Available

The service for October 18, 2020 is now available here. You can also view a list of past Sunday services here.

Please remember to join the online prayer meeting at 11:00 am after the Sunday service.

To balance the spiritual needs of church-goers with the physical health risks from gatherings and COVID-19, Riverside Baptist Church is offering online Sunday services. Rev. Mumejian shares the word of God and a bulletin guides you through the service. Through these online resources, you can continue to connect with God and the Riverside community.

A Nap and a Snack

Sometimes all we need is a good nap and a decent snack.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

I Kings 19:4-9

I was reminded recently about the need for selfcare, and not just selfcare but specifically the benefits of some rest and a decent meal. In the scripture above the Prophet Elijah had finished one of the more interesting scenes in the Bible. There was a famine in the land that had lasted years as prophesied by Elijah because of King Ahab’s (the seventh king of Israel) sin of allowing Baal worship to take place among the people of Israel. In order to end the drought and have the people of Israel turn back to God, Elijah proposed a contest between His God and the gods of Baal to demonstrate who the true deity of Israel was.

So, Elijah had the people of Israel, 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherah summoned to Mount Carmel. Elijah challenged the other prophets to build an altar and have their gods light the altar on fire. After a few days of frustration among these prophets and nothing happening, Elijah builds his altar. In addition, he builds a trench around the altar and has water poured all over his altar and in the trench. With a soaking wet altar, surrounded by a water-filled trench, Elijah prayed to the God of Israel who brought down fire and burned the wet altar. Elijah then prays for rain and the many yearlong drought and famine ends.

Winning this contest put Elijah’s life into trouble as it seems that those in charge weren’t (and still aren’t) very fond of being shown up. Elijah flees the area and arrives at where the passage above begins. Elijah is tired, angry, and wants to die. What is the remedy? Some rest and food. After which, Elijah decides perhaps things aren’t so bad that he can’t go any further and continues in his calling and ministry for God.

While I don’t mean to patronize what some of us are going through right now, I do however, wish to encourage you to remember self-care; even if it’s just a nap and snack, as even a nap and snack are Biblical remedies for having a rough go of it. So if the pandemic has you down, caring for your family during a quarantine is exhausting, this election cycle is causing anger and anxiety, or whatever it is you may be going through, take a note from Elijah and treat yourself to a little relaxation and a good meal.

~ Rev. Nick

Sunday Service for October 11 Is Now Available

The service for October 11, 2020 is now available here. You can also view a list of past Sunday services here.

Please remember to join the online prayer meeting at 11:00 am after the Sunday service. Today’s prayer meeting will close with virtual communion. Please have communion elements of bread or a cracker and a cup ready to share in this sacrament.

To balance the spiritual needs of church-goers with the physical health risks from gatherings and COVID-19, Riverside Baptist Church is offering online Sunday services. Rev. Nick shares the word of God and a bulletin guides you through the service. Through these online resources, you can continue to connect with God and the Riverside community.

A Community Engrafted

These past few weeks we have been studying the lectionary texts from the book of Exodus. We have been taking a closer look at the people of Israel, their community, their journey, and their God who happens to also be our God. As we read these stories and study the meanings and texts, I want to warn against the idea of supersessionism.

Supersessionism is the theological belief that Christians, via the church universal, have succeeded the people of Israel as God’s chosen people. Supersessionism is the belief that the New Covenant in Christ somehow negates the Mosaic Covenant or Sinaitic Covenant God made with Moses and the people of Israel. To be clear, this is not the case, Christians have not succeeded or replaced or negated the people of Israel.

In fact, the theology and belief of supersessionism has been at the root of theologies that lead the way to white supremacy. For more on that topic I highly recommend Willie Jennings’ fantastic book The Christian Imagination. In short, we as Christians are to see ourselves as engrafted into the story of Israel. Jesus was born Jewish, died Jewish, and rose again ascending into heaven Jewish. The Apostle Paul was also Jewish as were the disciples. At no point did Paul or any of the other disciples become “Christian” as we understand the term. Instead when we read the letters of Paul in the New Testament, we find Paul trying to universalize Judaism, not begin a new religion.

Of course we can begin to have theological conservations with our Jewish sisters and brothers about these differences and who Jesus was and is to both faiths. I am not trying blur the lines of differences between our faiths. I am, however, cautioning against the misguided temptation of viewing the Bible, the story of Israel, and the church today through a lens that puts supersession for Christianity over against Judaism.

We as Christians only have the Old Testament as part of our canon of scripture because of Jesus who was Jewish. And through Jesus we are given many gifts, one such gift is the engraftation into God’s salvation story for God’s people.

When we read and study these texts about the people of Israel and about their relationship with God, we should pay attention to the details of the community and pay attention to God’s actions towards them. We should ask questions about what do these stories teach us about the character of God, and how can our own faith be continually transformed, and our minds renewed?

Just as the Abrahamic Covenant made between God and Abraham did not negate or replace the covenant God made with Noah, and just as the Sinaitic Covenant God made with Moses did not negate or replace the covenant God made with Abraham, so too the New Covenant with Jesus does not replace or negate God’s covenant with the people of Israel.

~ Rev. Nick

Sunday Service for October 4 Is Available

The Story of Exodus: The Ten Commandments, by Marc Chagall
The Story of Exodus: The Ten Commandments, by Marc Chagall, from a detail of a tapestry in the Knesset, Jerusalem, Israel.

The service for October 4, 2020 is now available here. You can also view a list of past Sunday services here.

Please remember to join the online prayer meeting at 11:00 am after the Sunday service. Today’s prayer meeting will close with virtual communion. Please have wine or juice and bread or a cracker ready to share in this sacrament.

To balance the spiritual needs of church-goers with the physical health risks from gatherings and COVID-19, Riverside Baptist Church is offering online Sunday services. Rev. Nick shares the word of God and a bulletin guides you through the service. Through these online resources, you can continue to connect with God and the Riverside community.

God of My Salvation

O Lord, God of my salvation, when, at night, I cry out in your presence, let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry.

Psalm 88:1-2

Psalm 88 is typically referred to as the “Prayer for Help in Despondency.” Despondency, such an accurate word for many us right now. This past week we witnessed the failure of our justice system for Breonna Taylor. This injustice, this despondency many are feeling, seems to be a thread woven through 2020.

The Coronavirus pandemic has not only shown its ill effect upon America, with over 200,000 lost lives, and many hundred thousands more left with permanent infliction, but the pandemic highlighted racial and economic injustices within our nation. People of color and people with inadequate healthcare are suffering loss at a greater percentage and rate. “God of our salvation… incline your ear to our cry.”

Furthermore, we’ve witnessed the virus of racism from the murder of Ahmaud Arbery to the murder of George Floyd to the murder of Breonna Taylor and many others, the thread of injustice is continually woven. “God of our salvation… incline your ear to our cry.”

What is perhaps most interesting about Psalm 88 is that it ends without a verse of joy or praise or thanksgiving. As a dear colleague pointed out after my brother passed, Psalm 88 ends with, “You have caused friend and neighbor to shun me; my companions are in darkness.” His point in telling me about this unique Psalm was that sometimes our prayer or laments just end, sometimes we need a moment (let me emphasize moment, and not season or residence) to just end our prayer as the Psalmist does in Psalm 88. Just think about that for a minute.

Ok, your minute is over, or perhaps you need another, but when you’re ready there is work to be done. Beloved sisters and brothers there is work to be done. I want you to know that I am here as your pastor to co-labor in this work, to celebrate our community, to call upon the name of the risen Lord, and as the Prophet Isaiah implores, to seek justice. For though we need our occasions from time to time to question, lament, to “have a moment,” we do so as a community called to trust in the faithful and merciful God we serve and worship here at Riverside.

~ Rev. Nick

Sunday Service for September 27 Is Now Available

The service for September 27, 2020 is now available here. You can also view a list of past Sunday services here.

Please remember to join the online prayer meeting at 11:00 am after the Sunday service.

To balance the spiritual needs of church-goers with the physical health risks from gatherings and COVID-19, Riverside Baptist Church is offering online Sunday services. Rev. Nick shares the word of God and a bulletin guides you through the service. Through these online resources, you can continue to connect with God and the Riverside community.

Checking In

Greetings Riverside Family,

I want to share with you all that though the church continues to hold virtual services, church leadership has recently met and will continue meeting regularly to reevaluate when we believe regathering can be done safely.

Until then please continue to worship with us Sunday mornings and join us for our 11:00 am fellowship hour. The first and second Sundays of the month we conclude our time together with communion. We are also offering Bible study on Wednesday nights where we are reading through and discussing the Gospel of Luke. This coming Wednesday we will be discussing Luke chapter 2. All the information for these services can be found in the newsletter and on the church’s website.

And as always, please to not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Rev. Nick

Sunday Service for September 20 Is Now Available

The service for September 20, 2020 is now available here. You can also view a list of past Sunday services here.

Please remember to join the online prayer meeting at 11:00 am after the Sunday service.

To balance the spiritual needs of church-goers with the physical health risks from gatherings and COVID-19, Riverside Baptist Church is offering online Sunday services. Rev. Nick shares the word of God and a bulletin guides you through the service. Through these online resources, you can continue to connect with God and the Riverside community.