All posts by Michael Bledsoe

Sunday service cancelled

January 13th: Due to the timing of the snowstorm on Sunday morning, with heaviest accumulations expected between 9 am and noon, we are cancelling services on the 13th.  Be sure to visit our church web site where you can listen to a sermon, catch up on other information and also, if you are so inclined, make a weekly donation.  Be sure to join us next Sunday on the 20th for our Church Dedication.  For those so inclined, I know Westminster Presbyterian will be open–they have a visiting choir and their service is at 11 a.m. Stay safe and warm.

What will you bring to the manger?

Sunday the 23rd is the last Sunday of Advent, the Sunday before Christmas. Christmas Eve will be at 7:30pm with parking at Westminster Presbyterian who will be joining us for our communion and candlelight service.

I’m not sure how to encourage folks to show up for these worship opportunities. I assume worship is high on the list of things one must do for Christmas to be truly Christmas. O Come All Ye Faithful. In the midst of the chaotic world and the swirling hatreds and violence around us, how would we pass up a chance to enter a place of peace in order to worship and honor The Prince of Peace? I look forward to seeing you Sunday morning at 10, Monday evening at 7:30. Because a communion of believers gathered ’round the holy child IS Christmas. Grace & Peace ~PSTR

Music, meditation, prayer

Please note: All events for Thursday and Friday Evening have been canceled due to expected severe storms.

Our choir blessed us immensely on Sunday with an eclectic, joyful celebration of the Christmas story.  We had a wonderful time in worship! Thanks to all of our choir members, instrumentalists and our director, Lauren. There will be a reprise of the concert on Friday evening at 7pm in our sanctuary (we do not have parking on Friday so plan to metro or park elsewhere).

Besides the concert we have midweek opportunities for prayer and praise. At Noon, we’ll meditate (bring a brown bag lunch for afterwards). At 7pm, we’ll have a service of praise, prayer and devotion in the sanctuary. These spiritual practices will deepen your Christmas journey. It is one thing to complain about the consumer binge that has become the holidays but it is quite another thing to take intentional steps toward a spiritual appropriation of the truths of Christmas.  Plug in and this year, make your Christmas a spiritual pilgrimage. 

Christmas Eve service is a candlelight service and communion at 7:30 pm in our sanctuary. Our dear friends from Westminster Presbyterian will be joining us and Pastor Ruth and Pastor Brian will be sharing in our service.  Plan to join us for a silent night of contemplation, music and devotion.

Christmas Choral Presentation

Join us Sunday, December 16, as the choir presents its Christmas choral music.  What a beautiful moment in our Advent journey as we sit in the holiness of our sanctuary filled with light and music.  The service begins at 10 a.m. We have parking in the underground garage (the drive is between the Waterside Tower Apartments and the new Banks apartments).  

Tours of the building for Saturday morning are cancelled due to weather.

Lord of the (Butter) Flies

FYI:  Wednesday events are cancelled due to on-going construction and remedial work at the church.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

Can you imagine living in community only with young people? I ask this because Riverside wants to be a community that welcomes young people. But that does not mean we want to be solely a church of the young (any more than we want to be solely a church of the old).  I remember reading a novel in high school called Lord of the Flies.  That was about a group of young people on an island.  You might recall reading it or seeing a movie based on it.  That did not turn out happily.

So Riverside Church is better perceived as a  Lord of the Butterflies church.  I use that image because as you know, a butterfly goes through four developmental stages. And of course, these are beautiful creatures compared to a horsefly.  To be a Lord of the Butterflies church means we are an intergenerational community of faith,  so that across the spectrum of human development, we are able to interact with both children, young adults,  and our elders. That is a beautiful community of faith indeed!  We invite you, no matter your age or developmental stage, to worship with us and walk with us a while on your sacred journey. We worship the Lord of Butterflies, of renewal and resurrection.  Note the calendar of events this week and drop by. And I certainly hope to see you on Sunday at 10 am for our choir’s presentation of Christmas music.

Advent and the task of preaching

Most people these days use the word ‘preach’ in a negative way.  Like “stop preaching at me.”  I’ll use the word ‘proclaim’ on occasion just so we can steer around the negative connotations.  But the reality is, the Gospels all agree when Jesus began his ministry and it wasn’t in the manger–it was after his baptism by John.  Immersed in the Jordan River, he came forth “preaching the good news.”  So a preacher is, or should be, trying to echo that good news of Christ. And you’ll note this by the way–there is Good News before the crucifixion. We have a lot of crucifixion-fixated Christians who fail to recognize that Jesus proclaimed Good News from the very beginning.

So I bring this up to say, I’m preaching on the second Sunday of Advent (Dec. 9)  from a song that Moses sang as one of the last things he ever did, reminding the people who were about to enter the Promised Land without him just how they had managed to journey to that moment in their lives.  Not only is it a challenge to proclaim any time but during Advent, it is a special challenge. I won’t bore you with all the reasons that is true but just one:  it’s a challenge because everyone has heard the story or they think they have heard it.  So why show up in church on a Sunday morning when you could be doing laundry or watching the news cycle which very much resembles the dry cycle as you do your laundry?  Right!  You can show up to get out of that rutted and mundane hamster cycle of existence, sit in a sanctuary of peace and light with others who simply want to daydream about peace and justice or rejoice for what Advent uncovers or are praying, like you and I, for some answers to the riddles we keep in our pockets like old parking meter stubs.

How about this?  You come to worship on Sunday and I’ll do my dead level best to sort through Advent and offer some good news.  Afterward, we’ll all go downstairs for our potluck Koinonia Lunch (a word that means ‘fellowship’). And then we’ll have a short concert on the carillon outside.  It beats the heck out of wet clothes and dried, recycled news.  ~See you Sunday

Where to Park Your Camel

So not only are we in our new church edifice but we now have access to the garage. Allow me to give some tips on navigating to the garage. Things to know:

‣ We have 40 spaces on the first level of the residential (The Banks) garage on Sunday from 7am-2pm. The signs say until 3:30 but our development agreement is that we are to be out by 2 o’clock. Please do your best to make that happen.

‣ The entrance is off of 7th St., between the new residences (The Banks) and the Waterside Towers.  Take your time as you enter because the residential side is still a construction zone and there are all kinds of things lining that drive. The garage is underground, hence, the entrance is down the hill (the steel door on the right is a loading dock–that is not the garage).

‣ Someone will be standing by to bring the door up so you can enter. You do not need assistance leaving the garage as your car will simply trigger it to open. You must stop, however, as you enter so an attendant can operate the door to open.

While we have a time limit, we have more spaces and we have, of course, protection from the elements. We encourage those who can to metro or walk to church but if you drive we have a garage. Do your best to carpool–it is the ecologically correct thing to do. Finally, do not park at Jefferson Middle School or Westminster as we do not have permission to park there. You can park at Westminster on Christmas Eve, however, since we are hosting that service at Riverside and being joined by our friends from Westminster. Park your camel then come to the church via the elevator or stairs, whichever you prefer. ~See You Sunday

Where’s the Outlet?

People as a rule want to know where to plug in these days since they carry with them any number of devices that need to be recharged.

Such a simple lesson.  But I’m going to offer it anyway:  your new church on the corner of 7th & Maine Ave. offers a number of outlets for you to plug your life and soul into for recharge.  From Vesper/Prayer services on the week-end to a midweek service; from worship on Sunday morning to dropping in for a chat with your pastor–these opportunities are your outlets.  Get familiar with them.  Plug in.

December 2nd will be our first Holy Communion in the new building.  If you have not stepped into the sanctuary then make every effort to be there this coming Sunday.  Parking is going to get sorted out eventually when our spaces open up in the residential garage. Until then, the lot across the street from the church provides us 35 spaces.  Metro makes it very easy with a free shuttle from L’Enfant at Maryland Ave. (it drops off at the CVS), the 74 and Circulator buses both drop off in front of the church.  Drive, walk, metro but let’s be the People of God this week.  ~PSTR

First Worship Service Is A Go!

Dear family and friends:  Our interim journey is completed.  We have many to thank who supported us in that time, like Jefferson Academy Middle School and our dear friends at Westminster Presbyterian Church.  We will worship at 10 a.m. this Sunday, November 18th.  The church is easily accessed via Metro with a free Wharf shuttle that picks up at the Maryland Ave St. entrance to L’Enfant Station, the 74 and Circulator buses that drop off in front of the church and limited parking.  We do not have access to our 40 spaces in the underground garage because the residential portion of the project is lagging behind us.  For now, we’ll have 35 spaces across from the church on Maine Ave.  Go east past the church and turn right into the entrance for parking for the Odyssey and Wharf and then turn right. The lot is on the right. We will have someone with passes to put on your dashboard.  That said, you may end up having to find street parking or park in the garage near the Safeway on 4th St and walk over. There is parking across the street in the Wharf garage but that is pricey.

What a remarkable moment!  In this journey we have accomplished our two great goals:  1.  create an endowment that will safeguard our church financially for decades to come and 2. build an iconic structure that brings us into the 21st century (our sanctuary and restrooms are very accessible and we have an elevator).

I look forward to worshipping with you on this Sunday.  Let’s come full of joy and thanksgiving.  Grace & Peace, ~Pastor Bledsoe

A Historic Church in a New Building on a New Corner

Hard to miss on the corner of 7th and Maine Ave., Riverside Baptist Church is an eclectic and electric blend of old and new.  That stone wall from reclaimed stones of the previous building juxtaposed to a modernist expression of glass and gentle wave of a roof is something to behold.  I love standing across the street and looking at it.  This last week saw the large gable stained glass windows we reclaimed lit up inside the atrium entrance and its colors shatter the windows outside, reflecting yellows and blues and reds into the night.  Backlit by LED lights, old craft meets new technology for an art piece that rivals the fire pit at the end of the Recreation Pier for its warmth and appeal.

We’ll have our first service on Nov. 18th at 10 a.m.  But we have also been working diligently to create opportunities for our community to cross the threshold into the life of our church.  A new worship service on Saturdays at 5:30 will be launched in December January–informal, downstairs in the multi-purpose room and made to order for those who are visiting and living around us.  We will have a Vespers evening prayer service on Saturday nights and Sunday nights at 7pm–a brief but beautiful service of chanting scripture and praying in candlelight to end the evening.  Mid-day Mondays we will offer a brown bag Contemplation for workers (and others) to help start their week and step out of the office for quiet meditation in our beautiful sanctuary.   We will offer free once-a-month concerts on third Friday evenings at 7pm because we know that while the Wharf attracts thousands of visitors, not everyone can afford a ticket to the Anthem–December will feature Christmas music and January we hope to hear the Glee Club of Jefferson Academy Middle School perform.  Mid-week on Wednesdays, we’ll offer a time of prayer and praise–“Get Lifted” will invite folks to get over the “hump” by offering a time of song, prayer and devotion at 7pm.  Tuesdays and Saturdays will offer opportunities to tour the church.  And we are going to host Deacon Roy Pott’s program, D.C. Mentoring and Achievement Program (DC MAAP)–a workforce readiness and mentoring program, committed to helping young, low income, and low skilled DC residents find jobs, particularly those between the ages of 18-29.

We have built a beautiful sanctuary that vibrantly connects with the community around it and is an architectural gift to our city (Phillip Renfrow of GBR is our architect). But we also are committed to ministering to this community, engaging it and living fully as Christ’s disciples.  I hope you’ll join us in this endeavor.  If you’re new to SW, we welcome you and hope you’ll step into a church that is as open-minded and spirited as you are.  If you have dropped away during our development phase, come home.  We look forward to worshipping with you on Nov. 18th!