This past Sunday Westminster Presbyterian Church and Riverside Baptist Church worshipped together and afterward shared in a potluck lunch. We have worshipped together previously–back on Christmas Eve Sunday 2017, we were invited by Westminster to join them since we could not worship at Jefferson Middle School. And I was invited to preach. Then on Maundy Thursday of this year we shared in a service in the evening and again, I was invited to preach. So it was only fair that we invite Westminster into our interim space on a Sunday and their co-pastor, Ruth Hamilton, preached to us.
What a superlative experience! Pastor Ruth’s sermon was brilliant, refreshing and spot on. Perhaps I’m gushing because I had the day off for preaching and could sit and listen but I heard other of our members remarking on how wonderful it was to not only hear Ruth’s sermon, but to worship together with a congregation that shares so many of our values and passion for justice and peace.
Our unity in Christ is a given. We do not create that unity but God has accomplished this already in Christ. It only makes sense then that we move forward in these coming days, weeks and months as people united, on the way to actualizing God’s love in our community, our city and our world. I will be speaking with co-pastors Ruth and Brian in the coming days about how we do that. We will pray and dream about how we worship together and how we share in mission. I invite you to pray and dream with us. Finally, a shout out to our singers, choir and musicians! You made our Sunday very, very special. ~See you Sunday
For those of you who attended Sunday services the first Sunday in 2016, for those of you who asked and for those absent but interested, you may find my sermon, “A New Year’s Day Enchiridion,” on the sermon page. We have begun another year, celebrating Christ’s birth, sharing in holy communion and worshipping God together. This is an auspicious beginning and one we want to carry through in the weeks and months ahead.
Despite the broken world with its violence and ideological hatreds, we are called to love one another. You might be able to do this all on your own but I doubt it. Love is communal and is thus in need of a community. We need you and you need us. May God meet us at this point of mutual need and transform us into those who heal the world instead of those who harm it. Grace and Peace to you and yours in 2016 +
~See you Sunday
Pope Francis is about to impact the greater Washington DC area like a snow storm or Direcho. People are being encouraged to stay indoors and off of roads. Religious news should be covered by meteorologists at this point.
The man who took on the name of St. Francis as his moniker has been shaking up the Vatican. His humility, his deep and authentic concern for the poor, his articulate defense of the earth and concern for climate change, his commitment to simplicity in his personal life and of course, his devotion to God are compelling qualities and we should take a moment to listen to him and seriously consider what he would say to the Catholic Church in America and Christians in general.
But of course, there is a deep divide between the Pope and his church and Protestants. We are not welcome to eat at the Table of our Lord and that because of theological differences. Those theological differences are complex at times and they have endured over millennia. The same can be said of all the issues Francis has chosen to address. His gift, it seems to me, is his direct and simple devotion to the love of Christ so that, for example, instead of waxing philosophically about the poor, this man invites the poor, the hungry and the prisoner to dinner and he even washes their feet. Such simple acts of devotion have a way of clearing the decks. That is why a simple act of devotion by this pope could have a far-reaching, dare I say, even earth-shattering, effect on Christians globally: when he invites me or any other Protestant to receive the bread and wine of the eucharist instead of singling me out, with my arms crossed to the priest to identify myself as someone worthy of being blessed but unworthy of the Lord’s supper. When he does that, the Church Universal (catholic) will radiate with reconciliation. I pray for Pope Francis’ success and safety. May his visit here leave us better people, more humane and just. And one day, may all of us sit at the table of Christ as authentic brothers and sisters. ~See you Sunday