Tag Archives: peace and justice church

Dear Dishonorable Republican Majority

“We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities,like the wind, take us away.”  ~Isaiah 64:6

Dear  Dishonorable Republican Majority:

It is Advent and we who happen to be Christian and honor this season as a time of hope for what is born in Bethlehem now have little choice but to see you playing the role of the puppet ruler, Herod, depicted in the Gospels as a  ruthless and traitorous sycophant of Rome.   And yes,  as well you have stepped into the role of the inn-keeper who delivers to Mary, about to deliver her holy child, and to her husband, the bad news that there is no room in the inn.  Off to the barn with you! How dare you be needy and without money to secure a place in the inn?   You, Republican Majority Congresspersons, are, however, decidedly not the Wise Men who come seeking the child to honor him. Nor are you the shepherds, poor and at risk in the fields, who receive the angelic announcement that there is a prince of peace born to counter the reptilian minions of Rome.  But yes! dear Republican Congresspersons who have just decided to transfer a gigantic amount of wealth from the needy, the meek, the poor, the sick and at risk so that your wealthy donors might benefit, you are the very same reptilian princes who prowl in predation in the Christmas story while the great Lizard King sits mad in the White House, fumbling toward nuclear war.  While you do nothing.  Well, not exactly nothing because you have just taken steps to raise deficits by a trillion dollars —something you preached against repeatedly in years past—as you destroy the flimsy medical access net provided by President Obama. Even a flimsy medical access is too much in your estimation.  You now have in sight the goal of dismantling Medicare and Social Security. Bang the drum slowly.

Well, I’m just a pastor. I and my congregation will be reading and repeating the Christmas story and celebrating the news that the blessed mother of Jesus sang about:  the powerful will be brought down, the hungry filled and the rich sent away empty. The meek are getting ready.  And you, you will fade like a leaf and your iniquities will, like the wind, take you away.  That is a warning. From the Prophet Isaiah. From the mother of Christ. From the Galilean, who was considered by people like you as smitten by poverty, too powerless to count.  Get this though, dishonorable governing class:  That Galilean is  raised from death.  May your dreams and sleep be haunted by his pronouncements of solidarity with the oppressed.

To you Christians, take hope. Christ assured us,  “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have  overcome the world.”  To people of peace and good will everywhere, we stand with you in this dark night.  May your works of justice and mercy shine like stars in the firmament.

Born Under a Bad Sign

Albert King’s Blues anthem, Born Under a Bad Sign, is about bad luck.  It comes quite close, however, to the narrative matrix of the Lukan birth narrative. That narrative begins in the second chapter with:  “In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.” Jesus was born under a bad sign. Things, however, are not as they seem.

This is one of the first pieces, in fact, that you and I must put into place in order to understand the counterpoint of Luke’s narrative about a humble and holy child born in Bethlehem.  A ruthless and cruel ruler moved an entire empire by his mere decree.  And though this seems to be the way it always is–forces that move and shape us beyond our power to resist–Luke is writing a manifesto of resistance.  For things are not what they seem.  It looks like Caesar Augustus is the one controlling the world but no, Luke says, there is another prince who will not only counter the cruelty of kings and puppet rulers, but he will defeat them.  Christ was born under a bad sign but in its place, raised an emblem of Peace and Justice.

In those days, a tweet went out from President Trump, and the entire world was roiled.  The impulsive and delusional impulses of our President have once again resulted in his spewing lies about President Obama’s birth certificate and attacks on Muslims.  In this season’s Advent watch,  once again, the Christ child is born under a bad sign.  Remember Luke’s subversive message of the Christmas story, that this same holy Prince of Peace will defeat these forces of cruelty and malevolence.  As Christ’s mother, Mary, sang upon the news that she carried within her the messianic hope of the world [Luke 1:46-55]:

 God has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
 God has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.

Listen, you who provide tax breaks to the 1% and burden the poor and sick.  Pay attention.  Tweet and decree all you like but in this Advent season, we know that the Christ child who countered the power and cruelty of Augustus will overcome you as well.

Raise high the insignia of Peace and Justice over the bad sign of cruel rulers. The Good News has shattered the twitterdom of presidents and sycophants.

We Are Here

We are here:  another Advent, the culture’s mad rush to Christmas-intoxication.  Counter the madness by entering the sanctuary (such as it is, we worship in an auditorium in a middle school but it is still sacred!).  As a reminder for what is going on and how to plug in:

After worship the:

First Sunday, bible study at the church office with Pastor Bledsoe

Second Sunday, Caregiver Support Group with Kristy Hunt (Mondays we meet online 8:00-9:30 except the Monday following second Sunday)

Third Sunday Deacons Meeting (except in December, we’re off)

Fourth Sunday, Book Club (except in December, we’re off)

Don’t forget:  because DC Public Schools will not open the school for us on a holiday, both the Christmas Eve Sunday service and New Year’s Eve Sunday service will worship elsewhere.  Where?

Sunday morning Christmas Eve, 11 a.m. We will worship together with Westminster Presbyterian Church,  400 I Street, SW. Pastor Bledsoe will be preaching and we will bring singers to the service as well.  You can still park at the school even though we are not able to enter the building.  This will be a wonderful ecumenical opportunity!

Sunday morning New Year’s Eve, 10 a.m., some of us will worship at Christ United Methodist Church (we will not be involved in leading the worship or participating in the worship). 900 4th Street, SW.

Please remember our church depends solely on your offerings and since we will miss two Sundays of collection, we encourage you to mail in your offering or use the PayPal button on this site.

Join us this Sunday as Pastor Bledsoe preaches to us and we begin our journey of Advent together.  The Peace of the angelic presence and announcement to shepherds in the field abide with you throughout this season of hope.  ~See you Sunday

Crossing the Street For Sunday

Everyone has reasons for not going to Sunday service.  You could list five in the time it takes me to finish this sentence.  But allow me a moment to ponder why crossing the street for Sunday is worth your while. And I’ll do this list like Letterman used to read his list, from the tenth to the first.

10.  You won’t have to run through one more spin cycle of news and social media.  This reason alone will warm the cold blood in anyone’s veins.

9.  You have a reason for putting off the laundry.  Don’t worry about what you’ll wear.

8.  You get out of the house and step into another realm entirely.  I’d call it the realm of peace and resistance.

7.  You become part of a worldwide resistance movement to reductionist formulas that oppressively consign you to a label.

6.  You join the ranks of the poets and the prophets.  Who can’t benefit by recitation of such?  Shakespeare himself was weaned on the scriptures with their cadence and vision of common folk confronting the powerful for righteous cause.

5.  Music.   You may not be able to sing but you’ll hear someone sing. And music and singing is a shot of love, infused into your weekly life that too often depletes you.

4.  Friends.  Loneliness has always been and is an epidemic. Getting out of your residence and into the sacred space of Sunday means connecting with others. And these are not bar flies or fly-by-nights. These are people who are looking for that little light in themselves and others.

3.  Rest.  One hour of rest from all the voices in your head and all the tasks on your to-do list. Sabbath rest is deep and rhythmically aligns us with the rhythm of the cosmos and the Holy.

2.  Service.  In a community of faith, opportunities arise to help heal the world.  So not only are you part of a great resistance movement, you are part of healing instead of harming the world.

1.  G-O-D.  I hyphenate here to simply say the word is nearly too holy to be pronounced, not in an effort to spell it. Because it is so overused in our O-M-G culture, it is nearly impossible to understand.  But the word love is also overused.  No reason to give up using it or G-O-D.  Crossing the street for Sunday means risking that you will be found, embraced by the Loving Good Shepherd.

Take that risk. Cross the street.  Drive in, metro in, walk, ride a shuttle.  We’re across the street from The Wharf. We’ve been in DC since 1857. Right now, we are one year out from completing our new church on the corner of 7th and Maine.  You can find us at Jefferson Middle School at 10 a.m.  ~See you Sunday

Vexation and Belligerence

Listening to some Anglican chant on a youtube channel to which I subscribe, I came across the 143rd psalm and the 4th verse:

Therefore is my spirit | vexed with- | in me : and my | heart with- | in me . is | desolate.

I cut and pasted this from the text from which the choir sang it on that channel (ArchivesofSound).  I like that old English. “Vexed” is not a word we use very often but the vexation of the current political turmoil–the wholesale rending of the safety net, the belligerent rhetoric spewing from the White House and the drum beat of not just war but nuclear war–is a great weight on the shoulders of the multitudes.  Here is a more contemporary translation (NRSV):

So my spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed.

A spiritual discipline that can infuse hope into your life; that rises above the belligerent, maniacal cawing of tyrants and politicians; that incorporates mercy and grace into the tick-tock rhythms of your daily life–that discipline is worth pursuing!  Pursuing peace we are less pursued by the harrowing tragedies and exploits of our world. We come to a moment such as the one that arises within this psalm of desolation, verse 8:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.

Faith, hope, and love. Live fearlessly for we are shepherded by the Great Shepherd.  I hope you will begin or continue as it may be, your spiritual discipline and worship with us Sunday morning at 10.

Dignity in the midst of the storms

We pray for:

THOSE IN THE PATHWAY OF STORMS  We are especially mindful of all those who reside in Florida and Georgia and the Carolinas, the Bahamas and Caribbean who, at this moment on Friday,  seem to be in peril as Hurricane Irma makes its way closer to the United States.  And for those who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.  Christ, have mercy.

THOSE IN MEXICO  We remember especially those in the state of Oaxaca and beyond who had family and homes destroyed.  Lord, have mercy.

DREAMERS  We pray for those children who have known only the United States and came here or were born here with families who had illegally entered the country but by no fault of their own were raised here and dared to dream they could be part of the American Dream.  This administration and the Congress seems prepared to do them great harm.  May it not be so.  Christ, have mercy.

FOR ALL OF US  We who toil day by day and attempt to do better by ourselves, our families and our communities are under great stress, carrying large burdens.  May these burdens be lifted and in their place may we receive courage and strength.  Lord, have mercy.

*******

Sunday I will be asking the following questions and I hope to give some guidance in my sermon entitled, “Superman’s Cape, A Clerical Collar and Clothed in Christ”:  How are you navigating this apocalyptic landscape?  How are you making sense of your lives as you daily wade through the swamp of political rhetoric, assorted hatreds, natural catastrophes, not to mention trying to find an affordable plumber on the week-end?  How are you living between sun up and sun down?  What strategy for maintaining your human dignity and the dignity of others do you have when the power goes out and the storm is raging around you?

Join us in worship Sunday at 10 a.m. at Jefferson Middle School.  Because there in that auditorium, we embrace each other as fully human. We carry one another’s burdens and share in each other’s joys.  ~See you Sunday

Overcoming Racists, Nazis and White Supremacy

When faced with a power outage and the storm rages around you and darkness has descended, what do you do?  This question is posed as a way of cutting through the voluminous commentary and our panic about klansmen, nazis and assorted other White Supremacists marching by tiki torch in celebration of the President’s dog whistle to “make America great again.”  I have written many posts critiquing campaigner Trump and now President Trump.  I don’t want to revisit those posts—you can read them on this site.  Instead, I want to go directly to our spiritual and moral center and consider what one or two things we can do as a way of resistance and reacquiring our balance.

So in that storm and in the darkness what do you do?  You find a safe place in your residence and you either light a candle or find a flashlight to break the darkness.  Now, as the hideous faces of Nazi and Klan and White Supremacy have been revealed, it is important to take simple but powerful steps to resist and overcome.  Find a safe place of refuge where those critical and sacred values of human worth and dignity are safeguarded.  Light a candle because even a small wick of light overcomes darkness.

There is a church in SW DC that has for decades now proclaimed justice, equality, dignity, peace and love and in this church people of diversity find a safe place wherein we embrace each other as fully human. We are brave. We speak truth to power. We are compassionate.  In a simple way of saying it, we light a candle and provide a safe place in the darkness and storm of these days.  This is a community of faith, hope and love. I invited you to  be part of that, to be wedded by mutual love and to find strength in one another.

Darkness will not have the last word.  The vile racist and anti-Jewish ideologies of the past that have appeared amongst us in recent days, will not have the final say.  We have overcome before. We will overcome again.  We meet in the auditorium of a middle school but do not be deceived –we are a refuge and place of empowerment. Join us and if you have been part of us, do not give up coming together.

We have a candle. We are a safe place.  We shall overcome.    ~See you Sunday

Remembering Who We Are

I’ve been thinking about name tags.  Like when I was five years old and my mother sent me off to school the first day or week.  Was the idea that I might forget my name?  Or was it verification of who I was for the teacher?

Hospitals of course are quite meticulous these days with those wrist bands.  From patients to visitors they want everyone identified.  We get this and it’s not hard to figure out why a name tag or identity badge is important.

It becomes especially important however for persons who no longer have a clear memory.  Anyone who has had a loved one enter some phase of dementia or suffered an accident and is unconscious wants their loved one to be identified and people to know with whom they are working.

So I have a simple suggestion.  In these days of madness when the White House is now tainted by the President of the United States having invited a murderer to visit him, the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who delights in extrajudicial executions, let’s wear a name tag so we can remind ourselves who we are. And maybe we should write beneath our names, “I love justice.”  Alas, this may be so much jousting at windmills. But I do know a way to remind ourselves who we are each week and month after month.

Every Sunday in a middle school auditorium, we gather to create the beloved community. Frankly, there may be no greater counter sign to the madness of a world in love with death than to place oneself within the community of those who believe that God expects justice and righteousness and whose dream is to see these flow down like mighty streams. Worship as counter-cultural, non-violent resistance.   I invite you to remember who you are with us as we remember who we are in the presence of God, who loved the world so much… ~See you Sunday

 

40 Days, Not 100, Are Sufficient

There is a fascination politically and in the media with the first 100 days of the Presidency (or any given presidency).  I can’t account for it though I’ve read a few pieces about this, one tracing it to the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  No matter, consider this:  there is a fascination in scripture with 40 days.

For example, in the Flood narrative in Genesis, it rains for 40 days.  Moses and the Hebrew children wander the wilderness for 40 years.  Years!  But there is that number again, 40.  Moses went into the Cloud on the Mountain for 40 days.  And later, when Moses is on the mountain inscribing the Ten Commandments, he is there 40 days and nights and does not eat or drink.  Moses sent spies into the Promised Land and they remained there 40 days.   In the temptation narrative of Christ in the Gospels, Jesus is said to have remained in the wilderness for 40 days.

I suppose what is going on here,  not only with the 40 days in scripture but with our own country’s fascination with the first 100 days of a presidency,  is that the number more or less represents a sufficient amount of time for accomplishing a task or revealing what needs to be unveiled.  The character of a person or of an event needs some time to unfold before we can assess its meaning—so 40 days or 100, by then you can gather what the significance of an event means or what the nature of the character of a person is.

We don’t need 100 days to determine this for the current occupant of the White House.  40 days was sufficient for us to realize that there is a level of intense hostility aimed at those who are at-risk in our country.  You can name it what you want, but “repeal and replace” is an effort at deny and damage.  40 days has been sufficient to unveil a level of ineptitude not only with regard to governance but with regard to a basic appreciation for how our democratic institutions function.  40 days has been sufficient to recognize that not only is this administration oblivious to climate change science, but it is intentionally dedicated to polluting our air and streams.   And of course, the mixed signals with regard to both allies and adversaries has signaled to us all that the concern that a narcissist and pathological Orwellian has his finger near the nuclear button is not over-wrought but legitimate, rational concern.

The country does not need 100 days to figure this out.  40 was sufficient.  We are in a wilderness.  We are, however, not led by Moses, but we’re being led by ruthless, duplicitous politicians whose singular goal is power, not patriotic duty.  In the mean time, we should take this lesson from scripture:  whether it is 40 days, 100 days or 40 years, the princes of this world pass but the Kingdom of God is enduring from everlasting to everlasting.  Come out of the wilderness wandering this Sunday and rest a while in a place of peace.  You have a place at the table with us.  My hunch is, if you linger with us for 40 days, you will discover a source of strength and courage for the living of your lives.

~ See you Sunday

Beyond the tweeted trifling nonsense: Now is the time to worship

It is storming and you’re outside in it.  Rain in sheets and at times metal pellets of water.  Lightening, thunder, flash flood threatening you. There is a small, warm shelter nearby. What do you do?
You enter that warm shelter.
The office, the train car, the world around you is toxic.  It’s hard to breathe.  It is hard to see.  Nearby is a transparent tent.  You can see the air inside is clear and clean.  The toxic vapors are repelled and flow past it, a vapor trail.  What do you do?
You enter the clean air of that tent.
 Weariness grips you in a bone-deep ache.  Despair like shadows descend.  You see people exiting a building who seem invigorated, empowered, full of courage and hope.  They point you to the building, saying that each week they enter it and are filled, their humanity and dignity repaired.  What do you do?
Every Sunday a group of us, approximately 70, sometimes ten more sometime ten less, enter a middle school auditorium in SW Washington DC. For an hour we make that space a sanctuary of peace and a refuge, a safe place free of toxicity and hatred, a place of empowerment to all who would work for justice and peace. We sing. We pray. We listen to scripture and the Word of God is proclaimed—a Word that endures beyond the tweeted trifling nonsense of our culture.  You can taste some of this by clicking on a sermon and listening to it. Try, for example, this past Sunday’s sermon, “The Joy Formidable.”
You know when and how to get out of a storm.  You know you prefer peace to toxic rhetoric.  So what’s keeping you?  Get out of the rain.  Come, now is the time to worship. ~See you Sunday