Tag Archives: SW churches dc

Westminster Presbyterian & Riverside To Share Worship

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. ~John 17:21, the priestly prayer of Christ

This past Sunday, June 10th, was our last worship service at Jefferson Middle School. We are grateful for how wonderful the staff there has been to us and as well, for the hospitality of the DC Public Schools.  When we began looking for an interim worship space two years ago, we were turned away by institutions with whom we have a shared history in this community; declined because they feared opening their doors to a religious community; declined because they feared children in their building; but Jefferson opened its doors to us. Thank you! We wish the school all the best as it renovates its historic space.

In our eighteen months, we have kept together and supported one another.  We gave away $125,000 to about forty groups locally, nationally and internationally who help to heal the world and work for justice.  And needless to say, we have kept caring about each other and our community.  And with joy in our hearts, we watched as the steel frame to our church finally rose out of the ground. We are almost there…but not quite.

Beginning June 17th, our place of worship and our time of worship will change.  We will share not only space but we will share in worship with Westminster Presbyterian Church at 400 I St., SW.  We will worship at 11 a.m. And we will do this until we move into our new church building sometime in early November.  Again, we are grateful for the generosity and hospitality of our friends at Westminster. They didn’t have to open their doors to us but they have and not only opened them, but with a generous spirit have invited us in.  Our choir will continue to rehearse on Thursday evenings 6:30-8:30 but at Westminster (where we will join up with Kevin Twine and singers from Westminster).  The pastors and some interns and associates will rotate preaching duties. We will share communion together.  WOW.  I tried to anticipate as much as I could the various challenges and opportunities we would have but honestly had no idea that perhaps the most significant lesson we would learn in our wilderness interim journey is the ecumenical truth that in Christ, we are one. We are not only going to embrace that intellectually, we are going to experience it.

I urge you to adjust to this new situation and not forsake assembling together.  I urge all of us to joyfully step into this moment and prepare to be strengthened and renewed as we make new friends and deepen friendship with our fellow travelers at Westminster.  ~See You Sunday

What Do These Stones Mean?

Sunday September 25th is the last service to be held in the current building.  We’ll begin worshipping in the auditorium of Jefferson Academy Middle School the first Sunday in October, the 2nd.

This process of exchanging our current configuration–a parking lot with a church building–for a new building closer to Maine Avenue and across from the Wharf–began in 2007.  I and the chairman of Trustees sat informally in my office with the previous and beloved pastor of fourteen years, Robert Troutman.  He blessed us as we began a process of questioning and pondering our future.

After many, many meetings and countless discussions and endless hoops jumped through and navigated, here we are:  we are about to exit this building and cross over into our future.  We are ready. We are brave. We are full of hope.  When Joshua, the heir apparent to Moses, took the children of Israel across the Jordan River into their land of promise, he ordered them to take twelve stones out of the river bed and make a memorial.  The scripture says, “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’  then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord.”

At some juncture three years from now, we’ll step into a new church building on the same corner. We will have secured our church financially for another fifty to one hundred years if those who come after us are as prudent and careful as we have been.  I can hear a child ask what those stones mean–the stone from the First Baptist Church in America that will be placed near the date stone of the new edifice; the stone from the Sea of Galilee that Rabbi Zemel was so kind to have arranged delivery of and will be placed near the threshold of the new sanctuary. And the answer will echo through the millennia: God made a way for us to cross.  Hallelujah!  ~See you Sunday.

God’s Savage Country

9:11

In my book of sermons, Sermons in War, there is a sermon that was preached as the third in a sequence of sermons immediately following 9/11 entitled, “God’s Savage Country.” By that I meant there were true believers and fundamentalist zealots in any number of religions who feel it their duty to maim, kill and destroy.  I suggested we as Christians should be led by another vision, the mercy and peace of our Lord.

As we pause this coming holiday week-end to remember those who have served and fallen in military service to the United States, let us ponder some words I preached September 30, 2001.

Beloved, there is another country that has no borders. You will not find it on any map traced in lines or crossed by coordinates of longitude and latitude.  It is the kingdom of love and light, mercy and kindness, generosity and benevolence.  It is a country that exists in the meadows of the heart, filled with light and the fragrance of a loving God.  Its citizens span the earth and include people from every nation, tribe and clan.  Those who dwell there seek nothing less than the healing of creation, the redemption of humanity from its battles and wars with the flesh and the peaceful co-existence of all God’s creation.  This country is the peaceable kingdom of God.  May God’s kingdom of peace and justice overcome hatred and the darkness of this hour in which we find ourselves. May his love rule in our hearts now and always.

We salute all who have served in the Armed Forces.  We pray for the peacemakers and noble opposition who by conscience could not participate in war.  And we pray for a day when nations will be led by persons committed above all to the security and peace of their citizenry, seeking dialogue and mutual benefit prior to waging war.  ~See you Sunday

The Church As Table

Sunday was a fabulous day with wonderful music, singers and musicians; prayers and scripture; and a sermon about “Table Stories.”  In that sermon the following definition of Church was offered:  “The church is that group of persons who by gratitude and thanksgiving, offer a banquet in honor of the Christ and invites others to join them there so they can meet him.”  And from there I asserted:

“How preposterous then that the church is divided along lines of race and class, gender and orientation.  We follow Jesus, who invited everyone to share at table with him and in turn, was willing to enter anyone’s home who invited him.  The church ought to be offering a table of welcome and hospitality to all.  That is our mission. That is our identity. ”

Aren’t you tired of worshipping in a church that works on cutting people out, kicking folks off the island, putting out torches instead of lighting them?  Why would you remain in a church that hates you or, for that matter, hates anyone? Aren’t you tired of not worshipping, of sitting out and avoiding holy spaces because you’re afraid of unholy and mean people?  I know a place that practices a radical table fellowship. Christ shows up there.  We would love to hear your table story and have you join with us because life is too short not to pray, praise, connect, commune, celebrate, weep together, laugh together, journey together in this sacred journey.  ~See you Sunday.