Wednesday, January 21, 2009

no strangers, just family

It’s 34 hours since the Inauguration, and I’m on a train coming home from D.C. It will probably take me years to process what I saw and felt and what it means. It will surely take more than a day and a half. And yet, I feel this need to share even these fledgling thoughts …

I want to go on, but instead, here’s a plan: I’m pasting a longer-than-usual reflection at the bottom of this blast, after sharing word about current news from The Crossing (like a festive eucharist at The Crossing this Thursday evening, with special music from NYC-based composer and worship artist Isaac Everett AND small groups and spiritual formation programs launching next week AND our Rule of Life completed and ready to live with AND an underground dance party on Feb. 8. After all that and some housekeeping, if you’re still around, you’ll see my first attempt to humbly reflect on history.

THIS THURSDAY @ 6pm / Worship w/ special music from Isaac Everett

Yes, Jesus will be here, and he’s the reason we gather. But it will be great fun to welcome Isaac Everett to lead us in the spiritual practice of praying with the psalms, drawing from his new book The Emergent Psalter and his “music for the urban mystic,” which bridges liturgical traditions with electronica and urban grooves (listen at Michael Zahniser continues to offer stirring reflections on the gospel. Getting here: 138 Tremont St. -- Park St T, across from fountain. Parking: Validated at Boston Common Garage, b/t Common and Public Garden. More info:

** Unlikely Heroes in Unlikely Places: A Cambridge Pub Bible Study. Look at stories you might not hear in the lectionary, but should know. Starts Wed., 1/28 at 7-8:30pm and runs every other Wednesday at The Field Pub in Central Square (20 Prospect St., Cambridge). Contact Travis at: or Jason at:

** Sex, Relationships, and Keeping it Real: A Crossing Community Forum. Features panel discussions and small group conversation about our faith and our sexuality. Starts Thurs., 1/29 at 7:30-9pm (just after worship) and runs every other Thursday (1/29, 2/12, 2/26). Contact Chris at: or Jason at:

** Covenant Group: A Discipleship Group. Join a small group of Crossing members, with reflections shaped by the Crossing Rule of Life. NOTE: The group will be open for the first few gatherings and then closed for the rest of the series. Starts Tues., 2/3 at 7-9pm and runs every other Tuesday at the Cathedral. Contact Kim at: or Jason at:

** Episcopal Church 101. History and practices of the Episcopal Church, and how The Crossing fits into the big picture. NOTE: Everybody’s invited, but this is also perfect preparation for the Rite of Confirmation or Reception into the Anglican Communion (happening at the Hip Hop Easter Vigil on April 11th, the Saturday before Easter Sunday). Starts Thurs., 2/26 at 5-5:45 pm (just before worship) and runs Thursdays during Lent, 5-5:45pm at the Cathedral. Contact Stephanie at: or Jason at:

The Crossing is teaming up with friends in other local young adult ministries to host an underground dance party with a purpose in a couple of weeks. Great music, art, people, food and proceeds to a great cause (the Mothers’ Union in Maseno, Kenya, a ministry of Kenyan women who create handicrafts and offer crucial support to children affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic). Contact Travis at if you'd like to help.

** Sat., 2/21, 4:30-9pm: Shane Claiborne (author of The Irresistible Revolution and leader in the Simple Way community) on Gratitude and Creation. Park Street Church, 1 Park St., Boston.
** Sat., 2/28: Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori leads a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the consecration of our own Bishop Barbara Harris. St. Paul’s Cathedral.
** Sat., 3/7, 10am-3pm: Brian McLaren will keynote a day of learning, sharing and action, shaped by his book everythingmustchange: Jesus, Global Crises and a Revolution of Hope.
** Thu., 3/26, 2-7:30pm: Phyllis Tickle comes to The Crossing for a spring learning event shaped by her new book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why.

Giving @ The Crossing
If you'd like to make a contribution to support the ministries of The Crossing -- and yes, this ministry depends on all of our giving -- we've got new pledge cards available at worship. You can make a one-time gift, or prayerfully consider pledging (setting out an amount you'd like to give over the course of a year). Give however you’re able: cash, check or credit cards. Contact Chris Ashley at to learn more.

Share the Groove -- Buy a copy of The Crossing's new CD
The Crossing has released its first CD, Songs @ The Crossing. It's a collection of 14 favorite songs from our worship community, and you can get it for $15. Reply to this email or buy one on a Thursday.

Fair Trade @ The Crossing
Want to pitch in with our effort to become a Fair Trade Ministry? The first move: changes in hospitality (fair trade/organic food, eco-friendly products, re-usable dishes that we wash after worship). To help and imagine more ways to transform life @ The Crossing, contact Bill Comer at or 617.818.5124.

Ongoing Justice & Healing Opportunities
We're serious about joining ministries that serve our homeless and hungry brothers and sisters. Please join us any day of the week!
** Monday Lunch Program takes place here at The Cathedral every Monday. Show up @ 10am to help with set-up, or at 11:30am-12:45pm to help serve & build community with our neighbors. Contact Rev. Steph at or 617.482.4826, x318.
** St. Francis House: Volunteers needed everyday to help serve meals and provide care. Boylston St, near Chinatown. Contact Lynn Campbell at or 617.654.1212. Note: Help especially appreciated on Wed., 11/26 at 9-11am (meal prep) and 11:15am-1:15pm (serve meal).
** Haley House is a Catholic-worker style community in the South End. Volunteers needed for meals programs 6-10am every day AND 1:30-5pm Saturday and Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Could also use help tending an urban orchard in Mission Hill. See

If you'd like to be in touch, we'd love to connect with YOU! Look at the list and then reach out:
** Stephanie Spellers: / 617.482.4826, x318 (priest, communications, pastoral care)
** Jason Long: / 617.617.519.1538 (newcomers, small groups)
** Chris Ashley: (budget, hospitality)
** Lynn Campbell: (ministries with the homeless, pastoral care)
** Andrea Castner-Wyatt: (worship arts, "the groovement")
** Marie Harkey: (admin, general)
** Ashley Merrell: (music ministry)
** Travis Stevens: (arts & community, Emerson College)

Blessings in the groove,
Rev. Steph

Inaugural reflection #1 …
It’s 34 hours since the Inauguration, and I’m on a train coming home from D.C. It will probably take me years to process what I saw and felt and what it means. It will surely take more than a day and a half. And yet, I need to say something.

First, I have to tell you that it was overwhelming and beautiful and mystifying to move in these teeming crowds of calm, friendly people. I kept thinking, We’re in a major U.S. city. Shouldn’t we be shoving? Shouldn’t we be impatient? Shouldn’t we be looking down, avoiding eye contact, maintaining our virtuous anonymity, the way city folks do?

But we weren’t city strangers. From the moment I arrived at Union Station on Monday morning, throughout the pre-dawn journey to the Capitol on Tuesday, through the standing and the walking and the standing and the shivering and the waiting and the crying and the yelling and the walking and the waiting – through it all, I felt I had walked into this massive family reunion, one that drew together long-lost family members your mama told you about but you had only seen in pictures.

This time, everybody was there: the white branch of the family, the black branch, the Latino branch, the Native American branch, the Asian branch, the branches made up of some wonderful mixture of other branches. And everybody walked around talking loud, pointing, laughing, starting conversations with perfect strangers, like you just knew if you talked long enough, you’d figure out the source of this inexplicable yet undeniable connection.

I now feel I have about 2 million more siblings than I had when I left Boston on Monday. I imagine others feel the same. I imagine the well-healed, middle-aged white woman felt it when she offered her last, coveted packet of toe-warmers to a black teenaged girl with very cute, very thin boots. I imagine our cab-driver felt it, when he held out a box of tissues for me to use on the ride home. “People have needed these today,” he told me. “I’m glad I had them.”

Yes, we can elect a president who gives us reason to hope again, and who by God’s grace will serve as a prophet, pastor and leader for a hurting world. Yes, we can also discover we are inextricably bound together, and see that reality not as a burden, but as pure gift. It’s a gift to be connected. It’s a gift to be part of a beautiful, mixed up family like our American family. I understand myself a little better, understand the calling of our funky Christian community a little better, having journeyed to Washington and looked around at all these brothers and sisters of ours. No strangers. Just family.

Stay tuned to for more reflections in the weeks to come ...

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