Wednesday, April 21, 2010

hospitality -- plain 'n simple

The Dominican Republic is an extraordinary nation, and it's where I spent the last 10 days. Most people live in abject poverty, only a rung or two above their neighbors in Haiti. The boys hope they'll be good enough at baseball to get to the Major Leagues in the U.S. And if that doesn't work, there's tourism, though far too many scrape by with only $250 a month cleaning and serving at the country's posh resorts.

As I traveled and talked to the people in my broken Spanish, I started off sad, thinking how unfortunate it is that they have to pretend to be excited about welcoming Europeans and North Americans with money to burn. But after meeting and talking and worshiping and serving with the Dominican people, I got it: hospitality is in their bones. I don't know enough of the history to get why it's apparently in this nation's DNA, but it is. Hospitality is effortless. They are constantly looking around to see who just walked in the door, who needs a little more food, who needs healing and encouragement, who is alone. It reminds me of growing up down South, reminds me of the black communities that are a precious part of my own identity. But it might be deeper still. It's as if they give more out of their poverty, not less. As if they are more compassionate because they're at bottom. If that's not holy, I don't know what is.

I cannot explain it, but I can tell you I'm inspired by it. And it makes me wonder how communities like ours can practice effortless, simple, radical hospitality, too. Not because "those" people are at the door and we'll get something out of it. But because our hearts -- like the heart of God -- yearn to welcome The Other. What a way to live ...

coming up @ the crossing
THURSDAYS @ 6pm // Worship and Community
Christy Waybright takes us deeper into the season of Easter with a reflection on John 10:22-30 (Jesus as shepherd, gathering his flock). Bill Comer leads our spiritual practice: sitting in the presence of Jesus.
  • BEFORE WORSHIP: Come at 4:45pm to help with worship set-up or 5:30pm to join the prayer circle.
  • AFTER WORSHIP: Stay for cheap food at Fajitas n Ritas
  • BY SUBWAY: 138 Tremont St -- across from Park St T stop (Red or Green Line); near Downtown Crossing T (Orange)
  • PARKING: Boston Common Garage, Charles Street between Boston Common and Public Garden
  • FOR MORE INFO: Head to our website --

EPISCO-DISCO // Next Thurs., 4/29, after Worship
Like to dance? Like to pray? We're sure to do both at Episco-Disco, our monthly outing to a local club for dancing and community after worship. The venue will be close by and have a modest cover, and our focus is on dancing and opening to the Spirit. CONTACT Travis at

GREETERS'/NEWCOMERS TEAM BRUNCH // Sunday, May 2 @ 11am-12:30pm at Justin Harvey's house in Roslindale
If you've got a heart for hospitality, come to enjoy brunch and brainstorming at the home of our Minister for Justice and Outreach, Justin Harvey, next Sunday in Roslindale (close to the J.P. border). Open to all who would like 1) to greet, 2) to help welcome newcomers, 3) to help with after-worship food, 4) to offer feedback and insights on your own experience of welcome at The Crossing. Let's practice what we preach! RSVP by FRIDAY, 4/30, to Justin at

As a community, we've grown a lot, learned a lot, offered a lot and received even more this year. On Thursday, May 13, we'll take time to celebrate what God has made possible among us. Plan to stay after worship as we mark milestones and lessons learned AND say good-byes and thank yous to folks who are heading out for the summer AND look ahead as a community. CONTACT Julia at to help with planning.

We're a year-round church, but lots of our leaders live on a student schedule. That means May-July are big turnover months! Starting next month, we'll need help with prepping worship sheets, setting up worship space and offering hospitality. If you'll have time or know someone with a field education or volunteer requirement to fulfill this summer, please CONTACT Rev. Steph or 617.482.4826, x318.

community life @ the crossing
SPEAKING OF FAITH SMALL GROUPS AT THE CROSSING // Sun., 5/2 @ 5-7pm at the Cathedral, running 5 weeks
Speaking of Faith is one of the most popular programs on public radio, and one of the most engaging religious conversations going on today. Partnering with the Episcopal Church, they’ve created a new curriculum for small groups that combines audio clips, small group formation and fascinating questions on life and faith today. The Crossing will serve as one of only a few pilot sites nationwide, and all are welcome to join. TOPIC: 5 sessions on “Einstein’s God: Science and Faith.” CONTACT Jason at or 617.519.1538 to join the group.

NOTE: Krista Tippett, host of Speaking of Faith, speaks at Harvard this Saturday. Registration ended today, but click here for details.


6pm at Episcopal Divinity School // Community Dinner + Prayer (generally weekly)

Join this relaxed, weekly gathering of Crossing folks and EDS students. Come if you're hungry. Come if you're curious about starting an intentional community. Come if you're in the neighborhood. Just come!

CONTACT TJ at or Michael at to confirm it's happening and get location.

SATURDAYS and WEDNESDAYS // Covenant Groups (weekly)
Our Covenant Groups are no longer open to new participants, but stay tuned for more opportunities to gather with Crossing members to share stories, wisdom and the Christian journey. CONTACT Jason at

EVERY OTHER MONDAY @ 6:30-8pm // Neighborhood Action+Reflection Circles (every other week, thru 5/17)
These new small groups are dedicated to building community, sinking roots into our neighborhoods and engaging in justice and service to bless the communities where we live. Meet every other week, alternating between sharing stories and community in one gathering, and heading into action the next time. CONTACT Justin at to learn more.

Follow this link to learn all about our Small Groups and Formation Offerings or contact our Minister for Community Life, Jason Long, at

ongoing crossing community info
InBetweenCrossings: Log on and view or share all kinds of random community notices: furniture, apartment sublets, concerts, lost and found, play dates. If you want to share it with our community, start here.

Giving @ The Crossing: follow the link to learn about sharing your money or your prayers with The Crossing -- it's a spiritual practice that we're grateful to invite people into. We raise a huge chunk of the money for this ministry among our own members (the rest comes from grants we apply for and from generous support from our Cathedral and Bishops). To make an ongoing pledge, fill out a card at worship or CONTACT Chris at

Justice and Service @ The Crossing: Follow the link for info on particular volunteer opportunities and organizations that are close to our community's heart.

Meet Our Crew: The Crossing is led by a team of amazing, creative and faithful young adults. Follow the link to meet them and see who you might contact to more deeply engage our community.

Praying to welcome like Jesus ...

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playing catch up

where on earth have i been? working hard, and sending out regular weekly blasts to the crossing community ... but NOT posting them here. sorry for the silence -- to catch up, allow me to post the highlights from the last month's blasts:

Christ is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed -- alleluia! For the last six weeks, lots of Christians have "buried the alleluias" -- holding back on celebration in order to walk the hard road with Jesus, the road that led to the cross. But at Saturday night's Soulful Easter Vigil, we let it all go (check out attached pics to see the glory for yourself). The "alleluias" flowed and the Spirit was high.

Now we're in the season of Eastertide: 50 days of celebrating resurrection and looking for the risen Christ in the world around us. There's one place where he's told us we can find him: whenever we give water to the one who is thirsty, whenever we clothe those who are exposed, whenever we serve alongside people who are struggling (believe it: click here to read Matthew 25:34-40). And there's an amazing way our whole community is stepping up to meet Jesus in just that way: joining the Hope in Action campaign for economic and social justice in the Boston area. The details are below, but the short story is this:

Saturday, April 10 @ 12-4pm
Copley Square (come into Trinity Church-Copley if it rains)

As part of Hope in Action, dozens of people at The Crossing are committing 1% of our time and/or money to a cause close to our hearts: creating sanctuary and advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth who are homeless or at-risk and supporting transgender civil rights legislation at the State House. Please come out on Saturday to build energy and decide how we'll make an impact as a community that's seriously following the Risen One into new worlds.

POSTED TUES. IN HOLY WEEK: "Holy Ground, Holy Week"
We are walking on holy ground. This is Holy Week -- the week Christians all over the world turn our attention to Jesus, to the cross, to the hope for transformation, salvation and new life. Holy Week began on Sunday with Palm Sunday (the crowds threw palms as Jesus made his triumphant yet ironic entry on a donkey into Jerusalem, a center of the Roman Empire's power). Monday-Wednesday tend to be the quiet days. But tomorrow, Thursday, the Triduum begins. Triduum literally means three days, and it's no exaggeration to say these three days -- really three nights -- completely changed the world:

** On Maundy Thursday, Jesus gathers his friends for a final Agape Meal and washes their feet. We will do the same. On Thursday at 6pm, in lieu of our usual worship, we will share an Agape Meal and foot-washing with the four communities that call St. Paul's Cathedral home: The Crossing, the Sunday morning congregation, the Episcopal Boston Chinese Ministry and Common Cathedral. Come share the love of Christ with our amazing extended family!

** On Good Friday, the temple and state authorities set their plot in motion and take Jesus' life. We will have the opportunity to witness and grieve at the cross on Friday at noon, when The Cathedral hosts a 3-hour vigil service of prayer, preaching, glorious music, outdoor veneration of the cross and Eucharist. Three women -- Bishop Barbara Harris (first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion), Tina Rathbone and our own Stephanie Spellers -- will preach on "Women at the Cross."

** On Holy Saturday night, Jesus rises from the grave and tells a new ending to the story, and life begins again. The Crossing community will celebrate that story, and usher in that new life, with our Soulful Easter Vigil at 7-9pm this Saturday. We begin in the basement of the church, returning to the catacombs with the early Christians to tell the old, old stories in a new way. Then we make our way upstairs, into light, into resurrection. And isn't that what we've all been waiting for? Bring friends to share this unforgettable night.

** On Easter Sunday, the world woke up to a new day. By all means, go to church that morning (Cathedral services at 10am). That evening, you're welcome to an Easter Feast at Rev. Steph's house in Cambridge at 7-9:30pm. RSVP by Saturday at 10am. Details are below.

There is no way to fully inhabit the despair and loss or the glory and surprise of these three days. But we can walk through them, praying to be fully aware, taking it all in, carving out time to go to the cross and the tomb and beyond with Jesus. I will see you there ...

Want more info about the Triduum? Frank Logue's booklet on Lent.

"Falling Down and Getting Up"
It is the week before Holy Week. I always approach this time with great anticipation: What will God reveal in the week to come? How will I humbly, prayerfully walk in Jesus’ footsteps? How deeply will the week’s beautiful and heart-breaking liturgies take all of us into what the church calls the “Paschal Mystery”: the arc of Jesus’ radiant life, his suffering in solidarity with everyone who has ever suffered, his death the hands of the domination system, and his rising by the power of God?

The conclusion of Lent tends to bring a whole other set of questions: How did I fall short during this holy season of intention? How do I participate in the narcissistic, domination systems that crucified God on earth? As we move through the days and week ahead, gently let yourself move into these questions. Be honest. Ask for a new heart. And hold this song close to your heart: :
“We Fall Down.” It’s a gospel song by Donnie McClurkin, and it never fails to reassure me of God's mercy. Click the link to listen and pray, or meditate on the simple words below:

We fall down, but we get up
We fall down, but we get up
We fall down, but we get up
For a saint is just a sinner who fell down and got up

It’s not too late to run back into his arms
You can get back up again
Run into his arms
For a saint is just a sinner who fell down and got up

You will fall down. There is no way to avoid it in this life. Perhaps the biggest question is not, "How have I fallen?" but "Will I let God raise me back up again?" That’s the promise that carries us, the hope we’re living for, throughout the season of Lent.


Blessings all around,
Rev. Steph

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