Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Life @ The Crossing: Lenten graces

It’s pretty easy to enter Lent obsessed with how sinful we are and how deep the gulf is between humanity and God. We’re exploring a different angle @ The Crossing: what if you started off meditating on how much God is desperately seeking and carefully cultivating all of us, and how much God longs to close the gap? What if we engaged in common spiritual practices that ground us in God's presence and tune our senses to find and follow the way of Christ?

Our hunch is that it could shape a very different Lenten journey. And it's where we're headed in the month of March. So join us Thursdays @ 6:30 p.m. @ St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral on Tremont Street. Here's what you'll find:

-- Reflections: Jonathan Chesney and Kendra McLaughlin will take turns leading our Lenten reflections throughout March (see the scriptures below to do some meditation of your own). Come and link your own questions and hopes with a funky crew of fellow pilgrims … and do some singing and grooving, too.

-- Spiritual Practice: Take it deeper by showing up at 6 p.m. for our regular spiritual practice time. This month, Edith Bross and Lynn Campbell will take turns leading people in crafting and praying with prayer beads. It's a quiet, reflective, creative practice that allows you to pay attention, sit with a simple word/prayer and discover what God has been trying to say to you. Aaahhhhh ...

More news from The Crossing:
-- Holy Week will take us new places. We're organizing the Tenebrae service on Wednesday, April 4, at 6 p.m. Tenebrae is a service of light and reflection in the middle of Holy Week. If you'd like to be part of the planning, or just want to mark your calendar, please do! Note: THERE WILL BE NO CROSSING WORSHIP ON THURSDAY, APRIL 5.

-- We'll go on pilgrimmage to New York City on Easter Sunday Evening, April 8. More details to come, but the short of it is this: one of our sister emerging church communities in New York is about to move from house church to public worship, and they're busting out on Easter Night with a worship party at Avalon. Avalon? Yes, Avalon, the nightclub in Chelsea that's housed in a former Episcopal church. The irony is simply too beautiful -- and I'm sure the party will be, too! It's co-sponsored by a Jewish group and some very cool justice organizations. We will likely car-pool down after everyone finishes Easter services here in Boston -- probably around 2 p.m. -- and then stay overnight with our hosts in NYC. If you would like to join the party, email me and I'll keep you posted on the details and be sure you have a ride and a place to lay your head in the city.

-- The Cathedral will host a Hip Hop Mass on Saturday, April 21, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. It may not be The Crossing-style, but our friends from the Bronx promise to open the door to some truly emergent worship: authentic, connected to the streets and rooted in traditions. If you'd like to help with organizing it, let me know.

Read on to see the month's scriptures. And feel free to get in touch with me, Rev. Stephanie Spellers at or 617.482.4826, x318. Best of all, join us on any given Thursday to meet the crew and share the groove.

And now, for the scriptures (bold portions are the sections the reflection leaders will focus on):

March 1: Luke 13:31-35
Some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.' Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

March 8: Luke 13:1-9
There were some present who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them--do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did."

Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, 'See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?' He replied, 'Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"

March 15: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."

So Jesus told them this parable:
"There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.' So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands."' So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly, bring out a robe--the best one--and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate.

"Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.' Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, 'Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!' Then the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'"

March 22: John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

March 29: Luke 19:29-40 (reading for the Liturgy of the Palms)
When Jesus had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, "Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it.'" So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" They said, "The Lord needs it." Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,

"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, order your disciples to stop." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out."