Tuesday, April 07, 2009

walking through holy week

Whatever your Lenten journey has been like this year – frantic, centered, non-existent, grace-filled – this week, we all get to start over. It’s Holy Week, the week that most of the Western Church shifts gears and enters into a cycle of almost daily worship and prayer, all in order to wait and walk and hurt and wonder and even die and be raised with Jesus, our wounded savior. My prayer for all of us (riffing on Paul’s letter to the Philippians): Beloved ones, whatever is true, whatever is just, whatever is holy, whatever discipline or practice or sacrifice draws you closer to the heart of God and the unimaginable love of Jesus … think on these things. Commit to these things. Let him meet you in these things.

Below, you’ll find just a few community notes – worship gatherings during Holy Week, the Rule of Life commitment service next Thursday (with Brother Curtis Almquist, superior of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, joining and blessing our journey) – but they’re important ones. Beloved ones, think on these things, too. I look forward to seeing you, and pray we all will see Jesus, in the days to come …

holy week @ the crossing
All week / Rule for Real Life
This week, we reflect on the final commitment in our Rule for Real Life: the commitment to use our resources in ways that increase healing and decrease our participation in systems of greed, over-consumption and oppression. The entire Rule is pasted to the end of this email. If you’ve been praying with it throughout Lent, then scroll down to #6. If you need a refresher, then read and pray with the entire Rule.

Wednesday @ 6 and 7pm at The Cathedral / Tenebrae Service and Bible Study on Unlikely Heroes in Unlikely Places
Tenebrae is the bittersweet, contemplative, deeply moving service that focuses our attention on experience of suffering and desolation throughout the scriptures, chant and spirituals, and in the real world around us. It's led by The Crossing. Imagine an extended meditation with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane Contact: Kieran at kconroy42@gmail.com.

After the candlelit service, our usual pub-based Bible Study will move to The Cathedral. Still starts at 7pm. We'll share soup and meditate on scripture from the Tenebrae service. It is fitting – was any hero more unlikely than Jesus? Come just for the Bible Study, just for the service or for both. Contact: Travis @ tstevens@hds.harvard.edu.

Thursday @ 6pm / Maundy Thursday Agape Meal
Join the whole Cathedral community -- Sunday morning, Chinese congregation, homeless congregation and The Crossing -- for a relaxed gathering that includes an Aape Meal and ritual footwashing (both of which Jesus shared with his friends the night before his death). Contact: Jason at jlong@diomass.org.

Saturday @ 7-9pm / Soulful Easter Vigil
This is our Easter worship gathering! The Vigil is the church's most ancient ritual. Our Soulful Vigil begins with blues, spirituals, chant and the scriptural story of God's redeeming acts throughout history. Then we burst into alleluias with hip hop, funk and gospel, celebrating the resurrection like we've been resurrected with Christ. Bishop Gayle Harris (our very own official hip-hop bishop) will celebrate!

Service includes Confirmation and Reception of members and friends of The Crossing: Bill Comer, Kieran Conroy, Jocelyn James, Lispeth Nutt, EstherDavid Steffens and Travis Stevens (please pray for them in the days to come). Festive reception follows service. Validated parking at the Boston Common Garage on Charles Street (entrance b/t Common and Public Garden). Contact: Travis at tstevens@hds.harvard.edu.

Easter Sunday @ 6:30pm / Easter Dinner @ Rev. Steph's home
If you're an Easter orphan, come to my home for dinner in Central Square (65 Magazine St. in Cambridge, about 6 blocks in from Mass Ave, toward the river. No permit necessary to park on Sundays). Please RSVP by Saturday at noon calling 617.482.4826, x318, or via email at sspellers@diomass.org. Needed: drinks of all kinds. Wanted: any food you really love having for Easter (tell me what you're bringing in your RSVP).

next week @ the crossing
Wed., 4/15 / Kenya Mission Trip discussion at Church of the Advent
Young adults at Advent -- our sister Episcopal Church on Beacon Hill -- are organizing a trip to Kenya in August, and it’s open to the whole diocese. Contact: Jason at jlong@diomass.org for details on time and location.

Next Thursday @ 6pm / Worship with Commitment Ritual around Rule for Real Life
We return to regular worship, only it’s not so regular. Travis Stevens preaches, and the spiritual practice will be led by a team of folks helping us to meet the risen Christ in contemporary justice concerns like human trafficking, fair trade and global poverty and disease.

RULE FOR REAL LIFE COMMITMENT: If you've wondered how to "join" or become a member of The Crossing, this is it! We created the Rule as a way of knitting our community together, and marking the ways we want to follow Jesus together, whether The Crossing is our home church or an important second home. All who wish to commit to living the Rule for Real Life -- and thus to commit to be part of The Crossing community -- will be blessed during the Prayers of the People.

Next Thursday after Worship / Living a Rule of Life w/ Br. Curtis Almquist, SSJE
We’re so blessed to welcome Br. Curtis, one of the most gracious and inspiring men in our church. He’ll offer a blessing during the Rule commitment ritual, and stay to lead a discussion on living a Rule of Life -- an apt topic for the superior of a monastic order based right in Cambridge. If you’d like to see the SSJE Rule or learn about their community, click here: www.ssje.org.

For info on ongoing justice and service opportunities, giving @ The Crossing, purchasing our CD and reaching our leaders, click one of the previous entries along the bar to the right.

a rule for real life for the crossing community
The Crossing is a community of sisters and brothers offering a compassionate, progressive, creative, generous, radically welcoming expression of God’s life and love in the city of Boston. From this community has grown this Rule of Life, which like the Rule of a monastic community spells out our commitment to discipleship. We believe we are called to follow in the footsteps of the ancients and live the way of Jesus: nurturing God’s Spirit in and among us; gathering everybody for prayer and celebration at God’s table; bearing the good news of hope and resurrection into the world; and spreading God’s mission of healing and transformation.

But we know we cannot live this dream alone. We need each other. We need authentic, concrete spiritual practices that form our lives in the shape of Jesus’ life. We need to make real commitments to God and to each other as we journey together closer to the heart of God and to the deepest callings on our own lives.

We offer this Rule for Real Life as an invitation to all in our community. Whether The Crossing is your primary community or a secondary gathering where you seek renewal, whether you live near our home at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral or have moved to far flung places, we hope you feel inspired and called to take up this Rule, to see this community as your own and to join us as a companion on the way. We do need each other. This Rule for Real Life describes a way of walking together, and following Jesus together and making something extraordinary, holy and whole of our daily, ordinary, (seemingly) individual lives.

One: Radical Welcome
“You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:19) We commit ourselves to practice radical welcome in our worship, in our community fellowship and hospitality, and in our daily lives. We will embrace – with our practices and our hearts – the voices and gifts and transforming presence of all God’s people, especially groups the church has least sought, heard and honored.

This commitment matters because we know God is speaking and moving in surprising places, and Jesus was constantly taking risks and going to the margins. We want to embrace those gifts from the margins in our worship and in our lives. It matters because in embracing and listening to The Other, we consistently find our hearts broken open as we are able to more fully embrace Christ.

Two: Prayer and Worship
“They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." (Acts 2:42) We commit ourselves to deeply engage a personal spiritual practice, throughout the week; to worship on Thursday nights – either physically (attending the regular worship gathering) or virtually (reaching out to a member of the community online or by phone on a Thursday); and to take at least one retreat a year, either personally or as part of The Crossing or another Christian community.

This commitment matters because spiritual practice is just that: a practice, one that requires intention, focus and consistency. This kind of spiritual practice is crucial to growing and deepening our relationship with God and honing our ability to hear God’s calling on our lives.

Three: Christian Community
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) We commit ourselves to nurture the life of God in our community by gathering with other members of The Crossing community regularly, outside of worship, in one-on-one or small group settings, for care and fellowship. When we are not able to gather physically, we will connect virtually once a week with a member of the community, or take time to pray for the worshiping community on a Thursday.

This commitment matters because care for our community is care for the body of Christ, and because our mission as healers in the world requires us to nourish each other. It matters because we are more than a worship service – we are a worshiping community. And more than a worship community, we are a Christian community, a body of unlikely pilgrims seeking to live the Way of Christ and pursue his mission together.

Four: Relationships
“You shall love your Abba God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39) We commit ourselves to live in responsible, loving relationship with self and others. We will pay prayerful attention to our bodies, seeking a variety of ways to nurture our own emotional and physical health. As God's beloved people, we also commit to bear the love of God in our friendships, in our dating, with our partners and spouses, with our children, and in our working lives. We particularly affirm sexuality as God's precious gift and creation, always to be expressed with care, prayer and faithful discernment.

This commitment matters because relationships are how we learn to see and receive all – including ourselves – as Christ. We need each other's support and challenge, in all our relationships, and need to see them as the context where we learn to listen, offer compassion, develop patience, become partners in ministry and slowly grow into the fullness of Christ.

Five: Justice and Service
“What does God require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) We commit ourselves to discern and live out the core Christian values of peace and justice. In particular, we commit to participate regularly in one ministry/program of justice, healing and reconciliation. In general, we will discern how our actions and choices reinforce structures of injustice and oppression, and then learn and commit to use our power and gifts to name and heal injustice locally and globally.

This commitment matters because we seek to walk in the way of Jesus, spreading God’s mission of healing, justice and transformation. Even as we engage in this mission, we know we will find ourselves healed and transformed, and more capable of seeking and serving Christ in all people.

Six: Resources
“What does it profit them if they gain the whole world but lose or forfeit themselves?” (Luke 9:25)We commit ourselves to economic discipleship, giving generously (to The Crossing community and to other ministries/efforts), and spending well (by making economic choices that demonstrate compassion and awareness of global poverty and environmental impact).

This commitment matters because our relationship to money and time has everything to do with our relationship with God. We want to use our money and our time to sustain the life of the world, to sustain the life of The Crossing community, and to reflect a commitment to living as we were made to live: in interdependence and compassion, with simplicity and intention.

A Final Prayer of Commitment …
(adapted from the Bishop’s Concluding Prayer in the Service of Baptism, Book of Common Prayer [305])
Almighty and everliving God, let your gracious hand ever be over us your servants; let your Holy Spirit ever be with us; and so lead us in the knowledge and obedience to your Word, that we may serve you in this life, and dwell with you in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And that, dear ones, is a prayer for us all, in this holiest of weeks and every day of our lives.

Walking with one hand in Jesus' hand, and the other hand in yours ...
Rev. Steph

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