Wednesday, January 13, 2010

heartbreak in haiti

Waking up to bad news is never easy. Waking up to horrific accounts of a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in the already shattered country of Haiti ... I could only ask, "How?" How does any country reckon with such devastation? How can a Two-Thirds World nation ever recover?

I'm praying for my friends here in Boston who immigrated from Haiti but keep close ties. Half of Haiti's 9 million people live in Port-Au-Prince, so it's no exaggeration to say most Haitians don't if huge segments of their families are alive or dead.

I'm praying for Jude Harmon, one of two volunteers with the Episcopal Young Adult Service Corps in Haiti: he's in the process for priestly ordination, attended Christ Church in Harvard Square, graduated recently from Harvard Divinity School. He is my friend, and he has not been located.

I'm praying for the Society of St. Margaret in Roxbury, who have so graciously hosted several of our Crossing retreats. Their sister community is in Port-Au-Prince. Their house there was destroyed, and no one knows the sisters' fate.

This world is so huge, and yet so small. So please pray for Haiti, for the dead, the dying, the injured, the lost, the starving, the mourning, the terrified. Please pray for all those who will die in the world today whose names we will never know. And please join with others seeking to respond to this tragedy.

Here's a message from Bishop Tom Shaw (Diocese of Massachusetts), sent out just moments ago, to help us figure out a way forward:

Please know how much our prayers are needed. An unfathomable catastrophe like this in a place that has already known so much hardship really does have us questioning God at the deepest levels of our faith. Yet we must know that God is more present to suffering than any of us could ever possibly be, and that as we are willing to take on the suffering of others, whether through our prayer, our donations or our service, we join God in God’s compassionate presence.


Send donations to:

** The Society of St. Margaret, 17 Highland Park Street, Boston, MA 02119. For updates and more information about the sisters’ work in Haiti, go to and click on the “Haiti” page link.

** Episcopal Relief and Development: Donate online at or call 800-334-7626, ext. 5129.

coming up @ the crossing
THIS THURSDAY @ 6pm / Worship and Community
Micah Interns Ben Whaley and Tyler Bridge share reflections this month (what's a Micah Intern? Click here to find out more about the whole Life Together young adult intern program). Ben kicks it this Thursday with a word on John 2:1-11. Jana Yeaton takes us through a series of spiritual practices with one link: repetitive prayer.
  • BEFORE WORSHIP: Help set-up at 4:45pm or join the pre-worship prayer circle at 5:30pm
  • AFTER WORSHIP: Dinner with the Justice & Outreach Team (see below)
  • GETTING TO THE CROSSING: 138 Tremont St., across from Park St. T
  • PARKING: $5 parking coupons for Boston Common Garage on Charles St (b/t Common and Public Garden)
  • LOTS MORE INFO: Head to
THIS THURSDAY @ 8-9pm / Dinner with The Crossing Justice & Outreach Team
Our Justice and Outreach Team welcomes everyone to share soup, bread and the good news about justice action in Boston. Stick around, share food and share dreams about how The Crossing can step up in a powerful way this winter and spring.

SAT., 1/23 @ 9:30am-2:30pm / Hope in Action Campaign Kick-off
The Crossing is part of an amazing community of ministries joining in the Hope in Action Campaign to Alleviate Economic Injustice this year. It's being organized by Life Together (theDioMass Intern Program). Now our Justice and Outreach Minister, Justin Harvey, and his team will be mobilizing us, our friends, our neighbors and many others to join a campaign to bless and heal our city.

Please set aside this important date NOW, start imagining friends and neighbors you'd like to engage in this important work. CONTACT: Justin at

SAT., 1/30 @ 9:30am-3:30pm / 5th Annual Cathedral Worship Learning Party
Come out and learn from energized, missional, creative worship leaders in local communities. Four congregations get one hour each to share an experience of their worship, along with reflections on making change and linking worship and mission. Featuring leaders from Trinity-Boston on Re-imagining tradition; St. Stephen's-Lynn on All Ages Worship; The Cathedral on World Music and Gospel; and All Saints-Stoneham on the MOSH Youth Rock Worship.

small groups and formation
Sundays @ The Crossing, Covenant Groups, Sexuality and Faith Forum, Everybody Does Theology, Intro to Faith & Church, Speaking of Faith small groups, heck, maybe even Dodge Ball! These are just some of the ideas our Minister for Community Life, Jason Long, and his able team are kicking around for this year. Stay tuned to The Crossing Calendar for details, and feel free to contact Jason to share an idea or if you have a knack for facilitating small groups. CONTACT: Jason at

helping hands @ the crossing
Many more details at The Crossing Calendar and the Justice & Service page. Here are the highlights:
  • Help with Worship Set-up on Thursdays @ 4:45pm
  • Join the Pre-Worship Prayer Circe on Thursdays @ 5:30pm
  • Monday Lunch Program at The Cathedral on 2nd and 4th Mondays: 10am to help with set-up, or 11:30am-12:45pm to help serve & build community with our homeless and hungry neighbors

giving @ the crossing
Alleluia! We met our fundraising goal of $20,000 for 2009, and now we've raised the bar to $23,000 for 2010. That extra money will allow us to 1) move Rev. Steph from 1/2-time [where she's been for the last year and a half] to 3/4-time starting this January, and 2) allow us to bump our Minister for Community Life from 1/4-time right now to 1/2-time starting in July.

If you'd like to make a commitment to sustain The Crossing community's life, please prayerfully consider making a one-time gift or start pledging (setting out an amount you'd like to give over the course of a year, and filling out a 2010 pledge card so we know we can count on your contribution). Give however you're able: cash, check or credit cards. CONTACT: Chris Ashley at

get connected
We've got an amazing crew of leaders making life happen here @ The Crossing. Click to Meet The Crossing Leadership Crew and see who you might talk with to plug into anything -- lead a spiritual practice, have a newcomer coffee, link with justice work, join a small group, help with the web, pitch in with hospitality, start giving regularly, or just get some support and hope for the journey we share.

And if you'd like to make a connection with the broader Crossing community, get onto our online forum, InBetweenCrossings: Here's where we connect and share information about random community announcements -- including upcoming events, apartment sublets, job opportunities, lost-and-found, furniture exchange, help requests, etc. You got stuff to share (a job, a couch, a theater gig you want people to attend)? You need stuff (lost scarf, dog-sitter, an apartment sublet)? Pass along the word ...

With love, blessings and prayers during this hard yet hopeful time,
Rev. Steph

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what's new?

Still catching up on old posts. Here's a short New Year's shout-out from JANUARY 6:

A new year. A new decade. A new entry into the old, old story of God-among-us. And plenty is new at The Crossing. New small groups for the winter and spring. A new Hope in Action Campaign that will send us out to build relationships, bless our city and grow our capacity to be God's justice- and peace-makers in the world. Fact is, in 2010 there will be a slew of new opportunities to engage in community, mission and worship at The Crossing and beyond. You got some good news, too? Then bring your stories and your hopes -- and even the hard stuff you need to release after a fraught holiday season -- bring it all into the circle tomorrow night, and we'll see what God's been up to. And then we'll offer our lives for whatever God's cooking up next.


missing you, finding jesus

Round 2: A second post that I sent to The Crossing community via email. This one went round on New Year's Eve Day:

It's been a strange few weeks. On the one hand, it's potentially the most religion-permeated season of the year (if Jesus IS the reason for the season ...). Advent was all about preparing and watching and hoping for redemption. Now we've slowed down to rest at the heart of the Christmas season (and yes, it is a season of the church year -- that's why we sing about "The 12 Days of Christmas"!). During these precious and luminous days, we sit with the vulnerable, impoverished child who is God incarnate among us, flesh and blood and hope and breath and all. Then, on January 6, we open the door to Epiphany. In that season, we -- like the wise men -- draw near to celebrate the transformative presence of Jesus among us, and witness him growing, ministering, healing, teaching and shining light so people could see the reign of God breaking in.

So much of Jesus' life to sit with, meditate on, be changed by! And yet, as a community, The Crossing doesn't officially gather on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve. Instead, our Cathedral family hosts big annual services both nights, to which we're all more than welcome. (NOTE: Tonight's First Night Interfaith Service begins at 11:15pm.) The fact is, it will be January 7 -- a day into Epiphany -- by the time we break open God's word and gather at the table together. I don't know about you, but I've missed having my home church community to help me to make the most of these meaningful, potentially transformative seasons.

To stay connected and rooted, I've been reading scriptures and pairing them with selections from a wonderful book of daily readings for Advent and Christmas, Watch for the Light. It features short (3 to 4-page) pieces from spiritual writers like Meister Eckhart, Annie Dillard, Martin Luther, John Donne, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen and many more. I've had the book for several years, and each year it never fails to open my mind and heart to new appreciation of the Incarnation.

At Christmas, I often quote Meister Eckhart, who said, "We are all mothers of God, for God is always waiting to be born." But this year, Tuesday's reading from Watch for the Light -- a selection from liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez -- zinged straight to my heart and stayed there. I offer it to you today, on this day of good-byes and beginnings. I offer it in the hope that, wherever you are, whenever you read these words, you might pause and hear the humming of a whole circle of brothers and sisters praying and reflecting with you.

From The God of Life by Gustavo Gutierrez, excerpted in Watch for the Light (pp. 251-252):
It is often said at Christmas that Jesus is born into every family and every heart. But these "births" must not make us forget the primordial, massive fact that Jesus was born of Mary among a people that at the time were dominated by the greatest empire of the age. If we forget that fact, the birth of Jesus becomes an abstraction, a symbol, a cipher. Apart from its historical coordinates the event loses its meaning. To the eyes of Christians, the incarnation is the irruption of God into human history: an incarnation into littleness and service in the midst of overbearing power exercised by the mighty of this world; an irruption that smells of the stable.

I am grateful to be on this road with each of you, making meaning and building a community of people seeking and following this Jesus. Praise be to the One who came erupting into human history in the most scandalous, unimaginable way possible. Praise be to the One who is still shockingly alive in our midst. Praise be to Jesus.

Amen and blessing,

clock's ticking

Just catching up on some old missives that I sent to the whole Crossing community via email, but didn't post here. Round 1: From DECEMBER 16 (day after my birthday -- hey, I was busy!):

I'm in shock. Is it really the week before Christmas? Is Advent passing so quickly? All the intention I wanted to bring to the Advent Conspiracy! All the creative gifts I wanted to make! All the cards I still need to send! Breathe deep. Regroup. ... This Thursday night after worship, we all get a chance to pull it together in a way that's prayerful, beautiful and fun.

Everyone is invited to do a bit of "Faith Through Art" at our After-worship Gift-Making Party. We'll share Soup and Bread, as we have each week of Advent. But this time, we won't just talk about spending less, making relational gifts and giving our presence instead of just presents. We'll do it.

So hit the craft store or rummage around the house. Gather up your supplies and bring them to church (for ex: I'm bringing poems, reprints of cool icons, lovely paper, info about some favorite justice non-profits and my Christmas gift list). We'll be like Santa's elves, listening to music and keeping each other company as we finish the presents we started weeks ago (or not). Not sure what you want to make? Hang out and get some ideas. Or check out for relational gift ideas at or Beats a night at the mall.

P.S. Feel free to also bring 1) socks for the Justice Team's Christmas Party with Homeless Neighbors, to be held Saturday; and 2) check or cash to add to The Crossing community gift to the Mothers' Union in Maseno, Kenya.