Rev. Laura's Reflection on Orlando

Our congregation began as an outdoor sanctuary for those who did not feel welcome in church or, for whatever reason, were not finding their way to church. 

It breaks my heart that another sanctuary was shattered that early morning, June 12. That the joyful dancing of those in Orlando who were celebrating their bodies, their spirits -- their unique selves that God created good and beautiful -- was replaced with gunshots and fear and so many lives lost.

During worship that day on the Boston Common, we were in shock. We brought our rage and our grief to God in prayer. And we reminded each other: "You are beautiful." Just as you are. Whoever you are. Whoever you love.   

At our McInnis House worship service, our prayer was raw. Several (including myself!) leapt into blame. We blamed our law enforcement system, our government, and especially the shooter himself. And then David spoke up. Full of conviction, he proclaimed: "It's very hard for us to acknowledge this, but this could have been any of us. Any one of us could become Omar." 
I felt that truth hit me in the gut. We are all born beautiful, created in God's image. We are all born with the potential to do good and to do evil. And then life happens. 

Growing up with poverty, abuse, addiction, and bullying can distort our sense of the divine goodness within us. Racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and economic exploitation begin to wrap us in their chains.

How do we free ourselves? We turn and follow Jesus.

Rather than sinking into blame, and burning out with rage, our community has sought to pray with our feet and walk the way of love. 

On the Monday after the massacre at Pulse, several of us attended the Boston vigil at City Hall to honor the lives lost. More community members attended the interfaith vigil at Emmanuel Episcopal Church. 

During common art, under the leadership of community members Diamond and Virna, we prayerfully read the names of the victims. We made rainbow ribbons to wear and prepared cards to send to the homeless community in Orlando.

We will not let love be swallowed up by hate. 

  Choosing love over hate: Rev. Laura, Diamond, Virna and Rob at the City Hall   vigil  .

Choosing love over hate: Rev. Laura, Diamond, Virna and Rob at the City Hall vigil.

Record Cold

Valentine's Day Sunday, 2016 was a day of record cold in Boston -- and a very special day of love for our common cathedral community.
Pastors Mary and Laura started their morning reaching out to folks through texting and social media. They then walked throughout the city to check on our community -- starting at South Station, and then on to Downtown Crossing, Copley Square and the Prudential Center. 
Meanwhile, Sharon and Amanda met at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral to load up a cart with hot cocoa. This was handed out to about 50 people out on Tremont Street, together with sandwiches and snacks lovingly prepared by the congregation of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Weston.  
Eight hardy souls gathered on the Common for a short worship service, including songs, brief reflection, communion (using a frozen oatmeal cookie!) and lots of jumping to stay warm. 
Because people were so tired, post-worship bible study inside St. Paul's became a time of meditation and rest. 
After worship, the rest of the sandwiches were sent back to the places where Pastors Mary and Laura had visited earlier in the day.
Thank you to St. Peter's, to St. Paul's and to our intrepid staff and community, for going the extra mile to make sure folks could get some nourishment (of all kinds) to help them through an especially challenging day. 
And Thank You to all who support all our ministries in so many ways. You make it all possible!

Rest In Peace

Yesterday I led a sunrise Memorial Service for Michael. He was someone I never met. I know he had a childhood, a family, and many stories. I'm sure he laughed at certain jokes and cried watching certain movies.

Michael died outside last Wednesday.

He was unfamiliar to the people who slept next to him. He was unfamiliar to those who made the awful discovery of his death. He was a stranger to those who kept vigil over his body while the police and medical examiner arrived.

He mattered. The people with him mattered. 

Please pray for Michael, who is safe in the arms of a God who welcomes him home.

Pray for an end of the injustice of homelessness. For the courageous people outside who choose life. Life!

Pray that our rage, grief, and fear are transformed into good works for change.
Because the world needs to change. 

~ Rev. Mary  

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Message from Rev. Kate

When we opened BostonWarm last year in response to the closing of the Long Island Bridge, we had no idea what a difference it would make. Through a long and challenging winter, we were blessed to be able to offer shelter, warmth, food, hot coffee, rest, storage, resources, information... and caring, and respect, and hope for people struggling through all the many challenges of being on the street. Together we became community, creating a space for grace to fill us with so much more than any of us knew how to ask or imagine. As one guest has written:

"I was lost in a city where I knew no one, experiencing a life of homelessness that I could not even start to understand. BostonWarm and its staff gave me a place I could come to and feel safe. In those first few months, the staff of BostonWarm saved my life.  If I had not had this safe place to go to I know the "shelter" life would have beaten me.  I would have become lost in the crowd as another homeless addict." 
- Darren Ireland [quote used with permission]

Today, we are so glad to have come under the common cathedral canopy. In our Emmanuel Church location, we continue to do what we've always done: offer friendship, and rest, food and resources. An important part of our work is welcoming and orienting volunteers, so that they can meet our wonderful community first-hand and learn about life on the streets from those who are living it. 

BostonWarm has become an oasis of warmth and peace in the city. Thanks to all our donors and friends for helping create a vision of a world where sharing by all means scarcity for none.

~ Rev. Kate Layzer

Feed Your Spirit


Each Thursday, a group gathers at Old South Church in Boston to talk about how we are taking care of our Spirit, when it feels like the world is crushing us down.  
Each month we focus on a different theme. One month, our theme was "kindness." At the beginning of the month, while decorating note-cards, people said they show kindness by cooking for others.  So we decided to make a meal together in which everyone cooked or led one course.  We planned and made shopping lists. We decided to make brunch because someone wanted bacon and someone else wanted fruit.
I was extremely nervous. It was hard to give up control and let others serve. Plus, I can't imagine cooking bacon without setting off the smoke detector and burning something. Turns out, no one wanted to burn things down!  Instead, the bacon chef cooked it in the microwave while others laid down a table cloth and placed real china plates in front of each seat.  
People took turns in the small kitchen as they lovingly prepared their special item.   We ate our brunch in courses as each person finished their item in turn.  Our meal included: a coffee course, then orange juice, then fruit (watermelon and strawberries), then bacon (lots!!! of bacon), then pancakes with butter and REAL maple syrup. We finished with eggs cooked to order. 
We were practicing kindness by letting others show their kindness to us.  This meant that when someone was cooking, everyone else stayed around the table.  I was on clean-up duty, and luxuriated for 2 hours, sitting in community, sipping O.J., chit-chatting about our favorite foods and our experiences of being busboys and line-cooks. 
Several times people said, "It looks like the last supper."  And we talked about why, when Jesus wanted the disciples to remember Him and remember God's love, He told them to share a meal.  He told them to gather around a table, to take bread and juice, and share it with each other.
We looked around the table and saw the face of Christ in everyone assembled.  We saw Christ in ourselves. We felt good and holy and important. We mattered because we had a special kindness to share.  The person next to us mattered because they had a special kindness to share.  We were all fed, body and soul.
I could have stayed at that table for hours, but I was on clean-up duty and had to do the dishes. 
That was my act of kindness.  

~Pastor Mary