Servanthood in Everyday Life

Servanthood in Everyday Life by Br. Ephrem

 This is the character of a true servant of Christ. He endeavors to follow Christ in thought, word, and work.

~ George Whitfield

These words from George Whitfield might remind us of the words of Jesus on the occasion of the Sermon on the Mount when He taught his listeners that it was not mere obedience to the law but the obedience of a cleansed heart that God requires – and enables – in His servants. This must also sound familiar to those of us from an Anglican background as Whitfield was. Indeed, we ask God’s forgiveness for sins we have committed in thought, word and deed, both those things we ought to have done and those things we ought not to have done. If God’s call to everyday servanthood hasn’t seemed daunting in the past, I imagine these words might make it more so! How is it even possible to live out our calling to servanthood? This, at least, is what I once thought when I first became aware of this calling that we all share. As it turns out, God has made it not only possible but the very signature of our freedom, in Christ and through grace, as well as a hugely fulfilling part of our journey together. It is a part of what the term “servant-discipleship” means and, though I was probably surprised to learn this when I first encountered followers of Christ in the world, it really all begins with the discipleship part of that equation.

Considering this topic of answering God’s call to everyday servanthood I am always drawn to begin at the beginning of our collective narrative. There are many ways to interpret these stories but what resonates with me is that, in one sense, “Original Sin” may be thought of as not the result of a choice between Good and Evil but rather a choice in favor of “the good” as decided on and determined by man as opposed to the Good of Life in God. It is a seeking of what is good on humanity’s terms without concern for God’s will.

In Genesis 2:9 we see that there are two trees in the garden of Eden: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In this narrative familiar to us all, God decrees that His children are free to eat from any tree in the garden and partake of all that creation offers them but must not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There is a clear choice here. The tree of life is just that, divine life given by God and representative of His will for humanity and all of creation. It is God’s way, the way of life. The tree of knowledge of good and evil is representative of man’s way, humanity’s will for itself, the way of death.

We all know, of course, what happens next as a result of humanity turning away in disobedience. God’s children take it upon themselves to determine their own path, to discern for themselves what is “good” and what is “evil.” It’s fairly straightforward: without the life and light of God, all choices lead the way of death. All good and moral things and all teaching, even with the best of intentions, are a source of death if they are apart from God’s will for us; we may thus receive of the tree of knowledge but not that of the life given us to fulfill God’s purpose. So it is with us as we listen for God’s word and try to fulfill His will for us as His servants in the world. To be a servant begins with proper discernment. It begins with God’s will and not our own. It is, in fact, God’s will which is actually the source of our own growth and freedom from bondage! This discernment, I believe, starts always with prayer and attentiveness to the movement of God’s Spirit in our lives. We must first remember to simply ask if we are on the correct path as we live in openness to God’s word and in gratitude for all He is doing in and through us.

 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 ~ Colossians 3:17

tree-of-life

This quotation from Colossians is about works but these are not simply our own works, our will, but works now properly attributed to God the Father and done in the name of Jesus. We know, as disciples of Christ, that we have been enabled by God to listen attentively for His voice. Though we still live in a “fallen,” imperfect world and will stumble from time to time, we have been sent forth to follow God’s will in service to one another. How amazing!

 My first real encounter with Jesus that I am conscious of was about nine years ago. I was changed; transformed. I became, as they say, a new creation and was brought unto an entirely new path. He found me (He was always there!) right where I was… deep in the muck and mire of the world… and turned me around to face Him instead. I was literally brought to my knees. Now – I still didn’t get it! It’s a process, also, to come more fully to faith. But I knew just enough to listen (or to at least try to listen) for what God intended for me. I did, I think, understand the value of community and that this must include seeking out the family of His followers and also of serving the larger community in some way. Truly, though, I was completely unprepared for what this new encounter really meant.

I had no idea! How do I respond to God’s will? What does servanthood mean? As lost as I was, this was the first time that this “unknowing” and desire to do His will had happened. That this was the first realization of uncertainty is perhaps illustrative of just why I was so lost in the first place! My own will had gotten me nowhere. Worse than nowhere! So I surrendered. I prayed. And I prayed. God actually “thunked me upside the head” and I started to actually listen day by day. Jesus really IS the door! I was sent to several places in short order: to St. Paul’s in Connecticut, to a mission school in New Haven and to become a Home Health Aide for a gentleman with MS. My whole world really did change! “Upside-down” is an understatement! And it’s changing still.

The horizon keeps expanding and I have come to realize that it really IS all about relationship, an intimate relationship with God and with one another. It doesn’t feel like “obedience” so much as just going with the natural flow of His will through grace. And Jesus, though Himself divine, none the less inverted everything humanity had known about relationship and power to exhibit for us perfect and absolute servanthood. He has both modeled that servanthood and – thanks be to God! – made it possible for us to begin to truly follow His example:

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!

 ~ Philippians 2:5-8

I soon came to realize that there is another very important aspect to this work and the very “state of being” embodied by our everyday servanthood in the world as well. God co-labors with us! He works in and through us for our individual and collective good. We read in Romans 8:28, “… that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It has been said that the central purpose and act of the church, all of us as Jesus’ followers and as His missionaries in the world, is proclamation of the Good News of God’s Kingdom. It is news about reconciliation and redemption; of being called to walk upon the path of new life, the Good of Life in God. This proclamation of the gospel (as we may know from that famous quote attributed to St. Francis) can be preached at all times and not only with words.

Ultimately, of course, words too are a necessity. Faith comes by hearing – and in the hearing of our stories – but the imperative to “live out the gospel” is a very real one. It is both that we might live in accordance with God’s will as well as that we, in our servanthood, may be living representatives and examples of God’s Kingdom “breaking into” the world. In the words of Isaiah: “Here am I. Send me!”

God, in Christ, has freed us and sends us out to carry on that work and word of freedom in our everyday life. This is at the root of all of our ministries. There is not a higher calling than truly striving as disciples of Jesus to live out God’s will for us day to day. Let us all, I pray, endeavor to follow Christ in thought, word, and work!

  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 ~ Matthew 11:28-30

Praise God!

 

 

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Dialogue & Discipleship

Cosmic-ChristInterfaith dialogue is so important to the understanding of our journey together and is hugely significant in terms of our call to mission and evangelism in the world. What does the Great Commission of Jesus mean? He said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” We in the “mainline” and specifically in the Episcopal Church, as it began to hit home that our parishes are aging and the pews ever more sparsely filled, began to speak again of “mission.” Recently, that has become a conversation about “God’s mission in the world.” This is certainly helpful for folks and provides context to find meaning and continued relevance in the diminished presence of the church. That being said, it seems to me that we do well to remember that Gods mission in the world is as it always has been. Is not God’s mission in the world the Great Commission? Are we not sent forth to make disciples?

Now, this disciple making and discipling (which always continues as an on-going mutual process also among Jesus’ followers) might mean a lot of things and I’m sure there is no shortage of opinion among Christians of good will on the subject. I am going to propose, regardless of ones perspective, that real and sincere dialogue – which means listening in friendship from a place of the heart – is a good place to start. That includes both interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, the latter of which we are arguably considerably worse at. But staying with interfaith dialogue for the moment, I thought I might share the mutually edifying results of conversations with Buddhist friends of mine.

Let me start with an observation. The “gut reaction” of many in today’s post-modern, relativist world is just to say that all religions are essentially the same at their core and, at best, “all roads lead up the same mountain.” This is an interesting perspective. It is not one I share, but many wonderful people I know hold this to be so. Regardless, that perspective does tend to make it easy to pick and choose one’s “beliefs” as one wishes without recourse to any particular tradition. This is often called “buffet” or “refrigerator magnet” spirituality. It requires little of us. There is no real practice to follow to deepen and grow in one’s faith – and, in fact, to see if the various paths converge or not. The mountain top(s) remain distant and cloudy indeed. That is to say that the net is cast “wide” but not very “deep.” So, if one wants to explore more deeply the actual and varied beliefs and practices of the Buddhist tradition, for example, we would do well to honor our friends by actually acknowledging that our traditions are not the same – sometimes not the same at all. All this while lovingly and scandalously proclaiming (in word and deed) the objective fullness of Truth in Christ. We have much in common with all of the faiths of the world which seek to treat one another with mercy and compassion and, too, with all of the variety of spiritual practices – simply because we’re all programmed in the same way. Our understandings of God at work in the world and His will for us in this, however, is quite a different matter. I hope we will love one another none the less.

What we discovered, my Buddhist friends and I, was that we can actually approach these differences in ways that we can all understand. That is the first step in real dialogue. So, as it turns out, if you want to explain “who Jesus is,” a good way to begin is that, for Christians, Jesus IS the Dharma – the Way, the Path, etc. Buddhism, they explain to me, is all about non-preference in all things. It is about non-attachment in order to not cling to that (all) which will cause suffering. Of course there is a lot more to the doctrines but one can catch these differences immediately even without much background though, of course, we do well to enter more deeply into these studies. Christians, generally, I put forth to them, are actually all about attachment – to God, to Love, to one another and, I think it’s safe to say, we even “enter into” suffering with one another rather than avoid it. Paradoxically , I say, this brings us to a different kind of detachment from “self” and “the world.” Now our paths are even converging – though from very different angles. Karma, for me, was the most interesting notion we spoke about that day. It is a good bridge topic to explore our beliefs. Sin and suffering, sickness, old age and death. Now we’re getting into it! They told me about the “cosmic law of cause and effect.” Here is where things get interesting, I think, because it is not hard to agree that this, in a sense, speaks to the Judeo-Christian concept of the Fall made clear to us through the Law as we know it. We see it everywhere in the Hebrew Bible. And what would I say as a Christian? I said that Jesus is the fulfillment of that Law. In He who took upon Himself our sin, the “karmic suffering of the world,” we are freed from the endless cycle we are born into and continually bring upon ourselves; that keeps us forever in the “muck and mire.” We are made whole and righteous before God, though still part of a world that “misses the mark” and breaks His Law, awaiting the fullness of His Kingdom. We are, in Christ, born anew. That, they agree, is THE Bodhisattva. We have all learned a great deal and will continue in our conversations and our fellowship. To be continued…

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Our stories move

In the interest of making things easier to find Our stories has been moved to its own web page: stories.stpaulswillimantic.org. That’s where I’ll be posting most of the time.

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‘His Children Gathered’

 
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A Reflection on Diversity of Worship
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Spending time in England recently presented an opportunity to worship together with diverse members of our larger faith community in a variety of ways. I am still processing the experiences! That the Spirit is at work at all times and in all places and that Christ meets people wherever they are and in ways beyond my imagining are foundational truths to my way of understanding our faith. In my own small way as far as mission work this is a basic presupposition when dialoguing (especially “open-heart listening” together) with those of other traditions. This, I believe, is something Jesus teaches us. It is so even as (or especially because) we embrace Him as the mystery and fullness of God’s truth. Interfaith dialogue is something the Anglican tradition, for example, has become very good at in recent decades. What the mainstream church may occasionally be lacking in, however, is the same foundational understanding when it comes to our call to listen attentively for God together with the diverse members of Christ’s own Body. This is so even within our own denominations! We are variously called Christ’s Bride, the Church Universal or, at the very least, co-religionists in the same faith tradition. But I ask myself how often have I ventured out from my own small and very familiar places of worship to join others for whom Jesus is the foundation of their lives and proclaim Him as Lord of all. Here is what happened when I did:
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Three different sorts of gathering presented themselves to me in England in these past weeks. One was a very traditional and liturgical service held in a famous cathedral to which many had come for the Eucharist in such an ancient place of prayer. The centuries of holding these words and supplications within it’s walls gave credence to it’s sacredness of space. Absolutely beautiful! I was powerfully moved at a certain point as we recited the familiar words together and the community of strangers became one. The folks were a bit older than me for the most part, more or less affluent and predominantly ‘white’ though I know all would be welcome. Next to me sat an aspiring nun to an Anglican Order!
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Far away from there in a very working class and immigrant-filled neighborhood of a very working class and immigrant-filled city I attended a charismatic meeting in a little community center. Half of the folks where converts to Christianity and originally from Iran. The rest were a mix of Caribbean and ‘Anglo-British’ folks. I was the only ‘Yank’ in attendance. This was probably a slightly more conservative part of our family though, in practice, more actually diverse. There was a full-immersion baptism and a fair amount of speaking-in-tongues. We heard some truly inspiring testimonies to God’s light and love at work in the lives of the speakers. We prayed together. I wept. Most of the evening we sang and danced and praised God as this community of strangers became one.
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In a small predominantly ‘white-collar’ English town I joined with a congregation at a small Anglican church for worship on two occasions. Here there were children! Dozens upon dozens! The gathering was a very free, open and inclusive (they share an alternating worship space with other local churches including the Methodist Church) service – though still liturgical in the style of “messy church.” You might say it was somewhat “emergent” or what they refer to more often over there as reflecting “fresh expressions” of worship. The priests (there were two and also several lay leaders) were friendly, approachable and funny. The kids loved it. There was a play put on and lots of singing by the children. It was very family oriented and refreshing to see young people so engaged. Perhaps I did not feel moved exactly in the same deep way as with the other two sorts of worship but neither did I smile so much or for so long as with these families who had intentionally brought themselves and their children together as community to learn how God makes us one in His creation.
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How wide and varied are the ways in which our family of faith gathers to praise and worship God!

 

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A THANKSGIVING POEM

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A PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
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In thanksgiving for each soul-mirrored self
and for return in embrace of wholeness.
For the many shades of wandering light
and for timeless prism turning.
In gratitude for blessed interruption
and for quiet peace unexpected.
For storms that will surely come
and for promised calm revealed.
For fevered dreams, tears 
and wondrous visions.
For a thousand birds, singing
in mysterious morning.
For signs and wonders, miracles
in the midst of the ordinary.
In gratitude for those appointed along the way
and for brief glimpses of the mountain.
In thanksgiving for our search together
and in thanksgiving for His harvest.
~
AMEN.
  
In His love,
Br. Ephrem

 

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Thoughts on Hospitality and Simplicity

reaching-hands

In pondering simplicity and hospitality I am reminded of the simple acts of hospitality and friendship that we are often given the opportunity to share with our neighbors. This relates also to our call to mission. These thoughts afforded me a welcome time for reflection during my journey home from school recently where we have been studying outreach in different contexts. What I am realizing, regarding mission, was reflected in that days discussion. In two of the stories I was sharing with those in my study program, both that of a community made up of neighbors with varying religious traditions rebuilding a church in Bangladesh nearly destroyed by ‘hooligans’ and a more personal story I recounted in being asked to perform a house blessing (after getting ecclesial approval) for a mixed Muslim, Hindu household with no ‘professing’ Christians, there was a common missional opportunity. These types of interactions – often the giving and receiving of gifts, support and fellowship or simply helping each other out – provide the occasion for dialogue. They are “teaching” opportunities for all of us involved – a teaching of one another that is simply through grace, being open to the Spirit to work and speak through us. And, for Christians of course, Jesus is the Great Teacher by word and example and we are called to live out His Gospel with our neighbors. It is interaction and dialogue AS MISSION, born of His love and often expressed in simple acts of hospitality toward one another. It is a challenge but presents great oportunities to witness always to that love. I think this is also a facet of mission to which we are called especially in the midst of an incrasingly secular society; to be IN the world but not OF the world! And always proclaiming the Kingdom!

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Hospitality and the Stranger

Here at St. Paul’s we often pray together and reflect on what hospitality truly means and how we all find ourselves being called to be conduits, through grace, of God’s love together in community. This brings me back again to consider this essential part of our calling as followers of Christ. We are certainly taught to be agents of God’s Hospitality in the world just as we read in Matthew 25 and throughout Scripture and as Jesus models for us perfectly. It is foundational to our practice to welcome the stranger.

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We see this first in the Old Testament – the Hebrew Bible – and in fullness through the teaching and life of Christ. We are, of course, all wanderers, all exiles in one way or another and all dependent on one another. We were reminded in the Hebrew Bible to welcome the stranger because we, too, had been strangers and, as we know, the story of those chosen by God has always been one of diaspora and return. This takes on so many layers of meaning beyond the practicul injunction to hospitality born of necessity. One still sees this pragmatism among the semi-nomadic Bedouin for whom life in the desert requires a strict moral code of hospitality toward the stranger that has met the demands of survival over the centuries. Alone or lost, in such a harsh environment, one would almost certainly parish. More essentially, even large extended families would cease to exist within a few generations without some cooperation, interaction and, ultimately, inclusion of others. But there is more to this (also for the Bedouin) than extreme instances of community and cooperation out of necessity – or at least we can say that the need for one another is a greater one than that of mere survival. Jesus shows us that our dependency upon one another requires a “giving of the self” that is, in fact, love.

Responding to the presence and the need of another is an example – God’s very example – of emptying the “self” to let another “in.” Into the community by inclusion but, even more so, into one’s very being regardless of “worth” or “worthiness.” It is the acceptance, in fact, of another’s wounds and the navigation of new and porous boundaries of self (changing yet again) and “the other” (also changing) as we learn to “swim around” one another – a task that, as we might be familiar with, is often difficult enough within our own tribes! But it is through grace that these things are possible. We are all brought together for reasons that we may not yet discern. Together we are being healed. In this lies our unity before God – not a static “union” because it is “the other” that makes it a relationship; a dance that honors our Creator’s first giving and self-giving in Christ. It is thus also perhaps the most challenging part of the process – learning to receive from “the other” (and the Other) the gifts that they now bring to our ever-expanding table! In this newfound unity we are, in fact, all made new before God and are strangers no more.

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‘ORDINARY TIME’ – A Poem

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ORDINARY TIME

In this joyful morning
grace occurs to me
the Gospel of Christ:
the tale of ordinary lives –
wounded,
lost,
rebellious souls –
called together,
to His extraordinary love.

To these made now whole
together by Him
meet Heaven and earth:
glimpses reveal Godself  -
perfect,
one,
community -
relationship,
in the dance of Holy Trinity.

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Tent city teen sex offender

The Willimantic Chronicle generally is quite supportive of the community – including those on the margins. However, on May 6 it ran a piece (originally from The Day, distributed by MCT Information Services) that was – shall we say – not helpful. The title: Teen sex offender is living in Willi tent city.” A Wednesday discussion of the article’s rather extensive negative implications resulted in me being commissioned to write a response. My submission to the Chronicle follows. It was printed in the May 15 Chronicle with almost no changes.

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Summer season takes toll on local homeless

Last June the Chronicle posted front page articles with a top of page title “Summer season takes toll on local homeless.” The articles were quite perceptive in detailing the challenges and vulnerabilities facing those hanging on by a thread as they tried to make it through the summer. Lots of problems faced those trying to make a life in the encampment in the woods along the Natchaug River.

This year the encampment is no more. The police came and chased off a few would be campers as they were starting on a serious effort to clean up the site. (Messy: there’s no place to dispose of trash when you’re living in the woods; there’s no place to store your tent come winter and everything you own has to go into your backpack.) This summer local homeless women and men still are camping – but it’s in scattered locations, hidden away as much as possible.

Lots of the campers – and other people on the margins – are part of our community at St. Paul’s Willimantic. Affordable housing is necessary for the just society that we hope, pray and strive for, but there’s not much chance for that until Martin Luther king’s “revolution in values” comes to our society. At this point even a real campground with a few facilities and some rules would be helpful. In the meantime we support each other as best we can. Then, on Tuesday, the Chronicle ran a piece with a much different tone. It was on page two and originally published in The Day. It was titled “Teen sex offender is living in Willi tent city.”

Some of us, all very disturbed by the article, had an extended discussion of the issues involved at our Wednesday afternoon Healing Prayer Service. Our big problem is the dark and frightening images associated with loaded words such as “tent city” and especially “sex offender.” Just another wedge that will widen the gap of separation between the marginalized and the rest of us! When you’re out for a walk is that guy you see over in the woods now maybe a dangerous sex offender? Or is the guy just some homeless person worried that someone is going to call the cops and he’ll get tossed out with no place to go; or worse for him, a vigilante type who hates homeless people.

In any group there are a range of people, some caring, generous, merciful, creative, beautiful; some suffering; some just trouble. If you’re camping what do you do about serious trouble? You and your tent are trespassing so are you going to call the police??? You may be the loser on that one. If it works maybe you’ll come back some time and find that trouble has gotten even and your tent is not in the same condition it was when you left.

There also are inaccuracies in the article. Obviously there is no “tent city” (with all the negative images that come with that title) in Willimantic. Also questionable is the sentence “….was staying at a seasonal shelter in Willimantic and since its closure has moved to a tent village where there are other sex offenders that can’t find housing….” How do we know that?

The article, plus info from the Judicial website, does illustrate how much more difficult life is when you’re poor, living on the edge. The offender is a teenager – the offense was committed when he was 16 years old. I don’t go along with the boys will be boys defense but can’t we do better than handing a kid in trouble a 5 year suspended jail term? Now he was arrested for violating probation because he was homeless and couldn’t provide an address! For that offense he has to call his probation officer daily and report in prison once a week (how to get there not specified).

PS It won’t solve the big problem but to make it a little easier for our homeless campers St. Paul’s will be collecting stuff for them at a May 30 service.

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A long hard winter

Winter finally is letting go – but it has been difficult. Lots of zero and near zero days, snow and ice piles at the sidewalks that wouldn’t go away; then add in a significant increase in need for food and shelter.

The NoFreeze shelter has been extremely crowded, people getting on each other’s nerves, lots of tension, lots of anger. The 16th will be the last day for NoFreeze and lots of our community will go back to camping.

The Soup Kitchen has been crowded and the tensions from NoFreeze, the street, and addiction problems come with the guests. That – along with severe financial pressures – make life very difficult for the staff. The departure of long term director Paul Doyle hasn’t helped. As a result, hours have been cut back and support programs dropped.

The library is one of the very few places where someone who’s homeless can get out of the weather. There’s a wide range of people out on the street, people who just had some bad financial luck, no jobs, maybe a drinking problem or some other addiction issue, people in recovery or crashing (there’s essentially no real long term support for people in recovery), there are active users, people with a range of mental illnesses – some pretty severe. They can be helpful, they can be difficult, they can be messy – and they can be scary – especially if you don’t know them. Lots of recent articles in the Chronicle on problems at the library, problems that could be expected given the circumstances. As a result, a guard just has been authorized.

The community room is not immune! Problems don’t go away just because it’s Sunday and church. My sense is that tension peaked around the end of February and the beginning of March when winter seemed endless and the frozen snow wouldn’t go away.

It’s been crowded and more and more of the community is homeless. Still mostly male but a significant number of women as well. Some of the older community members have some religious background and are drawn to the church. Another change is that lots of the homeless are in their early to mid-twenties. As would be expected, the twenties crowd essentially has no religious background – and no particular interest in “churchy” subjects. However, some of them also have a strongly developed spirituality – and very strong bonds to St. Paul’s.

We do have some simple rules: No violence – physical or verbal. No dealing or using drugs or alcohol anywhere on the premises. Get caught and you have to leave – but you can come back next week if you behave. Two guys drinking Listerine in a single occupancy bathroom is not acceptable, If you’re stoned from a night of cocaine you will not be a server at breakfast. Lots of tension but no fights, no need for police presence.

There’s no question in the community that St. Paul’s – community room and sanctuary – needs to be a safe place for everyone. Safe to be yourself, to be respected, to find healing, to pray. A place where compassion – love – rules. To keep it close to this ideal it was obvious that some changes were needed. We don’t do hierarchy and a top down approach – making rules and enforcing them – would be incompatible with the nature of our community. Possible solutions would have to come out of the community as a whole.

We have “family meetings” Wednesday afternoons after healing prayer, plus we’ve just started a once a month evening version. These unstructured meetings are open to anyone who wants to come; their subject is whatever the attendees think needs to be talked about. The meetings usually have pretty limited attendance so we got the word out that the next meeting was going to be on dealing with Sunday morning problems. Enough people showed up – with enough creativity – to develop some very helpful approaches. Ongoing individual conversations point to further refinements.

Simple things can make a big difference. First thing: dim the lights. Shut off the rather institutional ceiling fluorescents and just use the floor lamps that ring the room. Little battery electric candles go on each table plus some other decorative touches (some still in the works) help soften the room. Adjustments in the relationship between what’s going on in the Sanctuary vs. the Community Room also are in process. Who does what in the kitchen is another consideration. This all is an ongoing process, continual evolution, a never ending search for the best way to bring God’s healing love to an ever stronger functioning community.

Between these changes and the return of more springlike weather we’re back on track. Soon the campers will be camping and we’ll see how the summer goes. To be continued….

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