Ms. Grant-Rose is the Executive Director of Common Cathedral.
Good Morning, grace be with you my friends and peace.
I am pleased to have the privilege of meeting with you and sharing the good news of the Gospel this morning.
To help focus our next few moments I find it helpful to pray. So, if you will, please join me with prayer.
I started preparing for this sermon early last week. It was Monday morning, coffee in hand and I was reading the gospel. I was not excited, inspired.
Fast-forward two days. It is Wednesday morning. I had had not much sleep the night before. The people were speaking, in a whisper their votes were being tallied. Coffee in hand – my second cup actually. I read our gospel and it came to life with new meaning.
We have just gone through a whirlwind of a week. Most people – maybe everyone expected a different week. We expected a different outcome; we anticipated a different perception of our world; we contemplated a different work that needed to be done.
But we woke up Wednesday morning and it was different.
In this morning scripture we hear of world-destroying catastrophes. Plagues, wars, earthquakes, betrayals from family members.
But Luke’s Jesus says, God’s faithful people should lift their heads and expect resurrection, redemption, and rescue.
But before we get to far with today’s gospel let me tell you who we are.
For those of you who may be new to common cathedral… Who may not know of our humble beginnings…
It was the summer of 1994, the Rev. Deborah W. Little began meeting with homeless people on the streets of Boston, offering sandwiches, friendship, and referrals. From that simple beginning, common cathedral has evolved into an ecumenical church community that engages homeless and privileged people, service providers, clergy, seminarians, artists, and professionals of all kinds in activities that work to meet the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of homeless people and their friends in Boston. We are the church community of the un-housed and their friends.
We have 5 main programs:
Outdoor ministry: Our staff and pastors take time to be present on the street. We seek out the resting places of the un-housed, meeting new people and checking in with our congregation members.
Common cathedral: Lunch and worship on the Boston common every Sunday. Rain, snow or shine.
BostonWarm: A day-center that welcomes all in off the streets to get a cup of coffee and be in good community.
CityReach: a weekend in Boston for housed congregations to learn about homelessness in Boston – directly from those who have experienced it.
Common Art: On Wednesdays we gather for an open art studio where all are welcomed into create art. For many common art members, art is a way of life. For others, it’s a new discovery. But for all, art is passion, expressing and affirming life itself, a defiant or gentle “yes” in the face of stigma and the constant struggle with poverty and homelessness.
Now let us get back to this morning’s Gospel….
Hear a challenge here.… It is a challenge for our community for you and for me. How we will learn to love? How we will we live while we wait for the coming return of the Christ?
We know that there will be catastrophes. There is much to this world we live in that is out of our control. And we are left with the question….
What does faithfulness look like in a time of waiting?
In Luke’s Gospel faithfulness is emulating the ministry of Jesus. Jesus has announced the arrival of God’s Kingdom by feeding the hungry, curing the sick, blessing the meek, and serving the least…. And doing so in community.
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; But, in this in-between time, we are fulfilled and sustained in community.
I want to share with you a reflection by Rev. Mary Eaton, one of our street ministers.
It was a day of community, of shared rage, hope, and love. We (sometimes) struggled to hold ourselves together amidst the post-election fear and anger. We relied on each other for support and direction.
7:50am: “John” met me at the church door and said, “I’m so angry. Painting is the only reason I left my corner. I’m too mad to do anything but paint. Arghghgh!” He created several masterpieces.
9:30am: “Ralph” signs the agreement to be a leader at the Common Cathedral City Reach program. He recites the speech he’ll give the 100 kids he’s mentoring in 2 weeks. It’ll bring laughter and tears to their eyes.
10:00am: “Jose” is shaking with fear that he and his family will be deported. We talk for a bit. Then “Ruby” interrupts and says, “You need to try this muffin. It’s so good.” Somehow, it makes Jose feel better.
10:20am: “Joe” finishes painting a beautiful book-cover for his Koran. Then he reads me a poem about Jesus.
11:00am: “Lorie” got angry and started yelling. I go over to investigate and she says, “I need to go for a walk and clear my head… But I couldn’t kick myself out so I just started yelling.” She went for a walk and came back to help serve pie in the afternoon.
12:50pm: “Aaron” is pacing back and forth across the room, anxious to play the piano. At 1:00 he serenades us with a complex classical tune. Everyone breathes easier.
1:00pm: “Carl” has been in the kitchen washing dishes all day. Coffee cups, pastry trays, cutting boards… The sink is finally empty and he goes for a smoke break with “Sam.”
1:15pm: Robert says my coffee was acceptable. #smallvictories
1:30pm: “Wanda” has a turn at the piano and plays, “The sun will come out tomorrow…” We sing along and laugh.
2:30pm: While people are cleaning up, “Michael” gave a long sigh, took my hand and says, “We’ve been through a lot and we are still here. Don’t worry.” I’m no longer worried.
Our community inspires me every day. My life is better because of them.
All who would follow Jesus are to preach the good news of the kingdom to the whole world by going about the work that the master has called them to do. This work includes visiting the sick and imprisoned, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, and feeding the hungry. Those who are found faithful may hear their Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.
We are to preach the good news. The good news that is found in the pews here and on our park benches. The good news that we preach each week. That we are broken but still worthy of Gods love
In this “in-between time” it is the small, graced moments of community lived with God’s renewing Spirit that make the difference.
As you already heard we are present to our congregation in many ways. Besides our prayers, community and faith there is a tangible piece that links all of our work. Our cross tells the good news.
This cross [Amanda’s cross] was created by a community member and adopted as our symbol, a symbol that our community knows and trusts. If you are in Boston and wearing this cross many will stop you and people will now that you are safe in an unsafe world. People will know that you are bring the good news.
The stories of those in our community, those that wear this cross vary. Women, men, homeless, sheltered, housed, paroled, sober, wanting to be sober, and it continues. It is our cross and our desires to tell the good news that brings us together. Brings us to the park benches to pray. Brings us to a canvas to create.
As your relationship with us strengthens I hope you hear the deeper stories from our community. They should not be told by me.
Come on a Wednesday and you hear about Bryant and the beautiful capes he has created. From Frank about his paintings. Mable and her bead work. More importantly I hope you hear about their passion. About the good news that they will share.
As your relationship with us deeps through coming on a Sunday to worship or brining your youth group to city reach you will hear the deeper stories. Of choosing to sleep in the common because it is safer than the shelter. Of struggling with staying sober and how it feels to be out of control. Of getting kicked out of the doorway they were sleeping in at 4:00am because the delivery truck as arrived. Of being a part of common art, choosing to create, of wearing our cross, choosing to believe in the good news.
In this time of waiting seek out community… Listen for the good news.
Let me tell you time and time again where we hear the good news in our community.
It is the person who comes to common art and says “I came for the art and stayed for the love.” Hear the good news.
It is when someone has come to ,lunch every Sunday but stays for the first time for service. Hear the good news.
It is when housed communities like yours invite us to be present and share our gifts. Hear the good news.