The Church of the Saviour has talked about "being with the poor" for a long time now. In a 1990 sermon Gordon Cosby wrote, "There is a deep connection between the touching of our own pain and our touching of the acute pain of the other . Intimate belonging to the poor is a rare achievement . Serving the poor is more frequent, though still too rare."
The understanding of this "being with" has recently changed to recognize the need for give and take on both sides. We now call these "mutually liberating relationships." As Gordon recognized, well-intentioned Christians have often substituted service and good works for a true closeness with others. This service mentality may prevent us from being open to receive a blessing as eagerly as we give a blessing.
Some Church of the Saviour members and friends are trying to further explore what it might look like to be in "mutually liberating relationships" through small spiritual support groups which have been meeting for a couple of years now. These groups meet once a week for an hour of 12-step style sharing as members work with their "cultural addictions." Further information about these groups can be found in the booklet Becoming the Authentic Church ($3 at www.pottershousebooks.org).
Jeannine Caracciolo was a Discipleship Year Intern with Jubilee Housing and now lives in the Saint Andrew's Way Community in Silver Spring, Maryland.
This is from Inward/Outward, The Church of the Saviour, Wash., D.C.