I visited the International Baptist Church of Boston for the first time back in March of this year. It was a dry, fridgid day in the city; what should normally have been a short, pleasant walk from the subway station to the old brick school building in which the church held its Sunday worship service seemed more like a long and painful death in an arctic wind-tunnel. I walked in the wrong direction that Sunday. Twice. So the walk took a little longer than it ought have, anyway. By the time I made it in, I was once again cursing skirts and hoes and heels and long hair, my own of which was now wrapped in some massive, gravity-defying web of snarls around my head, thanks to the wind. But I made it indoors, brushed the tangles out before anyone could see them, cursed static electricity instead, and then tried to look pleasant as I made my way into the “main hall” (a small inner foyer where people meet between Sunday School and the regular service for food and fellowship).
I’m usually a little shy when initiating myself into a pre-established group of people for the first time. I usually prefer to stand at a distance for the first few meetings and observe, to get an idea of what people are like before I’m thrown into conversation with them, to have time to mentally prepare. But I’m finding that the more I get involved in ministries of various sorts, the less possible it is to opt to stand on the sidelines or disappear into the crowd until I’m comfortable enough to step out on my own terms. And I was quick to find out that the group at IBCB was small, but uncompromisingly friendly. I was immediately spotted by Pastor Bill, and then introduced to his wife, Deb, who refused to let me off the hook until I agreed to join them and another member at their home for lunch that day. Deb is the kind of person who is gifted in hospitality, and manages to make invitations without being pushy. She is utterly sincere and real. I immediately liked her, so she didn’t have to press hard. (more…)