Pondering… Numbers and Community

It has long been a concern of mine that people have been reduced to numbers and statistics. It has come more to light recently in the debate over the proposed Indianapolis (2014) city budget. I personally admit to not liking numbers, because at times they can be overwhelming to me in the light of some health issues that I struggle with. But since this is not about me, let me get on to what I believe the point is.
The point is that we can make the/our numbers say whatever we want them to say as we nuance them to fit what we are trying to accomplish.
It is disturbing to me that this is often done at the expense of the very people those numbers represent. We have seen one whole new people group being created; *the free and reduced lunch students group and we use our numbers to represent that group, these kids need our help we say and again we nuance our numbers to meet our agendas, saying it is all for them. I am left to wonder how we are truly serving that people group.
One wonders how any work can get done at all in a political arena that functions under these conditions, instead of serving people we are serving groups/numbers, and most everyone seems to have their favorite. We have depersonalized a process which was never meant to be depersonalized. We have made it about different groups/numbers and not about the overall community, and in this process we have destroyed any real sense of community; a community which is both God ordained and constituted in the founding documents of our republic. We all are a people created for community, but that very community is being destroyed through a political process of number manipulation; people have been conditioned to believe that they are all different and that they cannot exist outside of their own people group (and some have been lumped into several different groups so that any sense of identity has been lost). Their only hope is that someone will be there to fight for them, let us fight for you they have been told and in the end they relinquish the power to fight for themselves. This ultimately leads to a cycle of perpetual hopelessness, destroying communities and neighborhoods. It is at point that the tables are truly turned over on them, they are told that if you would only come together as a community or neighborhood we will come to your aid. But they have no knowledge, ability, power or resources to do so, and so we abandon them on this island of despair that we have created for them. Numbers never lie they have been told and you just don’t have the numbers. But we are more than numbers they pleadingly say and their cry falls on deaf ears, until the time comes again when their number might be needed.

*any people group and comments on that group can be included here

Community as a Way to Save the World

The recent government shutdown and all the turmoil it has caused whether perceived or real has got me to thinking, for those who know me that is sometimes a source for concern. I am one who tends to think out loud, trying to process through certain scenarios, my wife is most often the target of these thoughts that I throw into the air, I sometimes catch a glimpse of her as she receives these thoughts and I notice great concern in her eyes and I remind her that I am just thinking out loud.

A lot of the talk around these debates or lack thereof seems to me to center around groups of people who are represented by the legislators in Washington DC. They say they are just staying true to the ideas of the people that elected them, their constituency back home (their community).

 If that is indeed the case, I have some grave concerns about the direction our country is headed in. We as a country who has as a founding principle of being/becoming a strong community; these “United States”, has lost its focus, it is and has in my opinion been trending for some time now in the direction of more individualized communities that have become the primary focus and concern of our elected legislators (whoever has the strongest community supporting them is the one who gets elected), and if my community elects me then I need to stand up for them; after all they elected me .  I agree with all of that in principal, the problem comes however when we lose sight of the big picture community; as in what is good for the entire community, not just my group, but my town, my city, my state, and my  nation and ultimately the global community.

Our view of community has become much to narrow; we have become communities of exclusion, which in reality is not community at all, because they betray the very notion of what true community is.

I am one who believes that the restoration of true community is the only way to save our world; all of our world, but first we have go back to the basics of teaching the meaning of what true community really is: it is many coming together as one, using their combined gifts to improve the quality of life for all.  We must teach this first and foremost at the local level; in our families and in our schools and if we teach it there first and we can get it to stick, it is something that can be translated into a generation of people who truly care about each other as a community, and a generation whose primary goal will be improve the quality of life of all who live in community (and that would be all of us); and in turn they will become a community that has as its goal, the saving of our world.  

It is time, that we all take the time to learn along with our children the importance and value of becoming a true community. For it is their future that is at stake, if we say that we love and care for our children, then we truly have no other choice.

Just me thinking out loud or pondering true community …      

  

Learning Community – Definition (Always a Work in Progress)

Learning Community:

A place where our children, along with family and other community members learn the intrinsic value of sharing life together, not only, but first in a local place, after which it has the capability of expanding to more universal applications.

CommunityMany coming together as one, for the good of all.  

Com together/with;

munserving/gifts;

ity – state or quality

Community – A place where every decision you make will either enhance or diminish life; that being said, it is also a place where all outcomes whether good or bad are used to improve the quality of life in the community as a whole.

E Pluribus Unum –  “Out of many, one.”

Why do we do what we do, why do we learn what we learn?  We do it all for the sake of improving the quality of life in our community. 

Still pondering …

 

 

 

 

 

     

The Jeremiah 29:7 Project

I am working on an initiative as a part of our ongoing work at Drexel Gardens Christian Church, and I am looking to get some input, feedback, criticism or whatever else you may have to offer     The Jeremiah 29:7 Project  

 

  • The Jeremiah 29:7 Project is about educating schools, churches and communities (it is not a program, it is a way of life) about what it means to be a community and to also teach  what living in community looks like;  the basic concept being; that it is in the coming together as a community; living and working together for the good of the community as a whole that we can find peace for each person living in that community.

  • This project/initiative will have a very strong built in youth component called Koinonia. (which is the name our Saturday Youth Worship Leader came up with for our Saturday Night Youth/Community  Service). 

  •  Seek the welfare (peace) of the place where I have sent you into exile, for in its welfare (peace) you will have welfare (peace). 

 

    The emphasis on educating children in our schools, I believe will be a vital component of this initiative. As I look around our community, I see a lot of older teens and young adults who seem to have no purpose for their lives and a lot of younger kids who seem to have no direction. You can sense a general feeling of hopelessness, this I believe results from them failing to meet the expectations placed on them both through the educational process and at home. We spend so much time it seems teaching and emphasizing the need to rise above our/their circumstances; that when our children can’t or don’t live up to those expectations, they deem themselves failures who are stuck in a hopeless situation.
    The hope with The Jeremiah 29:7 Project is this:
    That in teaching the next and even the present generation the importance and value of living in and being part of a community that hope can be restored and that our children can see, experience and live in hope and that they themselves can light the way for future generations.  
    I know this is a pretty basic outline which I hope to be expanding on in the near future with your input, guidance, direction and partnership.
    I strongly believe that for us a church and for the Drexel Gardens community as a whole that this is a direction that we need to take at this time.   
    Please be in prayer for our church/community  as I present these things (which I have spoke of general terms) in more fullness to our church and our community.
    As of the present time nothing has really been done with this initiative, I am still waiting on feedback for this proposal so that I can put together something more concrete; not based just on what I think. If none comes soon I will move forward with putting this together for our community and our church.
    If you read this please pass it along, the more input the more impactful this can be.
    Thankful.  

School Choice: Public, Private or Local (?)

I believe that the ultimate determination of the success or failure of any school, be it public or private should be made on the most local level. It should be made by those who know their students/children the best; it should be made by their community leaders, school administrators, teachers and most importantly the parents of the children attending these schools. If we deem any of these people unqualified to make such important decisions, then the correct step to make, would be to qualify them, to provide them with an adequate understanding of how these choices/decisions are made. This (qualifying) I believe can all be done on a local level by those who know the community that a school is located in the best. 

I believe that when we leave these decisions in the hands of the local community, that we strengthen the community by making them a much larger stakeholder in the long term success of the community in which they live and share life together, thus providing stability and hope for future generations.

As we allow these decisions to move through the tiers of government, we gradually diminish the significant role that community life has and can play in the life of our children. Each decision made for them by someone else concerning their local place serves to diminish their already weakening voice and can move them into a state of deeper hopelessness. 

If we want our children to know that they have a voice and if we want our children and future generations to have a reason to hope, then the promotion of strong community life would be a great place to start.

Community building should be the road much more traveled on than what it is; by promoting stronger local neighborhoods and communities we can indeed build a bridge both to and for our children’s future.

Seeking, working and praying for peace in this place.

 

Pondering the Origins of Community

At the core of community is the knowledge that community must begin in the place where you are, it is in that place of origins for us as individuals that we first learn what it means to be part of a community; part of a family.  The downfall of community through the generations has been the stripping away of the family as this place where community is first taught and also learned. Through the disintegration of family came the disintegration of community. When we have tried to re-institute this concept of community we have more often then not failed miserably because we have not fixed this vital and first step in the teaching of and learning in community. Sure we have made valiant efforts at trying substitute community for family with some success but without this element at its core it is not the same, something is very notably missing.

Getting back to this basic idea of community beginning in the place where you are. I believe that we can take steps in the restoration of the family (our initial community) but it needs to start in the local place where you are, it cannot start in the larger  community, because the concept or understanding of what community is has not been formed yet. But it can begin where you are; with those around you who know you and the environment in which commuity is trying to be formed the best.

This is a work in progress…

Pondering and thinking on these things…

Where do we go from here?

The only place to begin is at the beginning, community just doesn’t happen because we want it to, it takes hard work, we can’t take shortcuts.

Community: Love and Peace

I see a connection between Jeremiah 29:7

But seek the welfare (peace) of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare (peace) you will find your welfare (peace).

And Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (see also Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

And also Matthew 5:43-45

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Community is the only place where true love can be taught and the only atmosphere in which it can be truly learned.

Community is the only place where we can learn to love ourselves and in doing so find out that it is not really ourselves that we love; but our community.

Community is the only place where we can learn to love our enemy and in doing so find out that it is not really the enemy that we love; but our community.

Community is the only place that we can truly learn what it means to love God.

Community is the only place that we can truly learn to live in peace; for it is in the seeking and working for that peace that we come to realize that it is bound up with the peace of the community as a whole.

Community is about coming together as one for the good of the one.

Community is what our children need to learn about and live in; that they might have hope…

Community is the bridge to our children’s future.

King’s Legacy Iconic or Eikonic

Pondering:

What would be the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. if he had not (in my opinion) been turned into an icon, a brand. A large majority of people, I believe and it brings me great sorrow to say associate King with a brand or as a celebrity.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a son; husband; father; friend to many; a Baptist minister; a renowned civil rights leader; a Noble Peace prize winner, a peacemaker of broad scope and influence. He was many other things to many other people as well, but the one I hear talked about the least is that he was a child of God, a disciple of Jesus Christ, created in the image of God the Father Almighty, that he might bear witness with that image and likeness to a world that desperately needed to hear God’s message of peace that was for all those who were created in that same image of God that he himself bore.

I know King has impacted many lives including my own, but I often ponder, how much more impact he would have had, if his legacy were not perceived as a brand – King’s Peace- we could call it, that is all I hear talked about this time of year, the person of MLK, the peace that he preached about spoke and lived, his brand lives on another year for in due time probably over the next few days, we will put his person and his peace back on the shelf until this same time next year.

We wonder or question as to the validity of King’s message for today’s generation:

Can and will it endure?

Is it still possible today to have the peace that King spoke of, lived out and died for?

Why are so many still in poverty?

Why do so many young black men still end up in prison?

Why in the name of peace are innocent children around the world being killed?

Why ???  

The Martin Luther King Jr. that I have seen in my studies is not the icon or celebrity that he seems to be more remembered for or as.  The Martin Luther King Jr. that I have found;, is one who had chosen to bear with witness with; even to the point of sacrificing his own life, as one who was created in the image of God and took up the likeness of Christ as a disciple of Christ. For him while his main platform may have been as a prophetic witness for his race, it rose high above those barriers which man and not God Almighty had put into place.

He spoke of peace and equality for all people everywhere. May his mantle be picked up again as we march forward into this next generation, may we carry it with honor and dignity, as fellow image bearers of our Almighty God.

So don’t put Martin Luther King Jr. back on your shelf, for that is what you do with idols and images made with the hands of man.

If you believe in the work of King, then you believe in the work of the one he followed, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior; that is the work of joining God through Christ in the work of restoring and reconciling all things to himself.

We have made Martin Luther King Jr. into the wrong type of Icon/Eikon

       i·con

               1.) image of holy person: a holy picture, carving, or statue of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, or a saint, especially an oil painting on a wooden panel …

             2.) somebody famous for something: somebody or something widely and uncritically admired, especially somebody or something symbolizing a movement or field of activity

               3.) picture on computer screen: a small image on a computer screen that represents something such as a program or device, that is activated by a mouse click

 

When we should have concentrated more on:

Eikon: an image, figure, likeness

    1. an image of the things (the heavenly things)
          

      1. used of the moral likeness of renewed men to        God
      2.   

      3. the image of the Son of God, into which true        Christians are transformed, is likeness not only to the heavenly body,        but also to the most holy and blessed state of mind, which Christ        possesses
    2. the image of one
          

      1. one in whom the likeness of any one is seen
      2.   

      3. applied to man on account of his power of        command
      4.   

      5. to Christ on account of his divine nature        and absolute moral excellence

To God be the glory in all things, may all praise and glory forever and always be ascribed to Him.

Seeking, working and praying for peace in the place where God has sent us.

Community is the bridge to our children’s future.

of the people… by the people… for the people

“… of the people … by the …for the people “

“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war. . .testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth. ” Abraham Lincoln –The Gettysburg Address –  http://www.gettysburg.com/bog/address.htm

I was thinking this morning of the short quotation that I opened this post with and with shame I must admit that I had forgotten that it came from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, I had also forgotten that it was also among the shortest speeches that Lincoln had given (only 272 words and app. 2 minutes in length). But probably the one most remembered; not only for its brevity, and for its solemnity, but for me also for its closing line of which we pull those three simple statements: government of the people… by the people …for the people. But we often take those words out of context in which they were originally spoken and spin them in a way that best fits our personal situation, and does grave harm to their intended focus; which is a nation of people that had/has come together as one united people, or so was the hope of the forbearers of the freedom we now seek/strive to walk in.
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth. ”
We tend to forget that the United States, is supposed to be states of a united people, working together for the good of the whole of the state and of the nation. Back then they did not deem it impossible to believe that those of many and varied political ideologies, cultural and religious backgrounds (they knew it would be difficult) could come together and work together as one, for the good of one people, one nation united under God. But these were people of vision who saw the possibility as a possible reality, who saw this new nation being a unified light, a beacon of hope, a city on a hill for all to see.

I believe that they were not unrealistic, I also believe that the world did at one time see our nation in a way that they had envisioned, and that some around the world still do, which tells me that our light has not gone out, though it brightness has been dimming/fading almost from the very beginning; it is indeed still a light of hope.

I believe that the brightness with which that light once shined can be restored and made even brighter, I believe that we as a nation, as a united people can live and work together for the common good of all people. I believe that it will involve sacrifice for all of us, but that sacrifice will be worth it, I believe that we as a people created in the image of our God, are a people who were created to be people who find their deepest needs being met in the realities of being a people who both give and receive of life, I believe that when we no longer do both or those things in equal measure that we are missing something, that peace becomes impossible for us until that balance is restored, sacrifice is the one main tool that we have in the restoring of that balance, of that peace that we all need.

It is when we take on the work that we are all called to join God in; that sacred work of restoration and reconciliation that we may know peace.
This work is bigger than one nation, it is bigger than one people being faithful and working together in this place where God has sent them, but for us, it all starts in the place where we are, in the place where God has sent us. May we all open our minds and hearts to the possibility of living in peace, to the ultimate reality of living in peace, to the peace that only God can provide when his people come together as one people?
But seek the peace of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its peace you will find your peace. (Paraphrase of Jeremiah 29:7)

“…of the people …by the people …for the people” – People who have learned what it means to live in community and that starts for all of us in our neighborhoods and our local communities, let us teach our children to live in community.

Community is the bridge to our children’s future…
Seeking, working and praying for peace in the place where God has sent us…