Thursday, December 9, 2010

Unseasonal Needs

It’s somewhat of an awkward feeling sitting at your desk early in your day fighting back tears. My legs shake as I read a well written news story about a local happening. Quaking legs are an effect the rising tension in my body cause. I imagine and/or empathize with Jesus sentiments as he flipped over tables and methodically wove together a whip in a temple back in the day. It’s a maddening feeling to see something and want to fix it but the task is overwhelming and requires much more than your best could ever do. I realize I cannot accomplish much alone so I suppose I’ll use my gift to inspire others, a rally cry for help.

If you have the time and are willing please read the following article:

Volunteers for kindergartners top wish list at IPS School 61

Dear Santa,

Please bring my sissy a toothbrush because I love her.


“When she considers her wish list for School 61, she dreams about a church or some other organization that could come in and run a character-education program -- during lunch, after school, whenever… The children need thoughtful adults to come into the school and be mentors -- to listen to them over lunch and talk about things going on in their lives, to help them think about goals and to get them thinking about careers and worlds beyond the neighborhood.”

I like to think I have become and am becoming a very practical person, one who tries to look past ideology and into relevant application. I owe all this practicality to my wife who has been used to mold me into a better man. Although I am becoming more practical I will always remain analytical, it’s something I know I have been wired with for a reason. Once I was very interested in the medical side of things. I was a firefighter, but what drew my interest more than going into a burning building, which is still something I love and miss, was the medical side of the job. It interested me to see symptoms and take actions to treat them, ultimately to treat the essential problem. Like the body people also show only symptoms of an unseen dilemma. It is by studying these signs and symptoms that we learn the cause of them. It does no good to only treat symptoms though, eventually you have to treat the actual underlying illness. My first thought after reading this article was why do we see communities and schools like this?

That’s a very deep and intense point of concern. Life is cyclical. We live in cycles until or if something comes along and breaks it, which starts another cycle. A child is born into a poor and uneducated family. To make ends meet the single mother works the most she can to provide. Her patience his exhausted at work so by the time she gets home she has none for the kids. The kids feel no support from mom and are deeply affected by the absence of a father. They look for acceptance in other capacities. Education becomes of little importance. Unprotected sex becomes frequent. Kids having kids is no longer something startling. These kids turned parents don’t have appropriate education because they dropped out of school to continue seeking that support they missed at home. The cycle goes on and on from here. Along the way these beautiful children of God run themselves ragged through drugs, disease, violence, gangs, poverty, lack of education, and many other symptoms of their essential need. I believe our essential need is met by reconnecting to the way we were created to be. I don’t think we ever will get back to it while here, but believe there is a journey God is taking us through to bring us closer and closer. I’d imagine there are a lot of people who would agree with me. They may say something along the lines of, “All they need is Jesus,” as a reduction of ideas though. I’d challenge that though. Is just a message of Jesus spoke by a successful person who has either survived the urban existence or never been a part of it enough? No, ideology alone cannot do much. This message of Jesus is so much more than just being saved from hell. It is lost in that simplicity in my opinion. This Jesus thing offers life. It offers help to the helpless, hope to the hopeless, and so on. Jesus left and in his absence gave us his Spirit. Those of us with the spirit need to understand that God’s work is done through us, humans, now.  That work is a lot more than just trying to convert people to a religion, it hasmore to do with helping people live a life they are intended to live, one with education, love, hope, etc.  That requires mentoring, paying bills, providing clean uniforms, tutoring, and so many other very simple and practical things.

What does that have to do with this article that has me so pumped? The church is a community that is supposed to be this group of people living in such a way that they make a positive impact on their world, their direct surroundings or environment. Because I know this and truly believe this I did a little Google search for church organizations listed within several miles of this school. That’s what the picture above is about. 9 church organizations show up within 4 miles of this school. That is just church organizations that are listed, who knows how many are actually around there unlisted. 9 communities who would attest to trying to live a life in such a way that they show the life Jesus talked about to the world. 9 communities surround this school yet the principle says they need volunteers and that mentors would be nice. Do you see something wrong here?

It is the holiday season now. Hearts swell with good intentions and sentimental ideas. Red kettles get filled with loose change and homeless shelters get overwhelmed with volunteers who want to serve. Church organizations and businesses fill baskets with food and boxes with toys. Our philanthropic sense of nature if bursting at the seams. Everyone wants to give during this time of year. My wife is a volunteer coordinator for a homeless shelter. She is overwhelmed with request of good intentioned people who want to do good this season. Small groups of people are brainstorming each week at how they can give back and make a difference. There is no harm or foul in this seasonal sensationalism. The questions is after all the halls are un-decked, the jingle bells stop ringing, and the fat men with white beards take off their Santa suits and return to the farm, where will these people be January through next November? When a local school is literally drowning in failure and poverty 9 churches down the street fill baskets with predictable goods to meet needs and fill good about themselves. What if we stopped trying to save the world through baskets, presents, and once-a-year volunteering? What if we narrowed our focus to our own neighborhoods? I believe schools would no longer need the press to advertise their needs because our community of people would be so involved that there wouldn’t be much. I encourage you to give this holiday season, as it is a great thing to do, but I challenge you to keep your hands and feet going after the smells of furs and pines have evacuated the air. We have kids asking Santa for toothbrushes and principles asking for committed mentors to children in need of more than toys provided by well-meaning middle-class citizens.

Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself “What are you doing in your community?”