Chat with Chad
The latest news and perspective from the Director of Urban Homeworks
The tornado of May 22, 2011 ripped off our roofs and peeled back the raw reality of our economic vulnerability… but we stood. We stood shoulder to shoulder in the rubble after the storm and worked tirelessly alongside each other, fueled by hope, and joined by the generosity, hands, and hearts of people from all over the metro, state, and region.
In the days, weeks, and months that followed, we worked to leverage and build on the relationships from the tornado recovery in order to realize the economically vibrant, healthy community we envision ourselves to be. As another anniversary rolls around, we can’t diminish the remaining challenges faced by many, but we also must celebrate how far we’ve come.
Today, we have new opportunities and new challenges. The tornado recovery, the housing recovery, and the economic recovery are bringing about low vacancy rates, rising rents, and firming home values in north Minneapolis. Looming “get-rich-quick” real estate investors and real estate investment trusts are poised to buy 100s and 1,000s of houses in our neighborhoods.
We stood through the rubble of the Wall-Street foreclosure crisis. We stood through the rubble of the tornado. So we shall stand together once more. I am proud to be a Northsider.
In February I attended a conference with the Bartimaeus Institute. We focused on studying chapters 12-19 of Luke. In Luke’s Gospel, we read the themes of ‘raising up the lowly’ and ‘sending the rich away empty’. The woman in Luke 13 crippled by a spirit for 18 years, evokes memories of Israelite slavery for that same time frame. This woman not only had a physical burden like scoliosis, but she also had the spirit of marginalization and exploitation bending her over. Jesus released and re-humanized her.
Jesus reminded (harshly) the protesting religious leaders that they unbind their oxen and donkeys on Sabbath days. Jesus released her from oppression/burden/debt as those animals are released from their yokes – a political-economic analogy, usurping the inculturated norms.
I am learning more how this powerful Book speaks beyond the literal toward proverbial reflections of our systems and culture. Do you know the “bent over women” of your neighborhood, your city?
Love is why we do what we do. Relationships, exchange, transformation, recovery of sight, fruit and freedom are all dimensions of love. Love leads to light and sight.
Love is the Currency of the Kingdom. We are here to mint the currency of love because it is the only path to our liberation…it is the only path to my liberation.
When we see each other, we realize that there is no such thing as “clean” and “unclean” and that there is no “in” or “out.” We realize that “who makes the money in between”, or “who benefits” from the generation and bearing of our “fruit” is the clearest indication of whether or not we are connected to the True vine, Jesus.
My friends, if we can live like this, the world will change. It will change one child, one mom, one dad, one house, one home, one dime, one dollar, one you and one me at a time.
We can do this. We GET to do this. It will change who we are, and we will fall in love with who we become.
By our fruit we shall be known, and Love is the essence of our fruit;
It is out of love that Kingdom Justice shall spring forth and shoot;
Into branches that look just like you and just like me;
Together we shall change our worlds, we shall set each other free!
It’s funny how things change. There was something in college that compelled me to write a personal mission statement, so I scratched one down. What was written lasted until about five years ago, when it just sort of disappeared from consciousness and never returned. I happened to love that kind of assignment: a simple, inadequate, yet informative shaping statement that crystallizes and guides the courses and discourses of life. So, I rewrote one last month—I would love to hear what you think:
“My purpose is to seek shalom and to enjoy life meaningfully and well-lived for you and for me…to the delight of God.”
The idea of “shalom” is intense and robust, but a very limited description might refer to it as the active pursuit of the well-being and the flourishing of all things toward the way the world “ought to be.” Intrinsic in this pursuit is the indelible connection between me and you and the powerful exchange that happens both in my life and yours when we actively apply ourselves toward the way things “ought to be.” I think this is the essence of the HOPE that is in the Urban Homeworks mission statement. As a team, we have spent some time healing and developing our understanding of each other across race and gender lines. Why? Because the deeper the understanding and connection that we can hold and enhance within the walls of Urban Homeworks, the deeper and more profound and potent we will be as tools toward hope outside the walls of Urban Homeworks. The deeper we (we meaning all of us, across the many domains and definitions we have for each other) can strike and enhance our understanding, connections and proximity, the more hopeful we become of experiencing and becoming intoxicated by the shalom we are beginning to taste, understand, and embody.
As I look back on that mission statement from college, it’s funny how things change…
Last year at this time, I reflected for a bit about the “storms” that rolled through 2011. “Recovery” was the theme—I focused on the multiple dimensions and domains of recovery and theinextricable linkage that recovery has with redemption. I talked a little about “turning more slightly inward” as an organism of missionally-aligned people after a year of intense “outward” focus. That mission, this year, was accomplished. We did a lot of amazing, difficult work on ourselves over the 2012 year while enhancing and delivering more, as a tool of our community, than ever before.
The mission of Urban Homeworks stands firm: we shall perpetuate, and we shall innovate for the hope of Jesus… as it is being and becoming understood, which inspires in each of us the insatiable hunger to take a stand and walk in solidarity with our neighbor. For I am neighbor, and “they” are “we.” We will march on into 2013, committed to active perpetuation, not preservation…to hope, not despair…and to the innovative, creative, and committed pursuit of life more fully lived. Thank you for marching along with us. Lives are being changed, mine most significantly among them. Thank you!