This page has moved to a new address.

Life Together: The Diomass Intern Program

body { background:#fff; margin:0; padding:40px 20px; font:x-small Georgia,Serif; text-align:center; color:#333; font-size/* */:/**/small; font-size: /**/small; } a:link { color:#58a; text-decoration:none; } a:visited { color:#969; text-decoration:none; } a:hover { color:#c60; text-decoration:underline; } a img { border-width:0; } /* Header ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #header { width:660px; margin:0 auto 10px; border:1px solid #ccc; } } @media handheld { #header { width:90%; } } #blog-title { margin:5px 5px 0; padding:20px 20px .25em; border:1px solid #eee; border-width:1px 1px 0; font-size:200%; line-height:1.2em; font-weight:normal; color:#666; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.2em; } #blog-title a { color:#666; text-decoration:none; } #blog-title a:hover { color:#c60; } #description { margin:0 5px 5px; padding:0 20px 20px; border:1px solid #eee; border-width:0 1px 1px; max-width:700px; font:78%/1.4em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Arial,Verdana,Sans-serif; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.2em; color:#999; } /* Content ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #content { width:660px; margin:0 auto; padding:0; text-align:left; } #main { width:410px; float:left; } #sidebar { width:220px; float:right; } } @media handheld { #content { width:90%; } #main { width:100%; float:none; } #sidebar { width:100%; float:none; } } /* Headings ----------------------------------------------- */ h2 { margin:1.5em 0 .75em; font:78%/1.4em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Arial,Verdana,Sans-serif; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.2em; color:#999; } /* Posts ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { .date-header { margin:1.5em 0 .5em; } .post { margin:.5em 0 1.5em; border-bottom:1px dotted #ccc; padding-bottom:1.5em; } } @media handheld { .date-header { padding:0 1.5em 0 1.5em; } .post { padding:0 1.5em 0 1.5em; } } .post-title { margin:.25em 0 0; padding:0 0 4px; font-size:140%; font-weight:normal; line-height:1.4em; color:#c60; } .post-title a, .post-title a:visited, .post-title strong { display:block; text-decoration:none; color:#c60; font-weight:normal; } .post-title strong, .post-title a:hover { color:#333; } .post div { margin:0 0 .75em; line-height:1.6em; } { margin:-.25em 0 0; color:#ccc; } .post-footer em, .comment-link { font:78%/1.4em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Arial,Verdana,Sans-serif; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.1em; } .post-footer em { font-style:normal; color:#999; margin-right:.6em; } .comment-link { margin-left:.6em; } .post img { padding:4px; border:1px solid #ddd; } .post blockquote { margin:1em 20px; } .post blockquote p { margin:.75em 0; } /* Comments ----------------------------------------------- */ #comments h4 { margin:1em 0; font:bold 78%/1.6em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Arial,Verdana,Sans-serif; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.2em; color:#999; } #comments h4 strong { font-size:130%; } #comments-block { margin:1em 0 1.5em; line-height:1.6em; } #comments-block dt { margin:.5em 0; } #comments-block dd { margin:.25em 0 0; } #comments-block dd.comment-timestamp { margin:-.25em 0 2em; font:78%/1.4em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Arial,Verdana,Sans-serif; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.1em; } #comments-block dd p { margin:0 0 .75em; } .deleted-comment { font-style:italic; color:gray; } .paging-control-container { float: right; margin: 0px 6px 0px 0px; font-size: 80%; } .unneeded-paging-control { visibility: hidden; } /* Sidebar Content ----------------------------------------------- */ #sidebar ul { margin:0 0 1.5em; padding:0 0 1.5em; border-bottom:1px dotted #ccc; list-style:none; } #sidebar li { margin:0; padding:0 0 .25em 15px; text-indent:-15px; line-height:1.5em; } #sidebar p { color:#666; line-height:1.5em; } /* Profile ----------------------------------------------- */ #profile-container { margin:0 0 1.5em; border-bottom:1px dotted #ccc; padding-bottom:1.5em; } .profile-datablock { margin:.5em 0 .5em; } .profile-img { display:inline; } .profile-img img { float:left; padding:4px; border:1px solid #ddd; margin:0 8px 3px 0; } .profile-data { margin:0; font:bold 78%/1.6em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Arial,Verdana,Sans-serif; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.1em; } .profile-data strong { display:none; } .profile-textblock { margin:0 0 .5em; } .profile-link { margin:0; font:78%/1.4em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Arial,Verdana,Sans-serif; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.1em; } /* Footer ----------------------------------------------- */ #footer { width:660px; clear:both; margin:0 auto; } #footer hr { display:none; } #footer p { margin:0; padding-top:15px; font:78%/1.6em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Verdana,Sans-serif; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.1em; } /* Feeds ----------------------------------------------- */ #blogfeeds { } #postfeeds { }

Monday, February 28, 2011

Running Towards My Vocation

Submitted by Kyle Boudreau on February 15, 2011

During these cold winter months, I am continuing to use running as a spiritual practice to keep myself centered and to reflect upon the important things in my life. As I dodge (or run right through) the puddles of slush and hurdle the humungous snow banks, I think about how I can connect with God and where God is calling me. While I know I am not called to run a marathon anytime soon, I know that I can connect with God while running as I look out at the frozen Charles River or the snow covered trees of Corey Hill. The beauty of nature reminds me that God’s love is all around me. As a result, I naturally connect with God as I am running the streets of Boston, Cambridge and Brookline.

As a part of my spiritual practice, I take the time to have a conversation with God and search for the places God is calling me. While I know I am not going to be a professional runner, I do know some of the things that set my heart on fire: building relationships, empowering people in a local community to solve some of their own problems and hearing people’s stories. My work at St. Stephen’s is a natural fit for finding opportunities to put these passions into action. I am doing my 1:1’s with parents, community partners and members of the St. Stephen’s congregation to really learn about the South End and its needs. I know that I have a lot of room to grow as a community organizer and often find myself full of self-doubt. Yet, the one certainty I am sure of is that I learn best by doing. I believe that the idea of a church-school partnership between St. Stephen’s and the Blackstone can work, but I will not get anywhere if I just sit around planning out ideas. It is important that I try out my ideas for supporting the school because even if they fail, I will learn valuable lessons about organizing along the way.

At this point, I do believe God is calling me to serve others as a community organizer. I believe I have some great gifts such as public speaking, determination and a love of people that will serve me well. Certain things will be challenging and I will be tentative to take action. Similarly, there are many cold mornings where I would rather sleep in than go out running and face the cold, harsh wind, but I only get better at running by doing. I know that God I know that I am able to connect with God more clearly when I am running, just as I am able to connect with God more clearly when I am taking action and meeting with people as a community organizer. Both require the effort to get over the initial hump, but once I am out there, it isn’t so bad. I continue to ask God for support on both of these efforts and I am rewarded with the beauty of God when I take action. I plan on continuing to simply ‘dive in’ to both my running and my community organizing, knowing that God is supporting me while encouraging me to ‘just do it’.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Organizing Wisdom from a Life Together Alumna!

Submitted February 7, 2011

Two years into this deal as a “community organizer” I think I’m just realizing the real work of organizing. The realization comes down to something pretty simple, to the definition of the title.

Being an organizer takes a keen awareness of where energy exists and moving on that energy. It means seeing how a community works, what resources it has, what its needs are and helping match already present resources to existing needs. It’s about helping folks see that they already have the answers to the problems they want some one else to solve. It’s looking at the community with a different sense of eyes and organizing it so it fits right.

The job isn’t about me or the btcke team doing everything. It’s about the community doing everything or at least as much as we can do together. This isn’t always the easiest thing to ensure. People often want you to do everything (I often want to do everything) but if we (me or you) do everything it leaves a lot of time and a little responsibility on everyone else’s plate. The truth is, we ALL have something to give to this world. This is our home and the other people living here are our community members, our neighbors and it’s time we act like it.

We may be thousands of miles apart or living in drastically different place but deep down, we’re all in this together, that’s the truth. And, to see change, we’re going to need to start living by that truth.

Helping you realize that truth, helping me realize that truth, helping the global community realize that truth – that’s my job as a community organizer.

Natalie Finstad :: Be The Change Kenya Executive Director

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sermon: Putting the "Micah" in Micah Intern

Delivered by Paul Hartge on January 30, 2011, at Christ Church Waltham

Have any of you wondered why my official title is a Micah intern? Probably not, but let’s pretend you had. It seems a bit odd, doesn’t it, to name an internship after an obscure Hebrew prophet. Why not name the position, “young adult intern”? The answer lies in the last verse of the Old Testament reading for today, Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God”. In my internship program, we strive to follow Micah’s threefold commandment through our vocations.

We are not the only ones who use this verse either. In the past ten years, Micah 6:8 has become a slogan for many Christians. The verse has been invoked in campaigns to fight poverty here and abroad including another Micah Project that does street outreach to children in Honduras. The reason this verse is so appealing is that it shows an alternative to the false dichotomy that is presented about Christianity. This dichotomy says that the Christian life is either about one’s personal piety and social issues don’t matter or that it should focus on fighting social ills and personal piety isn’t that important. Instead, Micah 6:8 shows that both are necessary. Working to create a better world and working to make yourself a better person, that walks with God, are equally important parts of the Christian life. And both should be done with kindness.

So what does it actually mean to follow this verse as a slogan of our faith? Does it mean donating to diaper depot, coming to service and doing a good turn daily. Yes and no. These are great examples of ways to follow Micah’s teaching and thus, to follow God. However, if it is reduced to a checklist, then the point is lost. One of the ideas that Micah is trying to convey in the broader passage is that God does not want us to follow a passionless checklist. Instead, God wants us to undergo an inner transformation that causes us to want to do that which is on the checklist and so much more.

One person who underwent this transformation, that I have been inspired by recently, is the late Archbishop Oscar Romero. From his writings it is clear to me that he answered Micah’s call with his life. He strove to let his soul be possessed entirely by God. Romero did this through an intentional and very deep spiritual life. This inner devotion eventually changed his outer work. When his friend was assassinated for helping the poor, he began to use his position of influence to speak out against the rampant poverty and violence in El Salvador. This ultimately led to his assassination. Now, Romero is almost universally respected as a modern martyr.

By devoting himself to God, to the point of Martyrdom, Oscar Romero lived out not only Micah’s description of a Godly life, but Jesus’ description of the Christian life, which he lays out in the Gospel reading for today. Like Micah, Jesus invites us to live lives of justice, kindness and humility. Except while Micah gives us a slogan with three key points, in the Beatitudes, Jesus gives us a cryptic and somewhat mystical list. This is a list that, as many have pointed out, seems to turn reality on its head. Even though these characteristics are often seen as important virtues, the world rarely treats these virtues kindly, or rewards them properly.

Yet, Jesus says that God blesses those who exhibit these qualities. Another translation of the beatitudes is “happy are those” instead of “blessed are those”. It still doesn’t seem to make that much sense that these characteristics would lead a person to be happy. But that’s just the point of the beatitudes. Working to further God’s kingdom in the world requires living in a way that society tells us will not make us happy. However, when we live this life, God will give us a contentedness, or even joy, that we would not have expected.

The question then becomes, what does this mean for us? What exactly does it mean to inherit the earth or see God and when exactly do these things happen. Are we supposed to act into these characteristics or just accept them when they happen? Sometimes, life thrusts these qualities upon us without our choice. We do not always choose to be mourning or to be in a state of poverty. Sometimes, these just happen to us. But we can all make the decision to act mercifully towards others, to cultivate a pure heart and to work to create a peaceful world. It takes a conscious decision to follow this radical way of life that Jesus calls us to.

I also think that we can live out the other side of the Beatitudes. I’m not saying we can force God’s hand. The pace that God works at is outside of our control. But I do think we can allow ourselves to be the vessels through which God blesses others. In this way, I think that the Beatitudes are not counterintuitive, but instead speak to our better nature. Who among us doesn’t try to comfort someone in mourning? When you hear of someone who is trying to work for peace in the Middle East, or in Sudan or the inner city, it only seems natural to call that person a child of God. When a young mother who doesn’t know how she is going to provide for her child comes to our doorstep, we can give her some diapers saying that this is part of the bounty of God’s kingdom, which is for you. Then, when someone stops you and asks you why you are doing this, you could tell them you are trying to live out the beatitudes. Or you could just tell them that that your life slogan is Micah 6:8.