Vintage Post: What New Monastics Can Learn From The Settlement House Movement

* First posted on Sojourners God’s Politics Blog in October 2008 as apart of a larger conversation about Christian Intentional Communities (or New Monastic Communities), race and class.

One of America’s earliest settlement houses

The settlement house movement is the foundation of public welfare in the United States. Beginning in the early 19th century within the immigrant enclaves of New York City and Chicago, this movement was led predominately by white middle class Christians who relocated to these communities to live together, serve, and evangelize the poor. During this period the immigrant enclaves of America’s major cities were the abandoned places of the empire. The settlement house movement was the foundation for the field of social work and quite possibly the earliest form of “inner-city ministry.” Out of this work of relocation and social service came the “settlement house,” which was an institution that provided for the social, physical, and spiritual needs of the immigrant poor. The “settlement house movement” became very popular during this era, and some of these institutions have endured until today. I spent many summers working for Hamilton Madison House, one of New York City’s oldest and largest settlement houses. My work at this institution gave me the opportunity to serve immigrant populations who were facing the same issues of poverty that my inner-city African-American community faced.

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Lenten Reflection for MARK 10:46-52: “What do you want me to do for you?”

This is a lenten reflection I wrote for Park Avenue Christian Church’s Lenten Series and I wanted to share it with all of you in the hopes that you receive some encouragement from it, be blessed!

Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight

MARK 10:46-52

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.  51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.  The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Reflection

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus was desperate for healing, so he boldly called out for what he needed though he was rebuked for doing so. Bartimaues’ neighbors probably found his display of desperation embarrassing and unsettling. Many times in our communities we allow ourselves and others to suffer in silence, but in this passage, God shows us that he is not unsettled by our cries, but will respond to them.

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