Projects

FriendHave a need for project management?

The Projects program is designed to provide support and oversight to ongoing initiatives by groups on our platform. The Elderly Project is sponsored by Charter Group. If you’re interested in helping with The Elderly project or learning more about Projects, we would like to chat.

Hurricane Harvey

floodCommon Change believes that people who are rooted in a neighborhood are firmly positioned to provide help for a neighbor. Hurricane Harvey has caused catastrophic flooding and damage in Texas. Common Change will be coordinating efforts with local groups in Texas to provide support. All donations to this fund will help people with longer-term recovery from this storm.

 

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Using Your Time Wisely

There seems to be a plethora of ways to distract ourselves today. The ability to access virtually anything on a whim gives us a freedom we have never had. But this freedom has made us all the more distracted. Go into most public spaces, or look into the car next to you while driving, and it’s likely you’ll find plenty of people gazing into their phone. I know because I’ve been one of those people. In the book of Proverbs, the writer addresses this tendency. “Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.”

Time is our most precious resource. Why don’t we treat it that way? Whatever it is that you are doing, do it well. My theater teacher used to say “with gusto!” To live with “gusto” way takes a single-mindedness, a focus on what’s important. What’s most important to you? Does the way you spend your time reflect that same importance?

Common Change Generosity Dinners are created to build a rhythm, a time set aside, for thinking about and valuing those around us. By setting aside an evening to think about the needs of those around us, we are attempting to say to our neighbors, “you are worth my time.”

Who is worth your time today? Don’t wait to make sure they know it.

Let Yourself Be Inspired

Each one of us has something to contribute. That’s the truth. But many times we don’t feel that way. We are told we are not enough, that we’re not ready, and that we lack what is needed, by others. And even by ourselves. The lies we are told can hold us back from the gifts we were made to give.

At younger ages it can easier to be faithful to our creativity and our dreaming than to our security. That seems to flip as we get older. But it doesn’t have to. There are steps each of us can take today to use those inspired parts of ourselves and use them. It could be singing, teaching, serving or learning, what is it that you long to contribute? Don’t let fear turn you against your playful heart. Let yourself be inspired again. You might be surprised at the impact it has–on you, and on those around you.

“Don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.”

Your Words Matter

Words matter. One kind word can change someone’s entire day. Mother Teresa said, “kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” But in a culture that tells you you’re only valuable if you meet ever-changing standards, we all need to be reminded of our inherent value. We often think of words of encouragement but too often we buy the lie that says that thinking the thought is what matters, resulting in the robbery of words for others. Don’t diminish the power of words. Words written or spoken can change everything. The trouble is, without practice, it can be hard to create the space to think–never mind tell–the people you value how great they are. Who are those people that you love and esteem? Decide today to let them know it.

wordsmatter

Every Doorway Has A Story

Every doorway has a story. Each has a distinct character, speaking volumes of the people living behind the door. What could possibly be behind a door is often left to the imagination — an array of secrets, emotions, and mysteries. A home with laughter, heartaches, hopes, banter, and more. This week, for many who will be reflecting on Passover, doors and doorways are an important reminder. What sort of doors do you have? What transpires on the inside of those doors? Is there a spirit of love, hope, and faith on the other side of that threshold? What is posted on our proverbial doors? Do we have a symbolic “welcome mat” at the door, or is it more like a “do not disturb” sign? Do we welcome the opportunity to be hospitable and benevolent to those in need of comfort, friendship or sustenance? Or do we (figuratively speaking) slam those doors in the faces of needy individuals who seek entry to the sincerity of our hearts? Today make a commitment to open a door that can lead to a more generous you.

doorway

Gift of Time

How valuable is your time?  One of the best ways to measure what is important to a person, is where and how they spend their time. Sharing your time with others is an act of generosity. So often we’re able to give not just in a moment of plenty, but in a time of our choosing. Are you optimistic about your ability to “fit things into my schedule” and then show up late? Punctuality is not just courteous to friends and neighbors, but it is also a way to measure generosity to others. We must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our life, for hurry is a great enemy of being present in our world today.  Time might be the most precious gift you have to share. How might you spend it in helping others today?

Gift of Time

After Hours with Pastor Hite (Further Thoughts on Matthew 25)

by Dustin Hite

One of the biggest struggles we often have as we encounter the parables of Jesus is our penchant for assuming a one-to-one correlation between story and meaning.  Specifically, we often approach these parables as if they will easily yield their fruit to us for easy application in our lives.  Our desire for the kind of return on investment promised by many self-help hucksters will always be thwarted by Jesus, the storyteller.  New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine in her book Short Stories by Jesus says it best: “The parables are open-ended in that interpretation will take place in every act of reading…good storytellers adapt their tales to the needs and interests of their audiences.”

This open-ended nature of the parables may cause anxiety for some and yet freedom for others.  This is no more true than when we consider one of the most controversial parables Jesus ever shared.  It comes from the Gospel of Matthew and deals with a master giving money (or “talents” in some translations) to his servants with no explicit instruction about what to do with them.  He goes away for a time during which two of the three servants put their allotted money to work and achieve a return.  The other servant buries his allotment in the ground.  Only upon the master’s return do we realize he had an expectation that ALL of his servants would achieve a return.  When he discovers that the third servant simply hid his money in the ground, he becomes indignant, taking back the money from the servant and giving it to the one who gained the biggest return.

So, what are we to make of this parable?  For some, like biblical scholar Ched Myers, the meaning is quite easy to assess.  The third servant was actually the one who behaved in line with the values of the kingdom of God, for in the ancient world the kinds of returns the other servants achieved would only be the result of cutting corners, cheating others, and stealing from fellow kinsfolk (something in Jewish culture that would have been scandalous).  For others, our Western capitalist context leads us to read this parable as one of two industrious servants achieving returns for their master that were expected, and it challenges us to ask the question of whether or not we are achieving results, not for gains in capital, but rather for the kingdom of God.  Each of these interpretive communities sees little room for the reading of the other, and I think that’s to our detriment.

Which one is the correct reading?  Well, dare I say, both!  Read more

Art of Neighborliness

written by Bryan Gower

Advent

Advent

The season of Advent is upon us once again. For those from the Christian tradition, this is a time to prepare for the coming of the Messiah – a deliverer, who would fulfill the long awaited promise to make all things new. We celebrate the coming of Christ in our retelling of the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace who brings good news for all people of the world that the Kingdom of God is with us. For the Christian, practicing steadfast love, justice and righteousness as Christ did, gives life.

As I think about this season of Advent, in what strikes me as a particularly troubled year marked by a growing economic isolation, increased reports of violence and political divisiveness, I wonder, ‘where are the signs that the Kingdom of God is with us?’ As a suburb dweller, it would be easy to allow the season to be nothing more than a tightrope walk between an obligatory religious observance and an opportunity to acquire more stuff because building community is time consuming. I am busy with My family, My work, My entertainment , My life – distractions from the problems in the world I cannot control. We risk becoming the Rich Young Rulers of our age, becoming ever more lonely and dissatisfied the more unwilling we are to care for our neighbor – the oppressed, the poor and the marginalized.

Read more

Walls and Gates

ccwallWe think that in building a wall or gate around our home or country to lock others out we are protecting ourselves from others, but too often we find that we are locking ourselves into a world of fear and loneliness.  The exclusive resort or gated neighborhood become the most dangerous places to live because we are separated from the suffering of others and from the God of compassion.  But the promise of Scripture is that the “gates will not prevail” as Jesus tells Peter.  We hold the keys to open them up and open our lives and dinner tables to those who are just outside our gates longing for food and love.

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