fbpx
EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

Every Friday during our Experiential fast we are encouraged to journal about our experience. What has this fast been like? How have you experienced God during this fast? Has anything surprised you? Each week we will share reflections from people in our community across all 3 locations. This week is from a friend at the Somerville location.

I’ve thought a few times about going vegetarian. Vegan would be a bridge too far, but I think I could survive without meat.

I should clarify: I think about going vegetarian like I wonder how I’d live if I somehow lost the ability to see color or use my hands. Dinner without some ex-animal feels incomplete. I look forward to my weekly cheeseburger. The most magical place on Earth is not Disney, but a Brazillian steakhouse called Texas de Brazil. “I love meat,” is what I’m saying. But I can give it up for five days. For Jesus.

Honestly, my struggle has been with #follow more than the #unfollow part of our fast (#hashtag!). I didn’t find the time to try a prayer practice for a couple weeks. My work schedule makes weekday fellowship difficult, but I pretty much immediately shrugged that off as not an option. Didn’t even try it, nor did I look for people to bless. By my actions, God’s importance for the past couple weeks has been somewhere between giving up sweets and making a real effort to change my habits. I don’t say that to see all the sights on a guilt trip, it’s just what happened.

It’s appropriate for me, I think, that this week’s scripture reading is John 12. We see people praise Jesus when he symbolically announces himself as Messiah, but it’s secretly kind of a sad parade. They’re about to cry out for his death. They would have argued that they were checking all the boxes from scripture and deserved to be free of Roman rule. Jesus, whose priority was not rising up against imperial power, was trying to get them to follow God with more than physical display. It’s not about avoiding bacon or winning the religious service attendance award, it’s about growing closer to God and letting that lead us to loving people.

I want to get my priorities straight, and fasting is a reminder that God is the real essential in life. I’ve followed the #follow plan this week and I’m determined to finish strong. If you’re in a similar situation, or if you haven’t tried fasting, I’d encourage you to join me in the last week of our church fast. Not just in denying ourselves excess, but seeking what we truly need.

By the way, I’m counting this as the “share your struggles” experience for this week. #efficientlyfollowing – Patrick H

The Reunion Team

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PRAYER PRACTICES

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PRAYER PRACTICES

Each Tuesday we are inviting you to explore a new prayer practice as part of the experiential calendar. As part of that invitation, we also want to provide resources to help you as you explore those practices. This week, we’re looking at a Breath Prayer. 

Breath Prayer is a simple practice meant to focus us on who God is and what we most desire. Consider this helpful explanation and tips from the Center for Contemplative Activism:

Breath prayer is an ancient Christian prayer practice dating back to at least the sixth century. Historically, it is associated with the Eastern Church, particularly Greek and Russian Orthodox churches.

Known as the “Jesus Prayer” or “Prayer of the Heart,” early practitioners would repeat to the rhythm of their breath the phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” In time, the prayer was shortened to, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy” or simply, “Jesus, mercy.”

Breath prayer is a good example of “praying without ceasing” as St. Paul admonished us to do, and has the potential to become as natural as breathing. It is intended to be a very short prayer of praise or petition, just six to eight syllables. The words of the prayer can be easily adjusted to your heart’s desire.

Praise is expressed by calling on one of the Divine names such as God, Jesus, Lord, Father/Mother, Christ, or Spirit. Or you may prefer another name of adoration. Your request or intention is comprised by the words following.

The breath prayer is usually said silently within. But some people sing it; others chant it. It’s your prayer; use it your way.

You may also use the breath prayer for a focused time during a daily spiritual practice. Simply repeat the prayer over and over keeping your attention on the prayer. If your attention wanders, gently return to the prayer.

Begin with 5 minutes and gradually increase the time to 15 or 20 minutes as you become disciplined with the prayer. You may want to use a timer to free yourself from watching the clock. Some find it useful to write in a journal of their experience with the prayer.

Instruction

  1. Close your eyes and recall the line “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Be still, calm, peaceful, open to the presence of God.
  2. With your eyes closed, imagine that God is calling you by name. Imagine that God is actually asking, “(Your name) what do you want? Like the blind man on the road to Jericho, Jesus kindly looks you in the eyes and asks, “What do you want from me?”
  3. Give God a simple and direct answer that comes honestly from your heart. Write down the answer. If you have more than one answer, write them down. Your answer may be one word such as peace or love or help. It may be several words or a phrase such as “feel your presence” or “lead me into life.” Whatever your answers, they are the foundation of your breath prayer.
  4. Select the name that you are most comfortable using to speak with God. Combine it with your written answer to the question God asked you. This is your prayer.
  5. Breathe in the first phrase/word (generally your invocation of God’s name) and breathe out the second phrase/word (request or need).

You may need to compose several prayers before you find one which truly arises from your deepest desire. So look carefully at your prayer. Does it reflect the heart of your desire?

There’s no limit really to developing your breath prayer. It may be the same from day to day or it may change.

Sometimes you may want to reverse the practice a bit by sitting in silence and letting the Spirit pray through you. Ask for God to reveal your name, and God’s desire for you. This can be a profound experience. You may wind up hearing something like, “Beloved, you are enough,” or “Mighty One, rest.” Wait on God and see how you may be renewed.

Sample Breath Prayers

  • Jesus, let me feel your love.

  • O Lord Show me your way.

  • Holy one, heal me.

  • Jesus Alleluia, have mercy.

  • Holy Wisdom, Guide me.

  • Father/Mother (Abba/Amma), let me feel your presence.

The Reunion Team

Fill in your text here….

The Reunion Team

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PRAYER PRACTICES

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PRAYER PRACTICES

Each Tuesday we are inviting you to explore a new prayer practice as part of the experiential calendar. As part of that invitation, we also want to provide resources to help you as you explore those practices. This week, we’re looking at a creative form of prayer called “Imaginative reading” or “Imaginative prayer”.

Through Imaginative Prayer we place ourselves fully within a story from the Gospels. We become onlooker-participants and give full rein to our imagination. Jesus is speaking to a blind man at the side of the road. We feel the hot Mediterranean sun beating down. We smell the dust kicked up by the passersby. We feel the itchy clothing we’re wearing, the sweat rolling down our brow, a rumble of hunger. We see the desperation in the blind man’s face and hear the wail of hope in his words. We note the irritation of the disciples. Above all we watch Jesus—the way he walks, his gestures, the look in his eyes, the expression on his face. We hear him speak the words that are recorded in the Gospel. We go on to imagine other words he might have spoken and other deeds he might have done.

To put this in to practice consider these instructions from Professor of Spiritual Formation at Lipscomb University, Kris Miller:

Choose a passage to start with. After reading the passage through once, read it through again, very slowly. Allow yourself to be caught by a word, phrase, an image, or a truth. If it is a narrative, begin to imagine the scene. If it is not a narrative, imagine the reality described. Once you have read it through the second time slowly, put the passage down and use your imagination to enter the narrative or truth presented. You may want to us the word, phrase, image, or idea that caused you to enter the passage. If it is a Psalm or an epistle, imagine the truth and be in it. If it is a narrative, be in the event. Whatever the genre, take several minutes to let your imagination unfold and develop as you enter the story or the truth. You can trust that the Holy Spirit will be at work in your contemplation of the very Word that the Spirit inspired. Remain in the passage for several minutes. Then, journal a summary of your contemplation after you have experienced it.

The Reunion Team

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

Every Friday during our Experiential fast we are encouraged to journal about our experience. What has this fast been like? How have you experienced God during this fast? Has anything surprised you? Each week we will share reflections from people in our community across all 3 locations. This week is from a friend at the Quincy location.

Last week’s fast from television, movies and video games set me up well because I felt as though I had been through a bit of a detox.  How hard could the internet be?  After all, I am a Gen Xer who only has Facebook and Linked In and remembers what it was like before remote controls when we kids were the ones to turn the dial and change the channel for our parents.   This week I spent a great deal of time thinking about the internet and what it has become in my life.  Probably more time than I typically spend using the internet in a normal week.  The big question I pondered was, is it too late to turn back? 

Before entering the fast I decided to prepare myself and allow some exceptions.  Like how a person with diabetes or other chronic illness might have exceptions when fasting from food.  Preparation involved ensuring that all my bills were paid, my banks accounts were in the positive range, ensuring that my library books would not be overdue and that no online buying would be necessary.  Regarding exceptions, first, I allowed myself to continue with my morning practice of reading my devotions via the YouVersion app.  This year I’m enjoying a through the Bible in one year reading plan and I did not want to upset my rhythm for fear I would not go back to it after the fast.  Secondly, checking notifications from Facebook was allowed to keep informed about my daughter’s activities.  Lastly, my job requires that I use the internet, so I was relieved when Jeff, said that internet for work purposes was absolved and the fast is from personal use stuff.  Of course, it would have been amazing to take a week off on a deserted Island but I’m sure that the booking or checking in for the flight would have required internet access. 

Through the week there were some things I missed and did not miss about the internet.  Healthy detox for me was not scrolling through Facebook mindlessly forgetting the reason why I opened the app in the first place.  Taking a break from checking my library account three to four times a day was probably a good thing too.  Many times, I wanted to google something to learn more about something I read or overheard.  Also, I missed listening to podcasts, music via Pandora and a faith-based radio station in Barbados.  However, making quiet space brought many old hymns and choruses to my memory.  The Holy Spirit was my DJ. 

At the end of the week I concluded that it is too late to turn back.  The internet is necessary to a point.  The MBTA app can save me from freezing in the predawn hours waiting for a bus.  Yet, I will not allow a fridge to determine when I need to order milk.  The internet is a great tool for me use but must never become a tool that uses me. – Lisa Reid 

The Reunion Team

5th Sunday Details and What To Bring

5th Sunday Details and What To Bring

At Reunion, we have cultivated the rhythm of taking the 5th Sundays throughout the year to serve our partners, cities, and communities.

As part of our 5th Sunday Serve Day this week(March 31st), our community will be partnering with Fostering Hope and The Foster Box.  We will be writing notes of appreciation and packing small gifts for local social workers, packing snack packs for children waiting at the DCF offices, sorting clothing donations and assembling hygiene kits. 

It is hard for foster parents to have everything a child might need when he or she first arrives in their home. The Foster Box supports families by easing this transition, providing and delivering clothing and other necessities for their new addition.  

On Sunday we’ll be packing bags of basic hygiene necessities for children living in foster care. We are asking that everyone from both locations bring supplies from the list below for adding to the bags:

  • baby shampoo/wash
  • kid shampoo/conditioner
  • body wash
  • diaper cream
  • lotion
  • brushes/combs
  • toothpaste for both babies & kids
  • dental floss
  • deodorant- gender neutral like Tom’s unscented

If you are a family with new or gently used clothing or gear that your children have grown out of or are no longer using, you can also donate these items by bringing them to Sunday’s gathering.  The Foster Box is a 501(c)3 and all gifts are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated!

We will meet at our usually locations and times this Sunday.  Come be a part of this awesome opportunity to help serve Foster families, DCF office workers, and Fostering Hope.

 

Nathan Caddell

Somerville Location Pastor

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PRAYER PRACTICES

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PRAYER PRACTICES

During this season of Lent we have been encouraged to give up good things for the sake of (or to focus on) something better- i.e. Jesus. This week we are fasting from the internet and social media. (Which means, if you’re reading this post, you have fallen off the wagon. Ha!) As a way of providing balance to the weekly fasts, each Tuesday we have been providing you with ways to deepen your prayers. Our hope is that when you begin to feel the effects of fasting, it will prompt you to pray, and perhaps to begin incorporating some of these distinctive prayer practices. Today, that practice is called: Lectio Divina

John and Carol Kim are pastors of a church in NYC (www.the166.org) and they explain the basic steps of Lectio Divina this way:
Lectio Divina is a Latin term that means “divine reading” and it is a slow and reflective way of engaging Scripture in prayer. In Lectio Divina, you are basically taking a passage in the Bible and reading it over and over again and really soaking it in. It will require you to slow down and be patient as you contemplate the verses you are reading, and following each reading there will be different activities to help you connect to God.
Use the simple acronym T.I.M.E. to help you remember the process of Lectio Divina.
First prepare your heart to encounter God through His Word. Sit in silence, take a few deep breaths and ask for God’s guidance.
1.) TEXT – (Objective Focus) Read the passage slowly and aloud for the first time and let the words sink in. Use the next two minutes of silence (or however long or short you want) to identify key words or phrases that strike you. This portion of Lectio Divina asks, “What are the main ideas of the passage?” This is the time for a studied examination of the passage where you identify the objective of its meaning. You can read commentaries and look up the meaning of words if you wish.
2.) IMMERSE – (Subjective Focus) Read the passage slowly and aloud for the second time. Take the next few minutes of silence to meditate on what the passage personally means for you. While the first reading sought the text’s objective meaning, now we are reflecting on subjective meanings and personal associations that come to mind. Use your imagination to enter into the text: What do you see/feel/hear as you enter the scene? What are you feeling as you read the text? What personal longing is God speaking into? Explore it with Him.
3.) MINISTRY – (Prayer & Response) Read the passage slowly and aloud for the third time. Take the next few minutes of silence to see what prayers emerge and stir up within you based on the previous two movements. What is God inviting you into through this text and how will you respond? Pray them out to the Lord. The goal here is intimacy with God so this may be a time to simply dialogue with Him, to wrestle with Him or to do something He asks you to do.
4.) ENCOUNTER – (Resting) You can read the passage for the fourth time if you would like. It’s optional at this point. During these last few moments of silence, simply dwell in God’s presence and rest in what He said to you. This is the time to let God’s living word soak into you for your ongoing formation. 

 

 

The Reunion Team

X