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Lean. Listen. Learn. Labor. Lead.

Lean. Listen. Learn. Labor. Lead.

-Friends, the events of the past month have left all of us reeling. We are mourning, angry, hurt, confused, sad and everything in between. Yet, we are also resolved. We are resolved to condemn racism and systemic racism that is so deeply rooted in our nation, our churches and our lives. We are resolved to lament, mourn and walk through this together as a family. We are resolved to cry together, to pray together and to work towards justice and equality, together. We are resolved to listen well to the voices, lives and experiences of our black and brown brothers and sisters, because Black Lives Matter. We are resolved to resource and equip our community to have the hard discussion necessary to move forward. We are resolved to be a community committed to the ministry of reconciliation Christ gave to us. We are resolved.

A friend of mine challenged the church to, 

“Lean into knowledge
Listen to what is being said
Learn about it
Labor to change things
Lead others” – Kyle-Durrell Johnson

To that end we want to provide resources for all of us to Lean. Listen. Learn. Labor. Lead.

Below you will find resources in regards to understanding systemic racism and it’s lasting affects on our present reality. You will find resources for spaces to begin conversations in our community and in your own life. You will find resources for walking through this reality with your children. You will find resources for trauma and healing. 

Most importantly you will find resources that challenge all of us to Lean into knowledge. Listen to what is being said. Learn about it. Labor (together) to change things. And lead others down the path of Christ’s humility, grace and ministry of reconciliation. 

Spaces for Learning and Discussion:

The Race and Christian Community Initiative (Boston led initiative through Emmanuel Gospel Center) – A space with workshops, events, and community forums to confront and address racism in our world, lives and city. 

Be The Bridge– a space for discussion and learning to cultivate relationships, healing and restoration

Movies to watch on your own or to discuss with friends:

13th – On Netflix
Just Mercy – free on amazon right now! 

Resources for healing racial trauma:

Hope after trauma– A bible reading plan for hope and healing from trauma

Healing Racial Trauma – A book about unpacking the deep wounds and superficial fixes in order to pursue healing from racial trauma

Additional helpful resources compiled by our diverse team of elders:

 

The Reunion Team

How to B.L.E.S.S your neighbor (during a pandemic!)

How to B.L.E.S.S your neighbor (during a pandemic!)

We did a B.L.E.S.S. series in the fall encouraging our entire community to learn what it means to B.L.E.S.S. our neighbors and begin praying for one person they could bless in their lives. In the midst of a pandemic we realized the practical application of BLESSing needed updating. So, with the help of our friends at Community Christian in Chicagoland – here’s what BLESSing can look like in the pandemic:

How to B.L.E.S.S. your neighbor during a “STAY AT HOME” order…

B- Begin with prayer

Pray for your neighbors. Refer to Blesseveryhome.com and go on a prayer walk through your neighborhood.

L- Listen

Since you can’t go out and talk to people, utilize the news and social media. Ask, “What do you need?” in Facebook groups, the Nextdoor app, etc. and listen to needs mentioned in your local news.

E-Eat

Provide food via a food delivery app. Buy extra or just a “treat” at the grocery store and drop it off. Schedule a Zoom lunch together.

S-Serve

Social distancing regulations means we can serve others in creative ways: Write a thank you note to your local grocer, first responders, etc., share toilet paper or other supplies with your neighbors, call someone who may be lonely, buy groceries for your neighbor who can’t leave, invite people to join an online gathering. Check out reunionmovement.com for more neighboring opportunities!

S-Story

Let’s commit to sharing some good news! Use #LovethisCity to share pictures and stories of acts of love and service. Email your stories to us at Stories@reunionboston.com

For more resources – check out our Neighboring Journal

Let’s be a B.L.E.S.S.ing to our City and our Neighbors in this season!

Chris Hall

Lead Pastor

RIP Medical Debt Update and Celebration!

RIP Medical Debt Update and Celebration!

Every Christmas, REUNION participates in a movement called Advent Conspiracy where we ask our community to join together to collect a large amount of money that we then give away to great organizations and causes that we believe in.  This past Christmas, we teamed up with Aletheia Church and RIP Medical Debt with the goal of canceling medical debt in the three counties that our REUNION locations are in. 

Medical debt destroys the financial stability of large segments of America’s most vulnerable communities: the sick, the elderly, the poor, and veterans. It also targets the middle class, driving many families who are barely getting along into poverty. Medical debt isn’t the result of bad decisions. It’s a debt of necessity.

“RIP Medical Debt” uses donors’ funds to wipe out medical debt from the neediest cases.  

By forgiving this debt they strive to give struggling individuals, and their families, a fresh start. They hope to give those affected the ability to seek the continued medical care they need and help them back towards financial stability. 

Once “RIP Medical Debt” has pinpointed the portfolios for those in or near the poverty level, they buy up their debt and forgive it. 

Every $10,000 raised allows RIP medical debt to purchase $1 million in medical debt.

For Advent Conspiracy, our goal was to raise $35,000 and we blew past that!  The money we raised eliminated $3.79 million dollars in medical debt! Together we eliminated almost 8 million dollars of medical debt in the Boston area. We’re happy to report that not only were we able to cancel the medical debt of people in Suffolk, Middlesex, and Norfolk counties, but we were also able to cancel the debt of surrounding counties of Bristol, Essex, Plymouth, and Worcester.  That’s right, we were able to cancel the debt of 7 counties in Massachusetts! Each person whose debt has been canceled received a letter from RIP Medical debt letting them know their debt was canceled by REUNION. At Christmas, we had no idea that a pandemic was going to cause financial upheaval where so many families have been affected. Knowing that RIP Medical Debt pinpoints those in or near the poverty level, we’re so thankful for our community for making such a big impact on people’s lives – and sharing hope with our neighbors!

I just want to thank the entire REUNION family for your generosity and it’s something we should celebrate together.  Please share it with your friends, co-workers, and families who also donated!  

The Reunion Team

Quarantine and My Mental Health

Quarantine and My Mental Health

On March 10th, it feels like everything changed for so many of us.  I’m not sure how you felt about COVID-19 before that moment, but once that day hit, our world changed.  We immediately entered a state of urgency. Emails needed to go out, communication needed to be sudden, we made plans, and then within a few hours more information came out and we had to change those plans.  Go, go, go. Always another thing to do, always another Zoom call to jump on, an inability to separate work from home. And that’s if you haven’t been deemed an “essential” worker. Some of you are still having to figure out how to get to work, you’re facing the front line of the Coronavirus everyday, you come home, exhausted and anxious, and while I cannot say enough how grateful I am for all that you are doing, and can also say I have no idea how emotionally, mentally, and physically draining that must be.  And all of that doesn’t even begin to touch on those in our community who are losing jobs, losing hours, or being placed on furlough. There is fear and anxiety everywhere.

But we’re entering a season where this reality is settling into a new normal.  A new normal of being stuck in our house. A new normal of being social distanced, and for some of us, isolated.  A new normal of being alone with our thoughts. And a new normal that has no (real) known end in sight.

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to share my story with Reunion.  I’ve had many personal experiences with anxiety and depression. And as I sat in my apartment, and I reflected on this new normal, I realized, these feelings are going to arise in me again, and I would guess, I’m not alone in that reality.

The season of COVID-19 will probably bring a lot of our emotional health and mental health issues to surface.  So if you’re like me, and you’re anticipating this reality, I’m hoping these next few thoughts encourage all of us, and give us some small practical steps in this season.

Know That You are Not Alone.

I know many of us who have been open about our depression before have heard that God is close to us.  We know that it is true, maybe on a subconscious level, but our depression and anxiety tell us it cannot be true.  That God cannot be close. That we are alone. This is a season where we need to speak truth to our mental health when it screams lies at us.  We need to invite friends to do that as well, and we need to be friends who are speaking truth into our friends lives as well.

Psalm 34 tells us that God is close to the brokenhearted, and I completely understand that we can hear that, but not feel it.  In this season, we might have to remind ourselves that what is true is not always what our feelings believe, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Be Honest with the Feelings You’re Experiencing.

Some of us are feeling afraid.  We’re feeling anxious. We’re feeling alone, sad, depressed… on and on the list could go, but for whatever reason, we don’t want to be honest about that.  Maybe you’re afraid of having these feelings. Maybe you think experiencing these emotions will be perceived as how you view God.

In a season when more and more emotions are going to rise to the surface, be honest about them.  We’re experiencing a global pandemic. It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to be nervous. Many of us miss authentic human contact.  It’s okay to be depressed. Be honest with these emotions.

If you haven’t practiced consolations and desolations with our community before, I think this is a great practice for us to be honest in these spaces.  Consolations are things that help us feel close to God. They’re the spaces in our life that are ruled by joy, peace, and wisdom. Things that we can live into that are helping our lives flourish.


Desolations are the opposite.  They are the spaces in our lives where we feel far from God.  Places in our lives that are ruled by fear, depression, anxiety, and brokenness.

Calling these things out allows us to be honest with ourselves.  Where are we experiencing this depression and anxiety. And then we can begin to get to the root of it.

And this is going to be a new experience for many of us, because we haven’t wrestled or been honest with ourselves about these emotions before.  We’ve coped, but that’s not possible anymore. So as we seek mental and emotional health, we should also call out what we’ve done to avoid it.

Be Honest About How You’ve Coped Before.

For some of us, when we’re sad… we shop.  What do you do when all the stores are closed?  

Some of us eat out.  What do we do when restaurants are closed?

We go to the bar, but now the bars are closed.

We zone out with Netflix, but we’re going to run out of things to watch.

You name it.  Whatever we’ve used to cope before, for most of us, is being stripped away.  As we have emotions flow to the surface, we can also call out the ways we’ve masked them in the past.  We can work on our emotional health now, but we can also see things that are going to keep us from emotional health in the future, and begin to think through those aspects now.

Don’t Let Social Distance Become Relational Distance.

Please, please stay 6 feet away from people.  I’m baffled by how many people want to walk down the center of the sidewalk when I try to go for runs.  Social distance is incredibly important to stop the curve of this virus.

And I get that many of us have had multiple zoom calls everyday since all of this began.  We finish the day, and the last thing we want to do is one more zoom call or one more phone call, or one more email.  But when we can’t be with people, and we get exhausted with the tools that connect us to people, social distance quickly becomes relational distance, and relational distance quickly becomes isolation, and depression and anxiety speak loudest in isolation.

Don’t check out.  Continue to make the effort of inviting people into your life.  Continue to grow friendships and relationships. Continue to seek out community.  Community is worth the effort, no matter what our mental health tells us.

Reach Out to A Counselor

I’m firmly in the camp that everyone could benefit from seeing a counselor and therapist.  There’s immense benefit in inviting someone into our lives that is trained to walk with us through difficult realities and emotions we’re facing.

In fact, many counselors are moving their sessions online and are taking new references.  If you’ve been considering a counselor, and don’t know where to start, go check out THIS LINK for information on counselors that might have availability, and other resources when it comes to counselors and mental health.  You can also check out betterhelp.com, a completely online resource that might be a useful option if you are unable to find a local counselor.

It’s really hard to reach out for help!  We’re really proud of you taking this step.

We don’t know what this next season might look like, and we don’t know how long it will last, what I do know, is that we as a church care for you.  If you’re experiencing depression or anxiety, many of us are right there with you. Although those are very rational emotions in this season, we can always be reminded that those emotions don’t get the final say in our lives.  They don’t get to define us. They don’t get to be lord of our lives.

The God of the cosmos has already taken that role.  He entered into our brokenness through his son Jesus.  He died on a cross to redeem that brokenness, even when it’s a long-term reality in our lives.  The God of the Bible sat with people who were depressed and anxious, Jesus ate meals with them, and that same God walks with us in our moments of depression and anxiety.

Nathan Caddell
Somerville Location Pastor

Embracing a Rule of Life

Embracing a Rule of Life

In grad school, I had a professor who used to teach us something and then ask, 

“Are you feeling disoriented?” 

It was a regular check-in during his class. He knew that as we were given new ways of thinking or new information that challenged our old understanding of life, theology, ourselves – it may cause us to feel disoriented like we lost our bearing. And it was true. Many times in his class and throughout grad school, I had moments where I felt disoriented. Like life didn’t make sense. Like the way I had understood things to work, no longer worked. It was disorienting. 

But he would always follow up the check-in by saying something to the effect of,

“It’s ok to feel and to be disoriented. It’s actually good to feel disoriented.” 

It means you’re about to grow. That feeling of disorientation…that’s usually the feeling you have right before you grow because you are realizing what you had is no longer, or what was working isn’t working anymore, and now you are opened up to growing and learning something new.

I have a feeling many of us are feeling disoriented in this season. Our rhythms are all destroyed. What was, no longer is. What was working, isn’t working anymore. Our way of life has been disrupted and we are disoriented. 

For many of us, we are only just now beginning to wrestle with the reality of how long this season may be. The President just announced that we will be in this state at least through the end of April and that things might begin to return to normal in June. June is a couple of months away. Many of us were only mentally/physically/emotionally/spiritually prepared for a couple of weeks of this. I heard it described as a blizzard, not a snowstorm. 

At the beginning of this, we hunkered down and treated it like a snowstorm and a snow day. Our thought process was, “I just need to hunker down for a few days, stock up on bread and milk (and TP), and then we’ll go back to normal”. But we are beginning to see it’s much more like a blizzard or a winter season. It’s going to take intentional shifts in our rhythms, in the way we do life, the things we fill our schedules with, the way we interact with our friends and family. It all has to change. 

This isn’t simply a moment where we hunker down and don’t make changes because everything will go back to normal soon. Rather, it’s a blizzard, it’s a winter season, where we will need to change rhythms and change the way we live in order to not only survive but also grow and thrive. 

In the book of Jeremiah, the people of God (Israel) are in exile in Babylon. Their home of Jerusalem had been ransacked, the temple had been destroyed and they found themselves in a foreign land. Nothing was the same. Nothing was how it had been. The way they understood life was different. The way they interacted with each other was different. The way they interacted with their neighbor and vocation and God was different. It must have been incredibly disorienting. And there were some among them who argued: “This is only a short season, God will pull us out of this quickly, things will go back to normal, simply hunker down and wait it out.” But then the Prophet Jeremiah speaks to the people of Israel and says, 

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

He says, “listen this isn’t a snowstorm, this is a blizzard. Settle in, you’ll be like this for a while.” And then he encourages them to create new rhythms, new relationships, new ways of interacting with each other and their neighbor, so they can thrive and their city can thrive and God can be honored. 

He essentially says, “if you can embrace this season, learn new rhythms and trust God, you will thrive and so will your city.” 

What would it look like for us to embrace this season, learn new rhythms and trust God so we can thrive and so can our community? 

This past weekend, Jeff Oakes (REUNION Quincy location pastor) shared a message about creating new rhythms and embracing a “Rule of Life”. The word “rule” comes from the greek word for “trellis.”  And for those of us who are gardeners, we know that a trellis is a tool that enables a grapevine to get off the ground to become more fruitful and productive. In a similar way, a rule of life is like a trellis to help us get off the ground, and connect with God in a healthy, fruitful way. 

In a season where we are talking about creating new rhythms, a rule of life can be incredibly helpful because in reality, a rule of life is an intentional rhythm. An intentional rhythm to connect with God, with ourselves and with others. 

In this season of disorientation and learning new normals – what if we all created a new rhythm centered around Discovering Jesus, becoming like Jesus, and doing what Jesus did?

At its core, a rule of life is simply a rhythm that helps us live life well and grow in our relationship with Jesus. It’s a rhythm that helps us become acclimated to the new season we find ourselves in, and create sustainable ways to move through whatever new season may come our way.

What would it look like in your life this week if you wrote down a daily, weekly, and monthly rhythm for connection with others, yourself and God?

I wanna invite you to wrestle with that thought all week and to consider creating a rule of life for yourself. Our team created a simple handout to help give suggestions and get the gears turning – you can download it here: Crafting a Rule of Life #3 (2)

Chris Hall

Lead Pastor

Four Types of Community

Four Types of Community

An online shift & four types of community!

What a strange week, huh? We’ve seen extreme acts of selfishness and fear, but we’ve also seen the best of humanity on display. We’ve seen the pain of isolation but we’ve also seen the blessing of the internet, social media, and the human ability to find connection in very creative ways.  Our main desire in the coming weeks is to create space for you to connect and grow spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. Discipleship happens in the context of community. We understand that many people Discover Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did differently and in different seasons and spaces, but almost always in the context of a relationship, a conversation or a friendship. Realizing our limitations of being a fully digital community for the foreseeable future we are shifting the way we approach “community building”. We have created 4 types of community for you to engage in and stay connected to the REUNION family. 



Life Communities
– (formerly Community Group) are places where life is shared and lives are changed. LCs center around relationships and meaningful, challenging conversations. (All of these groups are still meeting through Zoom. You should get an email from your LC leader soon!)

Connecting Communities are places where relationships are broadened and common interests are enjoyed together. (Cooking classes, Yoga online, Kids Storytime, songwriters guild, etc)


Formation Communities
are experiences, trainings, retreats, or classes that deepen our knowledge of God and self, leading to transformation. (Book club, Leadership Community, Midday Prayer, Starting point class)


Neighboring Communities are spaces where we learn to be good neighbors by serving our city. (serving alongside blackstone, “I can help link on website”, Partnering with Community Cooks)


Information can be found in the loop, social media, and there is a one stop shop calendar on the website in the calendar section. We want to encourage everyone to download the video software “Zoom”. You can get the phone app, or computer app, and it takes just a few seconds to set up. We will use it for a lot of our community connection. It’s got good privacy opportunities, great options for being able to mediate groups and have visual contact with others, while still having safeguards in place. Life Communities will meet through zoom  along with other communities that require face to face interaction and privacy.

All other connecting points will go live on Facebook and Instagram. We will use REUNION.online.church for all our Sunday morning gatherings so be sure to bookmark that page. We can’t wait to connect in community with you in this season. See you ONLINE this Sunday at reunionmovement.com/ ! 

The Reunion Team

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