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

*DJ Intentionally decided to start the fast on Sunday this week. The Experiential Calendar only goes from Monday to Friday and we Sabbath on Saturday and Sunday.*

The first day is always the hardest. It was a long day – up at 6 am, at church to setup and lead worship, encouraging a friend struggling with depression, rushing around town running errands, grabbing a late lunch with the missus, more errands, trying to find a suit for the wedding, meeting a friend who’s visiting from New York, more errands, to the shops to pick up groceries — finally made it home to plop on the couch only to realize, oh yeah, no TV, Movies or Video Games this week. Ugh. My favorite way to de-stress after a tiresome day was taken away. Ok, what can I do then? I sat in silence for a few minutes as I stared into space unsure of what to do. As I sat there, my mind tuned into to each breath as it entered my nostrils, fill my lungs, and then exit my lungs and nose again. Every inhale and exhale. Over and over. It was in that moment of quietness I found peace from all the hub-bub of the day. A sense of calmness my soul was yearning for. Rest had finally come and it brought energy to my soul and body. The lyrics from a song this morning echoed in my ears, “no matter where I run, there I will find your grace, mercy has made us one, never to separate”. How timely! I was running around all day only to realize in such silence what it truly meant. It doesn’t matter where I am, where I go, how far I think I am from people or place or God, He is everywhere and His Grace is timely, provided exactly when I need it, and found in the midst of the chaos. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 was something I breezed over so quickly time and time again because I’ve read it so many times before and the repetition was quite simple: the basic formula for verse 3-10 is {blessed are the “x” for they/theirs “y”}. But I never took the time to explore what blessed actually meant. I’ve been reading the Amplified version as part of my personal devotions which includes additional words, phrases or clauses in order to provide extra meaning included in the original text or language. So I pulled a side-by-side translation of the NIV and Amplified and quickly saw that Blessed had so many different meanings in each verse. The equation failed to capture the essence of each verse. Blessed in verse 3 meant “spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired”, Blessed in verse 4 meant “forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace”, Blessed in verse 5 meant “inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect”, Blessed in verse 6 meant “joyful, nourished by God’s goodness”, Blessed in verse 7 meant “content, sheltered by God’s promises”, Blessed in verse 8 meant “anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature”, Blessed in verse 9 meant “spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor”, Blessed in verse 10 meant “comforted by inner peace and God’s love”, and Blessed in verse 11 meant “morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness”. This entire time there was a whole ‘nother world and depth of meaning that I had overlooked. Busyness turned into exhaustion which turned into silence which turned into a newfound knowledge — nourishing food for my soul. In the end, the equation failed to capture the most important pieces of The Beatitudes. What equations in life do we follow that overlook those important moments that give us deeper meaning and connection to Our Savior? – DJ Kolapudi 

The Reunion Team

Discussion Guide: Unfollow Power

Discussion Guide: Unfollow Power

During the season of Lent, we’ll be exploring the passages of Scripture where Jesus invites people to follow him. As we’ll see, this invitation often means people need to learn to unfollow something else. These invitations extend to us today, challenging us to investigate what really matters in our life. Today, we talk about what it means to follow Jesus and unfollow our desire for power.

Icebreaker

If you had one superpower, what would it be and why?

Scripture Reading

Matthew 9:9-12; Philippians 2:5-11

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do so many people generally like to be in powerful positions? What do you think drives their thirst for power?

Read Matthew 9:9-12

  1. Why is it significant that Jesus asked a tax collector to follow him? What job/status might be a modern day equivalent of “1st century tax collector” be? 
    CONVERSATION TIP: This weeks message said: “Tax collectors were hated because the Romans had conquered the Jewish people and they recruited locals to collect taxes from their countrymen….If you signed up for that gig, you were essentially selling out your own people. You were taking a position of power over your own countrymen by overburdening them with taxes. Tax Collectors were viewed as traitors. They were treated like outcasts.”
  2. What would motivate someone to take a job like tax collector in Matthew’s time? Do you think those motivations are still drivers today?
  3. How do you see those motivations at work in your own life?
  4. When Jesus invites Matthew to “follow him,” what sort of power or control is he asking Matthew to give up?
  5. When Jesus invites you to “follow him,” what sort of power or control is he inviting you to give up?

Read Philippians 2:5-11

  1. This passage is often known as the Philippians hymn. How does this hymn depicts Jesus’ relationship to power?
  2. This hymn ties God’s exaltation of Jesus is directly tied to Jesus’ humility and meekness. How are humility and meekness signs of power in God’s Kingdom?
  3. How does this view of power confront typical conceptions of power in our world today?
  4. This passage is an admonition to exemplify the humble power of Christ in our day-to-day relationships with one another. Can you think of examples when you or other people have exemplified this sort of power?
  5. What is holding you back from unfollowing typical conceptions of power and following the power of Jesus?

Diving Deeper: Christian Humility

  1. Read the following quote from Ravi Zacharias:
    “Our insecurities also drive our attempts to prove ourselves, to show that we are strong and have made ourselves useful to God and those around us. Yet all of this is not humility because it is about us, not God. We make the mistake of fixating on our own earthen vessels, either trying to make them appear more pleasing than they are or obsessing about their flaws. The cure for our insecurity is not to become more secure in ourselves, but more confident in God. Confidence in God is the core of Christian humility.”
  2. Can you be aware of your shortcomings while not being insecure? How so?
  3. How is Christian humility different than typical conceptions of humility?
  4.  Does being a humble follower of Christ mean you are just being passive and opening yourself up to abuse? Why/why not?

Helpful Resources

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 silent form of prayer called Contemplation. Contemplation has sometimes been viewed as a Christian form of meditation.

Joyce Huggett explains some of the basic steps to help lead to contemplation.

• Enter into a space that can become a quiet prayer place for you.

• Once you enter the space, take time to relax in God’s presence. One of the best ways of doing this is to recognize some of the reasons we are tense: worry, pressure of things to be done, the quarrel we just had with our spouse or colleague. It will be impossible to contemplate until these pressures have been handed over to God.

• Having transferred our burdens to God, this next phase involves becoming aware of the presence of God. Jesus has promised he will never leave us or forsake us. We take time to tun into his presence.

• In the quietness, aware of his presence, we open our hearts to receive his love. This prayer is usually wordless and fed by a deep desire for him.

• This leads us to a place where instead of seeking God, we are found by Him. We discover that, long before we came to a place of prayer, he was seeking us.

• We bask in the warmth of his love. We feel his gaze on us. He gills us afresh with his Spirit. We receive a new perspective on life, HIs perspective.

• As we draw closer to his heart, we sense his concern for the world, and from our contemplation flows intercession as we catch his compassion for a hurting world.

 

For more information on contemplation (and other spiritual practices), check out this resource by Richard Foster.

The Reunion Team

EXPERIENTIAL FAST: REFLECTIONS

EXPERIENTIAL FAST: 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 South End.

I bought a new coffee machine a few weeks back. The kind you can make espresso and lattes. After buying it I thought about returning it, it was too much, but life happened and I missed my window to return it, so I got completely into it. I tried different coffee pod flavors and different types of milk until I found the sweet spot. The sound of the machine in the morning, the putting together and taking apart of the milk compartment became routine, quickly and easily. This Sunday I committed to our lent fast, no coffee and no alcohol. Easy, right? Maybe not, my husband called me out for grabbing a coke zero, completely ignoring its caffeine content and drinking it proudly thinking “hey, it’s not coffee” but it might as well have been. I would walk into the kitchen instinctively and wander back and forth as if waiting for a reason to justify drinking coffee that morning. “I am very tired”, “I worked a long overnight shift, this is different to what other people who are fasting are going through”, “God would want me to be productive at my work”, “I am not drinking any alcohol so is that half ok” I debated on a daily basis whether decaf counted or not. I would enter the espresso machine website to look at new coffee pod flavors thinking of what my future cups of coffee would taste like. I saw the weekend not as the days I get to be in community and share with friends and family but the days I get to make myself a latte. And then as I had these thoughts I would pause and stop to reflect on what this meant. I asked myself, how many times have I tried to substitute the real thing for a fake. I asked myself, how many times have I tried to justify my own actions. I asked myself, how many times have I put my eyes and expectation on the wrong thing for my future. I asked myself, how many times have I put my own desires and wishes ahead of others’. I asked myself, how many times have I looked for distractions to avoid facing the truth. That I am weak, I am tired, I am easily persuaded and distracted, I am selfish and self-centered. Thankfully, I am reminded that You are my strength, You are my rest, You are my motivation and expectation, and You are the center of my life. The headaches are now gone, and the fast is almost over, but I wonder, am I really worthy at this point of drinking coffee. I don’t know, seems like as long as I am hanging on to my own certainty that today is ok because tomorrow I will be able to drink my own cup of coffee I still have it wrong. Anybody looking for an espresso machine? – E

The Reunion Team

Discussion Guide: Unfollow Work

Discussion Guide: Unfollow Work

During the season of Lent, we’ll be exploring the passages of Scripture where Jesus invites people to follow him. As we’ll see, this invitation often means people need to learn to unfollow something else. These invitations extend to us today, challenging us to investigate what really matters in our life. Today, we talk about what it means to follow Jesus in light of our work. 

 

Icebreaker

What is the worst job you ever had? Why was it so bad?

 

Scripture Reading

Matthew 4:18-22; Jeremiah 16:16

 

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you describe our culture’s relationship with work? Is it healthy? Why/why not?

Read Matthew 4:18-22

  1. Americans forfeited 50% of their vacation days in 2017. Why do you think our society is so enamored with working?
  2. What is Jesus asking the disciples to do when he says, “Follow me?” Think beyond this passage to what you know about other parts of Scripture.
  3. During this time, people did not change jobs as frequently as we do. To leave their job was to leave their only means of support and a key part of their communal identity (e.g. sons of Zebedee). In light of that, how do you assess the their response?
  4. Do you think you would have responded to Jesus’ call in this way? Why/why not?
  5. What does Jesus’ call to follow him and the disciples’ responses say about identity in Christ?

Read Jeremiah 16:16 

  1. Many scholars believe that the Matthew passage is a reference to Jeremiah. How does that change how you understand this passage?
  2. The phrase “fishers of men” is the translation of the Greek halieis anthropos. The term halieis, however, is far more than just fisherman. It refers to a whole set of skills related to living off of the sea. Alternately translated, the passage could read “I am going to point your skills towards people.” If this is the case, their call to follow looks similar to ours. How might Jesus be calling you to use your work as a way to follow him?
  3. What keeps you from seeing your workplace as an area where you can work for God’s kingdom?
  4. What might God be asking you to give up in relation to work, especially during this season of Lent?

Helpful Resources

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.

Below is a link to an app for centering prayer as well as a screenshot of the guidelines of Centering Prayer.  We hope these practices are life-giving and refreshing for you.

Centering prayer app

 

The Reunion Team

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