We live in a strange time and place. While this tension is one that every generation before us has felt, it seems more poignant these days. We find ourselves feeling more and more divided. Families have stopped talking to each other. Friends have been unfriended. Angry words have been spoken. Marches have taken place. The divide continues to increase. This is the difficulty of seeking to follow Jesus in a predominantly 2 party system where neither party can or ever will fully represent the values of the Kingdom of Jesus. We often find ourselves at odds with our leaders and even our friends and both sides of the aisle.
In light of this season and the upcoming midterm elections, friend and pastor in NYC, Rich Villodas said,
“I don’t ever recall hearing so much about midterms. In my time as a pastor, I have never led a time of prayer for the midterms. Yet, this year, something is noticeably different. To that end, I created a prayer for my congregation and for the church around the country. In prayer, we are called to fundamentally name realities for the sake of shalom. We name the reality of God’s life among us, name our broken sin-stained lives, and name the cry to join God in the project of gospel renewal.
We can’t afford to pray ambiguous prayers. We need prayers that help us to shape a new social imagination marked by love, truth, forgiveness, and justice.”
He then offered up this prayer:
“In preparation for the midterm elections, Lord, we pray for our country.
Our country is hurting. Families are torn apart. Friends have turned into enemies.
Lord, may we see how morally inconsistent we are, how self-righteous we can be, how fear has deeply poisoned our hearts, how the lust for power has blinded us to the gospel.
Lord, deliver us from evil.
May we all repent first, before waiting for others to repent.
Lord, before we can pray for unity, we must personally do the hard work of unmasking our own duplicity.
Forgive us when we demonize another.
Forgive us when we speak truth without love.
Forgive us when our moral outrage is simply a facade covering our need to be right.
Forgive us when we reduce love to simply being nice while we ignore injustice.
Forgive us when we sin against another.
And may we learn to forgive when we are sinned against.
Lord, may the church be a prophetic and priestly voice. May we speak truth to power while offering healing to the oppressed and the oppressor.
Teach us to be salt and light. May our speech be always filled with grace, seasoned with salt.
Teach us to put our hope in you, and to properly discern our civic responsibilities, having our lived marked by a non-anxious presence.
Lord, before we speak, may our lives be marked by silence. But guard us from silence when you call us to speak.
Lord, you are always at work, making all things new. Make us new people with new hearts who can join you in this project of restoration.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
May it be so in our hearts, in our community and in our world.
Our partnership with GO Ministries in the Dominican Republic goes far beyond our twice a year visits. Luis and Reina Vargas are much more than missionaries we support. They are family. The people of the La Mosca are part of our church family. This is a year-round partnership that doesn’t stop simply because we are back in Boston.
Recently GO shared an amazing follow-up story on our trip this past summer that demonstrates this idea perfectly – They share a story of a young man in the community who came to one of the medical clinics our team, and specifically, our Elder candidate, Jose Pagan, held during our trip this past summer. Here is his story:
“He sat broken, head down, eyes focused on the cracked concrete below his plastic chair as he waited patiently for help. He didn’t realize Hope was just around the corner. Jimmy is a Haitian immigrant living in Cien Fuegos (100 Fires), one of Santiago’s main garbage dumps. He etches out survival by doing electric work; something he was accomplished at in his home country but unrecognized across the border where he hoped to use his skills to help his family survive back in Haiti. After a successful electric job in the community, he asked to get paid and the man mocked him. When he asked again the man and a friend took machetes and violently attacked him leaving deep wounds in his arms as he protected himself and legs as his injured body crumpled to the ground. Miraculously, he survived. The emergency room stitched his wounds, but he was unable to afford the needed antibiotics and follow up care. He arrived at one of our remote clinics in La Mosca a couple of weeks later. Body broken. Spirit despaired. His wounds infected. His tendons cut through leaving his once skilled hands limp. I looked on as a doctor serving with the Reunion Christian Church medical team from Boston cared for his wounds. He and a nurse spent an hour carefully examining and cleaning each wound. When the American doctor left, his care did not. Because we partner with local leaders, Pastor Luis Vargas agreed to bring him to the daily clinic once a week for follow up care. Our doctor and nurses are caring for his wounds each week. We watched on as not only his wounds healed, but his heart healed as well. Restoring not only his body to physical health but his spirit to hope again after such a traumatic attack.”
We continue to pray for this young man and are thankful for the ongoing love and support he is receiving from our partners, Luis and Reina.
If you are interested in joining us in the partnership or to join our upcoming February trip, check out reunioninthedr.com for more info!
You’re not good enough.
You don’t deserve love.
God is not good.
No one cares.
You’re a failure.
We all have these recurring tapes that play in our head. Like a highlight reel of our biggest failures or painful words that have been spoken to us. They shape our perception of ourselves and the relationships we have. Often we never stop to consider if they are even good or true songs
In our Mixtape series this weekend we invited you to take out the tape and replace it with a new tape. A mixtape of God’s story and God’s love for you. A mixtape is often comprised of the greatest hits. The songs that anchor you. The songs that grow you, encourage you and speak to your soul. The letters to the early church are like a good mixtape. They remind us of who we are, they grow us, they encourage us, they anchor us, and they remind us of the song of hope we find in Jesus.
One way we encouraged you to take out the old tape and replace it with the tape of Jesus was through the spiritual practice of Centering Prayer.
Centering Prayer has four very simple guidelines. The four guidelines, in their simplicity, are,
- Choose a sacred word as a symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
We choose a simple word, one or two syllables, that embodies that consent to say “yes,” in this moment. It shouldn’t be elaborate, Yes. Love. It could be a sacred word: Jesus. Abba. Home. Light. Peace. That little word holds all of our intentionality.
- Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word.
- When engaged with thoughts, return ever so gently to the sacred word.
When engaged with your thoughts, your emotions, your memory, your imagination, the noise next door, the noise inside, whatever is happening — let it be there. Then ever so gently, return to that sacred word. This is really the essence of this prayer. We take whatever that is going on in our lives and just be present with God.
- At the end of the period of prayer, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
In an effort to help you put this prayer into practice we want to share this awesome app with you! It’s simply called “Centering Prayer”. Download it and give it a try! We hope this helps you switch the tape and live the song of hope we are all invited into!
- Purchase tickets at the gate when you arrive. $14.95/person. 2 and under are free.
- Gates open at 8AM, but you can come whenever you want.
- Fire pit and marshmallow roasting begins at 6PM (There is a fence around the fire pit to keep kids safe)
- If you want to attend, please contact Abby or Amanda so they can get a headcount on how many people to expect!