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5th Sunday Serve – Food Insecurity

5th Sunday Serve – Food Insecurity

 

1.6 million people in the Commonwealth report they are struggling to get enough to eat during the pandemic, according to a new survey by the Greater Boston Food Bank. That’s an increase of 55% from 2019 to 2020, with people of color and families with children are being disproportionately impacted.

1.6 million people in our state are struggling with food insecurity each day! We want to do something about that.

At REUNION, on the 5th Sunday of the month, instead of our usual gathering, we spend that morning serving with our local partners, and this month, here is how we are going to help address this problem:

We are inviting you to join us in supporting two of our partners — Pine Street Inn and Daniel’s TableThese two organizations are addressing the issue of food insecurity in Boston and Framingham by preparing and serving nearly 25,000 meals each and every week! They need us to restock their pantries in order to continue meeting this urgent need in our community.

We are asking you to donate: 

  • Healthy snacks –  granola bars, nuts, & healthy cereal
  • Hot drinks – hot chocolate, tea, & coffee
  • Non-perishable items – brown rice, whole wheat spaghetti, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salad dressing

You can ship your donations to:
Reunion Christian Church
22 Narragansett Road
Quincy, MA 02169

Please have items shipped by May 30th!

Or you can drop off your donations at two locations on Sunday, the 30th, between 10 am and 1 pm. There will be a pastor at each location to receive your donation and to say hi!

Drop off locations: 
31 Willis Ave, Medford 
OR
22 Narragansett Rd, 
Quincy

The Reunion Team

Advent Devotional

Advent Devotional

Download the 2020 Advent Devotional here.

2020 is a year that we will never forget.  The pandemic has turned our world upside down — we have lost loves ones, lost jobs and businesses, and we have experienced loneliness that has been increasingly difficult to overcome.  The political polarization and brokenness doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  Almost everyone is thinking, “I can’t wait for 2020 to be over.”

The Advent season can’t come soon enough.

Romans 8:22-23 says, “The whole creation has been groaning together for redemption.”

Advent is where we embrace that groaning for redemption, but we wait with hope. We recognize and lament the brokenness and suffering in this world, but we await the final Advent, where Jesus’ return will make everything right. However, while we wait and long for Jesus to bring justice and peace here on earth, we must recognize that God’s plan of redemption is already underway. He is already restoring and redeeming the world through different means. As a community in this season, we need to think about ways that we can join in on God’s work of redemption in this world.

For many of us, the Christmas season isn’t that celebratory. It’s a reminder of broken relationships or loneliness. We wait for love or marriage without knowing if it will come. We wait for a better job or just a job. Our hope is waning. We wait for healing. We wait for justice. It’s hard to wait if you don’t know when it’s going to end, or if it is going to end. The Christmas season with all of the commercials and expectations can remind us of unfulfilled longings in our hearts.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes that, “We simply have to wait and wait. The celebration of Advent is possible only to those troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.”

Those of us with heavy hearts can identify with the longing and waiting for Christ to come again to make everything right. As we wait, it can be very easy for us to believe that our suffering is because God abandoned us. However, Advent’s message tells a different story. God becoming man means that we have an incredible resource. Jesus knows what it’s like to experience hunger, injustice, betrayal, rejection, and suffering.

Not only did Jesus suffer to be a resource and comfort to us, He suffered to draw near to us. God descended from heaven so that He could know us. He wants to be in relationship with us. Although we may not know the reason why God allows suffering to continue, we know it isn’t because he doesn’t love or care for us. Jesus was so committed to our ultimate happiness that he was willing to suffer and die for us. Christmas is about God going to great lengths to be with us. The question for us this Advent season is — are we going to draw near to Him?

 We are excited to share this great resource with you to help you draw near to Him.  REUNION has created a daily devotional guide you can use for the entire season of Advent. Use it as a family, use it with a group, or use it on your own.

You can use this devotional to center ourselves around the story of Jesus during this Advent season. It’s available in PDF form and you can download it here . We hope you will join us in using this daily guide to study God’s word and be inspired by stories of people living into this grander story God is telling through Jesus.

Distracted: When the Ground is Holy and We Don’t Even Know it.

Distracted: When the Ground is Holy and We Don’t Even Know it.

Do you ever find yourself trying to find space to pray, and before you realize it, your phone is in your hand, or the TV is on, or you’re on social media?  We’ve said this before at Reunion, but what if we’re distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion?

In the book of Exodus, we find this story about Moses, an early leader of the Israelite people.   Through some crazy circumstances, he was put in a position of oppressor over his own people.  Eventually he had to flee from Egypt, and he finds himself hiding among a group of people called the Midianites.

He’s out in the field one day, watching over his father-in-law’s sheep, when he notices something…

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

It’s not surprising.  I think most of us would want to see what was happening here, but as I read this story, I keep coming back to this same thought…what if Moses got a text when he saw this bush?  What if he was scrolling Instagram, and never actually noticed the burning bush at all?

I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old man here either.  Please don’t hear, “You kids need to get off your phones!”  Hear “It breaks my heart to think about the times I’ve distracted myself out of experiencing God’s presence…and I feel like I might not be the only one.”

I mean, this was a monumental spiritual moment for Moses.  The story goes on to say,

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” 

And it’s easy to see this as a great story, because it is…but we can miss the deeper reality of what is happening here.  The ground didn’t just become holy.  God didn’t just show up when Moses walked over to the bush.  God was always there.  The bush was always burning.  The ground was always holy…Moses just became aware of it.

What if the ground is holy right now…we just aren’t aware of it?  And if that’s true…how do we become aware of it?

How do we open ourselves up to seeing what we might have missed before?  We pursue the presence of God through prayer.  We take time to intentionally look for the presence of God, and then begin to fold those practices into our everyday lives.

Maybe you’re not sure where to start with prayer.  Maybe you just need to set aside time to actually step into the practice of prayer.  Maybe prayer has become routine or ritualistic, and you need something new to breathe life into your prayer life.  Whatever it may be, my hope is that the prayer experience can become that for you.

Over the next few months we are going to create monthly opportunities to create rhythms of prayer together and alone.

The prayer experiences will be 1.5 hours long. The first 30 mins will be guided by a leader and will involve instruction and time of praying together with others. The next 30 mins will be a curriculum guided opportunity for you to pray on your own. We’ll wrap up our time by coming back together to debrief and share. (for a sneak peak of the guided curriculum, click the link below)

These will be in-person, socially distanced, outdoor gatherings. Masks are required and we will adhere to all CDC and local governmental guidelines.

If you’re interested in signing up for our next prayer experience on September 26th at 10:00AM, you can text prayerSOM (if you’re part of the Somerville community), prayerSE (if you’re part of the South End community), or prayerQ (if you’re part of the Quincy community).  

Signing up will allow us to know how many people to expect (so we can maintain CDC guidelines and make sure we allow for social distancing) and make sure we can contact you if anything changes (like weather forcing us to cancel) and you can contact your leader if something happens the day of the experience (like your car not starting).

My hope is that this experience opens our eyes to the importance of sitting in the presence of Christ, it allows us to begin practice of stepping away from our distractions, it helps us commune with Christ, experience Christ, and gives us a way to share our feelings, emotions, and experiences with Christ.

Nathan Caddell
Somerville Location Pastor

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

5th Sunday Serve – Food Insecurity

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

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