Joint Gathering This Sunday at Blackstone

Joint Gathering This Sunday at Blackstone

This Sunday, February 18th, REUNION will be holding a joint gathering in the South End’s new location at Blackstone Community Center.  We’re excited to bring the entire REUNION family together to celebrate this new location.  There will be no separate Somerville gathering this week.

If you plan on driving, we are asking our community to please carpool!  There is free street parking, but we want to ensure that there are enough spaces to go around.  

BLACKSTONE DETAILS:

New Address:

50 W Brookline Street (Community Center main doors)

Gathering Time and Place:

10:30AM, 3rd floor auditorium and various classrooms on the 3rd floor (there will be plenty of signage)

Taking public transit:

Orange line to Back Bay station (Walk 15 mins) or take 10 bus to W Dedham St @ Washington St. stop (just outside Blackstone’s doors)

Green line to Copley Station (Walk 15 mins) or take 10 bus to W Dedham St @ Washington St. stop (just outside Blackstone’s doors)

Red line to Park Street then take SL4 or SL5 bus to Washington St @ Union Park stop (just outside Blackstone’s doors)

Traveling by bus:

Take the 8,10,170, SL4 or SL5 and there are multiple stops that drop off right outside Blackstone’s doors

Driving:

There are 2 lots available to us for free. One of W Dedham street along the side of the building. One off Washington St. right across the street from the Salvation Army. There is also plenty of street parking around the whole building and parking is free on Sundays.

Kids:

We will offer all of our normal classes from newborns through middle school. Look for signage in the building pointing you in the right direction!

See you all there!!

LENT at REUNION – A progressive fast

LENT at REUNION – A progressive fast

Six Weeks in the Desert

Lent is a season of preparation. It’s a season where we give up good things so we can focus on better things. It’s not a rote ritual of fasting simply so we can fulfill a religious requirement. It’s an opportunity to give up some things for a season, so we can focus on Jesus and align our hearts with his.

In many ways, Lent can feel like a desert; it can be dry, difficult, and go on forever. Yet, the challenges of Lent can also allow us to experience the joys of Easter anew. As we learn to give up things we often take comfort in, we learn again to put our trust and hope in Jesus.

Fasting Together

Below are descriptions of what we will be giving up as a community. You’ll notice it’s a progressive fast where we will add a new thing each week. This is part of the journey. Each week, we will give up something new, decreasing the amount of creature comforts we rely on as we go deeper into the desert-time of Lent.  Every weekend, we will break our fast to rest and celebrate the goodness of God in this season.  See the image below for a quick overview and to follow along each week! 

Prepare. Fast from eating when the sun is up. Once the sun goes down, have a meal.

Alcohol. Let go of your wine, beer, and spirits.

Sweets. Say goodbye to things with added sugar and sugar substitutes.

Meat. Cut meat from your diet.

Caffeine. Put away the coffee, soda, and tea.

Social Media. Do without things like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

TV & Movies. Turn off the screen and dive into the Bible and quality time with others.

Things to Remember
Here are just a few things to keep in mind during the season of Lent.

Put down to Pick-up. Lent is not about suffering aimlessly. As you put down things, make sure to pick up habits that deepen your faith like prayer, bible study, and reflection.

Be Smart. Some fast items can be difficult/dangerous for small children, the elderly, or pregnant and nursing mothers. Make sure to fast in a way that preserves your health.

Follow Your Conscience. Some things we have chosen to give up as a community might not feel like much a sacrifice or may be too burdensome for some reason. It is okay to add or take away as your conscience lead.

The Reunion Team

It’s just a phase…so don’t miss it!

It’s just a phase…so don’t miss it!

When Finley, our oldest child, was a baby he was a TERRIBLE sleeper. He only wanted to cuddle, he would wake up at the smallest of noises, he only slept for two hour increments, and then fought going back to sleep with everything inside his little 8 lb. body! Beth and I would wake up in the middle of the night and look at each other in disbelief wondering if we would ever sleep again and if life would ever feel “normal” again. We looked like zombies during those first few months. Stains all over our clothes, bags under our eyes, unable to form coherent adult conversation, it was rough. My mom is a pediatric nurse, so she was a great resource during this time. I would call her at all hours of the night and her gentle voice would remind us that we will sleep again some day and that Finley was a perfectly normal baby. But one night as I was complaining to her and on the verge of tears and she said, “Christopher” (she’s the only one who gets to call me by my full name), “Christopher, it’s just a phase…” and then there was a long pause and she finished with “So don’t miss it! Because one day 30 years from now you’re gonna wake up in the middle of the night and wish you could sing a song to your kid, wish you could read them one more story, wish you had told them you loved them one more time”. Her point was, in the midst of the madness, don’t miss the good. Don’t miss the beautiful opportunity you have to love this kid, to shape this child, to read stories instead of zone out and turn the TV on, to sing songs instead of yelling for them to leave you alone.

This is why Kids Matter at REUNION! We don’t wanna miss this amazing phase of their life by simply putting them in some back room of the building to watch videos. We want to invest in their lives. We want to share the love of Jesus with them. We want to watch them grow and learn and develop. We want to walk them through failure and cheerlead them through success. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in this season of life. I’m sure I won’t miss the days of my kids screaming and crying and throwing tantrums (not matter what my mom says) – but I know I don’t wanna look back on this phase and realize, I missed it. I was so preoccupied with getting my kids to leave me alone, with my own success and agendas, with my own sleep schedule, my own dreams, my own __________, that I missed it. And at REUNION we want to partner with families to make sure none of us miss it!

Would you consider partnering with us in this goal and serving in REUNIONkids? After all, it’s just a phase – don’t miss it!

Chris Hall

Lead Pastor

Lessons from our first Sunday in Blackstone

Lessons from our first Sunday in Blackstone

I hope you were able to join us this past weekend for our first ever gathering for our South End location at Blackstone Community Center. It was truly an amazing day. While there is a lot to be celebrated I also wanted to take a second and share a few lessons we learned this past weekend that will help us as we come to call Blackstone “home”.

The South End neighborhood is amazing!

Seriously! This neighborhood is amazing. A rich history of fighting for racial justice, a former jazz mecca, and and a diversity that touts some amazing Ethiopian, Puerto Rican, Indian, French and Greek food (Seriously – my family walked over to Vejigantes after church on Sunday and it blew us away). It’s home to the SoWa market, the Boston Center for Arts and the school for the Boston Ballet. This is a great place to call home and we are excited to plant roots here as a church! As the weather gets warmer I invite you to walk the neighborhood, visit any of the surrounding parks, and find your favorite “after church” restaurant”

Parking is never easy in Boston (even with a parking lot!!)

Some of us found this out the hard way this weekend! We are competing with a fantastic brunch scene as well as neighborhood parking. Our gathering hits right at the perfect time for the Cathedral down the road to be meeting and for folks to be getting up for the brunch scene. We were able to park 34 cars in the lot this weekend, but had plenty of folks struggle to find parking. We are moving where our volunteers park and are working with our teams to create a parking team that will help organize and optimize our parking lot. We are also working on a “rolling drop off” system to drop families off while someone looks for parking. We will do everything we can to help make parking manageable.

We also invite you to arrive a little bit earlier and beat the brunch crowd or spend some time this week and find the best public transit route. We’ve had conversations with quite a few people who drove this past weekend simply because it was the first time, but plan on using public transit in the coming weeks. We are thankful for the parking lot, but still have some growing pains to deal with.

Coffee takes a LONG time to brew (but it’s worth it…and here’s why!)

If you showed up early you know our coffee wasn’t quite ready this weekend. We have worked with our teams and spent more time with our new coffee makers and will have it ready and hot for you this weekend!

We are excited for our new coffee and hope you are too, because it’s more than just a cup of coffee, it’s a partnership with our friends in the Dominican Republic. Many of you know we partner with Luis and Reina Vargas as well as GO ministries in the DR. We proudly serve “Collide” coffee at the South End. This is bought from fair trade farmers in the Dominican and Haiti and all the proceeds go to the 11 food and nutrition clinics GO has in the DR and Haiti. When you drink our coffee you are helping support our partners there!

Sitting closer to the front and together won’t kill you (at least not that we know of!)

One of our struggles this weekend was finding enough seating for everyone. Some of that was because we had so many people join us and part of that was because we love to spread out and sit in the back. To help with seating we are going to have ushers beginning this weekend who will help folks find a seat as they come in, especially after the gathering has started, but we also ask that you move towards the front when you arrive and scoot into the middle of the aisle to leave room in the back and the aisles as people continue to filter in. I’m fairly certain it won’t kill you…fairly certain…but no promises 😉

Dust can be a distraction or an invitation

You may have noticed drywall recently installed or missing ceiling tiles or even the ladders we had lining the front of the stage wall this weekend. Those things can be a distraction and for that we apologize. BUT they can also be seen as an invitation. An invitation to help us as we continue to make Blackstone home. We have a few more projects (installing the other speaker, finishing the painting, cleaning different areas, etc) and we would love your help. Keep an eye out for an invitation to future workdays. In the meantime, please pardon our mess while we continue to make Blackstone home.

A Community Center feels like a Community Center

Many of you noticed the “kids workout plans” or the “how to be a friend” checklists on the walls in the auditorium and the hallways. We did our best to “own” the space on Sunday, but are also walking the fine line between covering up all the “school” stuff and embracing and championing the fact that we meet in a community center and school. We want to do our best to beautify the space, but not simply for our benefit and so our space feels like “our church” on Sundays, but for the benefit of the school and community center. So we are being careful what we spend money on and prioritize in our setup and teardown. (PS – if you think the school papers were distracting, you should see the ballet mirror we covered up on the stage haha – maybe one day we will show you…)

Google Maps is a liar…

Many folks googled “Blackstone school” and it took them to Columbus Ave…we have no idea why that is the case. Our meeting space is Blackstone Community Center and it’s address is 50 W Brookline St. If you google it either google “blackstone community center” OR “Blackstone INNOVATION school” – that will get you to the correct spot!

Our community is full of some of the best people in the world! 

We had over 100 different people show up to our workdays. It was amazing to see our community rally together to make the move possible and equally awe inspiring to watch people step into new serving roles in order to make the gathering happen this past Sunday. I stood in the back of the auditorium and tears of joys streamed down my face while I thanked God for such an amazing community to call home. You all are amazing! If you call REUNION home and haven’t found a place to serve, we’d love to talk to you! 😉

Looking forward to many more Sundays together at Blackstone and excited to see what the future holds for our South End community!

Chris Hall

Lead Pastor

Blackstone: Everything you need to know for our first day there!

Blackstone: Everything you need to know for our first day there!

Blackstone Community Center is REUNION South End’s (formerly Back Bay) new home as of February 4th, 2018.

This move makes a lot of sense for us in so many different ways.

Part of our 30 in 30 vision of planting churches in every neighborhood of Boston is that we would be a church that loves our neighbors and invests in our neighborhoods in tangible ways. That we live in such a way that we are seen as a resource to our communities. Not just a financial resource, but a resource of people and ideas seeking to serve and love our neighborhoods and leave them better than we found them. Seeking the economic, physical, spiritual, and everyday health of the communities we gather in. Moving to Blackstone allows us to do that. We will partner with Blackstone Community Center in some of the programs they offer to the community as well as partnering with the Blackstone school and Emmanuel Gospel Coalition to come alongside the work God and others are already doing in our neighborhood. We are so excited for this move – BUT it does mean a lot of changes for our community. We wanna do our best to make sure you have all the information you need. Below you will find our gathering time, the new address, maps and directions as well as a call to action. Thanks for partnering with us and I can’t wait to see what God does in and through us as a result of this move.

BLACKSTONE DETAILS:

New Address: 50 W Brookline Street (Community Center main doors)

Gathering Time and Place: 10:30AM, 3rd floor auditorium and various classrooms on the 3rd floor (there will be plenty of signage)

Taking public transit:
Orange line to Back Bay station (Walk 15 mins) or take 10 bus to W Dedham St @ Washington St. stop (just outside Blackstone’s doors)

Green line to Copley Station (Walk 15 mins) or take 10 bus to W Dedham St @ Washington St. stop (just outside Blackstone’s doors)

Red line to Park Street then take SL4 or SL5 bus to Washington St @ Union Park stop (just outside Blackstone’s doors)

Traveling by bus? Take the 8,10,170, SL4 or SL5 and there are multiple stops that drop off right outside Blackstone’s doors

Driving? There are 2 lots available to us for free. One of W Dedham street along the side of the building. One off Washington St. right across the street from the Salvation Army. There is also plenty of street parking around the whole building and parking is free on Sundays.

We will also begin serving coffee from “Collide Coffee”. This is a partnership with our Dominican Republic partner GO ministries. All of our coffee purchases go to supporting fair trade farmers in the DR and to help fund the feeding centers operated by GO in Haiti and the DR! Feel free to bring a mug from home to help cut down on waste and cup usage.

Kids? We will offer all of our normal classes for kids birth-middle school. Look for signage in the building pointing you in the right direction!

This move is a huge undertaking and brings lots of changes with it. As a result, we need extra hands in every area. If you call REUNION home, consider joining a Sunday morning serve team or reaching out to Chris or Matt to figure out ways you can get involved and help make this move successful!

We can’t wait to see you there!

Chris Hall

Lead Pastor

Abraham, Isaac, Jesus and….Tebow??

Abraham, Isaac, Jesus and….Tebow??

John 3:16. Probably one of the most well known verses in all of the Bible especially after Tebow made it a fashion statement in his time at Florida. It says,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

It’s the Gospel in one sentence. It is the ultimately description and depiction of LOVE for us and to us.

It’s the crux of our faith in a lot of ways – but it’s not an original statement.

There is a really cool principle that many scholars use in studying scripture called “The Principle of the First Mention”. Essentially it says, to understand a particular word or doctrine, we must find the first place in Scripture that word or doctrine is revealed and study that passage. The reasoning is that the Bible’s first mention of a concept is the simplest and clearest presentation; doctrines are then more fully developed on that foundation. So, to fully understand an important and complex theological concept, we start with its “first mention. The principle is also often used to demonstrate God’s consistency of Character. What God demonstrates as Truth in the first mention, should hold as Truth in all other mentions.

So what does all of this have to do with John 3:16 and our Garden to City reading plan?

Great question!

John 3:16 is a resounding declaration of LOVE. It demonstrates the depth of God’s love for humanity, the sacrificial love of God through his son, and the saving love of God to eternal life. So if there is so much talk of love – maybe we should look at the first mention of love in the Bible.

Love is first mentioned in a passage we read just last week in our Garden to City reading plan. Ironically, it’s not found in a passage describing a passionate relationship between two lovers or in a declaration of someone’s love for God, or even in the love a mother has for her children, rather it’s found tucked away in a passage about a father, his son, and an agonizing command.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you LOVE—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Genesis 22:2 (emphasis mine)

Sound familiar? It follows an eerily similar structure as John 3:16 doesn’t it? Take your son, whom you love and sacrifice him for others.

When we hear a story like this, it pulls on our heart strings. As a father of two amazing sons, I know for a fact that if God asked me to choose between my children and anyone of you, you are all hosed. Absolutely out of luck. My kids win every time. Such is the love of a father for his son.

But check this out – we are just getting started.

The first mention of love in the New Testament is found in Matthew chapter 3, right after Jesus is baptized God speaks from heaven and say,

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I LOVE; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, emphasis mine)

In fact, out of the 4 recorded Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) – the first mention of Love in the first 3 gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) is at Jesus’ baptism when God calls out and declares his love for his son.

And then we get to the Gospel of John. And the first mention of love in John’s gospel is found in John 3:16. When it declares that God LOVES the world so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son.

This is what makes the Bible such an amazing story, journey and invitation.

We see the first mention of love in the bible in the story of a father being asked to sacrifice his son. His only son. Yet as we read the story we see that God provides a ram at the last second so the father doesn’t have to sacrifice his son. We all sigh a sigh of relief, because no father should ever have to sacrifice his son. The love in that relationship is too great.

Then the first mentions of love in the New Testament are God shouting to the whole world, from the heavens, how much he loves his son. And then we get to John 3:16.

And we see that despite the depth of a father’s love for his son, despite God’s declaration of love for his own son, he loves us more…he loves us enough to sacrifice his son, so we may find life. So we may be made new. So we can find value. So we can find hope. So we can more fully love others. Dang, what a powerful picture of God’s love.

See, this is why we are walking through the whole bible together this year. Not just so you have more biblical knowledge, but so we can have more knowledge of God and his love for the world. We get a more complete picture of who God is. We could read John 3:16 on its own and it’s a beautiful message of love, but read it in the context of the whole story of scripture, read it in its proper place in the grand arc and journey of scripture and it is given more depth, it is given more meaning.

When we read scripture this way, we see deeper depths of God’s character – we see God’s faithfulness and consistency. This becomes a more full story. One that has been tested. One that has endured. One that was relevant then and is relevant now.

I hope you are coming to know God more through our journey in the scriptures and in turn coming to know yourself more.

I’ll leave you with this. John would talk about the Father’s love again in another one of his letters to the church, but this time would challenge us to love as well.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (I John 4:9-11)

May you know God’s love completely and make God’s love complete.

 

Chris Hall

Lead Pastor