Celebrating Firsts

During this season, we will celebrate a number of first things. On Sunday, October 27, I will preach the first sermon as your pastor. We’ll have many firsts in the Christian calendar: All Saints Day, Advent, and beyond. There will be baptisms, ordinations, and a number of opportunities for fellowship. Know that I am happy to have a place on the chancel and a seat at the table.


Thank you in advance for the grace you have extended to your new pastor. In my first attempts at trying to get things right the first time, there will also be a number of occasions when I will get it wrong. For example, I have already gotten it wrong by wondering out loud if Steve Brown may be related to Mary Brown, while wondering if Jeff Browne is somehow their distant cousin. I’ve had my first adventures getting lost, even though 1370 Briarcliff Road is the first address that I saved in my phone’s app. I have gone the wrong way while driving past Nu Way hotdogs, and stumbled upon several new spots in Macon.
With all these firsts, there are some that are just too important to get wrong. I want us to focus together on keeping first things first in our communal faith. These first things form primary actions of any congregation: worship, hospitality, faith development, generosity, mission, and service. If you were to ask nearly any person in the pews of any congregation in Macon they might offer up just such a list. Robert Schnase authored a wonderful reminder for congregations when he encouraged them to focus, not on the nouns, but on the adjectives of these first, or primary, practices. What differentiates one congregation from another becomes the particular way that we live out these practices: how we open our doors, the ways we are generous. For Schnase, the important adjectives are passionate, radical, intentional, extravagant, and risk-taking. Hospitality must be radical if it is to express the love of God. Worship must be defined, not by style, but by passion. Faith development must go beyond annual programs and be marked by an intentional focus on discovering the sacred in our lives. Mission must be more than a check we write, but a risky reality check on where God is already at work in the world. Stewardship must be more than budget, and instead, the development of a culture of generosity that goes beyond the line item and comes off the page.


I look forward to discovering just how we express these first things together at Highland Hills. You may wonder about the first things I want to accomplish as your pastor. The first thing I want to do is get to know this congregation and the community in which we live. I want to know the story of Highland Hills and how this particular congregation has embodied the Good News. And I want you to get to know me.

Celebrating Firsts

By Jake Hall

During this season, we will celebrate a number of first things. On Sunday, October 27, I will preach the first sermon as your pastor. We’ll have many firsts in the Christian calendar: All Saints Day, Advent, and beyond. There will be baptisms, ordinations, and a number of opportunities for fellowship. Know that I am happy to have a place on the chancel and a seat at the table.


Thank you in advance for the grace you have extended to your new pastor. In my first attempts at trying to get things right the first time, there will also be a number of occasions when I will get it wrong. For example, I have already gotten it wrong by wondering out loud if Steve Brown may be related to Mary Brown, while wondering if Jeff Browne is somehow their distant cousin. I’ve had my first adventures getting lost, even though 1370 Briarcliff Road is the first address that I saved in my phone’s app. I have gone the wrong way while driving past Nu Way hotdogs, and stumbled upon several new spots in Macon.


With all these firsts, there are some that are just too important to get wrong. I want us to focus together on keeping first things first in our communal faith. These first things form primary actions of any congregation: worship, hospitality, faith development, generosity, mission, and service. If you were to ask nearly any person in the pews of any congregation in Macon they might offer up just such a list. Robert Schnase authored a wonderful reminder for congregations when he encouraged them to focus, not on the nouns, but on the adjectives of these first, or primary, practices. What differentiates one congregation from another becomes the particular way that we live out these practices: how we open our doors, the ways we are generous. For Schnase, the important adjectives are passionate, radical, intentional, extravagant, and risk-taking. Hospitality must be radical if it is to express the love of God. Worship must be defined, not by style, but by passion. Faith development must go beyond annual programs and be marked by an intentional focus on discovering the sacred in our lives. Mission must be more than a check we write, but a risky reality check on where God is already at work in the world. Stewardship must be more than budget, and instead, the development of a culture of generosity that goes beyond the line item and comes off the page.


I look forward to discovering just how we express these first things together at Highland Hills. You may wonder about the first things I want to accomplish as your pastor. The first thing I want to do is get to know this congregation and the community in which we live. I want to know the story of Highland Hills and how this particular congregation has embodied the Good News. And I want you to get to know me.

Letting the Children Lead

Garrison Keillor said, “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.” When the children of Highland Hills gather at our church they are constantly absorbing what it means to be a follower of Christ. Through Bible study they are learning the love story of God. Through choir they are learning the songs and stories of our faith. Through mission classes they are learning to express and share their faith. The work that we do with children is never wasted time, but a way to build stepping stones of faith within their lives.
On Children’s Sunday, we get to see, hear, and feel the way that God is touching the lives of our children. We get to see them express their faith as they sing songs of praise and offer prayers of hope. We get to turn over the reins of leadership on this Sunday so that our children can know the joy and responsibility of worship.
Join us on Sunday, November 10 during the morning worship hour as our children lead us into God’s presence. Let us surround them with our support and our prayers as we reaffirm our commitment to raising children in the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ, knowing that nothing we do for these precious souls is ever wasted.

Giving Thanks for Twenty Years Service

For the past twenty years, our church has been blessed with the faithful service of Billie Chapman in the church office. Every time anyone calls the church, they hear, “Good morning, this is Billie.” That familiar voice answers questions, puts a name down for Wednesday night supper, puts them on hold so they could talk to one of the ministers, cries with those who are ill, laughs with those whose spirits need lifting, and counsels those in distress. Billie is more than the church office manager; she has become a faithful minister and friend to us all.
On Sunday evening, November 10, we are going to celebrate Billie’s twenty years of service and her retirement from church work with a Fish Fry and Old Fashioned Gospel Sing. The fish fry will begin at 5:00 p.m. in the courtyard, followed by the gospel sing in the chapel. Gospel music has been a part of Billie’s life since her childhood and we could think of no better way to celebrate this milestone then to gather and sing those wonderful songs of faith. We have a few surprises but we can’t talk about them here. You’ll have to come and hear them for yourself.


Billie may be retiring from the church office but you’ll still be seeing her at church services and singing in the choir. After November 10, please don’t ask her to put your name on the Wednesday night supper list or to make a copy of your Sunday school material. She’ll probably find it easy to be free from those tasks but don’t be surprised if you call her at home and hear her say, “Good morning, this is Billie.” Giving that up is going to be a little harder—she’s been saying it for twenty years.



 

Our Family Gives Thanks

Our church family has traditions that are special to us that we like to share year after year. One of our favorite traditions takes place on the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving, when our church family—children, youth, and adults—gather in the Great Room for our midweek meal and a service of communion and thanksgiving. This year’s Thanksgiving meal and service will be on Tuesday, November 26.


Following a traditional meal of turkey and dressing, we will have a service of thanksgiving and communion, thanking God for all of our blessings and the ultimate gift Christ gave. Join us for this special tradition as our family of faith gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving and all of the gifts God has given each of us.



Boston Butt Fundraiser for Youth Missions

You can support the youth of HHBC in their summer mission work by purchasing delicious smoked Boston Butts, cooked by Charlie Barton.  The 5–7-pound Boston Butts, which cost $30 each, can be pre-ordered beginning Wednesday, November 6. The meat freezes well and will make your holiday meals quick and easy! Don’t forget, they also make great gifts!


The deadline to order and pay is Tuesday, November 26. You can pick up the Boston Butts on Wednesday, December 4 at 7:00 p.m. at the church.

Women's Advent Retreat

Advent is a season in which our minds are consumed with the act of giving. We work diligently to purchase the perfect gift for our loved ones. We look for creative ways of wrapping those just-right items, and we place them under the tree with a great sense of hope that the receiver will be delighted with our selection. Giving is a beautiful part of the Christmas tradition. We give because God, the greatest giver of all, sent Christ as our gift of salvation.
The act of receiving is also a significant part of this season. We are filled with gratitude when someone remembers us with tokens of love. We also must admit that there is a part of us that looks to see if our name is on that big box that sits under the Christmas tree. God wants us to open ourselves to receive the gift of Christ into our lives, and Advent is a season to prepare ourselves to be good receivers of God’s most wonderful gift.
The women of Highland Hills are invited to attend an Advent Retreat centered around the theme of “Giving and Receiving.” The retreat will take place on Sunday, November 17 from 12:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. in the Great Room. This will be a time to reflect upon the spirituality of giving and receiving. The afternoon will include lunch and the opportunity to make a gift or two. The cost for the retreat is $5, and reservations are required. You can make your reservation by calling the church office or signing your name to one of the sign-up lists located around the church.