Backpacks and Blessings

Backpacks and Blessings

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, August 17, 2017

Lately, I have been thinking about the bags that we carry. Last week I took the tags off a new backpack for my five-year-old son. This "big boy" backpack replaces a smaller backpack that sported a built-in super hero cape. It bears pockets and places for pencils and pens. The back carries a compartment for lunch and a holster for a water bottle. Truth be told, I miss the built-in cape. However, this is a backpack for a boy starting kindergarten.

Think of the bags that people carry. I can't help but to think about the bag that I carry most days to Highland Hills, a gift from a dear family friend on the occasion of my first pastorate. Most days it is filled with books, notes, and my laptop, but never enough pens. As I write this, I am noticing all the different bags people carry around. There is a man across the coffee shop with a fanny pack just in case his laptop bag wasn't enough. I see a woman with the her purse on a hook at a table who looks ready to take on the world.

We place a lot of things in the bags we choose to carry, both materially and existentially. What do you carry with you? Do you bear all the tools it takes to make it through your week? Is your bag a wash of projects kept at bay by a well crewed day planner? Deep down do you carry a blessing from God upon your work day to day? This Sunday is a day of blessing when we will present our first graders and seventh graders with Bibles. During this service, we will bless all the students with a word a blessing and a small charm. Each will serve as a reminder to carry love and the word of God with you wherever you go.

May this day of blessing students remind you of the deep blessing and grace of God in your life. May the bags that you carry day by day have room for the love and grace of God... if not, it may be time for a new bag.

Precisely These...

Precisely These...

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, August 10, 2017

"Precisely These" is the line that always gets me in Scott Cairns poem, Possible Answers to Prayer. It reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote: "If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity." Upon reading or hearing the poem, you soon realize that sometimes God's answers to our personal prayers might be as unsettling as they are comforting when they reveal the parts of our character still in need of redemption.

The Kingdom and the Arts

The Kingdom and the Arts

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, August 4, 2017

By now you have noticed something different on the table some Sunday mornings. Sometimes we have flowers on the table, other times we have communion, some days, like this past Sunday, we have a visual feast. For the past couple of seasons, we have invited our very own artist-in-residence, Wimberley Rader to help us see the scriptures in a new way. Wimberley received the task of interpreting the scriptural text using stones, sticks, trees, and other items. These interpretive tableaus form a beautiful bricolage based on the sermon text for the day

Better Learn How to Kneel

Better Learn How to Kneel

By Ruth DuDuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, July 27, 2017

Our recent Highland Hills Pool Party could have been classified as a flop. About the time that we made our arrival at the Highlands Pool, the thunder started to rumble and the lifeguard blew her whistle signaling that it wasn’t safe to be in the pool.

1000 Articles

1000 Articles

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, July 20, 2017

In Luke 19, the Pharisees demanded that Jesus silence his disciples. "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Experience that imagery. Even to Jesus, a picture is worth a thousand words. Driving around our neighborhood at Highland Hills, I saw something that brought this scripture to life.

Growing Generosity Practicing Resurrection

Growing Generosity Practicing Resurrection

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, July 13, 2017

I have been thinking about stewardship at Highland Hills. At first thought, one might assume that stewardship is a matter of math, something that can be quantified by budgets and bottom lines. However, being a steward of this place doesn't begin with money.

The Truth Is, What You Do Matters

The Truth Is, What You Do Matters

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, July 6, 2017

It is a simple message, I know, but it might be the most important one: You matter. You matter. Your life matters. You are gifted and empowered and what you do with your life matters.

These affirmations have marked our Summer of Service adult Sunday School series. Each week during the summer, adults gather and discuss a topic followed by a service project. Last week, this class sent notes and a small care package to the waiters, waitresses, kitchen crews, bartenders, and staff of most of the restaurants in downtown Macon.

I had the privilege of delivering the eighty bags all over downtown. It was both hot and heartwarming. I entered each restaurant and said, "Hi, I'm Jake. I am a pastor and I have something for you." In most of the places, this is the moment when I observed a bit of skepticism. "Ugh oh.... what is this guy trying to sell me" was the most common expression.

Then something wonderful happened, when folks realized that this was simply a gesture of care and respect, at that point everything was simply a gesture of care and respect, at that point everything softened. "You mean you aren't trying to sell me something?" I understood the skepticism. I've seen too may well intentioned Christian communities trying to offer people grace by convincing people of their wrongness through disgust and judgement, instead of empathy or compassion. What about grace?

Let's continue to do good work with people inside and outside the walls of the church. Let's kindle the grace of God enough to know that our work of hospitality really, really matters.

It's a Baby Boom!

It's a Baby Boom!

By Carol Brown

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, June 29, 2017

We’re having a baby boom at Highland Hills. We had a precious baby boy born in February, two sweet little girls born last week, and a fourth new baby on the way in September. That’s a real baby boom!