Five Things You Need to Know About Worship on Sunday

Five Things You Need to Know About Worship on Sunday

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, March 24, 2017

Highland Hills is honored to host the opening worship for the Cherry Blossom Festival. The many moments of community and celebration provided by the Cherry Blossom Festival remind us of what can happen we when celebrate new growth and beauty in our city. We will welcome our civic leaders, mayor, the Cherry Blossom Board, the Macon-Bibb Youth Commission, and both national and international dignitaries of the pageant court. May the moments of our worship together guide us to recognize the promise of spring and seek the vitality of true community.

Here are Five things You Need to Know About Worship on Sunday:

1. If you reading this, then you have been drafted to the “Greeter Team.” On Sunday, we will welcome around 150 guests to our worship service. You have an important role in the way that welcome and hospitality are expressed in our congregation. Meet people with a smile. Offer your attention. Shake hands. Highland Hills, you are gifted in hospitality.

2. Hospitality is a Christian Virtue. Beyond setting a warm table or cooking a nourishing meal, hospitality means looking for ways to welcome all who enter your threshold. Welcoming space requires attention and intention. This day will be good practice for ways we can always offer our best welcome to our community. This also means . . . this Sunday will look a little different than most.

3. Parking may be limited. Those able to walk and enjoy the beauty of our campus are encouraged to park in the far back of the parking lot. As you know, convenient paths will lead you to the sanctuary through the courtyard.

4. Offer someone your seat. We are all creatures of habit. Even I sit in the same seat on Sunday. With 150 guests, there is a high probability that someone will be sitting in the seat where you normally sit. Say a silent prayer of thanks for their presence and be sure and offer them a warm welcome. Help our guests see the deep welcome of Christ in your action.

5. Be proud of who we are. Highland Hills has been a living witness of God's grace and served this community for sixty-five years. We will celebrate a legacy of beauty and caring for our community.

I hope to see you on Sunday.

Pastoral Confessions of a Reality TV Junkie

Pastoral Confessions of a Reality TV Junkie

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, March 17, 2017

I have a confession to make. I am a sucker for those home renovation shows on cable TV. It
all began years ago with TLC’s "Trading Spaces". Now, I find myself enamored by HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” where the delightful couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines, bring new life into homes in great locations.

Macon Neighbors Week 1

Macon Neighbors Week 1

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, March 9, 2017

Last night we convened the first session of our speakers series, where we learned about our city from the perspective of our neighbors. Mayor Robert Reichert and President Bill Underwood of Mercer University, each shared their perspectives of life in Macon now, and in the future.

Meeting Macon Neighbors: A Lenten Journey

Meeting Macon Neighbors: A Lenten Journey

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, March 2, 2017

For the next 40 days we will walk together as a community, remembering Jesus’ mission and ministry from wilderness to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Along the way, we will note the people who followed Jesus by catching a vision for what the kingdom of God could be on earth. We will listen to and learn from their witness to the work of Jesus in their time.

Carnegie Hall!

Carnegie Hall!

by Cass DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, February 23, 2017

This past weekend, Ruth and I had the opportunity to go to New York City to sing at Carnegie Hall. An event that I never dreamed would be on my “bucket list” is now checked off. We were invited by Stanley Roberts, along with about 100 other musicians, to join the Mercer Singers and McDuffie Strings to perform John Rutter’s Requiem, a work that I have known and loved for years.

A Beautiful Thing

A Beautiful Thing

by Carol Brown

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, February 9, 2017

It was a beautiful thing to see more than 80 women of all ages, faiths, and walks of life gathered in our Great Room last Monday, sharing a meal and conversation around the tables. The women found their way to HHBC from Milledgeville, Eatonton, Warner Robins, Monticello, and all neighborhoods of Macon to attend the monthly lunch meeting of the Women’s Interfaith Alliance of Central Georgia.

All Hands-on-Deck

All Hands-on-Deck

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, February 16, 2017

Ever since I was a little kid standing behind by Uncle Joel as he captained his boat, I’ve always wanted one myself. It doesn’t really matter what kind of boat, either. Each time I’ve gone skiing or deep-sea fishing or simply tooling around the lake on a pontoon boat, I feel kind of peace that’s hard to describe. For me, there’s just something about being out on the open water that evokes a deep sense of both peace and adventure all at the same time.

Throughout Christian history boats have been symbols for the church, signifying a vessel of salvation. It makes sense when you think about it. Jesus called fisherman to be fishers of men and the community they create is like a new vessel of sorts. The metaphor of a church as a boat has even shaped the way we speak about sanctuaries. In cathedrals, the main portion of the sanctuary is called the nave. Nave is a Latin word for ship. This image is so popular that in many churches you’ll find the symbol of a boat with the cross as its masthead carved in stone or etched stained glass.

I’ve been reading a little reflection by Joan S. Gray that further explores this thought of the church as a seafaring vessel. If the church is like a vessel, then Gray wonders just what kind of vessel should the church be?

For Gray, too many churches imagine their inner life through the image of a rowboat. Rowboat churches do what they can with the resources they have: money, wisdom, energy, people, and facilities. They depend on the power of the people in the boat to determine direction and exert the effort on the oars to propel the boat through the water.

Rowboat churches are built around doing more and working harder and leveraging the power programs like the oars of a small rowboat.

Gray wonders if an image of the church should be that a rowboat or is it more appropriate to think of the church as a sailboat?

Gray reflects through the image of a congregation as a sailboat with a sail spread wide, allowing the wind of the spirit to move the church where God wants it to go. It is God-powered. Not everything depends on the power of those inside the boat. Instead, those inside the boat set the conditions to capture the wind that is already blowing. While the church is not literally a sailboat, we can choose to operate in ways that allow the Holy Spirit - the wind of God - to become the source of our direction and power.

That is what our Vision 2020 discernment process is all about. In this season, we need all hands on deck as we crew Highland Hills for the future. I hope you will join us at our next congregational meeting on March 12th as we continue this important work together.

Dreams to Remember

Dreams to Remember

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, February 2, 2017

As soon as, Carol Brown, our Director of Preschool Ministries, read from the children’s book, God’s Dream, I knew I wanted Logan to not only hear it, but to know it by heart. Desmond Tutu’s work in reconciliation and theology of faith “in community” have inspired this children’s book. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a South African cleric and activist who rose to worldwide acclaim as an opponent of apartheid. It is a good read for all ages, as is Tutu’s larger work, God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time, on which the little book is based.