Space for the Unspoken Prayers

Space for the Unspoken Prayers

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 4/23/15

For six years, I never said a word. I stood behind a pulpit and asked others if they had any prayer requests, even though I kept silent about our family’s deepest prayer. We were praying for a child. It was just too difficult to name in that room.

This week is National Infertility Awareness week. The theme is: you are not alone. Infertility is so personal and so private that one may never know the pain and isolation of the couple sitting in another pew.

Care in Christian community means being sensitive to our neighbor’s pain and compassionate to those who are hurting among us. This gives us pause to consider the ways that we offer
care in our community, whether the need is infertility, grief, parenting, loneliness, or addiction. As a congregation, we are beginning congregational care groups that create space to talk about the physical, emotional, and spiritual impact of these and other struggles. The church should be the safest place to name that you are having a hard time, yet I believe there are many items that remain unspoken on our prayer list because they are just too painful to name in such a public setting. 

Two such groups will soon begin meeting regularly: the first for grief and loss and the second for infertility. We will meet to share stories, offer words of care, and simply be heard. We will find strength in sharing our experiences, asking questions, voicing our doubts and fears, and naming our struggles. These care groups will offer resources and confidential, supportive care to those in need. If you know of someone experiencing grief or infertility, I invite you to point them to our group pages on Facebook (Macon Grief Group and Macon Infertility Care Group) or by contacting our church office.

As we implement these groups, one hymn sings the loudest, “The Servant Song.” Its final stanza reads: “I will weep when you are weeping. When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you. I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through. When we sing to God in heaven we shall find such harmony. Born to all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony.”

Let us not remain silent.

The View from the Children's Sermon Pew

The View from the Children's Sermon Pew

By Ruth DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 4/16/2015

Each Sunday, during our weekly worship hour, we have a time set aside for our
children to come forward for the Children’s Sermon. Cass usually invites them forward where Carol or I are “awaiting their arrival” with a lesson or thought based on the scripture text for the day. I have to admit that one of my favorite parts of worship is watching the children walk down to the front pew for this time of worship. They approach the front pew without hesitation or apprehension. They know that this is their moment— this is their time to be drawn into worship and, in a way, to offer themselves to God.

During this sermon time, we dip into our bag of Children’s ministry tricks to convey a nugget of truth for our children to hold on to. We will often use objects or pictures to catch their attention, and there is the occasional when-I-was-your-age story also thrown into the mix. I have to admit that I wonder what the children have seen and heard as they sit on that front pew. Have they gained anything from these few moments that we share together? Did they hear the biblical story? Did I remind them that God loves them? Were they challenged to understand something new?

More than anything I want our children to experience love and grace flowing from the words that I say and the expressions you share. I want us to model worship for them, and teach them the meaning of reverence. I want them to see God high and lifted up through our prayers and songs of praise. I want them to know that they are at home in our sanctuary, and that they belong to a great family of faith. 

My second favorite part of worship occurs when the children are dismissed from the children’s sermon pew. I love the hugs, highfives, winks and kisses that they share with me as they leave for Extended Session or go back to sit with their families. I am reminded that they bring so much to our family of faith. They bring an innocence and openness that I wish more of us could share. They are uninhibited in their feelings and expressions of love, and they teach us to keep our focus on the things that matter. 

From that front pew, I hope that our children can see God. May we continue to be a church that blesses children and ignites the light and love of Christ within them.

Doubting Your Way Towards Belief

Doubting Your Way Towards Belief

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 4/9/2015

Easter announced the good news of the resurrection. This week NBC debuted a
miniseries: A.D. The Bible Continues. It could be interesting. But, I always have my doubts about biblical movies. On the one hand, I find them fascinating. Every interpretation of the text must make definitive choices on how to tell the story in order to have a single point of view. On the other hand, not even the Bible presents a single point of view on the life of Jesus. Instead of one, we have four. There is something about the publicity of it all that makes me intrigued and queasy at the same time.

Our Walk with Christ

Our Walk with Christ

By Jake Hall 

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 4/5/2015

Are you the kind of person that charts the most efficient route from point a to point b, or are you the kind of person that enjoys a meandering stroll?
 
Maybe walking is your morning ritual, a way to set the tone for the day. Walking could be your form of exercise; you hit the track at least three times a week for the good of your mind and your body. 

Come, Join the Journey

Come, Join the Journey

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 3/29/2015

Every year we follow the life of Jesus from the advent of his birth to his joyful resurrection. We don’t leave out any part of Jesus’ story. We celebrated the blessing of Jesus in the temple as an infant. We wondered as the twelve-year-old Jesus wandered back to the temple and away from his parents. We waited in line as John baptized Jesus by the Jordan. We followed Jesus into the lonely wilderness and back into the midst of the disciples whom he called.

Trusting the Path

Trusting the Path

by Carol Brown

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 3/19/2015

This week I had a unique spiritual experience—I walked the labyrinth at Mulberry Methodist Church with a group of Highland Hills friends. To conclude our “Altar in the World” small group study, and as part of our Lenten journeys, our group of twelve women chose to walk and pray our way through the stone labyrinth in downtown Macon.

We Are All One

We Are All One

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 3/12/2015

On Sunday, we celebrate Women’s Day at Highland Hills. The day highlights the gifts and graces of women. It coincides with an international movement that also celebrates women. International Women's Day was celebrated earlier this week. The first International Women's Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political, and social achievements of women.

Listening to Grace

Listening to Grace

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 3/5/15

I have been trying to pay attention during this Lenten season. One of the ways that I try to be mindful each year is to seek out new expressions of faith in the Lenten season in music, art, or movies. This year praise and folk music topped my Lenten playlist. I am struck by the hope present in the Avett Brothers’, “Salvation Song.”