By Ruth DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, October 15, 2015

The term “diaspora” originates from the two Greek words “dia” which means across, and “speirein” which means to scatter. Diaspora is a word that is often used to refer to the Jews who lived outside of Jerusalem. Its wider meaning is the scattering, or dispersion, of any people from their homeland. Characteristics of a diaspora community are social coherence and thoughts of return to the homeland.

The word “diaspora” came to my mind recently as I thought about our faith community here at Highland Hills. For those of us who worship, serve, and fellowship at 1370 Briarcliff Road - this is our church homeland. This is the place where we worship and study God’s Word. This is the place where we build relationships and offer care to each other. This is the place where we teach our children to follow God and to hold on to the traditions of our faith. In the hours that we spend here, we are family, and this is our spiritual homeland.

We become the diaspora when we leave the comfort of this beautiful place and travel into our neighborhoods, schools, and businesses. We are dispersed to live our lives among a community in need of Christ. I think about that each Sunday when Jake in need of Christ. I think about that each Sunday when Jake pronounces his benediction upon us. It is a blessing and a reminder of our giftedness and power. It is a call to allow God’s love, joy, and peace to be set free in our lives and scattered in the various places that we journey.

I see the touch of Highland Hills all over Macon. I hear of your good works from people that I encounter on the tennis courts, in the grocery store, and on our school ball fields. Your reputation to minister follows you as you build homes for the Fuller Center and Habitat for Humanity, visit nursing homes, deliver meals and flowers to the sick, teach and volunteer in our schools, and pray with neighbors through difficult days. You are the hands and feet of God spreading hope and help wherever you go.

The longing of a dispersed community is to return to the homeland. Remember that you have a place here in worship and fellowship. Remember that your presence here is meaningful to your brothers and sisters. The call to come back home is a call to renew yourself so you can once again be the “gifted and empowered at loose in the world” – the diaspora of Highland Hills Baptist Church.