Reaching Heights December 2018
Links to this month’s news:
Advent Worship – Draw Near!
Second Hour – Advent Adult Study
Along the Path – Thoughts from Pastor Roger
Because You Care – Henry Sharpley
Finding and Joining God in Community – Cindy Maxey
Missions Team Report
Gift Cards for the Holidays
First Sunday of Advent
December 2 – Drawing Near to Wonder – Luke 21:25-36
Second Sunday of Advent
December 9 – Drawing Near to Truth – Luke 3:1-6
Third Sunday of Advent
December 16 – Drawing Near to Justice – Luke 1:46-55
Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 23 – Drawing Near to One Another – Luke 1:39-45
7:15 – Preservice music by the HCC Band
7:30 – Traditional Candlelight Service
Second Hour Combined Advent Study
Pausing on the Road to Bethlehem led by Carolyn Troha
This study is designed to help us slow down and sink into the Advent season, right as the world tells us to scurry and rush. During these sessions we will utilize music, art, poetry, and a variety of interactive activities centered on biblical passages that connect to Advent. We will walk with Mary and Joseph on the road to Bethlehem, taking time to “ponder these things in our heart.”
December 2 Bible focus: Isaiah 40:1–3
December 9 Bible Focus Isaiah 7:13–14; Matthew 1:18–23
December 16 Bible Focus Luke 1:26–38
December 23 Luke 1:39—45 and/or Luke 1:46–56
Along the Path
Given all that is going on in our world and in our country, each of us, regardless of our political position, can find reasons for discouragement. This may be aggravated as we move into the Advent/Christmas season because it conflicts with our romanticized memories of Christmases past and our longing for joy this Christmas.
But the headlines in the newspaper and the top stories on TV news are not the whole picture. Even in the midst of the troubles of our day God is still at work and we can see that happening if we keep our eyes and ears open. Sometimes buried are the other stories that do abound in this season of giving. Small stories and large stories of people giving of themselves to bring hope and joy to someone else. Those are the stories of God at work in our world.
And we can be those stories too. We can be the hope and joy that others need and we can be the story of God at work as we go through this season giving of ourselves. Wishing you a hopeful Advent and a Merry Christmas!
New Advent Devotionals Available
Those who are devoted to the devotional Our Daily Bread read the phrase
“Distractions don’t have to derail our prayers” and, of course, our daily devotions. So, pick up the winter booklet in the Campbell Room basket or the Narthex and put distractions aside while you enjoy the biblical readings and these inspiring vignettes.
Because You Care
We extend our deepest sympathies to Amber and the entire Sharpley family on the death of Henry Sharpley on November 12th. A Going Home service was conducted at HCC on November 20th. Please keep Amber and the Sharpley family in your prayers.
Finding and Joining with God in Shaker: One Experience
by Cindy Maxey
Our congregation has been challenged to go out into the community, find where God is working and join in. Lately, finding God working has seemed rather challenging. It’s easy to see where God is needed, not always so easy to see where God is present. We turn on the news or look at social media and see division and rancor. It seemed to come home to Shaker on Thursday, November 7 at a community meeting held at the high school.
Whether you were present at the meeting, watched the live video stream or read the transcript, it was pretty disheartening. Adults interrupted the speakers, grabbed microphones out of others’ hands and screamed at and past each other. Parents made accusations and administrators barely acknowledged speakers. Sides were taken and sabers rattled. It wasn’t our best moment as a community. There was a bright spot. Members of the High School Student Group on Race Relations (SGORR) immediately organized a Rapid Response Community Meeting to be held at the High School cafeteria the following Tuesday.
These teen leaders are experienced at having difficult conversations about race and other tough topics. They created a safe container for students, parents and other community members to talk about their experiences and hopes for the school and community. They organized their community meeting into 18 groups, each led by a Core SGORR leader and co-facilitated by a parent or other adult. As a member of the first cohort of the Leading for Equity training, I was invited to be one of those supportive adults.
After agreeing to serve, I was paired with Aaliyah Williams, a junior active with an antihunger group at the high school as well as a leader in SGORR. When I arrived at the cafeteria, she greeted me with a warm hug, putting me immediately at ease. I was given an agenda for the evening and informed of my task which was to be a scribe, writing down answers from the group to a series of questions. I was nervous about needing to help deescalate any argument that might arise as many had on Thursday, but Aaliyah had things well in hand and the teens in the group knew how to have a respectful and productive conversation. Aaliyah was particularly skilled at knowing how to keep the group (of approximately 12 teens and parents) on task and within the safety guidelines that were set at the beginning of the meeting and when to give someone a little leeway in order to be heard. Our discussion focused on the student’s experiences of race, privilege and exclusion at the school. One white male teen talked about an experiment carried out by a group of white and black students who all spent a day without wearing the required ID. Few of the white students were challenged by faculty to produce theirs though all of the black students were. One freshman bi-racial girl spoke about how very hard it was to place into an advanced class and find herself separated from her friends. I had forgotten how essential those relationships are to teenagers. An African-American parent raised the question of just how committed highly taxed parents are to equity.
My job turned out to be fairly easy though I had to write fast to get the many ideas out on paper. After we completed the questions, each group put its chart paper up on the wall and everyone was invited to walk past and read the ideas and put dots by the three ideas we each felt were most important. With perhaps 200 or more people in attendance, this was a little messy but still enlightening. We then got into smaller groups to talk about what we learned and what we would take away from the evening.
While no one spoke of God, I found God to be present among us in the conversations we had. Members of a community met together in mutual care and with a concern for justice and kindness and with real humility about their own experiences and limitations. I felt well-used to serve God in God’s community.
Addendum: Before we left the meeting Tuesday evening, we were given two questions and asked to discuss them with others in our communities. I’d love to talk with you about these.
· How can we hold ourselves personally responsible as individuals for moving forward on race and equity?
· How can we hold ourselves responsible as a community for moving forward on race and equity?
from the Mission Team
Gift Cards for the Holidays
Every year we ponder what to get Fred or Stacey. We end up with something we hope they like, but know it is a gamble. Why gamble? A gift card is a sure winner. And while we don’t like to put a dollar value on a relationship, let’s face it – they know how much you spent on that gift.
The earlier you shop for gift cards, the sooner you can sit back and relax. And this is the time of year when we have a Special Order Form (attached and in the Campbell Room). Special orders are accepted for pre-Christmas delivery until December 9, 2018.
This year we have a special deal for you. A select group of cards from the HCC’s inventory are being offered at a discount until gone.
Baker’s Square (2 available) $10 card for $9.50
Cracker Barrel (12 available) $10 card for $9.50
Outback Steakhouse*** (4 available) $25 card for $23.50
TGI Friday (10 available) $25 card for $23.50
Texas Roadhouse (3 available) $25 card for $23.50
*** Good at Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Carrabas’s and Flemings
Support our church budget. Get your shopping done early. And make your life less hassled. Gift cards are easy.