NSFW ⚠ 😳

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

Since July, we have been wending our way through the books of the Old Testament. If we were looking for cutesy stories about snakes and apples, arks and animals, we did not find them!

What we found instead was enough NSFW content to make even Mick Jagger blush. 😳

If that struck you as surprising, distasteful, or upsetting – it should also have struck you as very, very good news.

Because it means that the world the Jesus was born into, the world that Jesus came to save, was not a better, more pristine, more godly world than our own.

It was just as messy, just as bizarre, just dysfunctional as the world in which we live. 

Is that a weird thing to be thankful for? Probably. But it means that God’s love is meant for people just like us in a world just like ours. Hallelujah!

I hope you can join us tomorrow as we wrap up this year’s reading of the Old Testament with the relatively SFW story of Esther.

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Celebrate Good Times, C’mon! 😁🎉

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

The Old Testament tells the story of Nehemiah, a Jewish man who served as the cupbearer to the king of Persia.

After learning that the walls surrounding Jerusalem were in shambles, Nehemiah set out on a mission to get them repaired. He accomplished this goal in just 52 days!

And then Nehemiah celebrated, and he celebrated BIG TIME.

What better time than the start of a new year to look back and celebrate all you’ve accomplished in the last 365 days!

Did you pick up a new hobby? Try something new and learn you’re not that good at it? Knit a hat? Paint a wall? Find a delicious new recipe? Make a new friend? Go out of your way to help someone? 

All of these accomplishments – small though they may seem – are opportunities for us to give thanks to God and to celebrate (even if we don’t have access to all choirs, cymbals, harps, and lyres that Nehemiah did).

May your 2019 be just as worthy of celebration as your 2018!

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Back By Popular Demand 🎸🎶

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

Back by popular demand, singer-songwriter Michael Sullivan returns to Hillside tomorrow for this month’s Alternative Music Sunday.

Performing under the name Reverend Busker, Michael is a multi-talented musician who has toured North America since 1977. Notably, he was a contributor to “Give Us Your Poor,” an album about poverty in America made with Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Natalie Merchant, and Bon Jovi.

Since his last visit, Michael has written a song inspired by the Hillside community that will be debuted for us tomorrow – you won’t want to miss it!

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Shepherd Tested, Mary Approved 🐏👍

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

Have you noticed the large number of guests we’ve had in worship lately? Each week, we’ve been blessed by the sight of new faces in our pews.

When we’re joined by newcomers, it may feel like we as a church are getting taken out for a test drive. That’s because we are!

First-time visitors are feeling out whether or not we are the warm, welcoming, and loving church community that we claim to be.

So, as we prepare for Christmas Eve, when we remember how Mary managed to play hostess to the mangy shepherds who showed up on her doorstep just hours after she gave birth, I thought it appropriate to offer these tips for becoming greater greeters: 

  1. Circle of 10: Greet anyone, member or guest, who comes within ten feet of you before or after worship.
  2. Rule of Three: For the first three minutes after worship, talk only to folks you don’t know or people you know are guests.
  3. A Place of Grace: Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve met someone but forgotten their name: own up to it and ask them again! Likewise, don’t be offended if someone doesn’t remember yours.

Here’s to being an even more welcoming community in the year to come!

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

God ↔ Human 👍

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

“God became man so that man might become God.”

That’s how Athanasius of Alexandria (known as “the black dwarf” to his haters) summed up Christmas back in the 4th century.The idea that Athanasius is getting at is that the story of Christmas isn’t just a fun thing to act out in a pageant – it’s meant to change us.

When God enters into human life, it opens the possibility that our brokenness can be replaced with God’s own wholeness; that our lack of compassion can be filled in with God’s own mercy; and that our hatred, violence, and fear can be supplanted by God’s own love. (2 Peter 1:4)

In that spirit, may tomorrow’s Unrehearsed Christmas Pageant and our whole Christmas season be both fun AND transformative! 

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Going Green 🎄🎄🎄

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

We kick off the Christmas season tomorrow morning with our yearly “Greening of the Church” service.

At the start of worship, you’ll be invited to lend a hand in decorating our sanctuary: hanging ornaments on the tree, wreaths on the windows, and pine boughs on the pews.

On a practical level, this service is meant to gussy up our sanctuary for the Christmas Eve Service, when we celebrate Jesus’ birth.

More importantly, the act of decorating our sanctuary is meant to symbolize how we make ready our own hearts to receive the Christ Child, whose coming we celebrate at Christmas.

May Christ find a warm welcome in your heart and mine this holiday season.

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

What a Re-leaf! 🍃🍁

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

There are few things you can really depend on in this life: death, taxes, the love of God, and backyards full of leaves come the end of fall.

This week’s missive pertains to the last item in that list!

We are hoping to get the church’s backyard in shape for winter and could definitely use your help to make it happen. 

If you have time after worship tomorrow, we’d invite to start working off those pumpkin pie calories by helping us rake and bag some leaves. It should take just 20 to 30 minutes.

Whether or not you’ll be sticking around to rake, I hope to see you tomorrow for worship!  

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Gratitudinousness 💟🙏

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

1. Pistachio shells that refuse to be opened. 🤨
2. Tangled headphone wires. 😖
3. Double parkers in Davis Square.
😤

There are lots of little things to be annoyed about in life.

And yet, the Christian faith urges us to push past our griping and grumbling and to choose instead lives of gratitude (Col 3:151 Thess 5:18).

Admittedly, this can be a hard thing to do. 

So to help give your gratitude engine a jumpstart this Thanksgiving season, check out this list of 60 things to be grateful for. #33 is what I’m perhaps most thankful for in this life.

I hope to see you tomorrow for worship. If not, may you and yours have a blessed (and thankful) Thanksgiving. 

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Calling All Saints 😇😇😇

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

On Veterans Day (Sunday, November 11th), Hillside Community Church will observe the ancient Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day.

All Saints’ Day is a time to remember those have walked before us, showing us what it means to live lives of faithfulness and love. The day reminds us that we are part of one continuing, living community of Christians.

We will mark this very special day with a reading of the names of the departed.

These names may be both of those who passed away long ago and also those whose recent loss we are still grieving. All Saints’ Day is meant to be a time of remembrance, celebration, and healing.

You can submit names to be read using our online form, or you can fill out a paper form at worship on Sunday morning.

Hope you can join us for this special celebration (and the Sundays between then and now too)!

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything 😂

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

I dare say there is not a soul alive who really, truly enjoys meetings.

And with good reason! Most are long, disorganized, and meander here and there without any real purpose.

Despite their bad reputation, the Apostle Paul encouraged the first Christian communities to hold meetings to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”

That is what tomorrow’s church council meeting is all about.

In a concise, hour-long, purpose-driven meeting, we are going to check in to see how well we are living out our mission to love God and love people as of this second month of our program year.

In particular, we’ll discuss: 1) how Sunday worship is going 2) ideas for our Dawes Foundation grant application 3) the progress of our marketing program 4) who actually owns our church building and 5) a report of our current financials.

Whether you are a longtime member of the church, a casual attender, or a random passerby, you are most welcome to come and share your input.

I hope to see you tomorrow (at least for worship 😉)!

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor