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

A Group Gift 💦👶

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

In our flavor of Christianity, the congregation is the center of it all (after God, JC, and the Holy Spirit, of course).

It’s in this gathering of people that God’s movement in the world is discerned. 

It’s in this gathering of people that we are held accountable for practicing what we preach.

The importance of a congregation to a person’s journey of faith is the reason why private baptism ceremonies are not a thing in our tradition: Baptism is a gift that the congregation offers, not a service that the minister provides.

That’s also the reason I hope you can make it to worship tomorrow as we welcome a young family bringing their son to be baptized. We, as a congregation, will be giving them a very special gift! 💦👶

Hope to see you there.

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Acting Out 🎭

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

Every so often I feel the need to remind the world of Søren Kierkegaard and his great little book, Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing. 

In this book, Kierkegaard points out that we often think of worship as a stage performance: the congregation is the audience, the minister up on stage is the actor, and God is standing just offstage feeding the minister his or her lines.

But that’s not quite right, says Kierkegaard!

In worship, it is the congregation that is up on stage with the minister whispering their lines to them. Seated in the audience taking the whole thing in, is, of course, God.

While the game of musical chairs Kierkegaard plays with our roles in worship is clever, I think it also happens to be true. 

Worship isn’t a Broadway production meant to be just watched. Worship is a time when we come together to hear lines whispered to us that we may take them, make them our own, and speak them into the world with both our lips and our lives.

May we all strive to get two thumbs up for our performance!

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Unto Caesar (not the salad)

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

There’s a great little story about Jesus that goes something like this:

PHARISEES: *walk up to Jesus wanting to trick him into saying something he shouldn’t* Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar?
JESUS: Well… show me the coin you’re gonna pay with.
PHARISEES: *hold out a coin with a picture of Caesar on it*
JESUS: Whose picture is that?
PHARISEES: Caesar’s. Duh, Jesus.
JESUS: *eyes twinkling* Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.

This story is often read as Jesus endorsing the authority of government. However, its meaning hinges on whether or not Jesus thought anything at all belonged to Caesar and not to God.

As a 1st century Jew who grew up steeped in scriptures of the Old Testament (think Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”), my guess is not!

What this means for us today is that we’re invited to bring our faith to bear on all areas of our lives, even (and especially) the political.

That is why we’re glad that, this Sunday after worship, parish nurse Kathleen Beyerman will lead a Q&A session about Question 1, which will appear on our ballots in November.

It promises to be an informative, meaningful discussion – I hope you all can make it!

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Quite a Lineup

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

We have an exciting line up in store for worship tomorrow.

To kick things off, the Rev. Sarah Hathaway will be preaching, praying, and taking on the “youth message in a bucket” challenge. Sarah is an ordained minister in the PCUSA and is the Director of Spiritual Life at Newbury Court Retirement Community in Concord, MA.

Leading our music tomorrow will be the wonderful David Riordan. David plays piano for the weekly worship service at the Salvation Army and is the author of the recently released The Baker: Prelude.

Rev. Sarah Hathaway
First Lady of Hillside Community Church

David Riordan
Pianist and Author

Even more importantly (although unpictured), our worship will be moved along by the voices of a number of volunteers from our congregation.

I hope you can make it to tomorrow at 10am – it’s gonna be great!

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Welcoming Rev Busker

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

Tomorrow in worship we will welcome Michael Sullivan to lead us in song.

Performing under the name Rev 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.

Rev Busker Posing with guitar

Michael is also a great friend of the homeless community. In addition to doing regular fundraisers and other advocacy work, he provides music for the memorial services put on by the Outdoor Church.

I hope you can make it to worship tomorrow at 10am – you won’t want to miss this!

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Much Needed Rest

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

In case you’ve been enjoying your summer so thoroughly that you haven’t checked your calendar in a while: it’s already August!  

September’s busy-ness is looming just over the horizon of our sun and our fun.

During these final weeks of summer, I want to encourage you to take seriously the work of rest.

Our Old Testament ancestors took the work of rest seriously, if not too seriously. For example, things didn’t end well for this one fellow who was found picking up sticks on the Sabbath when he should have been resting instead.

Don’t worry – we haven’t scheduled any stonings for the coming program year! But that doesn’t mean that the work of rest in any less important.

May this August be a time of rest and renewal for you and all of God’s people.

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor

Making Hillside Happen

By | Weekly Reflection

It’s hard to believe that we’ve only been “Hillside Community Church” for less than a year. In just a couple months time, it seems we’ve already become a more community-oriented church.

Just think about what we’ve been up to:

  • We’ve started a Messy Church ministry to meet the spiritual needs of young families.
  • We ran a 7-day, 70-hour community service program for high school students from four area schools.
  • We installed a micro food pantry in front of the church that has already become a resource for hungry people in our neighborhood.

All these new ways of living out our mission to love God and love people would not be possible without your energy, love, and vision.

They would also not be possible if not for your financial support. And that’s why I’m writing you today.

As a not-for-profit organization, our ministry and mission depend on the generosity of the friends and members our church. If you find hope and meaning in Hillside’s worship services, fellowship, and service opportunities – I invite you to make a financial pledge this year.

By submitting a pledge, you’ll not only enable Hillside Community Church to better plan and execute our ministries, but you’ll also help ensure that we’ll be serving our community for years to come. You’ll likewise receive a year-end letter documenting your charitable giving so that you can receive a deduction when you do your taxes.

As a small church, every pledge matters and every pledge makes a difference.

P.S.  Have questions about pledging? Check out our handy dandy F.A.Q.!

Speaking Well

By | Weekly Reflection

Dear Friend,

The blessing offered to the congregation at the end of a worship service is called a “benediction” (from Latin, meaning “to speak well”).

The benediction you hear at Hillside Community Church each week (“Go forth this day in peace…”) is a paraphrase of the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5.

While the there is a bevy of bible verses used for this purpose, the most popular by far is Numbers 6:24-26The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Tomorrow, we’re going to have a go at singing this famous benediction: 

Hope you can join us as we not only “speak well,” but sing well too!

Grace + Peace

Tom Hathaway, Pastor