Over the last few weeks we've seen a big transformation in our gym. What were once decades-old flooring and goals are now replaced with modern sports flooring and equipment. The open, exposed beam ceiling will soon hold new energy efficient LED fixtures.
Many thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers who made this happen. This project is part of our ongoing effort to make Hillside a space open and available to the community, as churches once were. Other projects are in the works, stay tuned for more updates!
As we come close to Palm Sunday and Holy Week, we're preparing our hearts and minds to once again recount the passion narrative of Christ's last week. We call it the passion narrative because it's the story of God's passion in loving the world, and recalls us to remember God's promise to save the world. We call it Holy Week because it enlivens in us the spirit and focus of our religious center - the death and resurrection of Jesus. And for Disciples of Christ congregations, the holy act of communion is specifically highlighted on Maundy Thursday.
Join us this Sunday as we welcome Jesus at the city gates, with palms and praise. And return again to the temple courts, the upper room and the garden tomb. We dip our bread in the cup, witness the arrest, deny knowing Jesus out of fear, and we weep at his cross. Join us also, as we rejoice in God's promise and faithfulness on Easter; for our salvation is secure in the empty tomb.
Be faithful, dear church, in God's good promise. And be excellent to each other!
[This column originally appeared in the March 23rd, 2017 edition of the "Hillside Happenings" email newsletter.]
A PASTOR'S PERSPECTIVE
by Rev. Andy Beck
I usually deeply appreciate Lent. Note I didn’t say I “enjoy” Lent. I do not think it’s something we can or should try to enjoy – Lent is at its simplest, a challenge. While some may say they enjoy the challenge of a new sport or adventure, Lent is neither of those. In some regard, Lent is a real challenge, that is, it rouses in us the question of our very existence.
Yes, Easter is approaching in the coming weeks, and even though there’s always a spirit of energy and excitement surrounding Easter, we’re not there yet. We’re still in the heart of Lent, and that means we’re still discovering ways to recognize God’s mercy in our lives, and seeking forgiveness from the God who saves. I trust that Lent is bringing special meaning to your religious practice this season, that your connection to the holy is discovering growing edges, and that God’s faithfulness to never leave you or forsake you is nurturing a deeper trust in God’s love in your life. We’re not to Easter morning yet, we still have nearly a month to go.
That said, and as a matter of clergy confessional, this year I’m ready for Easter. I’m ready for resurrection. I’m ready for the promise of new and abundant life. We’ve suffered loss together recently – a lot, and in many different forms. Loss is hard, it reminds us of our mortality. Loss is hard, it reminds us that we don’t always get our way. That’s why I’m ready for Easter, because even pastors need to be reminded of God’s promise of new life, redemption and salvation. I hope you lean on the promises of God as well, as we seek to...
Be Excellent To Each Other! <>< Andy
The Advent season is one of these times in the church that is nestled snugly between to major cultural holidays. Thanksgiving, with its American heritage identity and romanticism, and the cultural phenomenon of the retail event we often call "Christmas" surround and sometimes envelop Advent. I've even seen "advent" calendars made out of Lego bricks, or mini whiskey bottles! It seems that consumer culture has moved its eyes to Advent, turning it from the season of anticipation of Jesus' birth - spanning 4 Sundays, each with a specific and intentional theme - toward a simple (and meaningless) countdown to Christmas.
But Advent is much more than that. It is about purposeful anticipation and longing. It is about reflection on the themes of Peace, Hope, Joy and Love - and how the newborn Messiah will fulfill those expectations. So this Advent season, as you anticipate the arrival of Emmanuel - God with us - be mindful of those themes and how they are born anew in your life. Where do you see God's Peace? How have you witnessed Advent Hope? Where is Joy abounding in the world? What Love is known to you and through you?
I trust this season will be more than a countdown for you; and I expect that the advent of Jesus will fill your life with renewed zeal and excitement for the Lord.
-Rev. Andy Beck
Sunday evening, Oct. 30th over 40 volunteers at Hillside played host to over 650 community guests for our annual Trunk or Treat event. It was a departure from years past, when the TOT event was held on Halloween night. This year, the approach was similar, but on the Sunday night before All Hallows Eve. The change was in an effort to encourage more Hillside families to participate, and to provide them with a free Halloween night to spend with family & their own neighborhoods.
We remain committed to our involvement in the community and beyond. I personally had several conversations with new friends about the ministry at the church, and invited them to come check things out on a Sunday morning. We even had a young man visit Sunday morning, stick around in the afternoon to help set up, and stay to assist with the s'more station and hand out candy! What a wonderful testimony of the good-will approach to sharing in community and good news with one another.
All this to say, it's good to be in ministry with my friends at Hillside. The love shared for community and service is an example we all can learn from. Well done, good and faithful servants!
-Rev. Andy Beck
Sometimes I get asked what makes the Disciples of Christ churches unique from any other denomination. And sometimes I have a decent answer for that question. Other times I struggle with defining the characteristics that make Disciples distinct. What I do know is what I have experienced; a kind of people who are generous in faith and spirit, who work hard to overcome obstacles with a willing heart to serve one another, and the passion for autonomy while respecting democratic governing principles for church structure.
The Disciples are the oldest Christian denomination that was founded on American soil. We "grew up" as the country did, with our roots deep in the American frontier of the mid 1800's. There's a rugged individualism that congregations hold on to, and there's a vibrant respect for what we call the "Priesthood of all believers" - a notion that laypeople and clergy alike are called by God to the ministry of Good News.
This Sunday we begin a 4-week preaching and learning series all about the Disciples of Christ. We'll discover who we are, where we've been and what's next for us as a denomination and congregation. The (still nameless) class that I teach in the Qahal classroom (old nursery) will be learning about the DOC as well; kind of a "Disciples 101" course. All are welcome to attend.
I hope to see you Sunday for 8:00 or 10:30 services. - Andy
To Learn More About our Disciples History, Visit the Disciples of Christ Historical Society Online:
Beginning soon, the Circle of Elders at Hillside will start a new program called Hillside Care Clusters. The Care Clusters are small groups of 12-15 people from the congregation, organized by family unit and placed under the care of one of Hillside's 24 Elders. The plan is simple - through the Care Clusters, the entire congregation will be covered by pastoral care and spiritual leadership from the Circle of Elders and the clergy.
Elders do this by:
The Circle Elders are undergoing regular training by the Senior Minister on areas specific to the ministry of the Elders.
These areas include:
As the Care Cluster program rolls out, be sure to inform your new Care Elder of any need you have. We will be adapting and changing the program as we gain experience about how best to serve the spiritual and care needs of the congregation, and this is a great way to start!