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March Reflection

            One of the major challenges many of us face in life is the ability to focus – to concentrate our energy and attention on a limited number of things. For many of us, life provides us few opportunities to focus on one thing at a time. In the first place, we are busy people: there are many demands on our time and energy. It starts young: because we want our children to be well-rounded and because advancement to higher education demands much more today than good grades, our children constantly juggle academic work, sports, church, music, special interest activities, service days, and more.

 

            In the second place, the variety of our technological opportunities makes multi-tasking almost expected. We sit in a meeting but we are also checking email and social media. We are stuck in traffic, so we get on the phone. We are on the computer but have several screens open at once moving back and forth between work and personal communication.

 

            None of those things is bad. It’s great for young adults to have multiple opportunities to learn and grow; to discover who they are and what they are good at. It is hard to imagine our personal lives let alone most types of work without access to electronic communication. But all of these good things make another good thing very difficult: the ability and opportunity to focus.

 

            Lent is the season of the year when we are invited to focus – to go deeper into our faith. In particular, we are invited to reflect on who Jesus Christ is, what it means that he was called to suffer and die and rise again, destroying the power of sin and death. If Jesus is our window into the heart of God, how do his living and dying and rising help us go deeper into our relationship with God?

 

            Where to start? Start simply. Find five minutes each day to sit and focus on that question. Re-read last Sunday’s scripture passages. Read the passages for the Sunday to come (which you can find on the website). Read the Lenten devotion for the day (the booklets are at church or you can ask the church office to sign you up to receive one meditation every day from now until Easter). Read. Reflect. Be quiet. Expect God to be present to you. Listen. Rest in God. Go deeper. Meet God who is ready to meet you.

 

Cynthia M. Campbell, Pastor

December Reflection

            In December, the phrase we are lifting up from our Mission Statement is “We give, we receive, we serve.” What better words to reflect on during the season of Advent as we turn our hearts once again to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation – God’s great gift of coming to live among us as one of us in Jesus Christ. This season reminds us that first of all, we receive. As I John 4:19 says, “We love because God first loved us.” God’s love for us is the root, the ground, the source of our loving. Because we have received, we are able and inspired to give.

            I have been on the receiving end of an amazing outpouring of support and prayers since my father’s death on October 26. Fred and I are so grateful for all the cards and notes we have received. Turns out, cards (and emails!) matter! They may seem like small things, but each one represents a shared thought, a moment of care, words of support, a prayer. Many people have reminded me that my life is a part of my father’s legacy, and I am proud to embrace that. I chose as the text for my father’s service words from the Song of Solomon: “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it … for love is as strong as death” (8: 7 and 6). That was what my father said when my mother died in 2007. He believed that deeply, and it kept him both strong and content even with the growing limitations of his life. Of the many gifts that my father has given me over the years, the legacy of his faith is the best.

            I am not the only one who has been blessed to receive the gifts of this congregation. We have had a number of deaths in the congregation this fall, and I am deeply grateful for the incredible ministry of so many of you who have come alongside family members during their grief. Our Deacons and others have provided wonderful hospitality at funeral receptions; many of you have signed up for meal trains and taken food to people at home; our Chancel Choir, Frank Heller and Jan Ward have supported family members with music that lifted heavy hearts. And our church staff gives generously of their time to support all of these efforts.

            This year, as we celebrate the great gift of God’s love for us and for the world in Jesus Christ, may we take time to receive that love even as we then turn to others to give and serve.

Cynthia M. Campbell, Pastor

 

Highland Presbyterian Church’s Mission Statement

Highland Presbyterian Church is a community of believers inspired by the love of Jesus Christ and biblical teachings. We believe we are called to guide our children, support our neighbors, comfort the troubled, soothe the suffering and bless the dying.


We give, we receive, we serve,
we teach, we question, we learn,
we sing, we laugh, we pray.

We strive to use our time and talents to serve God, one another, and the world, sharing hope from the heart of the Highlands. 

September Reflection

This year, we are taking one phrase from our mission statement each month as a kind of  “theme” for emphasis and reflection. This month, as we begin the program year of education for children, youth and adults, it is appropriate that we reflect on how the Bible is our source of knowledge, inspiration and hope. When we use the word “inspired,” we mean it in two ways. First, our creeds and confessions say that the Bible is the “inspired” Word of God. This means that the Bible is both the product of human authors, editors, scribes and translators, and the work of the Holy Spirit. Presbyterian Christians argue that the authority of the Bible lies not in the words on the page but with the Holy Spirit who not only inspired the authors but inspires us as readers today.

 

“We are a community of faith inspired by biblical teachings.”

 

Second, not only is the text inspired, we are supposed to be inspired by reading and hearing the scriptures. The problem is that many people don’t experience the Bible as inspiring. Some have experienced the Bible as a weapon used against them: “behave this way, or else….” “Believe this, or else….” Obviously, the Bible contains principles, values, and rules for living. But when people use it primarily as a way to condemn others, the Bible itself is being abused, because its purpose is to bring life not death, hope not fear, joy not anxiety.

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