“Christmas is a tonic for our souls….”

B.C. Forbes further explains, “….It moves us to think of others rather than of ourselves. It directs our thoughts to giving.”  Today is unofficially recognized as the first official day of the Christmas Season. Stores are full of “perfect gifts” trimmed in red and green; ads for jewelry, perfumes, the latest technology, and toys flood the airwaves; and in malls across America, children can be found sitting with Santa and telling him what they hope to find when they wake up on Christmas morning. It’s impossible to miss the theme: Christmas is a time for giving.

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Many families have changed their traditions so that gift-giving is no longer the primary focus of this time of year, as some feel that the holiday meant to celebrate the birth of our Savior has become too commercialized; however, giving gifts can be a pure expression of our love for others.  In fact, God himself gave humankind the greatest gift of all: God in human form, the only perfect person ever to walk the earth, whose sole purpose was to die so that we might live.

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Gift giving can also “open doors” so that Christians might share this good news.  For children who don’t always have daily necessities, much less extras such as presents, receiving a gift shows that there are people in the world who love them, even if they’ve never met.  This often makes them more receptive to hearing about Jesus, another man they haven’t met face-to-face, but who loves them enough to have died for them.  To this end, Hillcrest’s Upper School students donated enough toys and candy to fill approximately 200 stockings, which will allow the staff and congregation of City Church to minister to local needy children.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

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Better to Give Than to Receive

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:38

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Ready or not, Christmas is almost upon us.  ‘Tis the season for joy and goodwill for most people of the world, but especially for those of us who are believers in Christ.  It is up to Christians to remember and promote the real “reason for the season”: the birth of our Savior, and the peace which knowing Him brings.  Christmas should be a time of peace for the believer; however, we often fall prey to the worldly view of Christmas — all about giving and receiving — which competes with and pushes us away from the peace which we so desperately need, and which only He can provide.

Hillcrest is working to keep the proper focus on Christmas by sponsoring two giving projects — one among Lower School students, and another in the Upper School — for children who may not otherwise have any gifts to open on Christmas morning.

The Lower School has already fulfilled the needs for their Giving Tree — wow!  However, we still need Upper School students to bring a bag of candy and 5 one-dollar toys in order to fill stockings for approximately 80 needy children (between the ages of 3 and 10) who live in the metro area.  The deadline for these items is Thursday by 8:30 AM.  Parents, please encourage your children to get involved and to make a difference in some child’s life.  It truly is better to give than to receive!

We Give Thanks

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The Hillcrest family as a whole is greatly blessed; most of us have health, a home, family, friends, and food in great abundance. And more often than not, we have an attitude of thanksgiving, recognizing that God has given us so much more than we deserve. Sometimes though, in the midst of daily obligations and trials, we forget, and we focus more on the few things that are wrong than on all that is right in our lives.

Those of us who work with children are no exception; we are prone to complaining about the difficult tasks of teaching and counseling and guiding young minds. However, in the midst of a much-needed break from this hard work, the administration, faculty, and staff of HCS want to express how we thankful we are for the almost-daily opportunity to love and teach your children.  Thank you, parents and guardians, for entrusting us with your most priceless treasure.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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Where Are They Now? – Chandler Key

It’s always a joy when former students pay a visit to their “old” teachers and school to share memories, but it’s a special blessing when alumni return in order to share their love of the Lord and their life experiences with current Hillcrest students.  Chandler Key — HCS Class of 2014 and Hall of Fame member — is in his third year of study at Mississippi College, majoring in Christian Studies with a focus in Ministry.  He also has recently taken the job of youth minister/director at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Byram.  Chandler returned to Hillcrest’s Upper School today to speak during Chapel; his message was a reminder to students, faculty, and staff that all believers have access to God all the time, due to the sacrifice of his son Jesus.  Our responsibility, then, is to spend time with Him, not just as part of a community, but one-on-one in prayer and Bible study.

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Christians also have a responsibility to care for others when we see a need.  Proverbs 14:31 states, “Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.”  To this end, Hillcrest will be sponsoring Christmas giving projects — one among elementary students, and the another in the Upper School — to help children who may not otherwise have any gifts to open on Christmas morning.  Upper School students who want to participate should bring a bag of candy and 5 one-dollar toys. These items will fill stockings for approximately 80 needy children (between the ages of 3 and 10) who live in the metro area.  The deadline to bring items is Thursday, December 1st.  The Lower School is sponsoring a “Giving Tree.”  Elementary parents, please ask your children to share what they know about this service project, and detailed messages were sent today on Notify.

Hillcrest families have always been generous to those who are in need, and no doubt, we will once again meet (or surpass) our giving goals to help metro-area children have a Merry Christmas too.

“May Jesus Christ Be Praised!”

Most of the Hillcrest family is aware that after every home football game, the One Spirit One Sound band gathers in a circle in the center of the field and plays what has been referred to by some as “that sad-sounding song.”  Some people have even complained to past band directors, “Why can’t you play something more upbeat? Why does it have to sound like a funeral?”  Many, however, are not aware that the words of the hymn played during the Spirit Chorale, “When Morning Gilds The Skies,” are a near-perfect reflection of Hillcrest Christian School’s mission to operate in a manner worthy of the Lord.

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Recently, Mrs. Monica Fountain, a long-time HCS parent and band booster, wrote the following observations which so accurately explain the reasons this hymn is such an appropriate choice:

One of the long-standing traditions of the One Spirit One Sound Band is the Spirit Circle. This worship moment is centered around the playing of the hymn “When Morning Gilds the Skies” at the close of a performance day. As many churches today prefer praise songs rather than traditional hymns, there is treasure in these hymns which may become increasingly unfamiliar to our youth. The tune of “When Morning Gilds the Skies” is known to our band family, but the words may not be. The original song had 28 stanzas, but most hymnals include only 4. Shown below [the page break] are 16 of those stanzas. Even though the title refers to “morning,” this is a hymn which beautifully carries us through the realities of life with a reminder that in all things, “May Jesus Christ be praised!”  Whether we… are celebrating a success or struggling with a difficult day, no matter the circumstances, we finish our day together in the playing of this hymn in praise of our Lord.

There is also a meaningful relationship between the words and the music. As the melody rises from the beginning of the song, it symbolizes the rising of the morning sun. The melody ends on unusually high notes for a hymn, proclaiming, “May Jesus Christ be praised!”  Whether singing or playing an instrument, these high notes require extra effort to sing or play, which boldly and enthusiastically capture the meaning of this hymn.

May this hymn always hold a special place in our hearts, and may we be mindful of its application to our daily lives. Especially to our Seniors, as you prepare to leave Hillcrest and focus on your future, remember the significance of this hymn and the many blessings God has given us individually and as the One Spirit One Sound Hillcrest Band.

Wherever you go or whatever you do, in all things, “May Jesus Christ be praised!”

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