Sometimes God just asks too much of us. I mean it's one thing to be kind and nice to nice people. If someone smiles and waves to me I'll let them over in traffic. No problem. And if a little old lady is struggling with her grocery bags, I'll be the first one to help her. Don't even have to be asked. Doing those kinds of things gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling deep inside. It makes me feel g-o-o-d about being a Christian. I imagine Jesus looking at me and smiling while chubby little cherubs fly around His head playing harps. Christianity is easy.
And then I read the Gospel of St. Luke. Just after His sermon on the plain, Christ teaches us to love our enemies and “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). What?? Love my enemies? And pray for the people who mistreat me? What does God want me to do? Be a doormat? He's just finished telling us how all our sufferings and hardships will be rewarded if we follow Him. All those promises of His famous sermon to the multitudes. They sound great! If we mourn, we'll be comforted. If we are poor, we'll be given the kingdom of heaven. It all sounds very good and sort of in line with a kind of faith “justice” -- if you follow Christ, you'll be rewarded. Then He turns everything on its head by telling us to do the unthinkable and love our enemies. More than unthinkable, it's un-doable. Hearing Jesus speak these words must have made many people in the crowd scratch their heads and wonder if maybe He wasn't crazy. And I think He is. Crazy in love with us. Loving an enemy is only possible in and through the love of Christ.
Our human hearts and minds just can't find a way to return love for hate. It goes against everything that comes naturally to our self-preservation. But when you invite Christ to control your life, it isn't about self anymore. It's about Jesus. When Christ lives His life through us, we can do the impossible. As St. Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ, yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:19-20). That crucifixion Paul talks about is our Baptism. In the Sacrament, we receive the grace Jesus won for us on the Cross. His life in us continues to grow through Holy Communion, prayer, and a deepening personal relationship with Him. We decrease and He increases. Crazy.
For me, learning to forgive people who have hurt me comes through frequent sacramental Confession. It's in Confession that we most profoundly experience the mercy and forgiveness of God. In confession, we encounter Love and Love welcomes us home to Himself.
Frequent confession disposes us to forgiveness and allows that grace to transform our relationships with other people, especially those whom we may find hard to love and difficult to forgive. When we are forgiven by the Lord we find it easier to forgive others. God's design is perfect like that. Mercy flows from Christ and His life in us forgives those we call our enemies. We can live out that forgiveness by praying for those who have hurt us. God knows their needs and their brokenness. We can ask for a Mass to be celebrated for their intentions. What better way to forgive someone than to lay their needs at the Lord's altar. And what joy that gives Jesus. Pray a Rosary for them and ask our Blessed Mother to draw them closer to herself and the Sacred Heart of her Son. These acts of mercy exercise the muscles of our faith. Christ's love lives through us and we participate with Him in building up the Kingdom of God. The kingdom Christ promises us in His sermon begins in the dark, foul rooms of our hearts where Love now makes His home. All are welcome here. And all are forgiven!
“Forgiveness is the remission of sins. For it is by this that what has been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again.” ---St. Augustine
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Charlotte McGuffey, Salem Baptist Church
It was good to have Mike Teague back in the pulpit on Sunday following his neck surgery. He is still in a brace and has a long road to recovery but is thankful to be serving the Lord. We appreciated our visitors and invite them to come back next week.
On our prayer list are James Davidson (brother of Bill Davidson), Mary Eslinger, Holly Stockburger, Georgia Blevins (sister-in-law of Chubb Blevins), Janie Arch (sister of Chubb), Charlie and Pat Bates, Alvin Kittle, Kay Rhymer, Kathleen Lewis, Archie and Susie McNish, Lisa Rauch, Teresa Tillman, Rev. Wayne Hamrick, Brenda Callahan, and Michael Clowdus’ mother who fell and injured her shoulder.
Remember those recovering from surgery including Bro. Danny Henson, Mike Teague, Janice Watkins and Paul Westbrook (brother in law of Tommy Johnson). Also continue to pray for comfort for those who have recently lost loved ones: Wilma Leigh, Eddie and Shirley Boring and Georgia Blevins.
Our deepest sympathy is extended to Paula and Lynn Swafford and family in the death of Paula’s mother, Blanche Johnson. She was a member of Bayside Baptist Church and had operated Johnson Florist for many years.
During the month of October, we will be taking an offering for food items for the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home. Please pray over this and give as God prompts you.
Our sympathy to the Edwards family in the death of Dan. His wife was the former Faye Flynn and they were long time owners of Ringgold Florist.
Our condolescence to the Griffin family in the death of Ben Griffin. His wife is the former Carolyn Patterson who graduated from Ringgold High School. Ben’s father, Jimmy Griffin, was pastor at Keith Baptist Church for many years.
Congratulations to Mickey and Jewel Liner on the arrival of their great-grandson who was born September 16. He has been named James Kel Blankenship. His parents are Krista (Jewel’s granddaughter) and Barret Blankenship.
The Ensley/Carpenter reunion was held on October 6 in the Salem fellowship hall. There was lots of good food and visits.
Earl Presley has donated a photo grouping to be hung in the fellowship hall showing photos of a quilt he won in a raffle by the Salem Community Club back in 1952. The quilt was divided into 16 squares and each square had a circle divided into “pie slices” and people paid a dollar to have their name embroidered in a slice. The ladies quilted the quilt in Bertha Ware’s basement. The club members sold chances on the quilt for 50 cents each. They raised almost $600 to build their clubhouse and clean up the cemetery. The club had previously met at Keith School. This was 60 years ago – quite impressive example of folks working together to accomplish a big goal and succeeding.
Closing thought: Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don’t want to do and like it. (Harry S. Truman)
Margie Stringer, North Whitfield Baptist
Sunday was a real good day. The weather was just right for a jacket.
Please pray for Jerry Clark, he is in the I.C.U. at Memorial Hospital. Larry Keaton is home after going to the hospital, he still has a lot of health problems.
It seems there is so much sickness. Continue praying for Norma Headrick. She went back to Birmingham last week for a check up. Let’s all pray for Kenneth Hollifield, he is in N.H.C. following a stroke. He has been a legend in Catoosa County for years. He has made many friends from the chow time to the funeral home.
The annual Rhudy reunion will be held Saturday, October 13th at the Griffin Park in Tunnel Hill at 11 o’clock. Bring a covered dish or just come by and visit with the kinfolks. This was my mother’s ancestors and there’s not may left.
Our ladies fellowship meeting will be Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Marvin and Mertha were married at the Dogwood Valley Baptist Church last Saturday. It was one of the sweetest weddings I’ve ever seen. Mertha did her own singing, which was beautiful and so touching. They took a short trip to Birchwood and will reside in the Dogwood area.
Dale will be going back to Piedmont on Tuesday. He has been getting good reports. Pray for him. Also birthday wishes for him on October 15th and to Eddie’s daughter, Whitney, on the 16th. On the 20th we will have a benefit singing for sister Francis Kraus starting at 7 p.m. with Bro. Pete Reed and the Gospel Soul Seekers, Bro. Lavon King and Forgiven, also Bro. Earl Roberts and his singers, also church singers.
Also on the 20th at 3 p.m. will be our Senior Citizen Banquet in the Fellowship Hall, and on the 27th we will have our Fall Festival for the children. All are invited. We always fix hotdogs and treats for all. We have games for all the children.
Maple Grove is in Revival this week. Bro. Terry Roberson is pastor. We will put on the Christmas Drama, the old original Past-Present-Future. It’s still a way off, but will be here before we know it. Time is swiftly passing by.
Our prayer for all of you is to have a good healthy week. Till next time, may the Lord bless.