She looks at you with an expression of quiet self-containment. Not sad, not happy. It's like she knows something hugely important that you don't know. Her small mouth is closed and her chin is down. Her head inclines slightly to her left---towards the Child she is cradling in the crook of her arm. He's the size of a small toddler and is grasping her right thumb with both His hands. The Child Jesus isn't looking at His Blessed Mother, but is gazing up at the angel Gabriel who is hovering in the air above Him, holding a Cross. The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) is one of the most widely recognized and reproduced images of the Blessed Virgin around the world. You've seen this image dozens of time, but you may never have looked at it closely.
The Virgin is looking at us, the faithful. Her calm serene gaze is directed towards you and towards me. Dressed in a red robe, which many believe represents the Passion of her Son, she wears a blue mantle overlay which echoes the purity of her perpetual virginity. The icon captures a moment in the life of Mary and Jesus at a time in His childhood. Since Sacred Scripture reveals next to nothing about these "hidden" years of our Lord, this image is intriguing. Tradition long held that this icon was a copy of painting completed by St. Luke the Evangelist while Mary was still living on earth. For many long centuries Catholics believed that when they looked at this image, they were actually seeing the real face of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God. We know now that the icon probably dates from the Middle Ages where it traveled from its origin in Turkey on to Crete and finally to Rome.
According to tradition, the Child Jesus is sleeping when He is awakened by a disturbing dream of His Passion. He runs to His mother's arms for comfort. He sees Gabriel with the Cross and Michael the Archangel holding the sponge soaked in myrrh which will be offered to Him on the Cross, as well as the lance which will be used to pierce His side. In His haste to get to His mother, He's lost one of His sandals and the other one is dangling loosely from a strap on the other foot. Mary's right hand is pointing towards Jesus and His little hands grasp her thumb.
For me, that little untied sandal is a window I can't resist looking into. Mary's sinless hands would have tied and untied those tiny sandals every day as she cared for her Son. God created her in perfection for the role she was asked to fulfill as the Mother of God. When I think of Mary mothering Jesus as all human mothers do, I can see her holding Him wiggling in her lap as she ties His sandals each morning. I imagine all the thousands of other little acts of love and devotion she performed for Him throughout His childhood. We recall John the Baptist mentioning Jesus' sandals, too. He was speaking to the crowds about the coming of the Messiah. "One is coming after me and I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of His feet" (Acts 13:24-25). But Mary was worthy. As His mother, she loved doing all the little things for her Son that all mothers treasure doing. Her hands were created by God to mother Jesus. And in this icon, her hand is pointing towards Christ. Mary's entire life points us to Christ. We see in this image how Jesus fled to His mother for comfort and reassurance. We can imagine Him coming to her for help and guidance over the years of His childhood, and always finding her ready to take Him into her arms. What Christ did is a wonderful invitation for each one of us. Our Lady is our perpetual help, our comfort, our guidance, our Mother. Mary always points us the way to her Son. She longs to bring the whole world to Christ, to her Son. If Jesus ran to Mary for His comfort and guidance, I pray to follow His example and rest close to her pure maternal heart, wrapped in the arms that held our Savior.
"Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided."
---The Memorare, a 15th century prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Shannon Smith, Pathway Baptist Church
“Let’s Have Revival” that seems to be the theme at Pathway Baptist Church. The altar of prayer seems to usher it in. We first had a Sunday school hour promotion, letting the teachers promote their class telling their vision about their class. The service started with the song “I Love to Tell The Story” followed by “What A Day That Will Be” Sang by Shannon Smith and assisted by the choir both very powerful. The choir then followed with “He Looked Beyond My Faults”. The verses sang by Mrs. Sue Grimes and assisted by the choir. The second song was a recession by Russell Kinsey, “Jesus Loves Me” assisted by the choir, then the choir did a new song that just sums up what is happening at our church “Lord , You’ve Been Good To Me” with the verses sang by Brother Mark and assisted by the choir, a very true song. The altars begin to fill over and over all through the singing, as the spirit of God blew through, that’s what happens when you have revival.
Bro. Mark preached again from 2 Chronicles 7:14 titled Seeking His Face. 1.) Seriously consider your walk with God 2.) Stay with God that has brought you all the way 3.) Seize the moment. What God wants is for us to walk with Him daily, stay with Him always and seize the moment of salvation for someone to be saved. The invitation was powerful as many came forward to renew their lives. What a service!
Sunday night just continued the same as the Spirit of God could be felt immediately, as the altar of prayer began with the men. The song service was powerful with specials by Mrs. Sue Grimes and Alan Maroon.
Bro. Mark preached from Colossians 2:1-7 titled “Keep Walking” 1.) Walking in comfort 2.) Walking knitted together in love. 3.) Walking in thanksgiving.
We want to thank all our visitors; we hope you experienced revival with us and if you don’t have a church home we pray God would send you to us. We need soldiers of the cross!
We have many prayer request and many needs. We especially pray for Valerie Mullins healing and David Alley (Shannon’s dad) to be healed, these are the urgent ones today along with Polly Wells at Siskins. We have many birthdays this week happy birthday to you all we love you and hope you have a blessed one. March 4 is friend day invite a friend to Jesus! Just continue to love and pray for one another and let others see Jesus in you. God bless you
By His Saving Grace,
Charlotte McGuffey, Salem Baptist Church
We were glad to have visitors on Sunday on such a brutally cold day. James Trew had several family members with him. It was good to have Rev. Jerry Little, our Catoosa associational missionary, visit with us Sunday night.
It was announced the A.L.I.V.E. program for youth ages 13-20 will now meet on Wednesdays from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Team Kids for children ages 4-12 meets on Sundays from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Our Valentines party was a big success. The men did an outstanding job cooking, serving and cleaning up. There was lots of laughter and fellowship. The men said the ladies are so accustomed to being in charge in the kitchen that they still wanted to tell the men what to do. Of course, the men ignored them and did things the way they wanted to. We had plenty of food and enough left over to deliver to a needy family and feed them several times.
Our prayer list: cancer patients - Jack Leigh, Bill Davidson, Mary Eslinger, Tania Neal, Kay Rhymer, Holly Stockburger, June Freeman, Valerie O’Brien, Evalina Bryant, Haley Stone and others. Also on the prayer list are Rick Rollins, Jack Ensley, Paul and Carolyn Tatum, Fae Ensley, Phyllis Johnson’s aunt and many others. Mildred Brown is not able to attend because her immune system is very fragile.
Congratulations to Macey Gregg on winning the spelling bee in her school and in placing 7th in the Walker County spelling bee. She is the daughter of Lanham and Allison Gregg. Proud grandparents are Bobby and Jane Daniel and Mike and Sharon Gregg and great grandparents, Paul and Johnnie Bramlett.
Belated anniversary wishes to Raley and Sandra Gillian on January 31, I believe. Also, belated birthday wishes to Doris Lake on February 10. Hope she had a good day.
We extend sincere sympathy to the family of Loma Teems Hullender who passed away on February 8 after a brave fight with cancer. She is the sister of our pianist, Wilma Leigh. Her funeral was held on Saturday. She will be sorely missed by her many family and friends.
Sympathy is also extended to Mary Eslinger and family in the unexpected death of her sister, Luellen. Her funeral was held on Saturday also. She was the oldest of ten children and the first to pass away. Luellen was Connie Taylor’s aunt.
Marie Massengill and Susan Pierce enjoyed a trip to Tunica, Mississippi with the Senior Friends last week. They report they had a good time.
We were sorry to hear of the death of Jim Rogers of Signal Mountain after being diagnosed with cancer. He was retired from Combustion Engineering and spent the last 15 years of his life picking up and delivering donated items to local charities including Christ Chapel.
Congratulations to the Gasses and all the folks at Price Drug Store on moving into their beautiful new building in Ringgold.
Here’s a chance for you to hear some good gospel singing and contribute to a good cause at the same time. A gospel singing will be held on February 18 at 6:00 p.m. at Tiger Creek Elementary School featuring the Hullender family, Pipeline (with Probate Judge Gene Lowery), Junior and Thelma Hullender and others. The proceeds are to go to Holly Stockburger and family to assist with expenses in her treatment for cancer. It would be worth your time to attend just to hear Thelma sing “This is Just What Heaven Means to me”.
If I am not mistaken, Modern Woodmen will be matching money raised up to $2,500.00. They have helped a lot of people in our county.
Margie Stringer, North Whitfield Baptist
We had a wonderful service Sunday morning. I believe it has been three weeks since I had been on Sunday. I didn’t get to go to Sunday night, but they reported a good service. Bro. David Jenkins with the Rock of Ages prison ministry came by and spoke.
Our hearts were saddened by the sudden death of LuEllen Brown. Her brothers and sisters will all miss her. She was like a mother to them and the grandkids.
Also our sympathy goes out to the family of Mrs. Loma Teems Hullender who passed away following a battle with cancer.
Continue praying for Norma Headrick who is still in the hospital after she fell and had to have a total hip replacement. She hasn’t seen many well days since her liver transplant.
I haven’t felt good myself in a few days. I was in and out of the bed Friday and Saturday. I did go the funeral home Friday evening to see Mary Eslinger.
Lillard called and said she wanted to see me so bad. I hadn’t seen her in years. Pray for her she has cancer and takes a treatment every Thursday. It was good to see Dale and her other children, too.
Our crowd was a little off Sunday but it was bitter cold.
I’d like to say to the family of Kathryn Brown Poteet who passed away and buried last week and we didn’t know about it till I read it last week in the Catoosa paper. We always thought a lot of the Brown family when Bro. Stringer came to this part of the County he stayed at their house a lot and also he stayed in Bill Worley’s home with Joe.
Keith school was such a treasure to me and all the people there were like family. That was some of the fondest memories of my life.
We learned of a good friend yesterday, Gene Black had passed away. As the old song goes, “we are going down the valley one by one”.
Bobby Arnold made a little talk that really blessed everyone Sunday morning. He said he saw a sign on the road last week that said “Don’t tell God how big your problem is, tell your problem how big God is”.
I know we are living in terrible times and so many having such a hard time so lets remember that sign and this is my thought for the week.
The singers Justified will be with us on March 4th at 6 pm. Remember the Truck Stop Ministry at Cochrans Travel Lodge; services are every Sunday morning from 9-10, Sunday afternoon 4-5 pm, with Bro. Harry Roberts and Miss Shirley also Bro. Earl and since Harry was sick on Sunday needs our prayers.
Emma Jo Davis, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
We really got a taste of winter weather over the weekend. I'm sure a lot of plants that were already blooming got killed in this cold spell.
We have been spoiled with the nice mild weather we have had so far this winter that this cold snap really hurts.
We were thankful for a good number in the services on Sunday even with the cold weather. Betty Pitts was better but she thought it best to stay in for a few more days. We don't want a back set of that bronchitis that she has had. We were glad to see Bro. Mark Lancaster, he has had some health problems but seems to be better. He and his family are Missionaries to the Military in Europe. All the Missionaries need our prayers as times seem to get harder and harder for them. Also it was good to have Justin Holcomb in from college in the services on Sunday morning.
Sunday Evening we had Bro. Chandler Boling, a friend of Bro David to preach for us. I'm sure each one enjoyed his message.
We missed Carolyn Denton and Bill and Denise Zinkeler in the services on Sunday. They were up near Nashville for a wedding shower for Larry Headrick's daughter; she is Carolyn's niece.
We will be having a Deacon Ordination service on February 26th for Collis Holcomb at 2 PM.
Our Annual Missions Conference will be March 28- April 1 with Bro. Stinnett Ballew. Please mark your calendars for this and be in these services if at all possible. This is the time to be thinking about your Mission's Offering and if possible increasing it. I know so many people are still out of work and I'm sure some of these have been sending support to missions and can no longer send that support so some one needs to pick up the slack, can you! I know the Lord will bless you as you give for His work.
Alma Bryson and I visited Junior and Ida Land last Friday they are really not able to care for themselves. I don't know how much longer they will be able to stay at home even with the help they get from their family. Also we visited Benny and Doris Wilson. Benny is taking Chemo treatments at this time and is not doing good. He is losing weight all the time and seems to be eating good. Doris takes good care of him. Please pray for these.
We send Condolences to the Black Family in the death of their loved one Eugene Black. Also to the Family of Debra Graham. She was the great niece of Leon Brown just a young lady, 46 years old.
We still have so many on our prayer list Ellie Pitts, Lula Petty, Louise Clark, Faye Robinson, Arthur and Dorothy Longwith, Ralph and Norma Carpenter, Norma Headrick, Elsie Disheroon, Leon and Emma Lou Brown, Edna Allen, Katherine Plemons, Bernice Orr, Johnny Chapman, Dorothy Cumbee, Holly Stockburger, Joyce Heffington, Our Missionaries, Our Military and Our Nation.
Happy Birthday Wishes go to Nancy Silvey, February 18. Benny Wilson and Brenda Howard, February 19. Tammy McAllister and Warren McAllister, February 20.
Thought For Today- When was the last time you told God that you love Him? He is still listening!