What's your favorite part of the Mass? For some Catholics, it's the "Gloria," that wonderful and ancient prayer of praise to God that we sing together on Sundays. Others love hearing the readings from Scripture proclaimed. My best friend loves it when we all stand and profess our beliefs. The Nicene Creed is a beautiful testimony to our two-thousand-year-old faith and never fails to remind us all of the blessings God gives to us and His Church. Personally, I love the moments when the altar is being prepared for the Eucharist and the offertory is being collected. Crazy, right? While lots of people might see this time as a kind of "housekeeping," for me it's a lovely and meaningful moment of reflection. The ushers are taking up the collection and the servers are placing the linens and chalices on the altar. Sitting in my pew, I hear a few people singing along with the choir, a few others scrambling to find their offertory envelopes or spare change and a couple of folks are whispering about where to go for brunch. What they might be missing is the meaning of "offering." For as we give our gifts of bread, wine, and treasure to God, we are also offering Him our lives.
We often refer to Mass as a celebration and this is certainly true. We celebrate the wonder and majesty of God and His love for us. We celebrate Christ's resurrection from the dead and His victory over sin which was won on our behalf. We celebrate our place in the family of God. And we celebrate God's life-giving Eucharist which nourishes us and infuses us with His grace. But the Mass is also a sacrifice. It is a representation of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross in which we offer the Son to the Father. Through the priest, Christ is offered to God as the perfect, complete, and same sacrifice as Jesus' sacrifice. When He gave Himself in love for our sins, He gave everything He had to the Father: His Body, His Blood, His Soul and His Divinity. Jesus held nothing back. And that's what He asks of us.
While the priest prepares the gifts, we should be preparing our hearts, our minds, and our spirits for our own offering to the Lord. These precious moments in the Mass are an opportunity for each of us to place ourselves on the altar as well. If the bread and the wine are to be transformed into Christ, perhaps if we place ourselves on the altar, God will accomplish a miracle in us, too. How can we pass up this opportunity at every Mass? My challenge to each of you is to be aware of the offertory at your next Mass. Really reflect on what is happening and your part in the mystery of the Eucharistic liturgy. Ask yourself what you are placing on the altar of God and maybe more importantly, what are you holding back?
Often we find it easy to give our blessings back to the Lord. The good things God has given to us are easy to offer Him in gratitude. We can all say "thank You" for our health, our family, and our friends, our homes and our jobs---all the goodness of life comes pretty easily to our minds. But that's not enough for God. Our God is a "jealous" God (Exodus 20:5) and wants all of us, not just our blessings. Our offering to Him is incomplete if we don't lay everything on His altar. He wants our worries and failures, our faults and our sins and our shortcomings, too. While we're at it, don't forget all your hopes and dreams, your talents, your gifts, and your plans. God wants every minute of every day. Go ahead and make an offering of your life to Him. He wants everything you are so He can transform you into everything you were created to be. Whatever you can't or won't share with God is exactly what is holding you back in your journey with Christ. Whatever you keep for yourself is like an anchor that weighs down your spiritual growth. So be generous with God as He is generous with you. As we give our gifts to God next Sunday, may your gift to Him be just what Jesus wants most: all of you.
"With humble spirit and contrite heart may we be accepted by You, O Lord, and may our sacrifice in Your sight this day be pleasing to You, Lord God."
---The Liturgy of the Eucharist
Charlotte McGuffey, Salem Baptist Church
What beautiful weather God gave us last weekend. It was a pleasure to be out in the sunshine and fresh air. Our attendance was back up on Sunday as those who were away due to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend were back. This is a busy time of year but we all need to remain faithful.
The children will present their Christmas play on Friday night, December 21st at 7:00 p.m. The title is The Christmas Shoe Tree. The youth will meet at the church on Saturday, December 15 to go cut the tree for the church and then decorate it. The adult choir Christmas cantata will be on Sunday morning, December 23. The title is The Perfect Tree.
We are receiving a special offering during the month of December for the Lottie Moon Christmas offering for foreign missions.
Several members of the RHS class of ’47 along with some friends toured the beautifully decorated home of Steve and Donna Ensley in Lafayette on Sunday afternoon. They love Christmas and love decorating the entire house including at least ten trees. The group enjoyed their hospitality.
Our deepest sympathy to the family of James Davidson who passed away on Monday. He had been on our prayer list for several weeks as he fought cancer. His funeral was held on Thursday in Trenton. He is the brother of Bill Davidson.
Other cancer patients who need prayer are Mary Eslinger, Kathleen Lewis Williams, Kay Rymer, Jack Ensley, Rev. Wayne Hamrick, Rev. Tamlyn Collins, Andy Volz, Sandra Higgins and Haley Stone. Gene Lowery had surgery for melanoma last week and we pray he has a good outcome. Others who are under the weather and/or needing prayer are Reba Payne, Donald Kittle, Teresa Bilbrey, Charlie and Pat Bates, Delores Johnson (Tommy’s mother), and Phyllis Johnson’s sister. We are still praying for Jack Pennick and Susie and Archie McNish and others.
Our condolences to the family of Geneva Watts who passed away last week. She and George live in Florida. Her funeral was to be held on Tuesday at Salem. The church was to serve a meal to the family after the committal service. Mr. and Mrs. Watts gave Salem the Ronald Watts Memorial Building following the death of their son and his burial at Salem.
Congratulations to Shane and Allison Hullender who were married on Saturday, December 1. Shane is the son of Lebron and Carolyn Hullender. We wish them much happiness as they begin their life together.
Those having birthdays this week are Carolyn Earhart on the 5th, Howard Ensley on the 7th, Ronald Ensley on the 11th and Linda Forester and Kim Cornelison Thompson on the 12th. Stan and Lesia McDowell will celebrate their wedding anniversary on December 10.
The children of John and Mattie Scoggins had their annual holiday meal together on Saturday.
Mel and Charlotte McGuffey attended the ribbon cutting and celebration at Mt. Peria Baptist Church on Saturday. This was truly a time of rejoicing and thanking God for what he has done for them and worshiping Him. They also recognized the general contractors on the project, the American Legion for allowing the use of their building since the tornado and others. God has brought them from the devastation of their facilities by the tornado to a most beautiful and functional new facility. Pastor Ingram has been a wonderful shepherd and has encouraged and led the flock as they went through the grieving, planning and fund raising and rebuilding processes. Many from the Ringgold area attended the open house and celebration. One of the speakers noted the unity and variety in the crowd - people of different colors, ethnicity, religions and political parties – but all children of God. The people of Mt. Peria truly exemplified friendliness, hospitality, love and generosity as they welcomed everyone.
Pete Ware visited with Matthew and Jody Ware and Natalie and Nicholas last week. Pete and Matthew attended the Georgia Tech and Florida State football game on Saturday night.
Closing thought: Nothing improves our prayer life faster than big trouble.
Margie Stringer, North Whitfield Baptist
Sunday was a wonderful day. Folk in altars both services. So many of our people have the flu. We still had good attendance both services. Our drama will be the 15th Dec., 7 p.m., the 16th at 6 p.m. It is the old original drama: Past, Present, Future. The birth, everyday peoples lives, death burial and resurrection, also the judgment scene. Everyone is invited all are welcome. Come early to get a good seat. Hope to see you there.
Saturday the 8th is our Christmas supper at 6 p.m. Visitors are always welcome. We will also have a new years service from 7:30 till midnight. Always have snacks after the service is over. The Gospel Soul Seekers will sing along with others. Bro. Georgia Witt, Bro. Craig Westbrooks also Jeremy Fincher will preach along with other singers. We observed the Lords supper Sunday night, had a great meeting.
There are so many sick folk. Bro. Allen Dean fell and hurt himself. Bro. Charles and Katherine Defore, Chuck Everheart, James and Linda Sue Wilson, Mrs. Daisy Quarles, Henry and Marie Arnold, Jerry Stanley, James and Larry Baughman, Jackie and Annie Mae Terry, Thurman and Norma Headrick. All of my family has had the flu. Bro. Jim Bryson has a radio broadcast each Saturday 11-11:30 WTTI 1530 am. Also Bro. J.T. Sanders and the preachers have a broadcast each Saturday 12:45 to 1 p.m. WFLI 1070 am.
Bro. Jim and Ann Hall need our prayers, also Ken Bromlow, who is in Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga. Dale and Eddie are both sick.
Congratulations to Mt. Peria and Jimmy Ingram the pastor, Sunday was their first service in their new church. They had to set out chairs. I am so thankful the Lord has blessed them with a new building to replace the one destroyed by the tornado last year. Our prayer is that the Lord will bless them for many years to come. There are so many precious people putting their lives back together by the Lords help. They still need our prayers.
Well Christmas is not far away. I hope and pray that everyone including me will realize what Christmas is all about. A savior was born to be the savior of the world. It is a very special time for all of us. If we have health we are blessed.