We all have regrets. Those things in our past we'd change if we could. Maybe it's a relationship we let slip away from us. Or that job we didn't take in the career we'd always been drawn to. Perhaps we spoke harsh words to a friend that we'd wish we could take back. Or maybe it was something we didn't say or do that could have mended a broken heart, or healed a wounded relationship with a family member. Sometimes we might even imagine going back in time and changing things. We can fix what we wished had turned out differently and make everything right. But would it? Even if time travel was available and we could go back and change things, what effect would our meddling with the past have on the present? It's an intriguing fantasy that's inspired thinkers and writers for ages.
In all of human history, only one person has experienced a kind of rupture in time. And the story surrounding her is both miraculous and rooted in everlasting love. You've heard the term we use to describe it but many of us, even many Catholics don't understand it. It's the Immaculate Conception. No, it doesn't describe Jesus' conception by the Holy Spirit's overshadowing of the young Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-38). While Christ's Incarnation was indeed divine, the Immaculate Conception describes Mary's own beginnings in her Mother Anna's womb. My point isn't to compare our own human regrets about the past with the actions of God in Mary's conception. God has no regrets because His divine will is perfect in all things. And since He exists outside of time, everything and every moment is perpetually present to Him. But talking about time and the past and traveling "back" to "fix" stuff makes it a bit easier for us to understand God's unfolding plan of salvation. So my flawed analogy about time travel is just that: flawed.
Since the beginning of the Church, Mary's title of "full of grace" (Luke 1:28) was celebrated and contemplated. She was the vessel chosen by God to bear His Son, the Ark of the New Covenant, Who is Christ. How "full" of God's grace is "full enough" to bring Christ to earth? Completely full. Free from all sin, even the stain of original sin which we inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve. Over the centuries, the Church's understanding of God's grace in Mary's conception deepened. Finally in 1854, Pope Pius IX wrote a beautiful document called "Ineffabilis Deus" which defines the dogma of Mary's Immaculate Conception. The very title "indescribable God" expresses our human graspings at the truth of God in our limited abilities. I have to share a bit from the Pope's description of God's love for the Blessed Virgin: "He [God] attended her with such great love, more than all other creatures, that in her alone He took singular pleasure. Wherefore He so wonderfully filled her, more than all the angelic spirits and all the Saints, with an abundance of all heavenly gifts taken from the treasury of the divinity, that she, always free from absolutely all stain of sin, and completely beautiful and perfect, presented such a fullness of innocence and holiness that none greater under God can be thought of, and no one but God can comprehend it."
Did Mary need Christ for her salvation? Yes. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception reinforces that all salvation is through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. How God accomplished that saving grace in Mary is a singularity of His love. Mary was the first person saved through the Cross. Here's where our early discussion of traveling back in time comes in. Christ's victory over death and sin was applied by God to Mary at the moment of her conception. Original sin never stained her spotless soul. Did God have to do this? No. He did it purely as a gift of love for her. Of course even time itself is no constraint to God since He invented it. Out of love, God's grace is always sufficient and in Mary, His grace was most fully-realized. She continued to grow in grace throughout her life, cooperating completely with God's will in the Incarnation and life of her Son, til the very end as she stood at the foot of the Cross. Her life was and is, an overflowing of God's grace. Across time, beyond time, the love of God beckons to us, calling to us to offer us His lasting peace. God's love isn't bounded by time or space or sin or death. His endless love seeks out a very small and humble home: your heart.
"You renew the face of the earth." --- Psalm 104:30
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Charlotte McGuffey, Salem Baptist Church
It was an exciting and busy weekend at Salem. The Bible study for the ladies was on Saturday afternoon. The study was from Nehemiah and the focus was that it takes just ONE to get a good work started. In the evening, there was a church wide bonfire and weiner roast. Everyone enjoyed this time of fellowship.
On Sunday morning, the children from the interpretive movement class performed. This class was taught by Rachel Teague. It is good for the children to actively participate in the worship service through singing, interpretive movement, Bible verses or Bible drill while they are young so it can be a natural thing for them to participate in worship. If they don’t start young, many of them will be too shy to perform in public later. We had a large number of visitors who came to see the children perform and we hope they will come be with us again.
It was good to have Rev. Jerry Little with us Sunday morning. I was also glad to see Bertha, Betty and Sarah Ware Sunday morning. Their church was having an outdoor festival so they came to be with us.
There are still many on our prayer list including Janie Arch (sister of Chubb Blevins), Charlie and Pat Bates, Alvin Kittle, Kay Rhymer, Kathleen Lewis, James Davidson (brother of Bill Davidson), Holly Stockburger, Mary Eslinger, Archie and Susie McNish, Lisa Rauch, Teresa Tillman, Michelle Parson, Tommy Johnson’s mother, Jimmy Cain, Lloyd Aaron, Rev. Wayne Hamrick, Paul Bramlett, Donald Scoggins and others.
Sandra Gillian has enjoyed spending a couple of weeks in Oklahoma visiting her daughter, Kristen Gillian Hooper and family. Sandra especially enjoyed spoiling her grandbabies, Raley Marie and little Charlie.
We were sorry to learn of the death of a brother of Raley Gillian, son-in-law of Marie Massengill. Our deepest sympathy is extended to Raley and family. Marie and other family members from Ringgold attended the memorial service on Saturday.
The officers and teachers for the new church year were voted on at our business meeting. Thanks to the nominating committee for their work in filling all positions and special thanks to each one who agreed to serve. Let’s pledge to be diligent and faithful in filling our places this year.
Those celebrating birthdays are Ashley Tidwell (great granddaughter of Alvin Kittle) on the 14th, Johnnie Bramlett on the 16th, Ryan Dotson on the 17th, Nicholas Ware on the 18th, Rachel Teague and Kimberly Dotson on the 19th, Tommy Johnson and Jennifer Kenner on the 21st, Susan Pierce on the 22nd, and Avve Taylor on the 23rd.
Remember our 5th Sunday singing on September 30. We will have the Willow Creek Quartet with us and finger foods in the fellowship hall after the service. Willow Creek has been with us a good while ago, so come and enjoy them with us.
Praise God for answered prayer. Christ Chapel had given away most of their stock of canned food items on Thursday, and arrived to open for business on Friday to find 8 milk crates of canned food on their porch from one of our local churches. Of course, this will be given out in a few days so they are still in need of donations, particularly green beans and corn. If you have any questions about their work or would like to see it firsthand, feel free to stop in Monday through Saturday from 9 to 1 or give them a call.
Margie Stringer, North Whitfield Baptist
Sorry my news didn’t make the paper last week. I forgot to get it in on Friday.
Sunday marked the 30 anniversary of Bro. Stringer and I.
We had 187 for Sunday school and more for the preaching service. We really had a wonderful service. We had a lot of rededications and it was good to have all my children except Dale and he wasn’t able to be there but in some ways he is better and he got a good report from the doctor on Tuesday.
Bro. Swain Cochran and Sue were with us and he came back and preached Sunday night. They were coming up for the funeral of Mary Cochran on Sunday evening.
Glenda Hasty spent several days in the hospital week before last with her heart and they have diagnoses her with Lupus. So really pray for her. We miss her on the piano. Jodie Leslie plays and we appreciate Johnnie Sue coming and helping out.
Happy belated birthday wishes to the Brinkley boys, Kurt on the 30 of August and Kelvin on Sept. 5. Also my niece, Diane Bramlett had a birthday on the 5 of Sept.
We are in revival this week with Bro. James Langston. On Friday after service we will have snacks and coffee in the fellowship hall.
I failed to say I appreciated all my family Sunday three of my grandsons were there, Blake, Douglas and Shane.
The preaching time will be held at Pilgrim Way Baptist Church in Chickamauga with Bro. Bill O’Neal.
Tammy Cantrell was having surgery on Monday and another procedure on Tuesday. She is having a serious time with kidney stones.
Pray for Jan and Tim Key, also Norma and Thurman Headrick, Lucille Brinkley, Edna Allen, Daisy Dedmon, Allen and Vicki Dean, Jackie and Annie Mae Terry, Hubert Hawkins, and I desire your prayers. I can’t hardly walk or get up and down with my back.
Emma Jo Davis, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
We had several out on Sunday, some on vacation others were out because of sickness. Pray for all of them that the ones on vacation will have a safe and restful time while they are away and the ones sick that they will be well soon. Carolyn Denton was sick and the children that usually ride the bus were out please say a special prayer for these.
Bro. David preached a great message that we had all better take to heart. Sin is destructive. It was destructive in Lot and his family's life and it will be in our life. We can't point our finger at Lot because we all fail God and sin every day when we don't obey what the Lord has told us to do.
It was good to see Terry and Jan Disheroon with their grand baby, Brooklyn, Phillip and Misty King's baby. We were also glad to have Bro. Donald Self in the service he is always welcome back home.
Wednesday evening September 19th our church will go to Calvary Baptist Church in Tunnel Hill as Bro. David will be preaching. The bus will run if needed. We would need to meet at the church about 6:30 p.m., I think they start their services at 7 o'clock if not, we will know for sure next week and let you know. Bro. John Mitchell will be preaching on Thursday evening in the Revival.
My brother, John Silvey got a very good report from his doctor on Friday. There was no sign of cancer. We were so thankful to hear that. He is doing fine and is already back at work after his surgery. Kenneth Peters had by pass surgery last Wednesday. He is out in a room now at Erlanger Hospital. Continue to pray for him, he is still facing surgery to place a stent in an artery in his neck. Jimmy Blassingame has been in the hospital several days already because of an infection in his foot that has gone into the bone. The doctors wanted to try one more thing before they had to take his foot off. They did surgery to try to clean out all the infection they could then go for this treatment of pure oxygen every day for several weeks. Pray that they can find a way to get him there for these treatments and that the treatments will help. Jimmy and his wife, Joyce are such a precious christian couple that love to give but now is the time to show them what they mean to us and help them in any way we can.
Others on our prayer list are: Susie McNish having surgery this week. Doris Pitts, Al Holsomback, Johnny Chapman, Jan Elliott, Bernice Orr, Benny Wilson, Donald Brown, Ellie Pitts, Lula Petty, Louise Clark, special requests, lost loved ones, our military, our missionaries and our nation.
Happy Belated Birthday wishes to Jan Disheroon, September 6. April McAllister, September 8. Elaine Bennett, September 9. Emma Treadway, September 11.
Happy Birthday wishes go to Ashley Davis, September 15. Sarah Petty, September 16. Joseph Headrick, September 18.
Our church picnic will be Saturday, September 22. Games for the children starting around 4 p.m. then we will eat about 6 p.m. Come join in the fun and fellowship.