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Faith Blog

Features local churches’ and synagogues’ news, spiritual leaders and special events.

Happy Hanukkah!

the final night of the festival of Hanukkah


Chanukah — the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev — celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality. Chanukah 2014  begins in the evening of Tuesday, December 16, and ends in the evening of Wednesday, December 24.

More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.

When they sought to light the Temple’s menorah (the seven branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity that had escaped contamination by the Greeks;

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.

On Chanukah the Hallel and Al HaNissim are added in daily prayers to offer praise and thanksgiving to God for “delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few… the wicked into the hands of the righteous.”

Chanukah customs include eating foods fried in oil — latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nungimmelhei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, “a great miracle happened there”); and the giving of Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children.

(Source: Chabad of Cobb)


What are your family’s Hanukkah traditions? Visit our Facebook page and share your traditions with your neighbors.

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JFBC Christmas Festival is this weekend

Kick off the Christmas season at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church for their Christmas Festival Choir and Orchestra Concert December 13-14. Concerts will be held at 4pm and 7pm each day.

Johnson Ferry Baptist Church is located at 955 Johnson Ferry Road in East Cobb. For more information call 770-973-6561 or visit


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Community invited to Christmas Celebration at Powers Ferry UMC


Powers Ferry United Methodist Church invites everyone to a Christmas Celebration on Sunday, December 14, at 11 am. The Chancel Choir, Praise Band and Narrators will present “Sing the Glory.” The church is located at 245 Powers Ferry Road in Marietta. Please call the church office at 770-973-5271 Monday, Wednesday or Thursday from 10 am until 3 pm for more information about church services.


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What is Chassidus?

Learn more about the Chassidic Revolution at this Chabad of Cobb event on Thursday, December 11, 7:30pm. With guest Speaker Rabbi Dov Greenberg. FREE and open to everyone.


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Greg Griffin

Greg Griffin

Back in high school, I bought a used 1967 Ford Mustang.  Hey, it was only a three speed with the smallest engine they made that year, a straight 6, 200cc.  That engine was so puny it took a while to get up some hills.  But it looked cool.  That’s what counted.

I thought it was in good shape, because my uncle, who had a gift for working on engines of any sort, checked it out and gave it his thumbs up before I bought it.  All good there.  Then one day I noticed a small, little bubble in the paint on the left front fender.  It turned out to be just a touch of rust.  So I gently pushed the bubble down to get it flat with the fender, and my finger poked a hole in the car.  Yeah.  When I took a closer look from the underside, I could see my “touch” of rust was a lot bigger than I could see from the outside.  As I began to look over the Mustang’s body more closely, to my chagrin I found many more spots of rust.

Being a prideful perfectionist at the time (I’m still a work in progress), I just couldn’t be seen driving a car with holes in it, so I asked a neighbor who had done some body work on his car to show me how to repair the hole in my front fender.  He warned me before he took the wire brush drill attachment to the rust spot.  Good thing, because my finger sized hole became a fist sized hole as he ground away the rust out to the edge of the still solid metal.  He showed me how to prepare the filling compound, patch the hole and meticulously sand the area to a silky smooth finish.  (This last step was made for a prideful perfectionist like me.)

It took me all summer that year to fix the rust holes in my Mustang.  I worked into the night until 11 pm or so after work during the week and on weekends.  During the process my car looked like a mess, with all the multicolor primer spots.  What kept me going when I got discouraged or tired was the picture in my mind of what my Mustang would look like when I finally finished.  And when she was done, she looked awesome!

I’m not sure if I’ve gotten lazier since then or if that summer sated my need to do renovations, but these days I really would rather find someone else to handle the necessary renovations to my stuff than do it myself.  Maybe you’re like that too.  Sometimes though, life calls for some spiritual renovations.  Maybe your drinking is causing problems at work and at home.  Perhaps your anger issues lead you to say and do things that embarrass you, though you wouldn’t dare admit it.

You just can’t farm your spiritual renovation projects out to someone else.  The desire to fix your spiritual stuff begins like any other change project, with new insights or information (like poking a hole in your car with your finger, or losing a job or relationship).  Once you’re ready to work on it, it takes sustained effort.  And time.  Just like my Mustang renovation, the way to hang in there to the end is to focus on the better future you want for yourself.  Truth be told, it will go a lot smoother and produce a lot better end result if you ask God’s help in the process.  And maybe the help of a “neighbor” who’s been there and done that, too.

Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Christian Pastoral Counselor and ordained Christian pastor. His passion is helping people find hope in life and healing in relationships. Greg’s counseling practice is located in Marietta, and his blog site is

Greg is also the Executive Director of Allies for Family Life, as well as a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and the Georgia Christian Counselors Association. He is also a regular contributor for the Coalition for Divorce Reform and the Christian Community News.

Advent Lessons and Carols at St. Catherine’s


The Chancel Choir of St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Marietta will present an Advent service of Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 7 at 5pm.

The Festival of Lessons and Carols is a service of Christian worship celebrating the birth of Jesus. Beginning with the story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah and the birth of Jesus is told in short Bible readings from Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols, hymns and choral music.

The original liturgy developed in England in 1880 has since been adapted and used by churches all over the world.

The worship service is open to the community.  There is no admission charge.

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church is a 53-year-old congregation in East Cobb and the acoustics of the sanctuary built in 2005 are among the best in the area.  The church is located at 571 Holt Road, Marietta, GA, 30068. All are welcome.


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Enhance your Advent Season


Suggestions to enhance the season of Advent, from Randy Mickler, senior pastor,  Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church, 4385 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta.

  • Read the Gospel of Luke during this holy season.
  • Be the first to speak words of love to those you love.
  • It’s “Christmas,” not just a holiday, so say “Merry Christmas!”
  • Say it to those who “don’t approve” . . . with a smile.
  • Perform a kindness for someone who cannot return the favor.
  • Send Christmas cards even to those who don’t.
  • Get off your diet!
  • Help someone to get off theirs!
  • Each time you hear “Merry Christmas” say “God bless you.”
  • Say it out loud.
  • Visit the nursing homes.
  • Give a gift to someone before Christmas Day and sign it, “from a friend who appreciates you.”
  • Take your wife out for a delicious meal . . . without mentioning the expense.
  • Give your husband a Christmas tie.
  • Hang mistletoe around the house and stand under it several times each day! Invite your friends and neighbors over!
  • Read the Christmas story around the nativity scene in your house.
  • Buy a nativity scene for your home!
  • Decorate your tree with those you love: family & friends.
  • Don’t miss a single opportunity to worship in your church.
  • Know that the “beauty” of Christmas is love: His, yours & ours!
  • Help spread its “beauty” everywhere you go.

Do you have a favorite devotion that represents your faith? Email and include “Faith” in the subject line.

A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day


O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.

~Samuel F. Pugh


Give thanks. Prayers for your Thanksgiving feast.



Thanksgiving isn’t only about sharing a wonderful meal with your loved ones, it is also a time to meditate on all you are grateful for. This practice of expressing gratitude is not limited to any particular religious tradition. To that end, Beliefnet has compiled prayers of gratitude from a variety of religions in honor of Thanksgiving.


Prayer of Thanksgiving

We gather today, Lord of abundant life, as grateful children. Delighted and humbled by our bounty, we celebrate gifts of food and shelter, of colors that dance at dawn and dusk; we relish the scent of cooking foods, of burning leaves and summer’s wet grass, of snowflake, of animal fur. We marvel at the intricacy of spiders’ webs and fish bones, newborn babies and lines etched on faces of grandparents come for a visit today. All gifts from Your hand. When our meal is completed, leftovers stashed, and naps taken, we will leave replete, energized, and eager to go generously into the world and share our good fortune.
Author Unknown

Thank You for My Life

Dear God, thank you for my life on this earth, however challenging or not.
Thank you for giving me free will to love and be loved, to make my own decisions, to learn from my mistakes, to laugh when I am happy, to cry when I am sad.
Thank you for my family, my friends, my pets, my colleagues, and for every other living creature I meet along my journey.
Thank you for giving me strength to overcome adversity, to do what’s right for the benefit of the greater good, to rise above negativity.
Thank you for giving me hope for an end to world suffering, pain, and war, for a beginning of a world filled with light and everlasting love.
By Debbie Gissoni


In Gratitude for Family and Friends

Blessed are You, loving Father,
For all your gifts to us.
Blessed are You for giving us family and friends
To be with us in times of joy and sorrow,
To help us in days of need,
And to rejoice with us in moments of celebration…
We praise You for Your Son Jesus,
Who knew the happiness of family and friends,
And in the love of Your Holy Spirit.
Blessed are you forever and ever.
Catholic Doors Ministry


Gratitude for Friends and Family

To our friends who have become family
and our family who have become friends–
May you be blessed with the same
love and care you’ve given us.
By Mary Maude Daniels

For more Thanksgiving prayers, visit

What is one of your family’s Thanksgiving traditions? Visit our Facebook page and share with your neighbor.