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Faith Blog

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

A Fall Devotional for Christians

Revelation 22: 1-4

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 

Reflection by Ugena Whitlock


Hissing Balls of Fury: Losing Diana
The cat hated everybody. Everybody, that is, except me. And Sarah, of course–but she had owned Sarah for seventeen years, so that was to be expected. I only knew her for five months, and I didn’t really expect her to warm up to me. More than that, I never expected to warm up to her. So when we helped her to her final sleep on Monday, the last thing I expected was to feel what I felt and react how I did.

First of all, I am not a cat person. I had a cat once, and I despised it. Yes, my cat-loving friends will be shocked at that. Kitty was part Siamese and was mean. Worse than that, she caused me to lose sleep every night. If she was outside, she wanted in; if she was inside, she wanted out. Day in and day out. Why didn’t I just leave her in or out, you might ask? Well, I believe if you ask that, YOU are not a cat person. She would come to my bedside and claw at the blinds until I was awake. If I shooed her away, she’d wait till I lay back down and begin again. When she was outside, she would come to my bedroom window and claw on the screen, which is not a sound conducive to sleeping, especially as I lay there envisioning a trip to Home Depot to replace yet another screen. When I moved from Louisiana to Georgia, I gave the neighbors a bag of cat food and $20 to take care of the cat. I drove the U-Haul truck away as fast as I could so that Kitty couldn’t somehow attach herself and hang on for the cross-country trek. I was free of cats. Until Diana.

Sarah called her Hissing Ball of Fury because that’s what she turned into whenever anybody tried to touch her. Over the months, as I met Sarah’s friends, they all asked, “And how are you getting on with the Little Cat?” Only they don’t say “Cat.” They had learned the hard way. “Oh, she’ll like ME,” they had said, one by one. “I’m good with animals,” they had said, one by one. And one by one, they had approached Diana talking softly and reaching to pet her, only to have her turn into Miss Fury. Diana had been banned from veterinary practices in two states because she bit. I witnessed this myself when we took her to the vet three months ago. Two young techs had assured us, “Oh, she’ll be fine with us,” only to bolt from the room to fetch the doctor to do this first-year vet school procedure himself. “Diana bites” was written in bold red letters across the top of her chart. And so she did.

So what was my secret? I think it was that I let Diana be Diana. I let her come to me. When she sat with her back to us, which was her usual position until she got ready to be petted, I let her be. I only spoke to her when she looked at me, and never reached out to touch her. Then one day when she came to Sarah for her evening head-butts (Diana was a head-butter), she walked right into my hand. Then one morning I awoke with a cat sleeping on my head. On my head. She only hissed at me once. I had reached down to pet her as I walked by the couch where she was lying, foolishly thinking that we had bonded over the head-sleeping. “Don’t get to comfortable with me, old gal,” she seemed to imply in that hiss. “I come to YOU.” I only picked her up once. It was the day before she died. That is how I knew it was over.

The vet must have felt the same way when he picked her up on Monday morning and said, “This is the first time I’ve really gotten to examine her completely.” He gently felt her frail body and asked Sarah if she was sure of her decision. She was. We had set up what Sarah called “Kitty Hospice” at the bungalow over the weekend, administering IV fluids and concocting what looked like an awful mess but was evidently a cat delicacy Sarah called “duck soup.” Diana would take a little, then lie on a pile of Sarah’s clothes and her old teddy bear, Ted, until we took her outside to lie in the grass warmed by the sun. The fluids never pepped her up as Sarah had expected; she was that far gone. So we fed her duck soup and let her be outside as much as she wanted. She even hissed at a stray cat once. We had one brief second of hope, then watched as she turned away all but a bite of food. I am glad we had that weekend. As we watched Diana, I watched Sarah say goodbye to her friend of seventeen years.

I think things happen for a reason. Like finding an abandoned kitten two weeks ago–one that has pretty much taken over our lives by blessedly taking up our attention during the last week. I’ve heard the old saying that we don’t find pets–rather, pets find us. This one was put in our way at precisely the appropriate place and time. Just like Pastor Kim’s prayer in church on Sunday. As I sat there in the choir loft during the service, the words startled me out actually praying, hoping that it might in some way bring Diana’s human some comfort. Give us the courage and grace to live through the dying season, was the prayer. The grace to understand death, as well as life, even though the dying–the perpetual winter–dims a light in our souls.

As we sat outside with Diana Saturday, Sarah told me that she had chosen her name from Edith Hamilton’s famous book Mythology. It is appropriate–and somewhat ironic now–that her name had come from that book. In it, Hamilton quotes from Aeschylus’s Agamemnon:

Drop, drop-in our sleep, upon the heart sorrow falls, memory’s pain, and to us, though against our very will, even in our own despite, comes wisdom by the awful grace of God.

Aeschylus describes the process by which we come to the understanding for which the pastor prayed. Drop by drop upon the heart by the awful grace of God. How profoundly simple that it might come from the great blessing of being owned by a pet. But, if you are a cat person–like I am now–that is no surprise.


Prayers of the People 
September 21–the first day of autumn.
As trees molt their leaves, as hostas and other flowering shrubs go to ground, as grass turns brittle and pale, as mosquitos go wherever it is they go (thank goodness!)…we are reminded of the vital role dormancy, rest, and death play in the cycle of life. In autumn, days shorten, vegetation rots, all nature begins its inward turn so that–from death– new life can emerge come spring.
Holy One, we confess that we don’t always enjoy the way things shut down in autumn–or any season of our spiritual lives.  The riot of color that comes with spring, the full-on joy of playing in summer?  Those are great!  Spring and summer are easy to love.  Even winter’s not so bad… everything looks dead then, but we know that Spring is just one season away.  With autumn, though, we have to watch things die…and that’s not easy.
Here’s what we ask today, Holy One, give us the courage to look at our lives and–as honestly as we can–identify what is in the process of dying. Whatever that dying thing is, show us how new life will someday emerge from it.  And give us the grace to be patient in our waiting for that new life. We have other concerns to lift into your care today–concerns for ourselves, for our friends, for those who live in a perpetual winter with seemingly no hope of spring.  In the quiet of this moment, we lift all our concerns into your care.

(Source: Pilgrimage UCC)

Do you have a favorite prayer from your faith? Email Be sure to include “Faith” in the subject line. 

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“Parlor Games” coming to Marietta Church of God

Grace Life Players will present their production of the comedy farce Parlor Games by James C. Wall at Marietta Church of God, 1083 Allgood Road.

The play takes place in a funeral home. Mort McNulty has decided to play the ultimate practical joke. He fake his own death and hosts a wake for himself, but things don’t go quite how he planned.

There are three shows:
Friday, October 24 at 7:30pm
Saturday, October 25 at 3:00pm
Saturday, October 25 at 7:30pm

Tickets are $10 and include dessert during intermission. For tickets and more information, call the church office at 770-971-4232.

Mt. Zion UMC Preschool Bazaar begins tomorrow

The Mt. Zion UMC Preschool Bazaar will be held October 17-18, 2014, 9am-2pm daily.

Over 30 vendors, silent auction, bake sale and raffle both days.  Vendors include Stella & Dot, Thirty-One, Origami Owl, Lulu & Junebug, Tupperware and more. Items including jewelry, children’s clothing, hair bows, household items, holiday decorations and much more.

Don’t miss the ‘Party in the Patch’ on Saturday October 18.  Bring the whole family for bounce houses, face painting, food and fun. More information on the Mt. Zion facebook page:


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A Christian Devotion: The Third commandment

Exodus 20: 7-9

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  


Devotion by Don Tawney, Sr.

The third commandment has to do with how we worship God.  It is to be done with all possible reverence.  You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.  The caution given here, is just as needful as ever.  We may think it means not to speak God’s name rashly or in the same sentence of words of hatred or lying or intent to do harm to another.  But it means more than this; it also can mean making a profession of being saintly when you are not living up to that profession.  To name the name of Christ, we are instructed by scripture to leave sin, and cleave to the Word of God.  Our worship will then be honored and received by God.

The fourth commandment concerns when we worship God.  We can worship the Lord daily and honor Him in service; however, there is one day set aside and dedicated for praise to God, and hearing from His Word with other believers.  God commands us to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  There was a time in my memory, as a young boy, the only places of business open on Sunday were service stations to buy gas for your car, and pharmacy stores for your medications.  When the Lord God blessed the Sabbath, He put a difference between it and other days of labor.  We are encouraged to remember to assemble for worship to God on this holy day. (Heb.10.25)


Father in heaven, Thank You for the freedom we have today to worship You in Spirit and Truth.  We pray we will not give up this freedom.


 (Source: Pilgrimage UCC)

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Relationships and Reconciliation: A lesson from Rev. Tom Pumphrey


All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18 NRSV)

In a recent adult study on discipleship, we read and discussed the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15). In this one story we see the cycle of sin, confession, repentance, and forgiveness. The wayward son is restored to his father, and his father rejoices. But this parable has a solid direction beyond forgiveness: reconciliation. The older son is upset because they are celebrating the return of his younger brother. But the father loves both of his sons, and he goes to his older son to persuade him to join in the celebration. The purpose of God’s forgiveness—the grace of God in Jesus Christ—is to bring about our reconciliation. God reconciles us to himself in Christ, and seeks our reconciliation with each other in Christ.

Reconciliation is not easy. Reconciliation takes both parties. Reconciliation takes repentance—more than just confession: turning around and doing differently in the future. And reconciliation takes forgiveness. We might forgive and yet the other person may have no interest in reconciliation. But still we have done what God does for us—opened ourselves to a renewed relationship, ready to embrace the other person when the other person, by God’s grace, responds.

Reconciliation can be challenging. We are all broken and none of us is without fault, and our hurt can sometimes be hard to heal. But reconciliation is an essential part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Reconciliation is the central work of Jesus. As his disciples, we follow in that work, first seeking deeper reconciliation with God each day, then taking God’s grace and sharing it with others. Empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, we can watch God transform us and our relationships, and participate in God’s holy joy!

(Reprinted from the newsletter of Rev. Tom Pumphrey, rector of the Episcopal Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in East Cobb.) 

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St. Andrew UMC Women Host 13th Annual “Fall Into Crafts” Marketplace on October 10 – 11, 2014


The women of St. Andrew United Methodist Church of Marietta invite area craft lovers to the 13th Annual “Fall Into Crafts” Marketplace on Friday and Saturday, October 10 and 11, 2014. The show, which is sponsored by the St. Andrew United Methodist Women, will take place in St. Andrew UMC’s Keheley Building from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Friday, October 10, and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 11.
“Now in our 13th year, this show offers a spacious, easily accessible indoor setting where you can comfortably exhibit your crafts. Our friendly, helpful volunteers and wonderful food make “Fall Into Crafts” Marketplace a favorite among many of our return crafters,” said event chairperson Laurie Yurchak. “This year’s marketplace will feature more than 40 exhibitors. Items for sale will include handcrafted jewelry, decorative painting, handmade soap, hand knitted items, candles, photography, hair bows, floral designs, and much more.”
 “There will also be a silent auction featuring items donated by crafters all day Friday and until2 p.m. on Saturday,” said “Fall Into Crafts” Marketplace co-chair Becky Fleming. “In addition, the St. Andrew UMC Women will have breakfast, lunch, desserts, snacks and beverages available for sale.
“Craft enthusiasts will have a great opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind treasures at this year’s craft show,” said long-time event participant Diane Woods. “All the proceeds from the Craft Show are donated to missions, including St. Andrew’s Appalachian Service Project and Youthworks Teams, blanket ministry, Good Samaritan fund, and SOS Breast Cancer Support group.”
 “During the past twelve years the UMW has raised approximately $25,000 through the craft show,” said chairperson Laurie Yurchak. “To learn more, please visit”


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Chabad of Cobb’s Sukot Festival coming to East Cobb Park

Photo courtesy Chabad of Cobb


Chabad of Cobb will host their Sukot Festival at East Cobb Park on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014 from 3-5pm. Enjoy festive music, great rides, hot pizza and more.

The Sukot Festival is FREE for everyone, though donations are welcome.

For more information visit or call 770-565-4412.


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What is Yom Kippur?



Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year–the day on which we are closest to God and to the quintessence of our own souls. It is the Day of Atonement–“For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before God” (Leviticus 16:30).

For close to twenty-six hours–from several minutes before sunset on Tishrei 9 to after nightfall on Tishrei 10–we “afflict our souls”: we abstain from food and drink, do not wash or anoint our bodies, do not wear leather footwear, and abstain from marital relations.

Before Yom Kippur we perform the Kaparot atonement service; we request and receive honey cake, in acknowledgement that we are all recipients in God’s world and in prayerful hope for a sweet and abundant year; eat a festive meal; immerse in a mikvah; and give extra charity. Late afternoon we eat the pre-fast meal, following which we bless our children, light a memorial candle as well as the holiday candles, and go to the synagogue for Kol Nidrei services.

In the course of Yom Kippur we hold five prayer services: Maariv, with its solemn Kol Nidrei service, on the eve of Yom Kippur; Shacharit–the morning prayer; Musaf, which includes a detailed account of the Yom Kippur Temple service; Minchah, which includes the reading of the Book of Jonah and Neilah the “closing of the gates” service at sunset. We say the Al Chet confession of sins eight times in the course of Yom Kippur, and recite Psalms every available moment.

The day is the most solemn of the year, yet an undertone of joy suffuses it: a joy that revels in the spirituality of the day and expresses the confidence that God will accept our repentance, forgive our sins, and seal our verdict for a year of life, health and happiness. The closing Neilah service climaxes in the resounding cries of “Hear O Israel… God is one.” Then joy erupts in song and dance (a Chabad custom is to sing the lively “Napoleon’s March”), followed by a single blast of the shofar, followed by the proclamation, “Next year in Jerusalem.” We then partake of a festive after-fast meal, making the evening after Yom Kippur a Yom Tov (festival) in its own right.

For more about Yom Kippur, visit the Yom Kippur megasite where you’ll find everything from a simple, straight-forward how-to guide to Yom Kippur observances, to profound insights into the significance of the festival from the wells of Chassidic wisdom. Also – join a Yom Kippur service at a Chabad Center near you!

Yom Kippur is October 3-4, 2014

(Source: Submitted by Chabad of Cobb)

See Sandi Patty at Mt. Bethel UMC this Sunday


Multi-platinum contemporary Christian recording artist Sandi Patty is bringing her highly anticipated The Everlasting Tour to East Cobb on Sunday, Oct. 5, at the Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church. The concert will begin at 6:30 p.m.

“I absolutely love the people and the city of Atlanta, it’s always so much fun to get to sing there,” stated Patty. ‘There is a gracious spirit that runs though all of it’s people and you can absolutely feel it in the air, so full of life and joy. I am very excited”.

Patty’s very special guest for the evening will be the new and exciting group Veritas. The unmistakable sound of Veritas brings a fresh approach to the contemporary classical genre. Their style is fashioned from a fusion of artistic excellence, creative pursuit and a performance that promises to inspire an audience of any distinction.

The Mt. Bethel Chancel Choir, under the leadership of Ira Pittman, will join Patty and Veritas on stage.

“We are excited to bring an artist the caliber of Sandi Patty to the beautiful sanctuary of Mt. Bethel,” said Thomas House, owner of TWH Productions and the event’s promoter. “Atlanta loves Sandi Patty and the early response from the church and the community has been fantastic. We have heard from  people who are driving in from as far away as Birmingham, Ala., and Charlotte, N.C., to attend the event. We certainly anticipate a sellout.”

Concert attendees can expect an evening of inspiration and worship filled with a mix of Patty’s iconic songs and selections from Everlasting. Veritas will be featuring music from their debut, self-titled release, which will be available Sept. 9.

The concert will be held at Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church, located at 4385 Lower Roswell Road in East Cobb. Concert begins at 6:30 pm. Doors open at 5:45 pm. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online at (Key Word – Sandi Patty) or by phone at 855-223-1008.