On The Journey, Judy Bowman


Today, I passed by my childhood Baptist church on my way home from Mass. The building is a little bigger now than in those years and the gravel parking lot is paved. I haven’t seen the inside in more than 30 years, when I went to the wedding of a friend. Today, their preacher seemed to be keeping them “overtime.” It made me smile as I thought of the fidgeting children and the anxious men looking at their football watches. I thought of the preacher, glancing at his sermon notes, quoting Scripture, and exhorting his members to follow Christ in everything. He was feeding them with the word of God and they were hungry for it.

I remember that hunger, sitting in those same pews on Sundays, loving the hymns we sang and the preaching. But, even as a child, I knew there was more. I knew there had to be more. Once a month or so we’d share the “Lord’s Supper” which was small crackers and tiny cups of grape juice. We were to imagine how the Apostles shared the meal with Jesus on the night He was betrayed. We were to feel the closeness of that first family of faith as we ate and drank. I remember it as a moving experience and wishing we could do it more often. But still, it didn’t fill that hunger inside of me, of wanting more of Jesus and not knowing where to go for Him. I remember thinking, “Is this all there is? This preacher and this occasional meal?” It took me several years but the Lord led me to the Catholic Church. He led me through reading the works of the early Church Fathers and the Scriptures given to us by the Church. I came to know that Jesus DID leave us more than preaching and hymns. He left us a Church, which gave us the Holy Scriptures. And He left us Himself in the Holy Eucharist. That Presence is what and Whom I had hungered for, and, undeserving as I am, He left for me.

Eucharist means “thanksgiving” so this week is a wonderful time to be grateful for His gift to us. At every Mass, we kneel at the foot of the Cross and He comes to us to save us. His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity are given to us anew in the Most Blessed Sacrament. This communion isn’t a mere remembrance of a meal shared by the Apostles. It is Himself, truly present, just as He said: “Take this and eat it for this is My Body…this is My Blood”(Matthew 26-26:28). I believe His words: “Then Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you”(John 6:53). That life, given freely in Baptism and renewed in the Eucharist, was what I’d hungered for before I entered the Church. And that life remains the source of my daily gratitude and thanksgiving.

For a sinner, He came to suffer and die for me. For a sinner, He clung to the Cross to spill His Holy Blood for me. For a sinner, He gave His Blessed Mother to me. For a sinner, He rose from the tomb for me. For a sinner, He gave His Church to me. For a sinner, He gave His Sacraments to me. For a sinner, He gives me His Body and Blood. For a sinner, His mercy forgives me. For a sinner, deserving of nothing, He gives me a share of His Kingdom. Thanksgiving always reminds me of my journey to Christ in the Eucharist and my overwhelming gratitude for that most wondrous Gift.

“Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him on the last day.” — John 6:54

Glenda Smiley, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church

Pleasant Valley Baptist invites you to in-person Sunday morning and evening worship services. You are always welcome. Services require social distancing, hand sanitizing, and mask wearing. Please join us worshipping the Lord while practicing recommended safety measures. Wednesday in-person services continue to be suspended, but worship time can be watched on Facebook or YouTube. Come join with us in person as we study God’s Word this coming Sunday.

Much to pray about. Please pray for these days in which we now live, for our country, and the world. Everyone must realize the greatest need and answer to our struggles is to turn back to God. Our nation must acknowledge God, His Son, and our sin. Be expecting Christ’s return. Remember to pray for our country with the vastly increasing cases of Covid 19, our economy, social upheaval, our leaders, and our citizens. Georgia has a hugely important run-off election to settle control of the US Senate. If Republicans control, they will be a constraining hand for Democrats whose stated goal is to fundamentally change the character of America’s future forever. Everyone must vote in this run-off on January 5th. Pray, first, then vote as God leads. Pray for President Trump and other leaders of our country. Pray for members Mike Cross, Denise Pitts, Betty Pitts brother and sister, for our pastor and his family, all need our prayers. Pray for our shut-ins Carolyn Denton and Lula Petty and others with high-risk situations. Pray for our churches, missionaries, and evangelists.

Pleasant Valley Baptist continues to live-stream Facebook and YouTube Sunday morning/evening services 11 AM, evening 6 PM, and streaming mid-week Bible study. Visit or view our services for encouragement from God’s Word.

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