The first BYOC Mass (bring your own chair) was celebrated Wednesday, September 7, 2011 in the carport of our rental home in Maynardville. I was uncertain what type of response we would have. On Monday we had record rainfalls, followed more days of rain, drizzle and dampness. Yet, twenty six people came ranging from ages 7 to 88.
Now twenty six people may not sound like many people to some. Yet, in the two counties of Union and Grainger that already has us larger than most of the Methodist congregations in the area. This is a very heavy missionary and primitive Baptist area. There is an even higher population that does not attend any church. So all of us were thrilled with this turn out.
In many ways it reminded me of the early church gathering in homes to pray and worship. "Every day they devoted themselves to meetng together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes." (Acts 2:46). There was singing, praying and rejoicing. This new and budding community were bonded in fellowship through the grace and power of the real presence of Jesus Christ through the sacrifce of the Mass. The Body and Blood of Christ was really present and consumed by the faith community, the other Body of Christ.
At the offertory, not a single dollar was given ... because not one dollar was asked for. Instead, they were asked to write on a card how much time they will dedicate in prayer, especially prayer for the establishment of a Catholic Worshipping community here in Union and North Grainger Counties. These cards were placed on the altar and left there during the consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Now they sit on the Glenmary mission prayer space in our house. Eventually, dollars will be needed to establish this faith community. Yet, the spiritual foundation is far, far more important. If we lead with spiritual confidence and sacrifice, the funds will follow. "Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. ... But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and these things will be given you besides. " (Matt 6:25,33).
After the Mass we decided to meet again on Thursday, September 22, for another carport Mass. The property mission team updated on the progress of finding a place for worship. Finally, the community was encouraged to bring suggestions for a name at the next meeting. The guidelines were a name that would speak to people in an evangelical culture, a name that no other Catholic Church in the diocese of Knoxville already has, and to trust the Holy Spirit to inspire them in a creative choice.
Of course, after this brief meeting, we ate, laughed and shared with one another. This group of worshippers, though have lived here for a number of years, have been going to over 5 different Catholic churches outside of the county. Thus, this social time is important for us to bond as a community. We had the opportunity to celebrate one birthday in our midst and congratulate another couple who just became that very day, great grandparents.
There is no question that the Holy Spirit was with us. We left encourage, excited and humbled by what God is doing in our midst.
|Group photo after Mass|
|This natures cross was seen growing out of the gutters of our garage.|