April 7, 2011

Dear Centenary Family...

Waves crashing over our head,

feeling like we may go under any minute.

Buffeted and bruised,

wounded and frightened

by forces beyond our control,

or perhaps, in part, of our own making.


How do we respond?

Batten down the hatches?

Grin and bear it?

Keel over and collapse?

Retreat to safe havens?


We ride the storms of life,

utilizing coping mechanisms

learned and developed since childhood,

doing the best we can to survive.

And after the squall has passed,

once the swell has subsided,

what then?

As we draw breath,

in the lea of the wind,

gathering ourselves before we journey on,

can we pause and ask?

What have we discovered

about ourselves,

about others,

about God,

during the storm?



Help us to be open

to learn from the turbulent times,

to grow with experience of helplessness,

to live through fear,

and not to seek to by-pass or ignore the pain.


The Blessing:

In the ups and downs,

In the storms and quiet times,

In my coming and going,

Sustain me,

O God.


(From Pray Now – Daily Devotions from The Church of Scotland)


"Fear Not: The Silence of the Second Day"  is the title of this week's sermon.  Ginny Hathaway will be preaching.  I am looking forward to hearing Ginny reflect on Holy Saturday, the day that comes between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We live between yesterday and tomorrow.   Join me in worship!



Grace and peace,

Tim Bagwell


Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.



April 14, 2011


Dear Centenary friends,

Everyone, including me, is talking about the cost of gasoline.   But it dawns on me to ask the question, “What would Jesus think about the cost of gas?”  My guess is that he would be concerned about the matter, particularly for the poor who are deeply affected by the rising cost.  But then he would arch his eyebrows and the following conversation might ensue:

Jesus:  Tim, why do you seem to be obsessed with this particular number? 

Tim:  What do you mean Jesus?

Jesus:  Well, you and lots of other Americans seem more concerned with $3.75 for a gallon of fuel than any other number in the world! I don’t understand.

Tim:  But Jesus, this is an important number!  It cost me more than $50 to fill up my gas tank the other day.  That is uncalled for! 

Jesus:  I hear you, Tim, but don’t you think that you should reserve your passionate indignation for numbers which are more important?

Tim:  What is more important than gas approaching $4.00 per gallon?

Jesus:  Well, how about 28.2? 

Tim:  What number is that?

Jesus:  That is the percentage of people in Macon who live below the poverty level.  Or what about 65.6? 

Tim:  OK… what is that number?

Jesus:  That is the percentage of households in Macon where there is a single parent.  Or what about 3,000,000,000?

Tim:  Billion?  What is 3,000,000,000?

Jesus:  That is number of people on earth who live on less than $2 per day.   Or what about one-fifth?

Tim:  1/5th  Tell me more Jesus.

Jesus:  One fifth of all children in Africa die of malaria.  Malaria is transmitted through mosquito bites.  Why are you not upset about that? 

Tim:  I’ve got good news for you Jesus… We are going to tackle that malaria thing here at Centenary.  We know it cost $10 to provide a child in Africa with a mosquito net.  Between now and the end of May we want to give at least 250 children in Africa a chance to live by buying 250 nets.  We are working on it Jesus. 

Jesus:  Good for you Tim!  I’m glad you are concerned about something more than gas prices! 

Tim:  And what about 15,000 Jesus?

Jesus:  What about 15,000?

Tim:  That is the number of breakfasts we serve to people over the course of a year at Centenary.

Jesus:  That is a good step.   Tim, can you see my point?  Why is the price of gas the number which upsets you the most?  Why do you spend your time discussing that number rather than these other numbers?  Is there something wrong with your sense of balance?

Tim:   I never knew you were so interested in numbers Jesus.

Jesus:  Well, I am.  Numbers represent people and sometimes they represent priorities.  If you are going to be a person of faith and if you are going to be my disciple, then you need to learn to modify the intensity of your reaction so that the numbers which upset you and which you spend the most time discussing are in line with the values which I have given you.  If you have ears, hear me!

Tim:  I hear you, Jesus.


The conversation about the community market is alive and well.  If you are interested in knowing and hearing more, please be present in the church fellowship hall tonight (Thursday) at 6:30.


SOLE Food Coop Fundraiser Dinner on Friday, April 15.  5-8 pm in the Centenary Fellowship Hall.


This Sunday, April 17, is Palm Sunday.  After worship we will have A PICNIC AND EGG HUNT in the Centenary Community Garden (right by the church).  If you are able, bring some sandwiches and/or desserts to share (individually wrapped)…. And bring a blanket or some chairs to sit on. The church will provide paper products, drinks, and chips.  Egg hunters:  Bring your basket or bag!  And be ready for the MYSTERY hunt!!!!


 I am preaching this Sunday a sermon titled FEAR NOT – LIVING BETWEEN HOSANNA AND ALLELUIA.  I hope you will be present.  Invite a friend.



Grace and peace,

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.



April 20, 2011

Dear Centenary Family,

Les Miserables means "the miserable ones", "the poor ones", or "the victims".  The novel, written in 1862 by Victor Hugo, is considered one of the classics of the 19th century.  The story unfolds in France between 1815 – 1832.  Jean Valjean, the central character, is arrested for stealing some bread for the starving children of his sister.  Imprisoned for years, he teeters between hope and hopelessness.  He breaks out of prison and steals the valuable candlesticks of a Bishop.  When he is arrested and brought back to the Bishop's residence by the police, the Bishop covers Jean Valjean's guilt by telling the police that he gave the candlesticks to Jean as a gift. 

That moment of grace is a turning point in Jean Valjean's life.  From his earliest introduction as a character in the novel, we see him tilted toward grace.  But now, as a recipient of the Bishop's grace, he becomes absolutely defined by grace.  He is a conduit and catalyst for grace.  Javert, Valjean's police nemesis, searches for Jean and is determined to see 24601 (Valjean's prison identification number) back in prison.  Javert is the epitome of legalistic literalism.  The law defines his personality.  He is inflexible and fails to see larger moral issues. 

The story unfolds... there is doubt, hope, movement against empire, the plight of the poor, death, and resurrection.  In 1980, Claude-Michel Schonberg wrote the music for the musical Les Miserables and Alain Boublil wrote the lyrics.  The musical opened first in Paris, but by 1985 was translated into English and was playing in London and New York City to huge crowds and world-wide acclaim. 

The musical, filled with real life, hope, angst, anger, grace and redemption, is one of the most successful musicals in history.  I have seen it 5 times in different settings.  Don't tell anyone, but when Les Miserables is well done, it moves me to tears.  So, I asked Jerry Elder and JJ Hobbs to work with me in putting together a service that would use elements of this musical in our Easter service.  Jerry did a great job of helping to identify where we might focus.  JJ was willing and is, of course, extremely able. 

This celebration of the resurrection will be a highlight.  Come early for the 11 a.m. service because the service begins with a feeling of darkness... We are into the story from the very beginning of the service, weaving it with Matthew 28:1-10. (This service will have a different "feel" from our regular service of worship – We will be jumping right in to the story.)  Invite others who might be interested in this weaving of the biblical narrative of resurrection with the musical, Les Miserables. 

Frankly... I can't wait.  See you Sunday for this unique worship experience.


Don't forget – Maundy Thursday Holy Communion- April 21 – 6 pm in the sanctuary.


Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.


April 27, 2011

Dear Centenary friends,

Easter was incredible!  Thank you to all those who worked on planning the music, worship, flowers in the sanctuary, and the banners!  Thank you to those who greeted people and ushered.  Thanks to those who saw about the nursery.  And most of all... thank you to all who attended.  What a day!  What a day!


This Sunday we will be concluding the series of sermons we have been preaching – FEAR NOT.  Beth Dunwody will be leading us as we reflect on "Fear Not:  Roll Back the Stone".    Plan to be present!


Inquirers' Dialogue

Centenary is offering an Inquirers' Dialogue in May on four Sunday mornings beginning May 1 at 9:30 in the morning in the downstairs classroom.  The dialogue has been developed in response to those who have been inquiring about an intentional commitment to and relationship with this community through membership; but all are welcome!  The dialogue is open to anyone who wants to explore the nature of this community and the topics we will discuss.


Briefly the areas to be covered are:

May 1: Called to Community. We will talk about what this community means to those who participate and we will explore the nature of grace and community as expressed in the sacraments of baptism and communion.

May 8: The Big Picture.  We will come to understand better who we are and who we are called to be in this community as we look at the history of the Christian movement and the dialogue and change that has been a part of the experience of followers of Jesus through the centuries.  We will look at faith from the perspective of a journey rather than a destination.

Mat 15: The Centenary Piece of the Big Picture. We will talk about Centenary's place as a part of the whole, with special consideration of our experience of the nature of community as we participate in it here.  We will explore our contribution to the whole and our involvement in the journey as we are coming to understand it from the perspective of previous two sessions.

May 22The Journey Now. What does participation in a community such as this mean for our lives and our faith?  How do we live into that?  What do we hope to find here?  What do we hope to offer?


Each of these Sundays there will also be a class for school-age children, led by Cherie Boston and Susan Bagwell.  If you want to participate in the adult dialogue and you have children, this gives you the opportunity to bring them along for a worthwhile time of learning, fun, and fellowship with Cherie and Susan.



90% of Malaria's victims are under the age of 5. "Imagine no Malaria" is an effort of the United Methodist Church to eliminate this disease by raising $75 million to provide bed nets and education.  The mosquitoes that transmit this  disease feed at night and treated bed nets will protect a sleeping family for a year. Nets are only $10 but many families can't afford it.  But... YOU can help. Centenary Church is raising money for bed nets. A special offering will be taken up May 15th (and Sunday following), however if you would like to give now, make your check payable to Centenary but designate "FOR NETS".


Grace and Peace,

Tim Bagwell


Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.