APRIL

April 10, 2013

Dear Centenary friends,

It was Easter.  I arrived early for the Centenary community breakfast and parked on Ash Street.  As I gathered my briefcase and closed the car door, a member of our breakfast community greeted me.  She was dressed up, ready for the breakfast and Easter worship.  “You look great!  Are you ready for Easter?”  She smiled and said, “Thanks!  Yes, I am ready for Easter!”  I looked her in the eyes and asked, “Life is good?”  I meant it as a connecting point.  It was a conversation starter and I was expecting  her to say in a perfunctory way, “Yes, life is good.”  Stupid me.  She did not follow the script I expected.  She looked at me and said with tears forming in the corners of her eyes, “Life is difficult.”  But then she continued, “BUT God is good!” 

Easter happened for me right then and there.  Her faith and joy in the midst of the hardship of life was incredibly meaningful.  My friend’s statement of faith was far deeper than my superficial and shallow greeting.  She took her preacher to a place he needed to go.  She lovingly chastised me for thinking that life has to be always “good.”  And she reminded me that God is always good.  The cross, the death, the tomb… life was not good.  But God is good!  My breakfast-community friend taught me something about resurrection.  God is good all the time…. And all the time God is good.

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I am starting a series of sermons this Sunday… 

How do I pray? Is it complicated? What do I think/say when I pray?  April 14, 21, 28, and May 5, I will be preaching about Ann Lamott’s new book, Help Thanks Wow – The Three Essential Prayers. Copies of the book will be available on Sundays for $10 (or what you can give). You can also order the book from www.amazon.com  And… you don’t have to read the book to understand and be involved in worship… so…Spread the word about this upcoming series of services on prayer.

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org  

 

April 18, 2013

 

Dear Centenary family,

The only part that is left of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem is called the Western Wall.  This is the holiest of Jewish sites, a place of prayer.  Jews come from all corners of the world to stand in this holy place to touch the Western Wall and to place written prayers in the crevasses.  The Western Wall is worn smooth because it has been touched by so many generations.

King David and King Solomon’s reigns marked the time when Israel was most influential in this small corner of the world.  Even the Queen of Sheba paid a visit to Israel when she heard of Solomon’s wisdom, compassion and hospitality.  Solomon accumulated wealth, so a grand Temple was built in Jerusalem. When the temple was finished, Solomon summoned the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes. The ark of the covenant, containing the Ten Commandments was paraded before the people.  The priests brought the ark into the Temple…  Then Solomon said to all who had gathered, “The Lord has said he would dwell in thick darkness.  I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.”  (I Kings 8:12-13)

“The Lord has said he would dwell in thick darkness…” That phrase catches us by surprise – Is it not true that we have always thought that God dwells in light? I Timothy 6: “The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords dwells in the light no person can approach.”  James calls God the “Father of Lights”.  And yet here Solomon says “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.”  Not just regular darkness…THICK  darkness.  Nothing could be better news.  Of course God is in the light.  No doubt about that.  But God is REALLY present in darkness.  Intentionally there.  Not accidentally there… God chooses to be there. 

What is “thick darkness”?  Here is a partial list which I compiled: 

·         The bombing at the Boston marathon where 3 were killed and 170 injured. 

·         The loss of life in Waco, Texas as a fertilizer plant explodes.

·         The unwillingness of the Senate to pass background checks on gun purchases (something 90% of Americans support).

·         The struggles of the Bibb County Public School System.

·         The continuing political polarization in America.

·         Job losses and financial struggles.

Now you add to it from your perspective.  What is “thick darkness” for you? 

And the Good News is that “The Lord has said he would dwell in thick darkness.”  I believe that. 

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How do I pray? Is it complicated? What do I think/say when I pray?  April 14, 21, 28, and May 5, I will be preaching about Ann Lamott’s new book, Help Thanks Wow – The Three Essential Prayers. Copies of the book will be available on Sundays for $10 (or what you can give). You can also order the book from www.amazon.com And… you don’t have to read the book to understand and be involved in worship… so…Spread the word about this series of services on prayer.

Grace and peace,

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org    

 

April 25. 2013

Dear Centenary friends,

Meister Eckhart was a 13th century German theologian/mystic /philosopher.  We have used his quotes on several occasions in worship.  Here are some quotes from Eckhart which bless my life:

  • “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you’, that will be enough.”
  • “Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.”
  • “The knower and the known are one.  Simple people imagine that they should see God as if he stood there and they here.  This is not so.”
  • “The more we have, the less we own.”
  • “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.”
  • “To be full of things is to be empty of God.  To be empty of things is to be full of God.”
  • “Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.”
  • ”When you are thwarted, it is your own attitude that is out of order.”
  • ”You may call God love, you may call God goodness.  But the best name for God is compassion.”

 

But here is my personal favorite quote from Meister Eckhart:   A person once asked him “What does God do all day?”  Eckhart replied:  “God lies in a maternity bed giving birth.”  God is an active, involved, with-us, caring, compassionate, birth-giving, will-not-let-us-go kind of God. 

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Many of you know Dan Wilhelm.  Dan lived at St. Paul Towers.  Yesterday Dan died, having suffered a heart attack.  Here are some things I will remember about Dan:

  • Riding his bike – rain or shine.
  • Wearing his ever-present Peachtree Road Race tee shirt
  • His love of Centenary – Dan rarely missed worship.  Centenary was his family
  • His smile and optimism

I am going to miss Dan the Man.  He was with us last Sunday wearing his Peachtree Road Race tee shirt.  Plans for his funeral are not yet complete, but we anticipate that it will be Monday.  We will give you more information this Sunday. Thanks be to God for the life of Dan Wilhelm!

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We continue our sermon series on Anne Lamott’s book “Help  Thanks  Wow – Three Essential Prayers”.  This Sunday we will be focusing on Thanks.  I hope you will be present.

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org