August

August 7, 2013

Dear Centenary family,

There is no doubt about it:  Comfort rocks!  We long for a sense of well-being, some safety and security, and an awareness that nothing is threatening or endangering our lives.  We like that!

And much of that comfort comes in the form of the familiar.  We want at least some predictability...  some sense that the rug is not about to be pulled from underneath us.  We want to wake up and know that things are where we left them last night.  We want to know that the sun will rise in the east and set in the west.  We like to know that socks don’t care which foot they go on, but shoes do.

Now, as is the case with all assertions, there are some exceptions.  There are some familiar things we don’t like:  chronic pain, work or money stress, rocky relationships… We would just as soon lose some of those familiar things.  But for the most part familiarity offers comfort.  And remember… we like comfort.

Phillip Phillips, an Albany resident who won American Idol last year, turned this song into a mega-hit:

Hold on to me as we go

As we roll down this unfamiliar road.

And although this wave is stringing us along.

Just know you’re not alone

Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.

 

Tom Robbins writes:  “The Deity does not dawdle in the comfort zone!”

 

Here is my point:  We love comfort and familiarity.  But most of life is lived in an unfamiliar space. While we operate in a tiny bubble of familiarity, most of life is unfamiliar.  None of us can guarantee how life will look and feel in a year… or a month… or even in a day.  We cannot predict how life turns out for us or our loved ones.

 

But there is an upside!  We are living in a world where anything can happen.  The addictions that hold you captive do not have to bind you forever.  You are not pre-destined.  Where you are now is not permanent.  You are not consigned to living a certain way for the rest of your life.  The unfamiliar road offers you the grand and glorious gift of freedom… and God is always in the unfamiliar. 

 

The unfamiliar road means peace is possible… sharing our resources is achievable…feeding the world’s hungry is doable…ditching our addiction to fossil fuels is realizable.

 

We live, for the most part, on an Unfamiliar Road.  And it isn’t a bad place to be.

 

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·         Tonight - Wednesday, August 7, 6 pm – Dinner and a movie.  “The Man Who Ate New Orleans”.  The director, Michael Dunaway will be with us.  He will introduce the movie and take questions and answers after the movie.  This is a do not miss!  You are welcome to join us!

·         Helen Willoughby and Stacey Harwell are teaching a 6 week course about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. beginning this Sunday, August 4, 9:45 in a classroom below the sanctuary.  This is a wonderful opportunity to connect and learn.  Plan to be present!

·         Youth ministry fundraiser spaghetti lunch right after worship on August 18 in the fellowship hall.  Make your plans to be present and supportive. 

·         SUPPORTING OUR IMMIGRANT BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Many of us were moved to tears when we heard in worship the story about the arrest and deportation of Frances Savano's (a member of our sister church Nueva Vida) son on a false drug charge . Since then, we've watched Jasmine's Story DVD and held a prayer vigil with our brothers and sisters from Nueva Vida to pray for immigrant families.  On August 7th (at dinner) and August 11th (before and after worship) you will have the opportunity to take the next step and sign a letter telling our representatives that we care about immigrant families in Georgia. The letter will ask our representatives to create legislation that reunifies families, creates a pathway to citizenship for all who wish to contribute to our country with minimal obstacles, protect the basic civil and human rights of all immigrants, and stop deportations until just and human immigration reform is passed.  There is no pressure for you to sign this letter. This is simply available to those of you who want to take the next step.  The letter will be on a table near the sign-in table at dinner on August 7th and at the Square giving kiosk before and after worship on August 11th.

·         Centenary Church is very fortunate to host a special Harriette Tubman Museum exhibit during August.  The exhibit, called Mate Masie – “What I hear I keep”.  Much of the art work comes from Ghana…   Once again, this is a must see in what we call “the round room” next to the sanctuary.  Be sure to see this exhibit!

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This Sunday my sermon is titled “Have A Little Faith”…  from Hebrews 11:1-3,8-16.  I hope you will be present in worship as we explore what faith means beyond the traditional definitions. 

 

Manna and Mercy

Tim Bagwell

 

Love God.  Love others.  Love yourself.  Serve.

 

www.centenarymacon.org 


August 14, 2013

Dear Centenary family,

There is little doubt that you will find this tale very strange.  My father-in-law, Hamp Watson, died on Christmas Eve, 2012.  Hamp, a retired United Methodist pastor, was a planner so he had worked out two services with me before he died so that preachers who wanted to attend from the Savannah area would not have to come to Macon.  We had the first service on Thursday, December 27, at Centenary.  It was a wonderful celebration of a life well-lived.  The second service was Friday, December 28, in Baxley, Georgia  (Hamp’s hometown and also where he is buried).  John (my son who lives in DC), Greta (his wife), Emily (my daughter), Susan (my wife) and I made that long trip to Baxley (in southeast Georgia).  After the funeral, we headed back to Macon absolutely exhausted from the emotions of the week.

 We stopped in Hazlehurst (a little town on the way) at the Dairy Queen to grab a bite to eat.  I ordered the Christmas peppermint, dark chocolate milkshake.  I was driving, so Susan held my cup and passed it to me so I could get a spoonful as I drove.  I dropped a bite of the milkshake in my car right next to the emergency brake handle.  You could see the chocolate bits and the peppermint in the blob that landed.  Susan did not notice or she would have cleaned it up right then.  Well, I let that blob of ice cream sit there for weeks.  Eventually it became a “Hamp monument” because it occurred on the day of his final funeral.  I simply could not bring myself to remove the blob of ice cream.  I had created a very weird shrine!  Who in the world creates monuments out of ice cream?

On Saturday morning, July 27, I washed my car and decided it was time, so I cleaned up the ice cream blob which had been there since December 28.  There are only two options for evaluating this situation:  Either I am an extraordinarily messy person – or I am a pretty strange person erecting ice cream shrines to my beloved father-in-law.  You don’t need to weigh in with your opinion as to which one is correct.

Relationships feed and form us.  As you think back over your life, list the people who covered you with blessings.  Now say with feeling:  Thanks be to God! 

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·          We are saving your table… No reservations necessary!  Youth ministry fundraiser spaghetti lunch right after worship on August 18 in the fellowship hall.  Make your plans to be present and supportive.  Give as you are able.  All are welcome.

·         SUPPORTING OUR IMMIGRANT BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Many of us were moved to tears when we heard in worship the story about the arrest and deportation of Frances Savano's (a member of our sister church Nueva Vida) son on a false drug charge . Since then, we've watched Jasmine's Story DVD and held a prayer vigil with our brothers and sisters from Nueva Vida to pray for immigrant families.  On August 7th (at dinner) and August 11th (before and after worship) you will have the opportunity to take the next step and sign a letter telling our representatives that we care about immigrant families in Georgia. The letter will ask our representatives to create legislation that reunifies families, creates a pathway to citizenship for all who wish to contribute to our country with minimal obstacles, protect the basic civil and human rights of all immigrants, and stop deportations until just and human immigration reform is passed.  There is no pressure for you to sign this letter. This is simply available to those of you who want to take the next step.  The letter will be at the Square giving kiosk before and after worship on August 18th.

·         Centenary Church is very fortunate to host a special Harriette Tubman Museum exhibit during August.  The exhibit, called Mate Masie – “What I hear I keep”.  Much of the art work comes from Ghana…   Once again, this is a must see in what we call “the round room” next to the sanctuary.  Be sure to see this exhibit!

·         Don’t forget about the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. class that Stacey Harwell and Helen Willoughby are teaching on Sunday mornings at 9:30.

·         I will begin teaching Manna and Mercy, an overview of the Bible in 5 weeks on September 15…   You will be hearing more.

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Mauricio Orozco, the pastor at Nueva Vida UMC (our sister congregation that meets at Centenary) and I will be preaching together – a dialogue sermon.  We will be preaching from Hebrews 12:1-2.  The Title:  Running a Marathon.  Worship will be alive and exciting.  I hope that you will be present! 

 

Manna and Grace,

 

Tim Bagwell

 

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

 

www.centenarymacon.org 


August 21, 2013

Dear Centenary family,

Occasionally I read something that is so good, it has to be shared.  Here is one of those “I wish I had written that!” kinds of pieces.  This was written by Dr. Fred Craddock, great preacher and storyteller extraordinaire:

I want it to be understood at the outset that my quarrel is not with all birds; certainly not. Were we talking about birds in general, I think I would clearly come down on the side of admiration and enjoyment. In fact, I would go so far as to say that my relationship with birds as a lot is therapeutic. For example, the blue heron that comes fishing crawfish and small trout in the stream that runs beneath my house has provided conversation at dull tables at which I would otherwise have nothing to say. Or again, during my long illness I occupied myself for hours observing how birds move when not flying. Some hop, some run, some walk, and some hardly move at all except to fly.

Having spoken favorably of birds in general, I must add that individual birds have on occasion won my admiration for acts of courage against cats and snakes and acts of sacrificial love when caring for their young.

Even so, nothing said thus far settles or even soothes the quarrel I referred to at the outset. That quarrel is with the Eastern Phoebe. This bird comes in numbers, multiplies through one or two nestings, and moves on. The Eastern Phoebe is welcome; those that are truthful will tell you that. The several feeding places testify to my hospitality, as do the numerous bird houses. There are 8 or 10 of these houses, different colors, different sizes, and different locations. But now this little drama turns ugly. The Eastern Phoebe has yet to visit one of the feeding places. Too proud? I don’t know. They prefer bugs? I don’t know. And in 18 years not once has the Eastern Phoebe occupied one of the houses. The Black Cap Chickadee has, and happily so. The Blue-bird has, leaving Thank You notes. But the Eastern Phoebe – nada. I don’t want to be peevish, but I think I deserve an explanation.

Then one day we almost came to blows. I put up one more birdhouse. It was special to me. It was a gift from colleagues on the occasion of my first retirement. It was folk art, the sides made of re-used wood and the roof of rusted metal. However, most striking was its shape: a country church house, steeple and all. How could the Eastern Phoebe resist it? I could hardly wait.

The next morning Mr. Phoebe was waiting for me at the back door. “This is a new low, even for you. You tried to lure me with brightly colored “cages” you called houses. That failed, so now you play the religion card. A cage that looks like a church is still a cage. No, thanks!”

Where did I go wrong?

Tim’s comment:  Centenary seeks to be anti-cage on many different levels.  Thanks be to God!

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Don’t forget the class that Stacey and Helen are teaching on Sundays at 9:30This Sunday they will be sharing about Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham jail. 

And…

I will be teaching a course called Manna and Mercy beginning September 15.  It is sort of a survey of the Bible in 5 weeks… How do we understand the whole movement of scripture?  How do we read the Bible?  What is the framework for understanding the Bible?  You are invited to join us on Sunday mornings at 9:30 beginning September 15.

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I’m preaching from Isaiah 58 this Sunday.  “Closing the Gap Between Belief and Behavior” is the title.  Looking forward to seeing you! 

Manna and Mercy,

Tim Bagwell

 

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

 

www.centenarymacon.org