August 20, 2014

Dear Centenary family,
Meister Eckhart said, “The spiritual life has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition.”  He learned that from Jesus, who talks about giving it all away… and how difficult it is for a wealthy person to enter the Kingdom of God. 

All great spirituality is about letting go.  One does not have to look far to realize that we are bombarded by the opposite message in our culture.  Our culture has a capitalist world view of “more is better.”  Jesus taught that “less is more.”

True religion is pointed toward being.  A person who is centered realizes clearly that possessions, accomplishments, important initials after our names, fancy cars, and beautiful homes do not ultimately bring satisfaction.  The reason we tilt toward wanting more shows precisely that those things don’t satisfy.
Twelve-Steppers might put it this way, “We find ourselves wanting more and more of what does not work.”  If it worked, we would not need more of it.

So… this day… I invite you to subtract – to simplify- to rest – to be.  There you will find God.

This Sunday, I will be preaching a sermon I titled, “Accepting The Invitation Again and Again.”  We will be looking at how God works in our lives.  Mercer, Wesleyan, and Middle Georgia Colleges are back in session.  We hope that some of those students will be joining us.  We want and need for you to make a special effort to be present in worship this Sunday.  After church we are having lunch at the church.  You are invited! 

Manna and Mercy,
Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.   



August 13, 2014

Dear friends,
So… who is this Jesus?  He was a teacher and he taught about the God he knew.  There is a soul language that Jesus knows how to speak.  He functions out of the right hemisphere of his brain about 95% of the time… telling stories, going to parties, building relationships, calling people to a more accurate understanding of the nature of God.

And if there was anything that is true of Jesus, it is this:  He was not a biblical literalist.  In the 4th chapter of Luke, we are told that Jesus went the synagogue at the very beginning of his ministry.  He unrolled the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and “found the place where it is written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down” (Luke 4:17-20).    BUT Jesus purposely stopped before he finished the Isaiah text!  Isaiah 62:2 actually says: “to proclaim a day of vengeance from our God.”  Jesus, with the words right in front of him, chooses to skip the last line because he is not here to proclaim vengeance.  His message was entirely different so he critiques scripture by omitting. 

When Jesus quotes Hebrew scripture, he only quotes those passages that move toward mercy, justice, and inclusivity.  No doubt there are scriptures that present God as punitive, imperialistic, or exclusionary, but Jesus never quotes those passages in his teaching.  On the contrary – he speaks against them.
So, listen to the overwhelmingly dominant picture of God through Jesus.  Jesus teaches about God… but he also teaches us how to read scripture. 
Thank you for your generosity to those affected by the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.  We are working with Dr. Rick Wilson of Mercer University in feeding people.  We have learned that it takes only 33 cents per day to feed a person a subsistence diet of rice and beans.  So, with your generosity in giving $807 in worship last Sunday, you have provided 2,445 meals for Liberians facing hunger because of the Ebola epidemic.  Thank you!
This Sunday we continue our series at Centenary about “A Place at the Table”.  I will be preaching a sermon I titled "Stories Around the Table”.  The scripture is Luke 7:36-50.  I hope you will be present… and that you will bring a friend!

Manna and Mercy,
Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.