December 1, 2011

Dear Centenary friends,

Ginny Hathaway has blessed our congregation since her arrival last January.  She and her husband, Bill, recently took a Thanksgiving trip to Texas and beyond to visit with family.  Her Advent reflections as they traveled are incredibly insightful.  I was blessed by her writing and wanted to share it with you:

New Life: Hope, Confusion and Chaos


It is interesting, in this first week of Advent, to be traveling through East Texas.  We were in this area in August; and we were startled by the impact of the sustained drought.  Newscasts and reports by friends and family could not have prepared us for what we saw then.  All the grass along the roadsides and in the highway medians was dead.  The same was true for the leaves on the trees.  They were dull, brown, and curling up.  This same, sad reality awaited us the week before Thanksgiving as we traveled to meet family in New Mexico.  As winter was about to set in, there was no expectation that there would be signs of life in this battered landscape for months to come.


But, driving back through the same territory after Thanksgiving, on the day after the beginning of the season of Advent, everything has changed.  There is new life here.  In the intervening week, there has been rain.  Not much rain has fallen...just a little; but enough for hope, enough to promise new life.  Everywhere, on this late autumn day, there is green!  Green grass carpets the highway medians and the roadside.  Amazingly, there are tiny, new green leaves on many trees.  Hope can spring up, new life can emerge in small ways, in small places, with just the tiniest bit of encouragement.  There has been devastating drought, winter is at hand; but everywhere there is new and possibility, hope.  In a season of falling leaves, one would not expect new green leaves on branches...not normally.


However, all of this out of season life brings with it many questions and much confusion.  How will these trees, behaving now as if it were spring, tolerate the oncoming freezes?  Some ornamental fruit trees, which had become dormant as a survival strategy during the drought, now, with some rain and a little sun, act as if it were spring.  They are blooming.  What will happen when, in the next few days, it freezes?  Will the trees be able to tolerate that shock and thrive again in next year?  This is chaos!  How important is it that things unfold in the "normal", predictable way?


There is new life here...unexpected, out of season.  There is hope in the cold, dry days of despair.  That is the message of Advent.  New life, in such a situation is confusing.  It is hopeful; but chaotic, unexpected.  Just as we have accommodated to the dreary status quo, there is confusion and surprise.


Christianity is very good about celebrating new life.  But signs and works of new life can bring with them not only hope; but also startling new questions, confusion, the chaos of the unexpected.  Religion often seems unable to abide in the chaos of new life and be led by it into its possibilities.  It wants to manage, control, play it safe.   I was thinking about this as I drove through the beauty and confusion of spring-like new life at the end of November.  It is a reminder for us this Advent season that new life is not predictable or controllable.  New life and hope go hand in hand; but so do new life and confusion, new life and chaos.




Middle Classroom Downstairs

Sundays 9:45AM

November 27— David Diaz

December 4—Jin Hwang

December 11—Ginny Hathaway

December 18— Group Sharing

Every week of the class we will be keeping our hands busy while we learn about Christmas around the world. The results of that busywork will be some fun gifts to share with the Centenary family. The cookies, however, will be going to the Methodist Children's Home for the 80 or so kids that will not be having a traditional family Christmas this year. Thanks to Teri Hatley for facilitating this study!




Make plans to come join us for an

evening of tasty treats, caroling with the choir, and the long standing

tradition of the lighting of the star

on the church front.

Those who are able, please bring a tray of your favorite Christmas

finger foods to share with all. The church will provide goodies as well, so please come, one and all.

No reservations needed.




December 7 - 6PM

Wonderful Wednesday

Christmas treats, carols with the choir,

& the traditional lighting of the star.

December 11 - 12:15PM

Centenary's Fiesta Celebration

after church with our Nueva Vida family.

December 18 - 7:30AM

Christmas at Breakfast

December 24—5PM

Christmas Eve Communion

December 25—11AM

Christmas Day Worship


"Is Peace a Dirty Word?"  This is my sermon title for the second Sunday in Advent.  Hope you will be present!


Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell


Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

December 14, 2011

Dear Centenary Family,

I share with you my favorite Christmas poem of 2011:

Magnificent (Mary Sighed)  By Doug Brown

Mary, round with her second child,
Drops the basket of laundry and sits down to rest.
Wipes the sweat from her face,
And sighs,
As Jesus toddles in the yard.

Gabriel appears to fall out of the noon sun.
Touches the sand lightly with his toes,
Stands before her.

He begins to say, traditionally,
"Fear not," but doesn't,
Mary no longer a frightened girl,
No longer a girl.

Gabriel, too, sits on the bench,
Sits with her.

"This one I got the usual way."

"The usual way," Gabriel repeats her words
With a laugh.
Mary feels the laugh pulse through her,
Smiles herself, wipes away sweat,
Sighs again and smiles.
"I see. I think I see.
Yes. There is no usual way,
Or, no way that is not magical."

"Yes. This one too is a visitation.
They are all visitations
By the Harmony of Heaven."

"Every child is the Child of God."

"Every child is the Child of God," Gabriel repeats her words,
Sits with her.

"Yes," Mary says.


They watch the toddler.


Now, read it again.  Merry Christmas!

This Sunday I will be preaching on Mary's Magnificat from Luke 1:39-56.  The title of the sermon:  Through the Lens of the Magnificat...In worship we will be unveiling a portrait of Mary painted by Sue Bond, a member of the Centenary community.  Sadie Jones will be dancing as we sing. 


Yes... we want to ask for your financial support for the Christmas offering.  We just finished with the "Let There Be Light!" fund (which, by the way, you responded to magnificently) and here we come with our request for support with Centenary Community Outreach.  We need help with our rapidly growing bicycle ministry, new flooring in the Community Center hallway, and we need some projectors. Someone has already given us the vacuum cleaner we requested in the Christmas mailing.

But here is the MAIN thing we need:  We want to change the food at breakfast so that it comes from local farmers and supports good, healthy eating habits.  We don't want our breakfast to contribute to high blood pressure and diabetes.  So, this breakfast will cause the cost of breakfast to rise from $10,400 to $18,400.  We believe that caring for the whole person makes that expense worth the sacrifice.  We need your generous gifts.  The changes will include adding more fresh fruit, sourcing our sausage from a local farm, having bread with three grams of fiber or more per slice, adding locally produced cheese to our grits, and ordering our coffee from a fair trade, regional source.   

If you are willing to help this become a reality, then write your check to Centenary and mark it clearly for the Christmas offering.  Mail it to the church at Centenary UMC, 1290 College Street, Macon, GA  31201.  Or better yet, bring it with you when you come to worship! 

Thank you for this extra mile Christmas Offering!


Don't forget – Christmas Eve Communion – December 24 – 5 pm.

Grace and peace,

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.