December

December 19, 2012

Dear Centenary friends,

My friend, Jim Harnish, pastors a church in Florida.  Jim tells the story of attending one of those huge extravaganza events at Disney World where throngs of high school kids are brought in to provide music during the Christmas Season.  Crowds gathered at the train station in front of the Magic Kingdom.  The lights were dimmed and the procession of more than one thousand high school choir members commenced.

They came, four abreast wearing choir robes and carrying battery-powered candles.  Singing as they processed, the high school students finally joined the Disney Orchestra in Town Square.  They packed the risers and formed a “singing” Christmas tree.  The director lifted the baton and everyone sang “O Come, All Ye Faithful, joyful and triumphant…”

Many other Christmas carols were a part of the program, but it ended with the traditional “Hallelujah Chorus”.  We preachers are prone to cynicism on occasion.  (Be assured that I write that sentence as confession on my part.)  Jim wondered if any of the high school singers understood or connected with what they were singing.  Was this experience for them about a free trip to Orlando, free admission to Disney World, and hanging out with friends?  Did they understand at all?

While the “Hallelujah Chorus” was being sung, Jim caught sight of a blond soprano on the second row of the risers.  The chorus sang softly, “The kingdom of this world is become” and then burst into full voice, “The Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and of His Christ!”  At that moment, Jim saw tears streaming down her cheeks and dripping on her choir robe.  Her lips quivered as she sang, “and he shall reign forever and ever.”  Deep inside, this high school student had grasped the gravity and truth of the moment.  Jim wrote, “Christmas came for me as I witnessed those tears.”

What causes you to pause?  What stirs your soul?  Are you open to the unexpected?  The baby, Jesus, wants to turn your world upside down!  This baby wants to turn our hearts inside out!  Status quo is not good enough!

A light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not, cannot, and will not snuff it out. 

May Christmas sneak up on you this year.  And may you recognize God beneath all of God’s surprising disguises.

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Thank you for those of you who have already given generously to the Christmas Offering:  transitional housing, community breakfast (10,400 meals per year), Roving Listeners (offering jobs to young people), utilities, empowerment… YES!  That is who we are.  If you have not yet made your offering this Christmas, we need your supportIf you receive this email and want to make a gift where 100% of your funds will be used for serving and ministry, then send as generous a check as you can!  Make the check out to Centenary UMC and mark it for the Christmas Offering.  Mail the check to Centenary UMC, 1290 College Street, Macon, GA  31201

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I will be preaching from The Gospel of John this Sunday… “… and the word became flesh and dwelt among us…”  I know that many will be traveling to be with family and friends by the time Sunday rolls around.  But if you are in Macon, grab some friends and/or family members and let’s gather for worship.

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Christmas Eve Communion  And Candle Lighting Service– Monday, December 24… 5 pm...in the Centenary sanctuary

Grace and peace,

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org  


December 12, 2012

Dear Centenary friends,

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My friend Max is 5 years old.  His passion these days is all things related to Batman.  He came dressed as Batman to our October Festival at Jerry and Phyllis Elder’s farm. 

Max even writes and draws his own Batman comic books.  He is highly creative, thinking through plotlines at a surprisingly deep level for a 5-year-old.  His wonderful imagination makes several of us wonder what his future holds.  We wonder if he will be a comic book author and genius!

But Batman is not the only thing on Max’s mind right now.  This week Max went to visit his grandparents while they were in the process of getting Christmas decorations on the tree and decorating their house.  Upon arriving, Max looked things over and said, “Grandma, when are you going to bring out the Bible action figures?” 

Bible action figures – Do you know what Max was asking about?  The Bible action figures – the ones in the stable.

Max is a Bible scholar.  He hit the nail on the head.  These characters in the stable are not passive.  They are active participants in God’s unfolding drama.  They are Bible action figures.

I’m sure glad that Max encounters the Bible in this way -  Bible action figures….. Max just taught all of us something very important.   You gotta love it!

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Many of you have received a mailing from Centenary about our Christmas Offering:  transitional housing, community breakfast (10,400 meals per year), Roving Listeners (offering jobs to young people), utilities, empowerment… YES!  That is who we are.  We need your supportIf you receive this email and want to make a gift where 100% of your funds will be used for serving and ministry, then send as generous a check as you can!  Make the check out to Centenary UMC and mark it for the Christmas Offering.  Mail the check to Centenary UMC, 1290 College Street, Macon, GA  31201

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I will be preaching this Sunday on “Waiting”… We will be looking at the Old Testament prophet named Zephaniah.   Then on December 23rd I will be preaching from The Gospel of John… “Glowing”.  AND please remember the Christmas Eve Communion Service at 5 pm on December 24.  Spread the word!

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org  


December 5, 2012

Dear Centenary Family,

We humans have always been drawn to miracles.  There is a longing in the human spirit that never wants to give up on hope.  We desire to know that there is more than what we experience or perceive.  We want to believe that certain things happen outside of the laws of nature.  (Of course the laws of nature are much broader than what we may ever think.) 

During winter, there are all sorts of celebrations of miracles:  Jews celebrate Hanukkah to commemorate the miracle of an oil lamp that burned 8 days on very little oil.  Christians celebrate the miracle of God Incarnate… in the flesh of a little baby born in a stable in Bethlehem.  People of African heritage celebrate the miracle of home, love, connection, and community and call it “Kwanza.”  And we all celebrate the hope brought about by the new calendar year and the possibilities that are in front of us.

There is something all miracles (human/religious, ancient/contemporary) have in common – They point to something beyond themselves.  Long ago, the ancients pointed to the stars, the moon, and the sun and saw themselves as a part of the unfolding miracle of love and life.  And we are.  We are a part of the miracle and yet we long for miracles.  Both---at the same time.  Is it not true that we are an act of God?  We are unexplained phenomenon ---home-loving, star-following, light-shining, street-dancing, love-longing beings who are a part of the world in a mind-boggling sort of way.

So join me in looking forward to encountering miracles.   But also recognize that everyone you meet (as well as you, yourself) is a miracle.  When you understand that, you stand a little taller and you treat people a little differently.

To quote Albert Einstein:  “There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other, as though everything is a miracle.”  I choose the latter.

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Don’t forget Wonderful Wednesday on December 5.  Dinner begins at 6 pm.  We hope you will join us for Vegetable Soup and Jack’s Grilled Cheese sandwiches!  If you did not make reservations, we want you to come anyway!  At 6:45 we will gather in the sanctuary for the Choir’s Christmas program (including carols) and at the end of the program we will go out front for the lighting of the star.  Even if you can’t come to the dinner, plan to come join us at 6:45 in the sanctuary.  We are watching… waiting… expecting… hoping…anticipating… 

Looking forward to seeing you Wednesday evening!

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Be on the lookout for information about our special Christmas offering!  Centenary needs your support!

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Advent worship …  For December 9 our worship will be focused around LISTENING.  Listening is part of expecting and preparing!  See you in worship!

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org