February 4,2009

Dear Centenary Friends,

Merriam Webster defines ?invocation? this way:  ?The act or process of petitioning for help or support.?  If you are looking for a job, you might invoke someone?s name to help us get the job.  If we are in worship, we invoke the presence of God to open our hearts.

I find this prayer by Diarmuid O?Murchu incredibly moving as an invocation:

Come Holy Spirit, breath down upon our troubled world.

Shake the tired foundations of our crumbling institutions.

Break the rules that keep you out of all our sacred spaces,

And from the dust and rubble, gather up the seedlings of a new creation.


Come Holy Spirit, enflame once more the dying embers of our weariness.

Shake us out of our complacency.  Whisper our names once more,

And scatter your gifts with wild abandon.

Break open the prisons of our inner being,

And let your raging justice be our sign of liberty.


Come Holy Spirit, and lead us to places we would rather not go.

Expand the horizons of our limited imaginations.

Awaken in our souls dangerous dreams for a new tomorrow,

And rekindle in our hearts the fire of prophetic enthusiasm.


Come Holy Spirit,

whose justice outwits international conspiracy,

whose light outshines religious bigotry,

whose peace can halt our patriarchal hunger for dominance and control,

whose promise invigorates our every effort.

Come Holy Spirit, to create a new heaven and a new earth, now and forever.     AMEN.


I find myself reading that prayer quite often.  Why not print out this email, take a pair of scissors, and cut out the prayer?  Tape or place the prayer where you will see and read the prayer often.  Be fed.  Each day you read the prayer you will see and sense something different.  Be blessed by this invocation.


Kenny Rogers died last night.  Kenny carried many scars in his life and found his way to our community as a part of our breakfast community.  Along with the scars, Kenny knew how to laugh.  I will never forget the tribute offered to Jeremy Gray by Kenny Rogers and John Matthews.  Kenny made us laugh.  Kenny joined our community and even sang in the choir for awhile.  The blessing is that because of the Centenary community, Kenny did not die alone.  Many of you offered your love unconditionally in the midst of his brokenness.  At some point there will be a memorial service for Kenny at Centenary.  I will let you know when the celebration is scheduled.


Joan Atwater was a faithful member of Centenary for decades.  Years ago, poor health caused her to move to Covington, Georgia, to live with her daughter.  Joan died on Tuesday.  We thank God for her life.  She and I spoke many times about her love for Centenary.  Even though she could not attend, she was always interested in the congregation.  We give thanks for her life!  Joan?s funeral will be at Centenary this Friday at 10 a.m.  Rick Lanford, a former pastor of Centenary who knew her very well, will lead the service.  If you are able, come celebrate Joan Atwater?s life? even if you did not know her!


This Sunday I will be preaching about ?The Tension Between ?What Is? and ?What Ought to Be??.   I hope you will plan to be present!


Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell


Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.



February 11, 2009

Dear Centenary family,

Rick Reilly writes for ESPN magazine.  On December 23, 2008, Reilly penned an article about the ?oddest game in high school history??  The game was between two Texas high schools - one in Grapevine, Texas, and the other in Gainesville.

To begin with, the Grapevine High fans created a 40-yard spirit line for the Gainesville State players to run through as they came on the field.  A banner was created for the players to crash through at the end of the spirit line which read ?Go Tornadoes!?  Bear in mind that the Grapevine High School is the Lions.

More than 200 Grapevine fans sat on the Gainesville State side to root for that team and they cheered for the Gainesville players by name.  Grapevine parents rooted for the Gainesville players to hit their own children who were playing for the Grapevine High School.  Grapevine whipped Gainesville State 33-14, but at the end of the Grapeville game, the Gainesville kids gave their coach a squirt bottle dousing as if they had won the game, though in reality they had lost all 9 of the games they had played. 

Sound weird?  It was - particularly when you saw 12 uniformed officers escorting the Gainesville State players off the field after the game.  All of the Gainesville players were handcuffed and put in a bus.  Gainesville State is a maximum-security correctional facility for juveniles, located 75 miles north of Dallas.

This scenario started when Grapevine?s head coach wanted to do something kind for the Gainesville team.  The inequity of the game was a given:  Grapevine was 7-2, had 70 kids on the team, 11 coaches, the latest equipment and the parents were involved.  Gainesville had 15 players who were convicted for various crimes ? drugs, assault, and robbery, few parents were involved or even cared, and their shoulder pads were 7 years old.

The Grapevine coach asked Grapevine parents to cheer for Gainesville.  He sent an email with these instructions:  Cheer for Gainesville and send the message that ?you are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth.?  After the game, the teams gathered in the middle of the field to greet each other and pray.  Isaiah, an inmate at Gainesville, asked if he could pray.  ?Lord, I don?t know how this happened, so I don?t know how to say thank you, but I never would?ve known there were so many people in the world that cared about us.? 

Want to know what the authentic church looks like?  This is it.

I hope that you will be present this Sunday as Beth preaches about Jacob?s Dream at Bethel from Genesis 8.

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.



February 19, 2009

Dear Centenary family,

Wednesday of this week I saw my friend, a Rabbi, slip into a pew at a lecture presented by Dr. Marcus Borg. Dr. Borg was lecturing on ?Thinking about the Christian Life Again.? It was a marvelous lecture - vintage Borg. After the lecture I made my way to the Rabbi and said, ?I am impressed and surprised you are present to hear this lecture about re-thinking the Christian life.? He said, ?The principles that Dr. Borg discusses are reflective of the core of Judaism.?

Seeing my Rabbi friend at Borg?s lecture caused me to remember an incident that happened to me 20 years ago here in Macon. I was attending a wonderful performance of Handel?s Messiah during the Christmas Season. As I left the performance, I ran into a friend who was a Rabbi. (Not the same one who was at the Borg lecture.) I was truly shocked. I asked, ?What causes you to be here to listen to this music?? He laughed and said, ?The music makes my heart soar.? Though he was distinctly Jewish, he appreciated the faith of others.

Arrogance sometimes stands in the way of our appreciation of other faiths. These two Rabbis taught me a lesson ? God is larger than any religion. While I may see God through the prism of being a Christ follower, there are others who have deep experiences with God from other perspectives. Learning to listen with humility is a sign of God at work in my life. Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.

I will be preaching a sermon this Sunday titled ?The Problem with Salvation?. We will be looking at the life of Simon Peter. During worship, you may even find us using some music from a very famous sitcom as the tune for one of our hymns. I believe that God laughs and plays! I hope you will be present. Bring some friends!

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God. Love Others. Love Yourself. Serve.



 February 25, 2009

Dear Centenary friends,

A little over two weeks ago at the Grammy Awards, Allison Krauss (a folk/country singer/songwriter who plays a great fiddle) and Robert Plant (a classic rocker) won Album of the Year by collaborating on an album called Raising Sand.  The producer of that album was T. Bone Burnett.   T. Bone is a household name in music circles, having produced ?O Brother, Where Art Thou?, ?Walk the Line?, and dozens of other projects.  T. Bone Burnett is respected musician in his own right.

Bill Greenhaw came across some fascinating information about T. Bone Burnett.  In an article that Bill sent me, I learned that T. Bone Burnett is a deeply committed Christian.  Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Burnett had a significant and life-changing encounter with God when he was 11 years old while attending a Christian sports camp.  With no hesitation he freely talks about his faith.

Now here is the quote from T. Bone Burnett that I like:  ?We are Christians because we are redeemed.  People like myself, Bruce Cockburn, Bono, and Bob Dylan have tried to bring love and perspective and Christ to people who can?t hear Jerry Falwell.? 

T. Bone Burnett believes that faith must be connected to culture.  The gospel must be put in understandable terms so that people respond.  As Burnett says, ?You can sing about the Light, or you can sing about what you see because of the Light.  I prefer the latter.?

It is good to know that people like T. Bone Burnett are out there sharing their faith.  To tell you the truth, T. Bone is quite a theologian!

The Ash Wednesday Service is tonight at 6:45 p.m. at Centenary.  Beth, Helen, and Jerry will be offering leadership for this special service as the Season of Lent begins.  Plan to be present.

We are beginning a new series at Centenary ? Famous Last Words.  We will be exploring some of the last words of Jesus.  This Sunday my sermon will focus on these last words: ?This is my body? This is my blood.?  What does that mean?  Come to worship this Sunday and let?s explore it together.

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.