January

January 8, 2014

Dear Centenary Family,

The word “epiphany” is a noun.  Definition:  1) a Christian festival held on January 6 in honor of the coming of the three kings to the infant Jesus.  2)  a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.

In Luke, belief seems to come pretty easily to the shepherds.  They “heard the good news” and “went with haste” to find Jesus.  Then they “returned” telling everyone what they had seen.

The experience of the shepherds is radically different from the late-coming magi/Kings.  These late-comers to the nativity are enigmatic and mysterious visitors who are intentionally searching.  They are seekers.  They were not overwhelmed by the news like the shepherds… they had to search it out and they ran into complexities as they moved toward Jesus.  Devious plots, political intrigue, long journey, deception, and questions were parts of the story. Throw in infanticide and the story is no longer warm, fuzzy, and comforting, no matter how many gifts are brought to Jesus.   And to top it all off, after the epiphany, they “went home a different way.”

I rise to speak a word for the late-comers – those who think and contemplate and find themselves asking questions as they seek.  I rise to speak a word for those who search for epiphany and truth but who find the process of moving toward Jesus a bit complex and sometimes baffling.  I rise to speak a word for those who are so profoundly changed by the journey toward faith that they “return home a different way.” 

One of the things that makes Centenary unique is that there is room here for the “late-comers”, the seekers, people for whom the only appropriate way to belief is the longer journey that leads through honest doubt, intentional search, and sincere questions until they find the reality of the Kingdom.  Epiphany happens.  And for those who search sincerely, we return home a different way. 

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The emotion of leave-taking is upon us.  Rogers and Helen Willoughby have served Centenary Church  in amazing ways.  Their leadership skills are abundantly clear, but what is of even higher value is their genuine compassion.  I see their footprints all over Centenary Church.  So, they are retiring and will ultimately move to Birmingham to be with family.   Our emotions are conflicted – happy for them as they move into a new chapter, but sad for the fact that they will not be with us.  Leave-taking is not easy on those leaving or those staying.

Wednesday night, January 8, 6 p.m. we will be honoring the Willoughbys.  We have renamed this Wednesday night Wonderful Willoughby Wednesday.  Plan to come be with us as we celebrate their ministry.

Sunday, January 19, will be the Willoughbys final Sunday with us.  They will be leading worship.  Once again, plan to be present.

One of the good things is that even after their formal retirement, they will still be with us for awhile.  They are welcome in this place.  So, January 8 and January 19 are celebrations of their ministry and retirement, but at least it is not our final goodbye! 

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clip_image002This week we continue with TED Talks on Sunday at 9:30 in the round room.  There have been over 20 million views of Sir Ken Robinson’s How Schools Kill Creativity. It is profound, humorous and helps us rethink how we approach education!  Here is the official summary of the talk: “Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.”  Join the Ted Talks discussion on Sunday lead by Beth Dunwody.

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This Sunday I am preaching from Isaiah 42:5-9 and Matthew 3:16-17.  The sermon title:   “Called.  Kept.  Given.”  I hope you will worship with us at Centenary.

Manna and Mercy.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org


January 15, 2014

Dear Centenary family,

You can see their footprints everywhere you look at Centenary.  They are friends, trusted advisors, servants, gifted, called of God, steady, fun, and are a blessing.  Helen and Rogers Willoughby served the Centenary family in exemplary ways.  They now step toward retirement and will be returning to Birmingham to be with family.  They are leaving a legacy here at Centenary.  We are indebted.

This Sunday, January 19, our service will be one of celebration for the ministry of Rogers and Helen Willoughby.  Please let nothing interfere with being present as we listen for God’s voice as Helen and Rogers lead in worship.

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Ted Talks continue this Sunday at 9:30 in the Round Room.  When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you're trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit. His advice on what works will help any entrepreneur.

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Coffee and Conversation downstairs below the sanctuary this Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. 

Manna and Mercy,

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org


January 22,2014

Dear Centenary family,

It happened Monday afternoon at 3:30.  We closed on the new Centenary Transitional House located on Hazel Street, about 2 blocks from the church.  Built in 2006, the house is energy efficient and in great shape.  There were so many who invested in this purchase, and even more who gave to the Christmas offering so that we could carry out the ministry.  There is no debt involved in the purchase, and the house is owned by Centenary Church. 

I want to say a word of gratitude to Dr. Peggy Schaller Elliott and her Centenary Transitional House Committee.  These people worked on this project for over a year.  Bill Hahn and the Trustees worked along with the Transitional House Committee.  And the church conference where the entire project was discussed and affirmed by the Centenary congregation… we were all involved.  Thank you!

We have renters inherited from the previous owner.  Their lease expires in May, so we will be moving through the application process for new residents over the next several  months.  Eric Mayle, the new Director of Centenary Outreach Ministries and the Centenary Community Ministries Board will lead in the considerations.

I share the news about the house purchase because this is HUGE.  It reflects our call, core beliefs, commitment to our community, and our understanding of the Gospel.  This is a day of celebration! 

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Wednesday, January 22, 6:30 pm -   A wonderful film,  “The Power of Forgiveness” will be shown at Centenary in the fellowship hall.  Dr. Richard Camino will be leading a conversation after the film.  You are invited!

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My sermon for Sunday:  Jesus’ First Sermon.  Hope you will be present! 

Manna and Mercy,

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

January 29, 2014

 

Dear Centenary friends,

The smell of disinfectant was strong as I walked down the nursing home hallway.  There is always the drama of life which one finds in a nursing home… from one room came the sound of constant moaning.  I wondered if the person moaning was struggling with physical pain… or if the moaning came as the result of mental anguish…perhaps painful memories… or maybe nightmares.  Who knew?  The moaning was haunting.    A little further down the hallway was an elderly woman who constantly cried out, “Hey you – I see you!  Come here!”  She stared into space crying out her words to no one in particular.  I wondered who she was seeing in her mind’s eye.

I turned the corner and saw yet another woman who looked straight at my eyes, smiled, and stretched out her arms for me.  I walked to her chair and gave her a hug.  “What is your name?”, I asked.  With difficulty she stammered, “Ruth”. “Ruth, I am Tim”, I said, introducing myself to her.  I held her hands for a minute… just looking into her eyes… I hugged her again… and looked into her eyes again.  She could not speak to me, though she tried.  She smiled a lot and her eyes told a story… maybe a hard life?  But I also saw joy and perseverance.  I hugged her again because she held out her arms and I looked into her eyes again… then I left to make another visit.

Ruth made my day.  Whatever good my hug did for her, it was returned a hundred-fold for me.  Could it be that Ruth looked at me and saw that I probably needed a hug?!  I have a sense that her groundedness in spite of her limitations gave her access to the souls of those who walked by.  She saw me, scurrying about and knew I needed to slow down for a moment.  She reached out not so much for her as for me.  On occasion we make an error in recognizing who it is who needs the hug the most! 

God hugs.  In worship, we sometimes feel a stirring of the heart and mind.  It is hard to define, but we know it is real.  God is hugging us.

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Chili Cook Off for Wonderful Wednesday, February 5, 6 pm.  Please emailtalisa@centenarymacon.org or call 478-742-8926 ext 101 to let Talisa know if you plan to bring a pot of chili.  Come and enjoy the tasting along with hot dogs, chili toppings, and chips.  This is always a great night of fun and fellowship.

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There has been a great response to the Ted Talks at 9:30 Sunday morning.  The next two Sundays we will looking at vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame.  In her recent book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brene’ Brown writes, “Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.”

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My sermon this Sunday is “You Grab A Line and I’ll Grab a Pole”….  Matthew 4:18-22. 

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3 inches of snow at my house.  Beautiful!  But please be safe.

Manna and Mercy.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org