March

March 5, 2013

Dear Centenary family,

I don’t really believe that my hearing is as bad as my wife Susan, or my daughter Emily, says it is.  So, I decided to check myself out.  Why go to an audiologist when you have complete diagnostic ability and accuracy on a mobile phone app?  Makes sense – right?  So, I downloaded an app I had heard about called High Frequency Tones.

Here is how it works:  You click through frequencies in ascending order from low to high and discover what frequency you can hear.  Teenagers can hear EVERYTHING.  Did you know that in Australia they blast high frequencies (which most middle-aged and elderly people can’t hear) in the public parks at night to discourage teens congregating in those parks… or, in some cases they simply play Barry Manilow tunes.  Same result.

Back to my mobile phone app self-diagnosis for hearing loss – Susan and Emily are completely wrong.  I can hear great.  I hear clearly 8 khz, which everyone should be able to hear.  I hear very well 10 khz, which, according to my app, anyone younger than 60 should be able to hear.  And here is the remarkable thing:  If the wind is blowing right, I truly think I can almost hear 12 khz, which the app says only people below 50 years old can hear.  I am never listening again to anyone tell me that I can’t hear!  I have an app that proves I can hear just fine! 

OK… let me back up.  Maybe you are due a touch more of honest self-disclosure.  Sigh.  I admit that on occasion it just might be true that I don’t listen.  But, not listening is not the same thing as not hearing.  Perhaps there have been times when Susan or Emily talked to me and I simply did not listen.  But truly, I promise you that such an event happens not more than once every decade or so.  (You can verify this with Susan and Emily.)

Note to self:  Your hearing is fine.  Listen more intentionally.  And don’t feel self-conscious about liking Barry Manilow songs.  When you get to visit Australia, at least you will be able to enjoy the public parks at night!

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Several have asked about the book I mentioned this past Sunday in my sermon.  The book is The Will of God by Leslie Weatherhead.  The book can be ordered through Amazon.com for $5.99. 

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This Sunday I am preaching a sermon I titled, “There’s A Party Goin’ On ‘Round Here”.  The scripture is Luke 15:25-32.  Hope you will plan to join us for a special worship experience.  After worship you will be invited to join us for about 15 minutes (if you can) as we move to the fellowship hall to stand with the congregants of Nueva Vida, the Hispanic UMC at Centenary.  We advocate for them as we move through our national conversation about immigration.  One thing we all know as people of faith:  It is wrong to break up families – children from parents – with deportation.  Join us as we stand together as people of faith.

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Time change is coming up this Saturday night.  Set your clocks one hour ahead.  I know that you dread losing that one hour of sleep.  I promise to do my best to keep you from snoozing during the sermon!

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org  

 


March 20, 2013

Dear Centenary family,

Yeah, All right, Why not?, Okay, Agreed, Sure thing, youbetcha, all mean the same thing.  They are different ways of saying “yes”.   The Abenaki Native Americans say “Oho.”  The Afar from Ethiopia say “Yey.”  Syrians say “Ee”.  The Auca tribes from Ecuador say, “Ao, Ag or Oo.”  So many ways to say “yes”, so little time.

Our English word “Yes” comes from the Old English word “giese” which meant “so be it.”  “So be it” or “Yes” is precisely the definition for “Amen.”  To say “yes” and “amen” is to agree and affirm.  To give consent.  “Amen” and “Yes” do not always have to be audible.  It can be a sigh of relief… good news from the doctor…making it up the stairs…witnessing an act of kindness…a deepening awareness of grace.

The wind blows where it will.  You do not know from whence it comes or where it goes.   But you know when you have been in the presence of the wind.   Worship is an incredible time of experiencing something beyond ourselves.  Amen?  AMEN!  So be it!  Yes!  Ee!  Yey!  Oh, yeah!  Oo! 

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This Sunday, March 24, is Palm/Passion Sunday.  I am preaching a sermon titled, “The Ecstasy and the Agony”.  My first Unfolding Word is, “It’s Sunday, but Friday’s coming…”  and the second Unfolding Word is “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming”.   Think about it and be present in worship this Sunday!

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Following the 11:00 a.m. service this Palm Sunday, we will gather for our annual Egg Hunt & Picnic in the community garden. Bring bagged picnic items (sandwiches, cookies, brownies) to share. The church will provide chips, drinks, and paper products. RAIN OR SHINE! We will move inside if need be.

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Maundy Thursday – March 28, 7 pm – A Service like no other…  No sermon.  No kidding.  Just music from Stevie Wonder, Joe Cocker, Tracy Chapman, Gungor, Yusuf Islam, John Hiatt, Mumford and Sons, Elton John, Neil Young… and others.  That music leads us toward The Last Supper – the meal Jesus shared with his friends and followers.  Spread the word. All are welcome at the table.  Radical?  Absolutely!  Jesus would have it no other way.  You do not want to miss this service.

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Easter, March 31, will be a glorious day of celebration!  I will be preach “Walking Through the Door – Today’s Empty Tomb Stories” .  got flowers? We invite all who are able, to bring fresh cut flowers Easter morning to decorate a large wire cross during the 10AM hour. The more diverse the mixture, the better!

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How do I pray? Is it complicated? What do I think/say when I pray?  April 14, 21, 28, and May 5, Tim Bagwell will be preaching about Ann Lamott’s new book, Help Thanks Wow – The Three Essential Prayers. Copies of the book will be available on Sundays for $10 (or what you can give). You can also order the book from www.amazon.com  Spread the word about this upcoming series of services on prayer.

Grace and peace,

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org  


March 27, 2013

Dear Friends of Centenary,

Theologian Jurgen Moltmann was drafted into the German army when he was 17 and witnessed the firebombing of his hometown of Hamburg, in which 40,000 civilians were killed.  He wrote at one point, “Good Friday is the center of the world.”  But he also wrote that “Easter morning is the Sunrise of the coming of God and the morning of new life and the beginning of the future of the world.  The laughter of the universe is God’s delight.”

The story begins with weeping, grief, and despair.  Jesus is abandoned by most of his friends.  He is executed in a horrific manner.  Shock and awe.  Jesus offered hope and the hope was snatched away.  What were the followers of Jesus to do?  Good Friday was the center of the world.

We preachers stammer and stutter about Easter because it is beyond comprehension.  How can one speak eloquently about something that is beyond words?  The world shifted… no longer is Good Friday the center of the universe.  Easter is the center of the universe.  How does one describe that seismic shift? 

One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, writes:  “I don’t have the right personality for Good Friday, for the crucifixion… I’d like to skip ahead to the resurrection vision of one of the kids in our Sunday School who drew a picture of the Easter Bunny outside an open tomb:  everlasting life and a basket full of chocolates.”   She goes on to say, “Darkness is our context.  Darkness is Easter’s context.  Without the darkness you couldn’t see the light.  Hope is…about choosing to believe that love is bigger than any grim, bleak [stuff] anyone can throw at us.” 

Easter laughter is about the ultimate and eventual triumph of love over ANYTHING and EVERYTHING Good Friday may throw at us.

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Maundy Thursday – March 28, 7 pm – A Service like no other…  No sermon.  No kidding.  Just music from Stevie Wonder, Joe Cocker, Tracy Chapman, Gungor, Yusuf Islam, John Hiatt, Mumford and Sons, Elton John, Neil Young… and others.  That music leads us toward The Last Supper – the meal Jesus shared with his friends and followers.  Spread the word. All are welcome at the table.  Radical?  Absolutely!  Jesus would have it no other way.  You do not want to miss this service.

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Easter, March 31, will be a glorious day of celebration!  I will be preaching “Walking Through the Door – Today’s Empty Tomb Stories” .  And… do you have some flowers? We invite all who are able, to bring fresh cut flowers Easter morning to decorate a large wire cross during the 10AM hour. The more diverse the mixture, the better!

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How do I pray? Is it complicated? What do I think/say when I pray?  April 14, 21, 28, and May 5, Tim Bagwell will be preaching about Ann Lamott’s new book, Help Thanks Wow – The Three Essential Prayers. Copies of the book will be available on Sundays for $10 (or what you can give). You can also order the book from www.amazon.com  Spread the word about this upcoming series of services on prayer.

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday for a glorious Easter celebration!

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org