May 7, 2008

Dear Centenary friends,

Meister Eckhart was a 13th century German theologian/mystic /philosopher. We have used his quotes on several occasions in worship. Here are some quotes from Eckhart which bless my life:

?If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ?thank you?, that will be enough.?

?Only the hand that erases can ?The knower and the known are one. Simple people imagine that they should see God as if he stood there and they here. This is not so.?

?The more we have, the less we own.?

?The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.?

?To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God.?

?Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.?

?When you are thwarted, it is your own attitude that is out of order.?

?You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion.?

But here is my personal favorite quote from Meister Eckhart: A person once asked him ?What does God do all day?? Eckhart replied: ?God lies in a maternity bed giving birth.? That is a profound reflection on the nature of God? an active, involved, with us, caring, compassionate, will-not-let-us-go kind of God.

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, one of the great days of celebration for the Christian Church. Pentecost is the epitome of God giving birth. The Holy Spirit, while present in all times and in all places, was particularly active as the early church began to gain a sense of self identity. The Holy Spirit was ?God with us.? So, make it a point to be present on this day of celebration. You will find symbols of the Spirit throughout the sanctuary. If you have something red, wear it? tennis shoes, a hat, a shirt, pants, belt, socks. At the first of the service, we will recognize the person who is wearing the most red.

I will be preaching a sermon which I have titled, ?This is the Air I Breathe?. As usual there will be lots of good music. And on top of all this, Sunday is Mothers? Day. Come bring your family and be a part of a tremendous day of celebration.

I am looking forward to seeing you this Sunday. And by the way- if you can help with breakfast for Sunday, contact Joel at

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God. Love Others. Love Yourself. Serve.


May 15, 2008

Dear Centenary family,

James Taylor, Nanci Griffith, and Tom Rush have all performed it. There is no doubt about it - Eric von Schmidt?s arrangement of the folk song ?Wasn?t That A Mighty Storm?? is a classic. The song is about a hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas in 1900, but the chorus certainly reminds me of Macon last Sunday morning:

Wasn?t that a mighty storm!

Wasn?t that a mighty storm in the morning!

Say, wasn?t that a mighty storm?

Blew all the people away.

Pentecost of 2008 is one to be remembered! No power. No water pressure. Wasn?t that a mighty storm! The Macon Telegraph reports that there were 10 tornados in the Middle Georgia area and that damage has topped 100 million dollars in Macon. Wow! We are figuring out ways to aid those in need. I know that some of you have been out there helping get people?s lives back to some semblance of normal. Thank you. Thank you. Without a doubt the storm has caused major disruptions in the lives of many. Thank you for caring for them.

There is another song that seems juxtaposed with ?Wasn?t that a mighty storm!? Charles Tindley wrote,

When the storms of life are raging, Stand by me.

When the storms of life are raging, Stand by me.

When the world is tossing me like a ship out on the sea,

Thou who rulest wind and water stand by me.

A storm cannot be allowed to cancel a Pentecost celebration. So? We will simply move our Pentecost celebration to May 25. We are calling it ?Pentecost ? The Sequel?. I guess we could call it ?Pentecost ? The Do Over?. While we had a brief Pentecost worship with a few people who made it to Centenary on Sunday, we want to experience the fullness of this day so mark it on your calendar!

Beth is preaching this Sunday. Her sermon is ?Aloha?, from Second Corinthians 13:11-13. Plan to be present this Sunday for worship!

Grace and peace,

Tim Bagwell

Love God. Love Others. Love Yourself. Serve.


 May 28, 2008

Dear Centenary Friends,

?Blessed are those who mourn,? states Jesus in the Beatitudes.  I know a few people who might want to argue with him.  I have some friends who are in the midst of grieving and mourning the death of their son, a junior in college.  Unbeknownst to them or to any of his friends, the young man had become fatally depressed ? literally.   He ended his life as he struggled with the dark night of the soul, leaving everyone to shake their heads.  His parents, family, and close friends were understandably shocked by it all.

It was my sad responsibility to share a homily and give the young man?s eulogy a little over a week ago.  Approximately 900 people crowded into the sanctuary.  What does one say?  Are there any words which can break through the grief and mourning?  What in the world was Jesus talking about when he said, ?Blessed are those who mourn??  My friends have been dealing with breaking hearts.  The shock and trauma has been overwhelming.  How are they blessed?

Nicholas Wolterstorff has helped me to see a little more clearly what Jesus meant.  In his book, Lament for a Son, Wolterstorff tells the story of the death of his own son.  He shares how he believed that for the rest of his life he would look at the world through tears.  ?Perhaps I shall see things that dry-eyed I could not see.?  Wolterstorff goes on to note, ?The mourners are those who have caught a glimpse of God?s new day, who ache with all their being for the day?s coming, and who break out into tears when confronted with its absence? The mourners are aching visionaries.  Jesus says: Be open to the wounds of the world.  Mourn humanity?s mourning, weep over humanity?s weeping, be wounded by humanity?s wounds, be in agony over humanity?s agony.  But do so in the good cheer that a day of peace is coming.?

So? we grieve with hope.  If you discussed all of this with Ben and Laura, I suspect they would hesitate at first if you asked, ?Are you blessed as you mourn the death of your son??  Then they would dab at their eyes and utter a shaky ?Yes.?  ?How are you blessed??, we might ask.  They might answer,  ?We have been overwhelmed at people who simply stood with us and did not offer trite or easy answers.  We have been blessed with stories.  The hugs from others have been powerful and have sustained us.  Our lives are changed because we miss him.  Right now we see the world through tears.   But we know that God is with us.  And we know that this moment does not define Wes? life.  God will not let us go, so we are blessed.?  I think that is what we might hear about their mourning. 

Make no mistake about it.  We all experience grief and mourning.  Our grief and mourning may have to do with death, but it could easily be other things ? disappointments, missed opportunities, broken relationships, poor health, bad decisions, facing addictions.  When we grieve, we draw near to a God who grieves.  ?Blessed are those who mourn.?  Hopeful grieving ? Thanks be to God for the possibility!

We celebrate the wedding of Jeremy Gray and Kelley Bowden this past weekend.  Several persons from the Centenary family were present.  I am attaching a picture to this email of the newly married couple.


The Trustees and Finance Committee have put together a plan to replace the roof on the bell tower.  The original terracotta shingles which have been in place for 97 years have finally bitten the dust.  You will be hearing lots more about this project?. June 15 is a big Sunday for us.  You will be receiving more information about the project as we move toward that day.  Be on the lookout for special mailings which will arrive around June 9.  It will give you the details of the project and the challenge before us.

Macon continues to rebound from the May 11 storm.  This Sunday, May 25, we will be celebrating Pentecost ? The Sequel.  No storm is going to keep us from the celebration of Pentecost? we will simply move the date!  Plan to be present!  I will be preaching on ?The Air I Breathe?.  Can?t wait!  See you in worship.

Grace and peace,

Tim Bagwell

Jeremy and Kelley.JPG
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