November 4, 2009
Dear Centenary friends,
November 18, 2009
Dear Centenary friends,
Surfer Todd Endris was glad they showed up. On Tuesday, August 28, just before 11 a.m. Todd was surfing at Marina State Park at Monterey, California. As he paddled his surf board to catch a wave, a giant shark (estimated to be 12?15 feet long) hit him without warning. The shark bit him three times and took a chunk out of the surfboard. That is when his rescuers arrived.
Does it surprise you that Todd?s rescuers were dolphins? It certainly surprises me. A pod of dolphins formed a protective circle around him, thwarting the desire of the giant shark to satisfy his hunger pangs by making Todd his lunch. The dolphins sheltered Todd, allowing him to make it to the beach where he received first aid and life support. He lived to tell his tale.
No one knows why dolphins protect humans, but stories of the marine mammals rescuing humans go back to ancient Greece, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. When I googled ?dolphins and sharks? I found several stories of people being saved.
Years back I saved a scrap of paper with Jacques Cousteau?s description of the birth of a dolphin: ?When a dolphin mother gives birth, her baby is expelled under water. The first act following the birth is critical: to lift the freshly-born youngster up to the surface for its first breath. So powerful is this motherly instinct that other struggling animals have been pushed to the surface instinctively by female dolphins. How marvelous and beautiful! The instinct to protect the next generation drives some automatic motor response in the dolphin and in many other species. Surely this blessed miracle of caring for others is the greatest treasure on earth.?
That, my friends, is the task of the church. We lift people up so that they can breathe. We do not ask if they deserve it or have earned it. Because we have received grace, we respond instinctively by offering grace. We form pods around people and seek to protect them from what is attacking them. Even when they, themselves, are causing the danger which they are facing, we still form pods and offer God?s grace. That is the DNA of Centenary. I argue that this is what the church was intended to do and be from the very beginning.
This Sunday come be a part of the church at its best. First, it is Thanksgiving Sunday. I am preaching about Thanksgiving and Sabbath. Do you struggle with Sabbath? I do. Let?s define it together and then we will ask some questions about it. We will be singing ?Come, Ye Thankful People, Come?, a traditional Thanksgiving hymn, coupled with other songs about giving thanks.
Second, bring shoes (gently used and new) with you this Sunday for Soles4Souls. Because of Ed Grisamore?s article in the Macon Telegraph, as well as the great job Leslie Thomas has done, there are already hundreds of pairs of shoes at the church. Clean out your closet looking for gently used shoes. Go buy some shoes to bring. Bring them Sunday. You will probably see more than 1000 pairs of shoes spread around the altar during worship. Some are even planning to take off the shoes they are wearing to leave them at the altar. My guess is that idea will depend on the weather! All of the shoes will be given to shoeless people around the world.
Let nothing interfere with your presence on this blessed Thanksgiving Sunday.
Grace and peace,
Love God. Love others. Love yourself. Serve.
November 24, 2009
Dear Centenary Friends,
It was incredible. The aisles of Centenary were clogged as more than 1,200 pairs of shoes were brought forward and placed around the altar this past Sunday. Some people slipped off the shoes they were wearing and left them. They walked to their cars after worship with wet feet on a cold and rainy day. Thank you to Leslie Thomas for coordinating this Soles4Souls outreach. People from all over the city of Macon participated. And God smiled.
By the way? if you were unable to get your shoes to Centenary last Sunday, you still have the opportunity to participate. Bring them this Sunday. We will be shipping them on November 30.
Life was hard for the band of Pilgrims who established a toehold in America. Bad weather, disease, and lack of food caused many to die. A discussion arose with some saying that on the first anniversary of their arrival they should mark the anniversary with a Day of Mourning. Others protested? ?Let?s have a Day of Thanksgiving?, they argued. I am glad that the people who were able to see and sense God?s hand in the midst of great calamity won the day. Thanksgiving Day is not a denial of our struggles in life. It is a day of recognizing that even in our struggles, we are still blessed by One who loves us. We have much for which to be grateful.
Teri Hatley is teaching an Advent series at 9:45 beginning this Sunday, November 29. The group will meet downstairs below the sanctuary. Hope you will be a part of this four-week study!
Stacey Harwell is finishing her final year of graduate school at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. She is an extraordinarily gifted young woman who entered ministry out of her experience at Centenary and with the Wesley Foundation (college ministry) at Mercer. Stacey will preach this Sunday. I am looking forward to hearing her. Make it a point to be present!
Wednesday, December 2, we will be having Wonderful Wednesday. We will be singing carols and lighting the star in front of the church. It is a great night. For reservations you may complete the card on Sunday morning or you may call 742-8926.
Grace and peace.
Love God. Love Others. Love Yourself. Serve.