November 7,2008

 Dear Friends,

Regardless of which candidate received your vote, there is no escaping the historical significance of this moment for a nation that has wrestled with the sin of racism since its founding.  President Bush called it an ?inspiring moment that so many have awaited for so long.?  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke of ?a long journey? toward overcoming the wounds of racism.  Thomas Friedman, one of the nation?s great editorial writers, summed it up:  ?We awake this morning to a different country.  The struggle for equal rights is far from over, but we start afresh now from a whole new baseline.  Let every child and every citizen and every new immigrant know that from this day forward everything really is possible in America.? 

James Weldon Johnson wrote in Lift Every Voice and Sing:

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,

Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;

Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,

Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

We have come over a way that with tears have been watered,

We have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;

Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last

Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.


God is not a Republican or a Democrat!  No candidate, political party, nation or culture perfectly fulfills the biblical vision of the reign and rule of God.  Whoever leads must lead with humility.  The President-elect acknowledged that the way forward will not be easy and there may be stumbling along the way.  We can be sure the debate will be vigorous about some of the proposals for change.  BUT this red and blue state scenario which has been the basis for much of our political and ideological discussion over the past 20 years MUST GO for it is ungodly and it destroys the nation at the very core of our identity.  Senator McCain and President-elect Obama both have it right:  We are the UNITED States of America.  Senator McCain?s concession speech was, in its own way, as eloquent as President-elect Obama?s speech later in the night. 


My prayer is that the spirit that prevailed on Tuesday night with Senator McCain and President-elect Obama will prevail.  And did you see the faces?  Did you see the youth in that amazingly diverse throng in Grant Park in Chicago? and then did you see the pictures around the globe? 


Johnson?s hymn concludes with this stanza:

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,

Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;

Thou who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,

Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.

Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.

Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,

True to our God, true to our native land.


Let it be.  Let it be. 


This Sunday we will be sharing in a Service of Remembrance.  Beth and I will be preaching a sermon which we call ?The Busy World is Hushed.?  In the Mystery of Faith what does it mean to contemplate death?  I hope you will be present for worship this Sunday!


Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell


Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.  


 November 12, 2008

Dear Centenary Friends,

Several months ago I circled by Centenary to pick up something at the office.  As I pulled away, I saw a man sitting on the front steps of the church.  Wanting to make sure he was okay, I stopped my car and approached him.  ?Are you alright?  May I help you??, I asked.  He replied:  ?No.  I am fine.  I just need a place to think.?  ?Stay as long as you want?, I responded.

I have not seen that guy since.  I wonder what was on his mind?   He was carrying a burden.  It was interesting to me that he chose to sit on our front steps rather than on a park bench across the street in Tattnall Square Park.  I guess it made him feel closer to God.  Who knows what brought him to our steps?

Week in and week out, hundreds of people make their way to Centenary.   Some come for breakfast, others for worship.  Some just need someone to listen to them for a moment and help them to feel of value.  I am finding that many come to Centenary primarily for a hug.  Nothing wrong with that!  Never underestimate the power of a hug!  We all come for a sense of connection to each other and God.  And there are many who come to this place because they want to think.

All reasons are valid.   Welcome to the movement called Centenary!  God is with us.  Thanks be to God! 

We continue the Mystery of Faith series this week, focusing on forgiveness.   I hope you will plan to be in worship this Sunday!

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.      


 November 19, 2008

Dear Friends,

As we approach Thanksgiving, I find myself contemplating how blessed I am.  Indulge me as I make a list:

         The grace of God that is beyond all logic and understanding.  It is that grace which primarily defines my life.  The most important core value for me is to figure out creative ways of sharing grace.

         The power of being in a unique and diverse community of faith called Centenary Church.   I am grateful for you.  I am thankful for who we are and what we are becoming at Centenary.

         My family ? Susan, John, and Emily.

          My parents who we recently moved to Macon to live in a retirement community ? My brother and sister who were of great help in the process of the move.  We are not finished yet with the move, but we are working together to make it happen.  Thank you to Kenny, Clarence, Jazzy Red, and Joe for helping us move last Friday ? a very rainy day to be moving!

         A wonderful mother-in-law and father-in-law.  The best.

         Friends.  How bereft my life would be without my friends.

         My Saving Jesus from the Religious Right Sunday School Class.  I don?t know when I have had more fun studying something with a group of people.

         The joy of reading a good book.

         Meaningful and joyful work.

         Sabbath ? time away.

         The staff of Centenary ? Norris, Talisa, Beth, Jerry, Helen, Rogers, Bill, Joel, Jack, Emily, Tarshekia.  They are my friends and colleagues.

         Dr. Hugo Magallanes and Mrs. Karen Hahn ? My staff for the other hat I wear as the Director of New and Revitalized Congregational Development.

         The past.

         The present.

         The future ? whatever it holds. 

         The breakfast community at Centenary.  They have taught me much.

         The profound wisdom of children.

         A turkey baked by Susan, a rack of ribs from the smoker, my mother?s dressing, my mother-in-law?s cranberry apple stuff (casserole?  I am not sure what it is, but it is very good), brown rice with mushrooms on top and a ton of butter (please do not forget that dish on Thanksgiving, Susan), and pumpkin pie (Mrs. Smith?s from Kroger is just fine).  All of you who are on Weight Watchers ?  forget the ?points? on Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is a Day of Jubilee! 

Care to spend a few minutes reflecting on the blessings in your life?

This Sunday, worship will be a joyful celebration of Thanksgiving.  I look forward to seeing you in worship at 11 a.m.!  Why not invite some friends to join you in worship?  We will be focusing on Psalm 34. 

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.