Dear Centenary Family,
Next week, I'll resume with some thoughts about our strategic planning process, focusing a bit on a new governance structure that we hope will help us more effectively fulfill our mission by freeing up more people's time for hands on mission and ministry.
If you've been in worship the last several weeks, you've heard reflections on the texts from Genesis about the families God is using to work out the promise of salvation. We've heard about God's call of Abraham and Sara to leave their home and go to an undisclosed location known only to God. We've heard about God's promise to them that they would be parents of many descendants through whom God would bless the world. We've heard about their impatience in seeing that promise fulfilled because of Sara's difficulty in conceiving and how she encouraged Abraham to have a child with Hagar and how that decision resulted in much pain for everyone involved. We've wrestled with Abraham's sense of being called to offer Isaac as a sacrifice and wondered about how God was at work in the circumstances that brought Abraham's son, Isaac, and Rebekah together in marriage.
This week, the story continues with a reading from Genesis 25:19-34. Here we learn about the birth of Isaac and Rebekah's twin sons, Jacob and Esau. I'm working with the title "The Kind of People God Uses."
My meditations on this text have gone in some directions I hadn't initially anticipated. In this text, we learn that God chooses the younger twin, Jacob, over Esau. God shares this secret with Rebekah so she can understand that the struggle between these two siblings is the cause of the difficulty she is experiencing in her pregnancy that is so painful that she says she'd just as soon be dead.
This is another story of an imperfect family with secrets, rivalries, and betrayals. But on a deeper level, it is a story about the mysterious working of God in our lives and in the world. How much of our lives are shaped by forces over which we have no control and how much of our lives are shaped by choices we consciously make? Does God choose some people and pass over or reject others? These are old, but persistent questions. And the way we resolve those questions in our own lives often reflects our deeper assumptions about whether God is loving or not, and how God calls us to respond to others.
I've been thinking about the ways our Wesleyan heritage might help us with some of these questions around God's control or sovereignty over all things and our capacity to make free choices.
I hadn't intended to dive too deeply into this theological thicket in the dog days of summer, but that is at least one place this story of Jacob and Esau takes us. If I could communicate one thing from this text to you this week, it would be that there is only one kind of person God chooses - but I'll wait until Sunday to tell you what kind of person that is.
One other note. Some of you have inquired about how we might respond to the needs of immigrants as a congregation. I've had several conversations with some of you and some in our conference who have been working on this issue. We have a great opportunity to learn more about the problems facing immigrants and how churches might respond. On Sunday, July 30, from 2 - 5 pm, the Interfaith Center for Public Policy, along with several other groups, is hosting a Sanctuary Symposium. The meeting place is yet to be determined. The purpose of this meeting is to provide opportunities for faith communities to work together and to receive the tools needed to be places of unconditional welcome, and to become aware of a range of ways congregations might respond. If this is something you'd be interested in attending or learning more about, I'd love to talk more with you. And if you'd like to register for this event, you can do that here.
I hope that you'll know, wherever your summer takes you, you are in our thoughts and prayers.
And we covet your prayers for Centenary's faithful and fruitful mission now and on into the future.
A Heartfelt Thank You
We are very grateful for your kindnesses and good wishes given to us at the lovely reception on June 25, and for those spoken and written since then. We will never forget this wonderful church family and hope to be back with you from time to time. This is, after all, where our hearts are and have been no matter where we live!
These are exciting days for Centenary as you work together in discerning how best to serve God by your presence in downtown Richmond. Our prayers will be with and for you, Pastor Matt, and the church staff in all the decisions that lay ahead. God is with us, thanks be to God!
Ginny & Dave Jarvis
This Weekend at Centenary
8:40 am - Informal Worship Service
10:00 am - Sunday School for all ages
11:00 am - Traditional Worship Service
Senior Pastor Matt Bates will preach "The Kind of People God Uses" based on the scripture reading Genesis 25:19-34.
New Adult Sunday School Class
A new study for adults is being offered in the Fellowship Hall on Sunday mornings at 10:00 am. Led by a rotating leadership, Moses: In the Footsteps of the Reluctant Prophet is a study by Adam Hamilton that r
etraces the life of Moses from his modest birth and rescue as a baby to the courts of Pharaoh, from herding flocks in Midian to leading his people out of Egypt.
Join Hamilton as he travels from Egypt to Mt. Sinai, the Nile, the Red Sea and the wilderness exploring the sites of Moses' life. Using historical information, archaeological data, and biblical text, Hamilton guides us in the footsteps of this reluctant prophet who grew in his relationship with God and by the end of life had successfully fulfilled the role he was given.
Turn your own reluctance into boldness as you examine the significant challenges facing Moses and how God shaped his character and life in powerful ways.
A Challenge from Bishop Lewis to Read the Bible with Her in 2017
This week's readings:
You can now register if you are joining Bishop Lewis in her challenge to the Virginia Conference to read the Bible in entirety in 2017. The short poll allows you to add your name as well as district (Richmond) and your home church (Centenary).
Our faithful Sunday morning worship service usher teams have suffered a number of member losses over this year. We are in desperate need of solid volunteers who would like to assist in making Centenary's worship experience more meaningful for the entire congregation. If you feel led to help us accomplish this goal, please contact the church office at 804-648-8319.
Sunday, July 23 at 12 noon: Reception to Celebrate the Birthday of Mary Alice Nesbitt
Please join us after the 11 am worship service at a reception to celebrate Mary Alice's birthday! There will be birthday cake and punch. Donations of finger foods are definitely welcome. And if you'd like to make a donation to the Walk-In Ministry in honor of Mary Alice, we will have "Gifts that Count" cards available at the reception for people to sign.
Friday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29: Mission Encounter 2017
This Virginia Conference event will be held at Bon Air United Methodist Church (1645 Buford Road in North Chesterfield).
Registration will begin at 8 am on Friday and the event will end at 5 pm on Saturday.
The classes this year are:
Living as a Covenant Community,
The Missionary Conferences of the UMC in the US (Red Bird, Oklahoma & Alaska).
Joined and Held Together: A Children's Study on Missionary Conferences. For more information visit the conference website.
Sunday, August 6 at 6 pm: Summer Movie Night
Centenary's Fellowship Hall is again being turned into a movie theatre (yes, with popcorn!). The featured movie this time is enjoyable for all ages - A Dog's Purpose. A devoted dog discovers the meaning of its own existence through the lives of the humans it teaches to laugh and love. Reincarnated as multiple canines over the course of five decades, the lovable pooch develops an unbreakable bond with a kindred spirit named Ethan. As the boy grows older and comes to a crossroad, the dog once again comes back into his life to remind him of his true self. Rated PG.
Please Remember in Prayer
The family of Ryland Bailey, Sr. who passed away June 15
Rev. Bill Brown, Jr. and family (in the loss of his wife, Rev. Judy Brown)
Joe Ciucci Jr.
Roy Cooke (anticipating treatment for a heart valve)
Bobby Davis (now a patient at Hanover Health and Rehab)
Susan Hill (in the loss of her father, Frank Hill III)
Jack & Lois Hinerman
Leah Hundley (recovering from wrist surgery)
Theresa Mason (friend of Agatha Kidd)
Nikita McCormick, our weekly parking lot attendant (in the loss of her mother, Robin McCormick)
Troy Nelson (recovering from heart surgery)
Linda Vegas (friend of Doug and Patsy Wilson)
Celebrating Birthdays in July
Wirt Brock, V
Madeleine Chasse (Crick)
George Little, Jr.
Mary E. Vetrovec
Bob Hundley, Sr.
Mary Alice Nesbitt
Carter Johnson (Hinchman)
Ryland Bailey, Jr.
Photo of the Week
The sanctuary was open for prayer on Tuesday as Sylvia Whaley greeted people walking by on the sidewalk.
Visit Us: 411 E. Grace St., Richmond, VA 23219