This Week at Centenary
Dear Centenary Family,

I've been do some planning for preaching through the summer and on into the fall.
One text that grabbed my attention was Exodus 32:1-14, which is the account of the people demanding that Aaron make gods for them to worship while Moses is away on the mountaintop with God. When Moses comes down from the mountaintop and sees that a wild party had broken out as people worshiped the golden calf, God tells Moses he needs to get "his people" in line. Of course, Moses isn't having any of it. Moses says in essence, "These aren't my people--they're your people!"

God is ready to incinerate them. But Moses has the audacity to argue with God, telling God if he does indeed destroy "his people," the Egyptians will say, "Look at that. This God took his people out into the wilderness to destroy them. Who'd want to have anything to do with a God like that?"

And so, God's anger subsides, and he graciously lets the people live!

Prayer as Protest, and Protest as Prayer

Moses' prayer is a form of protest. Even though Moses is disgusted with the sinfulness of the people of Israel, and Aaron's please at any cost leadership style, Moses loves the people enough to argue with God for their salvation!

As I think about the events of the past few weeks, and the protests that have taken place, I have begun to hear these protests as a form of prayer. These prayers are fervent demands that people of color be treated with dignity and respect by police. These prayers are fervent cries for justice.

I know that sometimes we wonder whether our prayers change circumstances, or whether our prayers change God. But the Bible's view of God is not the philosophers' view of a God who is an abstract, immovable, impersonal force. Rather the God of Moses, and the God of Jesus is a relational God who it seems works in partnership with human beings to create the world God envisions. Could it be that God sometimes waits on us to raise our voices in prayerful protest so that injustice can be eradicated, and so that justice can begin to flow down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream? (Amos 5:24)

From Prayer and Protest to Action

The frustrating thing for many of us who are disturbed the recurrence of police brutality experienced by our African-American brothers and sisters is that we wonder how to move from prayer and protest to actions that actually remedy a long-standing problem. Drew and I have been part of a group called Clergy Against Racism . Thankfully, we have cultivated some good, honest relationships with African-American colleagues in ministry before the events of the last few weeks. These relationships make possible some attempt at unified response, as well as consideration of concrete actions toward justice we might take. Other groups are doing great work, also, for instance For RVA which convened faith leaders and members of faith communities last night for prayer and peaceful accompaniment of protesters. Here is a link to a statement released by Clergy Against Racism :


Here is a link to coverage by Channel 8:


Faith leaders have also been working to advocate for some concrete changes to policing here in Richmond which have been well-received by city leaders. Here's a statement supported by many faith leaders in the city:

We, as clergy and religious leaders of the Community of Richmond, respectfully call on the Mayor and City Council of Richmond promptly to establish a Credible, Accountable Civilian Review Board, independent of the Richmond City Police Department. Both the community and the Department deserve this clear and transparent form of respect and oversight.

Another initiative underway is to gain support for what has been called the Marcus Alert Program.

You may recall the shooting of Marcus-David Peters, a Biology teacher having a mental health crisis in 2018. This program would try to allow mental health professionals to be the first responders in similar situations in the future.

These are small steps toward realizing Jesus' vision of God's reign of justice and peace on earth, but they are neverthelss steps in that direction, that no doubt need to be supplemented by many other steps in the not too distant future.

Listening for the Gospel in this Time

Here at Centenary, we have a pattern of worship that has involved listening carefully to the Scriptures from the lectionary throughout the Christian Year. This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday.

You may think that Trinity Sunday sounds very abstract and unrelated to life in the midst of a pandemic, exacerbated by racial tension and conflict. However, it may be just the thing we need. I'm working on a sermon from Matthew 28:16-20 entitled Authorized. Two things have been much on my mind this week as I think on this text. One is that in this passage, Jesus says that "All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me." The implication is that Jesus is now transferring that same authority to his disciples. Matthew uses the phrase heaven and earth frequently in his gospel. It suggests that there is a fracture between the two realities that stems from the creation itself. Jesus' work is to heal that fracture. And that's the work Jesus authorizes us to do.

Secondly, this is the place Jesus commisisons his disciples to go out and baptize in the name of the "Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit." This is one of those New Testament texts that implicitly articulates what we now call the Trinity. You may not think that the Trinity has much to do with pandemics and racism, but maybe it has everything to do with such earthly problems. For us as Christians, the Trinity is how we see God, and it may just be that the way we see God shapes everything--from the way we respond to a global health crisis to the way we respond to our brothers and sisters who've lived with the painful impact of racism and prejudice for far too long. I hope you will join us for worship Sunday. We can continue our prayerful argument with God about the state of the world we live in. And who knows, maybe God will have a word or two for us as well.

I consider it a great privilege to seek God's direction for our mission together in these challenging times.

Peace,

Matt








 
Online Worship
Join us on Facebook Live for worship this Sunday at
11:00 a.m. This is the time and place that we gather to worship together. We will also be posting a recorded audio version of the service on our website , which you can access any time. (when available)

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday and Rev. Matt Bates will be preaching. His sermon is titled Authorized.
 
Invite others to join us this Sunday and on the Sundays to come!

Tips for Online Giving
Thank you for continuing to support the ministries of Centenary during this time. Check out these tips that will make online giving easier and ensure that your contribution is credited to the proper fund.
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Mt. Olympus Farm has invited us back!
Saturday, June 13 beginning at 11am
for fishing, kayaking, swimming and a fun day outside.   

 
Please bring:
  • Your family lunch and beverages (If you want to bring something to share, please bring pre-packaged items.)
  • Swimsuit, towels and extra clothes (those came in handy last fall!)
  • Fishing poles and bait
 
The farm store will also be open. Our picnic last fall at Mt. Olympus was a great day. We would love to see our CUMC family again!
 
Let me know if you have any questions. You can also contact Mary E. Vetrovec at 804-615-8175 for more information.
Wednesday Morning Bible Study
Join us on Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m.
for our Bible Study via Zoom. 
Watch for your Zoom invitation to join us on Tuesday!
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Tea with Tim
Thursday, June 11 at 4:00pm

Join us as we to check in, catch up, and chat a bit. Rev. Tim Gerde will host our time with his usual wit and wisdom! We look forward to delightful conversation as we share our lives together via Zoom. Look for the Zoom invite on Wednesday of next week!
Celebration Sunday Spring Plants
A variety of spring plants will adorn our sanctuary in celebration of our first Sunday of worship following our closure! If you would like to order a plant in memory of or in honor of a loved one, there are two ways to order. Plants are $12.50/each. Checks should be made payable to Centenary UM Church. Please put "Spring Plants" on the memo line or you may pay online using the directions in the article above and put "Spring Plants" in the Optional Memo line.

  1. Complete this online order form. Remember, you order is not complete until the church receives your payment.
  2. Print out and complete this order form. Send the order form & your check to:

Centenary United Methodist Church, 411 E. Grace Street, Richmond, 23219

We will have an insert on Celebration Sunday with our donors listed and plants can be picked up following the 11:00 service.
Birthdays
This Week

June 6 - Clint Jones
June 7 - Shea Tuttle
June 7 - Barrett Brown
June 8 - William Petty
June 9 - Sue Siddons´╗┐
Amy Bates-recovering from a stress fracture
R.B. Bennington
Betty Brown  - Bill Glaze, Betty's brother-in-law has been diagnosed with 
pancreatic cancer
Ka Cheng  - friend of Vicki and Phyllis Stump diagnosed with breast 
cancer.
Ronnie Clements
Shannon Conway  - requests prayer for the Charles Sherman, Peter 
Oxborrow, Leon Beale and family
Riley Davin  - Niece of Vic and Nancy
Les Dobbs
Serena Durst Edwards
Jane Grand -Mother of Vic Grand suffering from an aneurysm and other health problems in Illinois
Lorraine Grand- Vic Grand's aunt recovering from surgery for hip fracture in Chicago
´╗┐Jeff Hatch
Heidi Kara and family --in the recent death of Heidi's uncle, John Kara, who passed away on May 27
Justin Laman  - nephew of Lucy Hottle, a young father who after cancer treatment has been declared cancder free!
David Leake - brother of Lorna Leake, health concerns
Vincente Lopez  - nephew of Heidi Kara, U.S. Army Infantry, deploying
to Egypt
Megan Mattax -   a friend of Miranda Clayton, pregnant and diagnosed  
with breast cancer
Patti Oman  - health concerns - friend of Beth Hensley
Irene Pier --sister of Alfonso Baker, Stan Baker's husband--at home in Asheville, NC in serious condition with cancer
Neil Shingleton and family - Neil's dad, Roddy, passed away on April 28 in NC.
Phyllis Stump - at Lakewood Manor
Wendy Tisdale  - family friend of Agatha and Christina Kidd, diagnosed 
with stage 4 lung cancer
Bernice Walter - medical issues
Family of Karen Willis - Please keep the Bob Willis and their children in your prayers upon the death of Karen on May 19.