Dear Centenary Family,
Wasn't Holy Week and Easter wonderful here at Centenary? I have come to value these holy seasons here with this congregation's history of careful attention to our worship of God so that we can consider deeply the meaning of Christ's death and resurrection.
In some ways, it is easy to see Easter as a goal toward which we've been aiming throughout Lent. It is indeed the high point of the Christian year. And in many traditions, there is a tendency to spiritually relax after all the energy we've put into preparing for Easter. In some places the Sunday after Easter is called "Low Sunday." Believe me,
I understand the need to catch our breath.
But I've been thinking as I've studied the Gospel reading for this Sunday from John 20:19-31, that Easter is anything but the end of a process - it's a whole new beginning - for us and for the world. This text speaks of the experience of Thomas who misses out on Jesus' appearance to the disciples, has a hard time believing that he's really alive, and says he will not believe unless he can physically touch the wounds of the crucified Savior's body. That's a rich text that can be studied and proclaimed more than once and helps us think about the dynamics of doubt and faith in our own lives.
However, I've been drawn to the first part of the text this week. Jesus' disciples are gathered in fear behind locked doors. Jesus appears and says, "Peace be with you." That reminds us that in the darkest moments of our lives, whenever we are most frightened and anxious, the risen Christ has a way of reaching us even there. But then, John conflates Pentecost and Easter and has Jesus breathing on the disciples the very breath of God, telling them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." He goes on to say, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
That passage has been used by Christians at various points in the church's history to stake out claims about who has authority to absolve people of the guilt of their sins or withhold that absolution. That's not what this text is fundamentally about, however. It, instead, is the heart of the good news of Easter. And that's what I'd like to think with you about this Sunday in the sermon I'm working on entitled, "Easter's Work."
It is a joy and privilege to serve the risen Christ with you!
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 "Easter's Work" based on the scripture reading John 20:19-31.
Sunday, April 23 at 2:00 pm: Theatre Outing to The Heir Apparent
A group from Centenary will be attending this Quill Theatre production at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' Leslie Cheek Theater (located at 200 North Boulevard in Richmond). If you have already made a reservation, please see Ann Davis for your tickets.
A Challenge from Bishop Lewis to Read the Bible with Her in 2017
This week's readings:
2 Kings 1-3
2 Kings 4-5
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).
Check out this new video here featuring interviews with three delegates to the 2016 Western Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church, telling why they voted for Bishop Karen Oliveto, the first openly gay bishop in the United Methodist Church.
Thursday, April 27 at 11:00 am: Golf Tournament
Join us at the Hollows Golf Course for the 40th Annual Golf Classic. Registration will begin at 11:00 a.m. with a putting contest at 11:30 a.m., lunch at 11:45 a.m., and a Golf Tee-Off at 1:00 p.m. The cost is $75.00/ person, $15.00 for lunch only (firm reservations needed for catered lunch). The proceeds benefit Stop Hunger Now/Operation Sharehouse. Hole sponsorships are also available at $50.00 per sponsor and $10.00 or more for patrons. Gift certificates can also be donated to be given as prizes. Be sure to mark this date on your calendar and don't forget to practice your swing!
Saturday, April 29 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm: Remember and Recommit Workshop
The last workshop in our series "Remember and Recommit: Christian Faith and the Modern Civil Rights Movement," will be held at Centenary and led by Rev. Jim Melson. All are encouraged to attend, even if you haven't been to one of the previous workshops in this series. The focus of this workshop will be the year 1967. Through a combination of worship, presentations, video clips and small group sharing, we will remember the witness and sacrifice of so many 50 years ago during the Civil Rights Movement and recommit to discerning and following God's ongoing call for racial justice and reconciliation in our time.
Sunday, April 30 at 12 noon: 5th Sunday Reception
Join us after the 11:00 am worship service this Sunday for a reception. Donations of simple finger foods would be appreciated. There is a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board across from the kitchen.
Tuesday, May 9 at 6:00 pm: Quiche Dinner and Fellowship
This annual event will be held at the home of Mary E. Vetrovec. Bring a quiche, a salad, or a dessert to share.
Sunday, May 21 at 2:30 pm: Theatre Outing to A Bad Year for Tomatoes
A group from Centenary will be attending a Huguenot Community Players' production of A Bad Year for Tomatoes by
Fed up with the pressures and demands of her acting career, the famous Myra Marlowe leases a house in the tiny New England hamlet of Beaver Dam, and settles down to write her autobiography. She is successful in turning aside the offers pressed on to her by her long-time agent, but dealing with her nosy, omnipresent neighbors is a different matter.
Huguenot Community Players is located at Huguenot United Methodist Church (10661 Duryea Drive in Richmond). Tickets are $12 each. Sign up on the bulletin board across from the kitchen.
Attention All Class of 2017 Graduates
If you or someone in your family is planning on graduating from high school or college this spring or summer, please call the church office at (804) 648-8319, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by Sunday, May 21, with the following information so that we can announce it in the bulletin.
1. Name (first, middle, and last)
2. Affiliation (child of, grandchild of, etc.)
3. School attended
4. Future plans
Thanks so much and congratulations, graduates!
Please Remember in Prayer
Ryland Bailey, Sr. and family (in the loss of his brother)
Joe Ciucci Jr.
John Ford (in the loss of his father, John C. Ford, Sr.)
Jack Hill (currently at Lucy Corr Rehab)
Jack & Lois Hinerman
Inez Johnson (friend of Vic and Nancy Grand)
Julie and Stephen Lee and family (in the loss of Julie's mother, Judy Brannon)
Neil Shingleton and family (in the loss of his brother, Will Shingleton)
Wendy Tisdale (friend of Agatha and Christina Kidd)
P.C. and Carol Yerby (parents of Mary Mismas)
Celebrating Birthdays in April
Photo of the Week
Mandy Porter took this wonderful photo Wednesday afternoon.
Visit Us: 411 E. Grace St., Richmond, VA 23219