Centenary's Weekly Newsletter December 2, 2016
A Message from Centenary
Dear Centenary Family,
Pastor Matt Bates

For the Second Sunday of Advent, we meet John the Baptist. In some ways, he feels like an unwelcome intruder into this season of joy and cheer. He's like the relative at Thanksgiving dinner who brings up uncomfortable subjects that threaten to ruin the mood of harmony and goodwill you'd hoped would pervade the day.

John shows up in his clothing made of camel's hair, eating locusts and wild honey. And he doesn't tell the Pharisees and Sadducees, the leaders of his own tradition, how much they are admired and appreciated for the spiritual work they're doing on behalf of the people. He calls them children of snakes, tells them they need to repent of their sins and start bearing fruit that shows they've been changed by God's grace. It's not pleasant at all!

One writer points out that you have to admire John's courage. Most of us like to point out the sins of people who are at some distance from us geographically, politically, and theologically. I'm especially good at that. But John speaks the truth to the people closest to him, the people who guide and govern the very tradition from which his own faith is born.

That's a hard thing to do - to be honest about the sins and shortcomings of the people we love the most, the people of our own family, tribe, community, or nation. But do you know what is even harder? To consider all the ways we ourselves have sinned.

Now, I'm not trying to lay a guilt trip on you. Lord knows, many of us have spent much of our lives running from traditions that are very good at that. But the uncomfortable question John puts before each of us this Advent season is, "Where is my life out of synch with God's purpose? Where does my own self-centeredness still persist? Where am I resisting God's call to change inwardly or to serve outwardly?"

We often forget that the purpose of repentance is not to for us to assume a burden of guilt for our failings. Rather, repentance is the invitation to let go of attitudes and actions that stand in the way of us fully experiencing God's grace and presence. Repentance is the invitation to move from death to life, bondage to freedom, discouragement to praise.
It's appropriate for us to lament all the ways our world is out of tune with God's will and purpose and long for that day and time when Christ's presence overcomes every trace of injustice, violence, and evil. But it's also appropriate for us to consider the state of our own souls, to surrender the burden our own sinfulness creates, and to  believe that God is ready to set  us free and do something completely new in and through us.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we seek to open ourselves to the healing, transforming grace of God.

Preparing for Jesus
A Message from our Lay Leader Phyllis Stump

Advent means an arrival or entrance - the coming of something new. For Christians, Advent is a time when we prepare ourselves for Christ's arrival at Christmas.
Early in Luke's Gospel, we encounter Mary's cousin and her husband Zechariah. This faithful couple are in their later years when the angel Gabriel comes with surprising news for them. Elizabeth will have a son named John. This is one of two times that we see Gabriel in Luke's Gospel. The second time he comes to bring news of the birth of Jesus. Each time he brings a message of hope.
We know that Elizabeth's son became John the Baptist and that he foretold the coming of Jesus. As the Gospel of John says, "He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through Him." John became a beacon of hope just as Gabriel had done.
These days in which we live cause many of us to have a profound need for hope. Can we become beacons of hope in the lives of others? 
Isaiah directs us to prepare the way of the Lord and to lift up our voices with strength as we proclaim "Here is your God."  
During these weeks of Advent, let us prepare.  Let us proclaim, "He is coming!"
This Weekend at Centenary

Saturday, December 3 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm:  Christmas Parade Open House 
The Evangelism/ Communications Committee is hosting an Open House at the church on the morning of the downtown Christmas Parade. We will be passing out coffee, hot cider and cookies on the sidewalk outside the church as people walk to and from the parade. We will also be offering tours of the sanctuary and the bell tower for those who are interested.

Sunday, December 4 at both Worship Services:  Second Sunday in Advent
Upcoming Events

Tuesday, December 6 at 12 noon:  Advent Dramatic Reading
During Tuesday's Open Sanctuary we will offer a short program that will include a dramatic reading for the Advent/Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 7 at 10:30 am: INFAMY:  Remembering Pearl Harbor 
The first in Quill Theatre's Historical Reading Series, this very special multi-media event will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The fateful day will come alive at the  Virginia Historical Society (428 N Boulevard in Richmond) , moment by moment, through live readings, vintage film clips, and audio recordings, and will unfold the experiences of Virginia citizens, both here in America and in Hawaii. Tickets are $20 each, $16 if you are a VHS member, $12 if you are a veteran. Sign up by Sunday, December 4 on the bulletin board across from the kitchen.

Saturday, December 10 at 2:30 pm:  Theatre Outing to The Gift Exchange 
A group from Centenary will be attending a Huguenot Community Players' production of The Gift Exchange by local playwright Philip Ventrella. All Hank wants for Christmas is to get his feuding daughters married and out of the house so he can spend a little more quality time with his wife. When their suitors hear about the romantic way Hank proposed to his frazzled wife, they both try to outdo each other, leading to a holiday mix-up of epic proportions, Throw in a department store Santa who can't stop hitting the bottle and his condescending manager and you get the worst Christmas eve ever! It's a Gift of the Magi meets the Marx brothers in this soon to be holiday classic! 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.
Tuesday, December 13 at 12 noon:  Advent Dramatic Reading
During Tuesday's Open Sanctuary we will offer a short program that will include a dramatic reading for the Advent/Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm:  Evergreen Centerpiece Workshop  
Join us for a fun evening as you create an evergreen centerpiece for your Christmas table. David Pippin will demonstrate the basic techniques and assist as you assemble your own unique arrangement. Participants are asked to bring a bucket of evergreens to share, a water-tight container, and a pair of floral clippers/pruners. Floral foam will be available for $2.00/block. Some suggested evergreens: Pine (short needles), Cedar, Magnolia, Aucuba, Holly, Arborvitae, and Camellia. No Boxwoods this year please, in order to prevent blight. 
Sign up on the bulletin board across from the kitchen.
Sunday, December 18 at 12:15 pm:  Christmas Luncheon
Mark your calendars for our annual Christmas Luncheon.  The church will provide ham, rolls, and beverages. Please bring a large side dish or dessert to share with others. Following the meal, you will be entertained by wonderful storyteller Phyllis Stump.
Outreach and Mission Opportunities

United Methodist Women
Read the latest news from the Virginia Conference United Methodist Women in the fall issue of their  newsletter The LINK.  

Also there are pecans still available!
Remaining are:   3 bags medium pieces,  9 bags milk chocolate covered halves,  6 bags dark chocolate covered halves, and  3 bags plain halves.  All are $12.00

December Opportunities for Outreach
Centenary's Outreach Committee is but an extension of the entire congregation. We organize activities that Centenary has offered for many years, and we also look for new opportunities of assisting our community. Whenever the Outreach Committee makes request(s), the Centenary family responds. Let us express our gratitude for your kindness and generosity, especially as we enter this season of Advent and Christmas.
1.  Join us each December on Friday (December 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 10:30 am until 12:30 pm) in the Fellowship Hall when we help our Walk-In guests with Christmas cards. They select cards for family and friends and also for veterans of the Armed Forces. Bring your good cheer for a good time! Please send an email to Nancy Cook  (cook_t8rhill1@verizon.net) indicating which Friday(s) you can help. Thanks.
2.  On Sundays in December, Outreach members Patsy and Doug Wilson will be available in the Fellowship Hall for "Gifts that Count." You may make a donation in honor or in memory of a loved one, and you will receive a Christmas card to send with an announcement of your donation.  
3.  The Outreach Committee is also collecting items that our Walk-In guests can use as Christmas presents for their loved ones. Gloves, scarves, winter hats, and socks are always welcomed, but don't feel restricted to those options. Many have children who will look forward to Christmas gifts.
4.  I t will soon be time for our annual donation to the United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) during our Christmas Eve Services. UMFS continues to reach out to children and youth with emotional, physical, and educational needs. Centenary has supported UMFS for years and we are thankful to be part of their team.

Thank you for all that you do!
Nancy Cook, Chair
Centenary's Outreach Committee
Please Remember in Prayer

Ryland Bailey, Sr.
Judy Brannon (Nancy Lee's daughter-in-law's mother 
Joe Ciucci Jr.
Nancy Cook
Ruth Anne Davis
Sarah and Greg DeKramer (Leah Hundley's niece and her husband)
Rev. Katie B. Gooch, Minister at the Pace Center VCU and her husband Matt (in the death of Matt's father)
Tim Guill (friend of James Durst who is recovering from a car accident)
Jack Hill
Grace Hinchman 
Jack & Lois Hinerman
Judy Holland          
The family of Jean Jones (who passed away on November 1)
Mike Jones
Debbie Kammeter (friend of Leah Hundley) in the loss of her father
Lundi Martin 
Donna Mestre (Betty Brown's sister)
Troy Nelson
Rebecca Odea (friend of Rugby Baker) 
Rives Priddy
John Seyfarth
Kevin Watson (son of Cheryl Owen-Watson)
Ina Wilson (her sister passed away October 3)
Celebrating Birthdays in December

Mary Lou Webber
Doug Chen
Sam Shingleton
Suzanne Smith
Wesley Jarvis
Jim Witherspoon
Jack Hill
Kristen Keatley
John Grier
Richard C. McNeil
Anne Baughan
David Smith
Katie Murphy
Phyllis Stump
Christy Darlington
Matthew Enos
Marty Bucher
Mary Sue Sanderlin
Tom Bailey
Kim Chen
Reid Ashe
Sue Ann Holloway
Julie Redmon
A.J. Crick
Betty Brown
Sharon Brager
Maria Mast
Krista Boyd
Lissa Searfoss
Steve Gregory
Clinton Burns
Madeline Burns
Logan Davis
Leland Chen
Bryan Shelton
Nicholas Burns
Bob Willis
Photo of the Week
New banners for the Advent/Christmas season are hung on the building and fence. See more photos on Centenary's Facebook page.
Centenary United Methodist Church | (804) 648-8319 | www.centumc.org 
Visit Us: 411 E. Grace St., Richmond, VA 23219