Dear Centenary Family,
How are you doing with Advent? Waiting is hard. Not just the waiting of this season for the coming of Christmas Day, but the waiting that is part of life. We are always waiting for something it seems. We wait for the cure when we're sick. We wait for reconciliation when a relationship is broken. We wait for the answer to make itself plain to some perplexing question of faith.
I find myself returning to the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He had much to say about the way the season of Advent characterizes life itself. He once wrote: "Celebrating Advent means being able to wait. Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. . . Those who do not know how it feels to struggle anxiously with the deepest questions of life, of their life, and to patiently look forward with anticipation until the truth is revealed, cannot even dream of the splendor of the moment in which clarity is illuminated for them."
He wrote these words about waiting and life and Advent to his fiancée from prison on December 13, 1943. He would eventually be executed for his role in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. But, even in prison, Bonhoeffer would not give up the stubborn hope that even in the most difficult situations, God's presence is just over the horizon.
Such hope is hard to put into words. That's why we turn to story, metaphor, art, and of course music during this season. This Sunday is one of the high moments of the year for us at Centenary. Our choir will lead us in a Service of Advent Lessons and Carols at 11 a.m. and we'll have a more informal service with that theme at 8:40 a.m. And if you come expectantly, you will be reminded in a beautiful and powerful way of the promises of God that are at the heart of our faith and this season.
Waiting is hard, and sometimes long, but never in vain. God always keeps God's promises. That hope is what sustains us in dark times, and it is what motivates to keep struggling with God to bring our lives and our world always more closely into alignment with God's purposes.
I look forward to waiting, watching, and preparing with you Sunday!
Preparing for Jesus
A Message from our Lay Leader, Phyllis Stump
The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God." (Luke 1:35)
This is the second time we encounter Gabriel in Luke's Gospel, and again the angel announces the miraculous birth of a baby. Instead of announcing that a child will be born to an elderly couple, this time Gabriel announces that a child will be born of the Holy Spirit to a virgin.
Gabriel brought hope to Elizabeth and Zechariah with the announcement of John the Baptist's birth. This time Gabriel brought hope to the entire world. This baby will be different from all others. He will be the Son of God.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us remember that He brings not only hope, but also a message of boundless love. If we consider ourselves Children of God, this makes us members of God's family - a family of welcome and inclusion and love.
As we prepare for His coming, let us find ways of sharing that love with others.
This Weekend at Centenary
Sunday, December 11 at both Worship Services: Third Sunday in Advent with a Service of Advent Lessons and Carols
About Sunday's Music
At its core, the season of Advent is all about anticipation. We eagerly anticipate the coming of Christ, Savior of the World. We frequently hear and sing the words "hope and expectation" during these four weeks before Christmas.
I understand that our annual Service of Advent Lessons and Carols (this
Sunday) is also eagerly anticipated by many in the congregation. The choir has been working on the music for about five weeks now on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. You will hear some old favorites as well as some new pieces. A new one this year is the
Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, made famous by the all-male vocal ensemble Chanticleer. This stunningly beautiful work is written for essentially two choirs - a four-part men's group and a three-part women's group singing in alternation as well as together. You can "expect" something different in the way we perform this work, but I'm not going to spoil the surprise.
One surprise that I will give away is our organist. Until his wife Anne (who sings with us frequently) told me, I didn't realize that David Fisk was an organist before moving to Richmond and becoming the Executive Director of the Richmond Symphony! He studied with Christopher Dearnley, once organist at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. David will be doing all the accompanying for the service.
The choir, David and I "hope and expect" that we will make a beautiful experience for each of you this Sunday.
Director of Music/Organist
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.
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
After the 11'o'clock service, we will enjoy 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, Lee Covington, Kathleen Gregory, Matt Bates, and Phyllis Stump will join together to present a program of Story and Song.
Saturday, December 24 at 4:00 pm: The Christmas Story with a Nativity Processional
All children are invited to be a part of the nativity processional as part of our Family Christmas Eve worship. During the service, children will be directed to the back of the sanctuary to take their place for the processional. This is a wonderful way for children of all ages to participate in the celebration of the birth of Jesus!
Monday, January 23 at 12 noon: VMFA Lunch and Guided Tour of the Faberge Exhibit
We will meet at the Cafe for lunch before we have a guided tour of the Faberge Exhibit. Everyone pays for their own lunch, but the tour will be free.
Outreach and Mission Opportunities
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 (email@example.com) 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-Ins can use as Christmas presents for their loved ones. We have received lots of gloves, scarves, and winter hats, but could really use items like socks, Chapstick, lotion, and small gifts.
The Bless My Sole Foot Washing Ministry is running low on socks and would love any donations that you may be able to provide. Men's and women's tube socks are especially in demand.
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.
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 & Lois Hinerman
The family of Jean Jones (who passed away on November 1)
Debbie Kammeter (friend of Leah Hundley) in the loss of her father
Donna Mestre (Betty Brown's sister)
Rebecca Odea (friend of Rugby Baker)
Kevin Watson (son of Cheryl Owen-Watson)
Ina Wilson (her sister passed away October 3)
Celebrating Birthdays in December
Mary Lou Webber
Richard C. McNeil
Mary Sue Sanderlin
Sue Ann Holloway
Photo of the Week
At a staff Christmas lunch at the Red Door Restaurant, Al Richardson won the "Ugly Sweater" Contest with one he had made himself from an "Ugly Sweater" kit!
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