Dear Centenary Family,
We continue our Wednesday evening Lenten series this week at 6:00 pm. We're so fortunate at Centenary to have a number of clergy as part of our church family. It's been a joy for me to hear two inspiring sermons the last two weeks from Rita Callis and Brooke Willson. And this coming week, Rev. Kathy Talley will be our preacher. I certainly look forward to this time of worship, inspiration, and fellowship. And the meals we've shared have been delicious! Thanks to all those who are working to make this a special time for us this Lenten season.
And I'm so grateful to Stan Baker and the Arts Committee and all who worked so hard to bring the Norfolk State University Choir here in concert last Sunday evening. They were truly outstanding and inspiring. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that at some points in their performance, some of us had the feeling we were getting just an inkling of what a heavenly choir might sound like. Thanks to all who brought food and helped with hospitality for the choir and all who attended.
I've been involved with a group of clergy, black and white, and now one Jewish rabbi, who meet about once a month to talk about racism. It's been one of the most enriching things spiritually for me recently. One of the clergy who has recently joined our conversations is Gary Jones, the rector at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. He has invited our congregations to St. Stephen's on Tuesday, April 4 to view a new documentary entitled "13th," which is an account of the impact of the 13th Amendment on African Americans and the way this has contributed to the problem of mass incarceration. It's interesting, informative, and disturbing at the same time. I encourage you to take note of the details of that event below and take advantage of this opportunity for fellowship and conversation with others working for God's reign of justice and peace in the Richmond area. Refreshments will be served at 6:00 pm and the documentary will be shown at 6:30 pm.
I've been focusing on the readings from the Hebrew Scriptures during Lent. They've given us a sense of the way God works to be in a covenantal relationship with Israel and through Israel, all the world. The God we discover in these passages has been an active, dynamic God who is reaching out to human beings and who responds to their cries for help and deliverance, even when those human beings come across as fickle, demanding, and forgetful of all of God's previous blessings.
The text for this Sunday's sermon is I Samuel 16:1-13. It is the account of the prophet Samuel going to find a new king for Israel. He rejects all of Jesse's older, stronger sons. After he meets the big strapping Eliab, Jesse's eldest son, Samuel thinks he has found the next King of Israel, but God says to Samuel, "Have no regard for his appearance or stature, because I haven't selected him. God doesn't look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart."
That's a great text, one some of us learned in Sunday School. It encourages many of us because it affirms that God often uses the weakest, most unlikely among us to do great things. But there's a back story here that's worth considering. It has to do with what has brought Israel and the prophet Samuel to this point that they are in search of a new king. And the challenging question this text puts before us, I think, is, "How do we discern God's presence and will in the midst of the messiness of life as we really live it?"
Another question that comes to mind is, "Why are we given this text during the season of Lent?" The selection of this text by the compilers of the lectionary is not unrelated to the gospel reading for this Sunday, John 9:1-41 which I'd commend to your attention before Sunday as well. That text is John's account of Jesus' healing of a man born blind with his reflection on the theological significance of that wonderful miracle.
Those are some of the things I've been wrestling with and working on and would love to consider with you this Sunday. The title I'm working with is "Look Again."
I look forward to seeing you Sunday and during Lent as we continue this journey to the cross and beyond together!
This Weekend at Centenary
Sunday, March 26: Worship at 8:40 am (informal) and 11:00 am (traditional)
Senior Pastor Matt Bates will preach "
based on the scripture reading from
I Samuel 16:1-13.
A Thank You from the Arts Committee...
to everyone who generously provided food for our reception after this past Sunday's concert. Your help was sincerely appreciated. Both the concert and the reception were enjoyed by all who attended.
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).
Wednesdays, March 29 and April 5 at 6:00 pm: Lenten Worship Services and Light Supper
Join us for the next two Wednesday nights during the season of Lent for Worship in the Chapel at 6:00 pm, which will be followed with a light supper in the Fellowship Hall at 6:30 pm. Donations appreciated. (Note that Chancel Choir rehearsals will start at 7:15 on these nights.) The message each week will be "If I Had One Sermon to Preach." As some of you know, we are very fortunate here at Centenary to have several retired clergy among us as well as clergy serving in appointments beyond the local church. Here's the preaching schedule for the rest of the series:
March 29: Rev. Kathy Talley (serving an appointment beyond the local church)
April 5: Rev. Katie B. Gooch (serving as the campus minister to VCU)
March 30 at 2:30 pm: Free Choral Concert for Senior Citizens at Atlee High School
You are invited to the 2nd Annual Free Choral Concert for Senior Citizens by the Atlee High School Show Choirs at Atlee High School (9414 Atlee Station Road in Mechanicsville). For more information or to RSVP, contact Nancy Hundley at email@example.com or 804-306-9102.
Saturday, April 1: Bishop's Convocation on Prayer
Bishop Sharma Lewis will host a Bishop's Convocation on Prayer at Trinity United Methodist Church (903 Forest Avenue in Henrico). The Rev. Juanita Rasmus, co-pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, will be the plenary speaker for the convocation.
Workshops on a variety of topics are also being offered. Deadline to register is March 27.
Tuesday, April 4, at 6:30 pm: Free screening of "13th"
You are invited to a free, community-wide screening of "13th," the Oscar-nominated documentary about justice, incarceration, and race in America. This acclaimed film traces the path from the abolition of slavery (the passage of the 13th Amendment) to the other forms of enslavement that followed for African-Americans: lynchings and Jim Crow laws, a war on drugs targeting people of color, a prison-industrial complex which incarcerates African-Americans disproportionately. The film includes interviews with numerous public officials, scholars, and other experts, including lawyer
, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of the New York Times bestseller Just Mercy. This screening, sponsored by Centenary and other congregations in Richmond, takes place at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 6000 Grove Avenue (corner of Three Chopt Road and Grove Avenue, near the University of Richmond). Refreshments will be served at 6:00 pm before the film begins.
No tickets are required to attend this free event, but registration is helpful to the host church as they prepare for sufficient seating. Please go to ststephensRVA.org/stevenson, or contact Centenary's Senior Pastor
Thursday, April 6: Centenary Travel Group Trip to Brent & Becky's 2017 Spring Garden Tour
Friday, April 7: UMUMR/Shalom Farms 2017 Spring Geranium Sale
The 2017 Spring Geranium Sale with UMUMR/Shalom Farms is here! Plants will arrive Friday, April 7. Thanks so much and happy planting!
Sunday, April 9: Palm Sunday
You won't want to miss this special day with a Pancake Breakfast starting at 9 am and special Palm Sunday Celebration at 10:15 am 3rd Street Bethel AME Church (located at 614 N 3rd Street) with other Downtown Community Ministries churches.
April 11 at 7:00 pm: Conversations on A Way Forward with Dave Nuckols
You are invited to a conversation and update on A Way Forward Commission with Dave Nuckols. This
commission is the group of 32 people from around the world trying to figure out where the United Methodist Church is headed in the next few years. Dave Nuckols, an RMN Board Member, Minnesota Conference lay leader and member of the Bishop's A Way Forward Commission, will be in Virginia after a Washington, DC meeting of the commission to offer an update on the commission's work. Nuchols will speak at two locations, one in Alexandria and one here in Richmond at Centenary.
Information on A Way Forward can be found on their website here.
Thursday, April 13 at 7:30 pm: Holy Thursday Worship Service
Friday, April 14 at 7:30 pm: Good Friday Worship Service
Sunday, April 16: Easter Sunday
8:40 am (informal) and 11:00 am (traditional) Worship Services
10:00 Easter Egg Hunt for Children and Youth
Sunday, April 23 at 2:00 pm: Theatre Outing to The Heir Apparent
Join a group from Centenary attending this Quill Theatre production at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' Leslie Cheek Theater (located at 200 North Boulevard in Richmond).
Set in Paris in 1708, this play by David Ives, adapted from Le Légataire universel by Jean-François Regnard, tells the story of the penniless, but handsome, Eraste and his love for the fair Isabelle. All seems to be going well for the young couple, except one thing; Eraste can't inherit his elderly, miserly Uncle Geronte's fortune until the old man dies - but the old man loves Isabelle, too! The multiple strands of the plot unravel with endlessly fast and funny wit, with contemporary slang thrown in, bringing this vintage 18th century story into the 21st century. This production is directed by the critically acclaimed international director of theatre and film Paolo Emilio Landi. Landi's career has spanned over twenty years, producing shows in Italy, France, Lithuania, Russia, as well as the United States. He comes to Virginia as a guest professor at the University of Richmond teaching "Translation in Context" for the Theatre department, as well as a course on Comedy in the Italian department. Tickets will be between $0 and $25, depending on the size of our group. Sign up on the bulletin board across from the kitchen.
Thursday, April 27: 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 Storehouse. 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!
Outreach and Mission
We Wish to Thank YOU!
For your generous support and contributions with the 2016 Christmas Eve UMFS offering. We received a letter from Angie Williams, the volunteer manager, thanking us for the $2,001.00 donation they received on January 30, 2017. She wished to "thank us for our most recent and all our previous contributions to UMFS. Your continued support helps kids soar above the challenges that confront them."
The treasurer, Roland Fernandes, and Executive Director, Mary Andreolli, at UMCOR sent us a letter on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, thanking us for our recent contribution of $1,471.00. They state, "through the compassion and solidarity of faithful friends like you, UMCOR is able to provide comfort to those impacted by disasters like earthquakes and storms, food for the hungry, and healthcare to those who otherwise would have none. These are just a sampling of the good works that gifts like yours make possible. Thank you for giving so generously."
We also received a thank you from Rev. C. Randall Harlow, the Conference Legislative Network Chairperson. He states, "On behalf of the Virginia Conference Legislative Network, I want to express our appreciation to you for hosting our 25th Anniversary Celebration of UM Day at the General Assembly on Saturday, January 14. Everything was done to perfection. It was only fitting that this observance be held at the site of its beginnings. I felt a link between the past and presence. We are indebted to those who lead the way. We look forward to those who will join our efforts in the future."
Please Remember in Prayer
Ryland Bailey, Sr.
Joe Ciucci Jr.
Jack & Lois Hinerman
Inez Johnson (friend of Vic and Nancy Grand)
Wendy Tisdale (friend of Agatha and Christina Kidd)
P.C. and Carol Yerby (parents of Mary Mismas)
Celebrating Birthdays in March
Photo of the Week
A beautiful Lenten Worship Service Wednesday night in the Chapel led by Rev. Brooke Willson.
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