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"Centenary United Methodist Church"
3 W Washington St
Bath, NY
Pastor - Eleanor Collinsworth
Phone - 607-776-3434
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March 2019
 Dear Members and Friends,

    Greetings in the name of the One who is a light to the nations – the One we are called to follow, even to the Cross as we prepare to walk together through the season of Lent, which begins with our Ash Wednesday services on March 6, at noon and 7:30 p.m.  The special services at the beginning and end of Lent are some of the most personally impactful services I plan and lead in fulfilling my responsibilities as your pastor.  As opposed to the widely attended Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday services, these services are sparsely attended, by the most steadfast in their faith.  Last year, on Ash Wednesday morning, I discovered this devotional, written by Pastor Mary Luti.  It completely expresses why the Ash Wednesday service is so powerful for me, and so I share it with you…

“Halfway through the line I almost lost it. Until that moment I'd been in a ritual groove, looking my parishioners in the eye, dusting them with ashes, calmly delivering the ancient admonition: "Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return." One by one they came, listened, received. But halfway through, I faltered.

It wasn't that I suddenly realized the gravity of what I was telling them, that they were breathtakingly fragile, that at any moment they could dissolve into elemental bits, that someday they would. I'd been feeling the heft of that truth all evening.

So no, it wasn't that I was giving them fatal news. It was that they wanted to hear it. It was that they'd lined up to hear it of their own free will. They knew exactly what the message was going to be, and still they inched their way towards the messenger.

My knees went wobbly as water. I wanted to wave them off, to tell them they didn't have to come, they could go sit down. But I knew no one would. That was the most stunning thing: even if I'd said it, I knew no one would.

So I regrouped, kept tracing charred crosses, kept saying the old words. And they kept coming, one after another, offering me their foreheads with the trust of a child.

And when I told them they would die, some nodded. Some said amen. Some even smiled; they said thank you, as if instead of sentencing them to death, I'd showered them with stars.”

     The season of Lent represents a lot of things to each of us, and perhaps different things to each of us.  But above all, it represents hope in the Divine promise, the Divine covenant that God makes with us, through Jesus Christ.  Throughout the season of Epiphany just ending, and into the season of Lent, we have been pondering, and will continue to ponder passages from Luke’s Gospel.  Luke shows us a Jesus who speaks plainly; a Jesus who speaks words that greatly challenge each of us personally, and words that challenge us together as a community of faith.  Let us not shy away from those challenges.  Let us embrace them, and let us help each other to do the same.

    I look forward to our walk together through this season of Lent and into another journey through Holy Week.  Be blessed on the journey, my friends.  Be blessed.
                             Together in Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Eleanor Collinsworth

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