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February 2018
Pastor’s Page

Dear Members and Friends,

         Greetings in the name of the One who brings light to the darkest places and times in our lives, and life to us in all our circumstances.  As I write this, I am preparing for my trip to the Holy Land with a group of 80 or so journeying pilgrims – clergy and laypeople – from around our Upper New York Conference.  To say I am “excited” would be a significant understatement!  By the time you read this, I will have returned, God willing, eager to share my experiences (physical and spiritual) with you.  I pray that my new year’s resolution for 2018 will have served me well – it is to be more fully present in the moment.  I am too prone to multi-tasking, and to being somewhere else in my head, instead of where I physically am in the moment.  I am inspired in this resolution by these words from Henri Nouwen, a favorite spiritual writer (for me, and for some of you also, I know):

        "Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let's not be afraid to receive each day's surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity." --Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey

         And the modern-day theologian Marcus Borg wrote of what he calls “thin places:”
“Thin places are places where the veil momentarily lifts, and we behold God, experience the one in whom we live all around us and within us…A thin place is anywhere our hearts are opened.” –Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity

        The Celtic people understood that the Lord was with them, at all times and in all places, but they were not always aware of the divine presence.  They recognized the gift of “thin places” – those moments and situations in which the awareness of the divine reality breaks in, and we experience deep connection with God – and they sought to cultivate these experiences as part of their spiritual quest.  In the same way, if we are to maintain our connection with God, if we are to reclaim the sacredness of our world, of our companions in the human journey, and of ourselves, we will need to cultivate an openness to, and expectation of, surprise and the “thin places.”

        This is a wonderful time to be exploring Baptism and church membership, which can lead us all to faith surprises and the “thin places” in our walks of faith in Christ.  If you or your child/ren or grandchild/ren have not yet been baptized, I encourage you to prayerfully consider it, and please contact me with your questions, concerns, or to prepare for and schedule a Baptism.  Similarly, if you have not taken membership vows here at Centenary UMC and would like to explore becoming a member of the church, I encourage you to contact me.  I can be reached by phone at 607-776-3434 (during church office hours) or at 315-745-0047 (anytime), and by e-mail at  

        As we begin the season of Lent on February 14 (Ash Wednesday), we will be exploring “God’s Covenants” as they are found throughout the Bible.  Bible Study groups will begin meeting in the week of February 19.  Watch for the sign-up sheet in worship services in early February.  It is my hope and prayer that Lent will be a season of surprise and “thin places.”

                                                                             Together in Christ’s Love and Service,

                                             Pastor Eleanor Collinsworth

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