May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
At our Bible Study on Wednesday morning (which has now moved online for as long as this zone is "orange"), we read the story about Jesus healing Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) and one of the things that we noticed was that before healing him, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"
As a group, we found this question to be very poignant from a couple of different angles. First of all, we asked ourselves, if Jesus asked us this question, how would we answer it? If we look deep inside of our hearts, what do we want Jesus to do for us? (As a group, we didn't answer this question out loud, but instead took it away as something to ponder in the week ahead.)
But the other approach to this question of Jesus is as something that we, as the Body of Christ, as people who carry out God's mission in the world around us, should consider. Rather than assuming what sort of help people want, isn't it better to ask? What do you want me/us to do for you?
If I look at all of the help that our Pastoral Charge gave to the world through the season of Advent, I think that this is something that we did quite well. We "built a stable" with our extra Mission & Service donations, and Mission & Service partners with organizations across Canada and around the world rather than assuming what people want. And with our White Gift Sundays, our Church in the World Committee approached the organizations that we partner with each year to ask them what sort of donations would be the most useful. And finally, with our Christmas Families this year, we collected gift cards which offered the families that we supported the dignity of choosing the menu and the gifts that they would purchase with these donations.
And in case you missed it on Christmas Eve, here are the grand totals from the season of Advent:
Mission & Service Fundraiser: $5050
Christmas Families: $1605
Hestia House: $1005
Avenue B Harm Reduction: $740 (plus socks, hats, mittens, food etc.)
When you add in our Thanksgiving Gratitude Challenge in support of Romero House ($870.25 donated), that brings us to $9925.25 that Two Rivers Pastoral Charge has raised in recent months to support our neighbours near and far.
Thank you all, for being people who are willing to turn to our neighbours and ask the question, "How can we help you? What sort of help is the most useful?"
As you likely know by now, the Saint John Zone, along with the rest of the province, moved into the Orange phase of Covid this week. As it did in November, within our church this means:
Worship will be online only - 11:15 on Sunday morning on the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge Facebook Page. I'll send out the bulletin on Friday or Saturday by e-mail. This week, we will be reading the story about Jesus being baptized by John (Mark 1:1-11)
I will be keeping my office hours at each of our churches, but will likely be working from my home office the rest of the week.
The Pastoral Charge office is open, and Elaine will continue to monitor the e-mail and voicemail.
All in-person gatherings are discouraged (e.g. meetings, bible study) and should happen by phone or online if at all possible.
I have just a few other announcements this week:
Our bible study is continuing on Webex until we move back to yellow. Everyone is welcome to join this by phone or on your computer/tablet/phone. Let me know if you would like me to send you the login information.
As I mentioned in my e-mail yesterday, Deanna's funeral is by invitation only, and it will not be livestreamed - her family is planning a larger Celebration of Life when we can gather more freely, likely next summer. You can read her obituary at https://brenansfh.com/tribute/details/24766/Deanna-Cosman/obituary.html
Don't forget that the deadline to get your Annual Reports sent to the church office is this Sunday, December 10!
And that is it for today. As we move through the winter months, and as we move through this Covid-level Orange, remember all of your strategies for staying healthy from last spring - move your body regularly, limit your media consumption if you need to, drink water, reach out to each other by phone or electronically, and never forget that God loves you more than you can ever know!
Blessings to you and yours, today and always,
Rev. Kate Jones Two Rivers Pastoral Charge (506) 757-2201 (office) (506) 343-1307 (mobile) www.tworiverspastoralcharge.com Pronouns: she/her/hers "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law?"
Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "You must love your neighbour as you love yourself."