May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
I planted garlic for the first time last fall, and at the end of last week I noticed that the new growth was poking above the ground in a nice neat row. My father (who knows much more about growing things than I do) has been coaching me along, telling me what I need to do in order to optimize my likelihood of harvesting some garlic once summer is here.
Garlic is one of those plants that needs a period of dormancy in order to be able to grow. If you were to plant garlic at this time of year, it wouldn't do anything for you. Instead you need to plant it in the fall, let it get some roots established (but hopefully not too many leaves), and then let it get cold for a period of time. The melting ground is the signal to the garlic bulb that it is time to spring into action.
And I wonder if this garlic might be a metaphor for many things that we do in our lives and in our church. We plant an idea, it might pick up a bit of traction at first, but then it needs to lie dormant - maybe even seem dead - before it can spring to life again at some point in the future.
Many of us have been noticing some momentum building in our churches in the past three months. Ideas that were brought forward during the earlier years of the pandemic but weren't able to go anywhere finally seem to be getting some traction. Things that we had to stop doing for a couple of years are coming back to life. (As I write this e-mail, I've had to close my office door because the UCW had a meeting this afternoon and there is a lot of chatter in the aftermath - the voices of people happy to be churching together is a sound that I didn't know that I missed until I began to hear it again!)
If we look at the season of Holy Week that we just came through, Easter Sunday doesn't follow immediately on the heels of Good Friday. Jesus isn't resurrected the same day that he is crucified. Resurrection doesn't come until the third day. We have to move through Holy Saturday - a time of dormancy - a time of emptiness - a time of not knowing - before we can get to the new life.
As we seem to be moving into this time of renewed energy, what are your dreams for our churches? What sort of new life or new vibrancy would you like to see? For the Holy Spirit has been working in us through these years of dormancy, working in the seeds that only now are springing to life. What is the harvest of love and joy that we are moving towards?
Last Sunday, when we celebrated Holy Humour Sunday, was a fun gathering at both churches! Each congregation chose the hymns on the spot, voted on which scripture reading you wanted to hear, and submitted questions to be answered during the sermon time. And for anyone who wanted to look up the scripture readings that you didn't get to hear, the three options were:
Revelation 12:1-6 (chosen at Summerville)
Song of Solomon 1:2-5 (chosen at Westfield)
(You can click in each reading to see the full reading.)
A huge thank you to our musicians (Peter and Bertis) and to our scripture readers (Sandra and Pat) for being willing to play along with our Holy Humour silliness!
In terms of announcements for this week:
Bible Study is back after a break of a couple of weeks - every Wednesday, 10-11:30am in the Westfield parlour. Today we finished the book of Numbers and moved on to Deuteronomy as we meander our way through the Old Testament. Everyone is welcome!
Broadview Magazine - our monthly gathering will be next Monday, May 1, at 10am in the parlour at Westfield United Church. There isn't a May issue, but since we missed our March gathering due to the weather, we will be discussing the March issue this time around. Even if you aren't a subscriber, you can still read many of the articles in this issue on the Broadview website by clicking here. Everyone is welcome to join us!
Youth Connection - Upcoming dates will be May 7 and June 4. (No gathering on the May long weekend.)
Jon McLurg Concert - the Westfield UCW are hosting a concert on Sunday May 14 at 7pm by Jon McLurg, with special guests Bob Johnson and Allison Inch. Jon is a singer/songwriter of gospel, folk, country, Irish, and original music. Admission by freewill offering that will be split between Jon and the UCW. You can click here to see the poster.
Rock Around the Clock - many of you heard the announcement on Sunday (or saw it on Facebook), but the Westfield United Church Choir will be presenting a musical game show and costume party on Sunday June 11 at 7pm with music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. This is a fundraiser for Westfield United Church, and promises to be lots of fun! You can purchase tickets now through Eventbrite by clicking here. And please help us to spread the word by sharing our Facebook post.
Gathering of Affirming Churches - Quispamsis United Church is going to be hosting a gathering of local churches who are Affirming or who are exploring the process of becoming Affirming about the possibility of hosting a workshop led by Chroma NB. (This is an organization that serves LGBTQ+ youth in Saint John - the organization that we supported with the proceeds of our Pie Day Social.) This gathering will be on Tuesday May 2 at 7pm, looking at a workshop some time in June - if you are interested in attending, please let me know as Ross and I have talked about carpooling.
Scam Alert - every so often a scammer "borrows" my name and sets up a fake e-mail account and/or phone number, then reaches out to people in the church asking you to contact "me" (though it's not really me) at that e-mail address or phone number. If you did, then they would probably ask you to send them gift cards (or occasionally bitcoin) after giving you a sad story, maybe about someone in hospital. Please know that I would never contact you from any e-mail address other than this one (email@example.com) or from any phone number other than my usual cell number or the church number. And I would never ask you, out of the blue, to send me gift cards or bitcoin. It drives me crazy that scammers exploit the trust that we tend to have within the church, as well as the desire of church people to help out; and I truly hope that no one falls for this particular scam.
My last announcement isn't really an announcement, but several people noticed that I lost part of my study leave last week because of the funerals for Sue Shedd and Jerry Crabbe and have expressed concern. I did get away for 2 days on a retreat for younger clergy (defined as those of us under the age of 50 - only in church-land am I still considered to be young lol), but I had a couple of books that were part of my plan for the rest of the week that I didn't have a chance to get to. My plan is to schedule 3 reading days within the next month to make up for the Study Leave time that I lost, and I ask you to please hold me accountable to make sure that I take that time.
As a closing thought this week, I want to share a beautiful, heart-wrenching poem that I discovered this week, a poem that might just swing the tiniest little bit towards the questions that I asked in the first part of this e-mail. What seeds are unfolding in our church after a season of dormancy? What good are we going to make in the world (empowered by the Holy Spirit), even when the world around us sometimes feels terrible, because those "good bones" are there? Click here for a short video of Maggie Smith in conversation with Kate Bowler, including her poem, "Good Bones."
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."