May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Has anyone else been watching the Olympic Games this past week and a half? I know that the 12-hour time difference between here and Tokyo means that many events are taking place in the middle of the night, so here in Atlantic Canada we have had to catch them as re-plays in the hours when we are awake.
I've been trying to think theologically about the Olympics. Where can we see God in these games? How might God be speaking to us through these games? I have a handful of thoughts, though I haven't had a chance to think deeply through any of them yet.
There was a beautiful story of loving your neighbour that came out in the men's high jump, where two best friends persuaded the judges to award two gold medals rather than moving to a jump off. (If you missed that story, you can read it by clicking here.)
I think that the story of Simone Biles withdrawing from most of the gymnastics competition can teach us about loving ourselves. She didn't feel safe flipping and twisting in the air, and rather than risking a very serious injury, she chose not to compete. The Holy Spirit resides in each and every person - the apostle Paul writes that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), and by honouring her own body's safety, she was also honouring the presence of God within herself.
There is also a theology of play - the idea that God inspires joyful creativity in all of us. While some events in the "games" don't appear very playful, others do. Last night, I finally had a chance to watch the women's canoe slalom ("downhill canoeing" as I call it), and the look of joy on the faces of the competitors (mixed with grit and determination) as they navigated the best line through the rapids and through the gates, and the hugs that they gave each other at the finish - even when the finishing athlete knocked others off the podium - filled me with joy.
There is also the shadow side of these games. There has been a lot of controversy about whether they should have been held at all. Is it loving of your neighbours (on a global level) to hold such a large gathering in the middle of a pandemic?
In terms of what is going on around our Pastoral Charge this week, I have a couple of announcements to pass on.
Tonight's Church Family Movie is going to be Indian Horse. It starts at 7pm this evening (Wednesday) in the Westfield United Church Parlour. Now that we are green, there may be popcorn this week... though we still won't be passing a bowl around!
On Sunday, we will be continuing our exploration of Things Jesus Didn't Say. This week, we will be looking at one that we hear frequently: "Everything happens for a reason." The services will be at 9:15 at Long Reach, and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live.
You probably remember that back at the end of January, John Cole, son of Catherine Cole died suddenly in Ottawa. His family and friends are finally able to gather this Saturday to celebrate his life and bury his ashes in the Long Reach cemetery. The funeral will be at 11am at Long Reach United Church, and will be livestreamed on the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge Facebook Page. The Cole family is asking everyone who attends to please wear a mask due to a number of medical concerns.
Also, a reminder that this is Pride Week in Saint John. Many of the events are happening in-person with livestreaming on the Saint John Pride Facebook page. You can access the schedule of events, along with the livestream videos by clicking here.
Last Sunday, our Minute for Mission was entitled "Covid-19 Won't End until it Ends for Everyone" and it talked about the global impact of Covid-19, especially the lack of vaccine access for the global majority. Several people asked me after the service how they can participate in the Mission and Service program to provide global vaccines - you can access this program by clicking here (and until Sept. 6, each donation will be matched by the federal government). But just as important as individuals donating vaccines is advocating for our government to support global vaccination programs, since we as a country can have a much bigger impact than individual donations can do. If you want information about how to advocate (including e-mail templates), you can find it by clicking here.
And that is it for today. (Confession - I've had the Olympics on in the background as I've been writing this, and I just saw Canada's Andre de Grass win the gold medal in the 200m race. Go Canada; but also three cheers for every single participant in these games. They are all an inspiration.)
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."