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Mid-Week Message - August 9

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!

This morning, I was a the Dr. V. A. Snow Centre in Hampton leading a worship service for the residents there. (They have a long list of clergy from different denominations who take turns with the Wednesday morning service - our turn for Two Rivers comes up once every couple of months.) Joan Small meets me there to play the piano, and she usually brings a car full of singers from Long Reach to help with the hymns.

Today, Brenda Brooks from Westfield hopped in my car to join the Long Reach Singers, and both before and during the service we had some conversation about hymns and music - which style of hymns speak to your soul, what is your favourite hymn, what hymns/music do you want played to you when you are living in a nursing home etc.

Music is powerful. It can stir up deep emotions in us - there is one gentleman at the Snow Centre who starts out singing each hymn, but usually ends up in tears before the first verse is over. Music can bring back memories, maybe of the time you first heard it, or maybe of a significant occasion when you heard or sang it. Especially when we sing, we take music into ourselves until it becomes part of our very being. I often say (only half-jokingly) that more people learn their theology from the hymns that we sing than from the sermon... which is why Bertis and I carefully plan the hymns each week, to match the message of the rest of the worship service.

I am reminded of a friend who was worried that her 8-year-old daughter was singing a song with some lyrics that she didn't consider to be appropriate (in this case, they were misogynistic, putting down women). The melody had caught her daughter's ear, and she was singing away until her mother asked her to stop. The daughter looked at me, hoping that I would back her up in her right to sing what she wanted, but I said to her, when we learn something "by heart" we are taking it into our heart, and I don't think that is the message that you want to be carrying there.

The same is true with the hymns that we sing - especially when we learn them well enough to sing them "by heart," those words have entered our heart.

What hymns are in your heart? Is there a hymn that you would like to learn "by heart" so that it becomes part of your being?

(Speaking of hymns... Bertis and I became aware back in April when we did Holy Humour Sunday that all of you probably carry some beloved hymns in your hearts that we don't sing very often on Sunday, if at all. The only problem is, when we are planning worship we don't know which hymns you are longing to sing! Over the next 4 Sundays - between now and Labour Day - there is going to be an insert in the bulletin for you to let us know what these hymns are. We can't promise to schedule each one of your hymns into worship in the next 6 months because we are still going to be trying to match the hymns with the overall message of the worship service; but at least we will be more aware of what you are longing to sing and will be able to take that into consideration when we are planning.)

In terms of announcements for this week, I do have a handful of them!

  • Worship this Sunday will be at Summerville at 9:15 (outside in the cemetery, weather permitting, so bring your lawn chair) and at Westfield and on FB Live at 11:15. Continuing our reading of the stories of women in the bible, this week we will be reading the story of Ruth and Naomi (specifically Ruth 1:8-22, but it's a short book so if you wanted to read the whole thing, you could do so quite quickly).

  • This week is Pride Week in Saint John, and the Pride Parade is going to be on Saturday afternoon beginning at 1pm. This year, the three Affirming pastoral charges will be walking together - Two Rivers, Harmony United, and Quispamsis United (last year, we were the only church who walked in the parade), and this year we will have a float option if you aren't able to walk the route. If you would like to join us, the parade will be mustering on King Street East by the Loyalist Burial Grounds between 12 and 12:45 - look for the United Churches, with Maggie and PJ Prowse's Jeep repurposed as a float. You will want to wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen, and probably bring some water with you (last year it was really hot). I will have all of our Rainbow Flags for us to wave, some rainbow face paint, along with a couple of signs to carry (but feel free to make your own too). Someone asked me on Sunday where they could get Pride-related things to wear - I don't know for sure, but some good places to start would be the Dollar Store or Michaels, and last year I was able to get some rainbow ribbons and fabric at Fabricville (though I don't know what their inventory is like right now). I can't wait to see you all there - last year, it was one of the highlights of my summer!

  • Vacation Bible School - as in previous years, Long Reach United Church is going to be holding a 1-day VBS at the church, this year on Thursday August 24 - drop-off at 9am, pick-up at 4pm. Word is already beginning to spread in the Long Reach families, but they want to make sure that Westfield and Summerville families know that they are welcome to participate as well. Activities will be geared for ages 4-12, there is no cost to participate, snacks and lunch are included, and we will have a lifeguard in the afternoon for swimming in the river. This is always a fun day - last year, one of our first-time participants said that it was the best day of her life.

  • Have you ever dreamed of visiting the Holy Land? Even better, have you ever dreamed of walking in the footsteps of Jesus alongside your church family? There has been some interest expressed in the pastoral charge about organizing a tour of the Holy Land (according to the travel agent, if we were to book now, we would probably be looking at a trip between November 2024 and May 2025 because of the lead time needed to book the things that need to be booked). I am going to host a potluck supper at my house (address redacted) on Monday August 28 at 5:30pm for anyone interested in gathering together to talk through ideas and dream about what this might look like. Attending the potluck does not mean a commitment to go - this is still the very early stages of dreaming and planning! I have a couple of sample itineraries to look at, and will haul out my photo album from the time I traveled there in 2001.

  • And finally, I'm going to use this platform for a more personal promotion! I, along with a handful of others from around TRPC, sing with the Saint John Chorale; and we will be repeating the programme of folk songs from North America and the British Isles that we presented in early June. The concert will be next Monday, August 14, at 7:15pm at Trinity Anglican Church in uptown Saint John. Admission is by donation, with all money raised split between the church and the choir.

And that's it for announcements this week!

As a closing thought this week: I posted on my personal Facebook page on Monday about coming across a CD that I made back in 2000 that reflects my interior soundscape of the late '90s and early 2000s. The opening track on that CD was Ani DiFranco's version of "Amazing Grace" - if you haven't heard this version, be warned that it is unlike any other version of "Amazing Grace" that you have ever heard! You can listen to it by clicking here.

Blessings to you and yours, today and always!


Rev. Kate Jones Two Rivers Pastoral Charge (506) 757-2201 (office) (506) 343-1307 (mobile) 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."

(Matthew 22:36-39)

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