May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
We are now half-way through our Advent season of waiting in hope: we have had two Sundays of Advent, with two Sundays left to go before Christmas; half of our Advent candles have been lit; and two weeks today is Christmas Eve. How is your hope doing these days? What are you doing to nurture your hope? To paraphrase author and theologian Frederick Buechner, because we hope, we know that the worst time is never the last time. (I shared a reflection on hope this morning on the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge Facebook page - if you missed it, you can read it by clicking here.)
This week's e-mail is going to be mostly announcements, since there is a lot going on this month!
Christmas Eve Service: As you likely saw in the Christmas letter, due to limited seating because of Covid, we are requiring pre-registration for our Christmas Eve services at all three churches (4pm at Summerville, 6pm at Long Reach, 8pm at Westfield). As of today, our zone is still "orange," but because the case numbers have been low in the past week I am cautiously optimistic that we might be "yellow" again by Christmas, and so be able to gather in-person on Christmas Eve. And so we are going to go ahead with the pre-registration process outlined in the Christmas letter. Beginning on Monday December 14, if you would like to attend one of our Christmas Eve services, please call the church office (757-2201) and leave a voicemail message giving your name, phone number, which church you would like to attend, and how many people are in your "bubble." This information will allow us to create a seating plan for each building to accommodate as many people as possible. Even so, I am worried that we might have to turn people away once all of our available pews are filled.
If you are not comfortable attending in-person services (assuming we are back to yellow), or if all of our seats are taken by the time you call, we will be livestreaming the Westfield Christmas Eve service on our Facebook page. We are also offering outdoor events in the days leading up to Christmas - see your Christmas letter for details! And there will be a Christmas Morning service at 10am at Westfield United Church for which we aren't requiring pre-registration.
Blue Christmas Service: This service will be a week today, on Thursday December 17 at 7pm. I think that this service is more important than ever this year, since many of us are not going to be able to have the Christmas we might want, due to restrictions on travel and gatherings. Anyone who wants a safe place to not only express these feelings of grief and longing, but also to look for hope in the Christmas message is welcome at this service. Session will be making a decision by Sunday about whether we will be able to gather in-person for this service (at Long Reach United Church), or whether this service will have to be offered online only. Keep your ears open for an announcement.
Christmas Families: the deadline to get your gift cards to the organizers (Bette and Ida at Bayswater-Summerville; Anne T. at Long Reach; Judy at Westfield) is this Sunday (Dec. 13). Thank you for your generosity in helping some of our neighbours have a merrier Christmas than they might otherwise!
This Sunday (Dec. 13) is also the last of our White Gift Sundays. All of your gifts to Avenue B Harm Reduction should be in to our Church in the World committee (Ida, Bette, Anne T., Lois) by then! There are also baskets in the hall at Westfield where you can drop off both Christmas Family donations and your White Gifts; and they can also be left with Margaret Stackhouse at the Grand Bay Home Hardware, as long as the envelope is well-labeled.
And I think that is all of the announcements for today. I know that it's a lot, but so much is uncertain this year due to the Covid situation.
At our worship on Sunday, we will be reading more for Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 this week), and looking for hope in the image that the prophet uses of plants growing. As of this morning, it is looking like this service will be streamed only - 11:15 on the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge Facebook page - and so I will be sending out the bulletin by e-mail on Saturday.
Blessings to you and yours, today and always; and may your hope burn brightly in whatever circumstances you are going through this week.
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."