May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Today is the first of December, and with the first snowfall of the season behind us and the first Sunday of Advent last weekend, it really is beginning to feel winter-y and Christmas-y!
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the season of Advent falls at a time of year when the days are continuing to get shorter and the nights are getting longer. Last year, I was listening to a podcast out of Australia and they were talking about how strange it must be in the Northern Hemisphere when the season when we celebrate the birth of the Light of the World happens at the darkest time of the year, but personally I love celebrating Advent and Christmas in this season of long nights.
In these long nights, we hang Christmas lights outside our homes and we light up Christmas trees inside our homes - we are saying to these long nights that the shadows and the bleakness can't win - the the light will shine in the darkness and nothing can ever overcome it (John 1:5).
And the other connection has to do with hope. Last Sunday we lit our first Advent candle - a candle symbolizing hope - and in our Story for All Ages we spent some time talking about hope. When life is good and things are easy - in those times we don't need hope; it is when life is difficult and we can't see our way forward and sadness is around us - that is when we need hope, that is when we need to trust that things are going to get better. I've heard it said that hope is only possible when everything is hopeless.
This upcoming Sunday, we will be lighting our second Advent candle which symbolizes peace. Our bible reading will be about John the Baptist (Luke 3:1-18), and we will continue our Advent series of hearing the story told from the perspective of someone inside the story. Our Advent theme of looking for the light will continue - how many glimpses of light will you be able to catch this Sunday?
Our services will be at Summerville at 9:15 and at Westfield at 11:15 with livestreaming of the Westfield Service at https://www.facebook.com/tworiverspastoralcharge
Our Christmas letters were mailed out last week - if you are on our mailing list, you should have arrived in your mailbox by now. If you aren't on our mailing list (or if, for some reason, you letter hasn't reached you yet), you can download a copy of the letter (which includes our December schedule of services) by clicking here.
As we move through December, things are starting to get busier! In terms of other announcements this week:
Youth Connection will be having our last scheduled gathering before the Christmas Holidays on Sunday December 5 at 7pm - all youth in middle or high school are welcome! Ross is preparing some Minute to Win It games for our Christmas party.
December 6 is the National Day for Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. As we do each year, we will be having a service to commemorate this. This year, as we did last year, the service will be livestreamed only. It will be on Monday December 6 at 7pm on the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/tworiverspastoralcharge). If it is safe for you to do so, I invite you to have a candle lit in your space at the beginning of the service.
December 6 will also be our next gathering to discuss Broadview magazine at 10am in the Westfield parlour. We will be discussing the December issue. Even if you don't subscribe, you can access many of the articles by clicking here.
December 8 will be our UCW Christmas Communion service at 7pm at Westfield United Church. This is our first Christmas (rather than Advent) service of the season, and I know for many people this kicks off the Christmas season. Everyone is welcome at this service - you don't need to be a UCW member, and you don't need to identify as a woman - the UCW hosts this service for anyone who would like to attend.
Our final two Sundays for our White Gifts will be December 5 and 12, and we will be collecting for Coverdale. Their wish list includes: gift cards to the dollar store, Lawton's Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys, and Superstore; new personal care items such as nail polish, hair elastics, individual nail sets, razors, or chocolates.
Like I said, lots going on!
As a closing thought today, I leave you with a beautiful and haunting recording of an ancient Christmas Carol (yes, I know that it's only Advent and not Christmas yet!) - The Wexford Carol performed by Alison Krauss and Yo Yo Ma. You can hear/see them 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) 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."