May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
I know that some of you have been following my power outage exploits this week on Facebook (the NB Power website says that my power came back on shortly after noon today, but since I'm at the church rather than at home, I can't yet confirm it!). But last night, when I came home from the monthly coffee house at the church, one thing that I noticed was that with no power in the neighbourhood, there was less light pollution and the stars were even brighter than they usually are. Where I live, I can see the stars better than I would be able to living in the city, but still most of my neighbours have outdoor lights that add some light pollution; but last night there was almost none. (The stars were so bright last night that I was even able to take a picture of them with my phone!)
I've always love looking at the stars. I have my favourite constellations that I look for - Cassiopeia and Orion - and I love pondering the millions of lights that dot the sky on a clear night. The light that came from the stars has travelled for millions of years to reach my eyes, and yet once the light enters my eyes, it is no longer light. And those same constellations have been rotating around the heavens for millennia, and they will continue to rotate the night sky long after I am gone.
I find the stars to be a deeply comforting presence. They don't depend on me, but they are just there. In that way, they remind me of God. God is always there, surrounding me with deep and never-ending love. God's presence doesn't depend on anything that I do or say or think... God is just there, eternal and loving.
Orion in last night's sky - picture taken with my phone.
It may be easier to pick out the stars if you look at it in a darker room!
In terms of announcements this week (and I think that I'm going to go in chronological order this time):
UCW Christmas Communion Service - tonight (Wednesday December 13) at 7pm at Westfield United Church. Everyone is welcome - you don't need to be a UCW member or identify as a women - our UCW host this annual service not only for themselves but for the whole church.
"Peace on Earth: A Concert of Hope" will be presented by the Westfield United Church Choir tomorrow (Thursday December 14) at 7pm at Westfield United Church. This is always a popular concert, and this year will consist of readings and anthems all focused on peace and hope - things that our world really much needs at this present moment. Admission is by free-will offering to the Benevolent Fund.
Worship on Sunday will be at 9:15 at Summerville and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. This will be the fourth Sunday in Advent - we'll light our Advent candle for love, and read the story about Zechariah and Elizabeth waiting for the birth of their son (who would become John the Baptist).
White Gift Sundays - this Sunday is your last opportunity to bring your gifts for Avenue B, Hestia House, and Coverdale, then next week our Church in the World committee members will be delivering them. (If you need a reminder of their wish-lists, you can find them by clicking here.)
Bonfire Carol Sing - Monday December 18 at 7pm at Summerville United Church. Join us around a bonfire as we sing the Christmas story and enjoy hot chocolate and goodies. (And any prayers or good thoughts for the weather would be much appreciated - this will be the 3rd year Summerville has tried to host this, and the past two years the weather and road conditions prevented it!)
Live Nativity - Thursday December 21 from 5-7pm (note the date change from what was originally advertised!) at Westfield United Church. Along with donkeys and chickens and humans, this year Tatum has arranged for Travel To You Zoo to join us with even more animals! There will be a box under the Christmas Tree to collect donations for the food bank.
Blue Christmas Service - Thursday December 21 at 7pm at Summerville United Church (1891 NB-845). This is a quieter service for anyone who struggles with the season for any reason. It isn't a service designed to make you feel sad - rather it is a place where you are free to take off your mask for a moment, free to stop pretending that everything is OK when it isn't. And yet it is also a service that searches for hope in the Christmas story. No matter what challenges you are carrying this season - grief, anxiety, loss of health / relationship / job, or anything else - you are welcome to join us.
December 24 - Morning Service - we will have a short service the morning of December 24 that will feel more like a Sunday morning service than a big Christmas Eve service. This will be at 10am at Westfield United Church.
Christmas Eve Services - 4pm at Summerville; 6pm at Long Reach; 8pm at Westfield. This is the big one!
Christmas Day Service - 10am at Westfield. This is maybe one of my favourite services of the whole year. It is quieter than Christmas Eve, but filled with joy and light!
I also have a couple of things to add that weren't on the original Christmas Schedule that was sent out with the Christmas Letter:
December 31 Worship Services and Potluck - New Year's Eve falls on a Sunday this year, and to celebrate all of the Grand Bay-Westfield Churches are getting together to have a potluck lunch! We will have worship at the regular time (9:15 at Summerville; 11:15 at Westfield), but it will be a shorter-than-usual service so that we have time to join the potluck lunch in the hall at St. Matthew's Church at noon.
New Year's Day Levee - for the first time since 2019, I'm going to be hosting a New Year's Day Levee at my house (address redacted) on January 1. As it did before the pandemic, this will be an open house from 2-4pm, and you are all invited to drop in to celebrate the new year with your church family!
Reader and Greeter Lists (January-June) - Elaine has printed out the lists for all three churches, and they will be available at the back of the church next time you are there. If you would like an electronic copy, you can download it by clicking on your church name: Bayswater-Summerville, Long Reach, Westfield. And if you would like to serve as a reader and/or greeter at your church, you can talk to Bette Ashley (Bayswater-Summerville), Kathy Fullerton (Long Reach), or Josie Pike (Westfield). Thank you to everyone who serves in this important ministry!
And that's it for today. I think that this might be my longest list of announcements of the year!
For a closing thought, as I've been sharing some of my favourite seasonal songs with you, here is a stunning version of the Wexford Carol by Alison Krauss and Yo-yo Ma - you can listen (and watch - they are worth watching as well) 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)
"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."