May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Today, December 6, is the National Day for Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It was named so in 1991, two years after 14 women were killed in the engineering department of L'Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal because they were women.
I was a 12-year-old girl that day, one who loved math and science (possibly because my father, a physics teacher, always gave my sisters and I his physics magazines so that we could play and solve the physics games and puzzles in the back of them right from when we were young). I remember observing this tragedy unfold on the radio and television - for me, this was the first time in my life that I realized that someone might hate me, that someone might want to hurt me, just for being me.
We will be gathering this evening, as a church and as a community, to remember, to mourn gender-based violence, and to pray for a world where gender-based violence is a thing of the past.
Why should we, as a church, care about gender-based violence? It is because we follow Jesus, someone who always stood up for, and was on the side of anyone who was marginalized or oppressed or abused. Think of the stories we read about Jesus - feeding people who were hungry, stopping the stoning of a "woman caught in adultery," healing people who were outside of the power centers of his time and place. (We can go back before Jesus's birth too - one of the threads that weaves through the whole bible is that God is always on the side of anyone who is oppressed.)
The other reason why we should care about gender-based violence is because we trust in God's vision for a world where power hierarchies have been leveled (and doesn't most violence and abuse arise out of power imbalances or a lust for power) and where true peace governs all of creation. This evening, we will be reading Mary's song (sometimes called The Magnificat) - Luke 1:46-55 - in which she dons the voice of a prophet and proclaims God's vision of a world where the powerful have been overturned and the hungry have been sent away full.
If you would like to join us this evening for this time of remembering, mourning, and praying, we will be gathering at 7pm at Long Reach United Church (3232 NB-845). Everyone (of all genders, because gender-based violence isn't "just a women's issue") is always welcome.
In terms of other announcements for this week:
Worship on Sunday will be at 9:15 at Long Reach and at 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. This week will be our annual Christmas Pageant at both churches (thank you Tatum and Ken!); and we will continue our Advent theme of midwifery and birth as we read Isaiah 46:3-11 with its image of God as a midwife.
Thank you again to everyone who helped with Timothy Smith's funeral last Friday - especially to Session for offering a ministry of welcome; to the Westfield UCW who coordinated the reception (in an unfamiliar kitchen, the day before their big bake sale); to Ross Sherwood for his pastoral care and for sharing in the service; and also to our church neighbours at St. Mark's United Church who not only graciously allowed us to use their larger sanctuary but also provided logistical support for the kitchen, soundboard, bulletins, and the building in general. In a time of grief, it was beautiful to see the wider church working together.
Ida's Cupboard - with the cold weather this week, it's time to stop leaving anything in our cupboards that might freeze (cans, jars etc). However hunger in our communities doesn't end just because the weather is cold. Some ideas for winter-safe food items you can leave in any of our Ida's Cupboards are: pasta, rice, cereal, instant oatmeal, pancake mix, powdered milk, Kraft Dinner, dry soup mix, peanut butter (which doesn't freeze as the liquid is oil rather than water).
Quilt Auction - Summerville United Church is auctioning off a beautiful hand-quilted quilt, just in time in case you have someone special to find a Christmas gift for. You can bid on it by commenting on the post on Facebook (and if you aren't on Facebook but would like to place a bid, just let me know). You can access the place to bid, and see pictures of the quilt along with all of the details, by clicking here.
We have a bunch of events coming up next week too:
Coffee House: Tuesday December 12, 7pm, Westfield United Church - anyone who wants to take a turn at the open mic is welcome to join us, as well as appreciative audience members. Suggested donation of $5 to help cover our costs.
UCW Christmas Communion Service: Wednesday December 13, 7pm, Westfield United Church. I love this service that seems to begin the transition from Advent into Christmas! Everyone is invited - you don't have to be a UCW member, and you don't have to identify as a woman - just come and enjoy the peace of the season.
"Peace on Earth: A Concert of Hope": Thursday December 14, 7pm, Westfield United Church. This is the Westfield United Church choir's annual Christmas concert, and admission is by free-will offering with proceeds going to the Benevolent Fund.
If you are looking a bit further ahead, our annual Blue Christmas Service will be on Thursday December 21 at Summerville United Church at 7pm.
Our Live Nativity is back again this year in the Westfield United Church parking lot. There has been a change in date from what was originally advertised (due to animal availability!), and it will now be on Thursday December 21, still from 5-7pm. This is always great fun for all ages, with animals to visit, a Christmas tree set up (with boxes underneath to collect gifts for the food bank), a bonfire to warm your hands by, and music in the air!
And I think that's it for today (or at least that's all the announcements I have space to mention without risking your eyes glazing over)!
For a closing thought today, I have an Advent/Christmas/Epiphany playlist on my phone (admittedly it is weighted towards Christmas music, given the nature of the music industry), and one of my favourite Advent songs on there is "Ready My Heart" by Steve Bell. You can listen by clicking here; and if you check out the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge Facebook Page tomorrow, there is going to be a Theology Thursday post there that talks about ways that we can ready our hearts for the coming of Christ.
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."