May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Last night, a group of us gathered at Long Reach United Church for a service marking the National Day for Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women - this is held every year on December 6, the anniversary of the day when 14 women were killed at L'École Polytechnique in Montréal.
As I said in my reflection, we will continue to gather every year on December 6 until we don't need to gather any more because gender-based violence will be a think of the past. I have to believe that this day will come, even if it doesn't come in my lifetime. I have to believe that gender-based violence isn't a part of God's plan for the world.
One of the readings that we shared was Psalm 130 - the image at the heart of this psalm is someone watching for the morning - "my soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning." The night watch is able to keep watch because they know that the night isn't going to last forever, and the dawn will eventually come.
And we too are called to keep watch through the nighttime of violence, the nighttime of discrimination, the nighttime of "othering" because we can trust that the dawn is coming. The sun is going to rise, and one day all of the pain and despair and suffering of the nighttime will fall away.
I have to trust that this day will come; and until it does, I will keep vigil, I will keep watching for the dawn, and I will keep attentive to the signs that show us that the sun is just below the horizon.
(I think that it is very appropriate that this day falls during Advent each year, because isn't the heart of Advent all about waiting and longing and hoping?)
Like the past couple of weeks, this coming week is going to be a busy one! Let me try to organize these events in chronological order:
Live Nativity: Saturday December 10, 1-4pm, Westfield United Church parking lot. There will be animals! There will be activities for all ages! There will be a place to leave donations for the food bank! You can download the poster by clicking here (and be sure to check out the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge Facebook Page tomorrow morning for a special announcement about the Live Nativity).
Worship on Sunday Morning: 9:15 at Long Reach and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. This week, our exploration of Jesus's Family Tree will be the story of Ruth, who will tell us about her Three Great Loves, and offer her blessing of love to the baby Jesus. Both services will also include our Christmas Pageant during the Story for All Ages time.
White Gift Sundays: We have 2 weeks left, and for the next two weeks you are invited to bring donations for Coverdale Centre for Women. Their wish list includes: grocery store gift cards (please indicate the amount on the card), cleaning supplies, NEW bras and underwear (various sizes), NEW leggings/lounge wear; NEW makeup and nail polish (no perfume please); notebooks/journals; game/puzzle books; new and gently used winter footwear (various sizes).
Westfield After-Church Social: This week, everyone with the last name starting with Q-Z is invited to bring goodies or sandwiches to share, and as always, Session members will make the tea and coffee.
Westfield United Church Choir Christmas Concert: 7pm on Sunday December 11 at Westfield United Church. This concert will follow a lessons-and-carols format with Christmas scripture readings, beautiful Advent and Christmas anthems, and a few sing-along Christmas Carols. Admission is by donation with proceeds going to the Benevolent Fund.
UCW Christmas Communion Service: 7pm on Wednesday December 14 (one week today). This is a beautiful service each year that, for me, marks the beginning of the transition from Advent in to Christmas. This service is open to everyone - you don't need to be a UCW member (or identify as a woman) to attend - everyone truly is welcome!
And I think that's it for announcements today. If you want to plan ahead, you can mark your calendar for our Bonfire Caroling at Summerville (Dec. 19 at 7pm), Blue Christmas Service at Westfield (Dec. 22 at 7pm), Christmas Eve Services (3pm at Summerville, 5pm at Long Reach, 7pm at Westfield), and Christmas Day Service (10am at Westfield and on Facebook Live).
As a closing thought, this week I want to share a YouTube video that I recently enjoyed that is totally (sort of) unrelated to church. The person presenting is a geologist who specializes in gem stones doing a nerdy deep dive into royal tiaras and crowns. Where it gets really interesting is towards the end when she starts connecting everything that she has been talking about with colonization, since she continually asks the question, "what is the origin of these gemstones?" Heads up that the video is about 25 minutes long, so you may want to wait and click once you have some time to sit back and enjoy it! You can watch 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) 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."