May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
I have been noticing an increased level of anxiety in the world as well as closer to home in the past week. This is probably due to a combination of many things, including the arrival of one of the Covid variants in New Brunswick, delays to the vaccine roll-outs, unpredictability around the constantly shifting colour phases across the province as well as the rules within each colour, and the stresses of a regular New Brunswick winter.
On Sunday, we are going to be reading about people who were also living through a very anxious time – the Ancient Israelite people who were taken away from their homes and communities into exile in Babylon. We are going to be reading about how God not only promises to be with them, but also promises to be in loving relationship with them.
One phrase that appears frequently in the bible is, “Don’t be afraid.” Even though those exact words don’t appear in our reading on Sunday (Isaiah 40:21-31), that is the message of them. We don’t need to be afraid, because we know that God is with us.
And so whenever you are feeling afraid or overwhelmed or anxious, I invite you to take a few moments to ground yourself, and remind yourself that no matter what is going on in the world, God is still with you. You can ground yourself through meditation, through prayer, through deep breathing (in for a count of 5, hold for a count of 5, out for a count of five), or through movement (whether that is dancing around your kitchen, or going for a walk or run). You might also want to consider a mindfulness practice to help bring you out of a cycle of stress and anxiety.
(If you are looking for more tips and strategies, we have started a series of #MentalHealthMonday posts on the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge Facebook page.)
In terms of announcements for this week:
Thank you to everyone who submitted their annual reports, and an extra thank you to Elaine for compiling them all into our Annual Report. It has been circulated by e-mail, is available on our website (click here), and some paper copies will be available in each of our churches.
A reminder that there are many ways that you can continue to make your offering even when we can’t meet in-person, including dropping cheques off for your treasurer, signing up for PAR (pre-authorized remittance), and e-transfers for Westfield United Church. Please be in touch with your treasurer to figure out what works best for you: Phil Jones at Westfield (647-2050), Beth Quigley at Long Reach (763-2453), and Sandra Lattimore at Bayswater-Summerville (763-2899).
Copies of our next Church In the World Book Study book have now arrived! We are going to be reading Tangles by Sarah Leavitt – a graphic novel style memoir of a woman’s experience of caring for her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. There are now copies at both Westfield and Long Reach that you are welcome to borrow and return to the church when you are done (Summerville – your copies are still in my car – I will drop them off next time I can get to the church); and it is also available through the New Brunswick Public Library. You are also welcome to purchase your own copy if you wish to support a Canadian author!
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls on Wednesday February 17 this year. We will be having an Ash Wednesday service at 7pm – this will likely be livestream-only on our Facebook page, unless we move back to yellow before then. More information will follow next week.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to pick up a copy of the United Church of Canada Lenten devotional, Faith on the Move: Daily Reflections on Hope and Change available in both paperback and electronic format at the United Church Bookstore (you don’t need an e-reader to read the e-book – it can be downloaded on to your computer or the Kindle/Kobo app on a tablet or cell phone). Each day in Lent, on Facebook, we will have an opportunity to discuss the questions that are posed by that day’s reflection. And if the cost of the book is a limiting factor, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me (with full confidentiality assured), and we will help you to get a copy.
And I think that’s it for today! I will circulate the bulletin by e-mail on Saturday; and I’ll “see” you on Facebook Live on Sunday morning!
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."