May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Happy Groundhog Day! I know that for some of you, today brings back memories of the Groundhog Day Gale, while others of you are watching the exploits of certain rodents who masquerade as meteorologists. For me, I think of the movie, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray.
This movie had a moment in the early weeks of the pandemic, when each day felt exactly like the day that came before and the day that would come next, stretching out as far as the imagination could stretch. (If you aren't familiar with the movie, the main character, a TV weatherman named Phil, gets stuck in a timeloop where he is forced to re-live the same day - February 2 - over and over and over again. If you haven't seen it before, be forewarned that the next paragraph contains spoilers!)
When he first realizes that he is trapped in a time loop, Phil first reacts by reckless behaviour. Since he doesn't have to live with the consequences of his actions, it doesn't matter what he does each day - rob a bank, overeat... each morning, his life is re-set to Feb. 2. When recklessness loses its appeal, Phil then becomes depressed, but no matter what he does, he isn't able to end the time loop and he continues to wake up on the morning of Feb. 2. Finally, he decides to take advantage of the time he has been given. He learns to play the piano and becomes talented. He learns to speak French. He rescues people from accidents. And the time loop is only broken when he allows himself to be transformed by love - true transformation, and not love as a commodity.
Like I said, this movie has been having a moment in this pandemic. I am writing this e-mail from my home office with a cat on my lap - the same place I wrote e-mails from in March of 2020. Sometimes it feels like I am trapped in a timeloop where nothing is ever changing. And I think that Phil's reactions in the movie are all very valid - a reckless "devil-may-care" approach, depression, self-improvement energy (and not necessarily in that order). But the thing that broke the loop was transformative love.
And I wonder if that might be our way out of the Groundhog Day that we've been living through. God is love; God love us; Jesus tells us that the most important things are to love God and love our neighbours. The Holy Spirit - God working in the world - is always transforming us by and for love; and when we say "yes" to this transformation, not only we ourselves are changed, but the world can change. To paraphrase the great poets, Lennon and McCartney, maybe all we do need is love.
I do have some announcements to pass along this week:
Even though we have moved to Level 2 in the Covid Winter Plan, Covid case numbers and hospitalizations are still very high in the Saint John health zone, so we will be continuing with virtual gatherings only (worship, bible study, meetings etc.) until those numbers start to go down.
I have resumed my office hours this week - Tuesday mornings at Summerville; Tuesday afternoons at Westfield; and Thursday mornings at Long Reach. (Though I won't be able to make it to Long Reach tomorrow or Summerville next week due to other commitments.)
Church in the World Book Study - our copies of the books are here! We are going to be reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This book is non-fiction (though the author is best-known as a fiction writer, so the book reads as a story), an account of a family looking at where their food comes from and trying to eat a local diet. There will be 2 copies at each church - feel free to stop by to borrow a copy, read it, and bring it back to the church. (At Westfield, because we aren't in the sanctuary to worship, for now the copies are on the buffet table at the top of the stairs in the hallway.) There are also copies available (both of the regular book and the audiobook) through the New Brunswick Public Library; and as always, you are welcome to purchase your own copy instead. A date will be set for later in the spring (likely in the 2nd half of May) for us to gather for a discussion of the book.
Annual Reports - thank you to everyone who submitted their reports to Elaine. She has started printing copies, and she said that this year wasn't bad since she didn't need to hunt down as many people as usual for outstanding reports! As we did last year, we aren't printing a copy for everyone - within the next week, I will be circulating an electronic copy of the report to all of you. There will also be a number of paper copies at each church (once they have been printed) - anyone who prefers a paper copy rather than an electronic copy is welcome to stop by to pick one up. (And stay tuned for details of our annual meetings!)
And finally, worship this Sunday will be on Facebook Live at 11:15 - I'll be sending out the bulletin by e-mail (probably on Saturday), but if you wanted a sneak peak, we're going to be reading Luke 5:1-11 - Jesus calling his first disciples. We've been talking a lot this winter about being called and gifted - this Sunday we're going to be looking at the "what next." (And is "fishing for people" really the best image to use here?)
In addition to all of this, we are also continuing bible study on Webex every Wednesday morning, and there is a Facebook Live check-in every Thursday at 1pm. There is lots going on, despite the Covid situation!
As a closing thought today, I want to leave you with this blessing by Jan Richardson. She is a poet and an author, and yesterday she shared a Blessing in the Chaos - you can read it by clicking here. (This comes from her book, The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief, that she wrote after her husband's sudden death.)
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."