May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Right now, my brain has shifted into Annual Meeting Mode. Last week, we held the Annual Meeting with the Official Board over Webex - it was great to see faces from all three points of our Pastoral Charge coming together to do the work of the church - to do the work of figuring out how we can live God's love in the world. And now we are going to be moving into our congregational meetings over the next couple of Sundays.
So why do we have annual meetings?
*** It is required by the polity of the United Church of Canada (though during the pandemic, General Council has relaxed the rules somewhat, allowing the leadership of Communities of Faith to make decisions that would normally have to come before the congregation).
*** It is a chance to look back and celebrate God's presence in the life of our churches in the past year.
*** It is a chance to discern, together, how God is calling us to live love in the world in the year ahead.
*** In our Protestant tradition, we believe that the Holy Spirit works through the "courts" of the church (this includes the governance of congregations and pastoral charges, the Regional councils and their committees, and the General Council and its committees). We believe that when people gather together (either face-to-face or in virtual gatherings) to do the work of the church, the Holy Spirit is moving in that gathering, leading us in the direction that God wants us to go. This is the main reason why the United Church of Canada doesn't allow proxy votes or voting in absentia - these practices don't leave space for the Holy Spirit to work in community decision-making processes.
And as a reminder, here is the schedule for our congregational meetings:
Bayswater-Summerville: Sunday February 27, 9:00am (not the early start time!)
Westfield: Sunday February 27, 11:15am
Long Reach: Sunday March 6, 9:00am (another early start!)
(And if you haven't yet got your copy of the 2021 Annual Report, you can download a copy from our website. There will also be some paper copies at each church the day of the meeting.)
If you would like to participate in the meeting (have a voice and be able to vote) but aren't able to be present in-person for any reason, please contact me ASAP and I will find a way to connect you into the meeting by telephone. (Westfield folks - we will be livestreaming so you can watch, but your participation won't be recorded unless you are present in-person or joining us by telephone. Facebook doesn't give us any way to verify who is behind the name on the screen so we can't allow Facebook votes.)
A couple of other announcements for this week:
Ash Wednesday (March 2) - this marks the beginning of the season of Lent, and we will be having a service at Westfield United Church with livestreaming to Facebook. At this service, we will be marked with ashes to remind us of our own mortality; but we will also celebrate communion to remind us that in Christ, we are given the gift of eternal life.
Lenten Gatherings - on Thursdays through Lent (beginning on March 3), we will gather at Westfield United Church at 7pm to try different spiritual practices - there will be a different practice to try each week, so if one practice doesn't speak to your spirit, come back the next week and try something different! Our Lenten theme this year is going to be "Gardening our Souls" and this is one opportunity that we can have to try different practices that nurture our soul/spirit. There will be a virtual option to participate in these gatherings for anyone not able or comfortable being present in-person - please contact me if you would like to connect virtually.
Westfield Board of Stewards - a reminder of our meeting tomorrow (Feb. 24) at 7pm in the Parlour.
Peninsula Food and Clothing Bank Food Drive - this is happening on Saturday March 5 between 9am and 1pm. For details (including specifics about what they are especially low on), you can click here. This is still a week away, so you have a chance to throw some extra things in your cart for the food bank next time you are at the grocery store.
And I think that's all of the announcements for today!
As a closing thought this week, I want to share with you some words that I wrote several years ago after an Ash Wednesday service where the contrast, the tension, the juxtaposition between the symbol of the ashes and the symbol of the bread and cup of communion really resonated with me. You can read my short reflection 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."