May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
My study leave last week was a very productive week - I finally finished reading two books that had been sitting on my desk for too long (Namwayut by Chief Robert Joseph - thank you to Eleanor Martin for lending that one to me - and The Digital Cathedral by Keith Anderson), and then I attended the virtual gathering of the Network of Biblical Storytellers Canada on Friday-Sunday. In addition to the various workshops I was able to attend, the keynote speaker at that gathering was Dr. Randy Richards who was talking about culture, and how culture shapes our reading of the bible.
I was familiar with the "Iceberg Model" of culture, as it was part of my international development training before moving to Tanzania (and if you aren't familiar with this model, you can click here for an image - basically it says that any culture is like an iceberg where only a small portion of it is easily visible from the outside; much of culture is assumed / not spoken of, and yet it influences how people live in the world. If you are sailing into a culture without being aware of what is hiding under the surface, you can quickly find yourself in Until last weekend though, I had never considered the culture iceberg as it applies to us when we read the bible.
Our culture - 21st Century North America - is so very radically different than the culture at the time of Jesus, or at the times of the Old Testament. Some of these differences we can see (e.g. slavery is not acceptable in our culture; women are not the property of the men in their lives), but so much of the cultural differences are not seen.
When Jesus told parables to his followers, he didn't explain all of the cultural nuances - he didn't begin by saying, "So, you know how in our culture, the unity of the family is our most important value - well, listen to this story about how a son asked his father for his inheritance while his father was still alive then left his whole family behind..." Jesus didn't need to explain the culture to his listeners because they were all coming from the same culture; but we are coming from a very different culture, and we risk mis-interpreting the stories in the bible if we assume that they had the same culture as we have.
Like I said, he was a great keynote speaker, and I plan on picking up a copy of his most recent book, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes!
In terms of announcements this week:
Thank you to Kathy Roy for leading worship last Sunday. Unfortunately the Long Reach service was cancelled due to the extreme cold, which also involved the Westfield ferry being stuck in the ice. Hopefully it will keep running smoothly for the rest of the winter!
Worship this Sunday will be at 9:15 at Summerville and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. We'll be continuing our theme of turning our hearts and our lives back to God - this week we'll be reading Deuteronomy 30:11-20, where God implores us to choose life and to choose love.
The Annual Reports have been printed! Thank you, Elaine, for all of your work on this; and thank you to everyone who submitted their reports to her. There were copies that would have gone to Long Reach last Sunday along with the bulletins - I will take them with me tomorrow and leave them in the River Room. If you want a paper copy, you are welcome to stop by the church and pick one up. Bayswater-Summerville folks - I'll have paper copies for you on Sunday. And Westfield - there are copies at the back of the church for anyone who wants a paper copy.
All of that being said, we are also conscious of our call to care for creation and we are trying only to print as many copes as needed. If you prefer to have an electronic copy of the Annual Report instead of a paper copy, you can download a copy by clicking here. I'm also going to be uploading it to our website shortly.
Which brings us to Annual Meetings! Here are the dates and times: Two Rivers Pastoral Charge - Wed. Feb. 15, 7:30pm, Westfield UC Long Reach UC - SunFeb. 19, 9:00am during worship Westfield UC - Sun. Feb. 19, 11:15am during worship Bayswater-Summerville UC - Sun. Feb. 26, 9:00am during worship (Peninsula folks - please note the 15-minutes-earlier-than-usual start time those weeks!)
Bible Study - after a couple of weeks off due to my unavailability, we will be picking up next week as we meander our way through the Old Testament. We'll probably spend one or two more weeks looking at the laws found in Leviticus before picking up the story line in Numbers.
Sunday School - a reminder that Sunday School is offered during worship at both Long Reach and Westfield. Ken tells me that they had a great time on Sunday with the children who were present at Westfield! Sunday School is a time for children not only to learn the stories from the bible, but also to learn that God loves them and that they are important both to God and to the church. All children are welcome!
And I think that's it for announcements this week.
For a closing thought this week, I invite you to click here for a blessing from author Kate Bowler - a blessing for friends who hold us up. Because none of us is alone. All of us are a part of one or more communities. All of us have friends who hold us up when we can't do it all alone.
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."