May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
We are now in the middle of Holy Week - the week when we follow Jesus from his entry into the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday accompanied by a parade (though with an undercurrent of fear and unsettled-ness); through his farewell dinner with his beloved friends on Maundy Thursday when they share the bread and the cup and Jesus gives us the great commandment to love one another as he loves us; through the pain and horror of Jesus's arrest, torture, crucifixion, and death on Good Friday; and on to the empty tomb, resurrection, and new life on Easter Sunday.
A lot happens this week.
For me personally, the two pieces of "good news" that I take away from this week are:
1. When I encounter suffering, I know that God is present. Because I believe that God became human in Jesus, then I have to believe that God (in Jesus) experienced all of the pain and suffering of Good Friday. And so while I definitely don't believe that God causes suffering in the world, I believe that God is present in the midst of suffering because God has been there before.
2. We all encounter Good Friday moments in our lives - moments of suffering, of feeling abandoned, of grief. But because I know that Good Friday is always followed by Easter, then I can trust that these Good Friday times in my life won't last forever, and new life and resurrection are always waiting on the other side. Even when it seems like Good Friday is lasting forever, I know that Easter is just around the corner.
You are invited to join us on our Holy Week journey with Jesus. To travel through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday is difficult; but if you can travel this path then the joy of Easter is so much more profound than it is when you skip over this week.
We began the journey last Sunday on Palm Sunday - the rest of our Holy Week Services will be:
Maundy Thursday (April 14) - 7:00pm at Westfield United Church (133 Nerepis Road) and on Facebook Live - this will be a communion service, so if you are joining us on Facebook, you are invited to have some elements at hand (some bread or a cracker, and juice or water) so that we can eat and drink together.
Good Friday (April 15) - 11:00am at Summerville United Church (1891 NB-845), with the service recorded and shared on Facebook later that afternoon (this video will be deleted on Saturday evening so that we can move on to Easter).
Easter Sunrise Service (April 17) - 6:30am at Brundage Point River Centre - this service will be outside, so check the forecast and dress for the weather! This is our first opportunity to encounter the empty tomb of Easter.
Easter Services (April 17) - 9:15am at Long Reach United Church and 11:15 at Westfield United Church and on Facebook Live. This will also be a communion service at both churches, and if you are going to be joining us on Facebook, again you are invited to have your elements at hand so that we can share the feast together.
Our Facebook page (for all of the online services) is:
If you would like to see a poster for a summary of all of these service, you can click here.
A couple of other notes about this weekend:
We will be gathering on Friday evening at 7pm in the Westfield church parlour to watch the movie, Jesus Christ Superstar. I will pop some popcorn, you are welcome to bring your beverage of choice, and if you know the words (or even if you don't), singing along is encouraged!
Sunday School will be offered on Easter Sunday at both Long Reach and Westfield - Ken has been planning some fun Sunday School programming for Easter!
We will also be celebrating a baptism on Sunday - Elliott Harris-Fallon, child of Madelaine Harris and Dianna Fallon will be baptized at Westfield United Church. (Those of you from St. Giles might remember Madelaine and the Harris family - Madelaine and Dianna live in Halifax now, but will be coming "home" for this baptism, and again in the fall to get married in the church.)
And then I have a couple of other announcements for this week:
I will be on Study Leave from April 18-24 (to virtually attend the Festival of Biblical Storytelling). In case of any pastoral emergencies next week, please call Margaret Stackhouse (721-4307) and she will put you in touch with the minister who is covering for me. And thank you to Session for arranging pulpit supply for April 24. (Also - there won't be one of these mid-week messages next Wednesday!)
Bible Study will be resuming on April 27, in-person in the Westfield Parlour, every Wednesday from 10-11:30am. We are meandering our way through the Old Testament, getting a sense of the story arc and wrestling with some of the more challenging stories that we find there. Everyone is welcome to join us - no previous Bible Study experience is necessary!
Our next gathering to discuss Broadview Magazine will be on Monday May 2 at 10am in the Westfield parlour - we will be discussing the January/February issue this time since we missed our gathering in February due to the Covid shutdown this past winter.
Our Region in the United Church of Canada (Fundy St. Lawrence Dawning Waters) is launching a monthly newsletter - this is a chance to find out about what is going on in other churches across the region (NB,PEI, and the Gaspé). If you would like to register to receive this newsletter (by e-mail or through Canada Post), you can click here.
And finally - are you interested in learning more about leading worship, but don't feel called to become a Licensed Lay Worship Leader? There is going to be a 5-week series on Zoom for Occasional Worship Leaders - you will have a chance to explore liturgy, prayers, preaching, and choosing music for worship, led by a very experienced and qualified group of teachers. If you would like more information (including a link to register), you can click here.
And that is it for today! This is a busy season in the church, so there is a lot going on.
As a closing thought today, I wanted to share a reflection with you that I wrote yesterday for Casa - an online faith community that I have been a part of for many years. You can read 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."