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Mid-Week Message - Holy Week Edition

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!

And Holy Week Blessings to you all! On Sunday, we remembered and re-enacted the parade into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, waving our cedar branches (and at Long Reach, processing around the aisles) as we sang. We can't stop time, and so our journey will inevitably lead us to the cross, and then on to resurrection and the empty tomb.

Did you know that, as well as readings for each Sunday, there are readings assigned to each day of Holy Week? Holy Monday focuses on the story we read 2 Sundays ago, where Jesus was anointed by Mary, the sister of Lazarus just before entering Jerusalem in a parade. Holy Tuesday is the story of Jesus teaching in the temple in Jerusalem just entering the city. And that brings us to today, Holy Wednesday.

Holy Wednesday is also sometimes called "Spy Wednesday" as today's story is of Judas's betrayal of Jesus - a spy among the disciples (John 13:21-32). Those of you who have been around here for a couple of Holy Weeks may already know that I have a bit of sympathy for Judas. I wonder what his motivations for his betrayal of Jesus were? Did he think that this was the only way to keep the rest of them safe? Did he owe a favour to someone in charge? Maybe he was greedy or malicious, the way he is painted by the gospel writers? Or did (as the gnostic tradition suggests) Jesus tell Judas to betray him so that the events could unfold the way that they did?

But the thing about Judas is that he felt guilty for what he did, almost right away, and we are told that he died by suicide (Matthew 27:3-10). Peter also betrayed Jesus, denying that he know Jesus while he was outside the building where Jesus was on trial. Peter wept when the rooster crowed and he realized his betrayal. But Peter lived to see the other side of Easter. Peter lived long enough to be reconciled with the resurrected Christ. Judas didn't.

I think of all of the times when I've done something that I've regretted right away, just as both Judas and Peter did. Like I said, I have some sympathy for Judas.

But since I don't believe that our last opportunity to be reconciled with God comes before we take our last breath - I believe that everyone has an opportunity to turn to God once we've crossed through the curtain that separates this life from the life to come - in my sacred imagination I can picture the reconciliation between Jesus and Judas. I picture Jesus looking at Judas with love in his eyes, saying, "My friend." I picture Judas apologizing for what he did, and being taken into Jesus's loving arms, the same way that Peter was reconciled with Jesus after the resurrection. And if Judas can be reconciled with Jesus, if Peter can be reconciled with Jesus, then none of us is beyond this same sort of redemption.

Just some Holy Wednesday / Spy Wednesday pondering and imagining.

(And if you want a website that shows all of the Holy Week readings - and menus that let you explore the whole lectionary - click here!)

As a reminder, here is what the rest of our Holy Week at Two Rivers Pastoral Charge is going to look like:

  • Wednesday (today) - we will have the last of our Mid-Week Lenten gatherings at 7pm in the parlour at Westfield United.

  • Maundy Thursday - 6pm in the St. Giles Hall (basement) of Westfield United, we will have a worship service woven together with a catered meal. This is when we remember the final meal that Jesus shared with his disciples.

  • Good Friday - 11am at Long Reach United Church. We will be reading the story of Jesus's arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death, as we remember God's closeness to all of us even when we go through "Good Friday times."

  • Holy Saturday - this is an empty day of waiting, of quietness, of between-times. We don't have any gatherings.

  • Easter Sunday Sunrise - 6:45am at Brundage Point River Centre. Dress for the weather, then put on an extra layer! This is a short service, and will be followed by a potluck breakfast at Westfield United Church - the coffee and tea will be on and we invite you to bring something simple to share.

  • Easter Sunday - 9:15 at Summerville and 11:15 at Westfield. We will celebrate the resurrection with communion at both churches and a baptism at Summerville!

I have a handful of other announcements to share this week, not necessarily related to Holy Week!

  • This week is the last round of Lent Madness - we have narrowed 32 stories down to just 2. Which stories made it into the final round? You'll have to check out the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge website to find out! Voting will be open until Saturday night (I'll check the results before heading out to the sunrise service). To see the brackets, the final pairing, and a link to vote, click here.

  • Happy Birthday Joan McDonnell - last week saw Dave MacPherson's birthday, and this coming week will see Joan's birthday. She would like to invite you to her "Awake and Alive at 85" party on Monday April 10 in St. Giles Hall at Westfield United from 2-4pm. In lieu of gifts, donations of non-perishable food for Ida's Cupboard will be gratefully received!

  • Upcoming Dates: Next Session meeting will be Wed. April 19 at 7pm; next Youth Connection will be Sun. April 23 at 7pm; next Broadview discussion group will be Monday May 1 at 10am.

  • Bible Study - there will be no bible study for the next 2 Wednesdays. We will resume on April 25!

  • "No Scents Makes Sense!" Now that we are starting to have some unmasked gatherings in the church, I have become more aware of perfumes etc. This is just a reminder that for gatherings at the church, please avoid using perfumes and other scented products. As an Affirming church, we don't want to exclude anyone from participating, and this includes people with allergies and sensitivities to the chemicals in scented products.

  • Refugee Rights - those of you who are Facebook friends with me may have seen my rant yesterday about refugees being forced to choose dangerous border crossings between Canada and the US. Even if you didn't see it, I encourage you to read the United Church of Canada's recent statement on the closure of the Roxham Road irregular border crossing - you can read it by clicking here.

  • Holy Humour Sunday - I am going to be away the Sunday after Easter, but we have decided to move Holy Humour Sunday to the following week (April 23). More will be revealed closer to the time, but for now I encourage you to ponder - is there anything that you have always wanted to ask the minister, but have never had the opportunity to ask? Hold on to those questions!

And I think that's it for announcements this week. For a closing thought this week, even though it's not Easter yet, I want to share this year's Easter message from the Moderator of the United Church of Canada, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne - you can watch 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) 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."

(Matthew 22:36-39)

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