May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
I hope that you have all stayed safe through the storm, and that no one had to work too hard to shovel the heavy slush when the snow changed over to rain. I am grateful for all of the snowplow drivers, as well as the first responders, for keeping all of us safe at this time of year.
I was talking this afternoon with some folks in the Westfield congregation, and we were talking about how there is some really good energy around our church these days. There is often (even in the pre-pandemic years) a January "slump" but that doesn't seem to be happening this year.
Last Sunday, I talked about how God is still speaking (though I tried to stay away from that word, "speaking" because it privileges one of our senses over the others, and God communicates with us using all of our senses). By practicing being aware of God's presence (with all of our senses), we will get better at noticing God's presence, and the different ways that God is communicating with us.
God is moving in and through all of creation, and God has a plan for the world - a plan where love is the only thing that reigns. And the church exists so that we can carry out this plan of God's. (One of my professors liked to say: "The church doesn't have a mission. Instead, God's mission has a church.")
It is exciting to think about where and what God might be calling us to next! How can we harness this energy, this Holy Spirit buzz of the present moment so that we can go where God is sending us? How can we be the hands and feet of Christ in the world around us?
These are exciting questions to ponder at any time of the year, but feel especially relevant as we are in the early days of a new year.
In terms of announcements this week:
A reminder to Session members that our next Session meeting is next Wednesday, January 17, at 7pm. Summerville United Church will be hosting us this month, with their warm peninsula hospitality.
Those of you who attended worship in-person last Sunday received a letter from our Ministry & Personnel committee, regarding my upcoming Sabbatical. (Bayswater-Summerville folks - it will be in your bulletins this coming Sunday.) I will be on Sabbatical in February, March, and April this year - the planning has been happening with the Ministry & Personnel Committee as well as the Official Board for the past year, making sure that everything is sorted out well in advance. I am grateful that the United Church of Canada ensures that all ministers are eligible for a sabbatical after 5 years in the same pastoral charge; and I am deeply grateful that Two Rivers Pastoral Charge takes hour responsibility of caring for your ministers seriously. I love all of you, and I'm going to miss all of you when I'm away; but I am also feeling very tired after the past almost-4 years of leadership in a global pandemic and I am looking forward to a season of rest.
Last Sunday in worship, we handed out Epiphany Star Words - a paper star with a word printed on it that can guide us, just as the magi were led to Jesus by a star. If you didn't get one and would like one, please let me know, and I'll make arrangements to get one to you!
One last reminder that the deadline to get any reports for the Annual Report to Elaine in the church office by Monday January 15! You can e-mail them to her at firstname.lastname@example.org (.docx files preferred), or you can slip a printed report under the door to her office.
And I think that's it for announcements this week.
As my closing thought today... this afternoon, at Gerry Fleet's funeral, one of the songs that was requested for the service was "Take My Hand" and I mentioned during the service that there is a story about how that song came to be written. You can read that story by clicking here, and you can listen to the version we heard this afternoon by the Gaithers by clicking here (and then if you want even more, you can hear Mahalia Jackson's powerful version 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)
"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."