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 are keeping safe and warm, this cold and snowy week! I am watching big snowflakes gently falling outside my window as I type. (And since I'm working from home, I also have my woodstove going and a cat on my lap!)
Yesterday's provincial government announcement that included predictions for the next couple of months of Covid felt discouraging to me, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one. Since then, I've been thinking a lot about hope, and how hope is a future-oriented state of being. Hope tells us that the future is going to be good, despite anything that the present might be telling us. Back on the first Sunday of Advent when we lit a candle for hope, in our story for all ages we tried to define hope. One of the answers given that Sunday has really stuck with me - hope is knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if the road bends and we can't quite see that light yet, we trust that it is there. Yesterday's announcement may have thrown another curve in the road, but we keep moving forward, knowing that the light is there; and as we fumble through these shadowy places, we can take comfort in knowing that we are traveling together and that God is our companion along the way.
In more practical terms (and related to traveling this journey together), one of the things mentioned yesterday is that a significant percentages of households are likely going to need to go through a period of self-isolation at some point, and we should all be prepared for that. If you and your household find yourselves in this situation, remember that you have a church family that you can turn to. If you are in self-isolation and need help for anything - from picking up your mail to picking up some groceries or prescriptions - please don't hesitate to reach out. We have three churches full of people who would be delighted to be able to help you out in any way that you need.
In terms of announcements for this week:
Worship on Sunday: Like last Sunday, we will be gathering at 11:15 on Facebook Live for our Sunday worship service. This week, we are going to be reading about all of the gifts that God gives to us through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1-13), and we will be celebrating Communion together. You are invited to have some communion elements (bread/cracker and juice/water/tea etc) at hand so that we can eat and drink together, even in a time when we are physically separated. I will be sending out the bulletin on Friday or Saturday, along with a direct link to the Facebook page.
Worship Time: There has been a bit of behind-the-scenes chatter about our worship time in these periods of time when we are livestreaming without any in-person congregations. Is it better to keep the livestream at 11:15 for consistency as we move between online-only and hybrid; or is it better to move it to 10:30 as we did in the early months of the pandemic so that we are part-way between the two usual start times and to give all of us more time on our Sundays? If you have an opinion on this, I invite you to fill out a short 2-question survey - you can access this survey by clicking here. (We will start at 11:15 this Sunday - if we make any changes, they will come into effect the following week.)
Church in the World Book Study: Ida and I have chosen our next book study book. We are changing topics this time around, and reading about food security, a very relevant issue in our current time. The book that we will be reading is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver - copies have been ordered for each congregation, but you are also welcome to track down your own copy (from the library or the bookstore) if you wanted to get a head-start. In a departure from our previous books, this one is non-fiction - a memoir of a family as they try to eat as sustainably as possible for a year (though the author is best known as a novelist, and the book is a very accessible read).
Facebook Live Check-ins: Our daily check-ins ended last June as we were moving towards summer and full re-opening of the world. Unfortunately the world is closing down these days and many of us are no longer comfortable being around other people in-person. And so, for as long as we aren't gathering together in-person at church, I will be resuming a weekly Facebook Live check-in on Thursdays at 1pm. We will follow the same format as before - a time to check in with each other and see how everyone is doing, scripture reading and discussion, and a time of prayer at the end. You will find the first one tomorrow on the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge Facebook page.
Bible Study: We had our first gathering this morning, beginning our exploration of the Old Testament. We read the two creation stories, and looked for what they could tell us about God, and what they could tell us about the people who first told/wrote these stories. (And we looked at different ways that we could interpret them, including through a feminist theology lens and a queer theology lens.) If you would like to join us next Wednesday morning, let me know and I will send you the Webex coordinates!
And that is all for announcements today.
This afternoon, Ross sent me the link to a song based on last Sunday's scripture reading, and I'm going to send it along to you as today's closing thought. You can listen to 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."