May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Another Wednesday; another storm! (Though our Wednesday morning bible study group is happy that it cleared away overnight so that we didn't have to cancel a second week in a row.) On Sunday morning at Summerville, we sang "I the Lord of Sea and Sky" and just before we began, someone pointed out that the second verse begins with "I the Lord of snow and rain" and doesn't that just sum up the winter we've been having this year!
I'm sitting in my office at Westfield United Church as I write this, and looking out back at the cold hard snow and the seemingly lifeless trees, it is hard to believe that life will ever come back. And yet spring does always return. In just a couple of months, the March sunshine will hit those bare branches, beginning to draw the sap up out of the roots; and a couple of months after that, the buds will start unfurling into leaves again. As the daughter of a maple syrup maker who has witnessed the sap begin to flow year after year, I know that this is something that happens every single year, as improbable as it might feel in mid-January.
And so it is with our seasons in life. All of us go through seasons when it feels like January - there is nothing that feels life-giving, everything appears to be stagnant or dead. And yet these January times in life are always (eventually) followed by seasons of new life and abundance.
We can trust in this, because we are an Easter people. We know that Good Friday is always followed by the resurrection that comes at Easter. Even when it feels as though the pain of Good Friday or the emptiness of Holy Saturday stretch on forever, new life is ALWAYS just around the corner.
And the "God of snow and rain" (to go back to the song that began this reflection) is with us at all times, through whatever season of life you are traveling through right now. God is with us even when the pain of Good Friday drowns out everything else, just as much as God is with us in the joyful celebration of resurrection.
And may your January hold moments of hope as well as moments of deep joy.
In terms of announcements this week:
Worship on Sunday will be at Long Reach at 9:15 and Westfield and Facebook live at 11:15. This Sunday, we will read about Jesus calling his first disciples (Mark 1:14-20). The question that I'm pondering at this point (the sermon isn't written yet!) is: which is more important - the call or the response? This will also be a communion service at both churches - if you are joining us via livestream, you can have some bread or crackers and some juice at hand to join us at the feast.
Bible Study - we are continuing to meet every Wednesday morning from 10-11:30 in the parlour at Westfield United Church. (And let me tell you, there are some stories in the book of Judges that even I'm not familiar with!) When I am on sabbatical, this group is going to continue to meet, with members of the group taking turns leading/facilitating the discussions.
Board Game Night - our January Board Game Night will be on Friday January 26 at 7pm in the parlour at Westfield United Church. Bring your favourite game to play with others, or come out and learn a new game! (As always, snacks will be provided!)
Thank You to everyone who submitted their reports to Elaine by the annual report deadline. She is now hard at work compiling them in to the final report that will be printed and circulated by e-mail once it is done. (If you missed the deadline but have a report, please send it to Elaine ASAP so that she can print it as an addendum to the overall report.)
Musician Needed - it has been in the bulletin for a couple of weeks, but I know that this e-mail has a wider reach than our Sunday bulletin. Peter Boyce (Bayswater-Summerville) has moved to Fredericton, and while we wish him well as he stretches his wings as a fully-fledged adult, we are now without a musician to play for our services at Summerville. If you know of a musician (even a young person just starting out their musical career) who might be interested in playing for a service every 2nd week, please have them contact me or anyone in the Bayswater-Summerville congregation.
Sabbatical Letter - in case you missed it last week, you can download a copy of the letter from Ministry & Personnel regarding my upcoming sabbatical by clicking here. (And I'll be including more of the specifics in next week's Mid-Week Message.)
And that's it for announcements today.
For a closing thought today, I want to share a less-familiar hymn from More Voices that feels appropriate to this time of year - "When the Wind of Winter Blows." I learned this hymn when I was studying at AST, and our university musician picked it one week for our chapel choir to sing. You can listen by clicking here.
May God bless 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."