May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
A lot has changed since my e-mail last week. On Thursday, the government announced that we would be moving into a 16-day Covid Level-3 lockdown on Friday, and so here we are.
Many of you know that I have a couple of tattoos - I had been fascinated by them for many years, but it also took me many years to get up the courage to get one done. And they hold a lot of significance for me. The first one is on my shoulder and it is a canoe and some rapids - a friend and I got matching tattoos after a very memorable canoe trip. (I prefer to paddle on the left so mine is on my left shoulder; she paddles right so hers is on her right shoulder.) My second one is a symbol of the Trinity on my right inner forearm - this was my Ordination Tattoo and was done in Winnipeg the weekend of my ordination in 2018 - it reminds me that I am not alone, that it is God who is working in and through me.
I've been pondering recently, if I were to get a tattoo to mark this pandemic (because it has surely been a significant event in my life, as well as the lives of most of the world), what would I want to get, and where would I want it? I think that I would probably want the word "hope" because that is really the thing that allows me to keep on going, no matter how things change. (Location is still to be determined.)
Hope isn't the same as blind optimism - hope is the thing that says "right now this sucks, but this isn't the end." Hope is trusting that God is with us even in these bleak time, and that God is leading us towards an ending that is worth waiting for.
We've been here before, in a lockdown; we've been here before, needing to gather virtually rather than in-person, and we know that these times apart don't last forever.
In the middle of Good Friday, nobody could have imagined that Easter was coming; but now that Easter is here, we are able to trust that no Good Friday lasts forever.
Level 3 means a couple of changes to the way we do things at Two Rivers:
I am now working from home except for Sunday mornings - this means no office hours at any of our three churches.
All meetings/gatherings must be held virtually - no in-person gatherings even with masks and physical distancing. (This was already mostly happening anyways in Level 2.)
We have resumed Facebook Live check-ins, once a week on Thursdays at 1pm. (These will continue until we can resume in-person gatherings.)
And a couple of things haven't changed:
Elaine will still be working from the church office, and monitoring the church mail, e-mail, and voicemail.
We will still be livestreaming worship from the Westfield sanctuary on Sunday mornings.
I am still always available to you by phone (call or text) or e-mail.
I am still praying for all of you; and we are all still able to pray for each other; and we are all still able to reach out to one another (in all of the physically distanced ways we've learned in the past couple of years).
And God is still with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God!
I also want to mention here - a couple of people have contacted me in the past couple of weeks to ask if I can visit a loved on in hospital since the hospital isn't allowing any visitors at this time. I am also not allowed into the hospital to visit anyone - throughout this pandemic, I fall under the same restrictions as all of you when it comes to hospital visiting. (The one exception is that I am able to visit if someone is in Palliative Care, but only if/when the hospital contacts me to ask me to come in.) If someone from our churches is in hospital, please continue to let me know - I can still reach out to them by phone - I just can't go see them in-person.
I don't think that I have many other announcements today.
Worship on Sunday will be livestreamed at 11:15. (Thank you to everyone who completed the survey - as I mentioned on Sunday, there wasn't a significant enough push for 10:30 to change the livestreaming time for what we anticipate to be a relatively short period of time.) I will be sending out the bulletin on Friday or Saturday. This week, we will be continuing our winter theme of "Christmas is only the beginning" - this week we will get to see Jesus begin his public ministry after his baptism (Luke 4:14-22).
Bible Study continues on Wednesday mornings on Webex - we are exploring the Old Testament - getting a sense of the story arc and wrestling with some of the more challenging stories that we find there. Next week, we will be looking at Noah's Ark! Contact me if you would like the details for how to connect to this.
And as a closing thought for today, I have another hymn for you - this one is from the Roman Catholic tradition. It speaks powerfully to the hope that I began this e-mail with - "Christ Be Our Light."
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."