May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Happy 12th Day of Christmas! Today, January 5, marks the last day of the season of Christmas, with tomorrow, January 6, being the feast of Epiphany when we read about and celebrate the arrival of the magi who followed a star to Bethlehem in order to find and worship a newborn king.
I hope that all of you had a good celebration of Christmas and were able to welcome in the new year with good cheer and good health. I had a good vacation with a couple of days at home at the beginning and end of my time off to rest, read some good books, and cuddle my cats; and time in the middle spent with my family in Ontario - we celebrated Christmas as a family on December 29, the 5th day of Christmas. I also had the opportunity on Sunday to worship at Rural Faith United Church in Ontario where a friend and former classmate is the minister - they had had to cancel their Christmas Eve service due to a snowstorm so were celebrating Christmas Eve on January 1. With all of these opportunities, I feel as though I have celebrated Christmas well this year, stretching out my celebrations through most of the 12 days!
With a new calendar open in front of me, I have a handful of announcements about things coming up in the next week or so!
Worship on Sunday will be at Long Reach (9:15) and Westfield (11:15) with livestreaming of the Westfield service on Facebook Live. We will be celebrating Epiphany, reading the story of the magi and the star (Matthew 2:1-12) (and so I asked our decorating elves to please leave up our Christmas decorations for one more service). The service at Long Reach will also include Confirmation as we welcome 3 more full members of our church family!
As has been our practice in the past several years, this Sunday we will be distributing "Star Words" - this is a word printed on a cut out star, and each of us pulls one from a basket without looking at it. Just as the magi followed a star, our star word can give us guidance as we ponder what wisdom the word might hold for us in our lives.
Broadview Discussion - since the first Monday of the month was a holiday, we are going to gather on the second Monday of the month (January 9) to discuss the January/February issue of Broadview Magazine. We will meet at 10am in the Westfield parlour - everyone is welcome to join us! (And if you don't subscribe, you can read many of the articles in this issue by clicking here.)
Bible Study will be resuming next week (January 11) - every Wednesday from 10-11:30 in the Westfield parlour. We are meandering our way through the Old Testament, looking at the overall story arc and wrestling with some of the challenging stories that we find there (like those stories we were reading on Sunday mornings through Advent!). Everyone is welcome to join us - no previous bible study experience is necessary. We are currently in the middle of Exodus - we have just read about the 10 Commandments and worshipping the golden calf, and will pick up the story next week from there. You can bring your favourite bible from home, or borrow one from the church.
Annual Reports - yes, it's that season again! If you chair or lead any committee in the church and are responsible for submitting a report to the annual report, please note that they are due to Elaine no later than Sunday January 15 - anything submitted after that date can't be included in the report and will have to be printed as an addendum. Reports can be submitted to the church e-mail address: email@example.com (and Elaine says that Word documents are the easiest for her to work with, if you have a choice of file formats to send). The Annual Report will be circulated electronically 2 weeks before our annual meetings begin, and a few printed copies will be available in each church for anyone who prefers a printed copy.
Ida's Cupboards - a thank you from our Church in the World committee to everyone who has been dropping off food in our Ida's Cupboards at each of our churches; and a reminder that donations are always appreciated so that we can offer food to people in our communities who are in need. With the colder weather, please leave non-perishable items that aren't at risk of freezing (ie no cans until spring, please) - good donations include cereal, milk powder, pancake mix, pasta, rice, KD, peanut butter, dry soup mixes, nuts.
And I think that's it for announcements this week!
For a closing thought, and because this is still the season of Christmas, here is a video of one of my favourite Christmas Carols that I shared on my personal FB page a couple of days ago as part of a playlist. The caption on the playlist reads: "What do you get when you combine four organists, a soprano, and a copy of 100 Carols for Choirs? Four-part harmony Christmas mayhem!!" I especially love watching the organist who is playing the organ here (the brilliant Matthew Fraser) pulling stops and changing the registration all the way through - you can really tell how much fun the five of them are having making music together! You can listen (and watch) by clicking here. (This carol and a couple of others were recorded at St. Mary's Basilica in Halifax this Christmas season.)
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."