May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
As I've said to many people this week, it is good to go away on vacation, but it is also good to come back again. I had a good month off - the first week was Study Leave, and I was able to attend ReVITALize By the Sea, a gathering of (mostly United Church) clergy and lay people in Halifax with speakers from across the country; and then I had 3 weeks of vacation that balanced some fun travel (my first time leaving the country since before the pandemic) as well as time to relax at home and tackle some projects.
Sabbath is a biblical concept - in Genesis, we read how God created the world in 6 days, then rested on the 7th, and in the Ten Commandments, we are told to honour sabbath and keep it holy. For many of us (including those of us who work on Sunday!), Sunday as a day of rest doesn't always work, but sabbath time can happen at any time (ideally 1/7th of your time!). It is time to rest, time to recharge, time to reconnect with both God and with the important people in your life, and time to enjoy all of God's creation.
I might even go so far to say that we can't be fully human unless we observe sabbath - we can't be all that God created us to be (as beings created in God's image) without taking this time apart from the busy-ness of the every day.
And so my wish for you is for sabbath time this summer, in whatever form that might take for you. It might be a "digital sabbath" (I know that for me, one of my important vacation practices is removing my e-mail apps from my phone and tablet, and setting up my voicemail not to accept messages); it might be time spent on the water with loved ones; it might be a vacation away from the demands of regular life at home. May your sabbath times make you even more fully human!
I was back in the office on Monday (my first job was wading through the 150 e-mails that had piled up in my inbox in the time I was away lol!), and have been settling in to the rhythm of summertime around the church. It tends to be a bit of a quieter pace, but there are still things going on!
Flower Services: Our annual flower services are a time to remember loved ones in our churches and in our lives who have died both in the past year and in years past. We will begin this weekend with the Flower Services at Westfield (11:15 am, in-person and livestreamed on Facebook Live) and at Long Reach (2:00 pm). (The Bayswater-Summerville service will be the following weekend.) You can see the poster by clicking here.
Summer Worship Theme: Most summers, I like to stray away from the bible readings in the Revised Common Lectionary that we follow for most of the year to explore a different theme - last year it was our favourite hymns, the summer before was "Things Jesus Didn't Say." This year, I bounced some ideas off Session earlier in the spring, and we are going to be reading the stories of some of the women in the bible - especially women whose stories we don't get to hear as often. (That being said, we are beginning this Sunday with the story of two of the better-known women in the bible, Mary and Martha. You can read their story in Luke 10:38-42.)
Drive-Thru Summer Dinner: As we have done the past couple of years, Westfield United Church is going to be doing a drive-thru Summer Dinner (formerly branded as the "Strawberry Non-Social") on Thursday July 13. This dinner will include ham, salads, and strawberry shortcake with fresh local strawberries. Tickets must be purchased in advance - they are $15, and can be bought at the Grand Bay Home Hardware. Thank you to the group of volunteers who have been working hard to pull this dinner together!
Thank you, also, to everyone at Long Reach United Church who helped with the Strawberry Social last week. The rain pushed the social from the garden in to the church itself. Everyone who attended agreed that it was a great success!
Church Family Summer Movies: We're back for another summer of movies, this year on a new day. We will gather every TUESDAY at 7pm (so that we aren't in conflict with the music at Unite Park on Wednesdays) in the parlour at Westfield United Church to watch a movie as a church family. We started last night ("A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" was a delightful movie to start off the summer), and will continue through to the end of August. Next week (July 11), we will be watching Women Talking, the recent film adaptation of Miriam Toews' book of the same name. (Usually we watch movies that are suitable for the whole family, but this book deals with abuse so may not be appropriate for children.) You can read more about this moving by clicking here.
Ida's Cupboards: I've heard from all three churches that our food resources in Ida's Cupboards have been running low recently. Now that it's summer, freezing isn't a concern so any non-perishable food items can be left in the cupboard. This is one way that we can participate in God's economy of grace - those who are able leaving food, and those who need food taking what they need. No cost; no questions asked; no judgement.
Saint John Pride Parade: This is a "mark-your-calendar-early" announcement. The Saint John Pride Parade is coming up on Saturday August 12 at 1pm. This year, Two Rivers Pastoral Charge is joining together with the other Affirming Churches in the Saint John area (Harmony United and Quispamsis United) to walk in the parade together (and we are hoping to have a jeep involved as well, for anyone who isn't able to walk the parade route). Last year, those of us who participated had so much fun - we encourage everyone to consider joining us this year. Let's proclaim (Publicly, Intentionally, and Explicitly) that God's love is for everyone!
And I think that's it for announcements this week.
For a closing thought, part of my sabbath rest last month was taking time to read. The books I read are:
*** The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kid (a novel imagining what the life of Jesus's wife might have been like)
*** Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth (the third and final in the series of memoirs that inspired the TV show, Call the Midwife)
*** The Crossing Places and The Janus Stone both by Elly Griffiths (mysteries, the first two books in a new-to-me series - I have the next one on hold at the library!)
*** Care Of by Ivan Coyote (a series of letters received by the author over the years, and the replies that they wrote in the first few months of the pandemic)
*** All the Living and the Dead by Hayley Campbell (a British journalist who explored the death industry and interviewed people involved in different aspects of it)
I can recommend any of these books (it was a good reading month); and I'm always open to hear your recommendations if you've read something good recently!
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."