May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
I am sitting in my office at Westfield United Church listening to the chatter of the volunteers down in the kitchen who are preparing for tomorrow's Strawberry Non-Social. Even with masks and physical distancing, it is good to hear the building alive with chatter.
This week, a friend asked me to submit a 30-second video for a presentation he's doing on the post-pandemic church. There were two sentence prompts that I was asked to complete. My responses were:
"One thing the pandemic has taught me, as a Christian living in North America, is that community is essential. We've had to remind one another that even when we're physically distanced, we're never alone."
"My hope for the churches in North America after the pandemic is that we might continue to embrace the creativity that the pandemic has sparked in us; that we might be always finding new ways to embody Christ's presence and live God's love in the corner of the world where we find ourselves."
There has been an outpouring of creativity in the past 16 months - not only here in our churches but in the world around us. We have found new ways both to be in community with one another and to live out the mission that God calls us to. As we move towards whatever this post-pandemic world is going to look like, I hope that the creativity and openness to newness will continue!
As we move through July, I am going to be watching carefully the government plan for "green." We had a conversation about what "green" is going to look like in our churches at our June Session meeting, and towards the end of the month (if it continues to look like a green August) you can expect to find a letter in your mailbox (your actual mailbox, not your email inbox!) about moving to green. (And on a personal note - I love seeing my Facebook feed filling up with double-vaccination pictures and stories!)
In addition to the Strawberry Non-Social tomorrow, there are a bunch of other things going on in the pastoral charge this week:
Church Family Movie Nights are resuming this evening and continuing on Wednesday evenings through the summer! On Sunday I announced that I needed to check if the movie I wanted to watch this week was still available on Netflix, and unfortunately it isn't (I'm still hoping to borrow it from the library before the summer is over though); so instead we will be watching Whale Rider this evening - this is a 2002 New Zealand film about a young Maori girl challenging the patriarchy so that she can fulfill her calling to be a chief. Movies will start at 7pm in the Westfield United Church parlour.
Flower Services - this Sunday we have the first two of our annual flower services - at Westfield (11:15am) and Long Reach (2:00pm). The Long Reach service will be outside (rain or shine), so bring your umbrella to keep either the sun or the rain off your head! Together we will be building a bouquet of memories as we remember our loved ones. If you are planning to attend the service on Facebook rather than in-person, I invite you to have a flower with you at home so that you can remember your loved ones too.
A reminder of the Strawberry Non-Social happening tomorrow. I know that Judy has recruited a bunch of volunteers so I will see all of you tomorrow; and I will hopefully see others of you as you drive through the Westfield parking lot to pick up your meals. (If you don't have your tickets yet, you can check at the Home Hardware - as of Monday there were still a handful of tickets left.) Pick-up times begin at 3:30 in half-hour windows, so make sure that you check your ticket carefully so that you show up at the right time! This helps us to avoid too much congestion in the parking lot.
The Home Mission Council is offering a bursary as they have in previous years to United Church students from the former Saint John Presbytery (Welsford to Saint John to Sussex and all places in between) pursuing post-secondary education. You can download the application and instructions by clicking here; and please pass this along to any of our Two Rivers Pastoral Charge post-secondary students. Please note that the application needs to be accompanied by a letter from the minister - since I'm not a mind-reader, please have your student let me know that they are submitting an application so that I can write and send the letter. We have already had one of our Two Rivers youth submit an application last week that was approved today!
And finally just a reminder that we are continuing to search for our next Youth and Young Families Ministry Coordinator - the job description and details can be found by clicking here. Please pass this along to anyone who might be a good fit for the job!
I also have a note for anyone who is volunteering as a greeter in our worship services. The screening questions are going to be changed on Sunday to reflect the changed provincial restrictions, so make sure that you pay attention to the questions you are asking. And also - when I was on vacation last month, I had an opportunity to worship (in-person) at three different churches. Unfortunately, at all three of those churches the greeters didn't let me know where the offering plate was located, and so I wasn't able to give my offering. (At one church I could see the plates, but there were people standing in front of them making them difficult to access and maintain physical distance.) Greeters - don't be afraid to point out the offering plates, especially if someone isn't a regular worshiper at our churches!
I think that is it for today. I hope that you are all having a good summer so far - I know that many of you are taking advantage of relaxed travel restrictions to both visit loved ones in other provinces, or receive loved ones from other provinces here. I hope that you are savouring all of those hugs.
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."