May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Thank you to everyone who submitted your favourite hymns so that Bertis and I can plan out our summer worship services. There were a lot of great suggestions, and my only regret is that we don't have 50 services over the summer to be able to explore them all! It worked out that any hymn with 3 or more votes will be included in our summer sermon series (exploring the theology of our favourite hymns - what do these hymns tell us about God and about our relationship with God); and then there was one Sunday left over, so I picked one from the multitude of hymns with 2 votes.
Do you have any guesses about what the most popular hymn at Two Rivers Pastoral Charge is? (I'll put the answer at the bottom of this e-mail, so you have a bit of time to think about it.)
Last month, I was off for a week of study leave, and I attended (virtually) the Festival of Homiletics - the largest preaching festival in North America. I heard some great preachers that week - both preaching and also talking about the art of preaching. On the Thursday of that week, I heard a talk given by Cláudio Carvalhaes, a Brazilian theologian who was talking about finding hope amid the never ending cycle of trauma that we seem to be stuck in. Referring specifically to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said, "There is very little singing going on; the breath of God falters within our lungs."
I love that image of God breathing in and through us when we sing together. For the first year and a half of the pandemic, I know that one of the things that I missed (and I suspect many of us missed) was singing together. We could sing separately, but there is something different that happens when all of our voices come together to sing. Maybe it is the breath of God breathing in us? I do think that when we aren't able to sing together, our worship is the poorer for it. And so it is going to be fun to explore different hymns together this summer!
I have a couple of announcements to pass along this week:
Vacation - I am going to be on vacation for 3 weeks beginning next Monday. Session has arranged for pulpit supply, and there will be a minister available in case of any pastoral emergencies. If you do need to reach the minister, you can call Margaret S. at 721-4307 and she will connect you. (There also won't be any of these mid-week messages for the next 3 weeks.)
Flower Services - we now have dates for our 2022 Flower Services where we remember and honour members of our congregations and communities who have died in the past year (as well as honouring our memories of the people we carry with us from longer ago). Our services this year will be: Long Reach - Sunday July 10 at 11am Westfield - Sunday July 17 at 11:15am Bayswater-Summerville - Sunday July 17 at 4pm
Home Mission Council Bursary - the Home Mission Council (of the former Saint John Presbytery) offers bursaries for United Church students from the Saint John area who are pursuing post-secondary education. Please contact me if you would like an application form.
Benevolent Fund - this is just a reminder that we have a Benevolent Fund at Two Rivers Pastoral Charge that is used to help people in our communities who reach out to the church for help. The most common requests are for gift certificates for groceries or for gas; and as you can imagine, with the price of gas and the price of food going up so significantly this year, we have had more requests for help from the Benevolent Fund this year than we have received in recent years. If you would like to donate to the Benevolent Fund, the easiest way to do so is by adding it to your regular Sunday Offering (just mark on the envelope what is to go to the Benevolent Fund, and our treasurers will pass it along).
Covid Reminders - I have been asked several times in the past couple of weeks how much longer we are going to be wearing masks in worship. I wish that I had a crystal ball to be able to see the future, but I'm afraid that I don't. What I do know is that right now we have people attending worship who would not be able to attend if we weren't wearing masks; and so the loving thing to do is to keep wearing our masks so that our neighbours are comfortable in worship. When smaller groups are gathering (e.g. for meetings, study groups etc), if everyone in the group is comfortable without masks, then it is OK to take them off; but if someone would be more comfortable with masks, again the loving thing to do is for everyone to wear their masks. Open communication is so important right now. The same goes for hugs - within our churches, some people are comfortable hugging, but some people are very uncomfortable hugging. Before leaning in for a hug, please make sure that the other person is comfortable receiving the hug. It's all about communication, to make sure that everyone feels safe within our churches!
Sunday Worship - this week we will be worshipping at Long Reach at 9:15 and at Westfield and on Facebook Live at 11:15. The Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday - a day when we get to celebrate the mystery of God who is always three and always one. We are going to be reading about Woman Wisdom in Proverbs this week - Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31.
And I think that is it for this week. Did you have a chance to ponder what the most popular hymn at Two Rivers Pastoral Charge might be? If you want to know what it is, you can click here for a recording of it!
I will see you on Sunday, and then again after 3 weeks.
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."