May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
I hope that all of you who celebrate had a good St. Patrick's Day yesterday - at our Session meeting last night, several of our Session Members were wearing green! (Personally, I choose to celebrate the feast day of St. Gertrude of Nivelles on March 17 - she is the patron saint of cats - but her celebration always seems to be overshadowed by St. Patrick's celebration.)
We are now in the second week of "yellow" here in New Brunswick, with our Covid case numbers remaining low and the vaccine continuing to roll out to our seniors - I know that the members of our congregations living in nursing homes have had their vaccine, and that some of our eligible members (those age 85+) have appointments booked to get the shot. And rumours abound that the Atlantic Bubble may be re-opening - I know that many of us are looking forward to being able to see family members and friends in other provinces.
Yellow also means that our church buildings have re-opened, though all of the Covid protocols (masks at all times, physical distancing etc) are still in place. Our Bible Study group is meeting on Wednesday mornings from 10-11:30 in the Westfield Parlour (we have great discussions every week, leading out of a slow reading of Mark's gospel), and worship is now back in-person in all 3 of our buildings (with the Westfield service continuing to be livestreamed to our Facebook page).
This Sunday, our services will be as follows:
9am - Long Reach annual meeting. We will be meeting in the sanctuary this year instead of the River Room to give us more space to spread out. The meeting will be woven together with worship as in previous years. If you would like to participate in the meeting but aren't comfortable being in the building, please contact me ASAP so that I can partner you up with someone with a cell phone to allow you to listen, to contribute, and to vote.
11:15am at Westfield (with livestreaming) - this week we are back to exploring the thread of covenants in our reading, and we get to read one of my favourite passages - Jeremiah 31:31-34 where God speaks about writing God's promises on our hearts.
Last night, Session finalized our Holy Week Service schedule (which, as with everything else, is contingent on remaining "yellow" at that time). Last year, our whole Holy Week happened only online as we were still in the early weeks of the pandemic - this year things still need to be a little bit different than in pre-pandemic times (e.g. we can't share a meal on Maundy Thursday), but we will still be able to journey through the full story of Jesus's final week, from his entry into Jerusalem, to the final meal he shared with his friends, through his arrest, crucifixion, and death, and on to the resurrection (which isn't the end of the story, but instead is the beginning of a whole new story). The schedule will be as follows:
Palm Sunday (March 28) - Bayswater-Summerville at 9:15, then Westfield and Facebook at 11:15. We will wave our branches as Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem.
Maundy Thursday (April 1) - Westfield and Facebook at 7pm. We will be with Jesus as he washes his disciples' feet, gives them a new commandment grounded in love, and shares the bread and the cup. This will be a communion service.
Good Friday (April 2) - Westfield and Facebook at 11am. We will stay with Jesus through his betrayal and arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial. This is a difficult service for us all, but the resurrection joy of Easter is only meaningful if you travel through death to get there. Resurrection is only possible if you let yourself die to the old way of living.
Easter Sunrise Service (April 4) - Brundage Point River Centre at 6:45am. Sunrise on April 4 this year is a couple of minutes before 7am, so we will gather in the shadowy pre-dawn, and be with the disciples as they discover that the tomb is empty. This service will include a less-formal-than-usual communion service as we remind ourselves that hope is always waiting for us.
Easter Sunday (April 4) - Long Reach at 9:15, and Westfield and Facebook at 11:15. If the Sunrise Service is all about the quiet joy of the empty tomb, these later services are all about the triumphant joy of resurrection. These will also be communion services as we celebrate the new life and new beginnings that God promises us.
And I think that's it for my announcements for today. Let's keep on loving our neighbours by wearing our masks, keeping physically distanced (but socially connected), and signing up for the vaccine as soon as we are eligible, trusting that the end of the pandemic is always drawing closer!
Blessings to you and yours, today and always,
Rev. Kate Jones
Two Rivers Pastoral Charge
(506) 757-2201 (office)
(506) 343-1307 (mobile)
"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."