May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
So did March come in like a lion or like a lamb yesterday? I'm on the side of lion - it was bitterly cold in the morning then it snowed overnight. Plus, if it came in like a lion then it should go out like a lamb!
I don't know how much truth there is in that old saying; but I think that it is trying to tell us that the weather in the month of March is very changeable and unpredictable, and that is certainly true most years. I know that a "St. Patrick's Day Storm" is common in the Maritimes, and even if it doesn't fall on March 17, we are likely to still have some snowy weather before spring fully arrives.
But even though the weather is unpredictable, what I am confident in is that spring will arrive. Eventually we will have the last snowfall of the winter, the leaves will uncurl, and it will be sitting-out-on-the-deck weather (at least until the blackflies show up).
Today is the first day of the season of Lent. We have begun our journey towards Easter. And even though we might encounter some hills and some valleys - some uphill and some downhill stretches on the road - we know that the end of this journey will be resurrection and the empty tomb. And because we are journeying as a community, if any of us stumbles before we get there, we have companions on the road who will help us along.
Our journey together begins this evening, with our Ash Wednesday Service (7pm at Westfield United Church, with livestreaming on Facebook). We will receive the mark of ashes, reminding us of our own mortality; but then will also share in communion reminding us that death isn't the end.
This year, our theme through Lent will be "Gardening our Souls" - what seeds do we want to plant in our lives; how will we nurture those seeds; do we need to do any weeding or pruning? As a community, we will be gathering each Thursday evening at 7pm at Westfield United Church for an opportunity to try different Spiritual Practices - different practices (some ancient, some more recent) that can nurture our souls and draw us closer to God. These Spiritual Practice Gatherings will begin this tomorrow (March 3), and this week we will be trying Lectio Divina ("sacred reading").
I have a couple of other announcements for this week:
Long Reach Annual Meeting will be this Sunday at 9am in the Long Reach sanctuary. I will be e-mailing you the agenda (ie bulletin) and last year's minutes tomorrow.
Sunday at Westfield will be the first Sunday of Lent - we will be exploring our theme of "Gardening Our Souls" with a reading from Deuteronomy about offering our "first-fruits" to God (Deuteronomy 26:1-11). The service begins at 11:15, and will be livestreamed on Facebook.
Broadview Magazine Discussion - we missed our February gathering due to Covid restrictions, but we will gather next Monday, March 7, to discuss the March issue. Even if you don't subscribe, you can still read many of the articles in this month's issue by clicking here. We will meet at 10am on Monday in the Westfield Parlour.
Bible Study - is continuing to meet virtually on Webex on Wednesday mornings. We are having some fabulous discussions as we wrestle with some of the challenging stories we find in the Old Testament. If you would like to join us, let me know and I'll send you the link.
And I think that is it for announcements today.
Let me end where I began, with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Rev. Lisa Waites is a United Church of Canada minister and musician, and she released an Ash Wednesday song this year - "Through All of our Days." Though it was written for Ash Wednesday and uses some of the imagery of ashes, it is also a song that can resonate in any significant time of transition in our lives - funerals, weddings, retirement, a new baby, a move... You can hear this song by clicking here. "Beginning to end, we're surrounded by grace / and you love us through all of our days."
See you this evening, either in-person or virtually!
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."