May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Last night at our Session meeting, I offered to do the opening reflection and I told the group that I had been thinking a lot about hope recently. (You know how sometimes a word or an idea follows you around and then you start seeing it EVERYWHERE?)
Hope is a future-oriented virtue, always looking beyond the present moment. As I said at Session last night, at this time of year, we don't need to hope for spring because we can already see the snow melting and the ice breaking up, and I've even heard rumours of crocuses popping up in sunny sheltered places. The time when we need to hope for spring is in January with another nor'easter blowing in, and the ferry getting stuck in the ice, and the days as short and as gloomy as they can be. That is when we hope for spring - we trust that it will come, even when it doesn't make any sense at all in the present moment.
Using the example of spring, January then becomes the hope-filled month, not March or April. Once something is here, we are no longer hoping for it.
Hope is trusting that something better is coming, even when there is no evidence in the right-now that it is coming. Hope is trusting that there is a light at the end of the tunnel even when we can't see it yet. Someone shared a beautiful image last night - hope is like following a path through a forest at night where you can only see one step in front of you, but you keep on following it because you trust that it is going somewhere good.
We are approaching Holy Week - the final days before Jesus's death on through to the resurrection. Hope is a Good Friday thing - even when it seems as though death has had the final word; even when it seems as though the story is over, hope tells us that Easter is going to come anyways. No Good Friday lasts forever, and Easter is always coming.
And so whatever Good Friday time you are going through right now, may this hope (that really is a gift of God) remind you that Easter is coming.
Speaking of Holy Week, here is our schedule of services for Holy Week:
Palm Sunday (April 2) - 9:15 at Long Reach; 11:15 at Westfield
Maundy Thursday (April 6) - 6:00pm at Westfield. This year, after three years of Holy Week in the season of Covid-tide, we are going back to the Maundy Thursday services we used to have in the before-times. We will have a catered meal (by Debbie Childs Catering company), and the worship service will be integrated with the meal itself. As before, the meal is "pay what you can" - there will be a basket when you arrive for you to put your contribution in. (And because most people want to know how much to put in the basket, I will say that the cost to the church for each person is $20. Some people aren't able to put that much in the basket and that is OK; some people choose to put more than that in the basket to help subsidize the meals of others, and that is also OK. Our wonderful Westfield UCW have offered to cover any difference at the end.)
Good Friday (April 7) - 11am at Long Reach
Easter Sunrise Service (April 9) - 6:45am at Brundage Point River Centre. Be sure to dress for the weather, and then put on one more layer than you think that you'll need! We are going to have a breakfast at Westfield United Church following this service. This will be done potluck-style, and so if you are able, you are invited to bring muffins or hot cross buns, or something simple to share. The coffee and tea will be on at the church!
Easter Worship (April 9) - 9:15 at Summerville; 11:15 at Westfield
In terms of other announcements this week:
Worship this Sunday (since Lent isn't over yet!) will be at 9:15 at Summerville and 11:15 at Westfield. Last week we read the story of Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life; this week we will continue the story with Lazarus's sister Mary, and her response to what Jesus did for her family. If you want to read ahead, you can find the story at John 12:1-8. (Westfield peeps - this week Session members will be providing the "eats and sweets" for our gathering after worship!)
On Sunday, at both churches, I will be looking for a show of hands to try and estimate how many people will be at the Maundy Thursday supper service (see above). This is so that we can tell Debbie how much food to prepare! Putting your hand up isn't a commitment that you will be attending, and not putting your hand up doesn't mean that you can't attend - we are just looking for an estimate. (Long Reachers - I forgot to ask you on Sunday, so I'll be sending you a separate e-mail to ask.)
We are continuing our Wednesday evening Lent gatherings this evening - 7pm in the parlour at Westfield United. This is a quiet time of music, meditation, and prayer. Everyone is welcome
I also want to mention a presentation on Saturday afternoon in Norton that might be interesting to people. This is through the Kings County Heritage Society, and it will be about the Indian Day School that was in Sussex. It will be at 2pm at the Norton Community Centre, and is open to anyone who wants to attend.
Youth Connection is meeting this Sunday (March 26) from 7-8:30 at Westfield United - any middle- and high-school age youth are welcome to attend!
A reminder that Lent Madness continues! This week is the quarter-finals, so there are only 8 stories left; 2 pairings. You can vote in this round any time between now and Sunday - you can see the pairings and find a link to the ballot on the church website by clicking here.
Dave MacPherson is turning 79 on April 1, and his family is inviting the charge to a drop-in celebration from 2-4pm on April 1. Best wishes only!
This Friday (March 24) is our day for Romero House Sandwiches. Drop-off is at the Summerville church by 9:30 on Friday; to Anne Titus by 9:30 on Friday, or at Westfield United Church at 10:30 on Friday. (Or you can contact Bette Ashley or Anne Titus to make alternate arrangements.) Bayswater-Summerville is making bologna and cheese (no mustard or mayo), Long Reach is making ham and cheese (no mustard or mayo), and Westfield is making egg salad (no onion). Put each sandwich in a baggie, put the baggies back in the bread bag, and mark the bag with what type of sandwich it is. Thank you for your generosity with this!
And that is it for this week!
For a closing thought today, I want to share a blessing with you, written by poet/artist/minister Jan Richardson for the reading that we heard 2 Sundays ago - the story of a man born blind who was given sight through his encounter with Jesus. If you remember this story, Jesus spat in the dirt, stirred it up, then smeared a gob of this mud over the man's eyes, then told him to go and wash. You can find the "Blessing of Mud" by clicking here. (I would have had Elaine print it on the back of the bulletin that week, but it was a communion service and there wasn't room for it!)
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."