May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
This winter I have been working as a Teaching Assistant for a course at the Atlantic School of Theology, my alma mater, about United Church of Canada Doctrine. What do we believe and teach, not as individuals, but as a denomination? The course is structured so that each week the students have an opportunity to explore a different topic through a (video) lecture, readings, and online discussion. This week's topic is worship and sacraments which, for me, is very timely since we celebrated a baptism last Sunday at Long Reach, and we will be celebrating communion this upcoming Sunday at both services.
My favourite definition of a sacrament is nearly 2000 years old, coming from St. Augustine, who said that a sacrament is "a visible sign of God's invisible grace." We can't see or touch or taste God's grace, and so God gives us the water of baptism that we can see and touch and hear and know that God loves us, and God gives us the bread and wine (juice) of the communion meal that we can smell and taste and touch and know that God loves us. These are visible signs of God's invisible grace!
(And maybe I'm a heretic, but I think that even though the United Church of Canada only officially recognizes two sacraments - baptism and communion - I think that God shows us God's grace in more ways than this. A cup of tea shared with a friend or spiritual companion can thus become sacramental.)
In terms of announcements this week:
Worship on Sunday - 9:15 at Summerville and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. As I just mentioned, we will be celebrating communion at both of these services (and if you are going to be joining us on Facebook Live, you are invited to have the elements - some bread or a cracker, and juice or water - at hand so that you can join the meal). We started talking about grace last Sunday with the parable of the fig tree, and this week we will continue our exploration of grace (and how it might make us both comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time) with the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). Since this story ends with a feast, it is very appropriate that we will be feasting at the communion table this Sunday!
Thursday Lenten Gatherings - we are continuing to gather every Thursday evening at 7pm in-person at Westfield United and virtually using Webex to try different spiritual practices. This week, we practicing a breath prayer (which can be adapted to be a walking meditation). Everyone is welcome, either in-person or virtutally (just let me know if you want the Webex link).
Paul Smith's Funeral - just a reminder that Paul's funeral will be next Tuesday, March 29, at 1pm at Fundy Funeral Home, with visitation on Monday from 2-6pm. His obituary has now been updated to include service information - you can read it by clicking here.
Broadview Magazine Discussion - our next gathering will be on Monday April 4 at 10am in the parlour at Westfield United Church. We will be discussing the April/May issue this month. Everyone is welcome! If you don't subscribe to the magazine, you can still read many of the articles in this issue by clicking here.
Holy Week Schedule - we are half-way through Lent now, so Holy Week and Easter are still several weeks away, but if you want to mark your calendar, here is the schedule of our Holy Week Services:
Palm Sunday (April 10) - 9:15 at Summerville, 11:15 at Westfield and FB Live
Maundy Thursday (April 14) - 7pm at Westfield and FB Live
Good Friday (April 15) - 11am at Summerville
Easter Sunrise (April 17) - 6:30am at Brundage Point
Easter Worship (April 17) - 9:15 at Long Reach, 11:15 at Westfield and FB Live
Even though we had hoped to be able to resume our Maundy Thursday service structured around a shared meal this year, there is still too much Covid floating around to make this safe/comfortable, and so the service will be in the sanctuary at Westfield, the same as it was last year.
And it is Bayswater-Summerville's turn to host the Pastoral Charge for Good Friday this year - unfortunately the cell signal isn't strong enough at the church to try livestreaming the service, but it will be recorded and I will post it to video as soon as I am back in the land of internet. It will then be available for viewing by anyone who isn't able to make the in-person service from around 1pm on Good Friday until Saturday evening (at which point it will be deleted so that we can move on to our Easter celebration).
Jesus Christ Superstar - this year, we are going to gather together on Good Friday evening at 7pm in the parlour at Westfield United to watch the movie of Jesus Christ Superstar. I will pop some popcorn, and you are welcome to bring your beverage of choice. If you are familiar with the musical, singing along is encouraged!
And I think that is it for today. For a closing thought, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I have been listening to Leonard Cohen in my car as I'm driving around these days - this song, "Show me the Place" has always struck me as being very Lent-like in it's feel. You can listen to it by clicking here.
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."