May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Happy International Women's Day!
Today is a day to both celebrate all women but also to acknowledge the systems in our world that stop women from accessing the same rights and opportunities as men.
If we turn to the creation story in the first chapter of Genesis, we can read that God said: "Let us create humans in our image, according to our likeness," and then "God created humans in his [sic] image; in the image of God he [sic] created them; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:26-27)
In this biblical creation story, women and men are equally created in God's image. When women are denied rights and opportunities that are given to men, then we are denying these to the image of God. And on the flip side, when people of all genders are seen as bearing God's image, then our understanding of who God is can grow.
Because the source of all forms of systemic oppression tends to be the same (ie power), and because these beautiful verses from Genesis have sometimes been interpreted in ways that harm our transgender siblings, lets throw in a little Queer Theology alongside our Feminist Theology!
When we look at all of Genesis chapter 1, we read about God creating the light and the darkness... but we also know that God created dusk and dawn and twilight, all of the in-between times. We read about God creating the seas and the dry land... but we also know that God created the shoreline and marshy places. The poetry of Genesis 1 uses two extremes to encompass not only the extremes but everything in between. And so I read verses 26 and 27 as including men and women and all genders in between - people who are non-binary and gender-fluid and intersex... everywhere along the beautiful spectrum of gender. ALL created in God's image. And our understanding of who God is grows to include ALL people!
So on this International Women's Day, we celebrate that women, alongside people of all genders, are created in God's image. And we commit ourselves once again to do everything that is in our power to do in order to ensure that the dignity of all women (and everyone else in our world who is marginalized) is maintained and protected, as people who bear the image of God. (This reflection also appears on our Facebook Page - I invite you to share your thoughts with me over there!) I have a whole bunch of announcements to share with you this week. (I was tempted to skip over the reflection part of this e-mail, but then it's International Women's Day and I didn't want to miss that!)
Worship on Sunday will be at 9:15 at Summerville and at 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. Continuing our theme of people who encountered Jesus, this week we will be reading about a man born blind who was given sight when he encountered Jesus. If you want to read it ahead of time, you'll find it at John 9:1-41. (At Long Reach, I apologized to all of the scripture readers this Lent. We follow a lectionary with a 3-year cycle of readings, and this year's Lent readings are notorious for being very very long!)
Last week, we started our mid-week Lent gatherings, each Wednesday evening at 7pm in the parlour at Westfield United. This is a time when we can gather together for quiet prayer, meditation, and music - everyone is welcome. Our next gathering will be this evening.
In last week's mid-week message, I forgot to include a link to Lent Madness on our website. Round 1 voting wrapped up on Sunday evening, and Round 2 is now live! You can find the results of round 1, the parings for round 2, and the ballot for round 2 by clicking here! Remember that you can vote using whatever criteria you choose, and feel free to share the link on your social media - you can only vote once each week, but you are allowed to campaign for your favourites to convince your friends to vote for them too!
Youth Connection will be meeting on Sunday evening at 7pm at Westfield United. This week we will be baking tarts for PIE Day on Tuesday. All youth in middle school or high school are invited to join us!
Pie Social - PIE Day is coming up next Tuesday, March 14 - a day when we get to be Public, Intentional, and Explicit about being Affirming of all people of all genders and of all sexual orientations. After worship on Sunday (at both churches), there is going to be a pie social - the UCW at Westfield and Bette at Summerville have been busy baking! There will be a basket out at each church for you to leave a donation in - all money raised will be split between Chroma NB (an organization in Saint John that works to support queer youth and families) and the Healing Fund of the United Church of Canada (a fund that supports Indigenous people in and outside of the church, and the national UCW fundraising partner for the next 5 years).
On PIE Day itself, we will be giving out free pie (ie tarts) to people driving past the church, beginning at 4:30 and continuing until we run out of tarts. Thank you to everyone who has offered to make tarts or help give them out. I'm going to be in touch with you all tomorrow with details about the where and when!
Our Church in the World committee is going to be making sandwiches for Romero House on March 24. If you are one of the regular sandwich-makers, you can expect a call asking you to help; and if you would like to make sandwiches, please get in touch with one of our Church in the World members (and if you don't know who that is, let me know and I will connect you)!
On Sunday March 19 there is going to be a music afternoon hosted at St. Mark's United Church but involving all of the United Church Choirs in the west and north Saint John are, including both the Long Reach and Westfield choirs. Each choir will present a piece, there is an anthem that all choirs are learning to sing together, and there will be a hymn sing as well. For more details, you can check out the poster by clicking here.
Like I said at the beginning, lots of announcements this week! For a closing thought, here is a song that I discovered this week (if you listen to Q on CBC radio, you might have heard it too on Monday). I know that I'm late to the party (I'm too old to be trendy!), but now I can't stop listening to it - "RIP Love" by Faouzia, a young singer/songwriter who was born in Morocco and grew up in Carmen, Manitoba. If you click on the link, be forewarned that it has been stuck in my brain ever since I first heard it! Blessings to you and yours, today and always! Kate.
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."