May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
I was just saying to Elaine that I don't know how it is March 9 already - January felt like a very long month, but then February flew by! And now this weekend is the time change already. Which brings me to my first announcement - don't forget to turn your clocks forward on Saturday night so that you don't miss church on Sunday!
The days are lengthening as we slide towards spring, and those lengthening days (and melting snow and growing puddles) tell us that our hope for summer isn't in vain! As the hymn says, "In the cold and snow of winter / there's a spring that waits to be."
And isn't it true for our faith as well. Just as summer makes no sense at all when it is the middle of January, a hopeful future doesn't make sense when we are surrounded by pandemic and war. And yet just as winter doesn't last forever (unless you have been transported to Narnia - C. S. Lewis reference), neither does any season in our life. Hope is the only thing that we have left when everything seems hopeless.
I have a couple of announcements to pass along this week:
Home Mission Council: Richard Fullerton (our HMC representative) didn't have the information he needed to make a report in the Annual Report, but he has asked me to share the following report about their work in 2021 within the bounds of the former Saint John Presbytery:
The following information highlights the Home Mission Council activities in 2021:
The HMC has three funds:
1. The General Funds provided $ 6,000.00 in funds to 7 Communities of Faith for mission work.
2. The Arthur Long Fund supported a candidate to ministry in the amount of $ 7,000.00.
3. The Youth Fund approved ten $ 500.00 bursaries to students in our Communities of Faith.
At the end of 2021 the HMC had $ 830,566.00 in assets.
Prayer Vigil: There is going to be an ecumenical community Prayer Vigil for Ukraine next week on Friday March 18 at 7pm in the parking lot of the WorkSafe Rehab Centre, led by the churches in Grand Bay-Westfield. Everyone is invited to attend.
Assistance for Ukraine: In addition to our prayers, I know that many people want to be able to offer practical assistance to the people of Ukraine. If you are looking to help, here are a couple of places:
*** The United Church of Canada has launched an emergency appeal, with money going to the organizations that we partner with in the area. You can find all of the information on how to donate by clicking here.
*** One of the partner organizations that the United Church of Canada is working with in Ukraine is the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (an organization made up of 15 Canadian denominations including the United Church addressing hunger) - you are also able to make a donation directly to the Canadian Foodgrains bank by clicking here.
*** And finally, the Canadian Red Cross has Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis appeal that you can donate to by clicking here.
Saint John Theatre Company's Production of Annie: Many of you saw my Facebook post congratulating our own Bertis Sutton on being cast as Daddy Warbucks, and there was some interest in putting together a group to go and cheer him on! So... if you would like to join us, I will pick up tickets for us for the show on Wednesday May 25 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $44 each (note - this is the Preview Show so tickets are a bit cheaper than the regular tickets). If you would like to join our group, please let me know by the end of next week (March 20) and I'll add you to the list! You may recall that we tried doing this two years ago for their production of Mary Poppins, but our plans were foiled by a global pandemic - here's hoping for better luck this time around.
And finally a couple of reminders:
Worship this Sunday will be at 9:15 at Summerville and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live (again, don't forget to change your clocks!). This week, we have Jesus comparing himself to a mama hen - God longs to nurture us; why do we so often resist being nurtured? (Luke 13:31-35)
We are continuing our Lenten gatherings to "Garden our Souls" on Thursday evenings at 7pm at Westfield with a virtual option on Webex. This week we will be Praying in Colour. (If you would like the Webex link, let me know and I will e-mail it out tomorrow.)
Bible Study continues on Webex each Wednesday morning at 10am - we are meandering our way through the Old Testament this winter. I said to the group this morning, these Wednesday morning gatherings are some of the best conversations of my week!
And I think that's it for this week. For a closing thought today, I've been listening to Leonard Cohen this week as I've been driving around, and his song "Come Healing" speaks to my soul (and also fits in with the themes we are exploring this Lent as well as this Sunday's readings). You can hear the song by clicking here.
Blessings to you and yours, today and always!