May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
I'm writing this the day after another school shooting, and I don't have the words to say today. I have words, but they may not be the right words - I have words of grief (actually, these words sound more like a shriek of anguish), I have words of anger (many of them with 4-letters), I have words of lament ("How long? How many more babies will have to die before the world changes?"). The thing about my words though, is they aren't going to change anything. I feel so very helpless looking at the pictures of those innocent children (and adults) whose lives were stolen from them far too soon.
I verge on hopelessness too. Hope means more than just wishful thinking; hope means trusting that things are going to get better, even when that doesn't make any sense at all. And when I look at the state of the world, it feels impossible to trust that things are ever going to change. It feels as though guns and retaliative violence and senseless violence are always going to be with us. It feels as though racism and sexism and homophobia and transphobia and ableism - all of the systems that mean that some bodies are valued more than other bodies - are always going to be with us. It feels as though poverty and inter-generational trauma and addictions are always going to be with us. It feels as though conflict between nations and wars and fights over resources are always going to be with us
Hoping - trusting that things are going to get better - it just doesn't make any sense.
And yet we follow a God who tells us to hope - to cling to hope even when hope doesn't make any sense at all. We follow a God who was crucified, and so is present with all people who are crucified (in all of the different ways that crucifixion is happening) in our world today. We follow a God who promises us that Good Friday is always followed by Easter. We follow a God who spoke through a young girl, proclaiming a time when all systems of oppression will be overturned (Luke 1:46-55).
So the only word that I have for you today is "hope." We can't turn away and pretend that nothing has happened and everything is OK - we have to bear witness to the horror and we have to allow our hearts to be broken by the grief that we see. But we also have to trust that God will have the final word, and that some day all of our human brokenness will be a thing of the past. We have to trust that there will be a time when there is no more mourning, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4 and Isaiah 65:19).
In terms of announcements this week:
Worship on Sunday will be at Long Reach (9:15) and Westfield (11:15) with livestreaming of the Westfield service on Facebook. We are continuing to read stories of the very earliest church from the book of Acts - this Sunday we will be reading Acts 16:16-34. How many instances of liberation/freedom can you find in this story? Are there any opportunities for liberation/freedom that Paul missed?
Summer Sermon Series - this summer, we are going to be exploring the theology behind some of our favourite hymns (ie what do these hymns tell us about God and about our relationship with God?); but I need your help! I'm looking for your top 3 favourite hymns from our hymn books (Voices United and More Voices). You can 1) e-mail them to me, or 2) there will be an insert in the bulletin the next two Sundays that you can fill out, or 3) watch for a Facebook post in the coming days. I can't promise that I will use your hymns, but I'm trying to get a sense of what the favourite hymns around Two Rivers Pastoral Charge are.
This Saturday will be the spring yard sale and bake sale at Westfield United Church (9am - 12pm). Stop on by and rummage through the treasures that you will find on the tables!
On Sunday, the Grand Bay Home Hardware is having a party to celebrate Shirley and Don's retirement. If you want to wish them well, you are welcome to stop by the store between 4 and 6.
The Westfield UCW are planning another Strawberry Non-Social this year (ie a drive-through cold plate dinner) that will be held on July 4. More details to follow soon!
And I think that's it for today.
As a closing thought, I want to share a hymn with you - one that I turn to when I start to feel hopeless - one that reminds me that some day God is going to change the world for the good. You can listen to it by clicking here (and you can also find the words and music in More Voices 120).
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."