May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Today, November 1, is All Saints' Day - the middle of a trio of holy days. Today we remember and celebrate all of the saints of the church (which, in our Protestant tradition) includes all of the people of faith who have gone before us. We remember the saints of history - the familiar ones (St. Patrick, St. Nicholas, St. Hildegarde, St. Francis etc) as well as some of the less-familiar saints (e.g. St. Barbara, St. Blaise, St. Wilgefortis). But we also remember the saints we have known - the people we have known, the people who have mentored us in our faith and in our life, who have died and who are now resting in God's loving arms.
Today, I remember Martha - a lovely woman from my home church who drew me into her family when I was newly adulting and living far from my family. I remember my Grandmother, Jean, a woman who lived her faith with joy. I remember all of the saints of Two Rivers Pastoral Charge whom I have been privileged to know in my time here.
Our Flower Services each summer serve a similar function to an All Saints' service - a service where our dead are named and remembered (though at an All Saints' service, often a bell is rung for each of the names, rather than building a bouquet of memories).
Yesterday - Hallowe'en - was All Hallow's Eve, or the eve of All Saints. Tomorrow, November 2, will be All Souls' Day. In the Roman Catholic tradition, there is a difference between "saints" (those who have died who are recognized by the Church as saints) and "souls" (all who have been baptized who have died); however in our Protestant tradition, we believe that all Christians are saints, and so All Souls' Day becomes an extension of All Saints' Day.
Those of us with ancestry in the British Isles may also know that this is the festival of Samhain in the Celtic calendar - the turning of the seasons when the days are getting noticeably shorter and the nights noticeably longer each night. It is the end of the harvest and the beginning to winter.
All of which to say that this trio of days are a "thin" time in the year - a time when the veil that separates the living and the dead becomes a bit thinner - a time when we draw just a little bit closer to the Holy.
Which saints are you remembering today? Do you have any personal or family traditions to mark this time of year, whether that be All Saints' or All Hallow's Eve or Samhain?
I have a handful of announcements to pass along this week:
Worship this Sunday will be at 9:15 at Summerville and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. As this is the last Sunday before Remembrance Day, we will include an Act of Remembrance at the beginning of each service; and it will also be a communion service at each church.
Remembrance Day Turkey Dinner - as I mentioned on Sunday, tickets are selling fast, so don't delay picking yours up! They are for sale at the Grand Bay Home Hardware for $20 per person. There are two seatings available (4:00 and 5:30), as well as take-out tickets available.
Coffee House - our next Coffee House will be on Tuesday November 14 at 7pm in the sanctuary at Westfield United Church. Everyone, of all ages, is welcome to join us - performers and audience members alike! This is a chance for an "open mic" to share your music, your poetry, story-telling, stand-up comedy - all talents are warmly welcomed!
Session and Official Board Meetings - a reminder that these meetings are coming up soon on Wednesday November 15 at Westfield United Church (Session at 6:30 and Official Board at 7:30).
Home Mission Council Bursaries - this is old news by now, but I just want to give shout-out to the Home Mission Council who gave bursaries to two of our Two Rivers Pastoral Charge post-secondary students this year - Julia Dickie (Long Reach) and Thomas Patstone (Westfield). These bursaries, for students who have been active in their United Church congregations, were increased this year to $1000 per student per year. Thank you, HMC, and blessings to Julia and Thomas on your continued studies!
I am also going to be on vacation next week (Nov. 6-13). Related to that:
For any pastoral emergencies, please call Margaret Stackhouse (506-xxx-xxxx) and she will connect you with the minister who is covering.
There will be no bible study next week - we will resume the following week (Nov. 15). Likewise there won't be a mid-week message next week, so I'll talk to you agin in two weeks' time!
Thank you to Session for arranging pulpit supply on the 13th. I was just saying to Chris Patstone today that I'm always a bit sad that I rarely get to hear our fabulous supply worship leaders since I'm usually away when they are here. (On the 13th, we will be blessed to have Tracy Friars leading worship at both Long Reach and Westfield.)
For a closing thought this week, here is a blessing from poet/priest/artist Jan Richardson, for this trio of days that we are in the midst of. To read "A Blessing that Does Not End," you can click 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."