May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
This upcoming Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent - the last Sunday of the church year - and the Sunday that is traditionally celebrated as the Reign of Christ or Christ the King Sunday. Many of our Sunday scripture readings this fall have seen Jesus teaching about the Kingdom of God - this upside down, topsy-turvy kingdom where the last are first and the first are last, where systems of oppression are at last ended, and where everyone is welcomed. All of that comes to a head this week, when we'll see that Jesus isn't talking about shuffling the deck and creating a new system of power, but instead is addressing the very root of what we understand a king or an emperor to be. He is creating something completely new.
This is one of the times of year when it is interesting to consider who we understand Jesus to be. This Sunday uses the language of a king or reigning. Next Sunday we will begin our Advent season of waiting for God to be born as a human baby.
One of my professors at AST did his PhD research looking at how children do theology - not necessarily what children believe, but more about how they come to their understandings of God. He began each of his interviews by asking the child to draw a picture of God.
If you were asked this question - to draw a picture of God, or to draw a picture of what Jesus means to you, how would you go about that? (Or, if drawing isn't your thing, feel free to use any artistic medium that you are more comfortable in!)
Last Sunday at Long Reach, the younger members of the congregation were able to gather for Sunday School, and after church was over, one of them, Kate Dickie, gave me a picture that she had drawn of Jesus that she wanted me to have. I asked her for permission to share it with all of you.
I love this picture for so many reasons. To (Other) Kate, Jesus is someone who is smiling, and who says "I love you all." And it turns out that what I originally thought was a stylized beard and mustache is actually a mask - Jesus loves us so much that he wants to keep us safe in this time of Covid; but he also wants us to be able to see his smile, so he is wearing one of the masks with a clear panel so that we can see more of his face. And then there are the sparkly stars - in my opinion, Jesus should always be surrounded by sparkles!
Now it's your turn. What does Jesus mean to you? How would you draw your picture of Jesus?
As I mentioned, this Sunday is Reign of Christ, and we are going to be reading both Revelation 1:4b-8 and John 18:33-37. These two readings, taken together, give us two very different images of what it means to call Jesus our king. Our services will be at 9:15 at Summerville and at 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live (https://www.facebook.com/tworiverspastoralcharge). Everyone is welcome!
In terms of other announcements this week:
The Westfield UCW has decided to go ahead with their Christmas bake sale / yard sale with Covid protocols in place (masks and proof of vaccination required, along with one-way flow of traffic and monitoring to make sure that we don't have too many people in the building at a time). This will be held on Saturday November 27 from 9-12. Yard Sale donations can be dropped off at the church any time between now and then.
Cindy Patstone has Advent Candles available for sale for $10 each. Click here to see the poster for more details! (I also have a box in my car until December 1 for anyone on the Peninsula who wants to get one.)
All three churches are now collecting for our Christmas Families - gift cards or monetary donations are requested again this year. Please talk to Judy Sheaves (Westfield), Anne Titus (Long Reach) or Bette Ashley (Bayswater-Summerville) for more information.
Our Christmas letter has now been printed and is available at the back of all three churches. Any that are still there after this Sunday will be mailed - please pick up your letter, as well as any that you are able to deliver for us, to help us save on postage!
This week and next, our White Gifts are going towards Avenue B Harm Reduction in Saint John. As a reminder, their wishlist includes: Gift cards to Giant Tiger or Time Hortons; Ensure or other single serving non-perishable food items (e.g. granola bars, apple sauce, pop tarts, teabags); toiletries; seasonally appropriate clothing; plastic bags and empty jugs (e.g. laundry detergent jugs, kitty litter jugs).
Our next Church in the World book discussion is coming up in a week and a half - Sunday November 28 at 7pm at Long Reach. Our book this time around is a fairly fast read (The Outside Circle by Patty LaBoucane-Benson) so you still have time to read it if you haven't already. Copies are circulating in each of our congregations.
Youth Connection is meeting this Sunday at 7pm at Westfield. All youth in Middle School or High School are welcome to join us!
And finally, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who volunteered to make this year's drive-through Remembrance Day turkey dinner such a success. I know that many of us would prefer to be able to gather around long tables in the basement the way we could before Covid, but since we can't do that safely at this time, a drive-through dinner is the next best option. I've heard lots of buzz about how good the meal was, how efficient the pick-up system was, and how polite our Youth Connection members were as they carried meals out to vehicles. So thank you to everyone!
My closing thought for today comes from one of the hymns we are going to be singing on Sunday for the Reign of Christ:
"Clothed in light upon the mountain,
stripped of might upon the cross,
shining in eternal glory,
beggared by a soldier's toss.
You the everlasting instant;
you who are both gift and cost."
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."