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 first Sunday in the season of Advent - like I mentioned last Sunday, the church year begins at the beginning of Advent, so I encourage you to wish everyone a Happy New Year this Sunday!
Advent is my favourite season in the church year. It is a season of longing, a season of preparation, a season of waiting, a season of hope. We long for what is coming, and we trust that the thing that we are longing for is actually coming, and so we hope and so we prepare.
This year, throughout the season of Advent, we are going to have a couple of threads weaving through our worship services.
As we light our Advent Candles, and as we hear the Advent stories, we will be looking to catch glimpses of light. The season of Advent (in the Northern Hemisphere) falls in the time of year with the shortest days and longest nights, as well as a time of year in this part of the world when we tend to have a lot of overcast days. And in this gloomy season, Advent holds for us the promise of the light that is coming - "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overcome it." (John 1:5) I invite you, in our Advent worship services, to look for glimpses of light in the prayers, in the songs, and in the readings.
Our sermons throughout Advent will be telling the story from the perspective of different people who were waiting for Jesus. This Sunday, we will be looking at the story from the perspective of Anna, a prophet, who was in the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:22-40). Worship will be at Long Reach at 9:15 and at Westfield at 11:15 with livestreaming of the Westfield service at https://www.facebook.com/tworiverspastoralcharge
In other exciting news - the Westfield Choir is going to be back for the Advent and Christmas seasons, beginning this Sunday! Provincial rules mean that they will have to wear their masks when singing, but I know and you know that they are going to sound fabulous, despite the masks!
A couple of other announcements for things coming up this week:
This Sunday will be our book discussion of The Outside Circle by Patti Laboucane-Benson at 7pm at Long Reach in the River Room. I have seen a couple of copies of the book floating around our churches, so if you haven't read it and would like to, let me know and I'll figure out where you can get a copy. (It is a fast read, so you still have time!)
The UCW Craft and Bake sale is happening this Saturday from 9-12 at Westfield United Church - masks and proof of vaccination are required, and the set-up will be different than it was pre-Covid to allow for more spacing and one-way movement.
Christmas Families - The deadlines are approaching at all three of our churches! If you would like to donate to our Christmas families (money or gift cards), please have your donations to the church by Dec. 1 (Westfield), Dec. 5 (Bayswater-Summerville), or Dec. 12 (Long Reach)!
Bible Study next week is cancelled (I will be at the Snow Centre in Hampton leading worship) - on the three remaining Wednesdays in before Christmas, we will be looking at the different Christmas stories in the bible (mostly Matthew's and Luke's gospels). 10am in the Westfield parlour - everyone is welcome!
This Sunday will be our last week to collect White Gifts for Avenue B - 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). After that, our last two White Gift Sundays will be in support of Coverdale.
Cindy Patstone is selling Advent Candles as a church fundraiser up until the end of the month for $10 each. You can see the poster by clicking here, and you can purchase a candle by seeing either Cindy or me. (I'm carrying a box of them around in my car so that those of you on the peninsula can get one if you want.)
Tatum is organizing a Live Nativity again this year, and she is looking for volunteers and/or animals to be a part of this! It will be held on December 23 from 4-7 in the Westfield parking lot - please get in touch with Tatum if you or your animals are interested in being a part of this. Last year it was great fun, and brought many members of the wider community to our church.
And I think that those are my announcements for today.
As a closing thought this week, from one of the hymns we will be singing on Sunday:
When night is round us and every shadow grows,
a star is there to light our way.
It tells a story of Jesus who came near to say:
"God's light will every stay."
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."