May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Today is my first day back, after a week of study leave that, admittedly, was interrupted by Covid as we needed to make decisions on Friday when the Saint John Zone was bumped from yellow to orange. Thank you to our Session and other leaders in the pastoral charge for being willing and able to make those decisions with very little lead time.
In the rest of my study leave, I was able to take part in a half-day online conference ("Christ, Christmas, and Covid"), and I read two books ("Because Internet" by Gretchen McCulloch and "Seven Fallen Feathers" by Tanya Talaga). And, despite needing to pivot back to online gatherings only, I'm now feeling energized and ready to dive into Advent!
This week's mid-week message will be mostly updates about what is going on in the next couple of weeks, especially with Covid situation having the potential to change with little notice. I wish that I had a crystal ball to know what the future weeks will hold, but instead we will have to make decisions about our Advent and Christmas services on a week-by-week basis. We will be sticking to the schedule on the back of the Christmas Letter for the most part, but the locations (online vs. in-person) may change.
Advent Services - this Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent, and so we are beginning the season of Advent online. Services will be streamed from Westfield on the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge page at 11:15 am (with the livestream beginning 5-ish minutes before that, to give you a chance to find the livestream, get settled in, and visit with each other in the comments section). We will be lighting our first Advent Candle this week - if you have an advent wreath at home (or some way of arranging 5 candles - one for each Advent Sunday, and one in the center as the Christ Candle), I do invite you to light your own advent wreath along with us in the service.
December 6 (National Day of Action and Remembrance on Violence Against Women) - I spoke to Ida this morning, and we have decided to have this service as a livestreamed only service at 7pm. This will be streamed on the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge page, from my home rather than from Long Reach United where the service is usually held.
White Gift Sundays - even though this most recent Covid outbreak has affected our ability to gather together at this time, the organizations that we support through our White Gifts continue to be in need of what we are able to offer. Up until Sunday, we are collecting gifts for Hestia House (as a reminder, they are asking for gift cards to stores like Wal-Mart, Sobeys, Superstore, Giant Tiger, McDonalds, or Tim Hortons - don't forget to tape your activation slip to the gift card). Because we aren't gathering in our church buildings at this time, there are two different ways you can get your White Gifts to where they are needed - if you are in Grand Bay, you can drop them off at the Home Hardware with Margaret Stackhouse's name on them; or you can contact someone from the Church in the World committee (Lois S., Ida M., Anne T.) and they will arrange to have them picked up.
Mission and Service Telathon - a reminder that this is coming up on Sunday afternoon (details were circulated by e-mail earlier this week). Volunteers will be making calls between 12:30 and 2:30, looking for pledges. If you don't want to sit around waiting for a phone call, you are welcome to call or text either Ross S. or me during that time, and we will help you make your pledge!
Advent Photo-a-Day Challenge - We have done these photo challenges in the past, and the words for this Advent were released in the past week. Beginning on Monday, there will be a word shared each morning, and you are invited to take a picture (or find a picture) that best captures that word for you. If you aren't a picture person, you are also invited to share a thought, a poem, a bible verse, or anything else that this word says to you. This will be taking place in the Westfield United Church Facebook Group - if you aren't a member of that group yet, submit a request to join, and one of us will admit you to the group. (It isn't limited to Westfield United Church people!) If you want to get a sneak peak at the words for this Advent, you can find them by clicking here.
Office Hours - aka Where is Rev. Kate Working From These Days? My home base has switched from the Westfield United Church office to my home office for as long as we are in the orange zone. I will be keeping my regularly scheduled office hours though, which are Tuesday 9:30-12 at Summerville; Tuesday 1-3:30 at Westfield; and Thursday 9:30-12 at Long Reach. (This e-mail is being written from Long Reach.) I am always available outside of these hours though - just call, text, or e-mail me!
And I think that's it for today. As we prepare to enter the season of Advent, know that I am holding you all in prayer - prayers for your health and safety, prayers that your hope will be sustained, prayers that your heart will be filled with peace, and prayers that we will be able to see each other again soon.
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."