May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Blessed Advent to you all! And Happy New Year while we're at it! (If you were able to attend worship in-person or virtually on November 20, you might remember that Advent marks the beginning of a new church year.)
Even though most commercially-produced Advent Calendars won't begin until tomorrow, Advent began on Sunday and the countdown is on. It was great to have two such high-energy worship services on Sunday with Tatum beginning Christmas Pageant rehearsals at both Long Reach and Westfield, planning to offer the pageants on Sunday December 11 during the Story for All Ages. And it was so good to see some faces that I haven't seen in a while! When you aren't in worship, even if it's just for a couple of weeks, we miss you! Your presence adds to the worship experience of everyone.
We also began our Advent series exploring Jesus's family tree. I need to thank our scripture readers at both churches last week, Gwen and Daniel, for reading what Daniel called "a really weird story." As we visit the stories of these ancestors of Jesus, we are going to be reading some "really weird stories" - ones that we don't read frequently in worship.
This week, our "guest" will be Rahab - the bible doesn't tell us very much about her life - you can read her story in Joshua 2:1-16. She lived in Jericho, in the "promised land" at the time when the Ancient Israelite people crossed over the Jordan River to claim the land as theirs.
Worship will be at 9:15 at Summerville and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live!
(Westfield Families - if there are any children out there who would like to be part of the Christmas Pageant but who weren't able to be there last Sunday, Tatum tells me that it isn't too late - if they are in worship this Sunday, she will include them in the pageant!)
In terms of announcements this week, we still have a lot going on - it is Advent after all!
You may have already seen them, but our Ida's Cupboards are now installed at both Long Reach and at Summerville! (At the bottom of the main driveway at Long Reach, and beside the church sign at Summerville.) After the service on Sunday at Summerville, we will be going outside to bless the cupboard. If you want to leave donations in Ida's Cupboard at any of our three churches, please remember that we are looking for non-perishable food items (ie things that won't go bad), and now that we are moving into winter, please don't leave anything that might freeze (eg canned food). Good things to leave in the cupboard include: pasta, rice, dry soup mixes, milk powder, cereal, oatmeal, pancake mix (the kind that only needs water), KD, nuts, peanut butter etc. These all work on the principle of "take what you need; leave what you can. Please spread the word to anyone you might know who is in need - once we have the signs in place, I'm going to take some pictures and share them on the Kingston Peninsula Facebook groups (the same that I did in Grand Bay-Westfield), so that word can get out in the wider community. (And for anyone who has contributed to the Westfield cupboard - since it went up, I have been contacted by numerous people in the wider community saying thank you.)
White Gift Sundays - this Sunday will be our second week collecting for Avenue B Harm Reduction. Their wish list includes Warm winter clothing (hats, mitts, socks, gloves, coats), Ensure, single-serving non-perishable food items, and empty large plastic jugs.
Christmas Families - a reminder that we are currently collecting at all three churches. Bayswater-Summerville - this is the last Sunday to bring gift cards (or cash that can be converted to gift cards). Long Reach - you have until net Sunday, December 11. Westfield - gift cards for any store that sells groceries can be put in the offering plate and they will be passed on to Judy Sheaves. (And a note for anyone giving gift cards for Christmas families or for our White Gift donations - it is helpful to the recipient if the gift card indicates how much money it is for - if it isn't already marked on the card, you can write it on using a Sharpie.)
The Cool Chicks and Ugly Doclings are doing a concert at Westfield United Church this Saturday, December 3, at 7pm hosted by the UCW. Admission is by free-will offering, with proceeds going towards UCW projects as they support the congregation and wider community.
Our monthly Broadview Magazine Discussion will be on Monday December 5 at 10am in the Westfield United Church parlour - we will be discussing the December issue - even if you don't subscribe, you can read many of the articles this month by clicking here. Everyone is welcome!
Broadview Magazine Renewals - there was an announcement last Sunday about new subscriptions and renewals - Joanne Yorke got back to me and confirmed that our renewal period has shifted from December to February (when they decreased the number of issues per year, that shifted the renewal period for all subscribers since they wanted to honour the number of issues we had subscribed for that year). And so please ignore that announcement from last Sunday, and Joanne will let us know when it is time to renew our subscriptions after Christmas!
Westfield After-Church Socials - a reminder from Chris that this Sunday, anyone with a surname beginning with M-P (inclusive) is invited to bring some sweets or sandwiches to share. It was so good to be able to gather in St. Giles hall last Sunday for a social time after the service! (Chris told me that people were so excited to be able to gather for the first time since 2019 that we ran out of coffee! Apologies to anyone who had to go without, and he will be sure to make more this week.) And for those of you who, like me, are still a bit more cautious - you are welcome to come downstairs for the social time, even if you keep your mask on (that's what I did last Sunday, and skipped the tea and sandwiches).
Covid Precautions - it has been a couple of months since I last included a reminder of our Covid precautions, so it is probably good to include a reminder this week. We are still strongly encouraging mask wearing during worship, as we want to keep each other safe and not exclude anyone from attending worship because they are more medically vulnerable. (And if you forget to bring a mask with you, we have them available at the back of all three churches.) And we also continue to have designated Physical Distancing pews in all three churches for anyone who prefers to have a bit more space around them. (Westfield folks - the pool noodles in our physical distancing pews are to separate two families in the pew to maintain this space - if you are in one of those pews, please make sure that the noodle stays on the pew with you.)
Like I said, lots of announcements this week!
As a closing thought, I want to share a Facebook Page with you this week - the Wandering Wisemen. For several years now, the creator has taken their Playmobile figurines of the three wisemen (and their faithful camel) and set up daily photos of them through the seasons of Advent and Christmas as they journey towards Epiphany (January 6) - the day when the church celebrates the arrival of the wisemen in Bethlehem. Some days, the pictures are whimsical, some days they are silly, but every day I look forward to the post in my FB feed (they appear at 6am Atlantic Time, so I don't have to wait for it!). You can find the page by clicking here (and then click the "like" button if you want their posts to show up in your FB feed). (You should be able to see all of their posts even if you don't have a Facebook account, though you won't be able to follow them.)
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."