May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
I hope that you are all adjusted to the time change. I know that I appreciated the extra hour in my schedule on Sunday morning! (And I'm glad that my cats aren't super-demanding about being fed at exactly the right time.)
I am a morning person, so I appreciate the extra light in the morning as I'm getting up and getting ready to leave the house; and I don't mind the darker evenings - to me they feel cozy. We are now 6 weeks away from the winter solstice - over the next 6 weeks, the days will gradually grow shorter as the nights get longer.
I've been preparing for Advent and Christmas this week, and I love how, here in the northern hemisphere, Christmas is so close to the winter solstice. We celebrate the birth of the Light of the World just at the moment when the light begins to return to the world.
This fall, we have been exploring hope in our Sunday services, and to me, hope means trusting that once we reach the solstice, the world will turn and the light will return. Hope means trusting (to paraphrase author Frederick Buechner) that the worst time is never the last time - trusting that something better is coming. Hope means trusting that Good Friday is always followed by Easter.
This Sunday will be our last Sunday in this season of exploring hope - we'll be reading a vision of what the better future might be like (Isaiah 65:17-25) and talking about what it might be like to live our lives as though we trust that something better is coming. Worship will be at 9:15 at Long Reach and at 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. (Then next week, Nov. 20, will be Reign of Christ Sunday, the last Sunday of the church year; and then Advent begins the following week!)
I have a couple of announcements to pass along this week:
White Gift Sundays begin this week. The full schedule was in the bulletin last Sunday (and will be there again this week). If you want to see the full schedule, you can download it by clicking here. This Sunday (and next), we will be collecting donations for Hestia House - their wishlist is: Pajamas for little girls, anything Barbie or Peppa Pig related, art and craft supplies, and Tim Hortons Gift cards.
Confirmation Classes begin tomorrow! We will be gathering on Thursdays from 4:30-6 at Westfield United Church. You are invited to attend if: You have never been confirmed (teens and adults); or You are coming from another faith tradition and would like to learn more about the United Church of Canada; or You were confirmed in the past, but you would like a chance to explore questions of faith from where you are at now.
Christmas Letters are going to be available this weekend, and will be at the back of the church at Long Reach and Westfield (Bayswater-Summerville folks - they will be there the following Sunday). Please help us to save on postage by picking up your letter and any letters for your neighbours that you can deliver to them - any uncollected letters will be mailed after November 20. (As always, it includes the Advent and Christmas schedule so we like to get them out early!)
Youth Connection will be meeting on Sunday at 7pm at Westfield United Church - all Middle- and High-School age youth are welcome to attend!
Funeral Planning Party (I did say on Sunday that I was going to have to change the name from "workshop" to "party" since there are going to be door prizes, tea and coffee, and goodies courtesy of the UCW) - Sunday November 20, 7-9pm, Westfield United Church. This is going to be an opportunity to put down in writing all of those things that you have always thought, "I'd like to have that song/reading etc. at my funeral" in a fun and relaxed setting. Bertis has offered to be present to help identify hymns as needed; and there will be a funeral director with us for the first part of the evening to talk about some of the logistical considerations when you are pre-planning or if someone you love dies.
Session and Official Board - a reminder of our meeting next Wednesday, November 16, (6:30 for Session; 7:30 for the OB) at Westfield United Church.
Remembrance Day Services - as in previous years, there will be Remembrance Day services in our communities on Friday morning - for those of you in Grand Bay-Westfield, it will be at the cenotaph (attendees are asked to be present by 10:15), and for those of you on the Peninsula it will be at the Legion in Moss Glen (everyone must be in place before 10:45, so you probably want to arrive no later than 10:30).
And that is it for announcements today! (Next week, I'll start including more about upcoming Advent events and activities.)
For a closing thought this week, instead of a "what I've been listening to," I've got a "what I've been reading." At Bible Study, we've been talking about nostalgia the past couple of weeks as we've read about the Ancient Israelite people in the desert wilderness, longing to return to Egypt where at least there was enough food to eat... they seem to have forgotten that they had been slaves when they lived there. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and it can be dangerous when it clouds our eyes and keeps us from seeing the past clearly. This article talks about nostalgia in the church - longing for the church to be the way that it was 60 years ago, or 30 years ago, or even 3 years ago before Covid; and it asks us to consider what might God be calling the church to do as we move forward (and I think that "through the wilderness" might still be an apt metaphor)? What does it mean to be the church of 2022 instead of the church of 2019 or the church of 1960? It is a longer article, but I found it very powerful - you can read it by clicking 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."