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 all had a good Thanksgiving weekend, even with the restrictions that the province was placed under for the long weekend, and that you found lots of things to be thankful for.
On my gratitude list right now, I am thankful for:
- my cats
- a long phone call with one of my sisters the other night
- good books to read
- music and musicians
- the spectacular colours this time of year
- our New Brunswick farmers
- all of the love floating around in the world, even in these stressful times
What is on your list?
Author Diana Butler Bass wrote a fabulous book named Grateful, and she ends it with a Thanksgiving Prayer that she wrote in November 2016. I want to share it with you here:
"God, there are days we do not feel grateful. When we are anxious or angry. When we are alone. When we do not understand what is happening in the world, or with our neighbours.
We struggle to feel grateful.
But this Thanksgiving, we choose gratitude. We choose to accept life as a gift from you, from the unfolding work of all creation. We choose to be grateful for the earth from which our food comes; for the water that gives life; and for the air we all breathe.
We make the choice to see our ancestors, those who came before us, and their stories, as a continuing gift of wisdom for us today. We choose to see our families and friends with new eyes, appreciating them for who they are, and be thankful for our homes whether humble or grand. We will be grateful for our neighbours, no matter how they voted or how much we feel hurt by them. We choose to see the whole planet as our shared commons, the public stage of the future of humankind and creation.
God, this Thanksgiving, we do not give thanks. We choose it.
And we will make thanks, with strong hands and courageous hearts. When we see your sacred generosity, we become aware that we live in an infinite circle of gratitude. That we all are guests at a hospitable table around which gifts are passed and received. We will not let anything opposed to love take over this table. Instead, we choose to see grace, free and unmerited love, the giftedness of life everywhere, as the tender web of all creation. In this choosing, and in the making, we will pass gratitude onto the world.
Thus, with you, and with all those gathered here, we pledge to make thanks. And we ask you to strengthen us i this resolve. Here, now, and into the future. Around this table. Around the table of our nation. Around the table of the earth.
This is also a good reminder that we are participating in a gratitude challenge this week, in support of Romero House. Baskets will be available at the backs of each of our churches for the next two Sundays, or you can drop your donations off at the church any time between the 17th and 24th. If you need another copy of the challenge, you can download it by clicking here.
I have a couple of other announcements to pass along to you this week:
I will be on Study Leave from October 18-24. I have a couple of books lined up that I'm hoping to read: Walking Backwards to Christmas (Stephen Cottrell), Following: Embodied Discipleship in a Digital Age (Jason Byassee and Andrea Irwin), and Kate Bowler's newest book that just came out, No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear). I will also be participating in a symposium on Friday/Saturday that has been moved to Zoom, so I won't be traveling anywhere this time. Because of my Study Leave, there won't be a mid-week message next week, and bible study next week is cancelled (to resume on October 27).
I have a couple of meeting dates to remind you of: Westfield Board of Stewards (Monday October 25 at 7pm in the parlour); Westfield UCW (Wednesday October 27, 2:30pm in the parlour); Two Rivers Pastoral Charge Session (Wednesday October 27, 7:30pm, at Westfield in the parlour).
Bayswater-Summerville folks - this year, it is our turn to host the Branch 62 Legion service which will be on Sunday November 7 at 9:15am. There will be some Legion members in attendance, including a colour party. I have spoken to Kelly Newstead about the Covid logistics - they will be following the same rules as the rest of us (proof of vaccination and masks required by everyone), and she will know the numbers ahead of time so that we can set aside seating for them.
Copies of our next Church in the World book study book (The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson) are now circulating in all three congregations. Feel free to borrow a copy, read it, and bring it back for someone else to borrow.
Have you realized yet that Hallowe'en falls on a Sunday this year? On Sunday October 31, you are welcome to attend worship at either church (Long Reach at 9:15 and Westfield at 11:15) wearing your favourite Hallowe'en costume, in exchange for a donation of your choosing to Mission & Service. (We will have a basket or offering plate at the back for your Hallowe'en donations - if your name is on the envelope, we can make sure that it gets credited to you.) I'm going to have to figure out a costume other than "Minister" that will work with the headset microphone...
And finally, our Church in the World Committee has been busy getting our White Gift Sundays organized. This year, we will be supporting the same three organizations (Hestia House, Avenue B, and Coverdale) between November 7 and December 12. Details about each organization's wish lists will be available soon in the bulletin and by e-mail.
This Sunday, our services will be at Long Reach (9:15) and at Westfield (11:15) with livestreaming of the Westfield service to Facebook. We will be reading Mark 10:35-45, and talking about what it means to be "great."
My closing thought this week is this: "Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
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."