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 Orange Shirt Day, and as we talked about in our Story for All Ages on Sunday, this is a day when everyone in Canada is encouraged to wear an orange shirt as we remember everything that was lost by children who went to residential schools, as well as promising to do better as future generations by saying "Every Child Matters." (If you want to read more about Orange Shirt Day and the story behind the orange shirts, click here.) At our Wednesday morning bible study today, I was delighted to see many people showing up in their orange shirts! Last Sunday, we talked about changing our hearts and our lives to line up with God's ways, and this is one example of that - we need to acknowledge the harm that was done (in this case, by the residential school system, as we listen to and learn the stories of survivors), and then we need to turn away from that path, following a different path in to the future (in this case, by wearing our orange shirts as a sign of a different future). And as followers of Jesus, we know that we don't have to travel this path alone - we know that the Holy Spirit is with us, changing our hearts and our lives as we go.
It has been a very full week here at Two Rivers Pastoral Charge. Sunday was our first "hybrid" in-person / online worship service. Most United Churches across the country, as they have been gradually re-opening on Sunday morning, have reported a congregation of about 1/3 of the usual Sunday morning congregation, and that fits with our experience on Sunday. We know that there are still a lot of people not comfortable being in larger gatherings or with other health concerns that make them more vulnerable to the virus. And so we will be continuing to livestream our services for the forseeable future so that everyone has a chance to worship.
Even with the smaller-than-usual in-person congregation, it was a joyful gathering on Sunday at both Summerville and Westfield! It was a delight to worship with actual embodied humans in the pews, and knowing that even more were joining us on the other side of the camera lens.
This Sunday's services will be 9:15 at Long Reach and 11:15 and Westfield (with the Westfield service livestreamed). We've got another challenging parable coming up this Sunday - the story of some tenants who don't treat the owner's servants or son very well. (Matthew 21:33-46 if you want to read it through ahead of time.)
We have several other events and gatherings happening this week in addition to worship:
Online - our check-ins continue on the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge Facebook page at 1pm on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday.
Blessing of the Animals Service (our second annual!) - 10am on Saturday morning, outside at Westfield. All animals, human or otherwise, are welcome! We will be practicing physical distancing, and don't forget to dress for the weather as this will be a fully outdoors service.
Broadview Discussion Group - Broadview Magazine is the new name and re-branding of the United Church Observer. We will be gathering on the first Monday of each month to discuss that month's issue - our next gathering will be on Monday October 5 at 10am at Westfield United. If you don't subscribe, many of the articles can be accessed online; and if you would like to subscribe to Broadview, Joanne Yorke is going to be putting together our congregational subscription package in the next month or two.
Bible Study is continuing every Wednesday at 10am at Westfield United, and everyone is always welcome!
As a rule of thumb, if you are attending an in-person indoor gathering at the church, please wear your mask. Once we have fully gathered and can ensure that everyone is 2m apart, we are often able to take our masks off, then put them on again when we move around again to leave the building. And as is always good practice, if you have any cold or 'flu symptoms, please stay home!
And I think that is the end of my announcements for today. I hope that nobody has blown away in the wind today, and I look forward to seeing you (in person or online) soon!
Blessings to you and yours, today and always.