May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
In these mid-week messages, I usually try to begin with a reflection on something that is going on - in the world, in our community, or in my day-to-day life. The biggest news story this week is definitely the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, but honestly I've been struggling with what to say.
The thing that I can say easily is that we are watching a family (a family that admittedly has some dysfunction, but aren't all families dysfunctional in one way or another?) grieving the loss of their mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She lived 96 years and was active right up until her final days, but even still, our hearts feel pain for her loved ones who are mourning her loss, for all of us have experienced that same sort of loss at one time or another.
Queen Elizabeth also had a very strong faith. There is a quote from her that I've seen circulating on Facebook in recent days: "To many of us, our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ's words and example." (Christmas Message, December 2000) And so we say of her as we say at the death of any of God's servants, may she rest in peace and rise in glory.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy - the British monarch is our head of government, and so as a country we grieve the loss of the only head of state that many of us have ever known.
And yet at the same time, as a former British colony, it is also important for us to acknowledge the role that the British monarchy played in colonization here in Canada and in other places around the world. The treaties (that have been broken again and again and again) were signed between Indigenous nations and "The Crown." Land that was taken as a result of these treaties is still known today as "Crown Land." Outside of her person as Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, the position of the British monarch is one that holds heavy symbolism and meaning around the globe. For anyone who has suffered because of colonization, "The Crown" is an institution with much to account for (in Canada, in the Caribbean, in Africa, in Australia...).
It is important to acknowledge that, due to different family backgrounds and personal experiences, not everyone has the same feelings on the death of Queen Elizabeth.
But for those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ, we know that we follow a different ultimate monarch. The last Sunday of the church year, the Sunday before the beginning of Advent, marks Reign of Christ Sunday or Christ the King Sunday. Queen Elizabeth II or King Charles III might reign over the (former) British Empire, but Christ reigns over everyone, even the British monarch. Our ultimate allegiance is to God rather than to the monarch or any other earthly ruler. And the reign of Christ, unlike the reign of any human king or queen, is one that will never end.
And unlike any human monarch, Christ reigns not through oppression or by inspiring fear or through military power; but instead Christ the King chooses to embrace the power of vulnerability, as he is enthroned on a cross wearing a crown of thorns. Christ is the king who subverts and undermines all of the systems and structures of power that we humans tend to create, bringing them crashing down, so that the least really shall be first.
There is lots more I could say, but I will stop here!
And since it is September, I have a bunch of announcements of things that are going on around our churches!
Worship on Sunday - 9:15 at Long Reach and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. We are done our summer series exploring our favourite hymns and are back to the Revised Common Lectionary (a 3-year cycle of readings that churches across denominations use). This week we have a very challenging parable to wrestle with - the shrewd/dishonest manager (Luke 16:1-13). It is a puzzling story when you dig into it - is Jesus really praising dishonesty? But the truth at the end is that you can't be the servant of both God and wealth. All of us have to choose where our bottom-line allegiance lies.
Sunday School - we are resuming Sunday School this week at both Long Reach and Westfield. Ken has found an exciting new curriculum that he thinks will both engage the children and be easy for the teachers to teach from. The curriculum also follows the Revised Common Lectionary, so most weeks the Sunday School stories will match the stories that we are reading in grown-up church. Sunday School will continue every week at Westfield, and every 2nd week at Long Reach (ie whenever the service is at Long Reach).
Session and Official Board - one more reminder of our meetings next Wednesday, September 21, at Long Reach. Session will meet at 6:30 followed by the Official Board at 7:30. Ross will be requesting OB reports soon, so if you are one of the people responsible for a report, you might want to be thinking about it now!
Thank you - to the Sherwoods and Patstones for hosting a fabulous picnic last Sunday. It almost felt like a pre-Covid gathering of our church family. Kids and dogs running everywhere, a baptism in the river, communion together, and a potluck lunch on the beach afterwards. What a joy-filled gathering it was!
Bible Study - our Wednesday morning bible study resumed today after a summer break. It was good to be together again, sharing from the heart. (I'm always amazed at the direction our conversation can go, flowing out of the bible stories we are reading.) We meet each week at 10am in the parlour at Westfield United. We are meandering our way through the Old Testament - this week we read about Moses's birth. Everyone is welcome to join at any time and no previous bible study experience is necessary. We are all learners together.
And finally, looking ahead, our next Broadview Magazine discussion will be on Monday October 3 at 10am, for the October/November issue. I haven't received my copy in my mailbox yet, but I see that you can start reading some of the article online by clicking here.
And that's it for announcements this week!
For a closing thought this week, let me share something that makes me smile each time I watch it. Since the pandemic began, I've been watching more YouTube than I did before, mostly as a distraction. One of the genres I've discovered on YouTube is "classical music mashups" and you can click here to hear my favourite example. Even if you can't read music, it is worthwhile watching for the notation written above and within the music; and if you can read music, don't panic at the impossible-to-play intervals since the music itself is being played by a computer! I hope that this gives you a smile or a chuckle today.
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."