May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
(And apologies for sending this out a day later than usual. The week after the picnic always tends to be a busy one with meetings and gatherings starting up again after the summer break.)
Like many of you, part of my brain is preoccupied with Hurricane Lee as it is quickly approaching our part of the world. And like many of you, I’m participating in the annual Maritime tradition of “There’s a hurricane headed our way – time to put away summer and batten down the hatches!”
There’s something about a hurricane that makes us aware of how powerless we are in some situations. There is nothing that we can do to change the path of the hurricane; and we can’t even predict exactly what that path will be. The weather this weekend will simply unfold, and what will be will be.
In some ways, it's a bit like our relationship with God. We can't control God; we can't put God in a box. (Just as Aslan in the Narnia books isn't a tame lion, God isn't a "tame god.") All we can do is accept that God is God and we are not, and then revere or be in awe of God (or, as some translations of the bible phrase it, "fear" God).
I think that it’s a human tendency to want to be able to control things, but an event like a hurricane (or a global pandemic, or the death of a loved one, or…) reminds us that we aren’t really in control of the world.
But what we can control is how we respond to the things that unfold around us. As the hurricane approaches, I decide whether I let anxiety take over my mental state, or whether I let peace fill my heart and mind. I decide whether I ignore the warnings, or whether I prepare my outside space so that things don’t get blown away and prepare the inside of my house for a prolonged power outage. And when the hurricane arrives, I will have a whole new set of decisions – to listen to our emergency officials or not; to check in with my more vulnerable neighbours or not; to lend a hand or not.
Even though I am powerless to change the course of the storm, I do have some control over how I respond. (And I like to believe that God is working in me, through the Holy Spirit, helping me to choose to do the things that bring peace and love and joy and hope.)
If the storm does arrive as forecasted this weekend, know that I am holding all of you in prayer, that peace overwhelms any of your anxieties, that you all stay safe, and that we can all make decisions that reflect God’s presence to the world.
In terms of practical considerations – I’ve talked with a couple of Session members about worship on Sunday, and we’re going to wait until Sunday morning to make any decisions. Safety will be our biggest consideration – are the roads safe, what are emergency officials telling us about staying home, and in the case of Long Reach, is the ferry running. We’ll communicate any decisions on Sunday morning via e-mail and on Facebook. (And as long as the cell towers are still working, there will be a livestreamed service at 11:15 one way or another – it will just have to be from my home if I can’t get out to Westfield!)
(Also – Long Reachers – this morning Catherine noticed that there are some lawn chairs up in the garden by the upper parking lot. I’m not sure who they belong to, but if they are yours, you will probably want to come and grab them before the weekend, otherwise they may blow into the river and drift out to sea!)
This has been a busy week, as I mentioned earlier, with many groups and activities starting up around the church. For announcements this week:
Worship on Sunday (weather permitting) will be at 9:15 at Long Reach and at 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. If we are in-person, this will also be the first week for Sunday School at both churches. After the summer series looking at the stories of women in the bible, we are now back to the lectionary (the 3-year cycle of readings that we follow), and this week we will hear Jesus teaching us about forgiveness – Matthew 18:21-35.
This Sunday evening is also going to be our Dungeons and Dragons information night with Ken giving us an overview of what the game is about and how it is played. We will be meeting in the parlour at Westfield United at 7pm – bring your questions and curiosities! This is planned as an inter-generational game, and anyone Middle School age and older is invited to come. You can click here to see the poster.
Thank you to the Sherwood and Patstone families for hosting the picnic last Sunday. After some location flip-flopping, we had a beautiful gathering of our church on the beach beside the river and the sun shone down on us. (And apparently there were a few things left behind - a lawn chair and some dishes. They are in the kitchen at Westfield United for you to claim if they are yours!)
Blessing of the Animals - we are going to be holding this annual service on Saturday September 30 at 10am in the prayer garden at Westfield United Church. All pets are welcome to attend - please have them on a leash or in a crate for the safety of all. I love this annual opportunity to meet all of your pets, and I always look forward to discovering what pets join us - cats and dogs are usually a given, but we have also had horses and chickens attend in the past! (And if your pet isn't able to or wouldn't enjoy attending, you are welcome to bring something belonging to your pet - e.g. a favourite toy or leash - for a remote blessing.)
We have a couple of meetings coming up next week: Westfield Board of Stewards – Tuesday September 19, 7pm, Westfield parlour Session – Wednesday September 20, 6:30pm, Long Reach Official Board – Wednesday September 20, 7:30pm, Long Reach
Our Church in the World committee met last night to make plans for how their work is going to unfold over the next year. A huge thank you to Bette Ashley and Anne Titus for stepping up and offering to be co-chairs of this committee – we truly miss Ida’s presence, but the work of the church continues as we love and serve the world. The first thing coming up is probably going to be an opportunity to make sandwiches for Romero House – Bette is confirming the date, and then we’ll let you know what type of sandwiches each church is asked to make.
Westfield United folks - it's that time of year again, and we are looking for someone to volunteer to organize the Remembrance Day Turkey Dinner (which didn't happen last year as we didn't have anyone to organize it). We have lots of volunteers willing to help - we just need someone willing to take the lead. If you might be willing to give it a try (or if you have questions about what this might involve), you can contact Judy and Dave Sheaves at 506-647-1849.
And I think that’s it for announcements this week. For a closing thought, I want to share a blessing I encountered this week on Facebook by priest, poet, and artist Jan Richardson. She claims that it is an Advent blessing, but I think that it is appropriate for any season (of the year, or of life). 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."