May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
It was such a joy-filled morning on Sunday when we were able to gather by the river for our annual church picnic and potluck! Thank you to the Sherwoods for hosting us. Thank you to everyone who helped with worship. Thank you to everyone who contributed delicious dishes to the potluck. (And thank you to the weather for the warm wind this year, and no rain!)
I've been thinking about death recently. This is probably not surprising, given that since June I have had 10 funerals (with 12 people being celebrated - one of the funerals was a triple interment), and a handful more already planned for this fall. There is an element of sadness in all funerals - more acutely if the person has died too young or too suddenly, but even when someone has lived a good long life, there is an element of grief. But much our grief is for ourselves rather than the person who has died. We know that the person who has died is no longer suffering; and as followers of Jesus we also trust that the person who died is now fully embraced by the love that is God.
As our United Church of Canada New Creed states,
"In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God!"
Earlier this week, I shared a YouTube video called "How to Die" on my personal Facebook page - a video by David Deane, one of my professors at the Atlantic School of Theology (and if his name sounds familiar, he is often called upon by media organizations in the Maritimes when they are looking for a Christian / Roman Catholic / Theological response to a news issue). In this video, he outlines a Christian understanding of dying. The video is about 30 minutes long, but very worth watching. You can watch this video by clicking here. I found it to be a very powerful video - one that re-frames death and dying away from fear and towards hope and love.
(And a quick note - he is a Roman Catholic theologian, and when you watch it, you may notice that, at several points, he references a "catholic" understanding of dying. I have verified with him - when he says "catholic" he means lower-case-c "catholic" meaning universal Christian rather than Roman Catholic. This video represents a common Christian understanding of dying held across traditions, rather than the teaching of a specific denomination.)
I have a couple of announcements to pass along this week:
A reminder to our Session and Official Board members that we have our September meeting this evening at Long Reach - 6:30 for Session and 7:30 for the Official Board. (Westfield Session Members - carpooling will leave Brundage Point at 6:00.)
Westfield Stewards - we have a meeting next Thursday (Sept. 23) at 7pm in the parlour.
UCW - there is a meeting next Wednesday (Sept. 22) - Linda will communicate the time and location before then!
The title for our next Church in the World book study has been chosen! We will be reading The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson. This is another graphic novel, one that explores Indigenous history in Canada from before Europeans arrived until today. Watch for copies to appear in our churches in the next week or two, and we will set a date for discussion later this fall.
This Saturday (Sept. 18) is the St. Mary's powwow - if you would like to carpool, we will be leaving the Westfield parking lot at 11am.
Long Reach people - I won't be at the church tomorrow for my office hours. I have an opportunity to go to Elsipogtog First Nation to go on the Mi'kmaq Heritage Path Tour, but need to leave Westfield mid-morning. Office hours as usual will resume next week!
And finally, worship on Sunday will be at 9:15 at Long Reach (decision about inside vs. outside will be made closer to Sunday) and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. This week, the Westfield choir will be back in worship, leading our music.
As I have been writing this e-mail, there has been a provincial news conference around changes to the Covid policies (and I've delayed hitting "send" waiting for the announcement). At the Official Board meeting this evening, we will be discussing the implications for us as the church, and how we will be moving forward based on the information available as of today. I promise that any decisions will be communicated to you in a timely manner.
And I think that is it for announcements today.
Autumn is definitely in the air this week with cooler temperatures and leave that are starting to change. There is a quote that I see floating around social media every year at this time - "The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go." And so I leave you with this thought - is there anything in your life that you need to let go? Is there anything in your life that is holding you back from growth into who you are called to be? Is there anything in your life that is holding you back from fully loving God and loving your neighbour? Maybe it is time to look to the trees, and their lesson on letting go.
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."