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 everyone made it through Hurricane Fiona with minimal damage. I know that some families on the Peninsula were without power for a while, but I believe that it has been fully restored in our area. This corner of the world was relatively unscathed, and all of us are holding our neighbours in Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland in prayer as their clean-up is only beginning. And now we hold the people in Florida and Cuba and everywhere else on Hurricane Ian's path in prayer.
In the midst of a crisis like a hurricane, it is normal to ask, "Why didn't God stop this from happening?" I wish that I had a good answer to that question, but I don't. I do know that a lot of our human actions have made the effects of so-called "natural" disasters worse - climate change leads to shifting weather patterns; inequality on a global scale means that often homes and infrastructure in more vulnerable places aren't able to be built to withstand the forces. But I don't know why God doesn't reach into the atmosphere to stop a hurricane in its tracks. But the other thing that I know is that God is present even in the midst of suffering. God (who chose to become human in the person of Jesus) knows what it is to suffer - to suffer the loss of a friend when he wept at the death of Lazarus, to suffer the abandonment of a parent or a child separated from each other, to suffer the physical agony of crucifixion and death. And because God knows what it is to suffer, God is present with everyone who is suffering. And when we help and serve and love anyone who is suffering, we are loving and serving God (Matthew 25:31-45). (And a note that the Government of Canada has announced matching funds for donations made to Hurricane Fiona recovery. The Canadian Red Cross is a good place to begin if you would like to help.)
In terms of what is coming up this week, I have a lot to mention!
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation - Friday September 30. How are you going to mark this day?
Blessing of the Animals Service - Saturday October 1, 10am, Westfield United Church prayer garden (just off the parking lot). I forgot to announce this on Sunday - my apologies! All animals (and their humans) are welcome to join us for this annual service of blessing. I love meeting all of your dogs, a few brave cats, and we've even had chickens and horses attend! We do ask that all dogs be on a leash (or in a crate) to reduce the chaos of this event. If your pet doesn't travel well, or would be stressed out by attending, you are also welcome to bring a picture, a favourite toy, a food dish etc for blessing in absentia! To view the poster, you can click here.
Worship on Sunday - we have an extra-special worship service planned for this week. We are going to be celebrating our Affirming journey to date, and reminding ourselves that being Affirming is a journey rather than a destination. How are we being called to expand our welcome and circle of love? Our decorating elves have been busy, putting up all the rainbows in the sanctuary, we will have a special guest preacher (Ross Sherwood), and it is also Worldwide Communion Sunday so we will be celebrating communion and be reminded that EVERYONE is invited to the table. The services will be at 9:15 at Long Reach and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. If you are attending in-person, you are invited to wear all of your favourite rainbow-coloured colthing. If you are going to be joining us on FB Live, you are invited to have communion elements (bread or cracker and juice or water) at hand so that we can share the meal together.
Broadview Discussion - on Monday at 10am we will be gathering in the Westfield United Church Parlour to discuss the October / November issue of Broadview magazine. Everyone is welcome to join us - the conversations with this group are always fabulous. (If you aren't a subscriber, you can still read many of the articles by clicking here. And if you would like to subscribe, talk to Joanne Yorke at Westfield!)
I have a couple of more general announcements to pass along as well this week:
Westfield Remembrance Day Turkey Dinner - This is the time of year when Judy would normally be looking for volunteers to help peel potatoes, cook turkeys, and serve the meal; however after many years Judy and Dave have decided to retire for their role coordinating this dinner. They are looking for a volunteer or two who are willing to take this on. If no one comes forward to volunteer, the turkey dinner won't happen this year. I know that this is a much-beloved annual event (as well as being a good congregational fundraiser), and it would be a shame to see it go. For more information, please call Judy or Dave at 647-1849.
25th Anniversary of Two Rivers Pastoral Charge - Did you know that TRPC came into being on September 1, 1998, when Bayswater-Summerville, Long Reach, and Westfield United Churches joined forces? Which makes 2023 our 25th anniversary! This is something worth celebrating - the love that we share (within and between our churches) and the work that we are able to do on God's behalf in our communities and in the world is something special. The Official Board is hoping to form a small ad hoc committee (ie no commitment beyond 2023!) with one or two representatives from each congregation to plan and coordinate our anniversary celebrations next year. Some brainstorming began at last week's Official Board meeting; we just need the people to organize and make the ideas a reality! If you are interested in being a part of this group, please get in touch with me in the next couple of weeks.
Did you know that we have a website? And that our website has recently been updated to include more information about our children and youth programming including links to the weekly virtual Sunday School videos? The website is https://www.tworiverspastoralcharge.com/ with children and youth programming found at https://www.tworiverspastoralcharge.com/children-and-youth
And I think that's it for this week. Lots of announcement I know!
As a closing thought, I want to lift up an Indigenous voice this week. Maggie Paul is a Peskotomuhkati (Passamaquoddy) Elder who lives on St. Mary's Reserve near Fredericton. A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to hear her talk and sing, as she introduced Tomson Highway before he gave a Massey Lecture in Fredericton. You can click here for a video of her telling stories and singing - it is longer (30-ish minutes), but very worth making the time to listen to. Maybe this can be one of the things that you do on Friday to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation? The "truth" part of truth and reconciliation has to focus on listening to Indigenous voices.
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."