May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
There is a tree near where I live - one that I drive past most days - that I have been watching turn a brilliant red and orange over the past couple of weeks. Most of the trees haven't started changing yet, making the red especially vibrant against a green backdrop, but this one tree gives me a daily reminder that the seasons are turning.
This is the first week of school for many students and teachers. (Even for me - I'm auditing a course at AST this semester and the online platform opened up today, so this morning as I ate breakfast, I was reading through the syllabus and seeing how the course will unfold.)
When I think about the rhythm of the year here in the church, there seem to be three "new year" points. There is the new year that we recognize on January 1 when we change one calendar for the next one. There is the "liturgical" new year that begins on the first Sunday in Advent as we begin the annual cycle of the church year with a season of longing and waiting and hoping. And then there is the beginning of September with the new school year, which seems to mark a re-launching of different programs and groups around the church that have been taking sabbath time over the summer.
Yet we follow, worship, and serve a God who is always doing a new thing and making all things new (e.g. Isaiah 43:19, Isaiah 65:17, Revelation 21:5). At the heart of our story as followers of Jesus Christ is a story of resurrection - a story of renewed life and a new beginning.
Even though we only have occasional moments in the year dedicated to celebrating a new beginning, this new beginning that God promises is available to us at any time of the year. For God is always doing a new thing, and God is always about to do a new thing. Even when you feel like you are stuck in a Good Friday of grief and loss and sorrow and suffering, you can draw hope from knowing that Easter is just around the corner. No matter where you are in your life, you are always on the threshold of a new beginning.
And along the lines of new beginnings, here are some things that are coming up that you might want to mark on your calendar!
Church Picnic - Sunday September 10, 11am, Sherwood's Cottage (100 Admiral Lane). For those driving from Westfield, you'll probably want to be at Brundage Point by 10:30 to give yourself time to cross the river, drive there, park, and get settled in. To Bring: lawn chair, plate/cutlery, water bottle, and a potluck dish to share! (Note - we won't be having a service at any of our church buildings this week; and we won't be livestreaming this service as we will be outside.) Session and I will be watching the weather forecast and will get word out as soon as we know anything if we need to implement a rain plan (fingers crossed it won't be needed, but given our weather this summer, we do have a plan in place).
Holy Spirit Parish Fun-Run Water Station - Saturday September 9, 9:30am, Westfield United Church Parking Lot. I mentioned this last Sunday - our siblings in Christ at Holy Spirit Parish (St. Matthew's and St. Rose) are doing a fundraising run on Saturday morning, beginning at the old St. Augustine's site, looping through our parking lot, then returning back up the road (5km total). I have offered, on behalf of the church, to run a water station for the runners at the half-way point (ie our parking lot), and I'm hoping that a couple of you will join me. (We will likely be done before 10:30, depending on the speed of the runners.) Let me know if you would like to help out! Given how hot and humid it is this week, I suspect that some of the runners will appreciate a water station.
Broadview Magazine Discussion - Monday September 11, 10am, Westfield United Church parlour. We will be discussing the September issue - even if you aren't a subscriber, you can read many of the articles on their website by clicking here. And there is a church copy floating around at the back of Westfield United for anyone to borrow, read, and return. (And if anyone on the Peninsula wants to borrow it, let me know and I can get it to you!)
Bible Study - Wednesday September 13, 10am, Westfield United Church parlour (and every Wednesday following). Everyone is welcome; no bible study experience necessary; BYOB (Bring Your Own Bible) or borrow one from the church!
Church in the World Meeting - Wednesday September 13, 7pm, Westfield United Church Parlour. This is our meeting to plan out our work for the year, and we are always open to new ideas. If you are interested in the work of the Church in the World (ie outreach and being chruch beyond the walls of our buildings or the members of our congregations), you are very welcome to join us at this meeting. You can contact me or one of the committee co-chairs (Bette Ashley and Anne Titus) for more information!
Dungeons and Dragons Information Night - I've mentioned a couple of times that Ken (our Youth and Young Families Ministry Coordinator) is interested in organizing an inter-generational Dungeon and Dragons (D&D) campaign. If you are D&D Curious (I know that I am!) or have an interest in tabletop games, collaborative storytelling, and/or fantasy world-building, then you are invited to an information night on Sunday September 17 at 7pm at Westfield United Church. Ken will be there to answer all of our questions, talk about how the game is played, and lead us through some character development. This is appropriate for anyone from middle-school through to adults (no upper age limit!).
Session and Official Board Meetings - Wednesday September 20, Long Reach United Church, 6:30 for Session; 7:30 for Official Board.
Church Family Boardgame Night - Friday September 29, 7pm, Westfield United Church. We are looking at having some boardgame nights to bring our church family (and friends!) together around something fun. Everyone (of all ages) is welcome, whether you are a regular member of the congregation or not. Bring your favourite board game or card game with you, or come to play someone else's favourite, or learn something new! We'll have tables set up and snacks to share.
Before closing off this e-mail, I want to say a bit more about the church picnic. Ever since the picnic moved from June to September (due to water level and flood uncertainty at the cottage), the picnic has served as a launch or kick-off to our fall season at the church. A bit like a homecoming celebration after the summer. If you haven't been to church in a while, I want to extend a special invitation to attend the picnic to reconnect with your friends and neighbours at the church in a fun setting. And if you can think of someone who you haven't seen at church in a while (at any of our three churches), why not reach out to them and invite them to the picnic? (Even offer them a ride - carpooling is always good!)
Ken is also working to get a "Fun Fair" set up for all kids at the picnic (or anyone who would rather play than listen to a sermon) with games and activities both during the worship service part of the morning and also while we are sharing the potluck (because we all know that the adults will probably want to sit still and visit over the meal for longer than the kids will!).
I truly look forward to seeing you all at the picnic on Sunday - for me, this is one of the highlights of the church year. (And let's join all of our prayers together for no rain so that we can be outside on the beach!)
For a closing thought - you can click here for a fascinating video (18 1/2 minutes long) that I watched last week about AI, how we measure intelligence, and why AI tends to do well on some sorts of intelligence tests and is completely stumped by other measures of intelligence.
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."