And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” (Mark 1:17)
Greetings, all! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
I’m sitting here writing this letter looking out the window of my home, looking at the Brussels church. With the leaves off the trees, I can actually get a clear enough shot to see when someine is parked on the pad by the side entrance. It’d probably only be a minute or two walk away as the crow… walks, I suppose. However, there is the river running between the house and the church, which means I have to go over the dam or across the bridge to walk to the church.
This certainly isn’t the end of the world, but it does make things a little bit disjointed, it feels. It reminds me of all the things that are dividing us right now. The current restrictions that have us isolated and distant from one another physically (difficult, though we know it’s necessary); the divides in our societies and communities surrounding issues of justice, security, and inclusion; the divides me might find in our personal lives between families and friends.
And yet, we find in our lives of faith a unifying reality that keeps us together and addresses divides – the enduring presence of God. As Christians, we are caught in the “net” of discipleship. As Jesus told the Galilean fishermen to fish for people, so our impulse is to be connected to and serve others by casting our nets of faith and service. The ministry and actions of Christ bind us altogether with an assurance of salvific grace and a way of living that fosters unity with God’s children. The stirrings of the Spirit that stir our hearts and hands to reach out across divides and waters.
Sometimes we have to navigate the things that divide us or keep us separated. The river is a barrier to some, but a pathway for others (including the ducks I see bobbing along). Sometimes tensions or barriers do exist that have to be navigated. Like the varying tasks on a larger ship, it takes many different talents and contributions to get anywhere. This is the reality in which we observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan 18th-24th) – we don’t find unity in conformity or being all the same, but rather in how we have a unified identity in Christ and we are all willing to navigate the waters of faith together.
I also see the dividing waters being navigated in the way many of our congregants and friends are navigating new ways of connecting. We have had wonderful turnouts with our first week of Zoom fellowship sessions, with many using Zoom for the first or second time! We have our lay pastoral callers finding delight and spiritual joy in reaching out to those whom they haven’t seen or spoken to in ages. It truly is heartening to see.
This being said, sometimes God calls us to fully break down the barriers and tensions at times. This is the message we hear from this past Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the upcoming Black History Month. There is no such thing as unity if some members are being oppressed. We know the passage from 1 Corinthians well – if one member suffers, we all suffer. Unity means being united to seek out God’s justice, to be in solidarity with our diverse siblings.
It’s probably a bit of a stretch to pull all this out of staring at a river on a snowy morning. But it is compelling to think of the many ways in which we are united at a time like this. Looking at all the announcements and upcoming activities, it is good to know that connection is still there. And looking deeper and further afield, we can see where further unity can happen, alongside justice and grace inspired by God. We are one; Hallelujah!
- Our Zoom Fellowship Times continue on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 10:30-11:30 ish. Folks can join in electronically or by phone. If you do not have the links or codes, be sure to reach out to Alex.
- Plans are in the works for an adult faith formation study based around the Psalms and individual prayer practices. The goal of these sessions will be to help foster individual prayer and the use of psalms in our lives of faith, especially when group worship is restricted. The format for this study will most likely be on Zoom, and will start at the beginning of February. If you are interested, reach out to Alex!
- We are looking for hymn suggestions and reflections for our Music Celebration Service on February 7th. We want to know what hymns or songs have been helping you this past year, and more importantly, why these songs or music in general is important to you and your life of faith. Submit suggestions and reflections to Alex or one of our music directors (Glenda, Katie, Marilyn)
- While our annual congregational meetings will likely be put on hold until the spring, still be sure to submit your committee reports for the Annual Report. Brussels reports can be submitted to Betty Graber-Watson, and Blyth reports can be submitted to Nancy Denham.
- Previous lesson and craft packages of our Youth Ministry from the past several weeks are still available for families to pick up or get delivered to them. Reach out to Alex for more details. Weekly Youth Ministry online lessons are starting up again. Parents are encouraged to reach out to Alex with scheduling options.
- We are still eager for volunteers to help make up lay pastoral/visitation teams to help make phone calls, deliver worship materials, and other pastoral needs for congregants going into the winter, ensuring that those who are more isolated are still connected to their church community. If you want to learn more about pastoral care, or if you are wanting to live out your discipleship in this way, reach out to Alex for more information!
- A generous community member has offered to the Brussels Ministerial occasional home-cooked meals to those who need it. If you know of someone or a family who might benefit from the occasional home-cooked meal, please reach out to Sandra Cable.
- Our friends at Camp Menesetung are hiring for Summer 2021. There are a variety of positions available for teens and adults who are excited about camping ministries and adaptable for whatever the summer throws at them! For more information, visit https://www.campmenesetung.ca/jobs.
Sunday, January 24th, 2021 – Online Youth Sunday School session from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Packages can be picked up outside of either church building. Contact Alex for more information.
Sunday, January 24th, 2021 – Third after Epiphany service available on Youtube.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 – Zoom Fellowship session from 10:30-11:30. Please check your email for the Zoom link or phone passcode, or email Alex for details.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 – Zoom Fellowship session from 10:30-11:30. Please check your email for the Zoom link or phone passcode, or email Alex for details.
Sunday, January 31st, 2021 – Fourth after Epiphany service available on Youtube.
Blessings and Christ’s Peace be with you all!
Student Minister – Blyth and Brussels United Churches
Blyth Office Number: 519-523-4224
Brussels Office Number: 519-887-6259
Emergency Pastoral Number: call/text 705-344-3385
Feature Photo by Alex Jebson