Lent and Holy Week Update

Greetings, all! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and yours this day.

It’s almost a cliché to say that “these are interesting times”. But I really don’t think there is any other way to describe them. I suppose I could use a few other words, but those words aren’t really “Sunday appropriate”. There is a weariness and frustration that is palpable in our communities, over Covid in general, and in response to the recent demonstrations in Ottawa and elsewhere. There is continuing anxiety over where our faith communities are heading in the future. And there is the continuing feelings of loss and isolation for many of God’s children.

            But these are the times that we’re in. And to risk offering another church cliché, it’s the seemingly perfect setting for us to head into Lent. Many people aren’t a huge fan of Lent; they find it too downcast, or too full of complaining and whining and not enough action. We are an Easter people, after all!

            However, Lent is a vehicle for the journey we travel with God, offering a chance to voice our worries and confusions more faithfully during times like this. It is a chance to reflect and offer words not out of spite or anger, but of comfort and ultimately hope. It is a reminder that God is with us on this journey, slogging through the muck and the pain with a presence and love that sustains and carries us on.

            With all this in mind, given the promising figures coming from our health care sector and the wider availability of booster doses, we are happy to announce that we are returning to in-person for worship and many of our other activities. We will continue to exercise caution and heed the public health advice, as we have been this entire time. We will continue to care for the most vulnerable in our community. We will continue doing so, while still gathering safely in the ways that we have been missing terribly the past couple of months.

            Below is an update on some aspects of our congregational life and a draft schedule:


Starting on Sunday, February 27th, we will be returning to worship in our church sanctuaries. For the time being, we are still requiring people to wear masks. With there not being capacity restrictions, we will not be enforcing social distancing as heavily as before. However, we still do encourage social distancing where possible, and will be holding off on coffee time after worship for a little while yet. We also ask that you respect those who still wish to social distance. Services will be recorded and available online in the afternoon for those who are not able to worship in-person.

We will have a variety of services for Holy Week. We will have Palm Sunday services at both churches on Sunday as per usual. For Monday thru to Thursday, we will have daily services at Brussels United at 11:00 a.m., offered by different members of the Brussels Ministerial each day. Folks from all congregations (and Blyth folks) are invited to attend. On Good Friday, we will have a service at both Brussels and Blyth in the morning. Easter Sunday, we will have a (just after) Sunrise service in the Blyth United Church garden at 7:30 a.m., followed by an Easter service at both congregations later that morning.


We are continuing along with our Global Covid Vaccine Project. Knowing that Covid isn’t fully over until it is over for all, we are collecting money to help the wider United Church’s Covid response. A donation of $25 can fully vaccinate a person in a less fortunate country. Funds will also help provide Covid relief in the form of food, emergency shelter, and other medical costs associated with the impact of the virus.

Faith Formation

For the time being, we will be continuing with our online Fellowship Times on Wednesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. join us on Zoom to catch up with friends old and new, and share in a little time of reflection.

During Lent, we will also be having an online weekly devotional service. On Friday mornings at 10:30 a.m., we will be having a short service on Zoom to reflect in silence and pray together, seeking God’s presence and wisdom. These devotions will be based off of materials from this year’s Lent devotional series from the United Church of Canada, Lesser Evils: Daily Reflections on Seeking Wisdom. If you would like your own copy of this book, you can get it from the Christian Resource Centre in Mitchell, or order it online: https://ucrdstore.ca/collections/lent-and-easter/products/lesser-evils-daily-reflections-on-seeking-wisdom-softcover

Youth Ministry

We are hoping to have an in-person Family Fun Time in the last weekend of March. Join us for some crafts, songs, and fun! We are also hoping that the spring and summer will offer more regular opportunities for our youth to gather. We’re also hoping that the kids will help take part in our regular Sunday worship. If you would like to help with this Fun Time, or want to help with youth ministry in the future, please let me know!

In terms of Confirmation, we will be having a course for teens in the fall, alongside teens from other nearby United Churches. We are hoping that this course will be in-person. More details to come.

Pastoral Care

Starting now, I will begin resuming some in-person visiting for those that would feel comfortable with a visit. I am continuing my phone calls as well to keep our congregants connected. I am also hoping that in the next few weeks, it will be possible to start visiting our friends in long term care as well.

In this continued time of distancing, it is more important than ever that we keep reaching out to one another. Unfortunately, Covid means I don’t always know what is going on in the communities. If you know of someone who could use a visit, or would like a visit yourself, please do reach out to me! I’d rather hear of someone a few times than not at all.


We have rescheduled our Annual Meetings to be held in March. Annual Reports are nearing completion, and will be available for you soon. The Brussels meeting will be held on Sunday March 20th at 1:30 p.m.; the Blyth meeting will be held on Sunday March 27th, following the 11:00 a.m. service.

On a personal note, I (Alex) have started to fulfill my role as a Commissioner for the 44th General Council of the United Church of Canada. Opening worship and motions were held online this past Sunday. The next phase is a time of review and reflection for the various proposals before the Council. On Wednesday evenings throughout March and April, I will be attending some sessions to learn more about these proposals. These sessions will also be recorded and made available later on, should anyone be interested.


Please note, these events and times are subject to change.

Weekly Lenten Events:

Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. – Fellowship Time on Zoom. Join in for a chance to catch up and share with friends old and new.

Wednesday evenings – Alex will be taking part in General Council online sessions (apart from Wednesdays where meetings are previously scheduled).

Fridays at 10:30 a.m. – Lent Devotional Services. Starting on Friday March 4th, and going throughout until Holy Week, join us on Zoom for a short service of prayer and reflection.

Worship services and other events:

Sunday February 27thTransfiguration Sunday communion service (in-person)

  • Brussels at 9:30 a.m.; Blyth at 11:00 a.m.
  • Masks are required for all in-person services and other events.
  • Pre-packaged elements are provided. If you have dietary restrictions, you are encouraged to bring your own elements.

Wednesday March 2ndJoint Ash Wednesday service

  • Blyth at 7:00 p.m.
  • Imposition of Ashes will be offered.

Sunday March 6thFirst Sunday of Lent service

  • Brussels at 9:30 a.m.; Blyth at 11:00 a.m.

Friday March 11thWorld Day of Prayer Ecumenical service

  • St. Ambrose Catholic Church (Brussels) at 1:00 p.m.
  • Lay-led service with materials provided from churches around the world.

Sunday March 13thSecond Sunday of Lent service

  • Brussels at 9:30 a.m.; Blyth at 11:00 a.m.

Sunday March 20thThird Sunday of Lent service

  • Brussels at 9:30 a.m.; Blyth at 11:00 a.m.

Sunday March 20thBrussels Annual Meeting

  • Brussels at 1:30 p.m.

Weekend of March 25th-27thFamily Fun Time

  • A time of crafts, songs, games, and fun!
  • Date and time TBD.

Sunday March 27thFourth Sunday of Lent service

  • Brussels at 9:30 a.m.; Blyth at 11:00 a.m.

Sunday March 27thBlyth Annual Meeting

  • Blyth following the church service (roughly starting at noon).

Sunday April 3rdFifth Sunday of Lent service

  • Brussels at 9:30 a.m.; Blyth at 11:00 a.m.

Sunday April 10thPalm Sunday service

  • Brussels at 9:30 a.m.; Blyth at 11:00 a.m.

Monday April 11thEcumenical Monday of Holy Week service

  • Brussels United at 11:00 a.m.
  • Offered by Brussels United Church

Tuesday April 12thEcumenical Tuesday of Holy Week service

  • Brussels United at 11:00 a.m.
  • Offered by St. Ambrose Catholic Church, Brussels

Wednesday April 13thEcumenical Wednesday of Holy Week service

  • Brussels United at 11:00 a.m.
  • Offered by Brussels Mennonite Fellowship

Thursday April 14thEcumenical Maundy Thursday service

  • Brussels United at 11:00 a.m.
  • Offered by St. John’s Anglican Church, Brussels

Friday April 15thGood Friday service

  • Brussels at 9:30 a.m.; Blyth at 11:00 a.m.

Sunday April 17thJoint Easter (Just After) Sunrise service

  • Blyth United Church Garden at 7:30 a.m.

Sunday April 17thEaster Sunday service

  • Brussels at 9:30 a.m.; Blyth at 11:00 a.m.

May we journey in faithfulness, hope, and compassion alongside God in these Lenten days and nights. May we have the flexibility and understanding to adapt as need be. And even in these more reflective and penitential Lenten times, hold onto the little hopes and joys and epiphanies that carry us through to Easter and beyond. Thanks be to God, and thanks be to all of you.

Feature Photo by Kamil Szumotalski on Unsplash

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