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Sunday, February 28, Second Sunday in Lent

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, February 28 is the Second Sunday in Lent. Find the readings here.

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week’s worship videos are now available:

Morning Prayer, Rite II

Morning Prayer, Rite I

One of my last steps in putting together each week's worship videos is finding suitable images to insert after the readings and the sermon. While I don't mind doing that — the practice arose in response to a request to have some quiet after those segments, and an appropriate image seems better than a blank screen — and I don't mind making the videos in three different versions (the third being the version broadcast on Cape Ann TV, for which I have to cut out any music we don't have the rights to), I also don't want to make the production process take even longer. So usually, as soon as I find a suitable image, I plunk it in and move on.

This week, I found an image that I really liked for the post-sermon position, but I was struggling to find a version of it that was large enough. So after I learned what it was — a window, designed by John Petts, in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama — I plugged that into an ordinary Google search, hoping against hope that I could find a suitable version.

I found more than that. For some of you, the name of the church might ring a bell. A Black church, it was the site of a bombing in 1963. Four Black girls were killed. As horrible as that cowardly and depraved act was, it was shocking enough to lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act the following year. But that would not be the only good God would bring out of that evil.

Much lesser known is the amazing story hinted at in the text at the very bottom of the window, "Given by the people of Wales, UK." The BBC tells it better than I can. I was also moved by the way another writer describes the image: "Notice Jesus’s hand gestures in this image: with one hand he is rejecting injustice (“Stop. No more.”), and with the other he is extending forgiveness. Petts’s Crucifixion offers hope to both the oppressed and the oppressor, in the assurance that God’s mercy to wrongdoers is abundant and free, but also in the assurance that God will not tolerate injustice forever. The rainbow above Christ’s head, which spans the stretch of his arms, speaks promise. And the crossbar that cuts across the frame, with dashed lines like road surface markings, reminds us to take this message of promise, of hope, into the streets of our cities."

To that end, if you haven't already done so, please take our "Talking About Race" survey. Your response will help our planning team focus their energies on the programming that is most interesting to our congregation. It's important that we hear from everyone. All responses will be kept confidential.

Please join us for coffee hour at noon:

• To join on a computer, tablet, or smartphone with the Zoom app installed, click here:

• To call in on a smartphone, tap here: +16465588656,,86398096400#,,,,,,0#,,296917#

• To call in on a conventional phone, call (646) 558-8656 then enter the Meeting ID: 863 9809 6400 and the Passcode: 296917

Here are Mark's music notes:

Our Opening Hymn is #147, a Latin office hymn first found in tenth century manuscripts, but may be much older. The colorfully named tune “Bourbon” is from the Shapenote tradition first appearing in 1814. It is a pentatonic tune, meaning that all the melody notes are comprised by a five note scale consisting of Doh, Reh, Mi, Soh, Lah. This scale may be very old, and close to our original creation as demonstrated in my often referenced video of Bobby McFerrin “The Power of the Pentatonic Scale,” easily found on YouTube.

The final Hymn “Bless Now, O God, the Journey” is a newer exploration in Lenten imagery. succinctly describes the author: “After a brief, arduous battle with liver cancer, Canadian Sylvia Dunstan died in 1993 at the age of 38. For thirteen years, Dunstan had served the United Church of Canada as a parish minister and prison chaplain. She is remembered by those who knew her for her passion for those in need, her gift of writing, and her love of liturgy.” This hymn has been published in a number of mainline hymnals since its writing.

Our choir check in this past Thursday attracted 14 people “live on Zoom” and you can listen anytime here: You can also request an invitation to join us by sending me a request:



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