Church of the Covenant
Boston, Massachusetts

This Week at Covenant
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Breathe: First Sunday in Lent
Holy Communion
This Sunday at Covenant
Worship Service
10:30 am via Zoom: click here

Bulletin: Click here to download

Scripture Readings:
Genesis 1:1-2, 29-31; 2:4b-7; 9:12-13
Acts 17:24-25

Worship Participants:
Preacher – Rev. Rob Mark
Breathing Guide – Lauren Star
Liturgist – Tim Groves
Lector – Betty Rots
Minister of Music – Tom Handel
Cantor – Rev. Tom Reid, Tim & Betsy Groves, Barbara Darling & Ted Goodfleisch
Moment for Generosity – Rev. Tom Reid
This Upcoming Week at Covenant
PEACE BE WITH YOU IN THESE DAYS:
We are so grateful to be connected as a family of faith! As we all do our part to love our neighbor as ourselves to help “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus/COVID-19, our building remains closed; all meetings and events that are offered, including worship, have shifted to an online or conference call format.

We are grateful for the technology that allows the majority of us to gather together online. And in faith and through God’s ceaseless, amazing grace—as we practice “social distancing” we also practice “spiritual nearing” to each other and the Sweet Holy Spirit.

The announcements that follow reflect the ongoing abundant life that is Church of the Covenant.

COVER ART: In Our Hands, by Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman. Inspired by Genesis 9:8-17, Hand-carved block printed with oil-based ink on paper.
A note from the artist: “In the beginning God filled the formless void with color, texture, light, flavor, time, and life. God scooped the clay and carefully molded it, breathing life into the nostrils of humanity. These are the images of a tender, imaginative God who loves Creation limitlessly. Following the Creation narrative, humanity quickly spirals into violence, corruption, and power-hunger toward the total destruction of Creation. God becomes deeply aggrieved and even regrets creating humanity (Gen 6:6). God decides it best to return all of Creation to the chaotic void, though God finds hope in Noah’s family. I’ve struggled with this narrative, but I find myself feeling a tremendous amount of compassion. I can only imagine how painful it is to watch the work of your hands devolve into brutality. God offers Noah, his descendants, and every living creature an all-encompassing promise, vowing never to flood the earth again. Despite humanity’s destructive role, God limits God’s self and alone is held accountable in this covenant. God requires nothing of humanity or the entirety of Creation in return. God gives humanity a chance to start fresh, and the opportunity to choose a different path. If we model our actions after God’s, then we would humble and limit ourselves in order to better love God and care for Creation. Sacrifice and selflessness pave the new way. In this image, God’s hands hold various animals and plant life, and are surrounded by the bands of the rainbow, shielding Creation from the swirling waters of chaotic destruction. I chose not to image humanity because the hands are at once God’s and ours. We must respond to God’s covenant by protecting and keeping the earth. It is our responsibility; it is our calling. God meets us where we are—utterly dependent and bound toward self- destruction—with a promise sealed with a bow bursting with the endless spectrum of colors light holds.” 

COVENANT BOOK GROUP MEETS 2/21 TO DISCUSS CASTE BY ISABEL WILKERSON: The next meeting of Covenant's book group will be this Sunday, February 21, at 5 PM. We will meet by Zoom –see link below – to discuss the first half of the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. As always, you are welcome to join whether or not you have read the book and whether or not you've ever come to a Covenant book discussion before. Email Barbara if you have questions, barbarakdarling@yahoo.com. Join Zoom Meeting: https://wheatoncollege-edu.zoom.us/j/91347027130

STAFF TIME OFF: Rev. Rob is taking this week off to mark school vacation week, Feb. 13-20. During his time off, please be in touch with Rev. Joshua or our Deacons with any pastoral concerns. Rev. Kate will be out of the office the following two weeks, February 23-March 8. Please contact Rev. Rob with any administrative concerns, and contact Kathy Bull with any CYCE matters.
Season of Lent
Special Announcements

A Note from the Pastor
Our theme this year for the season of Lent is “Breathe.” In this world where too many still cannot find a breath, we all need to strive together to breathe more deeply, more regularly, more generously. We need to do so physically, spiritually, and with the justice of Jesus in our lungs and actions. Join us starting from now through Easter, for this important and timely spiritual journey. At the beginning of each worship service Sunday morning, we will spend a little sacred time learning how to breathe better.

ATTENDING TO THE BREATH - INTRODUCTION TO OUR BREATHING GUIDE: Lauren Star has been teaching hatha yoga for 18 years, and at the core of hatha yoga is conscious breathing exercises. She was originally trained in the Sivananda Lineage at Ananda Kutir Ashram in CapeTown, South Africa. More recently she completed her Master's Degree in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University (2020), and is currently working on a post-graduate certificate in Yoga Therapy. She has taught yoga and conscious breathing to people of all ages, in a variety of settings, including Women's Lunch Place! Conscious breathing is a practice with physiological benefits, including stress management and pain reduction. Many believe it has spiritual benefits as well, and it has been used by monks and nuns in many traditions as a way of turning within and connecting with God. During the Lenten services this year, Lauren Star will lead us in some simple 'conscious breathing' practices. Some of these will include gentle movement. We look forward to hearing your experiences of 'attending to the breath' and where that leads you physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

LENTEN EVENING PRAYERS: Beginning on 2/24, join us each Wednesday during the Lenten season from 6-6:30pm for our evening prayer service. And we are looking for volunteers to help lead these services. We have a simple powerpoint with the basic service elements that you would just customize with the given text for each week. Or you are welcome to let your imagination run wild. Just sign up in this Google Doc and let us know if you have any questions over email.

LENT DEVOTIONALS: Lent began Feb. 17 with our Ash Wednesday service. In preparation for this season, our Worship and Music committee is providing you all with a free PDF copy of A Sanctified Art daily Lenten devotional: download here. In addition, for those who prefer booklets to hold, here are some we recommend (please let Rob know if you have any financial limitations and we will purchase a copy for you):
UPCOMING WORSHIP ON SUNDAYS: Please join us each Sunday at 10:30 am as we come together in community through Zoom to pray, sing, share celebrations and concerns, and hear God’s still-speaking Word proclaimed.
  • Sunday, February 21, Lent 1 Breathe, Rev. Rob preaching, Communion
  • Sunday, February 28, Lent 2, Rev. Rob preaching, Installations of New Officers
  • Sunday, March 7, Lent 3, Rev. Joshua preaching, Communion / Climate Jubilee Adult Education
  • Sunday, March 14, Lent 4, Celebration of the Word with Nicaragua Companions / COTC 101

Here are the Zoom details for Sundays:
join by computer/tablet/smartphone:
one tap mobile:
+16465588656,,91025989890#,,#,892502#
join by phone:
+1 646 558 8656, Meeting ID: 910 2598 9890, Password: 892502

Some suggestions to aid in your worship for you to consider:
  1. Printing the bulletin out in advance so you have it during worship
  2. Pulling the bulletin up on a second device/phone/screen
  3. Pulling both the bulletin up and Zoom, and switch between them as needed. The liturgy, songs, and scripture are the important times to have this bulletin visible if possible.
  4. And if none of these options work for you, no worries—just following the link will be fine – you will be able to worship fully. 

VACCINATIONS: As we all know, our Commonwealth is in the process of ensuring everyone gets a COVID-19 vaccine according to MA/CDC guidelines/ phasing – yet the process can feel a bit daunting. As we give thanks for the miraculous reality of these vaccines, we lament the unequal access still in our state, and the confusing roll out. If you are feeling confused, you are not alone, and we are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Rob, Joshua, Kate or our Deacons if you could use some help in making sense of this and making a plan to get vaccinated. We also recommend everyone be in touch with their PCP as a first step. And remember, even in the face of a long history of unequal health care access, we at COTC deeply believe in the importance and efficacy of this vaccine as a necessary next step in reaching public health. Here are some helpful websites: https://www.macovidvaccines.com/ and https://www.cic-health.com/vaccines-location#fenway in addition to https://www.mass.gov/info-details/massachusetts-covid-19-vaccination-data-and-updates

FACING OUR RACISM WORKSHOP:
Our friends at Co-operative Metropolitan Ministry are organizing and excellent few hours long workshop, $45, “Facing Our Racism: Becoming Conscious Partners” on Sunday, February 28, noon-4:30pm – click here to register.

BIBLE STUDY - FRIDAYS 11AM: Our virtual Bible Study is meeting at 11:00 am on Fridays, and we will begin a study of the Gospel of Mark. If you have questions, please contact Nancy Ammerman at ntammerman@gmail.com. We gather on Zoom for about an hour for a “BYOB” (bring your own Bible) gathering. Drop in any week! No homework required! https://zoom.us/j/104478666?pwd=MHAwdEY5VVNvdVFkbVA1R2U3Z3NnUT09
join by phone: (646) 558 8656, Meeting ID: 104 478 666, Password: 581626

COTC 101, MARCH 14: Are you new-ish to Church of the Covenant and want to find out more about who we are, our history, our two denominations, and our 5-point missional plan we feel called by God to live out through 2025? Then please join us after worship on Sunday, March 14 for an hour or so on Zoom while we cover some of these topics together. Bring some coffee, lunch, snacks perhaps to your comfy-iest chair/ couch as we zoom in together. Register here.
 
TOM REID'S ORDINATION VIDEO: What a wonderful service of celebration and thanksgiving last month as we took part in Rev. Tom Reid’s ordination to the ministry of Word and Sacrament in the PCUSA – congrats and blessings Tom! If you missed it, here it is: https://youtu.be/LPibEEIF-_s

CHILDREN'S AND YOUTH PROGRAMMING: Each Sunday beginning at 9:45AM we gather using Zoom for Godly Play and Youth Class. Our Godly Play class gathers to sing, share news with each other, pray together, and hear ancient and contemporary stories of our faith. Our Youth Class shares their weekly gathering rituals and explores topics of interest and curiosity in faith and identity. If you need a Zoom link, email children@cotcbos.org or contact Rev. Kate at kate.carlisle@cotcbos.org.

20s-30s-40s GROUP AT COVENANT: We are currently planning our calendar of events through the Lenten season. Please be on the lookout for upcoming virtual events. If you would like to be added to our email list, contact Rev. Joshua at joshua.lazard@cotcbos.org.

A CHALLENGING WINTER: For many reasons, this will be a challenging winter. One way we can help those experiencing homelessness in downtown Boston is to support our partners Women's Lunch Place who have an ongoing wish list for items, found here: https://womenslunchplace.org/in-kind-donations.

ARE YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW FACING FINANCIAL CHALLENGES? Info on fuel and electricity discounts in MA: https://www.greennewton.org/experiencing-financial-difficulty-you-may-be-eligible-for-electricity-and-fuel-discounts/

CONTINUED GIVING: Even in face of important, life-giving changes, our COTC ministry remains moving full steam ahead. Our staff and pastors continue to be hard at work. Our building continues to be faithfully stewarded. Our deacons and pastors continue to carry out vital pastoral care in these days. Therefore, your continued generosity and giving to help support the work of our church community is even more valued in these challenging days. And we are deeply grateful for your tangible signs of generosity. Here are a few ways you can continue to financially support the church and its ministries:
  1. Directly on our website: http://www.cotcbos.org/give.html
  2. Download free app: GIVEPLUS+ (GIVE+ by Vanco Services, LLC) in the App Store, Google Play, or at https://giveplushelp.vancopayments.com. Then, type in our zip code 02116 to find Church of the Covenant. Both online options allow you to make a one-time or a recurring gift.
  3. If you are uncomfortable with online giving, yes, you can still mail checks!

ZOOM Tutorials: If you are unfamiliar with Zoom, click this link Zoom How To for a video on how to join Zoom Meetings. Here are a few step by step procedures on how to join a Zoom meeting from your specific device.


BUILDING ACCESS: Our church building remains closed except for services connected with Women’s Lunch Place, our Food Pantry, and a subset of our church staff (Rev. Rob, Tom Handel, Bill Brown, Alan Lane, Faith Perry, Nancy Stockford, and Chuck Ferrell), who only enter for specific and limited purposes. All other staff, church leaders, and key holders are required to keep away from the church building until further notice. While we are not opening for our normal Open Sanctuary program this year, we have protocols in place to allow for safe group tours by appointment through Bill Brown.

THE FEBRUARY ISSUE OF THE COVENANT NEWS can be read online here
Resources In Light of COVID-19:
Personal Practices: (as reminders)
  • Vaccinations: Here are some helpful websites: https://www.macovidvaccines.com/ and https://www.cic-health.com/vaccines-location#fenway in addition to https://www.mass.gov/info-details/massachusetts-covid-19-vaccination-data-and-updates
  • As per Commonwealth's new law, be sure to where a face and nose covering when you are outside, or in need of entering a store for essential needs.
  • Throughout the day, wash your hands for 20 seconds while singing the doxology or "this little light of mine" or saying a prayer for the world. Soap, rigorous rubbing and rinsing is the best way to stop the virus/ germs.
  • When hand-washing is not an option, use hand sanitizer, rub hands well, and air dry your hands.
  • Drink water, a lot! Hydration is a great way to stay healthy, and if any virus comes to you, water does a great job in helping to rid the lungs and body and restore health sooner. "Its great to hydrate!"
  • Avoid all large gatherings - stay put as much as you can - and of course keep loving your neighbor fully by keeping that sacred social distance of 6-feet away.
  • Sneeze and cough into your armpit. Then wash your hands anyway. Wash your clothes regularly.
  • Do the impossible by avoiding to touch your beautiful faces. :)
  • Clean/ sanitize commonly used surfaces regularly.
  • Even if you're young and healthy, it is critical that you take all of these steps because they help protect the rest of your community. You'll reduce the risk of unknowingly passing on the disease to someone else.
  • Do everything you can to follow these guidelines and take care of yourself. And if you're able, please take care of your friends, your family, your neighbors, and anyone around you who might need a little extra help — pick up groceries for an older neighbor or order takeout from a local restaurant that is struggling.
  • And again, with each pump of the hand sanitizers, each washing of the hands in these days, let us remember not just our own needs, but the needs of others. With each pump, a prayer: "God, may your blessings of wellness, wholeness, health and healing come to all in harm's way. And over, and in, and through all, may there be love blanketing all. In the strong name of Christ we pray, Amen."

Take Media Breaks & Get Outside: In these days of rapidly shifting realities, it is tempting to stay glued to media - public radio, news, websites. While it is important on some levels for us to stay in tune and be aware with what is unfolding - it is also an important psychological and spiritual step to take a break from it all at times. Unplug. Turn off. Go outside and seek out an early blooming crocus. Look up at tree buds beginning to bloom. Take a walk. Take a nap. Read a book. Veg out. Listen to music. Sing. Call a friend. Whatever relaxes and calms, take a break, and breathe deep.

Pastoral Care: We are continuing to check in on one another in these days - but if you are in any particular need for a visit or a call, please reach out to your pastors or your deacons.
Here are some helpful pages, with live links:

Finally, as we continue to hear the daily refrain of COVID-19, I offer us Psalm 19 as a hopeful, spiritual counter-refrain:
The heavens are telling the glory of God,
  and the elements Her handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
  and night to night declares wisdom.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
   their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
   and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens, God has set a tent for the sun...
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable to you,
   O God, my rock and my redeemer.

617.266.7480  info@cotcbos.org  www.cotcbos.org
67 Newbury St
Boston, MA 02116