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            The Rev. Dr. Neil O’Farrell, Celebrant




First Sunday of Lent

This Is My Son, the Beloved: Listen to Him!

 February 21, 2021

Morning Prayer


A Meditation

Stephen and I were moving to Baltimore for me to take up my first call as an ordained pastor. We were in two cars, one hauling a big trailer for things that we didn’t feel safe consigning to the moving van, along with the sleeping dog. Down from Boston, we had been surprisingly successful in sticking right together behind each other. When we hit the Maryland border, a ferocious storm broke out. It rained so hard that visibility was mere feet, so we allowed more space between the two cars for safety. Little by little the storm lifted, until as we drove into Baltimore’s environs, we could regather, driving right behind each other again. As we came down the east side of the city, there amongst the still stormy, dark clouds was a bright double rainbow stretching across the outer Baltimore harbor. After a long trip and the clutches of an angry storm, the rainbow represented a significant promise fulfilled. We were safe, on the way to our new home. We’re still here now almost twenty years later.

Noah, his family, and an ark full of animals after weathering a similar storm, finally set down safely and gently onto hard landscape after their arduous, quixotic journey. Alighting onto the ground, after having been buffeted for forty days and nights, no doubt their legs were unsure and wobbly. What they saw around them must have looked strange, and they wouldn’t have known where they were. Noah offered thanksgiving through a sacrifice. God (who seemed to be on close speaking terms with Noah) revisited his decision to destroy most of humanity off the earth, demonstrated his repentance with the rainbow. The bow would forever proclaim that God’s fate would be tied up with that of his human creation. No more floods. God would work out humankind’s waywardness in some other way. We know and believe through the scriptural testaments that God’s fulfillment of his gracious mercy would be through the life, death, and resurrection of his son Jesus.

What we need to understand is that the rainbow didn’t represent a conclusion, but rather a journey—the process of leaving danger and coming into safety. And that God would be with us every second of that journey. We all instinctively smile when we see a rainbow. Rainbows make the stormiest, darkest days seem at least a little better, for a while. We can focus on something larger than the heaviness of our hearts. The rainbow signifies hope. It’s not the destination that’s important. Rather, what is crucial is the hope that carried us  to that destination. God’s promise is to lead us home—hopefully.

Pastor Neil


Sign of the Cross

Celebrant    We gather together, as we live our lives, …

People        In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Celebrant   Blessed be God.

 People         And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever. Amen.

 Celebrant    Let us pray: God of the desert, as we follow Jesus into the unknown, may we recognize the Tempter when he comes. Let it be your bread we eat, your world we serve, and you alone we worship. This we ask through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.

People         Amen.


Opening Dialogue

Celebrant    From the rising of the sun to its setting, my Name shall be great among the nations, and in everyplace incense shall be offered to my Name, and a pure offering: for my Name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.   Amen.

Celebrant   Great and wonderful are your deeds, O Lord God the almighty.

People         Just and true are your ways, O Sovereign of the nations.

 Celebrant   Who shall not revere and praise your name, O Lord, for you alone are holy.

People         All nations shall come and worship in your presence for your just dealings have been revealed.

Celebrant    To the One who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb,

People         Be blessing and honor, glory, and might, forever and ever. Amen.


Collect of the Day

Celebrant    Let us pray: God of the desert, as we follow Jesus into the unknown, may we recognize the tempter when he comes. Let it be your bread we eat, your world we serve, and you alone we worship. This we ask through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.

Celebrant: Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.

Silence is then kept for a time

Celebrant: Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the
earth: Grant that our memory of ashes, virtual for this season, may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life;  through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Celebrant    Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Officiant and People together

Litany of Penitence

The Celebrant and People together:

Most holy and merciful Father:
We confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints
in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

The Celebrant continues

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

Celebrant:             Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desires not the death of sinners, but rather that they may turn from their wickedness and live, has given power and commandment to his ministers to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins. He pardons and absolves all those who truly repent, and with sincere hearts believe his holy Gospel.

Therefore, we beseech him to grant us true repentance and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do on this day, and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy, so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Reading from Genesis at the 9th Chapter

A Rainbow to Seal the Covenant

Reader        A Reading from Genesis

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Reader        The Word of the Lord.


People         Thanks be to God.



Reader        From Psalm 25, proclaimed responsively
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me.

Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.

Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.

Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.

He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

Epistle: from First Peter at the 3rd Chapter

Christ Also Suffered for Sins, Once for All

Reader        A Reading from First Peter

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Reader        The Word of the Lord.


People         Thanks be to God.




A Reading from the Gospel of Mark, at the 1st chapter

The Time Is Fulfilled


Celebrant    The holy gospel according to Mark

People         Glory to you, O Lord.


In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Celebrant    The Gospel of the Lord.

People         Praise to you, Lord Christ.


Meditation                                                                       Pastor Neil


At the end of the sermon:

Celebrant: Let us bless the Lord.

People: Thanks be to God.


Psalm 34 said responsively

I will bless the LORD at all times;

God’s praise shall continuously be in my mouth.

 My soul makes its boast in the LORD;

          let the humble hear and be glad.

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt God’s name together.

I sought the LORD, and God answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to God, and be radiant; so, your face shall never be ashamed.

This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD, and was saved from every trouble.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear God and delivers them. O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.

On Behalf of The People of God

Let the people of God glorify the Lord,  praise him, and highly exalt him forever.

Glorify the Lord, O priests and servants of the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him forever.

Glorify the Lord, O spirits and souls of the righteous, praise him and highly exalt him forever.

You that are holy and humble of heart, glorify the Lord, praise him, and highly exalt him forever.

Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; praise him and highly exalt him forever.

In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord,  praise him, and highly exalt him forever.



Celebrant: Grant, most merciful Lord, to your faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve you with a quiet mind; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Celebrant: Grant, Almighty God, that your people may recognize their weakness and put their whole trust in your strength, so that they may rejoice forever in the protection of your loving providence; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Celebrant: Keep this your family, Lord, with your never-failing mercy, that relying solely on the help of your heavenly grace, they may be upheld by your divine protection; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Celebrant: Look mercifully on this your family, Almighty God, that by your great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Celebrant: Look down in mercy, Lord, on your people who kneel before you; and grant that those whom you have nourished by your Word and Sacraments may bring forth fruit worthy of repentance. Amen.


The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth;
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated   

at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.


Celebrant       Show us your mercy, O Lord;
People              And grant us your salvation.

Celebrant       Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
People              Let your people sing with joy.

Celebrant      Give peace, O Lord, to all the world;
People             For only in you can we live in safety.

Celebrant      Lord, keep this nation and world under your care;
People             And guide us in the way of justice and truth.

Celebrant      Let your way be known upon earth;
People             Your saving health among all nations.

Celebrant      Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
People             Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

Celebrant      Create in us clean hearts, O God;
People             And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.


Celebrant              Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Celebrant             O ruler of earth and nations, guide our country under the leadership of a new president and vice-president, as well as many other offices of public service, that require wisdom and responsibility. Make all of us discerning of your will and give the strength necessary to make our earthly kingdoms a reflection of your heavenly Kingdom of God. Lead us to the place we need to be, most particularly when we invariably go in the wrong direction and stumble in the dark. Amen.

Celebrant              O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The General Thanksgiving

Celebrant and People

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Celebrant    Let us bless the Lord.
People        Thanks be to God.


The Blessing

Celebrant             Sisters and brothers, we go out into the world in peace. We live and walk as part of God’s beloved community. May God help us all to be of good courage, to hold on to what is good, and to return to no one an evil for an evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, aid the suffering, do justice and hope, honor all people, and let our gentleness be known by everyone. May God, who raised our Lord Jesus from death, lift us up and restore us to wholeness. And may God bless us all, ☩ in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Celebrant    Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

People         Thanks be to God.



MORE ON THE ARTWORK ON THIS BULLETIN’S COVER Willem de Pannemaker was a celebrated weaver of Brussels tapestry. He was the head of the a tapestry workshop, and was considered the greatest tapestry creator for his time. He is best known for his works for the royal Habsburg dynasty. This tapestry was woven after a design by Michiel van Coxcie in Brussels in the sixteenth century. It is one of a series of tapestries depicting the story of Noah. Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven by hand on a loom. Tapestry is relatively fragile, and difficult to make, so most historical pieces are intended to hang vertically on a wall because that was the safest way to both display and conserve them. European tapestries are normally made to be seen from the front (although they are woven from the back), and often have a plain, heavy lining added on the back. The threads comprising the picture are usually wool or cotton. From the Middle Ages on, European tapestries could be very large, with images containing dozens of figures. They were often made in sets, so that a whole room could be hung with them. Because of the rich materials, including silk, gold, and silver, the surface of tapestries were shimmery and glowing. (The old tapestries we see today have faded with centuries of tarnish.) The subjects of tapestries, particularly when they were part of a set, were a narrative story. Hence the one tapestry among several in the collection that is on the bulletin cover. The iconography of a large proportion of narrative tapestries goes back to written sources: the Bible and ancient myths for example. Often, they were a woven copy of an oil painting or fresco. It is a feature of tapestry weaving, in contrast to painting, that weaving an area of the work containing only relatively plain areas of the composition, such as sky, grass or water, still involves a relatively large amount of slow and skilled work. This, together with the client’s expectation of the effect of overpowering magnificence, led to northern European compositions crammed with figures and other details, long after trends in Italian Renaissance painting had reduced the crowding and busyness in paintings. Tapestries are always the most exhilarating when they are hanging in the rooms they were designed for, although hanging them in museums is the best way to ensure their preservation and safety.