A Blessing for the New School Year

A Blessing for the New School Year (a collage of lines written by 7th grade students)
May you wake up to your alarm clock on timeAnd may your laptop be charged and ready to go.May you be organized and prepared for class.May all your school days be productive.May your mask be comfy.May your friends wash their hands properly.May you remember your locker combinationAnd may your wifi not crash.May you be able to have sports this fall term,And may the sun come out and scare awayAll the clouds on a rainy day.May you understand your true potentialAnd never underestimate yourself.May you find lifelong friends hereAnd hold onto these memories for the rest of your life.May you learn to appreciate and respect the campus.May the virus never touch school grounds.May your friends and family be safeMay your elders stay safe.May you comfort the sick.May you find peace in the situation. May you stay safe during this strange timeAnd may God watch over you at all times.The poem above was written by my 7t…

The Whole Armor of God

During a recent Sunday morning Bible study on the book of Ephesians, the conversation turned to the sustenance the people drew from the church's stained glass windows. Below is an expanded version of Don Cochran's thoughtful contribution to the conversation.
Don Cochran writes: When I first started worshipping at Second, I was puzzled by the military figure in the circular window in the west transept. Who was he?Why was he put in the window?What meaning did he have for those who contracted Tiffany to create the window?And what meaning does he have for us today?
I soon leaned that this is a memorial window to remember the life of a young man from our congregation whose life was tragically taken from him in London during the 1918 pandemic. He died not on a battlefield in France during the war but in a London hospital unsuspectedly.As I view the figure now, I cannot help but wonder what goals he had for his life, who he would have become had not it been for the pandemic of 1918.
As …

Black Lives Matter - a silent vigil

Nancy Quigley writes: In these times of noisy and chaotic protests about policing and the loss of Black lives, I attended a vigil at Peace UCC last week, in Webster Groves, and found it to be a good alternative to the protests, a way to be present and “say their names” without worrying about violence or virus.  
Peace has been holding a Friday evening vigil for a couple of months.  The vigil, beginning at 6 p.m., is a half hour of silence opening with eight minutes and forty six seconds of kneeling or sitting or lying on the ground, in memory of George Floyd.  For the remainder of the half hour, also in silence, participants stand along the sidewalk in front of the church. Last week we held pictures of people who were killed by the police as their names were read out loud one by one.
Cars and buses drove by, many people honking or giving a thumbs up sign. Each participant wore a mask and we stood six feet apart. It was a moving experience and for me, a good way to participate in this …

The value of virtual coffee shops

David Justice, a PhD student at. St. Louis University, whose work is centered on Martin Luther King Jr., reflects on a way he has found to cultivate a scholarly community during the pandemic. 

One way that I've been staying connected during this pandemic has been a virtual writing group hosted through an organization called the Political Theology Network. Though the group got going prior to COVID widely spreading in America, it has turned into something that I look forward to each week (we meet Mondays and Fridays for two hours) as a way to stay connected to the world outside my apartment. The general routine is that the group members will chat for 15-20 minutes once everyone signs into Zoom, after which we all stay on the Zoom call until the end of the two hours, at which time we reconvene and share what we were able to accomplish during that time.
"The goal is essentially to imitate the experience of meeting with a group of people at a coffee shop to do work. In a time wher…

"Good trouble" - remembering John Lewis

Tim Woodcock writes: With the recent death of Rep. John Lewis, my mind keeps on coming back to graphic novel series March that tells Lewis’s life story and unpacks his philosophy of agitating for civil rights and causing what he called “good trouble.” It is now on my nightstand, waiting to be reread.
The March series, published between 2013 and 2016, was written as a collaboration between three people and is dedicated “to the past and future children of the [civil rights] movement.” Interviews with Lewis were shaped into a complex narrative by Andrew Aydin (a staffer who worked with Lewis in Washington, D.C.) and Aydin’s script was turned into a graphic novel by Nate Powell. Reduced to a simple timeline, March follows Lewis from his childhood in rural Alabama via the civil rights protests in the 1960s to his ascendance to Congress in the 1980s and his presence at Barack Obama’s inauguration as president in 2008. But the story blurs time in some interesting ways. For instance, images o…

More music alone and together

Some more on emerging ways of making music

Nancy Quigley came across this beautiful contemporary piece of classical music, which she recommends: Sphinx Virtuosi - Elegy: In memoriam - Stephen Lawrence. The title of the piece of music refers to Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year-old Black Briton, who was murdered in 1993 in an unprovoked and racially motivated attack.

Despite the frustration of church choirs not being able to perform together in real time, due to Covid-19, the phenomena of Zoom choirs has led to the creation of some interesting ad-hoc choirs, striking in the diversity (and in some cases ecumenism) that they display. Take a look at these examples from IrelandZimbabwe and Australia.

And finally, this interview with composer Eric Whitacre gives some insights into the logistical and technical aspects of creating a virtual choir. As the piece makes clear, the idea of a virtual choir has been feasible for at least 10 years but it is now finding new popularity and relevance.


Spotlight on Leah and Andy

The Post-Dispatch has produced a series of videos profiling its staff talking about stories that they have covered that are especially meaningful for them. On Friday the spotlight fell on 2nd Pres's  Leah Thorsen, who has been at the Post for 15 years and currently works as a business reporter.

Also, on a related note, if you've not seen it already, be sure to catch 2nd Pres's Minster of Music Andy Peters' recent video in which he playfully gives a tour of the church's organ.