Goats and Chickens

A boy with a goat in Kenya, thanks to ERD

Early in October the folks at Episcopal Relief and Development invited those who would listen to make a Gift for Life as a good way to remember and honor “The Poor Man” of Assisi (St. Francis):

Today [October 4th] a very peculiar saint will be honored throughout the Christian world. Although he was from a wealthy family, he chose to live in poverty. He preached to a Sultan in Egypt, a flock of birds in the trees, and a ferocious wolf. He founded orders for men and women, and in 2013 a Pope took his name for the first time. Each year, he is honored far and wide with blessings of animals. He is St. Francis, the gentle man from 13th century Assisi, Italy. We invite you to honor him by increasing opportunities for others with the gift of a cow, a chicken, a pig, or my favorite, a goat!
—Sean McConnell, Engagement Director for ERD in a Facebook Post

On two Sundays our Sunday Morning Forum group gathered up just under $100 and with a little help beyond the Forum we made a donation to purchase and send a goat and some chickens to help feed brothers and sisters far from the Coachella Valley and St. Margaret’s.

2013-1015 ERD Donation

To make this gift go even further, generous donors to ERD have pledged to match gifts made to ERD between now and December 6th. So, we’re able to send out 2 goats and twice as many chickens as our small part of the global efforts of ERD.

To all who have this possible: Thank you. Keep it going: make your own gift to ERD as a way of doing good today, and tomorrow!

Photo: Episcopal Relief & Development

Wind Chimes: 14 Dec 2012

Graduates of A4T1 Girls School, Kabul
Graduates of A4T1 Girls School, Kabul | An Episcopal Relief and Development Partner Program

[John said] “Bear fruits worthy of repentance.”

Luke 3:8 NRSV

Sometimes the music in the chimes makes the heart dance. Refreshed by the dance, every activity of the day is energized. What do you hear?

By word and EXAMPLE

Imagine that. The words of John spoken in the 1st century Judean wilderness thunder into the “Christmas Season” of 21st century America. “Bear fruits worthy of repentance.”

When asked by the people “What then should we do?” (Luke 3:10) John, in so many words, says ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ (3:10-14) Luke goes on to tell us, “…with many other exhortations, [John] proclaimed the good news to the people.” (3:18)

In our Baptismal Covenant we promise that, “with God’s help,” we will “Proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.” In Advent we annually discover, joyfully, that fulfilling such a promise is a noble way to live life. ~dan

A blessing based on the readings of Advent 3 (12/16/12)

Go now and rejoice in the Lord always.
Do not be afraid or worried about anything,
but in everything trust God and pray.
Bear fruits worthy of repentance,
sharing what you have and being gentle with all.

And may God rejoice over you with gladness;
May Christ Jesus renew you in his love;
and may the Holy Spirit give you peace beyond understanding
to guard your hearts and minds in Christ.

Laughing Bird Liturgical Resources for 12/16/12


Links to online Advent Calendars

Each of these has a different approach. Find one that helps you “prepare the way.” Find one that helps you focus on God as you make your way into the loving arms of God.

Trinity Wall Street Online Advent Calendar

Busted Halo Online Advent Calendar

CREDO Online Advent Calendar

“Black Friday” began the “Shopping Season” and retailers are relentless in keeping us focused on buying often and buying more. “#GivingTuesday” (11/27/12) was an invitation to give and use our “buying power” in a way that benefits others for more than just a day.

I intend to keep that invitation in front of us throughout the “Shopping Season.” I believe  that It is always the right time to be generous. If you haven’t participated in “#GivingTuesday” how about today? ~dan

Today’s give-a-gift-to-help-others idea (reprised):

Looking for other give-a-gift-to-help-others ideas?
Go first to Charity Navigator for those ideas
and for an evaluation of how your dollars will be spent

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Image: Photo Gallery of Episcopal Relief and Development

Wind Chimes: 1 Dec 2012

World AIDS Day is December 1

The sounds in the chimes today seem to carry until the whole world is filled with their hope. What do you hear?

December 1 is World AIDS Day

This is a day of prayer, study, reflection, and action. Some statements and information for you:

A Statement on World AIDS Day from The Rev. Mark S. Hanson (Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) and The Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori (Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church)

World AIDS Day 2012: Esperança’s Esperança a reflection from the field by an Episcopal Relief and Development worker

The UN Press Release for World AIDS Day

On Twitter search/see: #worldaidsday

A Prayer on World AIDS Day

Loving God, you show yourself to those who are vulnerable and make your home with the poor and weak of this world; Warm our hearts with the fire of your Spirit. Help us to accept the challenge of AIDS. Protect the healthy, we pray, calm the frightened, give courage to those in pain, comfort the dying and give to the dead eternal life. Console the bereaved, we beg you, and strengthen those who care for the sick. May we, your people, using all our energy and imagination, and trusting in your steadfast love, be united with one another in conquering all disease and fear. —Author unknown

Shannon, Maggie Oman (2009-12-22). Prayers for Hope and Comfort: Reflections, Meditations, and Inspirations (pp. 170-171). RedWheelWeiser – A. Kindle Edition.

“Black Friday” began the “Shopping Season” and retailers are relentless in keeping us focused on buying often and buying more. “#GivingTuesday” was an invitation to give and use your “buying power” in a way that benefits others for more than just a day.

I intend to keep that invitation in front of us throughout the “Shopping Season.” I believe (and am acting on my belief) that It is always the right time to be generous. If you haven’t participated in “#GivingTuesday” how about today? ~dan

2 Suggestions for giving on this Day (one global, one local for desert dwellers)

  • The “Health Fund” of Episcopal Relief and Development. (Navigate to “Health” on the Donate Page to designate your donation go to ERD’s Health Fund)
  • Desert AIDS Project. Located in Palm Springs, California, the Desert AIDS Project (DAP) seeks to “meet the evolving medical and social service needs of people living with HIV/AIDS by providing direct services and advocacy, while working to prevent new infections through education and outreach.”

#GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.

Mission Statement
Go to the Home Page for #GivingTuesday
Wind Chimes for November 27, 2012

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Image: UN Press Release for World AIDS Day

Wind Chimes: 3 Nov 2012

Ruth said [to Naomi], “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!”

Ruth 1:16-17 NRSV

The next two Sundays offer readings from the Book of Ruth. One commentator sets us on a deeper understanding of one of the treasures found in the Book: “Near the end of the book, the Bethlehemite women will articulate to Naomi what has been evident all along, that Ruth’s love is worth more than seven sons. Grace is walking right beside Naomi, unseen, yet refusing to leave her.” Let’s explore “being present.” ~dan

Persistent, pleasant, reminding us of the graces we receive through no effort of our own, the chimes sound. What do you hear?

Being Present

Being present in the spiritual life always has a double meaning. There’s present, as in here, in attendance. And there’s present, as in now, a moment of time. What is the spiritual practice of being present? Being here now.

The world’s religions all recommend living in the moment with full awareness. Zen Buddhism especially is known for its emphasis on “nowness.” Hindu, Taoist, Jewish, Moslem, Christian, and other teachers urge us to make the most of every day as an opportunity that will not come to us again.

Also under the rubric of being present is the traditional spiritual exercise called practicing the presence of God. This means recognizing that God is here now moving through our everyday activities, no matter how trivial they might seem.

Being Present” a spiritual practice on Spirituality & Practice

Nature: ever present

“The last debate of the presidential season belongs to Mother Nature. Uninvited, unmentioned throughout the political debates on this most important of election seasons, Mother Nature, incarnated by Guabancex, Caribbean deity of weather systems, invites herself.” Read more on Indian Country Today Media Network

This understanding of Nature and the Creator is remarkably like the discovery of Job (see God’s ‘speech’ in Job 38 and Job’s response in Job 42). ~dan

ERD: Healing a hurting worldGive to the Hurricane Sandy Response Fund
administered by Episcopal Relief and Development

One great thing about growing old

One great thing about growing old is that nothing is going to lead to anything. Everything is of the moment.

Joseph Campbell in A Joseph Campbell Companion edited by Diane Osbon and quoted on Spirituality & Practice (Quotations for the Spiritual Practice of Being Present)

Commentary by Patricia Tull A.B. Rhodes Professor Emerita of Old Testament Louisville Presbyterian Seminary (Jeffersonville, IN) on WorkingPreacher.org

Photo: By Jkadavoor (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons ~dan

Wind Chimes: 2 Nov 2012

A church cemetary

Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about people who have died so that you won’t mourn like others who don’t have any hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose, so we also believe that God will bring with him those who have died in Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 CEB

We continue to remember those ‘saints’ known mostly to us and to our families on this day. Though gone from this earth, who is it that continues to shape you because of their love? ~dan

The loveliness of the sounds from the chimes catches our attention today. What do you hear?

Commemoration of All Faithful Departed (Nov 2)

In the New Testament, the word “saints” is used to describe the entire membership of the Christian community, and in the Collect for All Saints’ Day the word “elect” is used in a similar sense. From very early times, however, the word “saint” came to be applied primarily to persons of heroic sanctity, whose deeds were recalled with gratitude by later generations.

Beginning in the tenth century, it became customary to set aside another day—as a sort of extension of All Saints—on which the Church remembered that vast body of the faithful who, though no less members of the company of the redeemed, are unknown in the wider fellowship of the Church. It was also a day for particular remembrance of family members and friends.

Though the observance of the day was abolished at the Reformation because of abuses connected with Masses for the dead, a renewed understanding of its meaning has led to a widespread acceptance of this commemoration among Anglicans, and to its inclusion as an optional observance in the calendar of the Episcopal Church.

Holy Women, Holy Men introduction for the “Commemoration of All Faithful Departed,”

Bishop Mathes encourages our helpful response in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

“As we continue to absorb the news about Hurricane Sandy, I ask your prayers for all impacted by this powerful storm. We are the one body of Christ, which means we all suffer when one suffers. Let us reach out to those who have lost electricity, homes, businesses and loved ones. And let no one face the storm alone.” Read his statement

ERD: Healing a hurting worldGive to the Hurricane Sandy Response Fund
administered by Episcopal Relief and Development

The Collect for the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Holy Women, Holy Men, p. 665

Photo: The cemetery at Mission Santa Ysabel in San Diego County (CA) on Google Maps. ~dan

Observing a holy Lent: giving alms

Are you ready for a challenge? I am. Here we go.

Go to the Haiti Response Page for more information
Image from the ERD Haiti Earthquake Response Page

On Sunday, March 4th, over a dozen Forum participants gathered with other parishioners to hear Sandra Swan talk about Haiti, about Episcopal Relief and Development, and about the efforts of every diocese and parish within the Episcopal Church—including St. Margaret’s—to learn about and “give alms” for the rebuilding of Haiti. Lane and Chet, the Vestry and its Outreach Commission, have made this our charitable effort in Lent 2012 (you can see the bricks in the Narthex every Sunday to remind you of this project).

Today, I challenge our Sunday Morning Forum (you and me) to contribute $1,000 to this Lenten alms giving. This seems like a modest goal for us who seek to be “doers of the word.” (James 1:22)

We are averaging over 20 folks in our Sunday morning gathering on campus. With just the Sunday morning crowd and a donation of $50 each we can make this goal. Reaching out to our friends and family and online Forum members we may exceed this goal for the glory of God and the relief of his people in Haiti.

If you have already given to the Haiti effort, let me know and we’ll add that to our total. Today Carol and I have donated $100 for the rebuilding of Haiti. Let’s do this as part of our effort to put our faith into action. Thank you. ~father dan

Donate Now as a doer of the word

  1. Use ParishPay (a secure website used by the church). Under One-Time Donations designate Rebuild Haiti to make your donation. (The option Carol and I used)
  2. Use the Episcopal Relief and Development secure website to make your donation; designate “Haiti Earthquake Response” to make your donation
  3. Write a check to St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church and indicate “Rebuild Haiti” on the Memo Line. Send check to: St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church | 47535 Highway 74 | Palm Desert, CA 92260 or drop the check into the Sunday collection at worship.

All contributions to St. Margaret’s for Haiti Relief will be sent to Episcopal Relief and Development whose workers and whose aid arrived in Haiti within hours of the January 12th earthquake in 2010 and whose commitment is to continue “its support throughout the recovery and rehabilitation process” (no matter how long it takes).

Additional information about how donations to ERD are used:

Additional information about how ERD is joined in a cooperative effort with other charitable organizations:

Visit the InterAction Haiti Aid Map for an interactive look at where Episcopal Relief & Development is active. Use this link to view the combined efforts of all Non-Govermental Organizations (NGOs) in Haiti.

Additional information about our parish efforts to contribute to the rebuilding of Haiti:

  • Sherry Wollenberg, our Forum member, (on Sundays in Lent you will find her near the bricks and the wheelbarrow in the Narthex or on the patio)
  • Deacon Cherry (seemingly everywhere on Sundays in Lent and via email: Deacon Cherry)

Advent Calendar Day 16: Episcopal Relief and Development

Episcopal Relief and Development

Just this past Lent we collected donations at St. Margaret’s and sent them to Episcopal Relief and Development to be added to their NetsforLife Inspiration Fund. Episcopal Relief and Development provides a way for all Episcopalians (indeed, all people of goodwill) to meet the needs of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the ill-clothed, the one who is sick and the one who is in prison (see Matthew 25:37-40)

Mission Statement

“Healing a hurting world”

Episcopal Relief & Development is the compassionate response of the Episcopal Church to human suffering in the world. Hearing God’s call to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to respect the dignity of every human being, Episcopal Relief & Development serves to bring together the generosity of Episcopalians and others with the needs of the world.

Episcopal Relief & Development faithfully administers the funds that are received from the Church and raised from other sources. It provides relief in times of disaster and promotes sustainable development by identifying and addressing the root causes of suffering.

Episcopal Relief & Development cherishes its partnerships within the Anglican Communion, with ecumenical bodies and with others who share a common vision for justice and peace among all people.

For more on this ministry: Episcopal Relief and Development
Learn more about the NetsforLife Inspiration Fund

Advent Calendar in one place
About the Online Advent Calendar

For further reflection

Help isn’t on the way. It’s already there

In 2010, Episcopal Relief & Development reached more than 3 million people in over 40 countries around the world.

Rather than imposing “one size fits all” solutions, Episcopal Relief & Development supports unique local, long-term initiatives that address poverty, hunger, disease, economic development and disaster response.

Our partnership with the worldwide Church creates opportunities to serve communities in some of the most remote areas of the world, as well as in urban environments where extreme poverty persists.

In many of these places, the Church is often one of the few institutions people trust and turn to for help. Episcopal Relief & Development leverages existing Church relationships to reach those whose need is greatest.

“Go with the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they have. Build on what they know. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say, ‘We have done this ourselves’.”  — Lao Tsu, Chinese Philosopher, 700 B.C.

From: ERD What We Do. Check out even more information using their Quick Links section on the right side of the page

See also the ERD Blog AND/OR Stories from the Field to see how Episcopalians, working together, seek and serve Christ in the “least” among us. Hear what the Spirit is saying.

Image: ERD Logo from the ERD Media Center Online Press Kit

Here is an opportunity to “change the world” — use it

Part of taking action on behalf of others is being informed. Then, part of effective action is joining with others to enhance the action taken (you know, “strength in numbers” and so on). I would like to introduce the Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) Blog to you by sharing from today’s post. You will see that the blog is intended to be “a forum for discussion, sharing and community.” Be informed.

Then, as we enter the season when gifts are given, hear Rob Radtke’s appeal. Rob is the President of ERD. He has donors who will match every donation made through November 30th up to $500,000. Consider a gift that will be twice as large (with the help of others) and do a world of good.  Then, make a gift. Here is Rob’s introduction:

It’s that time of year. The leaves are turning, there’s a chill in the air and the holidays are rushing toward us. And as I write, we’re over halfway through our 2011 Matching Gift Challenge. Just as they did last fall, some extremely generous donors are again matching every donation we receive through November 30, dollar for dollar – up to a total of $500,000.

As I’ve mentioned previously, it’s generally not my policy to ask for donations on our blog. I try as much as possible to honor the goal of this space: to be a forum for discussion, sharing and community. But once again, I’m making an exception because of this remarkable opportunity.

Thanks to our special donors, a gift today will go twice as far to reach people living in extreme poverty and hunger around the world. You’ll be able to provide double the amount of emergency relief supplies for those affected by disaster, two times as many meals for hungry school children, or twice the number of life-saving malaria nets and training to protect families.

via Episcopal Relief & Development.

Photo: ERD blog

Have you ever heard of EYE?

Would you like to hear a “good” story about the generation of (Episcopal) Christians now finding their voice and their gifts? Read on, here is an excerpt and a link to the larger story.

EYE: the Episcopal Youth Event is a triennial gathering of youth and adults from every Province of the Episcopal Church. EYE 2011 took place June 22-26 in St. Paul, MN. I have been able to attend and participate in 2 of these events and can tell you the energy and enthusiasm is life-changing.

For three solid days — from early morning to late night — 730 Episcopal youth, supported by more than 300 adult advisors and 50 bishops, were immersed in a comprehensive program designed to enrich and empower the next generation of leaders in the Episcopal Church. More than 50 workshops shared knowledge, stories and skills on subjects such as prayer and spirituality, effective Bible study, youth ministry and mission trip planning. Presenters included church leaders like Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton; the Rev. Angela Ifill, Episcopal Church black ministries officer; the Rev. Winfred Vergara, Episcopal Church Asian American ministries officer; and the Rev. Bob Honeychurch, Episcopal Church officer for congregational vitality.

Two daily plenary sessions presented keynote speakers that included Sutton, Rodger Nishioka of Columbia Theological Seminary, Episcopal missionary Cameron Graham Vivanco and the Rev. Luke Fodor, Episcopal Relief & Development’s network coordinator.

Fodor challenged the participants to “reframe the way we think about mission and our role in it,” suggesting it “is not possible for us to do mission” but that rather “mission is something that God does through us. God is the missional agent in this world.”

“My brothers and sisters, fear not. We all fall short of the glory of God, but God always works through us. Mission is not about us, but is about God and the others we meet when God is using us to build the Reign of God,” he said. “When we begin to think about mission in this way, mission becomes less and less about us. As we shed our baggage of fear, anxiety and the silent lies that suggest we don’t matter, then mission becomes more and more about God and our fellow humans.”

What was said to these young leaders is equally true for us: “reframe the way we think about mission and our role in it, for it is not possible for us to do mission, rather mission is something that God does though us. God is the missional agent in this world.” In the closing service of Holy Communion participants (young and old) heard an exhortation which is as true for us as it was for them.

Explaining that lay persons, like bishops, priests and deacons, are “the ministers of the church” (Book of Common Prayer, page 855), Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, invited participants to “jump into the waters of baptism.” [A video of Anderson’s address is available here.]

“We are the baptized. And the true claim of baptism, as our courageous ancestor JennieWylie Kellerman said, ‘is to wade in the water and be immersed in our Lord’s perverse ethic of vulnerability and gain through loss.'”

“He was not passive. Jesus troubled the waters. That’s our job if we are to follow Jesus. Our job is to upset any status quo that stands in the way of peace and justice, to question and do something about anything that stands in the way of a reconciled world,” said Anderson. “That’s why we are committed to mission. It’s our job to turn this world upside down; to turn over the tables; to look outside ourselves with fresh eyes and then help others see the kingdom of God.”

Read the ENS article: Episcopal youth enriched and empowered for mission

View and listen to Bonnie Anderson’s Address here

Reflect further – leave a comment

  • What do you think about God working through you to build the “Reign of God?” Are you ready? Do you need to be ready? Do you need to trust God for the grace to accomplish things through you?
  • In what ways do you “upset any status quo that stands in the way of peace and justice?
  • In what ways have you invited God (Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier) into your life so that you may, word and example, benefit others?
  • What aspect of the Baptismal Covenant do you find challenging? comforting? easy? difficult?

Start a conversation, keep a conversation going, leave a comment.

A Message from the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church

The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church issued the following letter at the conclusion of its three-day meeting at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, MD (Diocese of Maryland).

A Message to The Episcopal Church

from the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church,

meeting in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, June 14-17, 2011

these widowed boats,
the men who loved them
gone to their graves.

By M. Kei (an award-winning poet who lives on Chesapeake Bay)


Models, paintings and photographs of “widowed boats” line the halls of the Maritime Institute, some showing vessels caught in mid-explosion, others detailed in all their newly launched beauty and power. Scripture often uses the sea as a symbol of danger and chaos, and the boat or ship as a symbol of the safe place God creates for God’s people–a symbol for the church.

For the last three days the Executive Council has met among these powerful symbols to talk of hard financial issues and church decline and growth, to address elephants in the room, and to speak truth to one another in love.

The Presiding Bishop began her opening address by saying she was seeing a “significant rise in readiness for mission . . . for connection to needs beyond the local congregation.” The President of the House of Deputies spoke of the need for courageous change and called for a structure that “supports mission and ministry at the most appropriate level – congregation, diocese, province or church center.”

These have been reoccurring themes in the addresses of the Executive Council’s chair and vice chair this triennium as they have repeatedly urged the Council to be creative risk takers in addressing the challenges facing The Episcopal Church.

Read the entire Message: NewsLine.


A question for youForum participants: do you know any of the elements of our St. Margaret’s Mission Statement? Would the Presiding Bishop see a “significant rise in readiness for mission…[and] connection to needs beyond [St. Margaret’s]” in you? in our congregation? These are questions for personal consideration as well as communal (Forum) consideration.

Begin the conversation now, leave a comment here.

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