A Morning of Unity and Justice

Sharing the news from our neighbor, St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, CA

Rabbis David Lazar of Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs and Richard Zionts of the Har-El Institute for Study and Worship in the Reform Tradition joined us for worship Sunday Morning, August 20 to celebrate a Morning of Unity and Justice at St. Margaret’s. The day offered a celebration of our unity and God’s grace in […]

via A Morning of Unity and Justice — St. Margaret’s News

We pray for the gifts of ministry

On Sunday May 6th we heard “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” Last Sunday, May 13th, we heard “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last….” And today, May 20th, we hear, “[Father] as you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” The speaker in each instance, of course, is Jesus. He is speaking to those who gather around him—in every age—to hear what he is saying. He is speaking to us.

As the Sunday Morning Forum gathers (9am PDT) at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, CA this Sunday morning we will wonder aloud with each other what this means in 21st century America, in our lives, and in our common life. We will also pray for each other. Having heard something about who and whose we are and knowing that we are sent into the world to “bear fruit that will last” we pray for each other:

O God, we pray for the gifts of ministry. Inspire our minds with a vision of your kingdom in this time and place. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our eyes, that we may see your glory in all creation. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our ears, that we may hear from every mouth the hunger for hope and stories of refreshment. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our lips, that we may tell in every tongue and dialect the wonderful works of God. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our hearts, that we may discern the mission to which you call us. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our feet, that we may take your Good News into our neighborhoods, communities, and all parts of the world. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our hands, that we may each accomplish the work you give us to do. Hear us, O Christ.

Strengthen and encourage all who minister in your name in lonely, dangerous and unresponsive places. Hear us, O Christ.

Open the hearts and hands of many to support your Church in this and every place. Hear us, O Christ.

O God, we praise you for the depth of your love for the world revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. We thank you for choosing and sending us to reveal by our word and example your steadfast love: making some apostles, some  prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers to equip your people for the building up of the Body of Christ. Bless us in our words and works that your Name may be glorified, now and for ever. Amen.

Litany: The Book of Occasional Services, 2003, excerpted, p. 246, Collect, p. 237 adapted

I welcome you to join us (who have more questions than answers and who have love to share). Consider becoming part of the Forum. Have questions but can’t attend? I encourage you to leave your questions here and I’ll answer as best I can. ~dan rondeau

The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church …

The Martyrs of the Sudan

… so said Tertullian in the 3rd century CE. Martyrdom isn’t relegated to days long ago and places far away. As a community we remember those who, even now, witness to the faith with their very lives.

Quote . . .On May 16, 1983, a small number of Episcopal and Roman Catholic clerical and lay leaders declared they “would not abandon God as they knew him.” Possibly over two million persons, most of them Christians, were then killed in a two-decade civil war, until a Comprehensive Peace Treaty was signed in January 2005. During those years, four million southern Christians may have been internally displaced, and another million forced into exile in Africa and elsewhere. Yet despite the total destruction of churches, schools, and other institutions, Sudanese Christianity, which includes four million members of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, has both solidified as a faith community, and gradually expanded at home and among refugees, providing steadfast hope in often-desperate setting.

—from the blog post on Holy Women, Holy Men

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) is currently revising the “old” Lesser Feasts and Fasts calendar of the Episcopal Church. The commemoration of the Martyrs of the Sudan is “new.”  This work of revision (and more) of the SCLM will be discussed in the General Convention in Indianapolis, IN this summer.

The Collect for this Commemoration

O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Image: Holy Women, Holy Men

Ready for a word order meditation?

The words are familiar: “The Lord is my shepherd ….” I have recited this Psalm many times with the dying, with the bereaved, with those struggling to find the strength to move on, or the strength to face a fear-filled future.

I have been with agitated men and women of a certain age, robbed of mental acuity by illness or injury, and watched calm wash over them and through them, watched peace come to them as I recited the words of Psalm 23.

But, change the word order and you will have the heart of our conversation in the Sunday Morning Forum as it gathers at 9:00 am on Sunday, April 29, 2012.

The Lord is my shepherd … . Ah, peace, strength, and …

IS the Lord my shepherd …? Ah. Wait. What? How dare you suggest …

In the readings appointed for Sunday we hear:

The Lord is my Shepherd … (Psalm 23:1)

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us … (1 John 3:16)

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep….” (John 10:11)

Look through the ups and downs of your life.

  • In what ways have these words of scripture been true for you?
  • When have these words been part of your prayers?
  • Are you ready to risk sharing a bit of your history with the group.
  • IS the Lord your shepherd?
  • What has this come to mean for you?
  • Have you always been secure in this knowledge?
  • Have you ever been secure in this knowledge?

Telling our stories of encounter with the Risen Lord, the Good Shepherd, is a fulfillment of our Baptismal Covenant to “proclaim by word … the Good News of God in Christ.”

I invite you to leave a comment, even a story, here. Let your words open the mystery and meaning of speaking this way about God and our relationship with God.

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)

Make room (and time) for Lent

Lenten Meditations from the desert

“A traditional view of Lent is that it’s a time of restriction, sacrifice, and giving up things. But it can also be a time for expansion, rededication, and connection with others. Many people take on special devotional practices during Lent; others also make more time during this season to be in conversation with their spiritual communities.”Spirtuality & Practice email dated Feb. 18, 2012

Expand your mind and heart with the folks of St. Margaret’s this Lent, rededicate yourself to following Jesus Christ, find a connection with those you work with, socialize with and with whom you worship. Forty members of St. Margaret’s have each written a meditation for one of the days of Lent. We invite you “to observe a holy Lent” with us:

Three ways to receive the daily Lenten Meditations

  1. Go daily to the St. Margaret’s website and click the image to see the meditation of the day. This banner will be visible throughout Lent.
  2. “Follow” the Lenten Meditations blog (on WordPress) by using the Follow button in the right side bar (or at the bottom of blog page).
  3. Bookmark the Lenten Meditations blog in your browser and, in the 40 days of Lent, use the bookmark to go back to the blog where you will find a new meditation each day.

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About the image: a close up of Ocotillo flowers taken in the Santa Rosa Mountains above Palm Desert in March 2005 by Stan Shebs and posted on Wikimedia Commons.

Twelfth Day of Christmas: You


The need is great. The opportunities to make a difference are just as great. Let the words of St. Ignatius guide your efforts in 2012: “Pray as if everything depends upon God and act as if everything depends upon you.”

January 6th is the Epiphany. The love of God, enfleshed in Jesus, is manifested to the whole world. It is our calling to continue to reveal Jesus, the Christ, to the whole world in the place we are and in the time we have.

With the Feast of Epiphany this calendar will be renamed “Opportunity Calendar” because it will present you and other viewers with the opportunity to make a difference in the life of one person or one family or one village. Choose to become involved.

 Pray. Your prayers lifted to God to comfort those in need and strengthen those sent to meet the needs are more powerful than you can imagine. Believe it; I do.

Pray and study. Increase your awareness of need and response as you pray and study. Read and listen and watch, taking it all to our God in prayer. The encounter will change you. I know.

Study and share. Raise the awareness of others by sharing information, especially stories. Write letters to your elected representatives. Become the voice of the voiceless.

Share time, talent, and treasure. Volunteer your time and love by serving others (it is the model given us by Christ). Make donations (even small donations help) to an organization that is making a difference.

Remember a promise made to you by Jesus, revealed as “Emmanuel” in this time of Christmas and Epiphany: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ~dan

The Twelve Days of Christmas Calendar in one place
About the Twelve Days of Christmas Calendar

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For further reflection

In our Baptismal Covenant we promise God and each other to act as if everything depended on us:

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

I will with God’s help.

 Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

I will with God’s help.

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?

I will with God’s help.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

I will with God’s help.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

I will with God’s help.

The Book of Common Prayer, pp. 304-305