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.

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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

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

Eleventh Day of Christmas: F.I.N.D.

F.I.N.D. Food In Need of Distribution

Years before my arrival at St. Margaret’s (1993) the parish had forged a relationship with FIND and was distributing food once a week. Over the years the need for this source of food has grown, and so has the response. I am proud of the work being done by FIND in the Coachella Valley and by the parish volunteers who distribute food every Tuesday morning. Here is a way our parish has partnered with a community resource to “change the world.”  ~dan

Quote . . .FIND (Food in Need of Distribution) Food bank, is dedicated to mobilizing the resources of our community through education and awareness to relieve hunger, the causes of hunger and the problems associated with hunger.

Our Vision

To create, a community where our citizens are free of hunger insecurity.  By educating our clients about alternative healthy food choices and informing them of various programs available to them to alleviate the upward spiral of demand.  We envision our food insecure clients obtaining nourishing food through channels that are not solely dependent on private sources; where our clients can learn to become self-sufficient while mindful of healthy choices. (“Mission and Vision” on the FIND website)

FIND Home Page

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

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For further reflection

Frequently Asked Questions

Who We Are

Q What is FIND (Food In Need of Distribution) Food Bank?

A. FIND is the Coachella Valley’s only Food Bank and it is our responsibility to ensure there is sufficient food to feed the hungry.

Q. How does FIND get the food?

A. We get our food from four sources.

    1. Large and Small (food drives) food donations from entities such as General Mills, Nabisco, Kraft, Cargill and many more.
    2. We are the USDA distributor for the Eastern Riverside County.
    3. We have 5 trucks operating each day going from different local grocery stores and products that are either close to expiration, damaged containers or just overstocked product.
    4. We purchase large quantity of product at wholesale prices to meet the needs of our agencies and operational programs such as Desert Kids Summer Feeding and Seniors Brown Bag.

Q. How is the food distributed?

A. Food is distributed through either our partnering agencies or directly through our emergency food programs.

Q. What geographical area does FIND serve?

A. Find serves the Eastern Riverside County along with parts of the high desert.

Q How many people does FIND help feed?

A. We are currently reaching on average 80,000 individuals monthly.

Q. How does FIND address food safety and nutrition?

A. We operate our warehouse under the strictest guidelines for food safety and are continuously working to obtain higher nutritional value type foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Programs and Support

Q. What is FIND doing to help people support themselves?

A. We are reaching out to the people we serve through our partnering agencies and helping them find alternative sources of aid, such as Food Stamps, WIC and general case management services.

Q. How successful is FIND is its fight against hunger?

A. FIND is working aggressively each and every day to end hunger in the Coachella Valley. Once we have a full commitment from our community we will be able to state, “We are a hunger free zone”.

How You Can Help

Q. How much of my donation will be used for acquisition of food?

A. For every dollar we are able serve 7 meals. This is because 98% or 86% of your donation goes to food acquisition.

Q. How many people will I feed with my donation?

A. $1 = 7 meals
$10 = 70 meals
$100 = 700 meals

Q. Why should I support FIND?

A. FIND Food Bank is the main provider of food to those who find themselves food insecure. This could mean a child, a senior, a family or a homeless individual.

Hunger does not Discriminate.
Hunger knows no age limits.
Hunger knows no boundaries.
WE KNOW HUNGER!
Serving Hungry Families in The Coachella Valley Since 1983.

Join us in our pledge to fight hunger in the Coachella Valley.

Q. How can I become a partner?

A. Either browse our web site and find the many ways you can make a difference through a donation that fits your needs or call us 760-775-FOOD (3663)

Q. Can I make recurring partner donations?

A. Yes, by donating on a recurring basis allows us to implement programs to better serve those in need.

Q Are volunteers needed?

A. Volunteers are the back bone to our success, we are always looking for opportunities to work with individuals or groups. Call or go to our web site for further details.

From the FIND website 3 January 2012


Tenth Day of Christmas: Heifer International

Heifer International

Heifer International works near and far to end hunger and poverty.  ~dan

Quote . . .To End Hunger & Poverty

Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth.

By giving families a hand-up, not just a hand-out, we empower them to turn lives of hunger and poverty into self-reliance and hope.

With gifts of livestock and training, Heifer projects help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. We refer to the animals as “living loans” because in exchange for their livestock and training, families agree to give one of its animal’s offspring to another family in need. It’s called Passing on the Gift – a cornerstone of our mission that creates an ever-expanding network of hope and peace. (“Our Work” on the Heifer International website)

Heifer International Home Page

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

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For further reflection

USA – Building Healthy Community Food Systems in Arkansas and Appalachia

Project Profile:

Building Healthy Community Food Systems in Arkansas and Appalachia will help to organize and provide resources and support for local communities to fight hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. The project will specifically target high-need populations in two regions: Lee, Monroe, Phillips, St. Francis and Woodruff counties in the Arkansas Delta and Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga and Wilkes counties in North Carolina, and Johnson County, Tennessee in the high-country of Appalachia

Heifer USA will be facilitating and building the capacity for collaboration among key partners. With partners, this project will work within the value chain to create and support the establishment and sustainability of community food enterprises linking small and medium-scale farmers to diverse markets. Limited resource families will have increased access to, and the ability to influence the quality and availability of, local, healthy food within their own communities. Education and awareness-raising as well as public policy work are also key strategies as part of realizing long-term, systemic change. Please read more about this new initiative

Check out the The Heifer Blog for more stories, inspiration, and encouragement.


Ninth Day of Christmas: Mission to Seafarers

Mission to Seafarers

Some of you may remember Fr. Bob Crafts as the Rector of St. John’s in Indio. When he retired he moved back to San Diego and began a new ministry as a Chaplain for the Mission to Seafarers. As a diocese we support Fr. Crafts in prayer and practice as he provides ministry to those who sail the seas.    ~dan

Quote . . .Piracy, shipwreck, abandonment and separation from loved ones are just a few of the problems merchant seafarers face. Around the world, The Mission to Seafarers provides help and support to the 1.2 million men and women who face danger every day to keep our global economy afloat.

As a Christian agency, we work in 250 ports caring for seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs. Through our global network of chaplains, staff and volunteers we offer practical, emotional and spiritual support to seafarers through ship visits, drop-in centres and a range of welfare and emergency support services. (“About Us” on the Mission to Seafarers website)

Mission to Seafarers What We Do | Mission to Seafarers Home Page

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

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For further reflection

Did you know:

  • 90% of world trade is carried by the sea, providing work to more than a million seafarers.
  • 30 million people make a living by fishing.
  • The rate of suicide for international seafarers is triple that of shore workers, and they are 26 times more likely to be killed at work.
  • Shipping is a truly international industry: in today’s global market you might have a Greek-owned vessel, registered in Malta, with officers from India and a mixed crew from Thailand, Indonesia, Vanuatu, and the Philippines.
  • Piracy hit an all-time high in the first six months of 2011, with 266 attacks worldwide, up from 196 a year earlier, according to statistics from the International Maritime Bureau. Of the 266 attacks, 60% were carried out by Somalia-based pirates.
  • Seafarers are among the most exploited and abused groups of workers in the world, yet their plight is barely recognised by the mainstream media and public opinion, says the ITF report, ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’.

Source: Facts and Figures on the Mission to Seafarers website

Do you remember:

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Matthew 25:34-36