St. Anthony of the Desert
Episcopal Church
Desert Hot Springs, California

 

Regular Church Services

St. Anthony of the Desert Episcopal Church has its weekly Holy Eucharist every Sunday at 10 am in the main church building. Music and scripture readings accompany the Anglican liturgy. Anyone who wishes may attend. All are welcome!

Important News: Our time has recently changed from 10 am to 11 am. This change will be permanent for 2017. 

See the map indicated on our Location Page for directions and our address. See our Newsletter Page for the most recent issue of the "St. Anthony's Newsletter."

Tuesdays: Parish Volunteer Day

We ask all our volunteers to help us out in the parish with routine office and other tasks. We are hosting training sessions with those who wish to help us out with office work on Tuesday afternoons, starting at 2 pm. Everyone is invited! You may call or email one of us, ask questions after any church service or just show up on Tuesdays. We thank all of our current volunteers for their diligent work for St. Anthony's!

 Church Events Calendar

All events will be held at the church building unless otherwise noted.

Upcoming Services & Events:

Tuesday, January 17 - Volunteer Day
    2 pm: Church building - Volunteer meeting and work time

Sunday, January 22 - Epiphany 3
  
11 am: Regular church service
   Social time after the service with coffee, other beverages and snacks

Tuesday, January 24 - Volunteer Day
    2 pm: Church building - Volunteer meeting and work time

Sunday, January 29 - Epiphany 4
  
11 am: Regular church service
   Social time after the service with coffee, other beverages and snacks

Tuesday, January 31 - Volunteer Day
    2 pm: Church building - Volunteer meeting and work time

Sunday, February 5 - Epiphany 5
  
11 am: Regular church service
   Social time after the service with coffee, other beverages and snacks

Tuesday, February 7 - Volunteer Day
    2 pm: Church building - Volunteer meeting and work time

Sunday, February 12 - Epiphany 6
  
11 am: Regular church service
   Social time after the service with coffee, other beverages and snacks

Tuesday, February 14 - Volunteer Day
    2 pm: Church building - Volunteer meeting and work time

Pastoral Messages

This section provides several pastoral messages and past sermons for reading and study. Feel free to let us know whether you find this collection helpful.

Sermon: Advent 3, December 14, 2014

In the name of God, our Source of Creation, Liberation, Inspiration. Amen.

Well, I must say it’s good to see you all again this week. My dire opining last week did not result in disaster, either geologic or spiritual, which as far as I’m concerned is a pretty good thing. I like my life. I don’t know if I’m really ready to meet my Maker just yet.

Even so, it has also been a disturbing few weeks. Enough to make one think we have lost our moral compass as human beings in this country. The refusal of a grand jury to indict the police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, I can almost understand. I’ve read most of the grand jury testimony that was released. Maybe, it was justified. Maybe ....

However, the Eric Garner case in Staten Island, New York is dreadful. There is no excuse for the death of that man. He was committing the most minor of misdemeanors. He wasn’t threatening the police or any one else. Four policemen circled him, tackled him, brought him down in a choke hold that ultimately killed him. The policeman’s excuse - that he could still talk, so he couldn’t be out of breath - was not reasonable. That he was struggling against the policeman? Well, wouldn’t you thrash around if you were gasping for breath, being suffocated?

Even more tragic was the murder of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy playing with his 14-year-old sister in a park in Cleveland. The policeman never gave him a chance. He didn’t stop or look or ask or think. The squad car just pulled up and the policeman shot him. Completely unjustifiable, appalling behavior.

And then, a few days ago, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture by some members of the CIA was released. Plus the fact that two psychologists were paid over $80 million to advise the CIA about methods of torture! Would someone please pay you and me, all of us, $80 million to advise them about being moral and ethical human beings?

Doesn’t it make you wonder if there is any reasonable claim to morality in this nation? Is it an easy out to say, well, I didn’t pull the trigger, or hold that man in a choke hold, or water-board those men? Or do we each individually bear the corporate, communal sin for the actions of those who hold positions of authority, those who supposedly act on our behalf?

It’s not a new question. The psalms are replete with such dilemmas. Psalms of national guilt, national disgrace, national repentance. Later, on your own time, check out Psalms 10 through 14 to get a taste of this kind of lament.

It’s the question Isaiah addressed in today’s lesson. He was a prophetic voice at the court of the king. It was his job to challenge power, to make the rulers consider their behaviors, to make them aware of their responsibilities to all the people of their kingdom, not just the elites. The biblical reality was that the kings and the prophets danced a ballet together, sometimes together, sometimes in opposition. The tradition was always that for every king there was a prophet to call him to account for the nation’s actions, and to hold the people accountable for their behaviors as well. Whether it was to provide comfort and to hold out visions of hope during hard times or to challenge their immoral actions against the least powerful in society, the prophets fulfilled a necessary purpose in God’s scheme.

And so today, we hear Isaiah, the prince prophet in the court of the kings, make this pronouncement:

“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; Isaiah 61:1-2

Who will be the prophets of our day and age? What will be the good news for the oppressed? For the minorities who are unduly singled out for police attention, scrutiny, and harassment? How many of you have had to sit down with your sons and have a talk with them about how to behave if a cop pulls them over or singles them out for no good reason?

In New York City, the mayor issued an order to the police to end their “Stop and Frisk” program because there was no supportable rationale to justify the program and because it disproportionately targeted minorities. Listen to these numbers:
In 2010, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 601,285 times:

- 518,849 were totally innocent (86 percent).
- 315,083 were black (54 percent).
- 189,326 were Latino (33 percent).
- 54,810 were white (9 percent).
- 295,902 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).

Realize that the entire Coachella Valley population is 432,596. That means that every single one of us could have been stopped and frisked by the New York City police, for absolutely no reason, other than being outside our homes.

How would that make you feel? To be stopped, pulled over, made to get out of your car, maybe made to lie spread-eagle on the hood of your car, or on the ground, patted down, frisked to see if you are carrying anything the police don’t think you should have? Can you imagine the humiliation? The sense of degradation? People staring as they drove by? Wondering what kind of trouble you have had gotten into? People don’t wonder about the cops, just the folks they have pulled over.

These kinds of cases, the humiliation of innocent people as well as the unjustified killing of minorities, are very much like the kinds of oppression that troubled the biblical communities 2 and 3 thousand years ago. They weren’t just crimes of physical violence. There were financial crimes too, which we’ve seen too much of in recent years. Then, it was people being forced to indenture themselves to rich landowners. And later these same people not being granted their liberty from bondage in the Sabbath years.

Nowadays, we’ve seen the immoral activities of bankers knowingly selling bad loans to investors while hedging their bets by buying insurance in case those bad loans really did go bad! Falsifying loan documents to foreclose on people’s homes. Rigging LIBOR rates to rip off international businesses and borrowers. Allowing those who profited from the financial melt-down to get away scot-free with their ill-gotten millions and billions. Did you know that Congress just snuck a “Get out of jail free” Pass for bankers into this last minute funding bill this week? How’s that for privilege for the rich? Plus, now they get to donate 10 times as much as before -- $324,000 to their favorite politician. I wish I had that much money to influence my congressman ... because you know that much money is going to get his attention and guarantee my access to him. When they say we have the best government money can buy, they ain’t kidding!

And so it goes - on and on and on. God willing, some good may come out of these tragedies. God willing, the powers and authorities will learn to think first, ask questions first, and shoot later, instead of the other way ‘round. God willing, we will grow out of our ‘wild west’ mentality that tells us that we need to be armed to the teeth, that we need to solve our problems and disagreements with violence, instead of reason. God willing, we will find a way to ensure justice for those who are impoverished and imprisoned by lack of education, lack of health care, and most of all, lack of hope to escape their situations. God willing, we will find a way back to being a government of the people, for the people, by the people so that special interests won’t pervert the system to further enhance their pocketbooks. God willing.

In the meantime, who will be the prophets of our day and age? Because we need a new Isaiah who to proclaim good news. The reality is that this is the time for each and every one of us to comfort all who mourn and to demand justice - political, economic, criminal and social justice - and liberty for all people. We can’t wait for someone else to pick up the mantle. We need to become the prophets who say enough is enough. No more violence, no more murders. No more corruption in business and politics. No more injustice in education and health care. No more favors and perks and goodies for the rich until those same favors and perks and goodies are made available to each and every person in this country.

And while we are taking this mantle on ourselves, we need to do one more thing: pray.

To pray for Christ’s return to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. To pray that the Lord’s favor will return to this country, to this world. And to pray that each and every one of us will work to establish universal moral bearings that all humanity will honor.

Amen.

The Rev. Julia W. Christian
Message given at St. Anthony of the Desert Episcopal Church
Desert Hot Springs, California

Sermon by Guest Speaker on November 15, 2015

This sermon was given at St. Anthony's by the Very Rev. Dr. Sylvia Sweeney, Dean of the Episcopal Theological School (Bloy House) in Claremont, California. It is in response to the Bible passage Mark 13:1-8.

When I hear this I find myself saying to God. What? You want all that from me? This is like a home improvement project when all you wanted to do was replace the kitchen sink and the next thing you know you’re committed to a $20,000 kitchen remodel, a new breakfast nook, and six new appliances for your house.

This is like …. this is like … if you try to give a moose a muffin! Do you know that children’s story? If you give a moose a muffin he will want some jam to go with it and when he’s finished eating it he’ll want another and another and then he’ll want you to make more and then he’ll need to borrow a sweater to wear to the store and before he’s done your whole house will be in shambles, you’ll have a giant puppet mural in your living room, and your mom will be wondering what happened to her good white sheets! Sometimes God is like a moose who wants a muffin from us!

Scripture … it is a beautiful gift for our lives and as Thomas Cranmer made clear in this 16th century collect, it is a complex gift. To fully receive it, asks much of us. Cranmer wrote this prayer for the 1549 Prayer Book because he wanted to impress upon Anglicans of the Reformation era that Christianity is not a passive spectator sport.

As you all know, it is not enough to come to church and be fed and entertained by the people who stand up front, to let them do all the work on your behalf as was so much the case in the time at the cusp of the Reformation … No, if one is to truly live the Christian life as God has intended, one will roll up one’s sleeves and get ready to work … Not to earn our salvation but so that, in time, through intention and diligence, we can come just a little closer to truly grasping and giving thanks for all that God has already done and is doing for us.

Scripture, when we hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest it compels us to a particular way of living, of praying, of loving. Our indwelling within it has the power over and over again to change our world, our churches, our homes, and our lives. Scripture can give us a vision for the world that is greater than what we can see in the present. Just as it could inspire Hannah to see with new eyes, and in turn Hannah would inspire Mary, so we too when our lives are steeped in scripture can find ourselves seeing with a vision and a wisdom beyond our current horizon.

Theological education in all its forms is about allowing this kind of transformation to take place within us, not just allowing it, but actively pursuing this kind of transformation. And despite what has sadly so often been communicated to lay people since the age of Thomas Cranmer, theological education in all its forms is not just for those preparing to be priests. It is a necessity for all Christians in order to live out our Christian callings.

Knowledge is power … Spiritual knowledge gives us the power to transform and be transformed. But allowing that transformation to happen is demanding work. We can’t as is already clear to Cranmer and as is evidenced in this 350 year old prayer, we can’t just take what we see at face value.

We can’t be naïve and myopic in relation to scripture. We must hear it and read it and decipher it and find its meaning for our day and our time. We must meditate on it, dissect it, dance with it, and allow it to enter us in ways that everyday words rarely do. We must inwardly digest it … break it apart to find its deepest kernels of truth and like that moose who wants a muffin, you cannot stop there.

To read scripture as Cranmer read it and implored Christians to read it inevitably then opens us up to theological reflection, to moral theology, to issues of understanding that call into question all that it means to be church. It asks us to examine anew what it means to lead and what it means to serve. It invites us into an ever new way of being in the world.

This kind of Anglican reading of scripture will inevitably lead us to a new way of living and a new locus of authority for our lives. To read thoughtfully pulls us deeper into the tradition and asks us to stretch our reasoning to make sense of scripture in our own day.
A hundred years after Cranmer penned this prayer that teaches us how to read scripture, the great Anglican theologian Richard Hooker will write that if we are to understand the authority of scripture in our lives, we must see it as one leg of a three legged stool. We must understand that our lives lived in faith are shaped by scripture, by reason which informs our read of scripture and of the world around us, and by tradition which helps us to see our own revelations within the context of the historical church’s revelations regarding these same questions.

Today’s Gospel read in this light makes clear that we cannot live our lives in some naïve belief that suffering will never touch us. Jesus looks at the world around him through the eyes with which scripture has given him to see. Sometimes it will seem as if the world around us is collapsing. Calamities will come. Injustices will occur. Life will not bring us what we hoped for or even what we believe we deserve.

But Christ is also clear that suffering is never the end of the story. Not disappointment, not injustice, not calamity. New life comes. This too is a promise of scripture. Past our current suffering, over and over again there is the promise of new life, new possibility, new hope, new visions and new dreams.
As we stand here at the edge of one liturgical year looking back over what has been and looking forward to the coming of Christ, let us do so with knowledge, with courage and with hope: Knowing as Hannah did that God will guard the feet of the faithful, and the lowly will be raised up to make them sit with princes. Knowing that as Christ has promised us in scripture, the birth pangs of this day will lead to new life, new hope, new beginnings.

Amen.