For Sunday, April 3, 2022
COVID-19 and Masking at St. Paul’s Update
After careful deliberation between the Vestry and Co-Rectors, we continue to wear masks. After the height of the busy season and Easter, should all be well, we will consider strongly recommending masks and vaccination at our 10:30AM Sunday worship service and requiring masks and vaccination at our 8:00AM Sunday worship service, starting on May 1st. Should this plan go forward, the decision will be made at our April Vestry meeting on Thursday, April 28th.
A Season of Holy Lent at St. Paul in the Desert 2022
The Reconciliation of a Penitent: Remembering Confession in Lent
The Book of Common Prayer contains two orders of service for private confession, known officially as the Reconciliation of a Penitent. Making a private confession is a traditional and powerful spiritual practice, and the choice to confess or not confess to a priest is governed by the adage: All may, some should, none must. This Lent, Rev. Jessie and Rev. Dan are reserving Sunday afternoons for hearing confessions and are also available by appointment. If you would like resources or help preparing for confession, or if you would like to set up a time for this sacrament, please email or
The Real Dracula, a play written by our own Mick Welch, examines how we deal with anger management. During Lent, we have met in a weekly reading of this vivid play each Sunday at 9:00 AM, in the Library. The group reading sessions were a fun learning experience and we finished reading the play one week earlier than planned. Here’s the takeaway quote from the final session: “Michael, Brother – you chose the better way. It’s happened to me like you said: I’ve hurt myself the worst of all. Your choices brought you to the Light, but my name will be forever foul, a synonym for sin. Dracula’s day is done. I have killed myself. Darkness devours me now.” It set the stage for a “cast party,” of sorts – The End of Evil Party, Monday April 11, 6:00 PM, when we’ll celebrate in costumes at the home of Mick and Lou. Questions? Contact Mick Welch at or 760.992.7491.
Where is God in the Pandemic? March 8, we began a five-week series dealing with this topic, Tuesday evenings at 6:00 PM in the Library. We’re using N.T. Wright’s “God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath” as a springboard for conversation. You can order the book at all major book retailers. Even if you haven’t yet participated in these discussions, you’re still welcome to join the final session, Tuesday, April 5.
Give up your stuff for Lent – Searching for a Lenten Practice that will have you looking at what you have, getting rid of what you don’t need, and creating literal space for God’s Spirit to flow and your home to be a place of resurrection? Join us this Lent with the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. You determine the size of the bags, and going through each room, drawer, closet, and cupboard, each day collect the items you don’t need, don’t use, or have too much of and discard, recycle or find a new home for those items. By using/having less and by being less wasteful, we can make more room for prayer and to hear God’s Voice. Join us. #40bagsin40dayslentchallenge
Sermon given by the Reverend Jessie Thompson
March 27, 2022
Texts: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 and 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Laetare Sunday is here! Pink Sunday! Though the liturgical purists will remind us it is Rose Sunday! It is the halfway mark of Lent, a Sunday to reassess how we’re doing and get back on track with our Lenten practices and more than that, it is a Sunday of joy! Rejoice!
Speaking of rejoicing, we’re in the final weeks of tax season…
Where are all the CPAs? Where are all the sinners?
In response to the grumblings that Jesus ate and hung out with CPAs and sinners, he tells three stories about lost things. The lost sheep, the lost coin, and finally, the lost brothers. Many of us grew up hearing this story called “The Parable of the Prodigal Son.” It’s a parable so familiar that we can often miss the scandalous point of the tale.
In the story Jesus tells, a younger son asks his father for his share of the family wealth, takes it and spends it foolishly, finds himself without work or pity in a famine, rehearses a speech to return to his father as one of his father’s servants, but upon seeing the son return to the homestead, the father runs to meet the wayward son, embraces him, gives him fine things, and throws a huge party for the son! The older son has been there the whole time and no party’s been thrown for him, so he has a bit of hurt feelings, but the father assures him that everything he has is the older son’s as well. “We had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”
If you had to place yourself in this story this morning, I wonder who you might be… Are you the son who got out of Dodge to get as far away from your family as possible? The son who made some financially poor choices and/or perhaps some poor life choices? The son who wasn’t sure you could ever go back home once you left it? Or are you the older son, whose jealousy over the return of the slacker brother has you ticked off about what is owed you? The older son who has worked hard while others have bailed, only to feel overlooked or not appreciated? Or are you the father, who gave your son the portion that would’ve been his once you’ve died? The father who had to watch your child make poor decisions, and yet couldn’t do anything about it? The father who waited up nights praying and weeping for the return of your child?… Or are you just the party guests, on your second martini, without a care about why there’s a party, but just that there IS a party?
If I had to wonder about who God is based on this story of redemption, I would believe God is one who will not settle for things or people remaining lost, and God loves to throw a party!
In the previous two stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin, God is the shepherd who left the 99 to find that wandering sheep, and God is the widow who swept her home to find that coin that was missing. In today’s story, neither the father nor the elder son goes to find the lost son/brother. But the fact that the aged father hikes up his robes and risks twisting an ankle or busting his hip to take a jog to hurry closing the distance between himself and his lost son, speaks of a God who will not ever give up on anyone. No person is too lost for God to risk it all to find. No person’s return home is too minor not to warrant throwing a raging party for!
I think to be human is to experience loss, isn’t it? We have all experienced loss. Lost people, family members or friends, who have died or drifted out of our lives or left our lives in anger… Lost children, who have died or rejected us or who have not invited us into their lives… Lost job opportunities… Lost finances… Lost homes… Lost loves… Lost pets… Lost dreams… Lost hopes…
And to experience loss is to experience grief. It is to see what once was or what could’ve been, and to know that it will never be… It is to ache in our hearts for the return of the familiar or the hope of a different outcome… And loss that turns to grief can feel like failure… It can feel shameful… It should have been different, but it isn’t, and somehow, I am to blame for how it could’ve gone but didn’t. It’s my fault…
And the shame in the grief in the loss is the thing that keeps us either remaining in the pigsty—too afraid to take a step towards home—or it keeps us with bitter hearts for the wayward ones who came back and got a party while we worked our sweet cheeks off dutifully keeping things going while they left us with double the labor.
Shame is never a tactic Jesus uses to tell stories… Shame is a tool that lodges itself in our most tender parts of our hearts and makes us believe the lie that we are not enough to return home or to be invited into the party (which, by the way, is thrown for us anyhow!). Shame keeps us from seeing that we were made in love and made for love, and the embarrassment we have from choices we made can keep us from returning to love when we need it the most. Shame makes us believe the lie that what we’ve done (or not done) is who we are. And as such, we are not the kind of person deserving of a party.
In Jesus’ stories, loss does not have the final word… That which is lost, is always found… This is the scandalous and difficult truth of the story. Nothing is ever lost for good. Nothing is ever lost forever. And nothing that you’ve ever done (or not done) will prevent you from being found.
This is the halfway message of Laetare Sunday, here in the middle of Lent: Rejoice! “But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.”
You do not have to long for the slop that the pigs are eating, when the True Bread which gives life to the world is yours for the consuming. Let no uninvited shame from the grief of loss keep you from the Table!
Take a step toward home.
In fact, gird up your loins and take a full-on run towards it.
Because the band has started to play, people have kicked off their shoes to start dancing, the smell of savory meat and fresh bread is in the air, and the party for you has begun!
“[I] entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Be reconciled to the God who longs to put arms around you and pick you up and kiss you! Be reconciled to the God who is filled with compassion and cannot do anything but celebrate and rejoice at your sheer existence and your willingness to be found!
The Rev. Jessie Thompson, Rector
The Church of St. Paul in the Desert
Daughters of the King Update
All women of St. Paul’s who seek deeper spiritual life and inspiration in prayer and Christian fellowship are invited to learn more about becoming a member of the Order of the Daughters of the King. St. Paul’s Chapter will be offering a new discernment class soon.
On Sunday, April 24, at 9:00 AM, between the two services, representatives from our order will be in the church library to discuss the discernment class and answer questions. We will also be at Coffee Hour after the 10:30 AM service, so look for women wearing the cross of the order at Coffee Hour if you can’t attend the discussion at 9:00 AM. We will answer your questions and help you start the process.
Episcopal Relief & Development
Episcopal Relief & Development is mobilizing with Anglican agencies and other partners to provide humanitarian assistance to people fleeing the violence in Ukraine. Working through the Action by Churches Together Alliance (ACT Alliance), Episcopal Relief & Development will provide cash, blankets, hygiene supplies and other needed assistance. Please pray for all those affected. To donate directly to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Ukraine Crisis Response Fund, visit (https://support.episcopalrelief.org/). If you prefer, you can donate through St. Paul’s Parish. Be sure to designate “ERD Ukraine” on your check or cash envelope. To date, donations processed through our church have totaled $1,918.
Rectors’ Discretionary Fund
Loose-plate offerings (i.e., general giving, not pledged giving) from the first Sunday of every month will be designated for the Rectors’ Discretionary Fund (sometimes referred to as “Benevolence.”) This fund provides the clergy with a financial pool to draw from when unanticipated (and unbudgeted) spending requests arise. The traditional uses of the discretionary fund are to assist the poor of the community. Examples of appropriate discretionary spending for those in need include rent, utilities, medical bills, etc. To learn more about the Discretionary Fund, contact Rev. Jessie or Rev. Dan.
Mid-Week Contemplative Eucharists
Worship with us at a simple spoken mass (Eucharist) offered every Wednesday at 6:00 PM. The church will be open the hour prior (5-6:00 PM) for silent, socially distanced personal prayer. Come and rest.
Parish Life Hiking Club News
Calling all hikers and walkers! We’re excited about preliminary plans for outings in July and November led by parishioner Chris Kelly. For July, we’re looking into an excursion to Mt. Palomar Observatory (near San Diego), or Laguna Beach. Or a hike and picnic in either Big Bear or Idyllwild.
For November we’d like to combine an archeological walk with a picnic somewhere here in the desert. Anyone who has taken hikes or nature walks with Chris leading the way knows they are fabulous. Chris really knows his stuff! As with our past outings, family and friends are always welcome to participate. If interested in any of the above options, we’d like to know which you would consider joining. Please forward your thoughts and preferences to Nancy Antonius at
Book Club is Back in Person!
Parish Life Book Club will resume meeting in the Library on the first Tuesday each month at 1:00 PM. The Book Club meets again on April 5th and is reading Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan.
This biography reveals Jesus as a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction. First-century Palestine was awash in a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. Few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean.
Coffee/Social Hour Hospitality
For those wishing to sponsor refreshments for a specific Sunday Coffee Hour, please call or stop by the Parish Office to sign up. All our hospitality procedures and protocols are subject to any CDC guidelines and mandates that Bishop Susan may put into place, depending on prevailing COVID conditions.
The Abundant Life E-List
If you are not a current subscriber to our weekly electronic newsletter, it’s easy to sign up. Just go to www.stpaulsps.org, scroll down to find “Join Our E-Mail List,” enter your email address – and you’re all set. You will receive the newsletter each week, usually on Fridays.
If the newsletter ends up in your spam/junk folder, simply add to your email address book.
Are You Interested in Baptism or Confirmation?
Baptism is the foundation for all ministry in the church. Confirmation is confirming the promises we make at baptism and is when we express our connection with The Episcopal Church through the laying on of hands by a bishop. Are you interested in learning more? Reach out to
We have reinstated our 8:00 AM worship services and are pleased with the enthusiastic turnout of our “Eight O’clock Regulars” and many new worshipers. For now, we will offer these as spoken services with no music; vaccination proof and masks are required.
WE STILL NEED USHER VOLUNTEERS! We’re looking for four teams of two people to cover one Sunday a month at 8:00 AM. We also need more volunteer ushers for the 10:30 service. If you think you can help, please contact Kathy Kilmer, Junior Warden, at
Sunday School is back in session after Winter Break
Sunday School classes for preschool through fifth grade have resumed and will meet (outdoors) every Sunday during the 10:30 AM service. We start the class in the church and are invited up front for a special children’s moment with our priests. Then we head outside to our Sunday School “classroom” on the library porch. We meet outside to be as protective as possible for everyone’s safety during the current pandemic.
You’re invited to join Sacred Circle
St. Paul’s Sacred Circle is a band of women who wish to deepen their spirituality and build community. We would be pleased to have you join us. Our Circle is open to all women in our Community. For information, please call Kaye Ball at 303.517.5321 or Summer Schoch at 619.804.2592
Prayers of the Church
For the Anglican Communion, and for the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby; for The Church of Nigeria, The Most Revd Henry C. Ndukuba, Primate of All Nigeria.
For the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras, The Rt. Rev. Lloud Emmanuel Allen, Bishop.
For the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Susan Brown Snook, Bishop; for the clergy and people of Church of the Good Shepherd, Hemet; for all who are being baptized throughout the diocese.
A prayer for Ukraine
God of peace and justice, we pray for the people of Ukraine today. We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons. We pray for all those who fear for tomorrow, that your Spirit of comfort would draw near to them. We pray for those with power over war or peace, for wisdom, discernment, and compassion to guide their decisions. Above all, we pray for all your precious children, at risk and in fear, that you would hold and protect them. We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen.
The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
The Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York
For those commended to our prayers: Margaret at The Cancer Center, Ken Van Horn, Wendy Vicory, Cheryl Kelley, Channing Kahn-Greenberg, Lola Michael, Roy Cody, The Rev. Elizabeth Hasen, Don Johnson, Pat Lutgen, John Rich Family, Mary Kipe, Carolyn & Zachary Scott, Donna Palmer, Mark Thallander, Brian Nealy; pray for all those affected by COVID-19: heal those who are suffering, comfort those who grieve, and strengthen those who are caring for others; pray for all those for whom no prayers have been said.
For those who have died: Addie Wash, Ivory Murrell, Kenneth Williams, Jr., Nettie Williams, John Rich, Audrey Spencer, Alvin Crawford.
For those with birthdays: April 3: William Eir, Tempe Essell, McLeaman Legg; April 5: Moxie Wuesthoff; April 6: Jacqueline Chandrasena, Stephen Hill; April 8: Donald Lancaster; April 9: Bonnie Suter, Robert Porter.
For next Sunday’s Lectionary readings, go to www.stpaulsps.org, and click on “This Week’s Scriptures” in the Worship Services box. From the calendar, select April 10, The Sunday of the Passion: PALM SUNDAY.
Sunday Service Livestreaming
We will be livestreaming our 10:30 AM Sunday Eucharist every week, going forward. The livestream project has been a one-year journey coming to St. Paul’s and was made possible through a generous gift from a “snowbird” member from Philadelphia who wintered in Palm Springs for many years and worshiped at St. Paul’s every Sunday. You can view the livestream on our Home Page, YouTube Channel, and Facebook Page.
Missed a service? Or want to rewatch a liturgy? All our past services are available to watch either on St. Paul’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stpaulinthedesert or by subscribing to our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/StPaulintheDesert
Compassionate Care Task Force
Our diocesan task force on compassionate care for victims of clergy sexual misconduct seeks to connect with those who have experienced misconduct. If you have reported clergy sexual misconduct and have information about the reporting or post-reporting experience that could be helpful to their work, please refer to the task force members, all of whom are listed on the diocesan website: Task-Force. Information on how to report misconduct is available here.
Report clergy misconduct
As part of our ongoing commitment to creating a safe haven for everyone, our diocese trains people in the prevention of misconduct and encourages all to report misconduct. All reported incidences are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly and confidentially. If you believe you have experienced misconduct of any kind, please contact John Seitman, 858-793-4555 or Equilla Luke, 760-583-0485.
Bullying Behavior Not Welcome Here
At St. Paul in the Desert we welcome all worshipers to a place that is free of violence and bullying.
Physical, verbal or emotional violence against others or against oneself is not acceptable because of our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. Please let Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself be your guide.
“It Gets Better” is a series of video messages to encourage Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender youth and let them know that they are loved as they are.
“A Blessing for Those Who Are Bullied” was written by the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, a Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
It is not enough to say “NO” to bullies. It is important to stand up for people and to provide resources for those who have been the targets.
Fraud Email Alert
A recurring threat to churches is email-based impersonation scams targeting key personnel. The scheme involves cybercriminals mimicking clergy or other staff through the use of phishing emails. Criminals typically pose as personnel in positions of authority and ask victims to perform money transfers, pay invoices, or to send the attacker sensitive data. Scammers will often manipulate the “from” email address and name so that it appears to be coming from someone you know.
Churches and dioceses across The Episcopal Church and across other denominations have been a target of these email impersonation attacks. Scammers use a free email account (such as Gmail) and register it with an impersonated name. They then send an email to an unsuspecting recipient asking for immediate help in order to get a task done (such as purchasing a gift card or wiring money). Attention to detail can be a lot of help in combating cases of impersonation. Users should check sender details carefully. Any suspicious email message should be investigated before replying. Also, proper attention should be given to the message content, including attachments and URLs.
While there is no way to stop these scams, you can minimize risk by taking these steps:
- Check the return email address. If the address doesn’t match the name of the sender, be wary.
- Never open attachments from unknown sources.
- Be wary of generically addressed emails like “Dear Friend” or Dear Customer.”
- If there are links in the email, hover over them without clicking on them. This will show where the link will actually take you.
- Be wary of email with grammatical or spelling errors in the text.
- Check the address at the bottom of the email. If it says ”Pastor Jim” and Jim never goes by “Pastor,” it’s fake.
Finally, if after all these steps it looks safe and the sender is asking for money or access to secure data, call the person directly to get verification.
Your best defense for this is to simply delete the email; do not click on any links or reply to the sender.