The Desert
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church Blog
by The Rev. Mark Walters
4d ago
From the balcony of our condo here in Palm Desert, California, I can look past the few structures in my line of sight, and see the vast emptiness of the desert that is only a few miles away.  Tall swirls of sand are visible in the distance as the easterly wind blows across the valley, the area the locals call the “Low Desert.” After a short car ride, the cacophony of competing sounds from the city are left behind and Sue and I are out beyond where people live.  All around, acre after acre, mile after mile, the land is relatively barren, with a few clumps of brush seen here and there ..read more
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You Can't Fall Down
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church Blog
by Ann Iona Warner
1w ago
“You can fall, but you can’t lie down.”   Last summer I was introduced to Dougie MacLean, a Scottish singer /songwriter.   The song that caught my attention was “Not Lie Down,” and the lyrics that I picked up on were:   “You can fall but you must not lie down.”    That phrase caught my attention as we traveled by bus on the road to Inverness. It was something I needed to hear at the time. We (I) were having challenges in our lives.    I needed to hear that it’s OK to stumble. It’s OK if everything doesn’t get done. It’s OK if plans have to be changed. It’s O ..read more
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Be Filled Yourself Then Pour Out Your Fullness
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church
by The Rev. Susan Loney
1M ago
In the morning, while it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35) When you are feeling overwhelmed or overworked, what do you do? Where do you go for relief? I almost always head outside to walk. For as long as I can remember, when the stress of daily life gets to me, the best thing for me is a long walk. One of my favorite places to walk is Alapocas Run State Park, where, in a few minutes, I can be down along the banks of the Brandywine. About halfway down that trail, off the path, a few steps into the woods, t ..read more
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Lifelines
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church
by The Rev. Mark Walters
1M ago
I do a lot of handcrafts, mostly embroidery related. I’ve known how to knit since I was a child.   I stopped knitting at some point because the tension at which I hold the yarn is inconsistent. That meant that sweaters I made rarely fit.   Last year, however, I entered the world of lace knitting. I was already interested in bobbin lace, tatting, and pulled work (“poor man’s” lace in the 1600s.) This was just another form of lace to learn about. And inconsistent tension isn’t a major problem.   My first foray into lace knitting was a traditional pattern from the Shetland Islands ..read more
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Great Are Your Works, O Lord
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church
by The Rev. Susan Loney
1M ago
  Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,   in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.  Great are your works, O Lord,   pondered by all who delight in them.  (Psalm 111:1-2) My first six months as St. Stephen’s pastor have been a whirlwind of activity and meeting people. Thank you for the ways you have welcomed me and my family. First impressions matter so here are some of mine.   I’m heartened by the commitment to St. Stephen’s ministries, from the enthusiasm and camaraderie of the Church Council, to the Property Committee’s dil ..read more
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Stars
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church
by Bob Linderman
1M ago
For the past two Sundays, Pastor Sue has offered each person in attendance the opportunity to select a small paper star from a bowl she found that was left over from our pre-Covid Empty Bowl Dinner gatherings. Each star in the bowl has a typed word on it, a word that will, hopefully, be put into action throughout the year by each “owner” of their particular star. If my recollection is correct, we have seen a similar batch of these stars at St. Stephen’s. I believe when Pastor Sue was a seminarian-in-residence with our congregation in 2013-2014, she introduced us to them. Now, s ..read more
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Epiphany Stars
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church
by The Rev. Susan Loney
1M ago
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.   Matthew 2:9 Matthew is the only gospel to tell this story of the Wise Ones, Sages from the East, who come to pay homage to the Christ child.  By paying homage and offering tribute to the child born king of the Jews, the Magi not only fulfilled ancient Scripture, but they also cut King Herod down to size. There is probably no Nativity ever made that included Herod. But, just like the Emperor Augustu ..read more
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Christmas on the Other Side of the World
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church
by Ann Iona Warner
2M ago
For most of us, Advent and Christmas is a time to focus on going from darkness to light.   Our days are getting longer. Christ has come to light our way.   But in Australia, they’re in the in the middle of summer, and the days are getting shorter. They are heading into the darkness.   Australian Christmas traditions include camping, decorating with Christmas Bushes (a native Australian tree) and poinsettias. Santa gives his reindeer a break from the heat and lets the kangaroos (six white boomers) take over. Carrots and non-alcoholic beer are the snacks of choice for a Santa who ..read more
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The Gift of the Nativity
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church
by The Rev. Mark Walters
2M ago
They say a picture paints a thousand words. In every generation, the Church has commissioned artists to tell our sacred stories through the visual arts — paintings, sculptures, paraments, and glorious stained-glass windows. Sometimes the backstories behind these works of art add unexpected significance to a well-known image. So it is with the Nativity window in St Stephen’s sanctuary. The window was given in memory of Levi A. and Amelia Ringwalt by their daughter Anna M. Reed. You can see their names on the large wall plaque near the window and the small metal plate on the windowsil ..read more
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Music
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church
by Bob Linderman
3M ago
When I work in my basement office, I often listen, as I am now, to what some might call light jazz (Fourplay, Andreas Vollenweider, Flim and the BBs, Pieces of a Dream, Chris Botti). As the simple and yet intricate melodies and harmonies surround me, I am aware that this music genre that I thoroughly enjoy is not a “cup of tea” for everyone. That includes my wife, Sue, who is more into classical music and female vocalists. But that’s okay; each of us can have different musical interests (and, for some, that means no interest in music at all), without there being an existential crisis. For tho ..read more
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