Promises Made

I have been to a lot of weddings lately. Between our large extended family, many nieces and nephews, our own children and children of friends I have found myself sitting in the pews for a lot of very joyous occasions. Each wedding is unique, as you would expect, but I have noticed that they all share a few similarities.

            First a couple in love decide to publicly and legally declare their intention to wed and they hold a ceremony before God and man to mark the occasion.

            At this point a series of barriers must be overcome, some logistical, some financial, some emotional, all of them will test the resolve of the intended and once these issues are hammered out all are gathered to witness the vows.

            Just before the ceremony is completed, someone, a priest or family member always cautions the couple that what they are undertaking is a serious matter and not to be entered into lightly. The married members of the congregation know all too well the truth of this, that there will be good times and bad, sickness and health. The author Neil Gaiman was asked to say a few words at a friend’s wedding, and this is what he had to say on this subject:

 All I Know About Love

This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing.
This is everything I’ve learned about marriage: nothing.

Only that the world out there is complicated,
and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain,
and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes,
is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another
hand to squeeze, and not to be alone.

It’s not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it’s what they mean.
Somebody’s got your back.
Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn’t want to rescue you
or send for the army to rescue them.

It’s not two broken halves becoming one.
It’s the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home
because home is wherever you are both together.

So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing,
like a book without pages or a forest without trees.

Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them.
Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials.
Because nobody else’s love, nobody else’s marriage, is like yours,
and it’s a road you can only learn by walking it,
a dance you cannot be taught,
a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing.

And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand,
not knowing for certain if someone else is even there.
And your hands will meet,
and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again

At last, after being duly admonished, the two are united and a blessing is said.

“Put on then, as God's chosen ones,
holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another,
forgiving each other;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
And above all these put on love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Finally, the newly married are welcomed with food and wine, song and dance. John tells us that Jesus himself performed his first miracle at just such an occasion.

The Wedding at Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

I myself have always been fascinated by the dual nature of Jesus, he was both God and man and this miracle illustrates it perfectly. Jesus seems to be very aware of what the future holds, the trials and tribulations to come, and the sacrifice he must make. At the same time, he deals with a very earthly concern, his mother asks him to fix a problem and he reluctantly starts his public ministry by basically saving a wedding celebration.

            What can we learn from this? It is these occasions that remind us of what is important.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

Amen to that.

Yours in Christ,

Kevin Delaney

 

Church of the Advent is Blessed

Church of the Advent is blessed to have several endowments which totaled approximately $2.5 million at the end of June. There are actually seven separate endowments with  different purposes. The General Endowment has approximately $850,000 and supports the operations of the church. The Sanford Endowment holds approximately $1.45 million and supports Christian youth education and youth pastoral ministry. Other endowment categories include the Clergy Discretionary Fund, Pete Peterson Leadership Fund, Music Concert Fund, The Rev Canon David P Thomas Memorial Garden Fund and the Hadley Fund.

 Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to be “old” to make an endowment gift.  Anyone can give to the endowment fund at any time.   By contributing to Advent’s endowment program you show your family and friends how much you value Church of the Advent. You also don’t have to be “rich.”  Contributions large and small are welcome, valuable and appreciated.  You will help secure Advent’s future and continue to Make Christ Visible for decades to come.

 To make a bequest to the Church, simply write down: "I hereby give (amount? $___)  to the Episcopal Church of the Advent” and have it witnessed by a friend or loved one.  The Endowment Committee and church staff have the ability to handle almost any type of asset, including:

•       IRA charitable rollover.  Up to $100,000.  Significant tax benefit to donor.

•       Appreciated Stocks

•       Insurance

•       Savings accounts

•       401K

•       Real Estate, including unimproved land

•       Vehicles (car, boat, etc.)

 Our preference is that endowed gifts be unrestricted, to support Advent's future needs whatever they may be.  However, upon review, Advent can also accept gifts dedicated for specific purposes, such as the Music Endowment Fund, Leadership & Training Fund and the Building Fund.  We encourage people to consult with their financial or estate planners, as well as family members, about how such gifts may impact their estate plans.

 The Church’s endowment funds are held at Merrill Lynch and are professionally managed by an independent portfolio manager. The investment activities of the funds are guided by an investment policy statement that sets broad exposure to stocks, bonds and cash to balance the need for current income for withdrawals and growth of the funds for the long-term. The current mix of investments is approximately 65% stocks and 35% bonds and cash. This mix of investments is consistent with most endowments of similar size and spending policies.

 The Endowment Committee meets on a regular basis to review the funds investment returns and to make certain that the investment guidelines are being followed. Committee members include Collis Townsend, Larry Boseley, Kim Hoeschel and Ann Dome. Please feel free to ask any of the members questions regarding these funds.

 Stuart Davies, Chair of the Endowment Committee

Back to School Means You Too

Fall is a great time to learn something new.  Look at Advent’s Adult Christian Education offerings—there are lots of ways for each one of us to grow in our faith. 

Godly Play for All

Learn and reflect upon our sacred stories, respond creatively or discuss the story’s meaning.  Come do some heart work.  Godly Play for All will touch your soul and nurture your spirit. 

 Begins September 15th and meets each Sunday at 9:20-10:05 in the church.

 

On Being Discussion Group

            Discuss the ideas presented by the audio program On Being which explores the intersection of spiritual inquiry, science, social healing, community, poetry and the arts.  On Being airs on 90.9 FM on Sunday mornings at 7 am and is also available as a podcast.  Jay Hummel will lead Advent’s discussion group.    www.onbeing.org  

September 22nd, October 20th, November 17th, December 15th at 9:20-10:05 in the Fellowship Hall

 

Book Discussion – The Journey Continues 

            Share your thoughts on Pastor Daniel Nicewonger’s amazing book The Journey Continues.   Even if you didn’t attend Pastor Dan’s August talk about his cancer journey, all are welcome to join this discussion.  You can purchase a copy of the book at http://www.danielnicewonger.com/the-journey-continues/

September 29th at 11:15-12:00 in the St. Jude room

Estate Planning Basics

Advent’s own Tip McCabe will share his legal expertise on essential estate planning documents.  Come learn about wills, powers of attorney, living wills and advance healthcare directives.  All are encouraged to attend this follow-up to last spring’s End-of-Life Planning forum. 

October 6th  11:15-12:00 in the Fellowship Hall

 

Duel or Dance: Science & Theology—The Darwinian Revolution

Learn from our Rector Emeritus Dick Kirk about the introduction of Darwin’s theory on English Society and the reaction to it, the Scopes trial in the 1920’s, and more recent attempt to eliminate evolution from public schools and replace it with creation science or intelligent design.  We’ll look at how the debates were influenced by personalities, class, race, and politics.  These three sessions are taken from a course Dick will be teaching for the seventh time this spring at the Institute of Lifelong Learning at the University of Delaware.

  October 20th, 27th and November 3rd at 11:15-12:00 in the Fellowship Hall

Weekly Bible Study

            Each Wednesday, gather to read and discuss Scripture.  Lead by Rev. Nancy, you’ll gain insight into the scripture, its context, and the applicability to your life.   All are welcome and there is no homework.

            September 4th and meeting Wednesday mornings at 10:00 in the St. Ann room

 

Faithfully,

Kim Hoeschel

Christian Education for All of Us

To grow and deepen our faith, Advent will offer a great variety of Christian Education programs for all ages starting in just a few weeks.  Make a commitment to deepening your faith and strengthening your relationships with God and each other by participating in Advent’s Christian Education program.  Invest a little time and you will reap the benefits.

Family Sunday School – Picture this:  A big circle of children and teens with their parent or grandparents or godparents along with other adult parishioners listening to one of our sacred stories and wondering about its meaning.  Then picture the children and some of the adults responding artistically to what the sacred story has touched in their hearts.  And picture the teens and adults talking together about what the sacred story has stirred in their souls.  Then picture these families continuing their conversations about God at their dinner table or in the car, strengthening their relationships with God and each other.  This is our vision for Family Sunday School using the Godly Play curriculum.  Please plan on joining in and experiencing faith formation as a family starting on September 15th at 9:15.  Contact Lori Lang with questions.

Sunday School 3rd-5th Graders—The 3rd-5th grade children will continue to learn about God’s love for them through the major stories and events in the Bible using the Living the Good News curriculum.   They will further develop their faith by becoming familiar with the books of the Bible and engaging in games and activities that promote friendship and fun starting on September 15th at 9:15.  Contact Trish James or Michele Pepe with questions.

Youth Program has two components—confirmation preparation and youth group.  The mission is Being, Belonging, Becoming: being who I am; belonging to a faith community; becoming who God is calling me to be. 

Confirmation Preparation—This is an important time in the spiritual life of a young person.  Middle school age young people will prepare to confirm their baptismal covenant by exploring what it means to be a Christian and an Episcopalian.  Starting September 22nd at 6 pm for middle school age young people and meeting two Sunday evenings a month; parent meeting on August 27th.  Contact Meredith Jankov with questions.

Study Break Youth Group—Fellowship and fun for high school teens from Advent and St. Michael’s.  Join the study break group two Sunday evenings a month for activities and field trips starting on September 22nd at 6 pm.  Contact Meredith Jankov with questions.

Adult Forum:  The first adult forum of the program year is The Journey Continues:  Finding Joy Amidst Life’s Struggles.  Pastor Daniel Nicewonger of First Baptist Church of Kennett Square and his wife Nancy will come to Advent to share with honesty and vulnerability their journey following his diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer.  Wednesday, August 21st   7 pm   St. Jude room.   

Information on the rest of the fall adult programs will be published in a few weeks.  Watch for details on Science & Theology, Estate Planning, On Being Discussion Group, and bible study opportunities. 

Faithfully,

Kim Hoeschel 

Worship

As I embark on my Vestry term, focusing on Worship, I decided to see how Google defines “worship” and what else might be of interest: 

·         Did you know that the word “worship” is derived from the Old English weorþscipe, meaning to venerate- worship or honor shown to an object, which has been etymologised as "worthiness or worth-ship"—to give, at its simplest, worth to something?

·         In Christianity, worship is the act of attributing reverent honor and homage to God. In the New Testament, various words are used to refer to the term worship. One is proskuneo ("to worship") which means to bow down to God or kings.

·         Christian worship involves praising God in music and speech, readings from scripture, prayers of various sorts, a sermon, and various holy ceremonies (often called sacraments) such as the Eucharist.

·         Worship is an essential part of a Christian's faith. Christians worship God to thank him for his love, ask for forgiveness for their sins and try to understand his 'will' for them.

I also found a wonderful short article authored by Martha Ainsworth, written in 2002 entitled Understanding Worship in The Episcopal Church”.  It was originally written as a guide for visitors to St. John’s in the Village, an Episcopal parish in New York City.  I encourage you all to find and have a read through it.  Whether you are a cradle Episcopalian or new to the Episcopal faith I found it an interesting outline and was reminded about what drew me to our worship style.  I will share just a few sections to whet your appetite for more:

It is a central tenet of our worship that there are no spectators; all are participants. Different people have different roles, but all roles are equally important. The people in the congregation are no less participants in our worship than those with different functions who sit in the front.

We engage our spirits in worship by two means: by worshiping with the mind, as we hear, contemplate and proclaim God’s word; but also, worshiping with the wholeness of our body — and this is the hallmark of anglo-catholic worship. We believe that the human body is a good thing. God declared the human body holy by coming to earth and having one himself. So in our worship, we use our bodies as well as our minds. Instead of just sitting, we move about. We use all our five senses in our worship: seeing color, light and movement; hearing music and silence and the rhythm of words; smelling the unique fragrance of incense; touching by clasping a hand or embracing at the Peace, touching holy water, or in the laying on of hands; tasting bread and the wine.

As you worship, continually offer to God not just an intellectual corner of your mind, but the wholeness of your being: your mind, and your spirit, and your body.

As Episcopalians, we have a musical heritage that is one of the world’s richest and most deeply spiritual. For 1500 years, Anglican church music has sought to tell the Christian faith in authenticity and truth. Our music is not a homogenous product, but an extremely diverse and multi-layered art form that celebrates and encompasses many different traditions. You might be interested, when singing hymns, to read the small print below each one and note the many and varied sources of the poetry and the music.

We are blessed at Advent to have so many participants in a variety of roles: ushers, acolytes, eucharistic ministers, eucharistic visitors, lectors, sub-deacons, altar guild, organist, choir, and our newest worship ministry the hand bell choir.These ministries enrich our weekly communal worship. Speaking from personal experience, supporting worship has deepened my faith. If you are looking for further spiritual engagement our worship ministries will welcome you with open arms and heart.No experience required!

To see the whole article, please click on this link: https://metanoia.org/martha/writing/worship.htm

Shared by Cindy Reindl