Experiences Are Worth More Than You Think

In a few weeks summer will be coming to an end, children will be going back to school or heading off to college. Summer time is generally the time most of us go on vacation or maybe we just came back. With that being said, you may be hearing a fluttering of questions like “How was your summer?”, or “What did you do this summer?” or even “You go anywhere for vacation?” Some people may have gone to the beach, camping, visiting family and some of us may have traveled to faraway places and experienced the history of different cultures, tried exotic foods or you may not have gone anywhere and just spent it with family and friends. Whatever you did or wherever you have gone, you created a MEMORY, which is really important.

We spend so much time working on plans and making them perfect, but did we take the time and reflect on the time we spent with our family or friends and the memories we’ve created with them. It’s not about the number of pictures or selfies you take. It’s about taking it all in, where you are and who you were with. We need to remember to enjoy the experiences and special moments all we can, because life is short.

Time is very precious, and it is very easy to take for granted. Slow down and take it all in, get the most out of each day that you can. I can guarantee there is going to be a time when you will be sitting around with your family or friends and someone will undoubtedly say, “Hey, do you remember the time when…?” and that’s when you will really cherish those moments that you experienced with your loved ones.

As we all fall back into our routines, let us remember that with every interaction that we have with each other every day we can create those special moments, so that one day when we look back with that person and remember that special memory, it will put a smile on our face.

“People think that experiences are only going to provide temporary happiness, but they actually provide both more happiness and more lasting value.”

Frank J. DiCamillo

Vestry Member

Mission & Discernment

Good News!

Your Outreach Committee is making a concerted effort to refresh and broaden how we, with the help of the parish, strengthen Advent’s existing programs and explore how to encourage development of new programs by parishioners.   This is all part of continuing to make Advent a vital and supportive force in our Communities.  We use the word Communities referring to those within our parish, within our local neighborhoods and municipalities, as well as within our Diocese of Pennsylvania, nationally and internationally.  Look for upcoming programs and events in the Fall and into 2018.

When you look you’ll see a new name for our committee.   As a reflection on our focus on community involvement by Advent, the Outreach Committee has changed the name of this committee to Partnerships in Mission.

This will be an exciting and multi-year effort involving our entire parish and drawing on our Missional Ministry Team.  In order to focus on this discernment effort, we, with Nancy’s guidance, have decided to suspend our formal grants application process for the upcoming year, 2018.  In February of this year, we announced the 2017 grants awarded to agencies.  Rest assured funds so graciously given at Christmas and Easter for use in our grants program will be maintained in the Advent account designated for our missional purposes. 

We know this may have an impact on planning for some of the agencies we have been supporting and we are communicating this to each of them now so they have as much notice as possible.  We hope to listen to them as well as others in the Communities.  

Please consider attending our monthly meetings and become a part of our discernment.  It is so important for you to attend.  We meet generally the first Monday of each month at 7pm. Join us for our next meeting on September 11 at 7pm.

Elizabeth Curtis Swain

Vestryperson

 

How Can I Be Kind?

I recently watched an interview with his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. I've always enjoyed listening to what he has to say, as he is always so mindful of how his words will impact others. 

During the interview I watched, the interviewer asked the Dalai Lama why he has never condemned the practice of self mutilation some Tibetan monks perform in response to the Chinese occupation. He paused for a moment. He stated first that he does not support any taking of human life, including one's own. However, he cannot condemn the acts as Anti Buddhist, because when he thinks about this issue, he can't help but remember the families who lost a loved one. If he condemns their actions, he hurts the families even more. He does not want to cause more pain. He wants to foster healing. So, he remains silent on the issue and prays for all. 

When I heard this, I remembered a suggestion I heard a long time ago about how to deal with problems of any kind. You stop, and quietly ask yourself, "How can I be kind?". 

When you encounter a problem, especially a complex one,  it does no one any good to try and win or take revenge - if you've been wronged. It does not necessarily help anyone to be right. You may win the argument, but in the process what did you loose?

It helps everyone to try and be kind. This is what Christ also taught.  We are all so fortunate to have so many blessings in our life. Most of us do not have to consider issues like the Dalai Lama does. However, we can all do simple acts that radiate kindness.  Reach out to the disenfranchised. Be kind to your neighbor. Listen to others, even if their viewpoint differs from your own. Smile at a stranger. You do not have to agree. You do not have to support everyone. You don't even have to have a conversation. But I personally believe that when you make an effort to be kind to everyone, the person you help the most is yourself. 

I think I like how the Bible says it best in Colossians 3:12 "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

Yours In Christ,

Karen Rodgers, Vestryperson

Opportunities to Move God's Story Along

When Carol and I were much younger, we were searching for a church to attend and one Sunday found ourselves in the back pew of the Church of the Advent. It was the custom at the time for the ushers to pick someone from the congregation to help with communion. I remember Len Sherman asking us to help and after trying to put him off he said, “Look, all you have to do is carry the gifts to the altar.”

Fast forward 10 years, I was teaching middle school kids in Sunday school and we were doing the story of Joseph. I went to the Old Testament and read the story of Joseph. Just to refresh your memory, here is Genesis chapter 37.

IV. THE STORY OF JOSEPH’

This is the story of Joseph.

Joseph was seventeen years old. As he was still young, he was shepherding the flock with his brothers, with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah his father’s wives. Joseph informed their father of the evil spoken about them.

Israel loved Joseph more than all his other sons, for he was the son of his old age, and he had a coat with long sleeves made for him. *But his brothers, seeing how his father loved him more than all his other sons, came to hate him so much that they could not say a civil word to him.

Now Joseph had a dream, and he repeated it to his brothers“ -‘Listen’ he said ‘to this dream I have had. We were binding sheaves in the countryside: and my sheaf, it seemed, rose up and stood upright; then I saw your sheaves gather round and bow to my sheaf.’ *‘So you want to be king over us,’ his brothers retorted ‘or to lord it over us? And they hated him still more, on account of his dreams and of what he said. *He had another dream which he told to his brothers. ‘Look, I have had another dream’ he said. ‘I thought I saw the sun, the moon and eleven stars, bowing to me.’ *He told his father and brothers, and his father scolded him. ‘A fine dream to have!’ he said to him. ‘Are all of us then, myself, your mother and your brothers, to come and bow to the ground before you? His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the thing in mind.

His brothers went to pasture their father’s flock at Shechem. *Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers with the flock at Shechem? Come, I am going to send you to them.’ ‘I am ready’ he replied. *He said to him, ‘Go and see how your brothers and the flock are doing, and bring me word’. He sent him from the valley of Hebron, and Joseph arrived at Shechem.

A man found him wandering in the countryside and the man asked him, ‘What are you looking for?’ ‘I am looking for my brothers” he replied. ‘Please tell me where they are pasturing their flock.’ *The man answered, ‘They have moved on from here; indeed I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan”’. So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

They saw him in the distance, and before he reached them they made a plot among themselves to put him to death. *‘Here comes the man of dreams’ they said to one another. *‘Come on, let us kill him and throw him into some well; we can say that a wild beast devoured him. Then we shall see what becomes of his dreams.’

That’s a season-ending cliff hanger worthy of The Game of Thrones and (*spoiler alert*), the story gets weirder from there. As you no doubt recall, instead of killing Joseph the brothers sell him into slavery. He ends up in prison, interprets the Pharaoh’s famine dream, saves the day by storing the kingdom’s food, is reunited with his family, and they move to Egypt to live there until a new Pharaoh

comes who does not remember Joseph. There are many details in this story that resonate with middle school children, such as neighbors talking trash about your family, parents playing favorites, sibling rivalries and strange dreams. But there is one detail that has always fascinated me about this tale and I am struck by the fact that none of this would have happened, not the migration to Egypt, not the plagues, not Moses and the Passover if there was not some man (or woman) standing in a field who paid attention when a confused kid walked by. “What are you looking for?” What indeed.

What we may be looking for is right under our noses. Small opportunities to get involved, little encounters that move God’s story along. We are all tasked with making a difference in the lives of others. President Jimmy Carter said it well, “My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.” The Lord works in mysterious ways and we are not always being asked to be Joseph or Moses, Sarah or Mary. Sometimes you just need to carry the gifts where they need to be.

- Kevin Delaney

It’s Not About Winning and Losing, It’s About How We Live With Others

It’s Not About Winning and Losing, It’s About How We Live With Others

I went to a meeting not too long ago.

I go to a lot of meetings. I’m a teacher of the visually impaired, so I go to a lot of special education meetings. I’m a member of the Vestry at Advent, so I go to a lot of meetings for that as well. And, I’m a member of the Missional Ministry Team and we have many meetings in our work together.

I do not need to get into which kind of meeting I was in, because it was a meeting that that began with 2 sides talking at each other, not to each other.

Ever been to one of those? It’s very unfun.

Anyway, my group kept stating their perspective and the other group members (I’ll call them “Group 2”, so I do not have to use the very unflattering They or Them as a label), kept stating their perspective and it was getting very frustrating very fast.

I wanted Group 2 to acknowledge that our perspective was valued and worthy of consideration.

I wanted a ‘win’.

That is what Eric Law, of the Kaleidoscope Institute calls a win/lose dichotomy. In order to feel self-worth or accomplished, we have a need to ‘win’. This can apply to anything. It can apply to games we play or watch with one another, elections, decisions made in government or in organizations, even getting or losing a job.  And, of course, meetings. However, if we subscribe to a need to ‘win’ then intrinsically there is a ‘loss’ somewhere.

That’s when the trouble begins. The losers must blame someone for the loss and winners must protect what they have, as that is also part of the win/lose dichotomy. The result is anger, fear, and frustration ruling the day. Eric Law refers to this as an “unholy fire.”  We forget our connections with each other and with God. We forget what Christ taught us.

How can we stop this kind of thinking?

As it so happens, I’m a member of the Missional Ministry Team. We work with the Kaleidoscope Institute, run by Mr. Eric Law, to learn new ways of connecting and thinking. The goal is to help us create stronger ministry for our Church. Mr. Law’s suggestion for stopping the ‘win/lose’ thinking is to conceptualize how we work as ‘both/and’ nonjudgmental thinking. The basic premise is to ask the question: how can everyone get the most of what they need?

At the meeting I was in, before I got super frustrated, it occurred to me that I wasn’t listening to what Group 2 was saying- I was focusing on what they were not saying. So, I stopped talking for a little bit and paid attention. It was at that point it dawned on me. Group 2 wanted their perspective acknowledged and valued, just like I wanted with my perspective.

The next time I spoke, I used the training I’m lucky enough to have had. I thanked Group 2 for their perspective and for taking the time to meet with us. I repeated the parts of what members of Group 2 said that I guessed (and hoped that I guessed correctly) they valued most. Then I said their points were important and that I agreed with those values.

I did not stop there. I found a possible ‘both’ – the part of their thinking we could all agree on – now I had to provide us with the ‘and’ – the part we could all agree was important for all of us.  I chose to openly hope that the work we were doing would result in success. They agreed.

The frustration at the table went down considerably. The meeting ended rather productively. We were all pleased. We avoided the “unholy fire’ of anger, fear, and frustration.

Sometimes, it is much harder to listen when life does not give us the boosts we want. We need to remember to reach out and listen to the “other side.”  We need to take the time and energy to look at ourselves as part of a community. We all live together and we need to remember that our self-worth needs to be based on how we conduct ourselves, not on whether or not we ‘win’. We all deserve to get what we need.

I like how Mother Theresa put it:

“There is a tremendous strength that is growing in the world through sharing together, praying together, suffering together, and working together.”

 

I hope I can keep remembering this and working at it until it becomes more second nature!

Yours In Christ,

Karen Rodgers, Vestryperson