Prayer for Freedom

Prayer for Freedom

Today, Creator of the Universe, we ask you that you come to us and share with us a strong communication of love. We know that your real name is Love, that to have a communion with you means to share the same vibration, the same frequency that you are, because you are the only thing that exists in the universe.

Today, help us to be like you are, to love life, to be life, to be love. Help us to love the way you love, with no conditions, no expectations, no obligations, without any judgement. Help us to love and accept ourselves without any judgement, because when we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty and we need to be punished.

Help us to love everything you create unconditionally, especially other human beings, especially those who live around us-all our relatives and people whom we try so hard to love. Because when we reject them, we reject ourselves, and when we reject ourselves, we reject You.

Help us to love others just the way they are with no conditions. Help us to accept them the way they are, without judgement, because if we judge them, we find them guilty, we blame them, and we have the need to punish them.

Today, clean our hearts of any emotional poison that we have, free our minds from any judgement so that we can live in complete peace and complete love.

Today is a very special day. Today we open our hearts to love again so that we can tell each other “I love you”, without any fear, and really mean it. Today, we offer ourselves to you. Come to us, use our voices, use our eyes, use our hands, and use our hearts to share ourselves in a communion of love with everyone. Today, Creator, help us to be just like you are. Thank you for everything that we receive this day, especially for the freedom to be who we really are. Amen

A Christmas Sermon

A Christmas Sermon 

~ by St. Gregory of Nazianzus (AD 380) 


Christ is born, glorify Him. Christ from heaven, go out to meet Him. Christ on earth, be exalted. Sing to the Lord, all the whole earth; and that I may join both in one word, let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, for Him who is of heaven and then of earth. Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy; with trembling because of your sins, with joy because of your hope. 


Again, the darkness is past; again, Light is made; again, Egypt is punished with darkness; again, Israel is enlightened by a pillar. The people who sat in the darkness of ignorance, let them see the great Light full of knowledge. Weeklyld things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. The letter gives way, the Spirit comes to the front. The shadows flee away, the truth comes in on them. Melchizedek is concluded. He who was without Mother becomes without Father (without mother of His former state, without father of His second). 

The laws of nature are upset; the world above must be filled. Christ commands it, let us not set ourselves against Him. O, clap your hands together, all you people, because unto us a Child is born, and a Son given unto us, whose government is upon His shoulder (for with the cross, it is raised up), and His name is called The Angel of the Great Counsel of the Father. 


Let John cry, prepare the way of the Lord; I, too, will cry the power of this Day. He who is not carnal is Incarnate; the Son of God becomes the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Let the Jews be offended, let the Greeks deride; let heretics talk until their tongues ache. Then shall they believe, when they see Him ascending into heaven; and if not then, yet when they see Him coming out of heaven and sitting as Judge. 


This is our present Festival; it is this which we are celebrating today, the Coming of God to Man, that we might go forth, or rather (for this is the more proper expression) that we might go back to God—that putting off of the old man, we might put on the new; and that as we died in Adam, so we might live in Christ, being born with Christ and crucified with Him and buried with Him and rising with Him. For I must undergo the beautiful conversion, and as the painful succeeded the more blissful, so must the more blissful come out of the painful. 


For where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; and if a taste condemned us, how much more does the passion of Christ justify us? Therefore, let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own, but as belonging to Him who is ours, or rather as our master's; not as of weakness, but as of healing; not as of creation, but of re-creation. 



The Annunciation Icon.jpg
The Nativity Icon.jpg

The first thing you see when you walk into many Roman and Greek Catholic church sanctuaries are ICONS...(picture/images) the name for moveable religious paintings. They are a flat picture of Christ, Mary or many of the saints.

At the Episcopal Church of the Advent, twelve Icons line the walls on both sides. And one graces the front of the altar. Right now it is the Annunication which tells the story of the Virgin Mother receiving the word that she will bear the son of God.

St.Luke , the physician, was the first iconographer. By tradition, an Icon is an unframed wooden panel about one in. deep in size onto which the surface is created in a definite style. Icons tell a story. By tradition they are called WRITTEN not painted,

Our Icons have been written by Barbara Thornton, a member of our parish over the past 15 years. She was raised in the Greek Catholic Church and “even at 5 years old” was fascinated by Icons. Though she had always wanted to have art training, it wasn’t until after she was married in the Episcopal church in Phoenixville that she began spending time learning about Art. She worked in Acrylics, drawing from a kit and joining Quaker State painters. This method is very popular today because the paint dries fast.

Fifteen years ago she received a call from our church secretary who said she had heard of an Icon training workshop in Asheville, North Carolina at the Kanuga Episcopal Conference Center. Every year since Barbara has joined artists there to focus on Icon writing which tells the story being created on a birchwood panel.

The birchwood is sanded many times, covered with gesso (a thick rabbit glue) and topped with burlap or a pure linen representing the shroud. It is said that the sanding is done about 10 times or until it is stabilized and smoothed out. Egg Tempera paint is then applied in layers. Tempera paint is dry pigments added to one egg yolk, mixed with vinegar and distilled water. The dry pigments are very expensive about $85 for a small amount. For example Lapis Lazuli, a dry blue mineral, is composed of small pieces of the lazurite mineral and small quantities of other minerals to produce the ‘azure’ color.

The format at the Center’s workshop each February is very spiritual. Barbara tells us: “Each morning we start with the Eucharist, then after breakfast, we proceed through the woods to the studio where we have a short prayer and a priest places the sign of the cross on our hands with sweet smelling chrism. It permeates the air with its sweet smell before we begin. There is a short lecture on the first stage of the Icon...then the music...Gregorian chant...and silence as we work. To begin we make the sign of the cross and ask God to guide our brushes on the smoothly sanded board.”

The afternoons are then spent in creating one of two Icons, one that is for beginners, and another for experienced artists, This year will be The Good Shepherd

and the other Elijah and the Raven.

According to Barbara the secret of icons is that they are like a prayer without words.

Our focus should be ”on sitting still and listening. Icons are a way to let God speak to us. They hold a divine mystery. If we sit long enough and listen to them closely, we may hear God’s voice as he speaks to us.” So the study of Icons allows us cultivate the awareness of God’s presence in our lives.

These are the Icons displayed on Advent ‘s walls: The Nativity, Moses Healing the Blind Man, St. Barbara, St George, Mother of Tikvin and Child, Three Faces of Mary (Bethany, Nazareth, and Magdalene, St Nicholas, The Mother of God, The Annunciation and the Crucifixion.

Christ the Pantocrator (creator of the universe) is in our children’s chapel. I have one at home given to me by my brother when he was in Rome, and another of Mary and the Christ child, which I bought at the Vatican.

On The Rev. Dr. Richard Kirk’s anniversary of his 60th ordination to the priesthood, I commissioned Barbara to create an Icon in his honor. It is St. Gregory of Nyssa. Rev. Kirk, rector at Advent for 17 years, wrote his master’s thesis on St. Gregory. It is on the small altar in our sitting area.

During this upcoming Christmas season, when you feel the need of silence, follow Barbara’s innstructions and receive the peace of the Lord through the written Icons we have here at Advent.

*JANICE KIRK has been a member of Advent for 28 years. After her first husband died, she came here to sing in the Messiah and ended up singing in the choir. The following Fall she joined the church and has been active as a Eucharistic visitor for 12 years. As a journalist most of her working life, she has written two books while here...Love Anew ( a primer on recovering from spousal grief with her husband Richard Kirk, whom she married in 1993) now in its second printing) and Diary of a Eucharistic Visitor (on her 12- year ministry). She also has been a guide at the Brandywine River Museum for 34 years and written many articles on art.


Getting to write this “Checking In” article at Thanksgiving feels like winning the lottery! We all have so much to be thankful for. Advent’s facilities are beautiful and conducive to worship and fellowship. Our clergy are caring and inspirational. Our Vestry is skilled and dedicated. Our staff and volunteers are helpful and friendly.

You may not feel directly responsible for these blessings, but none of this is possible without the free will offering of your time, talents and/or treasure. YOU matter! So I am mostly thankful for each of YOU and our entire church family. Thank YOU for being present at this time in this congregation. Thank YOU for financially supporting our church community.

This is also the time of year to reflect on 2018 and plan for 2019. Your pledge contributions have allowed us to fully fund our programs this year. We have consolidated parish operations in the Church building, allowing future rent from the PCOC to be put toward capital maintenance projects. If you know of anyone seeking to rent a house, please have them contact Collis Townsend.

Thank YOU for your prayerful consideration of your pledge for 2019. If you have not yet made your pledge for next year, please do so right away to assist final approval of our 2019 budget. Remember that your pledge can be changed at any time. Thank YOU for your continued support!

Endowment Checking In

Highlights of Advent’s Endowment History 

From Advent’s establishment in 1882 and throughout Advent’s long history, the generous gifts of many saints created and supported the beautiful church we enjoy today.  Some of the names are known to us but many are not.  Even when the names are memorialized in stained glass windows or on plaques around the church, we know few details about the lives of these saints.  But what we do know is that their gifts mattered—they mattered then and they continue to have an impact today. 

Some of these generous saints made gifts to the endowment.  In 1959, The Hadley Fund was created pursuant to a bequest of $5,000 from Harry C. Hadley.  Today, the Hadley Fund is valued at about $50,000.   

Advent’s endowment really grew in 1993, when Dick and Sheila Sanford established The Sanford Family Endowment Fund for Christian Youth Education with a gift of $1,000,000.  Now valued at about $1,400,000, the fund contributes about $44,000 annually to the budget for youth formation.  It is the reason Advent is able to support youth education so robustly and will continue to do so for generations to come.   

Major gifts to the General Endowment Fund by Frieda McMullen in 2005 and 2006, and by Gus Schroeder in 2012 greatly expanded the General Endowment Fund which is currently valued at about $850,000.  Annual proceeds of about $37,000 from the General Endowment to Advent’s budget are unrestricted which enables the vestry to use the funds as needed.   

Over the years, other saints have contributed to the endowment with smaller gifts that have really added up.  One example is the Peterson Endowment for Leadership established in 2012.  Many individuals contributed gifts to this fund whose balance now stands at $26,000 and supports leadership training and development.  Many other saints have contributed to the Memorial Garden Endowment, currently valued at $27,000, which will continue to generate funds to maintain the beauty of this sacred resting place.   

All of these endowment gifts continue to benefit Advent because every year, 5% of the endowment balance goes to support Advent’s programs, while 95% of it remains invested and continues to grow.  The endowment contributes about 11% to Advent’s annual budget. 


Endowing Advent’s Future 

Now that you know a little of the history of Advent’s endowment and understand the impact it has each and every year, you too may feel gratitude for the many saints whose gifts have transformed Advent into the beautiful church we cherish today.  If the idea of giving a gift that will perpetually support Advent’s future appeals to you too, please consider making a gift to the endowment.  There are many ways to do so that are tax-wise including gifting from a required IRA distribution and gifting appreciated stock that you don’t want to pay capital gains on.  Gifts of any amount are gratefully welcomed, appreciated, and most importantly, will have an impact far into Advent’s future.   



 Kim Hoeschel for the Endowment Committee: Pete Peterson, Ann Dome, Larry Bosley, Penn Yeatman and Stuart Davies; and Collis Townsend, Development Warden