Beyond "Doing" Church



Part of the message from our work with the Kaleidoscope Institute is that it is important for churches to focus on relating, not just doing.  In a lot of our discussions, we have focused on our relationship with one another and our community.  Changing our focus from check writing to building relationships by partnering with the others in our community is one example of seeking to relate on a more personal level.  (See the February 16 “Checking In” article for more information.) 


So we are making progress on finding ways to improve our relationships with others, but what about our all-important relationship with God?  Are we “doing” church or are we opening ourselves to be in relationship with God?  How does what we do in our worship services help us to find and acknowledge God’s presence in our lives?   


As a member of the choir, former acolyte mom, and logistics freak, I often find myself focusing on the process of church more than the purpose of church.  When the choir processes, I need to read the music, sing, and not trip on my robes.  Often I don’t have enough attention left to think about the words I am singing.  And yet, the music still speaks to me about God and his greatness.  The penitential service and the reading of the Decalogue that we do in Lent reminds me that God wants me to love and obey him first, and that I fall pretty short of the mark a lot of the time.  The Great Litany is not just a penance for the first Sunday in Lent; it is a summary of all the ways we are protected by God and it emphasizes our hope in him.   


As we move through Lent into Holy Week and on to Easter, we need to pay attention to what matters in our worship.  We need to allow the ceremony and the music and the words to help us understand the might and mercy of God.   We need to be open to the spirit so that we may be  inspired to seek and to do God’s will.  Watching for mistakes, monitoring the process, or wondering if the service will ever end, are symptoms of doing church without relating to God.  If you find yourself more focused on the doing, make an effort to focus on the message of the prayers and lessons instead of on how they are delivered.  Try a different service to see if a different liturgy will re-focus your attention.  Don’t worry about trying to be on the right page; just listen for the word of God.   


Above all, relate to God by first acknowledging God’s power and how much he has done for us all.  Love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”    And remember to walk humbly with God as Jesus walks with us, so that you may be strengthened to do his work.   


Bryan Bente 

Beth's Rules

After enduring another stretch of 40-degree rainy days, last Wednesday we were blessed with a full day of sunshine in the middle of the week. It gave Carol and I enough energy to make good on our promise to get ourselves to the Lenten Potluck dinner. A Domino pizza was all the food prep we could muster and, on the way to pick it up, driving down Rt. 926 behind Longwood we heard the wonderful sound of spring peepers in the warm early evening. This was an unexpected treat, soon followed by a lovely gathering and an informal eucharist which I have always enjoyed. Pete Peterson’s heartfelt talk that evening touched on the nature of faith and it got me thinking about my friend Beth.

Beth is a client of mine who, over the years, has transitioned into a good family friend. She was widowed when we met, but since then I have had the pleasure of working on several of the homes she occupied over the years and one thing I specifically remember is that she always had a post-it note on the fridge with three rules. I saw them often enough to commit them to memory and I offer them for your consideration.


Rule #1: SHOW UP

This one is simple, and it applies to all aspects of our daily existence. You show up for your family, whether it be picking the kids up to take them to practice or showing up at your spouse’s Christmas party even though you know that you will be spending the evening making small talk with complete strangers. You show up for work even though you know from the Email you got last night that you are wading into a potential mess. You show up at church even though you are sorely tempted to just sleep in before the work week begins again. You show up and try to follow rule #2.


This is pretty self-explanatory, and we have heard variations on this theme all our lives. We have been asked to walk a mile in someone’s shoes, try to see the other side, ask not what our country could do for us, and have heard Mr. Rogers tell countless children to “look for the helpers”. “Do unto others” clearly falls into this category. In the context of church, it reminds me of the practice of “centering prayer,” where each time our mind wanders during prayer (as it inevitably does despite our best intentions) we intentionally and repeatedly bring our attention back to the heart and meaning of faith. This brings us to Beth’s third rule, my personal favorite .


We all have an idea of how we think things should go, how we imagine it will affect us and how we expect people to react. We do a little emotional algebra: I plan to spend this time and energy towards a goal and I expect a return on my investment. It does not always work out the way we plan, and we have been told this over and over. You pay your money and you take your chance. You learn something new every day if you are not careful. No good deed goes unpunished. Discouraging words indeed and a large dose of pessimism. But there is a flip side as well.

You cannot win if you do not play and the world is filled with more possibility than we can comprehend and, above all else, the Lord works in mysterious ways. What about God’s intended results rather than ours? So, I intend to show up again at the Lenten potluck suppers and Eucharist. I am interested to hear the current week’s speaker, and I remember Dick Kirk always said that on one of these days everyone will show up with dessert. Or pizza -- I’m OK either way.

-Kevin Delany

So, What’s Up With Partnerships in Mission Committee?



If you recall last year about this time in February, we announced grants to a number of local organizations based on Advent’s historical practice of using funds collected at our Christmas and Easter services to make grants.  Making grants was one of the ways Advents sought to achieve our mission – Making Christ Visible; Changing Lives; Making a Difference – Together.   


During 2017, to help Advent grow and develop as an Episcopal parish, we made a concerted effort to be more than just check writers but to listen to what was going on in our community, to refresh and broaden how we, with the help of the parish, could strengthen Advent’s existing programs and explore how to encourage development of new programs.   This was to make Advent a vital and supportive force in our Communities.  The word Communities refers to those within our parish, within our local neighborhoods and municipalities, as well as within our Diocese of Pennsylvania, nationally and internationally. 


In August, we decided to change the Committee’s name from Outreach to Partnerships in Mission to more clearly reflect Advent’s continuing evolution from largely an evaluating and check writing committee to a more full-church missional approach – to grow and develop as a parish.  We also engaged with the Missional Ministry Team to learn how to use the Holy Currencies model of ministry development to help Advent grow and develop.  The Holy Currencies are a cycle of blessings -Time and Place, Gracious Leadership, Wellness, Truth, Relationship and Money.   


To focus our discernment effort, we, with Nancy’s guidance, decided to suspend our formal grants application process for the upcoming year, 2018.  We communicated this to each of the agencies we had supported.  An example of how Advent has become more involved in our community, when we communicated our decision to the Adult Literacy Program, we learned they could use larger facilities for their classes.  They now hold classes at Advent.     


Taking to heart Nancy’s message at Christmas, our plan for 2018 is to continue our efforts at mission started in 2017.  We anticipate collaborating with the Missional Ministry Team to help Advent grow and develop as a parish by serving those in need in the community – making it a mission for all of us and making Advent more visible in our communities.  For your funds collected at Christmas and Easter we will use to support emergency community needs; serve as an occasional resource to support existing local community social services and ministries; and, as an expression of our renewed mission focus, act as “seed money” for Advent parishioners with the support of PIM to engage in community social issues. 

I urge you to re-read Nancy’s message, coupled with the sermon by our guest preacher from the Presiding Bishop's office in New York City, the Reverend David Copley, Director of Global Partnerships and Mission Personnel. 


We propose a challenge for you.  Are there projects that you would like to share with Partnerships in Mission Committee? They can be those that Advent could help with or that can be brought to others at Advent.  Let us know.  You can contact me or better yet come to a meeting.  Generally, they are the first Monday of each month at 6pm.   


Together, we are making Christ visible! 




Checking In 2-3-18


Thank you for Stepping Up!

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you for making the 2017 Canvass a success! It is with great pleasure that I announce the $40,000 “Step Up” challenge has been more than met! In total, 89 parishioners pledged $62,500 which means the 2018 Budget will be fully funded. This is a tremendous accomplishment and sign of healthy congregation. It also means that Advent is in for a truly great year!

On behalf of the Vestry, I promise good stewardship of the funds which you have entrusted to our care. Advent’s success will be your success. Thank you!!

Your obedient servant,


Development Warden

Some Words to Reflect On

Throughout the New Year, and each step of the way
May Christ be in your portion, your joy and your stay.
With God’s precious precepts your daily delight
 To lead and encourage in paths that are right.

“The Lord is my Shepard,” how precious the word!
He’ll lead in green pastures, His promise is heard
“Beside the still waters” – what comfort and rest!
What peace there is found upon Jesus’ breast.

His “goodness and mercy,” each day may you prove,
His comforting presence, His infinite love!
With richest compassions, each morning anew,
May multiplied mercies be showered on you!

“My cup runneth over”, His grace so abounds,
That fullest enjoyment in Jesus is found.
“The Lord is my portion,” this may your soul say
And you will be happy each step of the way.    

-Lois Beckwith

Submitted by Frank DiCamillo