Wednesday Words- The Alumni Advent Study Program

Hello Blog Friends!

Here is an extra  “Wednesday Words” post for you all about our recent Advent program. Although a dozen alumni signed up not everyone was able to attend all four sessions, except for myself and Guylaine 😊.I asked her if she would like to share a reflection on her experience of the program and she kindly agreed. Above you will see some of the artwork created by other participants and then I have included Guylaine’s pieces within her text.

I hope you will enjoying reading about the ways in which the Day Camp community has expanded to include a number of very special programs that continue to build and enrich us beyond the confines of our children’s programming.

A last few thoughts from me:-The Team alumni come from a variety of Christian traditions, some of which do not focus on exploring the liturgical seasons. When the Teams were still travelling across Canada, staying in host communities and working alongside them to bring the stories of Jesus to children, I had many conversations with these young adults who told me how, being on Team had expanded their vision of faith far beyond the denominational boundaries in which they had been nurtured. Seeing there are Christians who worship in many different traditions and yet share the important core beliefs changed the perspective of these young men and women.

Last week we held our monthly Day Camp committee meeting and I asked   for feedback on the Advent program from four members who are Alumni.  All had found it worthwhile and one member who does come from a non-Liturgical tradition summed up her experience saying:-

“ We do not recognise Advent or use Sacred Reading practices, it was so interesting for me to take part in this program and to enrich my faith through exploring other traditions.”

 Even though our Teams are no longer “out on the road” we can still be expanding our understanding of our faith and respecting our differences while working together:-

“Helping People of All Ages to Become Strong Disciples of Jesus Christ”.

And now, please read Guylaine’s take on “Sacred Readings with the Angels”   

Advent Study Reflectionby Guylaine Chartier

Throughout the Advent Season in 2023, a few Day Camp Alumni gathered virtually to study some sacred practices in relation to four angelic Bible passages.

Here is a snippet of each of the sacred practices that we learned about.

Advent 1: Sunday, December 3

Jessica Stilwell led is in the practice of Lectio Divina. This means, “Divine Reading” in Latin. We read Luke 1:26-38 a few times and in different translations each time. The idea was to reflect on a different aspect of the passage each time we read it. These were the aspects that we reflected on:

  • A key phrase that stood out to us;
  • The overall meaning of the passage;
  • Praying it back to God; and
  • A single word that stood out to us.

After our Lectio Divina practice, we had some quiet time to reflect and create something. I had a few ideas as subject matter for my painting. I ended up using water colour and painting an inch worm moving on a ledge while it’s pouring rain. I equated my painting with Mary being the mother of the Son of God and accepting God’s message, despite being unsure, confused and in future, enduring adversities. The inch worm in my painting is still moving along to its destination, despite the pouring rain.

Advent 2: Sunday, December 10 (day after the Carols & Cocoa event 😉)

Valerie Taylor, the Day Camps Director, led us in the practice of Marginalia. This an ancient practice where monks would write comments and notes in the margins of the Illuminated Manuscripts. It’s nice to know that I was writing notes and comments in the margins of my study Bible and textbooks before I knew that it was a sacred practice 😉. We also read the passage, Luke 1:5-25 a few times to see what stood out for us. For me it was, “Zachariah was startled and gripped with fear.” And then the angel says to Zachariah, “Do not be afraid.” A cool discovery that we all took note of in our margins (😉), is that Gabriel, the angel that visited Mary, is the same angel that spoke to Zachariah.

During my art response time, I used markers to write, “Do not be afraid!” in big lettering and have different colours bursting from the words.

Advent 3: December 17

Christopher Lougheed led us in the practice of Pardes. The whole word, Pardes, is a Hebrew abbreviation to mean orchard, garden or paradise. Each of the letters in Pardes means something different:

  • Peshat – “surface” (“straight”) or literal (direct) meaning
  • Remez – “hints;” deep meaning
  • Derash – “inquire,” “seek” or comparative meaning
  • Sode – “secret” (“mystery”) or esoteric/mystical meaning, as given inspiration or revelation

Much like the previous Sundays, we read Matthew 1:18-25 a few times. Each time we used the practice of Pardes. It was interesting to read the passage with this practice and hear what everyone found in each section.

In the art response time, I was inspired by some artwork that Sharon Harding presented that looked to be stained glass. My image is a pencil/pencil crayon and ink circle with Joseph sleeping and the angel behind him reassuring him that it’ll be alright and that he should continue the process of being married to Mary.

Advent 4: December 24

I still made it, even though I was in New York City. The connection was a bit spotty, but Valerie and I were able to have a good time studying the practice of Florilegia. It means “flower gathering.”

Valerie went through the process of this practice:

  • Choose something out of the passage that ✨sparkles✨ These are called “sparklets”
  • Share the sparklets
  • Re-read the new text of shared sparklets, but reverse it.

We read Luke 2:8-18. Both Valerie and I chose sparklets that were near the end of the passage. We reversed them and it changed the meaning of the text. Our new sparklet was, “All who heard the shepherds were impressed. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child.” This was really cool, because it made it so that all who heard the shepherds told everyone about Jesus!

I did have my sketchbook with me and some pencils. I ended up making a scene where a shepherd was shocked about the angels singing about Jesus. There are tiny sheep in the pasture. I did finish this sketch in the new year.

Overall, I enjoyed learning about these different sacred practices for studying and mediating on different Bible passages. The art response is a great way to connect with God in a different way and see what can be inspiring 🙂 Are there any practices that you know of that would be cool to study about?

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