coming together

Advent, the opening season of the Western church year, from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming”, focuses on spiritual preparation for the Christmas celebration of Jesus’ nativity and, as he already has come in his birth in Bethlehem some two millennia ago, for his second coming at the end of time and, until that time, for his daily coming to human minds and hearts and souls through the leading and guiding inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

On the past four Wednesdays, the people and clergy of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Clinton, SC, and Epiphany Episcopal Church, Laurens, SC,

alternating from place all-saints-episcopal-church-clinton-sc

to place epiphany-laurens-sc-facade

gathered to share supper, scripture study, and prayer.


The Bible study model we employed, known as “African” or “Lambeth”, [1] called us to read the selected passage three times,[2] in turn, asking:


What words or phrases catch your attention?



Where does the passage touch your life today?  advent-program-all-saints-clinton-12-14-16


Through this passage, how may God be inviting you to change – to do something different or to be someone different?



(Additionally, to assure the creation and maintenance of a secure space for individuals to share their thoughts and feelings openly, we encouraged no ensuing comments or discussion of anything said, save for questions of clarification.)

I was told that All Saints’ and Epiphany folk, from time to time years ago, had engaged in joint seasonal programming. As that had not been true for a while, our “Adventing” together was a grand experiment that proved to be a great experience. The hospitality was enriching, our study inspiring, and our prayers ennobling.

Speaking always and only for myself, I had a ball!



[1] In 1998, this Bible Study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference; the decennial gathering of bishops of the global Anglican Communion. This approach is rooted in the ancient practice of praying the scriptures, Lectio Divina or “Divine (or Holy) Reading.”

[2] We used the gospel passages appointed for the four Sundays of Advent: Matthew 26.36-44, Matthew 3.1-12, Matthew 11.2-11, and Matthew 1.18-25.

Photographs: All Saints’ Parish Hall, November 30; Epiphany Parish Hall, December 7; All Saints’ Parish Hall, December 14; Epiphany Parish Hall, December 21.

2 thoughts on “coming together

  1. Wow!!!! I LOVE this!!!! The questions were profound enough, but you all even added food too!! Wonderful!! Your post makes me want to go study and answer those questions you did for four weeks.

    I’m a huge believer in mixing things up!! So bringing to churches together to study during Advent seems like the absolute perfect thing to do. I wonder why the practice stopped years ago? Did it work well enough that you believe there would be interest in doing it again next year? I especially love the fact that you made the location of the gatherings equal. Doesn’t get much better than that!! Bravo to you all!! Thanks for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As we came to an end of the final gathering, several of the All Saints’ folk inquired about sharing programming in Lent! We’ll see!

      There are a number of African/Lambeth Bible study models. If I had been using it on a weekend retreat and had more time, I would have added one or two steps, for example, inviting individuals to pray for the person to the right or left to be strengthened to hold fast to the vision of how God may be calling the person to change. Also I might have invited folks to write and share their prayers. The possibilities are endless. The African/Lambeth model, again based on Lectio Divina, focuses more on listening/hearing the Spirit’s voice speak through the scripture and less on searching for the “right” interpretation.


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