The Episcopal Church of the Advent      

Palm City, Florida

BE BRAVE!

Dear Sisters and Brothers,


Trust you are doing well, and enjoy living your life despite the issues and challenges of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I do believe life enjoys you as well. We miss seeing you.


I agree life is full of challenges and adventures. As we live through these days of uncertainties, anxiety, and the unknown, I pray that we as a church will maintain our joy and fidelity in following Jesus Christ, our Lord who has promised to be with us:


"Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age"

(Matthew 28: 20b)


As I look back, since March 2020, the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic has been creating havoc all around the world. I read and watch social media; much has been changed in the world today. Church buildings are closed, and there is no in-person and corporate worship. We are urged to maintain social distancing and to wear a facemask. Either partially or entirely, we are in lockdown. Sure, much has changed.


To my surprise, however, there is one thing that has not changed at Advent. The love you share among you, the heart that you have for the people outside your walls, the support that you extend to your church, and your deep faith and trust in God remain the same. That’s what Anita and I have been observing and experiencing during this Pandemic at Advent. It is a good thing, and this is the way to go.


I very sincerely acknowledge, at Church of the Advent, that there are grace and love. Let us give thanks to God for the tremendous gifts God has given us through each other at this time of the unknown and adversity.


Let us hold each other in that Love of God and then focus on the great and exciting future God has in store for Church of the Advent.


Please remind yourself that each one of you will always hold a special place in our hearts and prayers! Days are indeed hard, and harsh realities surround us. Let us not give up on our church nor people, nor our faith. Muster the courage and brave the future. “The future does not belong to the faint-hearted, but the brave” (Ronald Reagan).


Be Brave!


Every Blessing,


Father Aaron Paul Collins

Endowed with Hope
Nurturing it for the Future!

Dear People of God,

I am pleased to offer a weekly reflection, especially during this time of pandemic where social distancing, also called "physical distancing," prevents the church from holding in-person gatherings both for worship services, coffee-hour, and weekly study. 

Below are a few suggestions that you are already familiar:
  • Stay at least 6 feet from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • Practice wearing masks, and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water at least 20 seconds.

These are simple, and, I know, we are all practicing them daily. These are simple things in life, but life itself is not that simple. Surely there will also be new challenges! It is possible that they will not be that easy, or that the answers will come quickly, or that healing of our physical ailments will be instantaneous, or the economic hardship and communal tensions that the nation is facing will change dramatically – because life is not that simple. It has never been.

However, as people of God, each of us is endowed with hope. We are bestowed with grace to recognize in ourselves and in one another to live out that hope, which is not daunted by setbacks and challenges.  Such hope gives us the strength to strive to live in the knowledge that God is present in all situations, and He is faithful, and He is able.

Nevertheless, I would like to dig deep and recognize what is the source of such authentic hope. In the Bible, The Apostle Paul, who in his life faced with many challenges and struggles, writes:

"Christ in you, the hope of glory"
(Colossians 1:27)

Christ who indwells in us is our hope. Christian hope and faith are not a leap in the darkness. It is trust, trusting in someone that has already proven or at least given a hint or clue in their reliability! Our reliability is in the ability of Christ, our Lord. He is the author and perfecter of our Hope here and in the yonder.  Hymn Writer Critchley in that beautiful and reassuring Hymn – On Christ the Solid Rock, revamps this hope for us:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' name

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

When darkness veils his lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

We believe in the resilience of our strength that comes because of our relationship with Christ. We face challenges and do all things through Him, who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). With the renewed resolve, let us continue to do the work that he has given us to do and face surprises and challenges as they come:

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let's not be afraid to receive each day's surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity. (Henri J.M. Nouwen: 'Bread for the Journey')

Sure, we are endowed with hope in our relationship with Christ, let us nurture it for the future.

With our Love and Blessings,

Father Paul and Anita Collins

Reflection from the Rector ...

Dear Sisters and Brothers at Advent,


Grace and gratitude fill our hearts as we close another month in 2020. As you know, we are still in the clutches of the pandemic, and coronavirus continues to spread, new cases are ever on the increase. A cloud hanging over, and yet there is no definite word about our reopening and reentry plans. Let us keep on keeping social distancing and wearing masks in public places. Stay at home and save lives.


Amidst harsh realities and unclear circumstances, your church remains faithful in offering worship and prayers online. Let us stay grateful for those members of our parish who stay behind the screen and do hard work to make our live streaming of worship better and beneficial to all of us.


This Sunday, you will appreciate a young family participating in our worship. Amber and David Cook will read the lessons and do the Prayers of the People. It is their wedding anniversary. Also, their youngest daughter’s First Birthday – we will have the joy of singing for her. Please join us online!


Please keep in your prayers all those who are not well and needing medical assistance. I ask every one of us to pray for our friends Bill and Nancy Junk fervently. Bill would appreciate our good wishes and prayers at this time.


These are challenging times. It is hard for us to live in uncertain times, surrounded by unanswered questions echoing all around us. As your priest, I am so thankful to all of you for extending your monetary support for the upkeep of the church and paying the bills and salaries for the staff. If you need any assistance or have questions, please contact Sue Harrington, our Treasurer, or Al Ragl, our Senior Warden, or Melissa.


Again, please be assured of our intercession and blessings on all your behalf. You are in our hearts; we love you. You are in our minds; we think about you. You are in our prayers; we pray for you. May God bless your day and keep you in good health!


Father Aaron Paul and Anita Collins

Transformative Relationship with God during the Pandemic


A REFLECTION

Trust you are doing well and enjoy living your life, and I trust life enjoys you as well.


I understand, as individuals, church, nation, and the world, we are in deep distress, and surrounded by uncertainties. It is altogether a new reality. Coronavirus Pandemic impacts our living and poses a challenge to new experiences in life.  


In our spirituality, we discern God’s grace and love differently. We are called to live to the moment. Let us remember, and today begins a new life. Yesterday is over. Last week, even last month and year’s events have come and gone. Wipe things out. Get a fresh start. Today, let us begin a new life and be steadfast in our faith. Is that simple? 


No, we are human! When we face challenging times, it is difficult to remain steadfast in our faith and stay in a relationship with God. I agree! Nevertheless, the Word of God exhorts us that these are the times when we must press toward God with a most tenacious spirit. Look at what Jude says,


But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith

and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love

as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

(Jude 20-21)


Jude is the tiniest book in the New Testament. Traditionally, the authorship of this book is assigned to Judas, the “brother of James.” He writes to place Christians on their guard against the activities of certain despicable persons who are cleverly undermining the godly character of the Christian community and inducing them to slip further and further away from their relationship with God.


According to this verse, we stay in a relationship with God by building ourselves up. When our going becomes tough, and our situations are beyond control, we need to reflect on what God has already done and how He has demonstrated Himself faithful.  God’s faithfulness is great, and “His mercies…are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). And in faith and prayer, we are encouraged to stay in a relationship with God.


Indeed, prayer is the key that opens us to the gracious presence of God. It leads us to be in an intimate, transformative relationship with God. Prayer is the means and medium to express our dependency upon God. God is not looking for long eloquent prayers. He already knows the cry of our hearts. It is like any other conversation we have from time to time with our dear ones, to affirm our love and relationship. Prayer is a conversation with God that extends appreciation, affirms, and encourages our faith. The Apostle Paul reminded us in Romans 8:1 that God does not condemn us but loves us beyond what we can imagine or comprehend. 


May God continue to give you grace and abounding courage to rejoice, and may God bless us all. Even in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, let us celebrate life!

 

Father Paul Collins

A Beautiful Day Begins With A Beautiful Mindset!

Dear People of God at Advent,


Typically, during the summer months, we expect things to slow down a bit, and there is enough time to relax, travel, vacation somewhere with our families and friends, get some much-needed rest, and get ready for the startup Sunday in the fall!


Unfortunately, this summer so far is crowded by anxieties and uncertainties. The global pandemic – coronavirus chaos continues through much of the world. As you know, the number of cases for the COVID 19 virus is rising in our county. Predictions are that this pandemic could last until 2021. It might even infect 60 to 70% of people. The bottom line, it's going to get worse?!


As I write this weekly message, dear people of Advent, along with the leaders of our parish and the broader community, the Diocese of Southeast Florida, we wonder how these new realities will impact our church's reopening in-person worship and ministries.


As a servant of Christ in your midst, I encourage you to trust God and don't despair. Always pray and never give up. At the same time, let us remind ourselves that prayer is not a means of coercing God to do what we want. It is allowing God to work this out in His time and according to His will. In His time, He makes all things beautiful:


"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Romans 8:28)


Somewhere I read recently, "A beautiful day begins with a beautiful mindset." Keep your spirits up, stay safe and healthy. Always wear your masks, eat, and sleep well. Stay at home, and say your prayers. Make that phone call or write an email that you have been procrastinating who knows that might encourage the ones who are alone and housebound and feeling lonely at this time. Certainly, Sue Harrington will appreciate a check from you towards the support of the church. Read your Bible, and other books of your interest, and write down your thoughts. Send your new ideas to the office, and we will publish them for the benefit of our parishioners. Indeed, a beautiful day begins with a beautiful mindset!


Again, please be assured, Anita and I are delighted to be in your midst, and you're in our hearts and prayers. We love you!


EVERY BLESSING!


Father Paul and Anita Collins

Happy 4th of July!
American Independence Day

My dear fellow citizens,


This our great nation, the United States of America, was born on July 4, 1776. We as a family are happy to be part of the excitement that this day brings to us, and wish you all, a happy 4th of July.


The United States of America is the greatest nation with the most diverse and innovative people on earth. It is a nation with strong and varied convictions and beliefs. It is a nation bound together by the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence: “...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Does this not reflect the scripture?


American values such as the self-reliance, free enterprise, and equal opportunity have become the exemplar around the Globe. American power and influence used over hundreds of years to preserve peace among the nations of the world. America, as the leader, internationally continues to promote economic and social justice, hoists the flag of freedom and human rights, protects the clean environment, and alleviates human suffering.


In the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, “America is a land of wonders, in which everything is in constant motion and every change seems an improvement ... No natural boundary seems to be set to the efforts of man; and in his eyes what is not yet done is only what he has not yet attempted to do.” Surely, we live in a nation where there is no limit on human innovation, and America is indeed a land of opportunity.


As a privileged and grateful nation, on this day of Independence, in a true spirit of patriotism, thank God for all who laid their precious lives to get us where we are today, despite the troubles and challenges that we face as one nation. Pray for all men and women in uniform defending the ideals of this nation and continue to offer our intercession for all who are in authority, especially Donald Trump, our President, and Ron DeSantis, our Governor.


Happy 4th of July!


Father Paul Collins

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY –
Father Paul’s One Year at Advent!

Dear Friends,

Today, June 18, 2020, marks Father Paul's one year at Advent; Already!! 

Anita and I, together with our three children – Jennifer, Andrew, and Mary, recognize that you are an incredibly kind and welcoming parish.   Your faith is alive and not rote.  We extend our hearty thanks to the Vestry and the Search Committee as they worked diligently, patiently, and tirelessly for making our transition to become a rector at Advent.  It has been both a delight and a pleasure so far!

Our first year with you at Advent has been full of challenges, adventures, and close-downs: Hurricane Dorian to the COVID–19 Coronavirus Pandemic, our faith is challenged, and “in-person corporate worship” is shutdown since March 8th of this year. 

Nonetheless, together as a whole parish, we proved that we are a resilient community and have responded with courage to every challenge that we have faced.  We have braved the storm and been keeping our faith alive and unshattered even at this time of lock-down and temporary  closing of our buildings.

Having completed this our first year with you at Advent, we are looking forward to the reopening of our church (whenever that happens) and launching into New Times!  We recommit ourselves to the call of God, as we move on to the years ahead, and will strive together with you to be where God wants our parish to be.  With God, we envision a better future on the horizon, full of glowing possibilities and nuances of ministry with Christ, our Lord.

Again, Anita and I express our heartfelt thanks to every one of you for your love, warm welcome, and gracious acceptance as your priest.   Oh yes, and for putting up with me, all my shortcomings and limitations! We love you!

Finally, this is Father's Day weekend! Let us give thanks to God for our fathers, father figures, and fatherly men of all kinds, who labor in love to care, protect, and provide for their countries, societies, and families.  Let us honor all fathers who listen to their children's dreams and desires and believe in their stories.  Let us express our gratitude for all men in our parish for their love, security, civility, and sense of responsibility that they impart in all of us here and elsewhere. 

Happy Father’s Day!

With every blessing,
Father Aaron Paul and Anita Collins

Trinity Sunday

The First Sunday after the Pentecost is celebrated as the Trinity Sunday. Trinity, what does it mean? The Episcopal Church in its Articles of Religion (BCP – 867) says there is one living God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in the unity of this Godhead, there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.


The doctrine of Trinity is one of the baffling areas of Christian theology. For some, it is "the incomprehensible jargon of the Trinitarian arithmetic." To understand this apparently baffling theology, we need to engage with the biblical texts which bear witness to the words and works of God. However, the Christian Scripture does not set out the doctrine of the Trinity. It only bears a point of reference to a God who demands to be understood His function in a Trinitarian manner. For example, the Apostle Paul speaks of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the familiar words of "the benediction/grace" in 2 Corinthians 13:14.


May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, 

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


Here is a very early, already beautifully balanced "Trinitarian formula." Significantly in Paul's order, Christ comes first since through his gracious work, we came to know the love of God. Nevertheless, Paul's focus in this verse is on the three nouns: grace, love, and communion. Grace, love, and communion relate to personal beings who are called by different names (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Doesn't it mean that God of love and peace comes to us as three persons within one God? Karl Barth is right when he says, "Trinity is the Christian name for God."


Let me make a point. Pauline's understanding of Trinity is doxological, as well as theological. Because it is doxological, we say it in the benediction (the blessing) in the context of our liturgical worship. Because it is also theological, we use them in defining the functional aspect of God. God in His function creates the world; the God who created the world also redeemed the world. The God who created the world, redeemed the world, lives in us directing His path. So, it is ontological (being) as well as functional (becoming).


For me, the Pauline phrase, "be with you all" in 2 Corinthians 13:14 at the end of the benediction, is very significant. Christ's grace, God's love, and fellowship through the Holy Spirit cannot but bring all Christians together into a lasting communion with one another in the Church. 


Therefore, let me say that the foundation of our community and the core of our Christian faith is Trinity; God in three persons is One! In the Trinity, there is a beautiful unity!


It is amazing that the unity that evolves in God is not uniformity. Through diversity, we discern and discover unity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Today, as a nation, we face significant and difficult challenges to our unity. Our peace is shattered, so also is our hope. The killer virus – COVID 19 is still on the rampage threatening normal lives; and increasing unrest among all communities with peaceful protests, and riots, demanding equality for all. We are worried. At this juncture, it is our plea. Let us give God a chance and pray for the peace:


Loving God, please grant our nation peace of mind and a loving spirit. Guide our leaders and give discernment to do the right thing at this time of a harsh and chaotic situation. Give strength and clarity of mind to people everywhere to seek after God's love, peace, and purpose and walk the path that embraces one another. That we all may strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being through triune God: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Father Aaron Paul Collins

June 4, 2020

The Feast of Pentecost
ALL IN RED - ALL INCLUSIVE

Happy Birthday, Church!

This Sunday, May 31, is the feast of Pentecost; in our liturgical tradition, it is the beginning of the long, Green season, but this Sunday is all in Red and all-inclusive! Red signifies a glorious celebration. Pentecost is the day of the great outpouring, the day that ties all other days together. 

As Luke shows in Acts 2, it is the day when we can speak and understand, at last, the day when we can babble incoherently. People will not laugh when it is OK to love without apology or fear when we know that all of the parts are different, and yet all parts are enjoying one another, It is just all-inclusive! It is the Pentecost, the great gathering in, and the great sending out into the world. It is the celebration of the birth of the Church. Happy Birthday, Church!

One bread, one body, one Lord of all,
one cup of blessing, which we bless, 
And we, though many, throughout the earth, 
We are one body in this one Lord. 
Gentile or Jew, Servant or free 
woman or man, no more 
Many the gifts, many the works, 
one in the Lord of all. 

We all are invited to be part of this grand celebration as one body. We gather to pray together and receive the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is always unmerited favor, surprising, elusive, and energizing! Paul writes, "Where there is the Spirit of the Lord, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17) and power" - the power to live together in unity and community. 

I look forward to seeing you all in Church (virtual Church!) this Sunday.

Please remember to wear something RED and SHARE your photo on Facebook during our Live Stream Sunday, May 31st at 10:00 a.m.! 

Father Aaron Paul Collins

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Dear People of God at Advent,


Time is ticking! We are well into the middle of May. Who would have thought that the six weeks of Easter tidings after the resurrection of Christ, would become part of the unwelcome season of the COVID–19 pandemic. Today, we find ourselves living through a period of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, or, for short, a VUCA season. But, not all is lost! The fleeting appearances of the risen Christ have been sustaining us all the way. Now, we see the signs of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel.


We are pleased to inform you that the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, under the leadership of The Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Peter Eaton, has given us the directives to a phased approach of four seasons to imagine Reentry. This document helps us to imagine how to plan for the future of our Parish.


You may be glad to know, as directed by the Diocese, we have formed a Re-entry Planning Committee, a separate group whose sole task is to be focused on this process of Reentry.


Soon the Committee will be put in action and work with the Bishop, Rector, Vestry, and bring out for our Parish "A Roadmap to Reopening." Melissa, our Administrator, is working on sending a copy of this document, "On Being Faithful," to each of us.


Of course, you, the very loving people of Advent, have been through ups and downs, tears and joy, successes, and challenges. In our short time with you, we understand that you are a resilient community. However, the challenges ahead of us are significant. We are beginning to wonder about the " new normal" that is currently emerging. Nevertheless, God on our side, we are confident to be where God wants us to be. With God, we envision a better future on the horizon, full of glowing possibilities for our Parish, for our Nation, and the whole world.


Hang in there and take it easy! God will bless each one of you with more excellent health and nourish your life with new possibilities and opportunities in Christ Jesus, who has promised to be with us always!


Alleluia, Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia, Alleluia!


Every Easter blessing!


Father Paul Collins

Mother's Day

Dear Sisters and Brothers,


It is a joy to write to you, especially as we approach Mother's Day weekend. Before I say something about it, I want to hear that you are staying safe, sheltered in a safe place, and healthy during these terrifying and uncertain times. You all are in our minds, hearts, and our prayers!


Your health and safety are of utmost importance to us, so we are in no hurry to reopen. Nevertheless, we are trying everything to stay connected and help you to have the church experience during this time.


Meantime, I want to express my gratitude and adoration to the vestry and the wardens - Al and Craig. Sue Harrington, the treasurer, Melissa, our Administrator, Jill, our bookkeeper, and the lay ministers for all their strenuous efforts to keep us going.


We await to receive directives and documents from the Bishop. As we discern and explore the path to reentry and regathering during and after the COVID - 19 pandemic. You will be informed, well in advance, of the careful steps that we will be taking with the advice of the Bishop and our church leaders, and medical experts.


Let me remind you that this Sunday, May 10th is Mother's Day. We will again be live streaming our worship. We will honor and appreciate all our women in our liturgy.


All women are lovely creatures of God. God has blessed women with the capacity to bring life into the world. Primarily, it's splendid to acknowledge mothers for their love and nurture.


We will offer thanks to God and honor all women who nourish life through their words and deeds. Women who birth beauty and love, women who strive for world peace and reconciliation, power, and justice in all places and every home and, especially at the Church of the Advent.


I may be wrong in my theology, but this is how I feel about our mothers: God can't be everywhere, so He created mothers. Mothers mean the whole world to us.


Let us take this opportunity to communicate words of love and gratitude to all our women and mothers. No hugs and kisses (social distancing)! Instead, genuinely offer praises and prayers on their behalf:


Loving God, we thank you for our mothers,

who gave life to us, and who care for us.

heir self-sacrifice and love blessed and blesses us evermore. 

Grant us grateful hearts so that we remain thankful 

and be a blessing to the world. Amen


Many blessings – Stay home and be safe!


Father Paul Collins

The Reverend Malcolm Hughes Obituary

Dear People of God,


With profound sadness, we remember Father Malcolm Hughes, who passed away on April 6, 2020. He was a great man of God. This morning as I was clearing and cleaning my office desk in the Church, the old Clergy Stoles and several books that he gave me before his death made my heart very sad. We all miss him a lot. We are hoping that someday in the near future, we will celebrate his life and return thanks to God for all that he had accomplished in life. I am sure Lydia and the rest of his family are planning for that to happen. Meanwhile, I thought of sharing his Obituary sent to us by his daughter:


“The Reverend Malcolm Albert Hughes passed away peacefully on April 6, 2020 in Fort Pierce, Florida. He was born on March 20, 1933 in Liverpool, England and was predeceased by his parents William and Fredericka, his sister Rioghan and his wife Jane. He is survived by his wife, Lydia Barnes, his children Christopher (Leanne), Sally (Seth), Michael (Kim) and his beloved grandchildren Dylan, Harry, Lily Jane, Prue, Ivan, Sasha, Thomas and Sean. 

Malcolm spent ten years in the Canadian military before receiving his BA from McGill University and his Masters of Divinity from Bishops University. He was ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada in 1960 and served the Church in many capacities, including mission work in the Caribbean and Malaysia, Rector of St. James (Hudson, PQ), St. Mary’s (Como, PQ) and St John the Baptist (Pointe Claire, PQ), Executive Director of the Diocese of Montreal, and as Editor-in-Chief of the Montreal Diocesan newspaper. He later served the Episcopal Church as Rector of Saint Saviour’s (Bar Harbor, ME) and St. John’s (Shawano, WI) before settling in Palm City, Florida to enjoy retirement. 

Malcolm combined his passion for sports and children by working with a number of youth athletic programs over the years, including coaching high school football and tennis as well as refereeing soccer. He also loved the arts by performing in local theater groups, singing every chance he could and leading a local Scottish band as Drum Major. He was an accomplished spoon player and a published poet. 

Malcolm cherished his family and friends and will be dearly missed. A memorial service will take place at a later date. Donations in Malcolm’s name can be sent to Treasure Coast Hospice, 5000 Dunn Rd., Fort Pierce, FL 34981 or to your local library as he was an avid reader.”


May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace and raise in glory!


Father Paul Collins

Living in the In-Between Times

Dear People of God,


Happy Easter, everybody!


Easter is the feast of victory for our God. For the Lamb who was slain has begun his reign, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!


This glorious season celebrates the incomparable victory in the history of humanity and the ultimate conquest of all evil. It is a time for love and a reason for new hope. We are saved from the clutches of death. In raising His Son from the dead, God had saved the whole creation. Alleluia!


Nonetheless, we live in a world in which fear triumphs. In the shadow of the Coronavirus Pandemic, we live in a time of not knowing how things will work out for us; and this time creates feelings of fear, anxiety, and apprehension. Our hope of returning to the usual way of living and coping with the “New Normal” seems far away. We miss being together in worship. However, let us remind ourselves, anyplace, anytime, and any day – we are still the church. We care and love each other!


We, the people of Easter, believe fear and death, and the Pandemic, are not the last words. Because Jesus, the Christ rose from the dead, tragedy, sorrow, and pain are transformed into life, hope, joy, and purpose.


I hear you say, “time is tough and rough.” Yes, we grieve over the recent experience that humanity as a whole is going through all over the world. We are struggling to make sense of it all. Transitioning from the present reality to the hopeful future is not always easy. Living in the in-between times, we look to the future with discouragement and fear. What can help us to live with real hope as we move on through the pain of uncertainty?


I, your priest, invite you into the newness of God that the resurrection of Christ would bring into our lives. Let us never give up! There is no situation which God can’t change. There is no sin that God cannot forgive. There is no sickness in the world that God can’t heal. So, God will always have the final word. And He will get all things right. Let us strive for a new start, an Easter start. Our present or our future is not merely the product of the past. God is making everything new. I surely believe, for in His time, God makes all things new!


Again, I want to thank you for your love and support for your church. Please be assured, my wife and I never allow a day slip away, without thinking about you and praying for you.


Looking forward to that great day where we will unite all our voices and say together in person:


Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed!


Father Paul Collins

Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

 

A Cheerful greeting to each one of you from the Church of the Advent!

 

It is our first Easter with you at Advent. Though the times are hard, and the passage is tough, we rejoice for the opportunity of being your priest both to walk with you and help you walk through this tough phase in life and rough path in our living. It is a hard time for everyone. We are all in this together. You are in our hearts – we love you; you are in our minds – we think about you; you are in our prayers – we pray for you!

 

Of course, our journey through the sacred season of Lent amid Coronavirus Pandemic has taught us some in-depth spiritual lessons. Some lessons are beginning to emerge. Some are crystal clear - like we all need God, the sheltering love of our families, and our community. We are all connected physically, too, as evidenced by the spreading of the virus around the world. At the same time, none of us ever thought that we would be bound up with so much uncertainty and fear of death all around us.

 

Cheer up! It is Easter! Jesus rose from the grave, Alleluia! As you know, Easter celebrates the resurrection and new life in Christ.

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! 

In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through 

the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

 

Apostle Paul in Philippians 3 recognizes the “power “in the resurrection. He writes, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” At this time of daunting fear and powerlessness, we all need power. The power of the resurrection can transform us from all odds of life and give us new hope and possibilities.

 

Let us move forward, trusting in the transforming power of risen Christ our Lord as we continue to experience the tragedies, trauma, social distancing, financial, and economic distress of the Coronavirus crisis. Let us be confident of this one thing, the wounds of the Risen Jesus always touch us and transforms our wounds and fears, and the scars and fears of the millions and millions of people of the world.

 

I encourage everyone to participate in the Easter Sunday Liturgy virtually through live streaming. The Easter Offering Envelope is here if you would like to send in your Good Friday and Easter Offerings! Thank you so much for your generous and thoughtful support to the church of the Advent by continuing to mail in your pledges and offerings.

 

Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia! Happy Easter, Everybody!

 

Father Aaron Paul and Anita Collins

Florida is now under a statewide stay-at-home order.

WHAT ABOUT

PALM SUNDAY: PASCHAL JOURNEY WITH CHRIST?

Dear Friends and Family of Advent,


Greetings to you from the Church of the Advent!


The Holy Season of Lent is coming to an end, and we are all set to step into the holiest days of the year. This Sunday, April 5, is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday celebrates the Zion’s King Jesus, who triumphantly entered into the city of Jerusalem, the very religious and political power center of the world.  


The Prophet Zechariah, several hundred years before Matthew, saw this was coming and had prophesied about this day and said,


Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!

Lo, your King comes to you;

triumphant and victorious is he,

humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zechariah 9:9


A vast crowd, according to Luke, the “whole multitude of disciples,” joined in the procession, and they began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen. Crowds spread clothes and tree branches across the road to show their adoration:

 

“Hosanna to the Son of David!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

 

At that moment, it looked for all the world, as if the King had arrived in force to claim his rightful throne. Matthew puts it, “When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” (21:10). Pharisees, the so-called guardians of the Jewish status-quo, exclaimed in alarm, “Look, the whole world has gone after him!” It is evident, the modern world today asks, why was he riding on a donkey instead of a horse?


Unlike the Presidential motorcade with the flashing lights, the all-black-convoy, and the emergency vehicles, the King of Zion led the entrance procession on a donkey with no earthly splendor. Christ chose to ride on a donkey, a symbol of humility and service.


Also, the Gospels recount how the followers covered Jesus’ path, spreading their cloaks on the road. Others cut palm branches from the trees, spread them on the road, and went ahead of Jesus shouting, “Hosanna.” A cry for help – Save us, Lord, we are perishing!”


However, what one cannot understand is how with such a crowd throwing themselves at his feet one week, how did Jesus get arrested and killed the next?


Yes, there was a smell of triumph on Palm Sunday, but not the kind of victory that might impress Rome and not the type that impressed crowds in Jerusalem for long, either.  What manner of King was this, we wonder! Jesus is the King with a difference. He is the savior of the world and compassionate Christ. Wherever you are in life, there is a place for you in Christ and His kingdom. God loves you, no exception!


Holy Week is a paschal journey in its significance, a journey to Easter. It is possible, in this hard and most difficult times, we might have drifted away from our trust in God, relied on our strength, broke down, and failed miserably. Here is a call to return and rejoin the paschal journey with Christ to a new life. 


Holy Week helps us to find our way back to God. God does not require a pure heart to join His passion. Henri Nouwen says,


"God does not require a pure heart before embracing us. Even if we return to God because following our desires has failed to bring happiness, God will take us back.  God’s love does not require any explanations about why we are returning. God is glad to see us home and wants to give us all we desire, just for being back."


To mark our return to God let us join virtually in the following services which will be live-streamed as follows: 

Palm Sunday, April 5 at 10 am

Maundy Thursday, April 9 at 7:00 pm

Good Friday, April 10, 12 noon).


Let us join in the paschal journey with Christ and follow Him from the very beginning to the very end. Then we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday (April 12 at 10 am). We will celebrate the new life, which the resurrection of Christ brings to all of us. New times demand new expectations, even as new hope is on the horizon!        

  

Wishing you all a blessed and holy season of the Passion and the Paschal Journey with Christ,

Affectionately in Christ, 

                                                                  

Father Paul Collins

April 3, 2020

TEARS OF JOY AMIDST THE PAIN OF SORROW

Anita and I share the pain and sorrow of the millions. It is heartbreaking and mind blogging, to see humanity in millions staggering and struggling all around the world—coronavirus taking a toll on humanity—189,500 cases in the U.S., with 4,076 deaths.  


Coronavirus triggers fear among young and old. Today, almost everyone in the world is experiencing life as more stressful, more disconnected, socially distanced. On top of it all, economic hardship, today, paralyzing the morale of families and individuals alike. According to CNBC, "Coronavirus job losses could total 47 million, the unemployment rate may hit 32%." These are by far unimaginably large numbers in the history of the United States. 


It is indeed a very tough passage. We are bound up with so much uncertainty, despair, dismay, and fear of death all around us. How can anyone be hopeful about life?  


Amidst the harsh realities all around us today, we are entering a new month. It is the first day of April. The world may say, "it is a fool's day." But we say it is a suitable day to dream big dreams and intercede for the world. Here is the promise that comes from God who made heaven and earth:


I hereby command you: 

Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed,

for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." 

(Joshua 1:9)


Let us in one spirit and accord wish and pray that this deadliest virus goes away, and life returns to normal to the millions. It is exciting, "Once the virus goes away, and if we play our cards right and keep everything intact, then everyone will go back to work, and everything will be fine." It is a good thing!


In the spirit of optimism, I invite you to adhere to the directives put out to stop the spread of the virus: "Avoid social gatherings in groups more than ten people. Avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts - use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options. Avoid discretionary travels. Wash your hands, especially after touching any frequently used item or surface. Avoid touching your face. Sneeze or cough into a tissue or the inside of your elbow. "


As parents, today, we are in tears; it is tears of joy amidst the pain of sorrow for our son Andrew who left us this morning around 6:00 a.m. to become a Software Engineer at Boeing, St. Louis, Missouri. Please join us in giving thanks to God for this beautiful opportunity for Andrew. Please keep him in your prayers that things will go well for him all the way.  


With every blessing, we remain,


Yours in Christ's Love,


Father Paul and Anita Collins

Dearly beloved,


Good morning and blessings to each one of you!


I trust you’re well and doing good. At this time of anxiety and uncertainty, I hold you all, the members of our parish in my love and prayers.


I never anticipated that the Coronavirus Pandemic would ever happen and affect life, disrupting the rhythm of the millions of people around the world. I deeply regret not being able to meet with you and perform my pastoral visits and celebrate corporate worship. Nevertheless, it is out of love for one another, for our fellow human beings, our neighbors, our parishioners, that we forego the blessing of being physically together for worship, and other face to face meetings.  


As of today, we don’t have a clear-cut answer concerning the reopening of our businesses and churches for worship. Even though President Trump hopes to have, the country reopened in just over two weeks (Easter Sunday), a timeline that is dramatically sooner than what many public-health experts have recommended to help contain the coronavirus pandemic.


In our clergy conference today, Bishop Peter Eaton had indicated this could go on till the end of May 2020. The Episcopal Church Bishops will be meeting for their weekly meeting online, next Monday. The Bishop is hopeful of this subject coming up in their discussion. We will know the mind of the church on this vital subject, whether we will be able to have the Easter Service or not. He will let us know!


In the interim, I am glad to let you know that we are fully complying with both the directives received from the Bishop and the Government.


We are grateful to our leaders - Sue, Al, Craig, Elaine, and Melissa, for their foresight and hard work in keeping things moving as healthy as possible. Sue has been so good at maintaining and analyzing the cash flow, paying the bills, and taking care of all other financial concerns. You might have heard from Sue, our Treasurer, where she suggests some useful ways for us to keep up with our pledges and support to the church at this very stressful time. Thank you all for thinking about your church.


Al and Craig are excellent in their responsibilities as wardens. I am thankful to them for their assistance and insightful guidance at this extraordinary time. God has given us some incredible and hard-working leaders. Let us support them.


Through reflections, weekly messages, and personal phone calls, and emails, I am so delighted to be able to touch with our parishioners and communicating with you as much as possible. I have requested that Melissa forward all the reflections and messages that we receive from the Bishop to you. He has some good things to say at this terrible time to keep our morale up and put our trust in God.  


Concerning the health of our parishioners, this is such a difficult time for everyone. However, I am glad that no one in our congregation is affected by the Coronavirus. Nevertheless, Father Malcolm is admitted again in the hospital with other complications. He is in Tradition. I talked to Lydia, and she is concerned about his health. Bill and Nancy are always in my prayer. Glad to hear from Nancy that Bill had no hospital visits since I saw him three weeks ago.  


I am so sorry to let you all know that Melissa has not recovered fully, and she is still struggling with some issues. Despite her health, she is assisting us in many ways. Please text and assure her of our good wishes.


Finally, we are glad that we were able to live stream our Sunday Service last Sunday. Of course, this was the first time for all of us involved. There were lots of errors, and please be assured we will address those errors and will live stream our worship this Sunday again. Bishop has given his directives asking us to be strict. According to him, the participant should be three or a maximum of four people, including the priest. Sure, it would exclude some of our excellent regular worship leaders.


Again, we are living in a desolate moment that I am hopeful not necessarily leading us to the desolation of our spirituality.  Trust in the Lord and don’t despair. He is a friend so true! No matter what your troubles are, Jesus will see you through.  


I am so pleased to pass on to you one more beautiful and reassuring scripture from the writings of Paul, the apostle (Romans 8:35-39):


Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:


        “For your sake we face death all day long;

               we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”


No, in all these things we are more than conquerors ( not losers) through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


We love you (1,3,4,6,10….), Anita and I are holding all of you in our daily prayers.


With every blessing


Father Paul Collins

COVID-19:  MAY YOUR JOURNEY BE GENTLE AND
THE DESTINY FULL OF PROMISE.

FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT

COVID – 19: May your journey be gentle and the destiny full of promise.

Sermon preached by Father Paul Collins


It is a new day! It is a new journey! Life itself is a journey. Yes, it is! Life is beautiful but not always easy. The road of life is bumpy, rough, and treacherous. At times, countless challenges have encountered us along the way. Today, we are on the road, less traveled. For millions, life is increasingly becoming darker, and the spreading of COVID 19 is dangerous. The world is facing new challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.


The challenge lies in facing them with courage. Someone has said, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” Life is beautiful, but it is not always easy. And the challenges around us are real; we need the courage to encounter them.


Look at our Old Testament. God said to Samuel, “set out,” and go! For Samuel, it is a new journey! It is a road less traveled, unfamiliar to the Northerner. Nevertheless, it is a journey towards a destiny full of promise. It is a journey with a mission of creating a new future for the land of Israel with a new king. Samuel’s journey, though, was rough, and destiny was full of promise. A mission accomplished. God said to Samuel, as the last son of Jesse, a shepherd boy David is brought before him, “Rise and anoint him, for this is the one.” With the increasing threat of Saul, for Samuel, that journey was risky. But Samuel took a risk and arrived at a destiny full of promise!


In our Gospel, we read, Jesus saw a man who had been blind from birth. For that nameless blind man, life was dark and increasingly challenging. Jesus, amid body politics over the blind man’s unfortunate infirmity and impediment with a small gesture of kindness, took pity on him.


What Jesus did next may be unhygienic, “he spat on the ground and made a sort of clay with the salvia,” which he applied to the man’s eyes and said, “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.” The man went!


Imagine, it was the most challenging journey for this blind man, not sure how far and how long it took for him to reach that pool. Yet, that journey’s destiny was full of promise – a new sight. John says, “He came home with his sight restored!”


Life is beautiful, but not always easy; it has problems, too. Trusting Jesus’ words, the blind man risked his life, reached the pool, washed his eyes, and got his sight!


The Apostle, Paul, in our Epistle to the church in Ephesus, first, in Chapter 2, acknowledges that young Christians who were struggling to live out their faith amid life challenges under Roman subjugation and religious oppositions of their day, tells them that they are the workmanship of God.


Here in the passage assigned to our reading today, Paul calls them to live like children of Light! Being light to the world is not an easy task! Life never gets easier! The road of life can get rough, but be confident, and we are the workmanship of God, God made our lives that God is behind the wheel of our lives!


Finally, let us turn to that most famous, comforting, consoling and beautiful Psalm 23 by David, a new king that was anointed by Samuel as we have seen above, in our Old Testament reading. David was a shepherd king, more successful than any other king in all of the history of Israel. His Kingdom was considered as a Golden era! Life was good, but not always easy.


Psalm 23 comes from a place of pain and frustration. For David, the comfort of the palace, possessions, and the royal throne, are merely flying over his head. He failed, failed miserably. He fell from grace. Life is beautiful, but not easy always!


David is the sheep; the Lord is the shepherd. David and the Lord are intimately connected in love. David embarked on a journey with the Lord. He passed through pastures of green grass and by the waters of rest. David writes, “He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.”


Together with the Good Shepherd, Life is beautiful and comfortable, but what now! It is a valley. With no warning ahead of him, David passed from the relaxing fields into the threatening valley of deep darkness. It seems the very shadow of the valley of death enveloped Him.


For millions, today, the world is increasingly becoming darker, and the threat is dangerous, it is the valley of the shadow of death. The world is facing new challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic. If predictions are right, the Coronavirus will Change the World Permanently.


We know now that touching things, being with other people, and breathing the air in an enclosed space can be risky. A higher comfort might replace the convenience of being in the presence of others with absence. Life has come almost standstill, and people are asked to stay behind closed doors!


Here is a question that is echoing all around the Globe, how to face the daily challenges posed by the COVID 19 Pandemic? I believe, though, there is a life-threatening challenge. It is not time to be panicking!


We need to rediscover the joy of tenderness by loving our family, friends, and our neighbor, maintaining proper hygiene – hand washing. Observe social distancing. The best way of protecting us from the spread is for everyone to takes the directives seriously and use universal hygiene and wash our hands frequently! Stay at home to save!


As a church, we forfeit the blessing of being physically together for worship. We, as a parish, limit events and meetings that require close contact.


We agree, life is beautiful, but not easy always! We also trust as David articulates in Psalm 23, God’s overflowing love, and His mercy follow us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


Therefore, wherever we are in life, whatever gifts and talents we may possess, let us make the Light of Christ shine through us wherever we go and whatever we do.


We are inspired to do this by living out our faith by putting into action, especially by loving one another as Christ loved us. The challenges around us are real, and we need the courage to encounter them. Life is a journey with many problems and difficulties. But, remember that God is behind the wheel of our lives!


Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. In our life and our life’s journey, let us shine His Light for the world. Amen.

Dear Friends,


"The COVID–19 pandemic" is affecting much of our individual and corporate lives, posing a threat to the health of so many. At this juncture, following the directives received both from the National Church (Presiding Bishop) and our Diocesan Bishop, after this Sunday, March 15, all our church activities will remain canceled through March 31.


Coronavirus is a real deal, and it is getting serious. I prayerfully request you to please take a comprehensive approach tailored to your circumstances with the public and well-being as the central pillar.  


As of always, Anita and I will be ready to be at your side in case of a medical emergency or any other physical or emotional breakdown. Here is our cell phone: 772-708-0229. You can either call or text us.


Nevertheless, I am pleased to send this "piece of biblical reflection," assuring us of God's comfort and care at this time of chaos and uncertainty:


Psalm 91:4

He will cover you with his feathers,

             and under his wings you will find refuge;

              his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.


Psalm 91 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible.  While I was growing up, my poor mother made us, her children, memorize this Psalm in our language.


I often recite and read this Psalm with tears in my eyes. Not only this Psalm reminds me of God's care, but it also virtually takes me into the bosom of my mother, where I feel the warmth of her touch and care of her love.


Here are just three points of reflection on verse four:


  • "He will cover you with his feathers:" a mother bird does this to their young, who cannot cover themselves, to keep them warm, and protect them from those that would hurt them.

 

  • In our helpless state, like young birds, weak and unable to defend ourselves, the tender care of God does protect us.

 

  • God protects us by his powerful and gracious presence. He protects us under our troubles and difficulties, as well as heals from all our sicknesses.

 

May we be God's blessings, and instruments of God's love. May the words of Psalm 91 ring loudly and true in our hearts: He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart


Father Paul and Anita Collins

Dear Friends,


Trust your journey of Lent is off to a great start, and going well for you. As of always, you all are in our thoughts and prayers, especially during this Holy Season of Lent.


You may be glad to know, the first Wednesday of our Lenten Study Series went very well, and we had around 40 people attending the study. The study was well-received, and the soup and salad supper was delicious and sumptuous. Thank you for all those who contributed towards the supper.


The next one on "Hinduism" will be on Wednesday, March 11 @ 6 pm. We will have the Hindu Priest from West Palm Beach, Swami Vishnu Sharma, making the presentation. Please make it a point to attend this study and also invite your friends and neighbors.


This Sunday, March 8, we will have the joy of baptizing Baby Malia Marie Natiello. Your presence will be a great blessing to the child as well as her parents, grandparents, and her extended family and friends.


Finally, you will have heard of the death of George Beckwith, who died a few weeks ago on February 17. The funeral mass (celebration of Life) will take place, April 4, at 1 pm at Church of the Advent. The family of George invites us all to the reception following the service at the Parish Hall.


Anita and I ever remain in love for you, the very loving people of Advent, and looking forward to seeing in church Sunday!


With love and blessings,


Father Paul and Anita Collins

IT IS INDEED, THE REAL DEAL!

Dear People of Advent,


The Annual Parish Meeting on Sunday, February 19, 2020, was remarkable. For those who were there, you know how actively we all participated in the business of the church. For those who missed it, we missed you. Amidst the presentation of reports from various parish committees and officers, a lot of good-will thoughts and appreciations were expressed for a job well done.


One of the highlights of the Annual Meeting was the election of new members to the vestry. We are pleased to inform you that Michael Higgins, Jim Lammie, Elaine Lavallee, and Victor Lugo were elected to serve on the vestry.


Last Saturday, February 15th, the newly constituted vestry met and elected the following officers for 2020:


  • Al Ragl, Senior Warden
  • Craig Bauzenberger, Junior Warden
  • Sue Harrington, Treasurer 
  • Elaine Lavallee, Clerk
  • Kathryn Bass, Chancellor


We are confident that the vestry will model Christ, demonstrating the Servant Leadership, and will serve our Parish well. I encourage all of us to hold our spirit high and let us place our faith in the one who called us and made us a church in this place. Of course, with the new leadership in place, we see new energy and enthusiasm emerging in the life of our parish. It is indeed a real deal!


Again, please note that the newly elected members and the leaders of the vestry will be Installed and Commissioned this Sunday, February 23rd. Please hold them in your prayers. Also, this Sunday is one of the very significant feasts in our tradition. We will have Lorrianna Colozzo sing that awesome and beautiful confidence in the darkness song, “The Servant King” by Graham Kendrick. Trust, it will be a blessing to listen to this song.


Finally, since Ash Wednesday is right around the corner, I wanted to make sure you saw our recent email about the Pancake Supper on Tuesday, February 25th at 6:00 p.m., and Holy Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes on Wednesday, February 26th at 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.


We are looking forward to seeing you at church Sunday!


Every blessing,


Father Paul Collins

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY

Dear People of God,


Tomorrow, February 14, is Valentine’s Day. It is that time of the year when we celebrate LOVE in its different manifestations and manners. As a matter of fact, ‘being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.’ A church family is a garden of loving relationships.


As we celebrate the love and friendship in our lives, let us be reminded of God’s love. His love goes far beyond all manners of earthly Love. It is His love that gives and gives with no expectation of return.


Of course, God knows all our brokenness. He knows all our hurts, denials, rejections, and sorrows in life. God has a loving heart for all of us, for God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that we may have abundance of grace and life.


The Apostle Paul celebrates this self-giving life (love) of God and writes to a church that is divided and in need of unity and love:


Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not become angry easily. Love does not remember wrong done against it. Love is not happy with evil but is happy with the truth.


Such is the love of God, which never fails! As we recognize and celebrate love in our loved ones on this Valentine’s Day, let us open our hearts and open them up anew to the love of God. Happy Valentine’s Day!


We look forward to seeing you and sharing the love of God with you in our corporate worship this Sunday!


We love you all very much!


Fr. Paul and Anita Collins

Dear and Loving People of Advent,


Please join us at our Annual Parish Meeting

this Sunday, February 9, 2020, immediately following the worship service


It is an awesome privilege for your priest to extend a special invitation to the Annual Parish Meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to acknowledge and celebrate the presence and faithfulness of God, not only to discuss business.


The Parish Annual Meeting is a time of celebration and to be grateful in church. We will rejoice with one another and reflect on how God has been at work in our congregation over the past year; identify stories as different church committees present their reports; then celebrate. It allows us to give thanks for the ways that God is moving among us at Advent.


Secondly, it is a time of participation and collaboration where each one of us feels valued and connected to the call and mission of God, which are larger than ourselves — and together engage in formulating a vision for our parish to the year ahead.


Thirdly, it is a time to thank people who served and served us well, including volunteers who have done so much work around the campus, served on committees, and the Vestry, especially members who are rotating off of the vestry. And we have to elect new leaders for the coming year. Click here for the Vestry Nominee biographies.


Finally, we will look at our finances and thank those who graciously gave financially over the past year and made ministry possible through their generosity. We will also hear from the vestry about our budget for this year ahead.


May I, therefore, ask you, please consider making a special effort to be part of the annual meeting. I hope this to be an energizing time to honor the call of God for each one of us in this place.


The Annual Meeting will be followed by a Pot-luck Lunch in the Parish Hall,

creating a unique opportunity for celebration and conversation.

Your presence, indeed, is intrinsic to the life of our parish!


With every blessing, I remain yours,

In His Service


Father Aaron Paul Collins

BISHOP'S VISIT AND CONFIRMATIONS


On Sunday, January 19, there was much rejoicing in heaven and a fair share at Church of the Advent too. Rector Fr. Paul Collins welcomed the Bishop and guests. During a service of Confirmation and Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows, Bishop Peter Eaton confirmed five and blessed four accomplished adults in our congregation. 


In his homily, Bishop noted that the epiphany invites all of us to draw ourselves closer to Jesus and encourages us to make Him known through our lives to the world. Appreciating the emerging new life and energy in our congregation, Bishop said in God all of us could give birth to something new, thus create a new future for the Church of God. 


Afterward, during the lunch hosted in honor of the Bishop and confirmands, our senior warden, Al Ragl, thanked the Bishop on behalf of the congregation, gave him a small gift as a token of our appreciation and thanks for spending the weekend with us. 

Later reflecting on his visit, Bishop wrote:


"What a lovely weekend we have just had together. Thank you all very much for your warmth and kindness. Thank you, too, for the useful and thoughtful gift, which I shall cherish.


It is wonderful to see you all flourishing together as priest and congregation. With seven baptisms and five confirmations, as well as other newcomers, you must take real encouragement from these signs of new life and energy."


Again, please know how deeply, sincerely, I appreciate all of your partnership in the ministry of Christ at Advent. Thank you so much for blessing us with your presence in our celebration with the Bishop. Each of you is a part of the history that makes the Church we are today. Know you will always remain in our love. We Love you!


Father Aaron Paul Collins

IT'S A GIFT, AND IT IS GREAT

Dear People of God at Advent,


Anita and I are ever grateful for the privilege of being your priest. It is a Gift! And it is Great! We love it!


You have impacted our lives in many ways. We thank you for your love and dedication. With you, we continue to be hopeful of Good Days ahead of us bright with sunshine and clear skies!


This Sunday, we will bring our pledges to the Altar of the Lord in support of God’s mission and ministry. Our pledges support what we do at Advent and beyond our doors to the world. Every pledge is essential to living out Christ’s love and mercy. It is a joyful expression of our gratitude to God for all His love toward us. Please remember to bring your completed pledge cards to the “IN GATHERING”!


Also, this Sunday, we will be concluding a liturgical season of “ordinary” (season after Pentecost) and entering the hopeful season of Advent and Christmas. It is exciting! The last Sunday after Pentecost, our worship will appreciate and affirm the Kingship of Christ (Christ the King Sunday). We are the people of God’s Kingdom! Let us celebrate!


Finally, the last Sunday in November (November 24th) is Andrew’s Day. Andrew, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ, is the Patron Saint of Scotland. Our friends Steven and Sandra McCowan will make a special St. Andrew’s Day Presentation. Jack Anderson, will play Bagpipes. Please join us for a Scottish coffee hour in the parish hall.


All roads lead to the Church of the Advent! 


Anita and I are Looking forward to seeing you in church on Sunday at 10 am!


Father Paul Collins

VETERANS DAY: CELEBRATION OF SERVICE
November 10, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.

Dear People of God,

Monday, November 11, is the Veteran’s Day. The United States will rise to honor and celebrate the excellent services of our veterans. This Sunday, at Advent, will be dedicated to veterans of all wars, and we will pause to commemorate their services.

We thank God for their duty, service, loyalty, courage, and commitment. Their story is one of a kind, filled with bravery and sacrifice. They gave their best and forfeited their freedom to defend our liberty, which keeps us safe and secure.

No service is more honorable than the one lavished for the sake of their country. Let us thank and honor all our veterans and their families.

I, your priest, as well as a proud father of a young veteran who honorably served this great nation, invite you to join us in the Sunday Worship ( Sunday, November 10, 2019, at 10 am) and let us make it as a genuine celebration of service and offer our thanks to God for our veterans.

With many blessings, I remain,

Yours in the service of Christ, our Lord,

Father Aaron Paul Collins

CHILDREN AND YOUTH SUNDAY:

TOGETHER WITH CHILDREN IN GOD’S PRESENCE

September 29, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, 


I am so excited to let you know that, this Sunday, September 29th, at Church of the Advent, will be celebrated as 'Children and Youth Sunday.' Children are the gift and heritage of God. Their participation in worship is supremely important in the life of our church. 


We are grateful to our parents who bring their children and youth to church and our dedicated Christian Formation staff who help them to know Jesus and grow in Him. I do firmly believe that our children are not just future church; they are the present church as well. It is just a delight that our teachers and parents help the children to grow in the love of Jesus. Children's presence also assures the hopeful future for the church.

 

Jesus loves all the children. As we read in the Gospels, he took time to be around them. He blessed them. He applauded their receptivity, capacity to develop, and simple trust. Jesus even presented children to the adults, as the ideal for the kingdom of God:

 

People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them;

and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it.

But Jesus called for them and said:

Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them;

for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.

Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God

as a little child will never enter it."

(Luke 18:15-17)

 

Let us join our children this Sunday. It is going to be very exciting for us to be together with children and to celebrate our togetherness in worship.


We will also be blessing our teachers!

All teachers, active and retired,

all who are connected to the school system,

Sunday School teachers and Nursery Care staff

are invited to join us at 10:00 a.m.

 

I am looking forward to seeing you all in Church Sunday!


Father Paul Collins

Be Not Worried or Anxious
God will sail us safe!

Several weeks ago, I quietly commemorated the Anniversary of our mother’s (Mary Aaron) passing. I never let that day go by without collecting dust in my eyes. She was the most affectionate and loving human being that I have ever known in the world. If I ever try to find a meaning for sacrifice, it was she, the personification of love and sacrifice.


She let her dream job of nursing go away when she married a poor rural area Christian Catechist who was in charge of thirteen rural congregations. She labored with him until separated by her death, empowering the poor, wounded, crushed, exploited, and depressed women who lived on the edge of starvation. She gathered the village children who ran naked with worn-out, skinny bodies as a testament of hunger. She taught them how to read and write and fed them through whatever she had.


She was a victim of my Dad’s wishful greed and desire of having more children; especially sons who he thought would assist him in preaching and teaching in rural India. She bore eight children – five sons and three daughters. Not a surprise, four out of eight have become ordained priests, three school Diocesan Mission School teachers, and one remained as a successful housewife. But the womb, weakened by bearing these many children, gave up and she died of cancer on the walls of her womb thirty years ago, at the age of 65.


Of all that she did and meant to us, her simple and real faith in the Lord stands out. As I grieve and mourn over her death, I am reminded afresh of one of her favorite Psalms - Psalm 91. She knew this psalm in its entirety by heart! Rightly so, this Psalm has been making an impact in my own personal and spiritual journey.


Here is the first half of the Psalm for our reading:


You can go to God Most High to hide. 

     You can go to God All-Powerful for protection.

I say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety, my fortress.

     My God, I trust in you. 

God will save you from hidden dangers

     and from deadly diseases.

You can go to him for protection.

     He will cover you like a bird spreading its wings over its babies.

You can trust him to surround

     and protect you like a shield.

You will have nothing to fear at night

     and no need to be afraid of enemy arrows during the day.

You will have no fear of diseases that come in the dark 

     or terrible suffering that comes at noon.

(Modern Translation)


This psalm comes from the place of pain and frustration. The comfort of palace and positions of the royal throne, for David, are simply flying over his head. The facts about David’s personal life, very successful and at the same time miserably failed, stand together. Surely this psalm comes from the place of pain.


Moving away from those false securities, David recognizes that the man or woman who dwells in the safe retreat of God is secure and, therefore, happy!


For millions today, the world is increasingly becoming darker and more dangerous. In my long years of parish ministries, almost every day I am with someone who has some physical ailment, sickness, shattered dreams, broken relationships, or death and bereavement. This psalm brings us an assurance that God is our healer. He will heal us from every disease and bind the broken-hearted!


Most of all, look at the image of a mother bird which gathers her young under her wings in time of threat and danger. We could not be more delighted to know that the one who abides under the shadow of God need not fear sudden surprises by night or open attacks by day. Whatever may happen, if we give God a chance, God will sail us safe! Therefore, be not anxious or worried! Be happy; God is with us always!


Father Aaron Paul Collins

Commemorating 9/11

The Grateful Nation, the United States of America, this Wednesday, will commemorate very painfully the men, women, and children who lost their lives. We will express gratitude to those brave men and women who put their country first and made that ultimate sacrifice of their future for our present. We will all thank the Heroes that responded to the emergency on 9/11 (September 11, 2001).

  

Today, nearly eighteen years after 9/11, we are still struggling to understand that heinous act of terrorism where aero-planes were used as guided missiles to destroy humanity. Neither can we appreciate a theology that assumes that such evil deeds grant one access to heaven?


Today, with you, I equally wonder about the power of Christian forgiveness in response. As we were reminded in our sermon last Sunday, undoubtedly, the forgiving heart is the pillar of Christian character.


However, the time of remembrance can continue to be painful. It created an irreplaceable human loss and the war that followed where hundreds of innocent people were killed.  The world is not the same after that. Nevertheless, we all know that our faith is adorned when we ask God to teach us how to love the unlovable, grant forgiveness to the perpetrators, and stand in solidarity with all those for whom this act of terrorism was an irreplaceable loss, trauma, and anguish in life.  


“After all, forgiveness heals relationships by requiring us to let go, to turn the page, to refuse the right to hold on to bitterness and anger. Forgiveness, in short, sets things right again."  


At the same time, I agree that forgiveness is a “power healing force,” but also an incredibly difficult thing to receive or share.” We need God! Our thoughts and prayers remain with those affected, mourn, and grieve this day, 9/11.


Let us pray:

Compassionate God, whose Son Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus: Draw near to us in this time of sorrow and anguish, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are weary, encourage those in despair, and lead us all to fullness of life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen 

 

Father Aaron Paul Collins

Calm After the Storm

My wife and I drove down to the beach this afternoon and saw the waves calming down, and everything slowly returning to normal. All is well, and life is good!


However, we grieve over the catastrophic damage and devastation that “Hurricane Dorian had caused to the people of the Bahamas. It has been reported that the slow-moving hurricane brought winds, heavy rain and a life-threatening surge to the Bahamas, inundating homes and entire villages with water." Such a magnitude of damage will undoubtedly require coordinated efforts to rebuild communities and give the people of the Bahamas a new hope.


First of all, I ask you to please keep the people of the Bahamas in our prayers, asking God to restore hope and confidence in their lives. Secondly, explore ways and means to extend help to rebuild their lives and communities. Bishop Peter Eaton wrote,


"Our diocese always responds so generously to the needs of our neighbors …. Today we must respond once again. We hope to raise $50,000 by the beginning of next week to send to the Bishop of the Bahamas. Our immediate action will allow him to direct critical help to individuals and families in the Abacos and Grand Bahama…. I am asking each congregation to take part in this appeal …"


We wholeheartedly endorse the Bishop's Hurricane Appeal. We ask each one of us to generously contribute to the needs of our unfortunate sisters and brothers of the Bahamas. Jesus said,


Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these

who are members of my family, you did it to me.

(Matthew 25:40)


Again, hear the words of our Bishop who in gratitude invites us to be part of the big picture and share the burdens of those suffering from the devastation this day,


"I continue to be grateful for our life together and know we can make an immediate and life-saving difference together. I thank you personally and on behalf of those suffering from the devastation this day."


Therefore, I ask you to take delight in the opportunity of extending God's love to the people of the Bahamas. And, in gratitude to God's manifold blessings to us at Advent, let us continue to support the people of the Bahamas in love! Isn't it right, "Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others."


This Sunday, September 8th, we will be collecting a special offering for the Bahamas. You may also give online through Episcopal Charities of Southeast Florida by clicking here and indicating Bishop's Bahamas Appeal in the additional comments area, or checks can be made out to "The Diocese of Southeast Florida" please include Bishop's Bahamas Appeal in the memo line and mail to: The Bishop's Office, 525 NE 15th St., Miami, FL 33132.


Many Blessings!

Father Paul Collins

Step by Step in His Footsteps ...

Dear Friends,


Step by step in His footsteps ...


We are a little overwhelmed by the forecast that Hurricane Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane. The storm is on a path likely taking it to Florida's Atlantic Coast, though an arrival farther north isn't out of the question. It could make landfall on the U.S. mainland as a Category 3 storm sometime Monday.


I am confident that you know what to do in this turbulent situation. In these challenging times, please be assured of our prayers for all of you and our nation.


Also, I recommend that you have faith in God. Have Faith in your neighbors, authorities, and the rescue workers. Finally, don't be panicked, but have faith in yourselves. Do all that is necessary to keep yourselves safe. Be vigilant, and don’t hesitate to call and ask for help. Be safe!


Anita and I are looking forward to seeing you in church Sunday! If for reasons you are not able to make it to church this Sunday, please don't worry. God will understand. Moreover, you will be adequately covered in OUR prayers and enveloped in our love!


God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth is moved, and though the mountains be toppled into the depths of the sea; Though its waters rage and foam, and though the mountains tremble at its tumult. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Psalm 46:1-4)


Father Paul and Anita Collins

 

Jesus Loves the Little Children

After summer vacation, the children are back in school, and it was such an incredible joy to see them in church the past two Sundays. Last Sunday, in appreciation of their delightful presence the church extended a round of applause! Children are a beautiful reminder of new life and a glorious future!


Several years ago, Anita and I spent our vacation with a small community of Episcopalians at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky.  What we heard and saw was a story of a profoundly dedicated group of old coal miners who loved their church but who are growing older, and know the church is unlikely to grow.  Someone even said to me, “Fr. Collins, the members of the congregation are getting older and are well-past childbearing age, so there aren’t going to be any younger children in the congregation to become the next generation.”


Honestly, it sounded depressing to me.  All I could think of was someone asking the last person to die to please turn out the lights. That experience stays with me forever.


I often wonder, is the Episcopal Church on the decline? No….no….no!  Nevertheless, the birth of new babies in the families of our parishioners and the presence of the children in our worship bring us great encouragement and a voice of hope all around us.


We are a growing parish. We have children to prove it.  As we were reminded in our sermon last Sunday, Time is so precious. Time with children is even more valuable. Children, as I see it, are not just the future of the church; they are the present church as well. Therefore, it is quintessential that we try to invest our time bonding with them, playing with them, and listening to them. I read somewhere, “The work will wait while you show a child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.”


“Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red, brown, yellow

Black and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children

Of the world.”


Our Sunday School begins on September 8, 2019 and will continue on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. Registration forms are available in the Narthex, or click here to register online!


Blessings!


Father Aaron Paul Collins

A New Season For Ministry!

Anita and I are glad to acknowledge the incredible opportunity of serving Christ with you at the Church of the Advent.  It is our new season of ministry where we appreciate new possibilities that Christ would bring forth in our midst.


As you may know, at the very outset that the love of God should be our motivation to stay as a church and invite others to join us to grow.  We, the people of Advent are loved and touched by God.  We need to commit ourselves to share God's love with the world that is hurting by sharing our personal stories and welcoming others to experience God's love with us.  God loves all of us, no exception!


I deeply, deeply appreciate the opportunity of listening from several of you, your love for the church and various suggestions that you have, how we two together in close partnership, guide our congregation in the task of spreading God's love in our community.  It is a good thing.


During this new season, let us remind ourselves the words of the Apostle Paul,


For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body,
though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
(1 Corinthians 12:12)


We all are one body in Christ.  At this season of a new ministry, we do need every member of our church firmly to bond together, with peace and reconciliation get involved in the life of the church.  Fortified with these spiritual qualities, I am optimistic that we can say with Saint Paul, "I have the strength for everything through Christ who empowers me" (Philippians 4:13).  In God's love we are well and wealthy and there is enough to go around and embrace all in Christ.  Christ is all and in all!


As your priest family, Anita and I, love this our beautiful church, and we know you do too.  Let us be a church to one another and together strive to reach the un-churched.  All hands on deck, let us thrive!


Father Aaron Paul Collins