Dear People of
Time is ticking. I hear many of you say that “few signals are differentiating Sunday from a Monday.” Time does seem to be going fast; for staying at home during the Pandemic, “it has a lot to do with our worlds shrinking to the bare minimum. Most of the day, we are not going out or taking part in external and memorable activities.” This is not the way we lived our lives. We wish that the Pandemic goes away so that we can move on with our lives.
At the outset, I am pleased to share this message that we received from the Bishop’s office and the Diocesan Re-Gathering Task Group that “the plan for re-entering and regathering in the Church of the Advent is approved!”
It is good news! However, this reopening will be gradual and requires several protocols to ensure safe reentry both for the gathering for worship and opening up our buildings for the ministries. You will be notified of those plans and necessary protocols in the next few weeks.
Secondly, you may be happy to know, having been with you for the past 15 months in one stretch (no Sunday missed), Anita, and I will be away for a week on our annual vacation. We will be visiting our children from September 3rd to 8th, returning to Florida on September 8th. Though we would love to lead the worship the following Sunday, September 13th, as a precaution after a trip, we would like to wait (quarantine!?) till September 20th. My wife is looking forward to seeing our three children after almost eight months. Kindly hold us in your prayers, as you will be in ours during this time.
Thirdly, concerning Sunday Worship in my absence, adequate plans have been made to Livestream (pre-recorded) or post on Facebook, Sunday at 10:00 a.m. The Wednesday Evening Prayer at 7:00 p.m. and Friday Morning Prayer at 10:00 a.m. will be live-streamed as usual.
Our office Administrator, Melissa, will also be availing of her annual vacation at the same time. We are grateful for her hard and efficient work for the past year. She deserves this time of rest. Keep her and her husband, John, in your thoughts and prayers.
During this time, parochial responsibilities of running the day-to-day parish duties will be overseen by our Senior Warden, Al Ragl, at 772 215-1664. In case of his absence, please contact our Junior Warden, Craig Bauzenberger, at 856-220-2166.
I will be available on-call (772-708-0229), to respond to other life-threatening emergencies.
Finally, please remember, your priest will not be in town; you are all by yourself. Don’t get into trouble (kidding!). We will miss you all very much! Stay Safe and Well.
Father Aaron Paul Collins
UNFAILING LOVE BECAUSE OF THE UNFAILING GOD
Dear Sisters and
I trust you are well. I hope you feel supported and surrounded by love and care at this time of the pandemic. Confronted with so much uncertainty and irrationality, I have faith that you feel hopeful about the future. Advent, you are such generous, loving, and cheerful people. I love you!
Having been in lockdown for nearly six months, I hear you say, “we are ready to come back and begin again.” We all know, Communion and Community are dear to us. At this time of the pandemic, we miss them and live in an unnatural state – separating ourselves instead of being together. It is inevitable though, stay home and save lives!
I realize, the world now is quite perplexing. We no longer live in those days when life was predictable when we know what to do next. Now it is all different. We live in a complex world; we often don’t know what’s going on. It is beyond our comprehension to figure things out, and we are confused. It is a good thing. We can’t be creative if we refuse to be confused.
At this time of uncertainty, in a creative way, we all feel a vocation to be fully human. A sense of purpose in our lives, believing there is a reason for our existence.
Honest to God, I am grateful for each one of you at Advent. You own and belong to this sacred place/space. Together, we know God has placed us here with a purpose. If we hold onto that sense of purpose, we, as a church, will be able to deal with whatever life experiences await us. Even amid this pandemic and myriads of other challenges that we face, surely, there is a meaning to our lives. Let us not permit life’s difficulties to overwhelm or discourage us. Let us feel a vocation to be fully human, no matter our life circumstances.
I know, we don’t decide what our vocation is, we receive it. It always originates outside of us and comes with a promise:
“Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
These words are prophetic. The prophet Isaiah addresses this to the brokenhearted, the people who were taken into captivity by Assyria and Babylonians. Amid those captivities, the prophet says, cheer up, all is not gloom. God, in His unfailing Love, will restore and bring an abundance of blessings!
There is an unfailing Love because there is an unfailing God. Let us hold on to a vocation to be fully human and feel the sense of a purpose beyond ourselves.
In God’s Love,
Father Paul Collins
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).
Father Aaron Paul Collins
Endowed with Hope
Nurturing it for the Future!
Nurturing it for the Future!