The Episcopal Church of the Advent      

Palm City, Florida

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