Ways to Help the Bahamas

"Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered."
Proverbs 21:13
Dear Servants,
I shared during my sermon Sunday that I was convicted by Proverbs 21:13 early that morning. I know that you are praying and looking for ways to help Bahamians and so I want to share with you the information I have received today. I was invited to a conference call this morning to share information and resources as the Church looks for ways to aid our sisters and brothers in great need.
First, pray for first responders and relief workers who are still overwhelmed with the number of bodies to be recovered and buried in a humane way. Also, pray for families in the Bahamas and in the U.S. who do not know if family members are alive or dead.
Second, here are some ways you can tangibly assist the people of the Bahamas:
  1. You can donate to World Central Kitchen, a NGO whose mission is “A hot plate of food when it’s needed most.” Their disaster relief team is already up and running in the Bahamas to serve hot meals. Learn more and donate at wck.org.
  2. You send or take gift cards to Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church Gainesville. These cards will be sent to refugees in Miami who have evacuated from the Bahamas.
  3. You can give financial contributions through the Alachua County Christian Pastors Association at Givelify (select "Other" and note "Bahamas Hurricane Relief Effort" as the memo). The ACCPA is working with Pastor Gerard Duncan of Prayer by Faith Ministries of Gainesville (Pastor Gerard is from the Bahamas) and with the local Kiwanis Club in the Bahamas to get supplies to where they are needed. The first bulk order of supplies will be shipped on September 11.
  4. You can volunteer or make donations to help with refugees in Old Town, Florida at Camp Anderson which has received refugees from the Bahamas.
God is definitely mobilizing His Church for this crisis. If the parish staff can assist with collecting funds or supplying follow up information please let us know. The need is urgent so I wanted to get this information out to all of you as soon as possible.
Peace be with you all,

Intro to Advent

On Sunday, December 2, 2018, we will enter the first season of the liturgical year, Advent. For many, there may be three phrases or words that may be unfamiliar or strange in that introductory sentence. The first is “the first season,” next is “the liturgical year,” and last is, “Advent.”
Just as our secular calendar has seasons - winter, spring, summer, fall - so too does our Christian calendar. However, instead of four seasons, the Christian calendar or, “liturgical year,” has six. The seasons of our “liturgical year,” begin with Advent (the "first season" and continue through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. In each of these seasons our worship has its focus on the different aspects of our walk with Jesus, our risen Lord and Messiah.
Advent" is the beginning of our liturgical year and carries with it a dual meaning.  As you may read in the article below, the word Advent comes from the Latin, adventum, which means “to come.” So, in this season we are looking forward to what is to come. We are looking forward to the coming of our Lord as the Baby Jesus, AND we are looking forward to the coming of our Lord Jesus when He returns to take His Church to reign with Him in His heavenly Kingdom.
-Fr. Michael La Cagnina
The following article was originally published at anglicanpastor.com on November 18, 2018 by Joshua Steele.

What is Advent?

Advent is the first season of the Church year. It lasts for four weeks leading up to Christmas Day on December 25: (To learn more about what the Church year is and how it’s different than the civil calendar, click here.)

Why is it called “Advent”?

“Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming or arrival.” Used by the Church, the word refers to:
  1. The “arrival” of Jesus Christ when he was born on the original Christmas Day
  2. The upcoming “arrival” of Jesus Christ when, as Christians believe, he will return to judge the living and the dead.
So, the season of Advent is a season of preparation and waiting:
  1. first for Christ’s second coming to judge the living and the dead (2 Pet 3:11-14; 1 John 3:2-3), but also
  2. to celebrate Christ’s first arrival at Christmas.
Just as the Israelites awaited a Messiah to fulfill God’s promises from Genesis 3:15 to Jeremiah 31:31-34 and beyond, so Christians await the return of Jesus the Messiah make all things new (Revelation 21).

What are some common practices during Advent?

What’s the difference between Advent music and Christmas music?

Perhaps the classic piece of Advent music is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” because it reflects Advent’s emphasis on waiting and expectation. Christmas music, on the other hand, emphasizes the joyful celebration of Christ’s arrival at the Incarnation. “Joy to the World” comes to mind, but if you read the lyrics to that song closely, you’ll notice that they’re actually about the second coming of Jesus, not his birth. So, maybe think of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” as a paradigmatic Christmas song.

Songs for Advent

Here are some of the better-known songs from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship’s helpful list of Songs for Advent:
  • Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus – Charles Wesley
  • Hark, the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes – Philip Doddridge
  • Imagine – Keith and Kristyn Getty
  • Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence – Gerard Moultrie
  • Love Divine, All Loves Excelling – Charles Wesley
  • My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout – Rory Cooney
  • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – ancient hymn
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten – Aurelius Clemens Prudentius
  • Savior of the Nations, Come – Ambrose, 4th century; Martin Luther
  • Soon and Very Soon – Andraé Crouch
Check out the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship’s list of Songs for Christmas as well. I also highly recommend the following:

Advent Collects and Collect Reflections

In the Anglican tradition, each week of the Church year has a special prayer, called a “collect,” used during Sunday worship and then for the following week. Here are the collects for Advent. If you click on the titles, it will take you to the Anglican Pastor Collect Reflection for that week—a short blog post to help you reflect on the collect!

The First Sunday in Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Second Sunday of Advent

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Third Sunday of Advent

O Lord Jesus Christ, you sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient toward the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world, we may be found a people acceptable in your sight; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Advent; Annunciation

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Other Advent posts at Anglican Pastor

If you’d like to learn more about Advent, check out the following posts at Anglican Pastor:

Other Advent resources

Check out the following resources to learn more about Advent and how to celebrate it:
Fr. Michael is an assistant clergy at Servants. He is a retired rector of a congregation in High Springs, FL and still lives there with his wife, Joyce. You can most often find Fr. Michael volunteering to help when he is able and offering solutions for various conundrums that arise in ministry work. 

These Faces Seem Familiar – Day 22

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. …’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:34, 40
To inherit the kingdom, I am directed to help the “least of these.” Jesus gives me some examples of those who fall into this category:
  • The hungry and thirsty – The homeless fit neatly into this group. But I don’t need to give to them because they will probably use the money to buy booze or drugs, right?
  • Strangers – Lately there have been several instances of people in town/coming to town who need a place to stay: people who were fleeing Irma, traveling ministry leaders, families of individuals receiving treatment at UF Health, old friends with young children. Yet my house is a bit messy, I don’t want to risk my children not sleeping through the night, and our dog doesn’t do well with strangers. If they understood my situation, they probably wouldn’t even want to come.
  • The naked – I give clothes to Goodwill all the time. Goodwill then provides my clothes to naked people, right? Check that one off the list!
  • The sick – I have a family with small children and it’s flu season, Jesus! It would be irresponsible for me to visit anybody at the hospital (i.e., flu den), let alone talk to my coworker who just sneezed.
  • Prisoners – Don’t those people have free food, television, and on-demand chaplains? Sounds like their needs are taken care of to me.
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. …’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:41, 45-46
This follow-up warning makes me extremely uncomfortable, but probably not as uncomfortable as Jesus when He is hungry, thirsty, lonely, naked, sick, and in prison. I feel God calling me to meet the needs of the least of these, irrespective of my family situation, health status (current or future), home size, handicaps, bank account, schedule, and especially my judgement of whether the person in question deserves help (spoiler alert: they deserve it!). So I ask you to join me as I attempt to picture the face of Jesus over the faces of those I would sooner not feed, accommodate, clothe, take care of, or visit.
For this season of my life, God has called me to help lead and direct Servant’s ministry to Littlewood Elementary School. Please understand that I am a solid introvert and that this is not something that I would ever choose for myself – it was more of a situation of a door the size of NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building opening in front of me. I encourage you to not shy away from opportunities that make you uncomfortable or that you think are incompatible with your personality type. I suspect more and more that Jesus rarely calls us to actions which make us more comfortable, equally comfortable, or even slightly uncomfortable. To follow Him, we must deny ourselves and daily take up our cross. Then, from under our cross, we will more easily see His face.
Justin Smith
Justin has been a faithful sinner for the last 33 years of his life and continues to find inventive and creative reasons for putting his palm to his forehead and his foot in his mouth. He is devoted to finding ways of taking the abundance of privilege, blessings, and grace that are being dumped over him to point others to Jesus. Though he feels called to Littlewood for now, Justin’s heart also lies in helping the homeless of Gainesville. If you would like to join Servants in reaching out to the least of these at Littlewood, he would love to talk with you - drop him an email at enroth215@gmail.com.