We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Voices, Advent 3, Year B

1.  "In Advent the church emphasizes these ways of continual change: Repentance. Conversion of life. Self-examination. Awakening. Deepening.  "

– Suzanne Guthrie

"Advent invites us instead to pause for a moment that we might reflect long enough to assess our deep need and longing for something more, for something beyond ourselves, for something of the divine to penetrate the ordinary even if for just a moment to remind us that there is indeed, something beyond the possible that will save us.  "

– David Lose



Alone, alone, about a dreadful wood
Of conscious evil runs a lost mankind,
Dreading to find its Father lest it find
The Goodness it has dreaded is not good:
Alone, alone, about our dreadful wood.

Where is that Law for which we broke our own,
Where now that Justice for which Flesh resigned
Her hereditary right to passion, Mind
His will to absolute power? Gone. Gone.
Where is that Law for which we broke our own?

The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss.
Was it to meet such grinning evidence
We left our richly odoured ignorance?
Was the triumphant answer to be this?
The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss.

We who must die demand a miracle.
How could the Eternal do a temporal act,
The Infinite become a finite fact?
Nothing can save us that is possible:
We who must die demand a miracle.

W. H. Auden, from For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio


"To see visible objects we need the eyes of the body. 

To understand intelligible truths we need the eyes of the mind.

To have the vision of divine things we cannot do without faith.

What the eye is for the body, faith is for reason.

To be more precise; the eye needs the light which puts it in contact with visible things; reason needs faith to show it divine things."  

-Theodoret c.393-c.457

the Cure of Pagan Diseases
quoted from Drinking From the Hidden Fountain
ed. Thomas Spidlik


"Witnesses tell how Jesus is transforming their lives 
and bringing them a new inner freedom, peace and joy.
People in our world find hope when they find credible witnesses,
men and women with a living faith,
bearing witness to the presence of God-
more by their lives, their growing compassion
and their dynamic love than by their ideas or their words. 
Jesus said that people will know his disciples
by the love they have for one another.

-Jean Vanier

Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John


The greatness of John the Baptist is due to his humility and self-forgetfulness. He is bathed in the radiant light of the Messiah, whom he is so anxious not to hide from others: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30)

-Adrian Nocent OSB

The Liturgical Year: Advent Christmas Epiphany

7. Silence – Barbara Massey, St. Stephens

"Voices. So many voices. We hear them each day. Words in the Scripture readings for today from Isaiah and Mark indicate the presence of voices: Speak. Proclaim. Cry out. Raise your voice. Shout.

"Especially during this time of year, we hear voices calling to us from every direction, crowding out the messages of hope, peace and love of the Advent season. A spiritual tradition or sacrament of the Quakers is Holy Silence–creating space for God’s voice, believing that when our hearts, minds, and souls are still, and we wait expectantly in holy silence, the Christ becomes present among us. Poet and songwriter Carrie Newcomer has found spiritual community with the Quakers and says, "Something really amazing happens when you are quiet long enough to hear."

"Silence requires that we "be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10). "Silence is God’s first language" wrote the 16th century mystic John of the Cross. God’s voice speaks in silence. Advent is a time of holy silence, of holy waiting. Silence is where the Divine meets us. That is what the incarnation is about. God came to be with us and continues to speak to us. As we continue on this Advent journey, may we prepare interior space, the deep silence of the soul, for God’s voice to speak."

8. RepentanceFather Mike

The crowds have heard a word in the wilderness of their life. It is a prophetic word, a word of deep insight, by which they recognize that all is not well in their life and world. It is also a word of hope and rejoicing, a word of God, that says all can be well. It is a word that joins the wilderness and paradise and makes them two sides of the same reality.

St. John seems to know that real change, transformation, does not begin with the world around us but the world within us. One of the things that often makes change difficult is our propensity for self-justification. This happens in lots of different ways. We blame others. We list how hard we’ve worked and what we deserve. We claim place and position by virtue of our length of membership or our giving of time and money. We deny our need for others. We refuse to accept responsibility for ourselves. We play the victim. We choose to live as blind persons.

John is saying that if we are going to be in we need to be in all the way. He has no patience for self-justification. He will not settle for only good intentions or only nice behavior. There must be congruence between who we are and what we do. Repentance, changing the direction of our lives, means that inner change, a change in our way of being, must be manifested by corresponding behaviors. Likewise, our words and actions must point to and arise from a different way of being.

“What then should we do?” The crowds, the tax collectors, the soldiers all ask the same question. I suspect many of us have asked that question. John’s answer is simple and practical. Go do the right thing. Share with those in need. Do not take advantage of or defraud others. Don’t manipulate, use, or coerce others.

His answers sound reasonable. They make sense. Underneath them, however, lie the deeper issue and the real change that must take place. The reason we can deny or be indifferent to the needs of others, the reason we can lie to or take advantage of another, the reason we can use, manipulate, harm, and even kill another is because we see them as something other and something less than our selves. We see them as objects to be used or overcome and not as persons.

John is demanding behavior that arises from and is grounded in a new way of being, one that sees the other as a person with needs, hopes, fears, dreams, and a life as real and as valid as our own. That is the ultimate act of repentance; to see others as persons, as holy, as created and loved by the same God who created and loves us. It means we must turn away from doing or being anything that dehumanizes another or our selves. That changes everything about how we see the world and relate to others. It is what Jesus is talking about when he says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It is “a gospel of shared life” (Richard Rohr), one life shared with other persons and shared with God.

Repentance opens our minds, softens our hearts, and turns our life in a Godward direction. It’s how we participate in and cooperate with God’s bringing us home and restoring our fortunes. Through repentance we recover our original and ancient beauty. It fills us with expectation and hope. At the deepest level repentance makes us more human and becoming more human is how we prepare the way of the Lord. That is our Advent work and it is important work. For the God who comes, the Christ, the one who is more powerful, is coming to humanity.