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.

The Season after the Epiphany – What’s it all about ? Focus on the Gospels

The Season after the Epiphany – Epiphany is all about establishing the identity of Jesus. Now that he has been born who is he ?   Epiphany continues to define who Jesus is – healer, preacher and the Messiah, the last one comes early in Epiphany and continues.

Epiphany refers to the appearance of Jesus Christ as the savior of the world—of Israel and the Gentiles.  For this reason, Epiphany is commonly associated with the visitation of the Magi (or “wise men”), who were almost certainly Gentiles, in Matthew 2:1–12.

We focus on the mission of the church to reach all the peoples of the earth with the great gift of God’s grace in revealing healing truth and light to the world.”

It is very much present oriented. The main idea of Epiphany is that Christ is the light of the world that came at Christmas and now beckons us to travel with Him ths year. The story of the Epiphany is about discovery—following a star to the source of salvation.Epiphany is filled with unexpected revelations that change our minds and ways – we have to be willing to experience them.

Epiphany is our jumping off spot. From the Eucharistic Prayer – “With each new day, you call us to feed the hungry, bring recovery of sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed, heal the broken hearted and bind up their wounds, and keep watch for the dawn of your reign on this earth. ”

Sunday, Jan. 7    Mark 1:4-11

Wilderness themes, water-passage themes, temptation themes, prophetic themes—all themes from the Old Testament history of redemption occur in these opening lines from the gospel according to Mark.   The passage begins with the ministry of John the Baptist, the voice coming out of the wilderness, as God’s voice hovers over the face of the deep. God calls forth light, and therefore life; John the Baptist calls forth repentance and forgiveness, and through baptism, a new life is born. Jesus comes to John to be baptized in the River Jordan. As John baptizes Jesus, the heavens split apart and the Spirit descends, affirming Jesus as both messianic King and Spirit-filled servant.  Although the event is a means of public disclosure in both Matthew and John, only Jesus knows that he has been claimed by God in Mark’s version of the story. 

As Jesus rises out of the water, breaking through into our world, God breaks through from heaven as well. Baptism is the re-entry of God into our lives, and the re-entry of ourselves into God’s intended goal for creation: goodness and life. Repentance and forgiveness is our way of turning back, of re-entering into the reign of God on earth.   

Sunday, Jan. 14 – John 1:43-51

John 1:43-51, much like the entire first chapter of John, seeks to establish the identity of Jesus as the Son of God.   

First, Jesus calls Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist.  Andrew goes and finds his brother, Philip.  Philip brings Nathanael along. Nathanael was a “thinker”. He wouldn’t accept anything at face value, but he would question and contemplate everything until he was sure of its truthfulness. After speaking with Jesus, Nathanael is convinced that Jesus is the “Son of God and the King of Israel,” the Messiah who had been prophesied in the Old Testament.   

Sunday, Jan. 21 -Mark 1:14-20

The Gospel reading describes Jesus’ inaugural message. Mark separates the ministry of Jesus from that of John the Baptist, so only after the arrest of John does Jesus begin his ministry in earnest. At the end of John’s ministry comes the end of one stage of history. Now, Jesus and his gospel come to center stage. The arrest of John and the beginning of Jesus’ ministry are intentionally correlated to show that the gospel is proclaimed and known in adversity and suffering.

The Kingdom of God is near- Repent and Believe! Jesus both inaugurates the kingdom in the present moment and will realize it at his second coming.  Mark portrays Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom coming not only as a gift (“good news”), but also with a demand- repent and give up all to follow.

The call goes out this week to Simon and Andrew as well as James and John.  Simon and Andrew, perhaps weary from a night of fishing, are still plying their nets when a stranger approaches them on the shore in the person of Jesus. 

Later we are told that Andrew and Simon have their own house (1:29). The last verse mentions that James and John have hired hands (1:20). These people were not poor, destitute fishermen, but were prosperous at their trade. They gave up security and family (“left their father”, v. 20) to devote themselves to Christ’s mission.

Sunday, Jan. 28 – Mark 1:21-28

Jesus demonstrates divine authority by healing a man with unclean spirit. Jesus preaches the Good news even when it leads to conflict.

Bruce Epperly, who wrote about this passage, says that Jesus walked the talk, and spoke words that transformed people’s lives and reflected God’s vision for humankind. In today’s reading, Jesus’ sermon leads to action. He confronts a man, possessed by a destructive spirit. While we don’t know the nature of this spirit, it destroyed his personality, rendering him an outcast, unclean, and unable to live with his family. Jesus confronts this unclean spirit with the simple words: “Be still. Come out from him.”

Epiphany continues to define who Jesus is – healer, preacher and the Messiah.

The first two roles can be understood since they can be seen. The Messiah role is taken up on Feb 11 and Feb. 25 is not understood until Easter. Peter figures in both readings.  He hasn’t a clue about what the Transfiguration means on Feb 11 and two weeks he rejects Jesus crucifixion.  Jesus tell him “For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Feb 4 – 5th Sunday after the Epiphany – Mark 1:29-39

We are in the early days of Jesus ministry. Jesus demonstrates both personal ministry to individual (fever) and group (demons). The passage revolves healing and preaching, solitude and prayer.

In this passage, Jesus visits Peter’s mother-in-law, and after taking her by the hand, her fever leaves her and she begins to serve him. Then afterwards, many people are brought to him who are sick and who have demons. Jesus gets up the next morning while it is still dark and goes off to a deserted place to pray. And when the disciples find him and tell him, “Everyone is searching for you,” Jesus tells them it is time to go to other neighboring towns. And that is how Jesus’ message is spread throughout Galilee. Jesus doesn’t stay just in one place, but goes out to the people. Jesus brings healing and hope, but Jesus, fully human and fully divine, also takes time away from others to pray. Even Jesus needed time and space for renewal.

The Gospel reading is a day in the life of Jesus which illustrates key themes: a healer and sustainer for one, freeing a community from demons, and a preacher proclaiming the good news

Feb 11- Last Sunday after the Epiphany – Mark 9:2-9, the Transfiguration

The previous Sundays of Epiphany have essentially followed the opening chapter of Mark’s Gospel.

Both the Last Sunday (Transfiguration of Jesus) and the First Sunday (Baptism of Jesus) after the Epiphany are texts where God (a voice from heaven) makes Jesus known to the world which is the heart of the Epiphany. The transfiguration of Jesus is also the mid­point of Mark’s Gospel.

The word, “transfigured” means to completely change or transform such as a cocoon transforms into a butterfly or a tulip bulb transforms into a glorious tulip blossom. Jesus’ body was transformed from an earthly body into a heavenly body, from a human body into a resurrection body 

The event confirmed Peter’s confession. Jesus was the Messiah. But it also foreshadowed the mission of the Messiah, death on the cross to enter glory. The Transfiguration was a look backward and a look forward.

Peter, James and John experience this moment of intersection as they witness Jesus with Elijah and Moses. Jesus’s clothes become dazzling white, transfigured as Jesus appears to enter the veil between

heaven and earth and stand between the two.

 But Peter does not get it. Peter does not listen and keep silent, as Elisha did. Peter, terrified of this space where heaven and earth meet, tries to fill the silence, tries to say something but does not understand what is happening.