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.

Meyer Gallery trip for Sacred Ground

Sacred Ground will be going to the Meyer gallery in Fredericksburg on Tues Oct. 10, 10am to see the art works on display. Here is a video interview with Meyer.

The interest in Sacred Ground is Meyer’s resarch in connection with mid-19th century Afro-American artist Robert Duncanson, one of the leading landscape painters. The Free Lance-Star published a recent article on Mayer and Duncanson. Free Lance-Star article

Meyer believes “Duncanson’s works can be viewed as instruction manuals for enslaved Blacks attempting to escape north.” It might be a path and features to mark the path or obstacles to avoid. Meyer will have 40 of Duncanson’s paintings representing “the path to freedom” at his gallery at 1015 Caroline St. through Oct. 28.

Here is a Powerpoint of Duncanson’s life as well as 16 of his paintings as a warmup for the tour:

To see a full screen version, press right button to open in a new window or Click here

A decisive moment with Matthew

Sept 21 is the feast day of Matthew one of Christ’s apostles and author of the Gospel that bears his name. He was different from the other Gospel writers being a tax collector. (Luke a doctor and Mark a recorder). He was least likely to become one of Jesus’ own. We will look at him through a painting.

The painting Caravaggio’s “Calling of Saint Matthew” captures a powerful moment of spiritual awakening painted 1599-1600. Set in a gritty, realistic environment (looks like a back room to a bar where other tax collectors, armed are counting money), Christ points to Matthew, a tax collector, inviting him to follow – you’re coming with me! This isn’t Christ coming down from heaven!

Tax collectors, also known as “publicans,” were held in low regard within Jewish society during Jesus’ time. They were often seen as collaborators with the Roman oppressors who occupied the land of Judea. The tax collection system, fraught with potential abuse, allowed collectors to gather more than the prescribed amount, pocketing the surplus for themselves. This encouraged extortion and corruption, leading to the accumulation of wealth through dishonest means.

Here is a video about the painting

Article about Matthew on our website

Lectionary illustrations, Aug 13, 2023

"He said (to Elijah), ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence." – 1 Kings 19:11-12

"Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds… When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land,[a] for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” – Matthew 14:22-27

Ivan Aivazovsky, Russian landscape painter

The image for our Gospel reading, "Jesus Walking on the Water", was done by the Russian painter Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900).

When I was in the Soviet Union over 35 years ago, his paintings were prevalent and stood out and I remembered his name. They reminded me of the American school of landscape painters, such as Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Church but in this case on the sea.

He is considered one of the greatest marine artists in history and born into an Armenian family in the Black Sea port of Feodosia and was mostly based in his native Crimea.

Following his education at the Imperial Academy of Arts, Aivazovsky traveled to Europe and lived briefly in Italy in the early 1840s. He then returned to Russia and was appointed the main painter of the Russian Navy. Aivazovsky had close ties with the military and political elite of the Russian Empire and often attended military maneuvers. He was sponsored by the imperial family and was well-regarded during his lifetime. The winged word "worthy of Aivazovsky’s brush", popularized by Anton Chekhov, was used in Russia for "describing something ineffably lovely."]

One of the most prominent Russian artists of his time, Aivazovsky was also popular outside Russia. He held numerous solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States. During his almost sixty-year career, he created around 6,000 paintings, making him one of the most prolific artists of his time. The vast majority of his works are seascapes, but he often depicted battle scenes, Armenian themes, and portraiture.

"Ninth Wave" -Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900)

Here is a selection of his works

Van Gogh’s Sower

“The Sower” – Jean Francois Millet

For three years Van Gogh (1853-1890) single mindedly pursued his calling to the ministry, first as a student of theology and then as a missionary to the coal miners in Belgium. Deeply moved by the poverty surrounding him, Van Gogh gave all his possessions, including most of his clothing, to the miners. Van Gogh admired Christ’s humility as a common laborer and “man of sorrows” whose life he tried to imitate. The church came to see Van Gogh suffering from excessive zeal and he did not preach well. He left the church in 1879. “I wish they would only take me as I am,” he said in a letter to Theo, his brother. He wrote,” I think it a splendid saying of Victor Hugo’s, ‘Religions pass away, but God remains’.  He saw Jesus as the supreme artist  By 1880, he had abandoned a religioous career and turned to art helped by brother Theo. In the next 10 years, he would move  10 times, his life characterized by periods of depression and periods of a sort of mania.

The sower was inspired by Jean-François Millet’s ‘Sower’ from 1850 which was inspired by the Matthew 13. Van Gogh had tried several times to produce a serious painting on the same theme and then abandoned it. Van Gogh’s early work comprises dour portraits of Dutch peasants and depressing rural landscapes

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Van Gogh’s Sower and Stewardship

One of the best illustrations of the Parable of the Sower, this week’s Gospel from Matthew 13, is Van Gogh’s The Sower with Setting Sun from 1888. Look at it—a seemingly simple, rural summer scene of a farmer distributing seed. But look again at the composition and colors—the painting is unique in that the sower is almost overshadowed by the huge sun in the center and the ploughed earth.

Van Gogh had a special interest in sowers throughout his artistic career. All in all, he made more than 30 drawings and paintings on this theme. The sower in particular was a figure that Van Gogh saw in terms of representing the eternal cycle of agricultural life, of honorable endeavor and tradition, and symbolized these qualities to the artist.

Van Gogh studied to be a priest so his pictures often include religious themes. Color always provided a particular meaning for Van Gogh. Here, Van Gogh used colors meant to express emotion and passion. He assigned the leading roles to the greenish-yellow of the sky and the purple of the field. He painted the sun in his favorite color citron, a very intense yellow, which made up the sun and was used in pure form without being mixed. This is the color of God. The bright yellow sun looks like a halo, turning the sower into a saint. Here he has created a great orb of light, from which short precise brushstrokes radiate outwards so that the whole sky becomes bathed in golden rags

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