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.

Recent Articles, Sun., Feb. 25

Second Sunday in Lent, Feb 25
God’s Garden, 10:00-11am
Commentary Second Sunday in Lent
Visual Lectionary – Vanderbilt
“Letting Go” – Diocese of Atlanta. Peter tries control
Voices this week in Lent
Creeds class, Feb. 21
St. Matthias, Feb 24

Village Harvest, Feb. 21
God’s Garden – Making Prezels, Feb. 25
God’s Garden- Learning the Lord’s Prayer, Feb. 18
God’s Garden – The Alleluia Banner, Part 2, Feb. 11
The Alleluia Banner, Part 1, Feb/ 4
Lenten Study – The Creeds
Creeds Class, Feb. 21
Souper Bowl Sunday results
Discretionary Fund donations Feb. 11

Bingo Night Jan 26, 6pm-7:30pm
Sacred Ground, Jan., 2024

Lent began Feb. 14 (Ash Wednesday)
Lent at St. Peter’s
Lent Basics
3 key points about Ash Wed
Ash Wed. 2024, 7pm service
“Letting Go”, Diocese of Atlanta
Conversation about Ash Wed
Lent Stations:Vices & Virtues

Black History Month, Feb., 2024
Black History month
Absalom Jones remembered Feb. 13
Rosa Parks birthday Feb. 4
Visit to Belle Grove, Feb. 2018

Art for Ash Wednesday

From the Loyola Press

Commentary is by Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, assistant professor of liturgy, catechesis, and evangelization at Loyola University New Orleans.

Art expresses the key themes of the season – conflict between secular and religious, the forces of temptation and selfishness affecting all of us, the importance of retreat, repentance, and conversion in this season. We have three pieces of art to view these themes thanks to the Loyola press

1. Pieter Brueghel the Elder, “The Fight Between Carnival and Lent,” 1559

Sometimes when the spiritual and the secular clash, we can see the hand of God at work. In Pieter Brueghel’s The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, there is a clash of contrasts happening in this 16th-century Dutch village. Near the center of the hustle and bustle a curious pair is ready to spar: “Carnival,” represented by a well-endowed man riding a barrel, wears a meat-pie hat and is ready for action with a spear loaded with roasted pork. “Lent” faces him, personified by a clear-eyed but gaunt woman on a spare cart, wearing a beehive and holding out two fish on a peel. She is surrounded by loaves, pretzels, and a basket of mussels.

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Voices of the Transfiguration

1.  Transfiguration is transformation. No one and no situation is "untransfigurable" – Dawn Hutchings

In his book, God Has A Dream: A Vision of Home for Our Time, Desmond Tutu tells about a transfiguration experience that he will never forget. It occurred when apartheid was still in full swing. Tutu and other church leaders were preparing for a meeting with the prime minister of South Africa to discuss the troubles that were destroying their nation. They met at a theological college that had closed down because of the white government’s racist policies. During a break from the proceedings, Tutu walked into the college’s garden for some quiet time. In the midst of the garden was a huge wooden cross. As Tutu looked at the barren cross, he realized that it was winter, a time when the grass was pale and dry, a time when almost no one could imagine that in a few short weeks it would be lush, green, and beautiful again. In a few short weeks, the grass and all the surrounding world would be transfigured.  

As the archbishop sat there and pondered that, he obtained a new insight into the power of transfiguration, of God’s ability to transform our world. Tutu concluded that transfiguration means that no one and no situation is “untransfigurable.” The time will eventually come when the whole world will be released from its current bondage and brought to share in the glorious liberty that God intends.

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From Epiphany to the Transfiguration

February involves the transition betweeen Epiphany and Lent and on that of Lent

Epiphany is about 2 revelations – Christ to the world through the wise men as well as revelation of Christ to us through baptism. On the first Sunday after the Epiphany, we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. His baptism is seen as the primary baptism, the one on which all baptisms follow, the recognition that his followers belong to God as “Christ’s own forever.”

During the three to eight weeks after the Epiphany, we learn in the gospel lectionary readings about Jesus’ miracles of healing and his teachings. This is a continuation of the theme of the revelation of Christ to his followers. “Come Follow Me”. Jesus has not only arrived but through him the kingdom of God as one who fulfills and extends God’s teachings through the Sermon of the Mount. The last Sunday in Epiphany, the transfiguration can be seen as the bridge between Epiphany and Lent.

At the beginning of the Epiphany season, at the Baptism of Jesus, the liturgical color was white. In the Gospel reading in Matthew at his baptism said, “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” In the Transfiguration which we will celebrate on Feb. 26, the 8th Sunday after Epiphany, the Gospel of Matthew records, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” The liturgical color once again is white.

Transfiguration serves as the culmination, the climax, of Jesus manifesting his glory and his identity as the Son of God. From this point on, Jesus sets out to Jerusalem, to suffer, die and be resurrected. We will see this story during Lent beginning March 1. This same glory he will return to, once he has completed the saving mission for which he came. Coming full circle, we will one day be in life with Christ as “Christ’s own forever.”

Story of a painting – Rembrandt’s “Presentation in the Temple”

Rembrandt returned to the subject, "Presentation of Jesus in the Temple" at least 5 times from 1627 to 1654, two paintings, three etchings.

The subject is the biblical story of Simeon. Jesus was still an infant when Joseph and Mary took him to the temple to be presented to God. There they were approached by Simeon, a devout old man who recognised the child as the Saviour and praised him to God.

The most famous of these works was in 1631 when he was about 25 and still living in Leiden. Later that year he moved to Amsterdam. This painting is the high point of Rembrandt’s Leiden years: it represents the sum total of his artistic abilities at that

Most of his paintings are in very dark tones out of which his figures seem to appear to the foreground. Rembrandt was the master of dark and light and most of his pictures are made in this style of struggle between dark and light, night and day, sorrow and joy.

The key to the picture is how carefully and delicate the figures are painted, even those in the darkest part of the painting. The beautiful contrast, between the light on the central group and the soft dimness of the remoter parts of the cathedral, illustrates a style of work for which Rembrandt was very famous.

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Healing Narratives in Mark

By Lawrence

The new messianic community: healing, restoration and conflict

Jesus’ ministry is about gathering into being a new community – a messianic community – which is a sign of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the world as it ought to be and will be under God. The message of the kingdom is the Good News that Jesus preaches (1:14). It has “come near” in Jesus and begins to take shape – takes on “ground space” – in the community of disciples and followers that Jesus gathers around him. This new community is an anticipation and sign of the kingdom of God.

Significantly, this happens on the margins. Jesus’ ministry takes place in Galilee, far away from Jerusalem. He is baptised in the vicinity of the city, but in the wilderness. This is the place of resistance to the Temple and the religious purity system centre there. The point is that the purity system breaks down community by exclusion. The focus of Jesus’ ministry is among theexcluded.

We need therefore to be constantly alert several narrative-structural features of the healing narratives, in addition to the healings themselves:

· Jesus is a healer, not a curer. This is the “healing and wholeness” point. Jesus pays virtually no attention to the symptoms of illness, so crucial in medical diagnosis. He is not a super-doctor! He does not attempt to explain the causes of illness, either in medical or spiritual terms (eg as a result of sin).

· A fundamental feature of the healing narratives is the restoration of community. Peter’s mother-in-law is healed in order to participate in the Sabbath meal (with all the importance that attaches to table fellowship). Lepers are healed in order to be re-integrated into the community. The purity system excludes sick people from participation in communal life and blessing, and the healings that Mark records almost invariably entail the restoration of the healed person to the wider community.

· Unsurprisingly, the healings are therefore in effect (though not intention) a direct confrontation with the religious purity system. We need to be alert to the reaction of those who see healing as a threat. So, for example, the healing of the man with the withered hand (3:1-6) is set in terms of the conflict over Sabbath keeping (as is Peter’s mother-in-law, by implication). Healings are theologically significant and provide the context for many of the deadly conflicts over the Law between Jesus and the Pharisees. The account of a healing concludes with the Pharisees and the Herodians conspiring together to destroy Jesus (3:6).

· The healings are messianic actions. Not only are they the presence of the saving actions of God (the plundering of the Strong Man’s house) but they directly provoke the opposition of the religious authorities that results in Jesus’ suffering and death (which is what is to define his messiahship).

· They make sense of the “great reversal” of the kingdom. Jesus heals among the marginalised and outside the dominant religious system. The dominant system has no place for these people, so that the idea that God is at work through the Messiah among these is anathema to the leaders. This is part of the reason why “the first shall be last and the last first”. Grace is seen in God’s radical inclusion of the excluded. Those who are unable to accept this cut themselves off from Jesus, the new messianic community and the kingdom.

· Jesus did not see himself primarily in opposition to the religious system of his day, but as a prophetic, “purification” movement within Judaism.There is a dynamic tension in all the gospels over what would have happened had Jesus and his message been accepted. The passion predictions suggest that Jesus was fully aware that he had come to be rejected and that his death was inevitable. His weeping over Jerusalem suggests his hope that he would have been accepted and that the kingdom he inaugurated would come about. The healing stories reflect this tension. In the cleansing of the leper (1:40-5), Jesus urges the leper to go to the priest and go through the proper cleansing and restoration rituals. It is clear that Jesus wished to establish the new messianic community withinJudaism, rather than in opposition to it. The healing narratives help to plot the movement of Jesus’ initial hope of acceptance, then through opposition to rejection and inevitable death. They help to emphasise the fact that Jesus died because of the life of the kingdom he lived, rather than only a result of the divine plan of salvation through suffering and death. They make his life, as well as his death and resurrection, significant for Christian discipleship.

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Conversion of Paul, Jan 25

On January 25 we remember how Saul (or Paul) of Tarsus, formerly a persecutor of the early Christian Church, was led by God’s grace to become one of its chief spokesmen. Here are two art works that depict the event :

“The Conversion on the Way to Damascus; ” (1601)   “ The Conversion of St. Paul ” Nicolas-Bernard Lepicie, 1767

 "and suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him. And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. " Acts 9: 3-5

Italian painter Caravaggio painted the one on the left in 1601 for the Cerasi Chapel of the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in Rome. The painting depicts the moment recounted in Chapter 9 of Acts of the Apostles when Saul, soon to be the apostle Paul, fell on the road to Damascus.

Caravaggio is close to the Bible. The horse is there and, to hold him, a groom, but the drama is internalized within the mind of Saul. There is no heavenly apparition. He lies on the ground stunned, his eyes closed as if dazzled by the light.

Caravaggio’s style featured a dark background with usually one point of breaking light. Paul is flung off of his horse and is seen on his back on the ground. Although Paul reflects the most light out of all the characters, the attention is given to him in a strange way. Because Paul is on the ground, he is much smaller than the horse, which is also at the center of the painting but he is pictured closer to the viewer.

The second painting constrast with Caravaggio in the use of color and light. This one has some of the most vibrant colors.  Heaven’s light is shown coming dynamically from left to right.  The painting is like the key frame in a movie on the conversion.  At the time Lepicie was a professor at the  Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris

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Binge reading and other online resources on the Gospel of Mark

Article from BuildFaith

Mark opens with words from the prophet Isaiah: “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,” and indeed the gospel itself serves as a messenger for the life and ministry of Jesus. Written around 65-75, Mark proclaims the good news that Jesus is the messiah and Son of God.

From BuildFaith – “Last summer, my church hosted a gathering where we read the Gospel of Mark together, as a group, out loud, all at once. In short, we decided to binge-read all the episodes of Mark in one night. We gathered in the parsonage with about thirty people squeezed into an oddly-shaped circle (you could just as easily do this on a Zoom gathering), and read the Gospel together. We picked Mark because it was the shortest of the Gospels and we could read through it in one evening.”

Click the link above to see how it went.

Other online resources for the Gospel of Mark:

1. Bible Project on the Gospel of Mark

2. Gospel of Mark on Apple podcasts. Check out the app on Apple devices (iPad,Mac,Apple Watch, iTunes) and search for “Gospel of Mark”.

Looking to the New Year

By Br. Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE

“Each of us can light a candle in the darkness and bring good news to a world in so much need. Is there someone I need to change the way I look at; to see them with God’s eyes? Or is there something bold and courageous I can do, to bring God’s Good News into this broken world which God so loves? Make good news this coming year.”

3 saints after Christmas Day

1. St. Stephen Dec. 26

Stephen was among the earliest Christian martyrs, stoned to death for his beliefs. St. Paul not only witnessed the event but held the garments of those stoning Stephen which he regretted later on and carried a lasting sense of guilt.

2. John the Apostle Dec. 27

John, one of the Apostles, possibly lived the longest life associated with the Gospel, an author in that time and Evangelist spreading the Gospel to many in the Mediterranean area who were not of Jewish background. He is believed to be the only Apostle not martyred for the cause. He is associated with the Gospel that bears his name, 3 Epistles and possible authorship of the Book of Revelation.

3. Holy Innocents Dec. 28

The term “Holy Innocents” comes from Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 2. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, King Herod, fearing for his throne, ordered that all the male infants of Bethlehem two years and younger be killed. These children are regarded as martyrs for the Gospel — “martyrs in fact though not in will.” This can be compared to the conduct of Pharoah in Exodus 1:16. “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”

Advent 4 – Apollo 8, Christmas Eve at the moon

It has been more than 50 years since this mission and since the first 10 verses of Genesis was read to 1.5 billion people, the largest audience to that time.

It was commemorated by a celebration at National Cathedral on Dec. 11, 2018 called “Spirit of Apollo”. The webcast is here.

Dean Randy Hollerith introduced it. Hollerith called it an “this amazing mission that I would call a pilgrimage. It revealed not only dark side of the moon and but gave our most powerful images of our small and fragile world God’s precious gift awash in an unimaginably large universe. I think of it as a holy journey not only what it accomplished and what it showed of our place in our God’s grand’s creation.”

The six-day mission lifted off on Dec. 21, 1968, with its crew of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders.

The voyage had many firsts.

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Advent 4 – Cry of a Tiny Baby

A post from teacher and theologian David Lose: "So maybe I shouldn’t describe this Christmas carol as “unlikely” in that Bruce Cockburn has explored the Christian story and theology, along with issues of human rights, throughout his forty-year career. But it may very well be unfamiliar to you. If so, you’re in for a treat, as the Canadian folk and rock guitarist, singer-songwriter’s beautiful retelling of the Christmas story blends elements of both Luke’s tender narrative of the in-breaking good news of God to the least likely of recipients – a teenage girl, her confused fiancee, down-and-out shepherds – with Matthew’s starkly realistic picture of a baby that threatens kings by his mere existence. 

Here’s the link to a video with the words .