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.

St. Michael and the Angels, Sept. 29

Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September every year. St Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. It is the “mass of Michael.” As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. It used to be said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming.

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Matthew, Sept. 21, Apostle and Evangelist

Sept. 21 is the day we celebrate the life of the author of the Gospel of Matthew, both Apostle and evangelist due to the Book he wrote.

The meeting between Jesus and Matthew is told in Matthew 9:9–13:
9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew was one of the 12 apostles that were with Jesus Christ throughout His public ministry on earth. The consensus among  scholars is that this book in the Bible was written in the  mid-70’s, 40 years after the resurrection. It was the second Gospel written after Mark, 10 years earlier. 

Matthew was a Jewish tax collector who left his profession to follow Jesus. As an apostle of the Lord, he dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel and leading the early church. Matthew gives a personal witness account of many miracles that Jesus performed prior to being crucified on a Roman cross.

He wrote  after the destruction of the temple by the Romans and massacre of the Jewish priests. Many thought they were in the end days. He was a Greek speaker who also knew Aramaic and Hebrew. He drew on Mark and a collection of the sayings of the Lord (Q), as well as on other available traditions, oral and written. He was probably a Jewish Christian and we think the book was written in Antioch in Syria where a community had developed.

The purpose of this book is to prove to readers that Jesus is the true Messiah that was prophesized in the Old Testament of the Bible. The Kingdom begins with us . The author of the Gospel of Matthew, more than the other synoptic writers, explicitly cites Old Testament messianic writings. With 28 chapters, it is the longest Gospel of the four.

It begins by accounting the genealogy of Jesus, showing him to be the true heir to David’s throne. The genealogy documents Christ’s credentials as Israel’s king. Then the narrative continues to revolve around this theme with his birth, baptism, and public ministry.

The Sermon on the Mount highlights Jesus’ moral teachings and the miracles reveal his authority and true identity. Matthew also emphasizes Christ’s abiding presence with humankind

The Gospel organizes the teachings of Jesus into five major discourses: the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7), the Commissioning of the 12 Apostles (chapter 10), the Parables of the Kingdom (chapter 13), the Discourse on the Church (chapter 18), and the Olivet Discourse (chapters 23-25). The emphasis corresponds to the 5 great books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch .

He preached the Gospel in Judea before embarking on missions to other lands, with Ethiopia often cited as one of his destinations. One notable tradition associated with Matthew involves his encounter with King Hirtacus in Ethiopia. Matthew’s steadfast devotion to his faith led him to confront the king for lusting after Ephigenia, a nun consecrated to God. Matthew’s rebuke, delivered at a Mass, ultimately led to his martyrdom, solidifying his commitment to his faith

Holy Cross Day, Sept. 14

See Our Collection of Crosses

“O BLESSED Saviour, who by thy cross and passion hast given life unto the world: Grant that we thy servants may be given grace to take up the cross and follow thee through life and death; whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit we worship and glorify, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

Holy Cross Day is Sept. 14 in honor of Christ’s self-offering on the cross for our salvation. The collect for Holy Cross Day recalls that Christ “was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world unto himself,” and prays that “we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him” (BCP, p. 192). The themes of Holy Cross Day are powerfully expressed by the hymn “Lift high the cross” (Hymn 473).

The Basis of the Cross (From this guide:)

1 (Romans 5:12). “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned”

2. “You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world,[a] following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, doing the will of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else,” (Ephesians 2:1-3)

3. (Colossians 2:13-14). “And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God[a] made you[b] alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.”

From the Book of Common Prayer catechism – “The Messiah is one sent by God to free us from the power of sin, so that with the help of God we may live in harmony with God, within ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.

Though the cross was an instrument of torture and death, stained with the blood of Christ, it has become for us a great treasure as the instrument of our salvation. Because it brings us into “the kingdom of heaven,” the cross is like the “pearl of great value,” for which the merchant “sold all that he had” (Matthew 13:45-46).

The cross also serves as a reminder of the kind of lives we are to live as Christians. Christ commands each of his disciples to “take up his cross and follow [him]” (Matthew 16:24), putting our sin to death “in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6), freeing us to participate in God’s mission in the world, doing the good works he has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10).

This day has been a part of the Eastern Church. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.  It only has been celebrated in the Episcopal Church with the 1982 prayer book

Origin of Sept 14 -During the reign of Constantine, first Roman Emperor to profess the Christian faith, his mother Helena went to Israel and there undertook to find the places especially significant to Christians. (She was helped in this by the fact that in their destructions around 135, the Romans had built pagan shrines over many of these sites.)

Having located, close together, what she believed to be the sites of the Crucifixion and of the Burial (at locations that modern archaeologists think may be correct), she then had built over them the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was dedicated on 14 September 335.

Forward Movement reported this:”During the construction, tradition says that fragments from the True Cross, that is, the cross on which Jesus had been crucified, were found. It sounds fanciful, and perhaps it is. What is not fanciful are the fervent prayers of pilgrims from around the world in that site every day.”

Update for 2017 from Forward Movement: “Recently, the traditional site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection was renovated. During the construction, another miracle of sorts happened. It turns out that under more modern layers of marble, ancient, first-century stone was discovered. This is the latest in a series of archeological finds which support the idea that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on the actual sites where the actual events of Good Friday and Easter Day took place. It is almost overwhelming.” 

It has become a day for recognizing the Cross (in a festal atmosphere that would be inappropriate on Good Friday) as a symbol of triumph, as a sign of Christ’s victory over death, and a reminder of His promise, “And when I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)

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Augustine of Hippo, Aug. 28

Augustine’s writing provides his greatest legacy to the Church and the world. After his conversion, the quick, insatiable intellect he had applied to rhetoric and philosophy turned to theology and ethics. Augustine answered God’s call to “love the Lord your God with all your mind,” and fulfilled it well. Yet Augustine’s writing and thought were not dry and detached but passionate and evocative, engaging the heart as well as the mind.

Augustine’s Confessions is one of the earliest and most well-known examples of spiritual autobiography. In Confessions, Augustine tells the story of his life and faith: the good, the bad, and the ugly. 350 sermons and 100 works also survive Augustine did not hide his past sins and early debauchery but confessed them freely. In Confessions, he admitted that, as a young man he prayed, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” And in a letter to some bishops, he once wrote, “I too have sworn heedlessly and all the time, I have had this most repulsive and death-dealing habit. I’m telling your graces; from the moment I began to serve God, and saw what evil there is in forswearing oneself, I grew very afraid indeed, and out of fear I applied the brakes to this old, old, habit.”

Augustine of Hippo is commemorated in The Episcopal Church’s calendar on August 28.

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Aug 24 – The Feast Day of St. Bartholomew

St. Bartholomew

Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and is usually identified as Nathaniel and was a doctor. In Mark 3:18 he is one of the twelve Jesus calls to be with him. He was introduced to us as a friend of Philip, another of the twelve apostles as per (John 1:43-51), where the name Nathaniel first appears. He is also mentioned as “Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee” in (John 21:2).

He was characterized by Jesus on the first meeting as a man “in whom there was no guile.” The Catholic News Agency wrote this. “We are presented with the Apostle’s character in this brief and beautiful dialogue with the Lord Jesus. He is a good Jew, honest and innocent, a just man, who devotes much time to quiet reflection and prayer – “under the fig tree (1:48)” – and has been awaiting the Messiah, the Holy One of God.”

His day is remembered on August 24. After the Resurrection he was favored by becoming one of the few apostles who witnessed the appearance of the risen Savior on the sea of Galilee (John 21:2).

From Eusebius history, Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. Other traditions record him as serving as a missionary in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia, and Lycaonia.

Along with his fellow apostle Jude, Bartholomew is reputed to have brought Christianity to Armenia in the 1st century. Thus both saints are considered the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He is said to have been martyred in in Armenia. According to one account, he was beheaded, but a more popular tradition holds that he was flayed alive and crucified, head downward. He is said to have converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity. His brother consequently ordered Bartholomew’s execution. The 13th century Saint Bartholomew Monastery was a prominent Armenian monastery constructed at the site of the martyrdom of Apostle Bartholomew in what is today southeastern turkey

Virgin Mary, Aug. 15

We celebrate her saint day on August 15. 

Mary lived circa 18 BCE- 41 CE. She was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, the daughter of Joachim and Anne and the wife of Joseph, the carpenter. Little is known of her life except when it relates to Jesus life. She remained faithful to him through his death (when his disciples denied, betrayed, and fled), and even after his death, continued life in ministry with the apostles.

The New Testament records many incidents from the life of the Virgin which shows her to be present at most of the chief events of her Son’s life:

  • her betrothal to Joseph [Luke 1:27]
  • the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel that she was to bear the Messiah [Luke 1:26-38]
  • her Visitation to Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist [Luke 1:39-56]
  • the Nativity of our Lord [Luke 2:20]
  • the visits of the shepherds [Luke 2:8-20] and the magi [Matthew 2:1-12]
  • the Presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple at the age of forty days [Luke 2:22, 2:41]
  • the flight into Egypt, the Passover visit to the Temple when Jesus was twelve, [Matthew 1:16,18-25; 2; Luke 1:26-56; 2];
  • the wedding at Cana in Galilee [John 2:1-11]
  • and the performance of her Son’s first miracle at her intercession [John 2:1-11],
  • the occasions when observers said, "How can this man be special? We know his family!" [Matthew 13:54-56, Mark 6:1-3, Luke 4:22; also John 6:42],
  • an occasion when she came with others to see him while he was preaching [Matthew 12:46-50,Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21],
  • her presence at the foot of the Cross, where Jesus commends her to the care of the Beloved Disciple [John 19:25-27],
  • her presence with the apostles in the upper room after the Ascension, waiting for the promised Spirit [Acts 1:14].   

Besides Jesus himself, only two humans are mentioned by name in the Creeds. One is Pontius Pilate, Roman procurator of Judea from 26 to 36 AD and the other is Mary. There are more feast days in The Episcopal Church honoring Mary than anyone else.

There have been many appearances of Mary over the centuries. Tradition says that in 39 CE, the Virgin Mary appeared in a vision to Saint James the Great in Zaragoza, Spain. Over the centuries, there have been dozens of additional reports of appearances of the Virgin Mary in different times and places. Two of the most influential visions of the Virgin Mary are the Virgin of Walsingham and the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Her story was carried by National Geographic in December, 2015 –"How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman"

Her message to us was simple – "Listen to Him. Listen to my Son. Do what He tells you." 

World War I Poetry- A Moveable Feast    

Remembering World War I – July 28, 1914. 109 years ago

World War I Poetry- A Moveable Feast    

We try to understand war through memorials, the written word and art among other mediums. In particular, poetry flourished in this war among young soldiers. World War I saw a number of fine poets on the battlefields emerge. Here are sites that discuss these contributions:

1. The Lost Poets
2. Hanover History Dept
3. War Poetry website
4. The Digital archive
5. British War Poetry

The most famous World War I poem is "In Flanders Fields" 

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A Union Soldier’s take on Solomon’s Prayer (Old Testament reading this week 1 Kings 3:5-12)

An unknown civil war soldier wrote this eloquent testimony:

"I asked for strength that I might achieve;

"I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.

"I asked for health that I might do greater things;

"I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

"I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise.

"I asked for power that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

"I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I had asked for, but everything that I had hoped for.

"Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered; I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

"So the Bible says that It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this."

William Wilberforce (1759-1833), man of faith, abolitionist

We remember Wilberforce on the date of his death July 29, 1833

The rock-like faith of Peter is at the heart of William Wilberforce’s crusade against the slave trade. England was exporting 50,000 Africans to America a year in his life time. Wilberforce’s life is the subject of the movie “Amazing Grace” (2006).  You can see the trailer here. There is also a short 3 minute introduction to Wilberforce here.

Wilberforce was an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.  He was a political activist and a man of strong faith.

By the late 1700s, the economics of slavery were so entrenched that only a handful of people thought anything could be done about it.

Physically he wasn’t imposing – he was less than 5 1/2 feet tall and was sickly for most of his life.  He enjoyed the plush lifestyle of his early life. However, after leaving religion he came back to Christianity through the evangelical faith of John Newton, who penned the hymn “Amazing Grace”. He urged him to use his parliamentary position to advance his causes. He attracted a number of friends, including future prime minister William Pitt. Helping him were his oratorical skills though he wasn’t the best strategist.

He won seat in Parliament in 1780. Under the influence of Thomas Clarkson, he became absorbed with the issue of slavery. Later he wrote, “So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the trade’s wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for abolition. Let the consequences be what they would: I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.” Although opposed to slavery itself, the abolitionists wisely thought that it would be easier to abolish the trade before tackling slavery itself.

Wilberforce was initially optimistic, even naively so. He expressed “no doubt” about his chances of quick success. However, bills introduced were defeated in 1791, 1792, 1793, 1797, 1798, 1799, 1804, and 1805.

When it became clear that Wilberforce was not going to let the issue die, pro-slavery forces targeted him.  He was vilified; opponents spoke of “the damnable doctrine of Wilberforce and his hypocritical allies.” The opposition became so fierce, one friend feared that one day he would read about Wilberforce’s being “carbonated [broiled] by Indian planters, barbecued by African merchants, and eaten by Guinea captains.”

It would take twenty years of pleading, educating, demonstrating, and maneuvering before William Wilberforce would emerge victorious—in 1807. Helping him was the news of a slave uprising in Haiti. A year after Wilberforce’s death (in 1833) all the slaves of the Empire were declared to be free, almost 30 years before they would be set free in the United States, and over fifty years in Brazil.

At one point in the early 1790s Wilberforce actually had enough votes to pass his bill of abolition, but on the night of the vote (Parliament’s business sessions often did not begin until early evening) many of his supporters were attending a comedy at the theater, and thereby the bill failed for lack of votes.

Celebrating the legacy of James the Apostle, July 25

Cathedral,Santiago Spain where James is buried and celebration on July 25 with swinging of the a giant censer.

We celebrate James the Apostle on July 25. With his brother, John, the Gospels (Matthew 4, 21-22; Mark 1, 19-20; Luke 5, 10-11) record that they were fishermen, the sons of Zebedee, partners with Simon Peter, and called by Jesus from mending their nets beside the sea of Galilee at the beginning of his ministry

Jesus nicknamed them ‘the sons of thunder’ – perhaps justified by the story (Luke 9, 51-56) that they once wished to call down fire from heaven to destroy a village which had refused them hospitality.

They made it to key events in Jesus life – the Transfiguation, Gethsemene and at various healings and miracles – Peter’s mother-in-law and raising of Jairus’s daughter. Obviously, James was of Jesus closest followers.

He is known as James the Great to distinguish him from James the Less, or James the brother of the Lord.

The movie, The Way celebrates the wonderful cathedral in Santiago where his remains lie and pilgrimage that grew up around St. James life, routes that have been followed for 800 years. Read more about James and the Santiago Cathedral …

Mary Magdalene, July 22

 “Noli Me Tangere” (Touch Me Not)
 – Correggio (1534) 

In Bishop Curry’s book Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus, he writes “We need some crazy Christians like Mary Magdalene and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Christians crazy enough to believe that God is real and that Jesus lives. Crazy enough to follow the radical way of the Gospel. Crazy enough to believe that the love of God is greater than all the powers of evil and death.”

Mary Magdalene, known as the “Apostle to the Apostles,” holds a special place in Christian history. Her devotion to Jesus was legendary. Mary was ever faithful to Jesus while others dropped away. She was there in the key moments of his ministry. She was a witness to the worst on Holy Week, his death on Good Friday and then first on that first Easter Sunday, the best. She was a leader in the early Church

Facts from Living Discipleship:Celebrating the Saints and The Anglican Compass:

  • We know Mary was from Magdala in Galilee (thus the surname “Magdalene”).
  • Luke reports that Jesus cast seven demons out of her (8:2). After her healing, rather than returning to her home, Mary Magdalene followed Jesus for the rest of his life and ministry. While she followed Jesus, she also helped provide financial support (Luke 8:1-3). Unlike most of the other disciples, she was present at his crucifixion, remaining faithfully with him as the others fled and hid (John 19:25). She then accompanies Jesus’ mother to bury the body of Jesus (Matthew 27:51); she is the only one of his followers who is there when his body is laid in the tomb (Mark 15:47).
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