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, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Sermon, Pentecost 6, June 30, 2024 – “This day of ending is also a day of resurrection, a day of new beginnings for all of us.”

Sermon, Proper 8, Year B 2024

We are an alleluia congregation. 

Throughout the year, except during the season of Lent,  the last word we share as we head out the door each week is “Alleluia!”  Despite the directions of the prayer book and our bishops, who all remind us that alleluia is only to be added to the dismissal during the Season of Easter, our last word every Sunday is “Alleluia!” When Bishop Shannon visited us several years ago, I warned him ahead of time that we would be following our custom and that alleluia would be our last word.  He looked taken aback, but then he laughed and gave our out of season alleluia his blessing.   Because think about it!  What bishop wouldn’t want every church in his or her diocese to be an alleluia congregation?

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Sermon, 5th Sunday after Pentecost, June 23, 2024, “Storms in our Lives”

Sermon, Proper 7, Year B, 2024

“Christ Asleep in His Boat”, Jules Joseph Meynier (1826-1903)

Do you ever wonder “Why?”  and get frustrated with God when life is a struggle and you find yourself in a metaphorical storm tossed boat, wondering if you’ll survive?   

In today’s Old Testament reading, Job, a good man, has had his world fall apart and has lost everything, even though he has lived a good and righteous life.  Job bitterly complains to God and accuses God of not hearing his cries.

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Sermon, June 16, 2024, Pentecost 4, “Seeds”

Mark 4:26-34, 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17

When Jesus appears in Galilee at the beginning of Mark’s gospel, proclaiming the Good News of God, the first thing Jesus says is this. “The time if fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near.”  In his ministry Jesus talked a lot about the kingdom of God, trying to help those who would listen understand that God’s kingdom was like no earthly kingdom that they had ever known.  Instead, it was something much more astounding and wonderful.  Many of the parables of Jesus are about the kingdom of God, including the two that we just heard read from today’s gospel. 

In today’s gospel from Mark, Chapter 4, Jesus is teaching beside the sea, and there’s such a big crowd around him that he gets into a boat to teach.  During this teaching, Jesus tells parables.  

Everyone gets to hear the parables, but Jesus doesn’t explain the meanings of his parables to the crowd.  He saves the explanations for the insiders, his disciples and followers.  

Mark doesn’t record the explanation that Jesus must have shared about these two parables about the kingdom of God.  As Jesus’ followers, we get to prayerfully draw our own conclusions about what these parables might mean.   So let’s dive in and hope that God will help us out.    

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Sermon, Pentecost 3, Year B, June 9, 2024

Mark 3:19-35

If you were a character in Mark’s gospel, who would you be?  In what group would you belong? As you heard today’s gospel, where did you imagine yourself in the story? 

Right before the scene in today’s gospel, Jesus has been on the mountain where he has called his disciples.  Verse 19, which I included in the gospel reading, says that after gathering his disciples Jesus goes home to Capernaum, to the house that he uses as headquarters. 

Outside the house are the crowds, who follow Jesus everywhere, excited by all that he is doing.  In Mark, the people in the crowds are those who are on the fence, the undecided voters, the ones who cheered Jesus when he came to Jerusalem for Passover and then shouted “Crucify him” when Jesus gets hauled before Pilate.  Right now, in this story, the crowds have surrounded the house where Jesus and the disciples are, hoping that Jesus will come out and work some miracles.  The crowds are the “what’s in this for me” group. 

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Sermon, Second Sunday after Pentecost, June 2, 2024 – “Treasure in Clay Jars”

2 Corinthians 4:5-12

We do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.  For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 

Paul makes our work and our joy as Christians crystal clear! 

Get out there and be the light!  God shines in our hearts, for we have seen Jesus, and we are children of God’s light. 

“Let there be light,” God said at the beginning of creation. 

This is our prayer, new every morning. 

“God, let there be light, your light,  in my life today! And let your glorious light shine through me.”

But then Paul, ever the realist, continues by saying… BUT……

We have this treasure in clay jars.

So let’s do a little experiment.  I need a helper. 

Turn on this flashlight and put it inside this jar.  Now we’ll put the lid on. 

Can you see the light?  Yes, it shines right through the glass. 

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Sermon, Trinity Sunday, May 26, 2024 – “Imagination”

John 3:1-17

“Nicodemus Visiting Jesus” (1899)- Henry Ossawa Tanner

I spent last week in the Outer Banks.  While I was there, I visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial, one of the Outer Banks national parks.  What an inspiring place! 

Back in the early 1900’s, Wilbur and Orville Wright, two brothers from Dayton, Ohio,  were fascinated with the idea of human flight.  Although many had experimented with gliders, and Samuel Langley had created powered model gliders, no one had ever figured out how to fly in a manned, heavier than air machine that could leave the ground under its own power, one that could move forward without losing speed and land on a point as high as that from which it started.

The Wright brothers began to explore all that had already been done regarding human flight.  Wilbur wrote to the Smithsonian.    After studying the information they received from that institution, the brothers realized that they had as good a chance as anyone to be the ones to make human flight possible. 

So they got busy, and for the next four years, they tested current theories about aerodynamics, many of which didn’t work.  They developed their own theories, and devoted themselves to the goal of human flight, determined to be the ones who would turn the dream of human flight into reality.    

The Wrights imagined success at what until then had been an unreachable goal.  They had faith in themselves.  And they worked hard to make what they imagined become reality. 

As they got closer to realizing their dream, the two searched for an isolated spot with unrelenting wind, high dunes and lots of sand for soft landings where they could try out their ideas about flight.

On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur lifted off for the first time in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, in their invention, The Flyer.  That day was the first time that anyone had ever flown in a manned, heavier than air machine that could leave the ground under its own power, move forward without losing speed and land on a point as high from which it had started.     

The Wright brothers’ dreams had become reality.  But even these two dreamers probably could not have imagined that only  sixty-six years later, people would take what the Wright brothers had accomplished, would add their own dreams and hard work, and would fly all the way to the moon.  Incredible!  Only sixty-six years—from the windy, white sandy dunes on the coast of North Carolina, to the charcoal gray dusty surface of the moon, thanks to incredible imagination and the hard work by so many to make the dream of people walking on the moon a reality. 

One thing I really appreciated about the museum exhibit at the Wright Brother’s memorial was the emphasis on imagination, for imagination is the source of all creativity.  God imagined the universe into being, from the farthest galaxies to the tiniest living microscopic life on our planet. “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the things thy hands hath made…..”  Not only the universe, but we ourselves have been brought to life from God’s imagination.

The whole Bible is the story of what God imagines for creation and the reality of what really happens—God’s imagination distorted by our own desires, and we can use the word “sin” as shorthand for that corruption that continually threatens to destroy us and our planet. 

Which brings me to Jesus, the ultimate imaginative act of God.  Nothing else having gotten through to us, God imagines God’s self in human form, and as we Christians believe, Jesus is born as one of us, lives as one of us, and dies as one of us. 

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Sermon, Rt. Rev’d Gayle E. Harris, Pentecost, May 19, 2024


“Good morning! Happy birthday, happy birthday church, happy birthday church!

“This is the birthday of the Christian church. Today, the day of the Pentecost, this day and not before this day could the followers of Jesus be called Christians

“Easter is the holiest day of the year right? I know we think it’s Christmas but it’s not. It is Easter. The second holiest day of the year is today.

“Pentecost is the last day of the great 50 days of Easter, then Christmas is after that. (Maybe it’s third holiest at least that’s what the church has been teaching for more than 2,000 years )

“Today is a day of celebrating the ongoing presence of God in the community who follow Jesus.

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Sermon, Easter 7, Year B – “Eternal Life”

“The Sacerdotal Prayer” – Eugène Burnand (1850-1921)

Today is Mothers’ Day.  Mother’s Day is not a religious holiday, but like Fathers’ Day, coming up in June, we tend to acknowledge these two holidays in church because they have a lot to say about love. My mother, age 96, still lives in the house where I grew up.  I talk with her every day by phone, and I am filled with gratitude that I still have the joy and privilege of going home and finding my mother, full of love, waiting with open arms. 

But going home isn’t quite the same as it used to be since my father died in 2021.  I still long for my father’s open arms—he gave the best hugs in the world.  But since his death, I’ve had to get used to my father’s physical absence.  Most of us gathered today have experienced in one way or another the pain that death brings, that physical separation from someone we have loved and who has loved us in this lifetime. 

Part of our Christian life is to believe that our lives extend beyond our physical deaths, and that “through the grave and gate of death we pass with Christ to our joyful resurrection,” as one of the prayers for burial states in The Book of Common Prayer.  And this prayer also says something about our beliefs in the life to come, that we have in this life “the comfort of a reasonable and holy hope, a joyful expectation of eternal life with those we love.” We believe that even death cannot separate us from those we love. 

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Sermon, Easter 6, Year B- “Abide in His Love”

Last week I said that in the sermons I get to share with you before I leave, I want to consider what the scriptures appointed for each Sunday have to say to this parish in this time of transition. 

Today’s gospel passage completes the gospel from last Sunday, in which Jesus tells the disciples that God is the gardener, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches.  Jesus reminds the disciples that God the gardener must prune the branches to make them bear more fruit, and that we, here at St Peter’s, are going through a pruning with all the changes ahead.  But the promise is that since Jesus the vine to which we branches are attached, we can count on bearing more fruit because God the gardener has pruned us.   

As Jesus continues this conversation with the disciples, he moves from a focus on pruning the branches to a focus on the disciples abiding in his love.  This focus on abiding in his love is where we begin today’s considerations about the parish transition ahead of us. 

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Sermon – Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B- Rev. Catherine Hicks


John 15:1-8

Our time is drawing short.  At the end of June, I will be leaving St Peter’s, a huge change for me, and for this parish as well.  But God does not leave us to muddle through the challenges, changes, and chances in this life without God’s help! 

One of the many gifts we have as we go through changes is the wisdom of scripture, for scripture consists of living words that never fail to apply to the situations that we face in this life.   

So in the sermon today I will be focusing on the changes happening in our parish as we consider the appointed scriptures.  The more directly we all consider these changes by seeing what scripture has to say to us during this transition, the better off we will all be once the calendar pages turn to July and we are no longer sharing this space together. 

Let’s begin by reviewing the seven I AM statements of Jesus.  Today’s gospel centers around one of those statements.

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Sermon, April 21, 2024 – “The Gate and the Good Shepherd”

What a joy to be here on this day together with these incredible lessons. Honestly there’s so much here you could preach all day but I promise I’ll keep it under an hour.

The right first thing I want to say is when Jesus says there are sheep not of the fold he’s talking about us because we’re not Jews and so the people outside of Judaism are the ones to whom he’s referring there and that of course would be all of us.

We’ve talked about the whole idea of symbols for a couple of weeks now and how important symbols are when you’re referring to things that you can’t explain clearly in a common language and that’s hard to understand and really hard to talk about. That’s why we have symbols. The cross is probably the greatest symbol in all of history. Last week we talk about the road of life and the road being the symbol for the way that that we move through this world.

There are two more beautiful symbols today that I’d like to unpack what Jesus revealed to us as the gate and as the Good Shepherd . The idea of the gate and the shepherd are symbols of Jesus how he explains himself to us, how he relates himself to us.

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Sermon, Rev. Tom Hughes, April 14, 2024 – “In the final chapter of life.. we shall be like Christ”

1 John 3:1-7 “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”


Nice to be together. This beautiful Sunday feels like spring this Sunday. Last Sunday if you recall it, we weren’t sure, but here we are gathered again today in  the Lord’s House to read and reflect on the words that have been given to us

One of the things that we spent a couple of minutes on last week was talking about symbols and I want to go back to that.

I could begin there because symbols are so important not just in the Christian life for which they are central. In life in general if you’re dealing about faith and issues about eternal life, knowing God when we’re talking about things like that, it’s hard to think about and practically impossible to talk about them because they’re just not adequate words. We’re not able to think in ways that will enable us to speak the truest things, the things that are the hardest ones, to give voice to that. Being the case then, we have to represent those things in symbols.

The greatest symbol of all time in all of human history is the cross. Even if you’re an enemy of Christ, if you’re an enemy of the cross, the cross is still the most significant thing as a symbol that there’s ever been and I’m sure ever will be because it captures everything about life now. If you’re familiar with philosophy and writings of the past and poetry certainly scripture, another very powerful image and a symbol is the idea of the road being on the road. We live life out on the road – that’s where things happen.  I’m probably the only one here that can remember the  Bing Crosby and Bob Hope movies on the road shows – you know the  Road to Singapore and the Road toward Mandalay. They were so funny I laughed till my stomach hurt but they’re all about being on the road and things happened on the road. That was the point Willie Nelson sings about being on the road. It’s a theme that runs through all of literature, music, and history being on the road.

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Sermon, April 7, 2024 – Rev. Tom Hughes – “the breath of God”

What a joy to be together this morning and to have these wonderful lessons to go over there are a lot of things we need to touch on and there’s just a couple of things before I come to the subject thatI’ve been led to talk about.

The first one is in in the lesson; that we heard of just a few minutes ago, there was a great deal of emphasis placed on ;sinfulness. What I want you to understand about that in all the Johannine tradition that sin is not a particular kind of moral failure like I told the lie or something like that – it’s being separated from God. That’s what living in sin is – being separated from God. Of course the mission of Jesus above all other things as we just read was that we would be close to God not separated from God to live in glory and the peace of God.

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Rev. Tom Hughes’ sermon, Sunrise service, March 31, 2024

“Happiness comes from in here. We live from the inside out not from the outside in”.



I’m Tom, I’m from over here at St Peters and what a joy to be doing this and to hear that beautiful reading of that scripture again. You never get tired of that do you, that story over and over again.

What a wonderful gift that is, and on top of that, the perfect setting for being here together for the sunrise the Lord has provided for us so beautifully. And if you appreciate it, the symbolism here is everywhere. You’ve got spring, new beginning, new life coming up, you got the river of God flowing by out here and it just goes on and on, new life, new light into the world, the light of Christ – we’re celebrating it right now so it’s just everywhere. If you’re not already half dead you can see it around you, the presence and power and the love of God.

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Sermon, Easter, March 31, 2024

“Noli me tangere” Antonio Correggio (CA. 1525)

In the beginning, the Lord God formed a man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into that man’s nostrils the breath of life, and so the man became a human being.  And then, the Lord God planted a garden in Eden. And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, a river to water the garden, and God put the man there to till the garden and to care for it.  The Garden of Eden was so inviting that God would walk there in the cool of the evening breeze, reveling in the beauty of the garden.    

Since the beginning of time, gardens have provided sustenance, beauty and inspiration. 

Those blessed enough to have a garden witness the ways in which the garden changes through the seasons. 

They’ve tilled the ground, watched with an amazement the new growth springing up from the seeds they have planted.   Gardeners harvest,  and then when the plants are spent and dead, they put the garden to bed to rest for the winter.  And then the gardener waits, the seasons change, and it’s time to till and to plant again. 

Gardens have always been places of death and resurrection. 

That first man, blessed to live in the Garden of Eden, could not simply live there, reveling in its blessings and beauty, but ended up putting himself above God, and sin came into the garden.  God sent the man and the woman out of the Garden so that they would not eat from the Tree of Life and live forever. 

And so death came into the world. 

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Sermon, Good Friday, March 29, 2024

Before his crucifixion and death, Jesus shared a last supper with the disciples. 

“After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you; This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.” 

Blood is essential to life.  Blood carries oxygen and  nutrients throughout our bodies and helps to regulate our body temperatures.   Blood carries waste materials to the organs that rid the body of that waste.  Blood also fights off infections.  Without blood, we cannot live. 

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Sermon, Maundy Thursday, March 28, 2024

Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, John 13:1-17

Have you ever had a favorite song or piece of music get stuck in your head?  You find yourself humming it or singing it, and you realize in odd moments that the melody and the words are running along in the background of your mind, accompanying you through the day, an unexpected gift.

At least for me, this music is not something I’ve heard only once, or even a few times, but music I’ve heard over and over.   To hear the music singing in my soul is the result of my having listened to and even having sung that song many times. 

The fact that I’ve heard the music and the words frequently causes that music to come to me when I want and need it, or to just start playing in my mind when I least expect it. 

Those of you who play musical instruments know the importance of repetition and practice to make the music on the page a melody in your mind that you can remember, even under pressure. 

In tonight’s Old Testament reading, God composes the background music of freedom for the Israelites when God tells Moses and Aaron to prepare for their escape from Egypt.  God gives them specific directions about preparing a lamb for the last meal that they would share as slaves. 

And then God tells Moses and Aaron that this day, these directions to Moses and Aaron are to become familiar music to the Israelites, the music of freedom that they are to remember, the music that they will practice over and over as a festival to the Lord, a perpetual ordinance throughout the generations. 

And so, to this day, our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate the Passover.  They sing their freedom song every year. They observe the day as a perpetual ordinance.  When they remember the Passover, they remember that God loves them and takes care of them and frees them.   

In the New Testament, the Corinthians have gotten their music all mixed up. They are no longer singing together in harmony.  In their arguing about how they should eat together, they’ve forgotten the reason that they are eating together.   They’ve forgotten Jesus.   Paul writes his first letter to them to help them remember Jesus.

Paul reminds them that Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he said, “This is my body that is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.” Jesus took the cup also, after supper, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 

And so, to this day, we Christians celebrate the Holy Eucharist, which is our freedom song.  We remember that Jesus, through his death, resurrection, and ascension,  brought us out the bondage of sin into righteousness, and out of prison of death into life.     

We observe this meal around God’s table as a perpetual ordinance. 

We practice, over and over, how to eat together at God’s table so that whenever we gather around our tables here in this world, we will find Jesus there with us too. 

We practice, so that when we share our food, we remember that we share with others because Jesus shared himself with us.   Without practice, we find ourselves clutching to ourselves what we have,  instead of stretching out our hands in love.

“Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said, not just coming to this table for ourselves alone, but for the benefit of the whole world. 

Many of our Catholic brothers and sisters go to mass every day, to remember every day what Jesus asks us to remember, “This is my body that is for you…”   and then to go out and do as Jesus did—to let God break us open so that God’s love can pour out through us into the world. 

In John’s gospel, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples that night when they’ve gathered around the table for the last time. 

Jesus wants them to understand that he is welcoming them into his home, the home of his own Father, God.  They are so welcome that God will stoop and wash their feet to welcome them in, and then will invite them to God’s own table, where God will serve them, where they will share in the heavenly banquet with all nations and tribes and people and languages, where the music is a song of unending joy and praise and love. 

Once a year, on this night, we physically remember at the foot washing that we stand on the threshold of God’s house, that we bring our whole selves, our dusty, dirty, confused mixed up lives to God’s door.  God is waiting.

As the invitation to the Eucharist in our Celtic Eucharistic prayer puts it,  “Those who wish to serve him must first be served by him, those who want to follow him must first be fed by him, those who would wash his feet must first let him make them clean.” 

Jesus set an example for us when he washed the feet of his disciples. 

So we practice how to love one another tonight, as we wash one another’s feet.  We remember how to welcome in and to love one another graciously and generously.  The practice of foot washing becomes our perpetual ordinance of welcoming one another in love, as Jesus welcomes us. 

Bread, wine, water, welcome—God weaves these strands of melodies together into our resurrection song, our song of praise and thanksgiving for God’s love for us.    

When we practice this song, God’s welcoming love song for us will become the music that plays forever in our hearts, the unforgettable music that calls us to remember, the music that sings us through our days and shapes us into love.   

Sermon, Palm Sunday, March 24, 2024

Mark 15:33-47

Jesus tomb in the Edicule within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

What a devastating ending for a man who had brought abundance, healing, and hope to so many.  The twelve disciples, overwhelmed and full of fear, had deserted Jesus.  They did not even reappear to claim the body of their leader as the disciples of John the Baptist had done for him. 

The disciples must have sadly said to themselves the same thing that the chief priests and the scribes so mockingly taunted Jesus with as he was dying on the cross.  “Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.”  Why did Jesus accept death on a cross? 

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