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.

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”.

Video

Transcribed

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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Sermon, Rev. Tom Hughes, March 17, 2024 – “in him [Jesus] all things hold together”

“We have today to consider  quite a few things that are presented as revolutionary things, things that have changed the world and things that should have changed  the world. They begin with the idea of the coming of the Greeks. Now it’s not obvious exactly on the surface of that what that means but if you look back in in in Greek history starting with the early days of the philosophers Plato, what they did was they developed a way of thinking that we now call rationalism. Being rational is something that everybody aspires to. If  you’re not acting rational that’s seen as some sort of aberration so that the Greeks then depended upon a kind of thinking that was rational. Now that’s good under many circumstances and we certainly can’t go through our life without that but it’s very limiting because the Greeks did not perceive anything that we would call spiritual. It was all the way you thought about life and the way you lived life through what you thought that mattered. They had no consideration of  deeper things we might call spiritual things.

“Now contrast with that we also have another character in this play,  Caiaphas the high priest was bound to the law. His role  as a high priest was to make sure everybody followed the law. The law was very clear. It had been passed down from God and you didn’t deviate from it. Now, the problem with that is the law  also requires some spiritual insight in order to know it and to live it. It’s not just what the words are on the paper but how God speaks to your heart so those are two considerations that are real in our present day to day. We are rational people and often we’re law-bound people. I want to suggest to you that neither one of those lead us to a spiritual understanding of Life. The spiritual understanding of life comes from an entirely different source – in scripture.

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Chancellor’s Village sermon March 12, 2024

The local region provides clergy for Chancellor’s Village Retirement Community for their weekly Eucharist on Tuesdays. The responsibility is shared and Catherine goes about once every two months. Currently, we have 3 residents there from St. George’s so it is a good opportunity to to see them as well.

While the service is a typical Sunday service, the priests can shorten it based on those in attendance. Today, there was only one reading, the Gospel with a shortened sermon. Today we had 16 in attendance. Cookie and Johnny from St. George’s also drove up for a visit.

The sermon was Lent 4 with the Gospel reading from John 3:16. Her complete sermon is here with an excerpt below:

“Events in this life, especially at this time of life, and the things that go on in the world, do shake our faith.  Suffering and evil take their ongoing toll, often randomly and unfairly. Those timeless and unanswerable questions that we ask about evil and suffering, only to come up with ..what?… challenge us. Paul says that of faith, hope and love, love is the greatest.  I find that when faith and hope get shaken, then the little bit of love we can cling to, in whatever form that takes, whether it’s some reminder of God’s love for us, or the love we have for one another, or the love we share out in the world in spite of the barriers that the world raises, are the shreds of love we hold up to God, and God can use that little bit of love to weave faith and hope back into our lives.

“Love your friends who are hurting in the ways that come to you. God will do the rest, in God’s time.

So love yourself and others, as inadequate as your love can seem. For when you do any deed out of love, you have done that deed in God, and God will turn your imperfect love into the fullness of God’s own love, the love that suffers with us, carries us through, and brings us into the resurrection life that never ends.”

Sermon, March 10, 2024- Rev. Tom Hughes – “It’s part of the journey. It begins now.”

Sermon is transcribed from the video.

Good morning  everybody. I want to start out by underlining some  things. if you turn back to the Gospel reading that we just  had – “for God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life.”

That’s really the bottom  line, that really is the fullness of the word of God to us because it lays out for us God’s purposes of God’s love and God’s plan for eternity.

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Sermon, the Rev. Catherine Hicks, Chancellor’s Village, March 12, 2024

Sermon, Chancellor’s Village, March 12, 2024

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…

Even though we do not have crucifixes hanging in our churches, but instead the empty cross, to remind us to focus on the resurrection, this phrase about God giving his only Son, especially in the context of the quote from the Old Testament at the beginning of today’s gospel about the bronze serpent, holds before us the image of Jesus suffering and dying on the cross. 

Why would this image of suffering be an image to bring love to our minds?  The suffering and dying of Jesus sanctifies our own suffering and helps us to know that Jesus will go through the valleys of the shadow of death with us, and will bring us safely home, through the grave and gate of death, into an eternal life of the fullness of love in God’s presence. That is the gift of God’s love for us.  God never deserts us, even when we have trouble imagining that God is present.

We live in a world of suffering and pain, our own, the pain of our friends, our family members and the news is nothing but one long report of pain.  How can we, in our small ways, be present to all this pain without it killing us?  Making us depressed?  Or angry?  Or just an ongoing dull hurt that won’t go away? 

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Sermon, Lent 3, March 3, 2024

Sermon, The Third Sunday in Lent, Year B 2024
John 2:13-22, Exodus 20: 1-17

The temple in today’s scripture was the temple that Ezra built after the Jewish people returned from exile in Babylon.  Six hundred years had passed and the temple had been central to Jewish worship all that time.   King Herod, appointed by the Romans as the King of the Jews, had been renovating the temple for forty-six years, hoping to gain the favor of the people.  

The Jewish people believed that the presence of God dwelt in the temple, in the Holy of Holies, that inner sanctum separated from the rest of this massive temple complex by an elaborately woven veil.  God was off limits and transcendent, an invisible force to be revered and feared. So people came to this temple, God’s home,  from all over Palestine to thank God, to bring God sacrifices, to pray, and to hope for God’s favor.  

Jesus shook up the status quo when he interrupted the temple economy with his disruptive actions and his statement to stop making his Father’s house a marketplace. These actions were a direct challenge to the temple authorities about temple worship and the economics of that worship.    

And when Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” Jesus was speaking of the temple of his body, one of the most subversive and radical statements Jesus ever made about himself.    

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The Sermons in February

Feb. 25 – Lent 2- “Suffering” – Rev. Catherine Hicks

Written
Video
Gospel 

The sermon was about suffering. Three types of suffering  – those due to natural causes,  sin, redemptive were included.

“God does not ask us to suffer needlessly.    But God does hope that we will accept redemptive suffering if our suffering can contribute to the growth of goodness and justice in the world around us, and if our suffering and self-denial could possibly lead to the redemption and healing of even one other person by letting  God’s grace work through us.”

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Sermon, Lent 2, Feb. 25, 2024 – Suffering

Sermon, Second Sunday in Lent, Year B
Mark 8:31-38

Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma with their family in Poland

Although we don’t generally like to hear about or to think about suffering, Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel that following him as a disciple will include suffering. 

As I’ve thought about suffering this week, it’s been useful to consider three broad categories of suffering. 

The first category is physical suffering due to natural causes.   

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Sermon, Feb. 18, the Rev. Tom Hughes – The Symbols of Lent

Lectionary
Video

It’s nice to be here together as we begin Lent. These lessons that we have last Sunday and this Sunday are monumentally important because of what they teach us about the coming of the Kingdom, which is here, about the Messianic age which has now begun and how we are to live in it. The way I think to begin is to understand the importance of knowing symbols and what they mean because you can’t have a spiritual understanding of scripture if you don’t understand symbols and so that’s how we’re going to spend some time on this morning.

But I want to say to you first about Lent. I think sometimes we miss the point because I know people who are intent upon giving things up. I’m not going to have any popcorn or I’m going to give up wine. Some people take on things. I think both of those approaches are not quite what lent’s about and particularly the idea of giving up things. It’s not that you give up things that bring you pleasure or are good for you or make you happy, the idea is to give up things that are bad for you. The focus of what you give up is not the things that are lifegiving and happy that help you get along in this life and that you enjoy. You don’t give those things up. It’s not the idea for us to suffer. The idea is for us to grow spiritually and the way you grow spiritually is to make an intentional effort to give up those things that are not good for us

The lessons of last Sunday and this are just chocked full of powerful symbols for us to understand. The first one is that water – Jesus being baptized in the water. Remember the way to read scripture is to always look for the spiritual meaning in it. Don’t read it for what’s on the surface, read it for the spiritual meaning that is in it.

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Sermon, Feb. 11, 2024, Last Epiphany – “…He was transfigured. He became fully the person he was created to be.”

Video

A few minutes ago Catherine and I were standing outside and we were talking about preaching on the transfiguration Sunday and  neither one of us could remember anything we’d ever preached before! 

I just remembered a Transfiguration sermon. What I talked about was the fact that they were having this discussion about building tents there so they could stay on the  Mountaintop and the thrust of the sermon was you can never stay there. You have these experiences and then life moves on. That’s actually that’s relevant for today because the theme is about life moving on. It’s changing all the time. None of us here are the same people we were last year, the year before,  20 years ago for some of us. 

The point though is that we’re not the people we used to be. We are different people not necessarily better or worse.

I want to give you a quote from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 3:18. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

So what he is saying there is that the whole experience of change is a part of life because we don’t want to be stuck in one place and be  that person. I don’t want to be the person  when I was five or 10 years ago .  I’m happy with life as it as it’s coming along each day now. The idea of being stuck in one place of course is I guess that’s what death is you.

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