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.

Sunday’s Thoughts Lent 1, Feb. 18

The SALT blog published this guide for Lent – “As Lent begins, this is the perfect week to reflect on the season and what it means in Christian life: an invitation to a 40-day journey of reflection, repentance, and preparation for the great mystery of the empty tomb. Now is the time to change our lives, to embark upon a kind of soulful spring cleaning. What in our personal and communal lives needs repentance or renewal, a “change of heart” or “change of life”? How do we need to be both humbled and strengthened? How can we better prepare for the radiant 50 days of Easter? Might a sojourn in the wilderness “with the wild beasts” be just what we need?”

Going further into the blog-“That is, the basis of Christian life is not our repentance, not our good works; rather, the basis of Christian life is what God has done and is doing, and our good works flow from the joyous, thankful recognition of that graceful liberation. True repentance — changing our lives and hearts for the better — flows from God’s activity in the world, not the other way around. In this way, Jesus’ sermon is a call not into anxious exertion, but rather into gratitude and joy.”

According to this, Lent should emphasize the positive moving forward and not gullies and valleys of repenetence. Moving forward is reconnecting to God, going deeper and expressing that in the world. We each need to consider our options. For me, it is looking forward to April 22 and Earth Day and collecting the excesses (plastic, trash) of our modern lives. It gets us outside as the days lenthen (Lent!) and promoges exercise. Stepping forward will be different for everyone. It’s finding that one or multiple things that will promote real liberation.

Lent does have a sense tension between the need for repentance and forgiveness and the sense of moving forward. We have a dialog between two priests from All Saints Episcopal in Frederick, MD about Lent from 2019 of also a tension they see in Lent.

As they noted, at the beginning we are reminded of our mortality by making the mark on our foreheads, a mark that come from the past – palms burned from last year’s Palm Sunday. They we come forward after a few prayers, celebrate and share communion and we are reminded of this everlasting life which moves forward. From we holding these two pieces in tension that we really enter into Lent.

On this Sunday, the children in God’s Children began learning the Lord’s Prayer. Jan and Elizabeth used a video method to teach the prayer through signing and then using a printed cross with the prayer printed on the cross’s arms so that the children could trace their way forard. They did very well and are well on the way to being able to say it in church

They moved foward, adding an addition connection in their church life. Learninig is a great practice for Lent. Coincidentally, this week, The Dean of Washington Cathedral in a meditation wrote that the Lord’s Prayer was the “perfect prayer.”

Sunday’s Thoughts, Feb. 11, 2024 – Transition

We are at a transition. Last Sunday, Feb. 4, God’s Garden children completed a banner and hung it on the altar. It is a transition from Epiphany to Lent with a banner first and then a change in the colors on the altar.

So to the trip to the mountain on Feb. 11, the Transfiguration is one too with the individuals involved in the world but at the same time separated. That’s the way it is sometimes going through changes.

Here is a piece that marks the transition- “Transfiguration, Beauty and Biblical Interpretation” by Zoltán Dörnyei

“We come to the Transfiguration at a critical point within salvation history: just a week earlier Peter had declared on behalf of the disciples that Jesus was ―the Messiah, the Son of the living God‖ (Matt 16:16), and from that point onwards Jesus started to talk about his orthcoming suffering, death and resurrection. His teaching also included the warning that if anybody wanted to follow him, they had to ―deny themselves and take up their cross‖ (Matt 16:24) as well as a declaration about his second coming ―in the glory of his Father‖ (Matt 16:27). The preparation stage was now over and the final, climactic phase of Jesus‘ earthly life – involving the last journey to Jerusalem and the Passion – was about to begin. The Transfiguration therefore marks a watershed in Jesus‘ ministry; in Michael Ramsey‘s words, it represents a ―height from which the reader looks down on one side upon the Galilean ministry and on the other side upon the Via Crucis.”

The Sermon from Tom Hughes spoke of a transition and where we should be going. “The whole idea is that in Christ we’re always becoming called to things as they were not before becoming a new person. ” On the Transfiguration, ““…He was transfigured. He became fully the person he was created to be.” Unlike Jesus we are not there.

Moving forward, Forward Movement for Feb. 14 includes this phrase – “Ash Wednesday is my favorite holy day because I am reminded that in the nothingness of dust, in God’s value of the inverse of our earthly values. I am filled with the wonder of creation and the reality of the unfailing and unconditional love of God. ” We are still finding that wonder, filling in the spaces, investigating the possibilities and becoming the people we are meant to be. There’s energy in that!

One of the possibilities is continuing our work supporting the larger community. The congregations responded on Sunday for our two outreach projects- 1. The SouperBowl 2. Supporting the Discretionary fund.

The SouperBowl collected 41 cans of food and 33 cards donated plus $75 in monetary donations. This is above last year’s 25 cans. The Disctionary Fund. A total of $270 was collected Feb 11, 2024. “In January, $850 of our discretionary fund helped 9 families with internet access, rent, and electricity.”

Another possibility is continuing to develop our youngest children in God’s Garden. Last week we spotlighted the creation of the Alleluia Banner. This week they added art work to a box and during the last hymn, took the Banner, placed it in the box and hid it away for Lent. They see this transition in life to the beauty that will eventually blossom at Easter.

There is a lot yet to be done

Sunday’s Thoughts Feb 4, Epiphany 5

This week is unique in how it unfolds. The message from the Gospel shows Christ during a typical day as healer to Peter’s mother, casting out demons in the community and creating wholeness during his preaching.

But he found time for renewal – “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” In Isaiah, “From Isaiah “but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

This is an important lesson for all of us in our time. The Washington Post reported in April 2022.”Unlike every other industrialized nation, the United States has no mandatory paid vacation or holiday leave. Workers who have paid leave often don’t take it. And even when we take leave, many of us can’t leave work behind. The technology that lets us work anywhere, anytime, makes it hard to disconnect even when we’re supposed to.”

Taken as a whole, last week’s Epiphany 4 prefigures Epiphany’s major themes — healing, restoration, and hope. We continue them this week (Epiphany 5) that will define the heart of Jesus’ mission.

Healing  – The passage pivots around four key verbs:  (“to come near”),  (“to take hold”),  (“to waken, to raise”) and  (“to serve, to minister”). The first two verbs go together: Jesus “comes near” Peter’s mother-in-law, close enough to “take hold” of her hand. Throughout the Gospel, Mark distinctively emphasizes the power of touch, including the idea (as we’ll see in the weeks ahead) that Jesus is unafraid to touch and be touched by the supposedly “unclean.”

Restoration – Having taken her hand, Jesus “raises her up.” The same word (egeiro) is used of Jesus himself at the resurrection — it’s there in the famous line, “He has been raised; he is not here” (Mark 16:6) — and so the term evokes a renewed strength, a reinvigoration, a reawakening, a restoration, a return. She is awakened – restored.

Illness not only debilitates the body but it also can cut a person off from his or her social life and contributions to community — and this can feel like a loss of dignity or purpose.

Hospitality was highly prized in the ancient world, and for early Christians, to be hospitable in a way that advanced the Jesus movement was both an art and an honor. in this way, for Mark, the healing in this story is not only a matter of a fever departing; it’s also a matter of restoration to community, and of participation in the movement. This social dimension of healing is a key theme to which Mark will return again and again.

Hope – And while the episode with the possessed man in Epiphany 4 provides a sense of what this liberation is “freedom from,” this week’s story points toward what it is “freedom for.”

What is she renewed for? For diakonos, “ministry, service,” the same root that gives us the word “deacon” (she is the original deacon!). What’s more, the word diakonos literally means “to kick up dust” — this is an active, practical, on-the-move, change-the-world sort of work. In short, she is lifted up to serve. She is freed for ministry, to kick up some dust and get some things done. She is the pioneer who blazes the trail for the anonymous woman who causes a little dust-up near the end of Mark’s Gospel by anointing Jesus (“what she has done will be told in remembrance of her,” Mark 14:3-9), and also for the group of women at the crucifixion who stay and keep watch and remain with the vandalized body, even as the male disciples panic and flee (see Mark 15:40-41; the Greek word translated as “provided for” is diakoneo).

Sunday’s Thoughts Jan 21, Epiphany 3 – “Calling once again”

This week was the first “somewhat sizeable snow” in two years. The school children were off 3 days. Snow can bring sense of peace and tranquility.

We were able to have 91 at the Village Harvest for Jan, much better than last year’s 60 though under previous years. Food supplies were strained since Oct. 2023.

Sacred Ground met this week reviewing the check sent out for the new scholarship program for trade educatiion. We also came up with possible new endeavors – .

1. Investigate Black owned bank or Black owned businesses

2 Feb 10 presentation on Port Royal at the Old Port Royal School. a Black School. It was constructed and used from 1924 to 1959. This is the 100th anniversary <>3 Bingo- Last Monday – Feb 26, 6pm Caroline county Public Schools. This may be a good opportunity for discussion with local leaders

4. Meeting with school administrations about opportunities for St. Peters and other churches p>This Sunday Jan 21 is the congregational meeting, an annual event to elect new vestry members and take stock of the community. We will not be having reports as in previous years. This was a dedicated segment.

Cookie has completed a three year term and will be rotating off the vestry. Larry has completed the last year of Robert Bryan’s three year term. Helmut Linne von Berg is resigning from the Vestry due to his caregiving responsibilities for Susan. His unfinished term creates a one year vacancy to be filled, along with the two three year terms that will need to be filled.

Johnny Davis and Andrea Pogue have agreed to run to fill the two three year terms, and Larry Saylor will run for the one year term.

During the meeting, Catherine recalled the accomplishments of Helmut including his cross makng – the central cross behind the altar, the Good Friday cross and two processional crosses. One of our youth spoke to remember the crosses given to new members. She said she has the cross in her room.

The sermon was a combination 2023 review and sermon. The focus was our work as disciples. From the sermon “Both casting nets and mending nets are necessary parts of discipleship. As disciples, we must cast our nets but we also must mend our nets as well. Here are some of the ways we have been both casting and mending the nets that Jesus has given to us to use here at St Peter’s. ”

Jan 21 is also the 3rd week after the Epiphany and the 2nd week of Jesus calling his team. Last week it was Andrew and Nathanael and this week it Simon (Peter) and Andrew as well as James and John

John MacArthur’s book on the diciples places most of the disciples this week in the top tier of the 12 disciples based on their closeness to Jesus. This is definitely the “A” team!

The calling of disciples and the congregational meeting are linked. In both cases there is the search for leadership.

Read more

Sunday’s Thoughts – Jan 14, Epiphany 2 – “Calling” and the “Fig Tree”

It was cold but clear Sunday after a week of heavy rain. Back in 2018 we have pictures of ice on the river. No ice now.

Attendance was 31 which was exceptional. A number were guests.

The 2nd Week after the Epiphany – Jesus calls the first disciples this week.- Andrew and Nathanael and next week it is Simon (Peter) and Andrew as well as James and John

It is 2 weeks after Christmas when Jesus was born and important to realize what has taken place.  

Jesus has been born,  the shepherds visit, the Magi visit,  Joseph & Mary’s flight to Egypt with Jesus , Herod has children killed, Jesus’ family returns to Nazareth,  Jesus in the temple at age 12, John the Baptist preaches and baptizes, Jesus’ baptism, Jesus’ temptation –,  John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the Messiah , Jesus begins to gather followers. As Jesus says in Matthew  “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). 

So how old is Jesus? – About 30. He has 3 years to preach.  It is estimated that after he has 18 months left when the disciples are called to be apostles. Not much time considering the tasks to be done!

The following information on the disciples comes from  a wonderful book by John F. MacArthur Twelve Ordinary Men How the Master Shaped his Disciples for Greatness, and What He wants to do with You

Read more

Sunday’s Thoughts – Jan 7, Epiphany 1 – “Beginnings”

So when does the church proclaim the new year? Typically it is the first Sunday in Advent. However, the scriptures seem other than joyous. On the recent First Advent, the Gospel was from Mark. Jesus said to his disciples, “In those days, after that suffering, the sun will be  darkened,      and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven,    and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” Nope, doesn’t make it

I would make a case for the Sunday after the Epiphany, Jesus’ baptism. This is Mark’s birth story since he didn’t write one for Bethlehem.

Read more