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.

Thy Kingdom Come – Episode 6 – “Prayer Walking”

Prayer Walking – The God who walks with us. By Sammy Jordan

Prayer Walks. It’s a great way of connecting with our communities and connecting with God for them on a whole new level.

Prayer walking is not for the super spiritual. Prayer walking is for everybody. Prayer walking is very simple you don’t have to say or do anything other than invite God to go on a walk with you.

Scriptural basis

1 In Genesis it says Adam and Eve heard God walking in the garden and when we
walk and pray we need to remember that God walks with us for me being
physically present amplifies my sense of connection to both God and the people
and place I’m praying for I love.

2 Jeremiah 29:7 seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into Exile and pray to
the Lord on its behalf for and, this is the bit I love, in its welfare you will
find your welfare. It inspires and encourages me to pray for bless and serve my community because my well-being and flourishing is connected with it.

Remember when you’re putting on your shoes you are putting on shoes of peace!

How can you pray for peace and blessing for your community as you walk? Notice where God pro prompts you to pause and pray stop outside neighbors doors maybe use their their names as you pray for peace to enter their home. Do the same thing for
shops schools and businesses in your area. I often use road signs and markings to help me pray.

Crossroads remind me to pray for people with decisions to make, stop signs or red traffic lights for people who feel stuck, amber lights and also bus stops for people who are waiting, and green lights for people who are going people who are responding and doing something new.

I also love to use nature it reminds me of growth what is God growing in our communities.

 

Life From Above

Four Sundays of May commemorating  agriculture, the Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday – are four feasts of great importance in the life of the Church.  They are distinctively “named” Sundays.

Rogation Sunday on May 5 (Easter 6) goes back to prayer and fasting in early Christian times for protection for crops from disease. It was also a reflection of the Roman holiday of Robigalia at which a dog was sacrificed to propitiate Robigus, the god of agricultural disease. In England they were associated with the blessing of the fields at planting. The vicar “beat the bounds” of the parish, processing around the fields reciting psalms and the litany. In Christian years it involved fasting and abstinence in preparation for celebrating the Ascension. Traditionally, Rogation days are the three days before Ascension Day on which the litany is sung (or recited) in procession as an act of intercession.

The Ascension (May 9, celebrated May 12) is usually described as marking the completion of Jesus’ ministry on earth as he returned to Heaven. But it is far more than that. It marks the exact moment when Jesus, Son of God, commissioned his disciples to begin the gigantic task of converting the whole world. As recorded in St Mark’s Gospel, Jesus said: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”

Luke tells us that Pentecost (May 19) occurred a short time after the Ascension, and marked the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise, at his Ascension, to send the Holy Spirit on the disciples.

The gift of the Holy Spirit electrified these fearful followers – who only weeks before had run away when Jesus was arrested, and were still hiding for fear of those who had been responsible for their Lord’s death – and transformed them into men and women willing to lay down their lives for their faith, as many of them did.

The feast of Holy Trinity (celebrated May 26), though logically linked with the other two, was established much later. Although its existence was clearly stated in the New Testament, and early recognized as a doctrine of the faith, it was only when the Arian heresy – which denied Jesus was God – was spreading in the fourth century, that the church Fathers prepared an Office with canticles, responses, a preface, and hymns, to be recited at Mass. From these, the feast we now celebrate as Trinity Sunday gradually evolved.

Together, these latter three great feasts mark the promise which Jesus gave to his disciples, and its fulfilment in the Church on earth. As recorded by Matthew, the very last words Jesus said to his Apostles before going up to Heaven, were: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of time.”

10 Ways of Understanding the Cross

This is a blog episode for the SALT project. SALT is an Emmy Award winning, not-for-profit production company dedicated to the craft of visual storytelling

It is hosted by SALT’s Matthew Myer Boulton, who’s spent twenty years teaching the Bible and theology to students at Harvard Divinity School and seminaries in New England and the Midwest,

There is a part 2 of their 7 part series “Undertanding Easter” titled “10 Ways of Understanding the Cross”

Links

1. Audio file
2. Text

The Creeds Class, Part 1, Feb. 21, 2024

We had 8 people online for the first class, Feb 21, 2024.

Weekly Sessions

1. Why we have the creeds and the origin?
2. Creed about God – “I believe in God, the Father almighty”.
3. Creed about Jesus.
4. Creed about the Holy Spirit.
5. Creed about baptism, resurrection.

Creeds are ultimately for the unity of the Church containing the beliefs that are central to the faith. They hold us together. They are used to teach new members.

Read more

A Prayer for Entering Lent

By Kimberly Knowle-Zeller

God of mystery and wisdom, be with us this Lenten season. It’s been a long way, already sickness, worry, isolation, fear, waiting our hearts are heavy our souls are weary our bodies are hurting our hope is wavering yet, you are with us.

God of mystery and wisdom, be with us this Lenten season. Show us your grace in the small moments of silence the prayers offered in person or virtually the kindness of a stranger the lighting of a candle the listening to a friend the care of neighbors, you are with us.

God of mystery and wisdom, be with us this Lenten season. Settle our hearts revive our spirits increase our faith spread our love.

God of mystery and wisdom, be with us this Lenten season. In ashes and dust reading and listening wandering and walking praying and singing eating and fasting show us the way forward.

God of mystery and wisdom, be with us this Lenten season. As we walk to the cross keep our eyes fixed on you and your love – caring for others crossing boundaries reaching out to the poor taking our pain transforming death into life over and over again.

God of mystery and wisdom, be with us this Lenten season.

Photos and commentary, Ash Wednesday, Feb 14, 2024

(full size gallery)

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

We began our observation of Jesus’ death and resurrection by preparing for Easter with a season of penitence. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. We had 17 in attendance. Sally Hartman who did her vocational discernment at St. Peter’s and now is a Deacon was the preacher.

The church changes its look encouraging you to see things differently – purple on the altar, minimal flowers, pottery communion cup, a special red processional cross.

The liturgy provides words about the purpose of Lent. “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”

It is all about reconnecting with God with by these specific activities and others of your choosing. Examine yourself to see what divides you from others, from the earth and from God, and repent from these divisive things. As the bulletin stated “only God can take away our sins, create clean hearts in us, renew a right spirit within us, and sustain us with God’s bountiful spirit.” The sermon enouraged us not to just give up but to take on new practices to do that and see other possibilities in the world.

Read more

Lent 2024: Vices & Virtues

The Christian practice of listing vices and virtues has a long history, going back at least to the times of the very early desert monks in the fourth and fifth centuries. As they cultivated their little patches of land in order to sustain themselves, they also cultivated their bodies and souls to make them as fruitful as they could. Later, medieval Christian manuscripts featured the motif of the ‘virtue garden’, in which the virtues (usually seven) are shown as trees, being watered by prayer.

Christianity, like Judaism, likes having things in sevens. The sixth-century Pope Gregory the Great codified what he thought of as the seven ’capital’ sins—the vices from which all other wrongdoings flow—establishing what we still commonly refer to today as the seven ‘deadly’ sins. The list has varied a little over time. Some vices have dropped out and others have been dropped in. But overall, it has been remarkably consistent.

There has also been variety in the seven virtues Christians have listed for special consideration and imitation. Some lists are based on Jesus’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (‘the Beatitudes’); some were developed to describe specific antidotes to each of the capital vices; and one was a combination of four ‘cardinal’ virtues, celebrated in ancient classical philosophy as well as in Jewish and Christian tradition—Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude—with the three ‘theological’ virtues outlined by St Paul in 1 Corinthians 13—Faith, Hope, and Love.

Read more

2023 Highlights at St. Peter’s

This is a topical summary. We have another page that is a chronological listing of 2023 events with table of contents with links to the events.

The highlights can be grouped as follows:

A. New ministry
God’s Garden
Chancellors Village
Advent Worskhop

B. New expressions in ministry
Stewardship tree
Lent -Stations of the Cross in the graveyard and more services

C. Expanded and revised ministries
Mission trip to Jamaica
Anniversary Village Harvest Food Ministry
Sacred Ground revised
ECM (Episcopal Church Men) end of year expanded donations and use of an art auction.
Community – Prayer service, Outside Christmas pageant, Work with community organizations
Key parishioner volunteering
ECW (Episcopal Church Women) projects

D. Music provided new delights
Easter, the summer and Christmas
Blue grass concert

E. Losses connected with two historic trees and two heating systems.

1. New ministry – God’s Garden

A new ministry debuted Sept 17, 2023. God’s Garden for 5 to 9 year olds began with 4 children and two experienced teachers, Elizabeth Heimbach, the originator of the class and Jan Saylor.

One of the first activities was to “God’s Garden” which explored what it meant to be a saint, today (Oct. 1, 2023) for St. Francis Day on Oct. 4. As an example they told the story of St. Francis taming the Wolf of Gubbio. Then, they made Pet blessings with treats to give out in church to make pets happy on St. Francis Day, Oct. 4.

2. Expanded ministry in Jamaica

Even before the mission began, we hosted Annette Steele, principal of Victoria Primary School who enjoyed a full day at St. Peter’s on Sun, Aug. 13. She addressed the church at announcements about our joint mission to help the students in her elementary school get ready for school in Sept, both in 2021 and 2023. She explained how much it meant to the students and her community.

After the service, she enjoyed St. Peter’s hospitality at a luncheon and met our parishioners and guests.

The group of 3 on the mission team distributed our donations in Jamaica on Aug. 26

We not only brought the usual school supplies but added 6 tablets. Separately, 7 used computers were donated to a school that had never had a computer.  

There were different ways of distributing the items.  There were contests for tablets and food baskets won by answering questions. Certificates given out based on merit overall and in areas like math. A number of students won $1,000 Jamaican dollars for math competency. Teachers were not forgotten – 2 footballs were given out to the coach!

3. Village Harvest ended its 9th year and began its 10th year in August, 2023 and ended the year serving the most people since 2019.

For the year, we recovered from a slow 1st quarter, 2023 and ended the year serving 1,063 people compared to 1,051 in 2022. It was the best yearly total since 2019.

Unfortunately, the same trend overall wasn’t present with food. Food increased from 2021 to 2022 (14,303 to 15,302 pounds) but dipped to 13,859 pounds in 2023. The first quarter was the problem. We had 2,913 pounds in that quarter compared over 4,000 for 2022 and 2021.

As a result, pounds provided per individual dropped from 14.56 in 2022 to 13.04. In 2021, it was in the same range at 14.32. Overall, pounds per individual are substantially higher since 2019 than in earlier periods.

The 2023 collection on Giving Tuesday, Nov 28 of $1,205 was the highest Giving Tuesday figure since 2019 and provides over 5 months of support for purchasing food for 2024

4. Sacred Ground revised their scholarship program

Representatives from Sacred Ground met with Jessica Thompson, Executive Director of the Germanna Educational Foundation, for lunch at Castiglias in Fredericksburg on Oct. 10, 2023.  The goal was to determine how we could move forward with a new focus on our scholarships for students.

Sacred Ground voted unanimously by email in early December to fund the recommendation forwarded by Jessica Thompson at Germanna for scholarships for students entering the trades. Each student is “in financial need and from underserved populations.” The $2,700 would be split equally to pay for their training.

Each student owes approximately $1,500 for the classes to complete the training. We will pay for the additional expense for each student through additional scholarship funds

They also toured Patawomeck Village in November. The goal of the visit was to understand their history and culture as well as our role

Earlier, the Sacred Ground group had the pleasure of meeting with Alanna Gray (beside Catherine), and her mother and grandmother (opposite Alanna) at Cuppa Cheer in February

Read more

St. Peter’s Endowment Fund – An end of the year gift to the Church

Consider a gift to the St. Peter’s Endowment Fund this year by Dec. 17. If you have not taken your IRA minimum distribution, this would be a good fund to consider. It’s tax deductible These funds, which are invested, will help assure financial security for St Peter’s for years to come. Money from the fund can be used for the future maintenance of the buildings in the future and also for outreach projects that the church may take on. On your check, just designate the “Endowment Fund” in the memo line.

Giving to the Endowment Fund also offers some tax advantages. You can donate stock which is sold by the church with the proceeds going into the Endowment Fund. There are no capital gains for you and you can get a deduction for the appreciated value of the stock. Supporting St Peter’s in this way can increase your tax deduction and not your tax bill.

You can also go further and add a percentage of your estate which is taken off the total estate when computing estate tax.

For details consult one of the trustees, Johnny Davis, Ken Pogue or Ben Hicks.

 

Click the button to donate to Giving Tuesday in honor of the Village Harvest on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.

You can also send a check by mail or donate on Sunday in the plate:

St. Peter’s Church P. O. Box 399 Port Royal, Virginia 22535

St. Francis celebration – Remembering a Christmas play, 2015

Pictures of the play

Videos of the play

The script

St. Peter’s play is not just an original play for children but for the entire congregation. And it was certainly true when entire families were coopted to help prepare a Mass for St. Francis. He wanted to see the birth of Jesus with his own eyes.

This play was different in that it was not set in Bethlehem but 13th century Italy. Part of the fun was to see how St. Peter’s family names were converted into an Italian script. Helmut made it work playing Giovanni that loveable guy who wanted to turn the village upside down preparing a wonderful mass for St. Francis. He made you believe he was making it happen.

6 families he was able to convince to participate in the mass were the following -Alexandros Long, Davissimos, Foxittis, Felicianos, Fishuttis, and Pogmattis. What a convincing guy ! No one turned him down. Clarence as St. Francis was a perfect look a like for St. Francis. He could easily blend in with the monks.

We had 54 to see this wonderful play on a brisk late fall day (last day of fall) under clear skies and broad sunlight.

Lectionary Pentecost 18, Proper 21, Year A, Oct 1, 2023

I.Theme –   Look carefully at the vineyard you are cultivating!

 "Vineyards with view of Auvers" – Van Gogh (1890)

The lectionary readings are here or individually:

Old Testament – Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm – Psalm 80:7-14 Page 703, BCP
Epistle –Philippians 3:4b-14
Gospel – Matthew 21:33-46

The main motif in 3 of the 4 readings is about the vineyard which beginning in the Old Testament refers to Israel and by the Gospel to those tending it. Corruption is evident in Israel in the 8th Century BC and in 30AD with Christ. In Christ time the vineyard represents all places where we have been called by God to produce the fruits of the kingdom.  The real villains move from Israel as a country to specific groups cited by Matthew.

The Isaiah reading is one of the oldest parables in the Bible. This song of the vineyard is a parable and a prophetic attack on corrupt Israel. It begins as a love song, singing of a deep love that is giving and caring, moves on to convey disillusionment, and then to express anger and a withdrawal of love and care. The coming destruction (verses 5-6) results from the people’s failure to do what God "expected," and more literally and poignantly, what God "hoped for" (verses 2, 4, 7).  God doesn’t destroy the vineyard directly. Instead, what he described was simply the removal of his care and protection of the vineyard, the careful work done earlier.

Read more

Summer films

1. The Letter

Interfaith Power and Light is partnering with the Laudato Si’ movement to bring the documentary film about climate change, “The Letter,” to congregations this summer.

The Letter tells story of the Laudato Si’ environmanals encyclical letter by Pope Francis issued in 2015, through the eyes from frontline leaders battling the ecological crisis across continents. Laudato Si means “Praise be to you” which is the first line of a canticle by St. Francis that praises God with all of his creation.

Featured in the film are a variety of speakers on the topic: Arouna Kandé, a climate refugee in Senegal; Cacique Dadá, an environmental defender and leader of the Maró Indigenous territory in the Brazilian Amazon; Ridhima Pandey, a youth climate activist from India; and Greg Asner and Robin Martin, biologists studying coral reefs in Hawaii.

The film features exclusive footage from their encounter with Pope Francis, alongside the personal stories and scientific findings throughout the documentary.

Trailer
Full film

2. Sabbath

Read more

“October” – Robert Frost

October

 BY ROBERT FROST

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Photo Gallery of early fall color, Oct., 2016

Christmas articles

Christmas , December 25, 2022

Explore Christmas Eve– A study of the scriptures, art and the meaning of the Christmas Scriptures.

Explore the Art of the Nativity   How the Nativity has been viewed by artists

Rediscovering the love of God this Christmas- a one minute video from the Acts8Movement of the Episcopal Church 

 

Origins of 30 Christmas Carols

 

Unlikely Christmas Carols: Bruce Cockburn’s “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 .

For more David Lose writing about the Christmas Eve and Christmas readings, check out the “Christmas sermon I need to hear.”

“Space in the Manger”

by Meghan Cotter. Meghan is executive director of Micah Ecumenical Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit that offers holistic care to the community’s street homeless

“Some time back, I watched a friend in need attempt to repair five years worth of disintegrating relationships. The library, a local gymnasium, a number of area businesses and even her family had cut off ties in response to her boisterously disruptive behavior.

” She’d picked up criminal charges—a few nuisance violations, a trespassing or two and an assault on an officer. At times, even the agencies trying to help her had been left with little choice than dismissing her from their facilities. But the more the community isolated her, the more volatile became her symptoms. She grew angrier and louder. Her self-appointment as the spokesperson for her homeless peers turned radical, even threatening. Feeling ignored and stripped of personhood, she waltzed into a church one Sunday, intent on being heard. Just in time for the sermon she rose from the congregation, rolled out a sleeping bag and unleashed a number of choice words to convey the plight of Fredericksburg’s homeless.

” The following morning, the church pastor faced a critical decision. In the interest of safety for his congregation, he too considered banning her from his church building. Instead, he made up his mind to find a way to help this woman. By the end of the week, she was hospitalized and taking medications. Within the month she had stepped down to Micah’s respite home, which cares for homeless individuals when they are discharged from the hospital. She realized how sick she really was, and a new person emerged before our eyes. She reunited with family, paid off fines, regained her driver’s license, became remarkably motivated to comply with doctor’s appointments. She set goals—seeking disability, but only temporarily, going back to school, earning a nursing degree and finding a way to productively address the needs of the community’s homeless.

Read More…


“Christmas on the Edge”
– Malcolm Guite

Christmas sets the centre on the edge;
The edge of town, the outhouse of the inn,
The fringe of empire, far from privilege
And power, on the edge and outer spin
Of turning worlds, a margin of small stars
That edge a galaxy itself light years
From some unguessed at cosmic origin.
Christmas sets the centre at the edge.

And from this day our world is re-aligned
A tiny seed unfolding in the womb
Becomes the source from which we all unfold
And flower into being. We are healed,
The end begins, the tomb becomes a womb,
For now in him all things are re-aligned.


Alexander Shaia – “Solstice, Shepherds & Your Animal Spirit”

Alexander Shaia is the author of Heart and Mind: The Four-Gospel Journey for Radical Transformation. A number of years we read the book together in Christian ed.

In this video he is talking about the shepherds in Luke’s Gospel. The video starts at the 2:42 mark to get to his main message:

You can read portions of the transcribed text here

“The text is really primarily about your life whenever your life is in the deepest night, when your life is in the deepest dark.”

“The Beauty of the Shepherds story in Luke is that it tells about the journey we make hearing deep in the night of our life an angel announce that there is a birth but that we have make a journey through the night to the dawn where we will see with our own eyes that fresh radiance born before us.”


A Christmas Message from Bishop Goff – “Where is this stupendous stranger?” 

Link to the video

“So I invite us all to a spiritual discipline in this holy season and that is to spend ome time with someone you don’t ordinarily engage…maybe someone of a different generation either much older or much younger than you or someone of a different race or ethnicity, a different culture or religion, a different economic circumstance.

“Have a cup of coffee together or a meal together, talk and listen deeply. Look for the face of Christ in that person. Because as we come to really know a stranger in our midst we welcome Christ who was himself a stranger and we find surprising connections that we never imagined with other natives of this world God made.


Christmas Eve , December 24, 1968, at the Moon with Apollo 8

53 years ago on Christmas Eve we witnessed the moving reading of the first 10 verses of Genesis for the largest audience up to that time. They were told to something appropriate. The astronauts have reflected on the event. A newspaper friend of Borman tried to think of what to say and he could come up with nothing after a night’s work. His wife said (raised in convent in France) suggested, “Why don’t you start in the beginning” He said “Where?”. She said “Genesis in the Bible.” They reflected later – “Why didn’t we think of that.” Borman explained they tried to convey not happen stance but power behind world and behind life gave it meaning. As he later explained, “I had an enormous feeling that there had to be a power greater than any of us-that there was a God, that there was indeed a beginning.”

The full story is here