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.

A Weekful of Saints!

Collect for this week – “Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

June 25th – Nativity of John the Baptist

The Birth of John the Baptist, or Nativity of the Forerunner) is a Christian feast day celebrating the birth of John the Baptist, a prophet who foretold the coming of the Messiah in the person of Jesus and who baptized Jesus. The day of a Saint’s death is usually celebrated as his or her feast day, but Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist, while not being exceptions to this rule also have feast days that celebrate their earthly birth. The reason is that St. John (Luke 1:15), like the Blessed Virgin, was purified from original sin before his very birth (in Catholic doctrine), though not in the instant of conception as in the latter case.

June 28 – Irenaeus

Irenaeus (125?-202) was an early Church father, having been taught by Polycarp, who had been taught by John the Evangelist.

 During the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor from 161-180 the clergy of that city, many of whom were suffering imprisonment for the faith, sent him in 177 to Rome with a letter to Pope Eleuterus concerning heresy.  While Irenaeus was in Rome, a massacre took place in Lyons. Returning to Gaul, Irenaeus succeeded the martyr Saint Pothinus and became the second Bishop of Lyon, the main trading port for Western Gaul (France). During the religious peace which followed the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the new bishop divided his activities between the duties of a pastor and of a missionary.

We remember him for two things – his work against Gnosticism and the recognition of the four gospels. He apparently did well there, becoming an influential leader against the rising heterodoxy Gnosticism. He first used the word to describe heresies . The Gnostics saw the world as material, and leaves much room for improvement and they denied that God had made it. They saw Jesus more as a spirit than a real flesh human . Before Irenaeus, Christians differed as to which gospel they preferred. Irenaeus is the earliest witness to recognize the four authentic gospels, the same we have today. Irenaeus is also our earliest attestation that the Gospel of John was written by John the apostle and that the Gospel of Luke was written by Luke, the companion of Paul. 

June 29 – Feast of Peter and Paul

The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul commemorates the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles St. Peter and Paul of Tarsus, observed on June 29. The celebration is of ancient origin, the date selected being either the anniversary of their martyrdom in 67AD or of the translation of their relics. They had been imprisoned in the famous Mamertine Prison of Rome and both had foreseen their approaching death. Saint Peter was crucified; Saint Paul, a Roman citizen, was slain by the sword.  Together they represent two different Christian traditions.

Why do we remember them ? Peter is pictured on the left with the keys – the keys to the kingdom. In Matthew 16, Christ says ” And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” They keys since then have been symbols of Papal power.  Peter represents that part of the Church which gives it stability: its traditions handed down in an unbroken way from the very beginnings, the structures which help to preserve and conserve those traditions, the structure which also gives consistency and unity to the Church, spread as it is through so many races, cultures, traditions, and geographical diversity

Paul is pictured with the Bible. He, on the other hand, represents the prophetic and missionary role in the Church. It is that part of the Church which constantly works on the edge, pushing the boundaries of the Church further out, not only in a geographical sense but also pushing the concerns of the Church into neglected areas of social concern and creatively developing new ways of communicating the Christian message. This is the Church which is constantly renewed, a Church which needs to be constantly renewed 

Commentary, June 26, 2022, Pentecost 3

The 2019 sermon was derived mostly from Psalm 16 is about “True Freedom”, apropos with July 4 coming up this week.

“True freedom is from God, the gift that God has freely given us through the liberating life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus…

“In Psalm 16, the psalmist helpfully describes the true freedom that comes from knowing and living as if God really is our Lord.

“When God is our portion and our cup, we will never go hungry.

“When we accept God’s gifts to us, we dwell in God. Even if we have no place to lay our heads on this earth, we are at home in God and cared for by God.

“When we bless the Lord, who gives us counsel, we come to know God’s wisdom, because God teaches our hearts, so that we are no longer are held captive by or distressed by the erratic and unpredictable tyranny of human wisdom that is uninformed by God’s love.

“When people betray us and those tools of anger and revenge seem to be the only way out of our prisons of resentment and distress, remembering that the Lord is always with us will keep us from falling on our own swords as we try to take out our enemies.

“Therefore, the psalmist says that even in the worries and sorrows of this life, “my heart, therefore is glad, and my spirit rejoices; and my body rests in hope.”

Our readings this week are about focusing on the mission of establishing God’s kingdom presence in the world in contrast to a focus on one’s own desires and in an atmosphere of great change. Rev. Canon Lance Ousley of the Diocese of Olympia has said this about today’s readings. “Stewardship is not only about the giving of one’s self and one’s resources, but it is also about living our lives “by the Spirit” devoted each day to the presence of God’s kingdom here and now through sharing ourselves and our resources for this purpose. For those who do, they will find the nearness of God’s kingdom come on earth.”

The readings show different responses to change. In the Old Testament reading, Elisha accepts the mantle of leadership from Elijah whose mission was soon to be over which he did not complain about. He seems sanguine about it. We sang today the hymn in Levas “Trust and Obey” relevant for this scripture. In the Gospel passage while Jesus knew what lay ahead in Jerusalem, the disciple did not and this became a learning process but it wasn’t as smooth in the Old Testament reading. Discipleship was not for cowards. Paul is the consumate teacher spelling out the role of disciples in the reading from Galatians and what is not discipleship. Discipleship is “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Discipleship is NOT “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.”

The Gospel reading begins a large section of Luke’s gospel, the great travel narrative (9:51–18:14) telling of Jesus’ journey from Galilee through Samaria towards Jerusalem. Today’s selection, which is filled with explicit and implicit references to Elijah, continues to broaden the sense in which Jesus was perceived as a prophet.

It is the turning point of Luke’s account, where Jesus “resolutely set his face toward Jerusalem” and his destiny there. Luke packs the passage with explicit and symbolic statements about the costs of being Jesus’ disciple, in view of Jesus’ journey toward his death. To prepare us for hearing the gospel challenge, the church recalls the call to discipleship of Elisha.

Anything but Ordinary! Ordinary Time

Ordinary TimeBeginning on Pentecost 2, we enter the Church year known as Ordinary Time. After Easter, Jesus’s ascension into heaven, and the coming of the Holy Spirit to us at Pentecost, we accept responsibility for being and becoming Christ’s body in the world. We are called by Jesus to live in community, our lives together guided not only by the example of Jesus, but by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Basically, Ordinary Time encompasses that part of the Christian year that does not fall within the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter. Ordinary Time is anything but ordinary. According to The General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, the days of Ordinary Time, especially the Sundays, “are devoted to the mystery of Christ in all its aspects.” We continue our trek through the both the Gospels of Luke and John- through parables challenges, healings – some great stories and teachings.  

Vestments are usually green, the color of hope and growth. Green has long been associated with new life and growth. Even in Hebrew in the Old Testament, the same word for the color “green” also means “young.” The green of this season speaks to us as a reminder that it is in the midst of ordinary time that we are given the opportunity to grow. 

Ordinary Time, from the word “ordinal,” simply means counted time (First Sunday after Pentecost, etc.). we number the Sundays from here on out in order from the First Sunday after Pentecost, all the way up to the Last Sunday after Pentecost The term “ordinary time” is not used in the Prayer Book, but the season after Pentecost can be considered ordinary. 

The Church counts the thirty-three or thirty-four Sundays of Ordinary Time, inviting her children to meditate upon the whole mystery of Christ – his life, miracles and teachings – in the light of his Resurrection.

You may see Sundays referred to as “Propers”. The Propers are readings for Ordinary Time following Epiphany and Pentecost, numbered to help establish a seven day range of dates on which they can occur. Propers numbering in the Revised Common Lectionary begins with the Sixth Sunday in Epiphany, excludes Sundays in Lent through Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, and resumes the Second Sunday after Pentecost (the first Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday), usually with Proper 4. 

In some ways, it might be right to think of this time as “ordinary”, common or mundane. Because this is the usual time in the church, the time that is not marked by a constant stream of high points and low points, ups and downs, but is instead the normal, day-in, day-out life of the church. This time is a time to grapple with the nuts and bolts of our faith, not coasting on the joy and elation of Christmas, or wallowing in the penitential feel of Lent, but instead just being exactly where we are, and trying to live our faith in that moment.  

It is a reminder of the presence of God in and through the most mundane and ordinary seasons of our lives. . It is a reminder that when God came and lived among us in the person of Jesus Christ, he experienced the same ordinary reality that we all experience. And that God, in Christ, offered us the opportunity to transform the most ordinary, mundane experiences into extraordinary events infused with the presence of God. God is there, present in the midst of the ordinary, just waiting for us to recognize it.  

Only when the hustle and bustle of Advent, Easter, and Lent has calmed down can we really focus on what it means to live and grow as Christians in this ordinary time in this ordinary world. It is a time to nurture our faith with opportunities for fellowship and reflection. It is a time to feed and water our faith with chances for education and personal study. It is a time to weed and prune our faith, cutting off the parts that may be dead and leaving them behind. And we have a lot of growing to do, so God has given us most of the church year in which to do it.