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.

Matthew’s Infancy Stories for Advent

Matthew’s Infancy Stories, Nov. 20, 27, Dec. 4, 11 – online

Adoration of the Magi (1481) – Leonardo da Vinci

Last year at Advent there was Luke’s account of the birth of Christ. This year the lectionary switches to Matthew’s Gospel so we will consider his version.

Matthew’s Christmas story is much shorter than Luke. It is different – no angels, shepherds, instead a star and visitors from the East. Jesus is born in a house, not a stable. Where Mary is the focus in Luke, it is Joseph who dominates Matthew’s account. Luke is more about joy. In particular Matthew brings up the theme of conflict with Herod trying to destroy Jesus and the Holy family’s trek to Egypt and back.

Both stories of Jesus’ birth are about fulfillment and both use light effectively in their works.

We will look at Matthew Chapter 1 and 2 over 4 weeks  two weeks for each chapter online published for each Sunday

Nov 20, Nov. 27- Matthew, Chapter 1

Dec. 4, Dec. 11 – Matthew, Chapter 2

There are two major purposes:

->What did Matthew’s story mean to 1st century Christians? Much of Matthew’s account is a fulfilment of Old Testament scripture. Matthew took liberally from these sources.

-> How is Jesus represented as the “New Moses” who relives the history of Israel? ->How do the Magi represent the role of the Gentiles? ->Why is it important that Jesus returns to Nazareth?

->What does it mean to us today? One writer has simply said “the purpose of Advent and Christmas is to bring the past into the present”  

Lectionary, Nov. 13, 2022 -Pentecost 23

I.Theme –   Emphasizing the Divine over the Secular

 "Pantocrator – Christ"  -El Greco, 1600

This portrait is of Christ as the ruler, the resurrected presence, who in God form, speaks to us. The scripture reading for today from Luke is a hard one, in which Jesus warns his disciples of hard tests ahead. This painting provides a vision of a savior who will sustain, and in the end, triumph over suffering and death. 

The lectionary readings (Proper 28) are here  or individually: 

Old Testament – Malachi 4:1-2a 
Psalm – Psalm 98 Page 727, 728 BCP 
Epistle –2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 
Gospel – Luke 21:5-19 

This week begins apocalyptic readings that will continue through Advent 1. The faithful are the targets, here. What to do in contemporary crises? Don’t panic, Don’t give up the work you have been doing. Praise God and relish in his power and majesty.  The tone of the readings coincide with the increasing darkness and shorter days in this season.   

The readings are to counter the problem of the delayed return of Christ. Paul expected the second coming of Jesus very soon, initially certainly in his lifetime. However as the event was delayed, some used Paul’s writing as abandononing his work.

The Old Testament reading of Malachi provides speeches in dialogue style, where the prophet scolds the priests and the congregation about various malpractices and against tired religious scepticism. This passage seems a conclusion of these speeches contrasting the fate of the evil doers with those of the obedient faithful, destruction for the first and healing for the second.  

The best is yet to come as shown in Psalm and the Gospel

A second theme is God’s power and magesty which will be the heart of next Sunday. This best seen in the Psalm This psalm is an eschatological hymn, culminating in shouts of praise at the coming of God, the ruler of the world and all creation to judge the world with justice and fairness. Only a new song can begin to describe the wonders of God’s power.

Just as 2 Thessalonians admonishes us not to grow tired in doing good, so Luke reminds us today to look at hardship and persecution as a chance to tell the gospel, the good news. Jesus tells us again: Do not be afraid! Not a single hair of our heads will be lost and standing firm will bring us through the trouble and to life.

The when and how of Christ’s second coming is not our concern. What is our concern is the faithfulness with which we pray, sing, tell and live love until he comes.   

II. Summary

Old Testament

Malachi was a Jewish prophet in the Hebrew Bible. Malachi, most scholars assign it to a position between Haggai and Zechariah,  slightly before Nehemiah came to Jerusalem in 445 BCE.

The book of Malachi was written to correct the lax religious and social behaviour of the Israelites – particularly the priests – in post-exilic Jerusalem. Although the prophets urged the people of Judah and Israel to see their exile as punishment for failing to uphold their covenant with Yahweh, it was not long after they had been restored to the land and to Temple worship that the people’s commitment to their God began, once again, to wane. It was in this context that the prophet commonly referred to as Malachi delivered his prophecy.

Malachi also criticizes his audience for questioning God’s justice. He reminds them that God is just, exhorting them to be faithful as they await that justice. Malachi quickly goes on to point out that the people have not been faithful. In fact, the people are not giving God all that God deserves. Just as the priests have been offering unacceptable sacrifices, so the people have been neglecting to offer their full tithe to the Lord. The result of these shortcomings is that the people come to believe that no good comes out of serving God

4:1. The coming day of judgment will clarify the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, for the wicked will be consumed by fire, they will be annihilated.

v2. In that day, those under God’s grace will be bathed with a gift of right-standing in the sight of God. This righteousness, like warm rays of the sun, will enable them to stand forgiven and eternally accepted in the sight of God. Like calves released from a stall, they will leap free, eternally free from guilt, self and fear.

v3. The remnant will then take up their task of ruling with the messiah, executing judgment on his behalf

For Israel in Malachi’s day, there was a pervading sense that piety mattered little to God. In fact, it was felt that pragmatic self-sufficiency was more likely to promote success than a piety that attempted to apply Biblical principles. Yet, there was a remnant of the people who did not hold with this thinking. For this remnant, there is a coming day when the difference between right and wrong will become manifest. In that day, the self-sufficient will be totally consumed, annihilated, while the children of grace will receive the crown of salvation; they will be redeemed as if bathed in the healing rays of the sun. When this day dawns, it will be those counted righteous before God who will reign, while the self-sufficient will stand condemned. It is then the difference will become manifest.

The prophet encourages us to give greater weight to a divine Word than a secular pragmatic, even though the distinction between the two must await the last day, the day when Christ will cover us like the warming rays of the sun. Meanwhile, we can only but rest on the Lord and his promise that he will put all things right.


Psalm 98 is part of a little cluster of Psalms (93 through 99) whose primary theme is: "The Lord reigns! The Lord is King!"

Psalm 98 is a song of praise, which is made up of three parts: vv. 1-3; 4-6 and 7-9. The psalm’s major focus is a call to praise. The praise of God is focused around God’s coming and presence, and God’s reign. God is declared to be the king in v. 6b, and is portrayed as judging, or setting right the world in v. 9.

There is also celebration of God’s victory, salvation and steadfast love towards the house of Israel (especially in vv. 1-3). These too are integral parts of the reign of God.

Worshippers are invited to sing “a new song” marking new evidence of God’s rule. With truth (“right hand”) and power, he has won the “victory”, i.e. salvation, saving acts – for his people Israel. (Note the emphasis on “victory”: the word occurs three times in vv. 1-3.) He has triumphed over all who seek to overthrow his kingdom. All peoples can see that Israel is right in trusting him (“vindication”, v. 2). Then v. 3: as he did when the Israelites groaned under oppression in Egypt (Exodus 2:24), he now remembers his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – to lead them and protect them. All peoples will see his saving acts. (These verses are in the past tense, but a scholar points out that the reference is to a future event.)

The second stanza (vv. 4–6) calls on the whole human world to take part in the celebration, with a focus on music as the “joyful noise,” and a listing of instruments, similar to but shorter than the list in Psalm 150.

Vv. 4-8 call on all creation (“earth”, “sea”, “floods” and “hills”) to acknowledge and be joyful in God’s rule. Per v. 7b, people of all lands are invited to join in. God’s coming to “judge the world” (v. 9b) will be a truly marvellous event. He will judge us, but his judgement will be perfectly fair and equitable, for he is righteous

In vv. 7-9 the call to praise is extended beyond the human realm, to include the whole earth in the praise of God: seas roar, floods clap and hills sing. Some of these elements were seen in the ancient world as enemies of God (especially the seas and floods) but clearly here even those things traditionally thought of as negative or chaotic, now lend their voices to the chorus of praise of God. The psalm concludes by rounding off the reason for praise with reference to God’s judging the earth and its peoples. Often God’s judgment is seen in a negative light but it ought not necessarily be considered so. His judgment in righteousness and equity (v. 9) is not only a statement of abstract qualities upon which God makes determinations but the very things God brings to the peoples in that judgment.


Paul concentrates on single contemporary issue: the problem of idleness in the community. The author argues that this behavior a response to end times represents an abandonment of the true Pauline tradition which had been handed down to them (3:6), which is here reiterated in no uncertain terms. Just as Paul taught and exemplified, while awaiting the end times believers are to work for their living, and quietly engage in a life of good works.

The author comes to the concluding section of his letter, written to counter the false belief that Christ will come again soon. Writing in Paul’s name, he has asked all members of the church at Thessalonica to pray for him and for those who work with him “so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly” (v. 1), and that they may be rescued from those who oppose God’s ways, especially those who teach falsehoods. God will “strengthen … and guard” (v. 3) members of the community from the Devil. May Christ direct them to love for God and to “the steadfastness of Christ” (v. 5).

Now the author orders the members to avoid those who, believing that the era will end soon, “are living in idleness” (v. 6) – probably living off the material support of others and failing to spread Christ’s message. There is a suggestion they are disorderly.They also fail to adhere to the “tradition”, the teachings handed down from the apostles. Paul (“us”) is proposed as an example to imitate: he had the “right” (v. 9) to be financially supported by the community (thus freeing him to spend all his time spreading the good news) yet he earned his living (as a tentmaker). V. 10b is strong language! It has been reported that those who are idle are in fact “busybodies” (v. 11), disturbing others and meddling in their affairs. If any continue to preach the imminent arrival of Christ or continue to be idle (“do not obey …”, v. 14), avoid them and shame them (perhaps they will see the error of their ways). Even so, love them as members of the community (v. 15). In vv. 16-18, the author prays that his readers may have Christ’s peace, and certifies the letter as genuine.


Our reading is from the last story about Jesus teaching in the Temple.

Hearing a comment about the magnificence of the Temple, Jesus declares that the day is coming when "not one stone will be left upon another." The disciples ask what sign will herald this event. Messianic signs are the stuff of millennial speculation, and signs there will be, but for Jesus’ disciples, let there be discernment and patience.  Luke, writing in the 80’s, knew about the destruction of the temple in 70AD.

He foretells its destruction (“thrown down”, v. 6) – an event then some 40 years in the future. At that time, Roman legions (“armies”, v. 20) surrounded the city. In Jesus’ time, people were concerned about when the world would end, and what signs would indicate “this is about to take place” (v. 7). Jesus begins to answer, in terms drawn from prophetic books (Micah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Joel, vv. 8-11) and brought together in contemporary books (e.g. 2 Esdras). He adds “the end will not follow immediately” (v. 9), and then diverts to issues that matter now: the treatment his followers will receive, and how they should react to it (vv. 12-19). (“The time”, v. 8, is the time chosen by God for the end of the era.)

 v5-6. The temple was completely rebuilt from 19BC to 64AD. It was massive, consisting of white limestone with gold and silver inlay. Josephus, a Jewish historian at the time, said it looked like a snow-capped mountain. It was totally destroyed during the conquest of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD.  

v7. The disciples ask what sign will herald the destruction of the temple. In Matthew’s gospel they also ask about the end of the age. Jesus goes on to answer their question.

v8-11. Natural calamities and political upheaval are signs of the age, but they are not signs of the end. The disciples are not to be led astray by false messiahs using signs to prove their messianic credentials.

v12. During (rather than "before") the signs of the age, believers will be persecuted.

v13-15. This will be a time of testimony (gospel proclamation) for believers. Disciples will be given the words that are both wise and powerful, for they are Jesus’ words. Mark, in 13:11, refers to the Holy Spirit as the source of these words.

v16-18. Although persecuted and killed, even at the hands of family members, "not a hair of your head will perish" – a promise of spiritual protection, cf.12:4-7.

v19. Endurance shows that a disciple is truly grafted in Christ through faith; it shows that the word is not sown in shallow ground, cf.8:13.

Jesus reveals to his disciples that he will be taken from them, but he will return. During the interim, believers must not to be taken in by false messiahs who announce particular dates for the end of the age, or who claim special powers. Nor should they get overly concerned by political strife or natural disasters. People are always using these events as predictive signs, but they are nothing more than the death-pangs of a dying world.

These signs of the age serve as a time for testimony. During this time the church is to witness to Christ in gospel proclamation. The message we have to proclaim is both powerful and self-authenticating – Spirit empowered. The Lord has given us the content of the message and the wherewithal to achieve its end.

Yet, this age is winding down to a climax and there is one particular sign which will herald its end. This is the sign of the abomination of desolation. This sign, said Jesus, will herald the end of the restored kingdom of Israel. In 68AD the state of Israel rebelled against Rome. This resulted in the siege of Jerusalem and its destruction in 70AD. The sign will also herald the end of the present age of the Christian church.

Sermon, Nov. 13, 2022 – Pentecost 23 – the Day of the Lord


Sermon, Proper 28, Year C 2022

Luke 21:5-19, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Psalm 98; Malachi 4:1-2a

Scripture describes the Day of the Lord as a cosmic, universal event, a time of terror, destruction, wars, and natural disasters that will take place before God’s reign on earth is fully realized. 

This understanding of The Day of the Lord also informs our understanding of the second coming of Christ, when Jesus will return in glory, vanquishing evil and bringing the fullness of God’s love, peace and rule to this earth. 

In the weeks before Advent, and during Advent itself, the lectionary presents us with various Day of the Lord passages that serve as signs of Jesus’ second coming on this earth. 

For after all, in the season of Advent, we are waiting and preparing not only for the birth of Jesus, God coming into the world as one of us, to live and die as one of us, but we are also waiting and preparing for Jesus to return in glory and for God’s reign of peace on this earth to at last become a reality.      

The Day of the Lord is a big theological idea that is interesting, but we’ve been waiting now for over 2000 years and Jesus has still not returned.

So I’m left to wonder.  Why continue to give so much attention to this concept? 

At least this idea of The Day of the Lord and the return of Jesus gives us hope that at some point, God will carry out God’s ultimate plan for all of creation,  and despite the current evidence to the contrary, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well, as St Julian of Norwich says. 

But for me, here’s the real down to earth value of the Day of the Lord. 

The Day of the Lord helps us to make sense of difficult times in our own lives, those times when  when the world turns upside down, and life as we knew it is gone, our emotional landscapes  are transformed and unrecognizable, we are disoriented, and can’t imagine how we’ll manage.  

The Covid pandemic had this feel to it for many people, especially early on, when the whole world shut down and no one could really predict what would happen next. 

The death of a beloved person in our lives can have this sort of impact. 

Or an unexpected incurable illness, or a divorce, and the list goes on. 

These times in our lives can be horrible and hopeless.  The feeling of isolation, betrayal, grief, and disorientation can turn the present into a desert of depression.  These times in our lives can bring debilitating anger and bitterness.  These times can bring a vast emptiness in which not even God seems to be present. 

Jesus says right up front in today’s gospel that these things are bound to happen, when our lives get turned upside down, when the things we thought were indestructible in our lives get torn apart, like the temple in Jerusalem, and there’s no way to build back what is gone. 

How depressing. 

But when we think of all these unwelcome changes as The Day of the Lord, then we can have hope! 

And here’s why. 

The Day of the Lord is a necessary, intermediate step from things as they were to what will be, a time when God’s power and love will transform everything from “death to life, from falsehood to truth, from despair to hope, from fear to trust, from hate to love, from war to peace,” as the World Peace prayer in The New Zealand Prayer Book reads.

That’s what the Day of the Lord is all about—Transformation!  Not just change for change’s sake, but transformation with purpose, transformation that leads to new life. 

Do these times in our lives wound and scar us?  Of course they do!  Remember the story of Jacob wrestling with God way back in Genesis?  After a night of struggle, daylight comes , the “man” wrestling with Jacob sees that he cannot be defeated.  He touches Jacob hip socket, wounding Jacob, and then asks to be released.     Jacob asks for a blessing first.  When the two part ways, Jacob, who has received a new name, Israel, goes limping off into the sunrise toward his reckoning with his brother Esau.  He has been scarred,  changed and transformed by the time of wrestling and reckoning with God.   

And then there’s Jesus.  God resurrected Jesus after Jesus died that horrific death on the cross, and we celebrate the resurrection on Easter Day and every time we gather round God’s table.  But we must never forget that Jesus himself, resurrected from the dead, was marked forever by The Day of the Lord that he experienced on the cross.  To prove to the disciples that he was no ghost when he appeared to them, he showed them his hands and his side.  Even in his resurrected body, he bore the scars of his death on the cross. 

How helpful this is to us, when we can go through the hard times in our lives knowing that on the other side of the struggle,  the side in which life, truth, hope, trust, love and peace will reign, we will still carry our scars.  They mark us as Christ’s own forever.    

Our scars become the markers that remind us of God’s power at work, the healing, loving power that is healing us and bringing  us out of death into life, an ongoing process of love that God carries out in our lives.    

Grief, that deep sorrow over what we have lost and will never have back in the form we have known, can feel like the Day of the Lord   I will never forget how Eunice cried so much yesterday at Roger’s funeral.  But what an example Eunice sets for us—like Jacob wrestling, like Jesus dying, Eunice just let herself be torn apart by her grief.   But Eunice could release herself into that grief because Eunice knows that Roger’s loss, which will mark her forever, is part of the transformation in which God carried Roger and will carry  us all out of death into new life.

The Day of the Lord reminds us that we must go through death to get to the life God has for us on the other side of death.  

All around us in the natural world, we see God’s creation, when we allow it to exist as God intended from the beginning, we see The Day of the Lord coming and going, leaving scars, bringing transformation. 

Something as commonplace as seeing a fallen tree in a walk through the woods—a tree that has died, and yet is bringing forth new life, helps us to think about transformation in our own lives.    I have seen tiny new trees growing out of rotting tree stumps.  And have you ever looked closely at a fallen log?  That log is covered with new life.  As funguses transform the log back into earth, mosses grow, creatures feed and find homes, and someday, although the log itself will be gone, new life has come in its place.  Nature is in a constant cycle of life, then death, then transformation into new life. Knowing that this transformation out of death into life is real is why even at the grave we can make our song—“Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!” 

So today’s passages are realistic.  Jesus does not mince words.  Hard times are ahead.  Destruction is inevitable and unavoidable.  The temple will be gone, natural disasters will take place, and the followers of Jesus will face persecution, betrayal and death. 

And yet, God will bring new life even out of death—and by their endurance, Jesus tells his followers, they will gain their souls. 

“So do not be led astray, do not be terrified but endure,” Jesus reminds his followers.  And Paul reminds the Thessalonians that while they wait, they are not to be weary in doing what is right.

The Old Testament prophet Malachi gives us one of the most hopeful and beautiful passages in all of scripture—”But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.” 

Like the sun rising over Jacob as he goes limping off to meet his brother, like the sunrise on Easter morning over an empty tomb, the sun of righteousness will also rise over us, burning away what has been and bringing to life what God intends to be. 

Hope!  New life!  God’s promise of what is ahead, even in the worst of times. 

That’s why Charles Wesley quotes Malachi in the magnificent hymn that we sing in church in what most of the world would consider as a weird Episcopalian custom, waiting to sing Christmas hymns until Christmas day, only after going through the season of Advent.  We wait in expectation and then we burst with celebration when the day of Jesus’ birth at last arrives. 

The third verse of “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” goes like this—

“Hail the heav’n born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings,

Ris’n with healing in his wings (there’s Malachi!)

Mild he lays his glory by,

Born that man no more may die,

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth,

Hark! The herald angels sing

“Glory to the newborn King!”  

So now, even as we endure The Day of the Lord, we can join with today’s psalmist as we sing to the Lord a new song, for we know that God has already won the victory, and that our healing and new births, and the healing and new birth of all creation will someday be complete.   “Love, the Lord, is on the way.”  



The 1982 Hymnal, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”

Wonder, Love and Praise, “People, look East”



Village Harvest Anniversary

Village Harvest. concluded our 8th year, Nov. 16~

Psalm 107:37 “And sow fields and plant vineyards, And gather a fruitful harvest.”

The Village Harvest ends its 8th year in November. The October, 2014 newsletter read as follows ” In an effort to make fresh food more available to those in our area in need of food, the ECW is going to head up a new project. Credit goes to Eunice for conceiving the name “Village Harvest.”

St Peter’s provides an opportunity for people in the area to come get fresh produce, meat, and assorted non-perishable items on the third Wednesday of each month.   The offerings change from month to month, depending on what’s available at the food bank. 

Thanks to the generosity of St Peter’s, not only are we able to provide food, but Catherine has also been able to use her discretionary fund to help these people in other ways.  

During the first  11 months of 2022, we have fed 970 people compared to 898 in the previous year during the same period.  The amount of food provided is about the same – 13,834 pounds for 2022 and 13,292 for 2021. Pounds per person, however, were higher in 2021 at 14.80 compared with 14.26 in the current year

Over the past 8 years we have distributed 107,822 pounds of food  for 9,978 people  or 10.8 pounds per person.

Sunday Links for Nov. 13, 2022

Fall in the graveyard

Nov. 13, 11:00am – Holy Eucharist

Nov. 13, Deadline for Thanksgiving gifts to the Episcopal Church Men (ECM)

Nov. 13, United Thankoffering (UTO) ongoing until Nov. 27

Nov. 13, Deadline for signing up for the Bethlehem Walk trip Sunday, Dec. 4 after church. See Catherine

Nov. 29, Giving Tuesday in support of the Village Harvest food ministry

  • Holy Eucharist, Sun. Nov. 13 YouTube link Nov. 13
  • Lectionary for Nov. 13, 2022, Pentecost 23, Nov. 13
  • Bulletin for Nov. 13, 2022, Bulletin
  • Sermon for Nov. 13, 2022, Sermon
  • Morning Meditation , Mon, Nov. 14, 6:30am Zoom link Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Nov. 16, 10am-12pm. Reading lectionary of Nov. 20, Christ the King
  • Village Harvest, Wed.,Nov. 16 , 3:00-5pm. Our 8th Anniversary
  • November, 2022 Newsletter
  • All articles for Nov. 13, 2022