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.

Youth Group, Sun Oct. 23

8 youth, Catherine and three parents met in the Parish House for a pizza dinner followed by discussions, music, in the church finally closing with Compline.

The discussions centered the role of Jesus in our lives and music in the temple. Some of the same instruments we use today were used then with music in the temple.

The youth brought their instruments. New combinations were explored – two trumpets together, a piano lead for singers.

Next month we will finalize the program which will occur on 4th Advent Dec. 18. Catherine will write a play to coincide with it. Compline was read at the end of the evening with the youth taking several of the readings.

Youth Group Oct. 23, 2022(full size gallery)

The Psalms and Music

Talking with Jesus

Reading Compline

Sermon, Oct. 23, 2022 – Pentecost 20

In one of America’s best loved pieces of literature, Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, get swept away from Kansas in a tornado and end up in the magical Land of Oz.  Dorothy meets some steadfast friends along the way as they all follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, where they hope to meet the wizard and have their wishes granted.  Dorothy’s wish is to get back home to Kansas. 

The person who wrote Psalm 84 longs to get home  to God’s house. The temple in Jerusalem serves as the pilgrim’s spiritual home, for God’s presence in that place is especially powerful.   After all, people have gathered there  over centuries to pray and to praise God.   In the temple,  the pilgrim hopes to encounter God more fully as the people offer sacrifices, ask for forgiveness, and pray and worship together. 

When the pilgrims finally reach the temple, what joy!  For in the temple, where even the birds come to rejoice in the living God, the pilgrims forget how hard the journey was.  They join in praise and thanksgiving for finally arriving at the longed for destination. They realize all over again that there is no other place in the world like this home in God where God welcomes us in.      

In addition to the poetic description of all of creation joining in praise to God in God’s house, the psalmist describes the journey to that house.     

Not only will the pilgrims making the journey find God present at their destination, but they will find God going all along the way with them as well.    

And God’s presence with them gives them the strength to make the journey. 

Now it’s our turn.  We are pilgrims, making our own journeys through this life.

Psalm 84 gives us some things to keep in mind as we travel.

Read the rest of the sermon.

Lectionary, Pentecost 25, October 23, 2022

I. Theme –  Seeking Virtue in Lowliness 

"The Pharisee and the Tax Collector"- Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)

The lectionary readings are here or individually:  

First Reading – Sirach 35:12-17   OR
First Reading – Jeremiah 14:7-10,19-22
Psalm – Psalm 84:1-6
Epistle – 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18
Gospel – Luke 18:9-14 

Today’s readings define lowliness and celebrate its virtue. Jeremiah speaks for God’s people, confessing their sin and pleading for God’s mercy. Paul looks forward to the reward of his many humble labors for the faith. In Jesus’ parable, two men come to pray but only the humble man leaves justified by God.

Our life of faith can be trying, at times seeming even meaningless. We feel the pressures around us and wonder where God is. Sometimes our own choices have taken us away from God; but God remains faithful to us. But it is up to us to turn back and see that God has been with us all along. We may leave God, but God cannot leave us. And if we stick with it, we will see that God has seen us through, all along.

Anne Lamott asserts that the essential elements of prayer are “Help, Thanks, and Wow.”  Today’s readings involve a litany of praise – a spiritual “wow” at the many ways God moves in our lives and the world.  God is always at work faithfully in the microcosm and macrocosm and the human and non-human.  The only response we can make to God’s ubiquitous grace is praise.

Poem for the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Poem for the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
October 20, 2016 by Bill Fulton

Two men went to the temple to pray
Was either sincere? I’m unable to say.
For the temple itself is a stage in a way,
where people strut, elbow, hawk, kneel, beg and bray.

And what’s in the heart – can anyone say?
Was either man searching his soul on that day?
Did the innermost man confess or portray
the angels who guard and the demons who slay?

When daily I stand on the stage of my life
flinching, exposed and thrown into the strife,
may I act with integrity, speak from the heart
may the outer and inner be all of one part.

Take heed from the Gospel this week!

Luke 18:9–14

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus compares two individuals in the temple. One person views himself as good and righteous, believing his personal faults to be minimal. He sees his rote adherence to piety as enough to justify himself before God and neighbor, and he lives his life in a posture of judgement towards others. The other man, a tax collector who would certainly have been deemed a despised member of society in Jesus’s time, understands himself to be deeply flawed. He feels the sting of conviction in his own heart and humbles himself before God and neighbor.

As Irene Maliaman notes in her retelling of this passage, Christians today should take heed of the parable’s lesson. She asks us to consider “a model Christian and a criminal [who] went to church to pray. Without hesitation, the Christian entered the church, dipped his fingers in the stoup that holds the holy water, made the sign of the cross, genuflected, and headed straight to his favorite pew in front of the altar. It is obvious that he knew what he was doing and was familiar with the place. Looking up, he lifted up his hands and prayed, ‘Thank you, God, for blessing me and making me unlike those corrupt and miserable sinners who cannot tell good from evil, who live their lives separate from you, who do not come to church, like that criminal over there. I read the Bible daily, I never miss church, I pray for the less fortunate, I fast twice a week, I advocate for justice and human rights, I support Episcopal Relief & Development and other non-profit organizations that are helping the poor, and I give my tithes.’”

Maliaman reminds us of the dangers of considering ourselves righteous in our own context. As Christians, we are called, like St. Paul notes in his letter to the Philippians, to “in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” God, who searches our hearts and motivations, calls on us to enact a posture of repentance. In such a posture, we open ourselves to God in full awareness of who we are. We can then experience God’s mercy and kindness as a gift of grace.

—Summerlee Staten

James of Jerusalem, Oct. 23

We celebrate James day on Tues Oct. 23. He is known as St. James of Jerusalem (or “James the Just”). James was so respected by all, including even unbelieving Jews, that he was nicknamed “the Just”.

He is referred to by Paul as “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19) and the equal of the other disciples. Matthew provides some clues in Matthew 13:55 on his identity. “Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?” with the story of Jesus less than enthusiastic reaction in Nazareth.

Some have written that he was a half brother of Jesus, a son of Joseph and Mary and, therefore, a biological brother of Jesus. But others in the church think Paul’s term “brother” is understood as “cousin” or “kinsman,” and James is thought to be the son of a sister of Joseph or Mary who was widowed and had come to live with them.

James was not an instant believer in Jesus just because he was in his family. In Mark 3:20–21 we are told that people crowded around Him so densely that He and His disciples could not even eat. Seeing this, His family members, probably also including James, thought that He was out of His mind. On another occasion we are told plainly that His brother did not believe in Him. However, Jesus did not give up on James.

Along with other relatives of our Lord (except His mother), James did not believe in Jesus until after his resurrection (John 7:3-5; 1 Corinthians 15:7). Paul reports that Jesus miraculously appeared to James after his crucifixion and before his ascension, and this is the act which leads to James’ conversion. Once that happened he soon rose to distinction in the Church and became the Bishop of Jerusalem, even staying in Jerusalem ministering to his people during a period of intense Christian persecution.

He is known for his role in accepting the Gentiles. James was thrilled that members of the early Church were willing to welcome Gentiles into their flock, but he boldly proclaimed that they would be welcome as they are without any restrictions.

In Acts chapter 15, James was open to the radical idea that there are not limitations when it comes to God’s love. As presider over the First Council of Jerusalem, the decision was made Christians would no longer be considered as a sect of Judaism.

James decided that Gentiles should be able to join the Church just as they are. Some Pharisees insisted that all new converts needed to be circumcised. James believed there’s no need to place restrictions on their diet or acts of mercy shown on the Sabbath. There’s no need to be circumcised or become Jewish before converting to Christianity. James claimed that Jesus came to earth not only to give eternal life to him and those like him, but the entire world.

We have the decision of James. (Act 15:13-21). “What those Pharisees had demanded was not necessary.” They could cite their roots in the laws of Moses but not be bound by them.

James’ decision contradicted the accepted interpretation of Scripture at the time as well as centuries of accepted practice, teaching and tradition. In fact, James’ entire post-conversion lifestyle can be described as both radical and unpopular. God’s love is not limited to a particular group of people.

According to the historian Josephus, James was martyred in AD 62 by being stoned to death by the Sadducees.

James is considered to have authored the Epistle in the New Testament that bears his name. In it, he exhorts his readers to remain steadfast in the one true faith, even in the face of suffering and temptation, and to live by faith the life that is in Christ Jesus. Faith is active with the need to confess the Gospel by words and actions, and to stake one’s life, both now and forever, in the cross.

Stewardship, Pentecost 25, Oct 23

The Many Varieties of Stewardship

From Tens.org – By The Rev. Carolyn Woodall

Check out our Stewardship page

"I suspect that when people think about stewardship most think about their pledge. There is nothing wrong with that as churches certainly need money to survive and flourish – generally more than they have. But that isn’t the end of it because stewardship encompasses so much more. Being a steward requires that we carefully and responsibly manage or care for something that has been placed in our care.

"That could certainly be the finances. After all, the rector and staff must be paid. There are also a few other expenses, such as the gas, electricity, water, garbage collection, phones, office supplies, flowers, wine, wafers, linens, perhaps a mortgage, and — as everyone who has ever been on a vestry knows — a thousand and one maintenance projects. These must be carefully managed. But paying the bills and keeping the campus in repair constitute only limited aspects of stewardship. As members of a congregation we are all responsible for these things through the donation of our Time, Talent, and Treasure – the three “T’s” we hear so much about. Our buildings and grounds are important as places from which to reach out and do our real work. The Church is the people both inside — and outside — the walls.

"So we have to ask, What else has been placed in our care? How about the other members of our respective congregations? Most certainly we must support each other if our congregations are to function. Our fellow parishioners are certainly to be counted among our neighbors whom we are to love as ourselves. What about our families? Is there any question there?

Read more…

Diocessan Reflection – Luke 18:9-14, (Oct 23 Gospel)

When I first read this passage from Luke, I was reminded of a quote by Rabbi Elimelech of Lizensker. The prominent Hasidic thinker wrote:

I am sure of my share in the World-to-Come. When I stand to plead before the bar of the Heavenly Tribunal, I will be asked, “Did you learn, as is duty bound?” To this I will answer, “No.” Again, I will be asked, “Did you pray, as is duty bound?” Again, my answer will be, “No.” The third question will be, “Did you do good, as is duty bound?” And for the third time, I will answer, “No.” Then judgment will be awarded in my favor, for I will have spoken the truth.

I have always loved this quote, because I can easily imagine myself defensively answering “No, but…” to each question. “I wasn’t always willing to listen and to learn, but I was already in the right, wasn’t I? Maybe I didn’t do good all the time, but I was polite! I voted for so-and-so! I even recycled, for crying out loud!”

Similarly, when I feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, often at the most inconvenient moments as She is wont to do, my instinct is to remind Her, like the Pharisee in Jesus’s parable, that I am not a robber, an evildoer, an adulterer, a bigot, an extremist, or a racist. In fact, I smile at cashiers and tell them to have a good day. I’ve never yelled at another person in traffic. When I call my mother, sometimes I don’t even ask her for anything. I read articles (or at least, parts of articles) by people with whom I disagree. When I see something that makes me angry on Facebook, I keep scrolling, usually. I am a good person.

All of that may be true, but I know that it is not the whole story. It is dishonest of me to respond to the Spirit’s nudges with anything other than humble reflection. Deep down I know that I, like the tax collector, must beat my chest and ask God for mercy, for compassion, and for grace. And though this introspection and repentance is difficult and uncomfortable, I am reassured by the promise of grace, which God offers as freely as conviction.

May we strive to meet conviction with humility, and may the guidance of the Holy Spirit always be accompanied by an outpouring of God’s grace.