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.

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.

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

Sunday Links for Pentecost 20, Oct. 23, 2022

Fall color

Oct. 23, 11:00am – Holy Eucharist, Pentecost 20

  • Holy Eucharist, Sun. Oct. 23 YouTube link Oct. 23
  • Lectionary for Oct. 23, 2022, Pentecost 20
  • Bulletin for Oct. 23, 2022, Bulletin
  • Sermon for Oct. 23, 2022, Sermon
  • Oct. 23, 5:00PM Youth Group at St Peter’s. All youth are welcome.
  • Morning Meditation , Mon, Oct. 24, 6:30am Zoom link Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929
  • Tues, Oct. 25 Trip to DC for visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Oct. 26, 10am-12pm. Reading lectionary of Oct. 30
  • October, 2022 newsletter
  • All articles for Oct. 23, 2022

  • 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.  

    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.

    First, the psalm reminds us that our ongoing goal and destination in this life is to be in the presence of God. 

    God is our North Star.  To travel toward God gives us direction, focus and purpose. 

    Nature itself follows the direction of our Creator. The psalmist says that the sparrow has found a house and the swallow a nest where she can lay her young by the side of God’s altars.   Every created thing is interconnected with every other part of creation, and all of creation is in God’s care.  Nature witnesses to the presence of God and responds to that presence.    

    Have you ever noticed how sunflowers turn their faces toward the sun and move with the sun as it travels across the sky?  Or how prayer plants spread their leaves during the day, and then roll them up at night?  God has given the natural world its own direction, focus and purpose.  The natural world is much better about living into God’s plan for creation than we people tend to be! 

    Second, we do not make this journey alone.  In Biblical times, pilgrims traveled in groups to the temple in Jerusalem for the big religious festivals. The temple was always packed with all sorts of people.  In today’s gospel, both a Pharisee and a tax collector have gone up to the temple to pray.  The one who had contempt for the other was focused on himself rather than on God—he lacked God as his true North.  If he had been focused on God rather than himself, he would have had compassion toward his fellow sinner. 

    Jesus said that the two great commandments are to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  If our destination in this life is God, not only will we welcome the company of others, but we will be willing give help to our fellow travelers.

    Jesus told a story about a traveler going from Jerusalem to Jericho. Bandits attacked the traveler and left him for dead.    A priest and a Levite, probably both headed to the temple in Jerusalem, passed by the man lying in the ditch and didn’t even bother to stop.  Then the Samaritan came along, bound up the man’s wounds, and provided for the man’s ongoing care while he recovered. 

    Jesus didn’t say what the Samaritan’s destination was, because Jesus didn’t need to say it—the Samaritan’s ultimate destination was God.   So the Samaritan cared for the man in the ditch and in doing so, became the hands and heart of God as he did what he could for his fellow traveler, making God present and available to the man who needed help.    

    The pilgrim whose destination is God is a truly blessed person.  The psalmist points out that blessed people are people who rejoice.  We come to church to give thanks and praise, as we say every Sunday at the beginning of the Great Thanksgiving.  “It is right to give our thanks and praise!”  Or, if you love the traditional words, you can say, “It is meet and right so to do,”  to give thanks to God. 

    Psalm 84  also has some wisdom for how we should live out our last days as we complete our earthly journeys.  Looking back, we can see that God has gone with us throughout our journeys in this life. 

    Today’s Epistle reading from 2nd Timothy reports some of the Apostle Paul’s last words.  Paul has spent his life proclaiming the gospel, and now his work is done.  He has fought the good fight, he has finished the race, he has kept the faith. God has gone with Paul through his life, which has been full of danger and challenges. Paul knows that God  continues to go with him as Paul prepares for his own death.   Paul says, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom.”   

    Now, Paul is going to God, the righteous Lord who will give him a crown of righteousness, and not only a crown for Paul, but also to all who have longed for God’s appearing. Paul has not made the journey alone.  God has gone with him, and so have countless others who have followed God faithfully during their time here on earth.

    So we faithful people long for our  home in God.    Home is where the heart is.  There’s no place like home.

    At the end of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy says goodbye to the companions who have kept her company on the way, and then, following Glinda’s directions, she clicks the heels of her ruby slippers together as she says over and over, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” 

    In the next scene,  Dorothy slowly opens her eyes. She’s at home, in her own bed.  Her Aunt Em and her Uncle Henry and four friends hover over her, and she tells them about where she’s been, that most of it was beautiful, but all she kept saying was that she wanted to go home, and at last they sent her home.  Dorothy says to Toto, “We’re home, home, and this is my room and you’re all here and I’m not going to leave here ever again because I love you all.  There’s no place like home.” 

    God has brought us here today, and we are  home in this place.  God goes with us through our journeys in this life to our eternal home in God.   And so we wait with happy expectation,  for we will all be there, and we won’t have to ever leave that place of love and gladness in the fullness of God’s presence. 

    There really is no place like home. 

    “How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts!  My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.” 

    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

    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.

    St. 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.

    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.

    II. Summary

    First Reading –  Jeremiah 14:7-10,19-22

    Jeremiah 14 shows two voices: the first is the people, pleading for God’s deliverance because God is their God. The second is the Lord, who declares that since the people have left God, God has left the people, allowing them to experience rejection . The reading is preceded by six verses that describe a horrible drought that affects both rich and poor alike

    Jeremiah uses the liturgical form of the communal lament, found in many psalms. He first describes his suffering, then confesses past sins. Israel is aware that she has done something wrong in light of the on-going drought.  The petition is interesting.  God is not asked to look at Israel’s repentance, but rather at God’s own reputation, “act O Lord, for your own name’s sake”! 

     Often there is a plaintive questioning of God, then an appeal to God’s own honor. ”!  This questioning suggests that God has been absent, or even silent.  God is described as a stranger, a visitor, someone who is confused.  This unusual psychological approach is interrupted by an ejaculation of praise, “You, O Lord, are in our midst.” In the communal laments of the psalms, such an appeal seems to have been answered by an oracle of divine assurance. Here, however, the lord responds with a declaration of judgment.

    Jeremiah intercedes on behalf of God’s people, not as an official spokesman or temple prophet (for he was rejected by the established religious authorities), but as one whose individual calling involves him in the fate of the nation. In verses 19-22, the people come back, asking God for mercy, acknowledging that they have fallen away and that the punishment they experience is their pwn rejection of God, entering into the absence of God. Now, they acknowledge that it is God who is the Creator, God who restores, and God who is the promise of hope.  God is acknowledged, and the people can make their petitions about rain (salvation).

    Israel confesses to a dependency upon God.  How can God ignore them ?

    First Reading –  Sirach 35:12-17

    The book of Sirach, also called Ecclesiasticus in older Bibles, reflects the teachings of Judaism in the second century BC. The author, Ben Sirach (50:27), describes himself as “one who devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High” (38:34). Apparently, Sirach ran a religious school, a “house of instruction” (51:23), for those whose wealth afforded them such leisure. He set down in writing the content of his oral instruction about 180 BC. His grandson translated the work into Greek sometime after 132 BC.

    By this time in Israel’s history  Israel’s great theological battles about monotheism are over, the kings have come and gone, and the Exile is a distant memory. The prophets have been silent for a long time, and many Jews are living in cities where pagans are the majorities (although Sirach was written in Jerusalem). In these circumstances, writers asked how one should live a good life, what moral and spiritual choices should one make, what behavior is honorable in a religious person?

    It was included in the Greek translation of scripture (the Septuagint, usually abbreviated LXX). Although not a part of the Hebrew canon of scripture, the work was highly valued both in Jewish and Christian circles. Thus it acquired its Latin title, Ecclesiasticus, “of the Church,” that is, to be read in church. It is the last major product of the tradition of wisdom literature (such as Job, Proverbs and many of the Psalms), and is an early example of the teaching that developed into the rabbinic schools of Judaism.

    The central theme to this reading is justice, and impartial justice meted out by a righteous God

    God stands in the midst of all of our pieties and mores and looks away from them to the true righteousness of justice

    What are a  worthy of sacrifice to God?

    1 Keeping the law, observing the commandments (verse 1),

    2 works of charity, giving alms (verse 2),

    3 refraining from evil and avoiding injustice (verse 3).

    What are unwelcome on the altar of God (the physical altar or any figurative one)?

    1 Bribes and the fruits of extortion (verse 11).

    2  Believing that if you are poor you will be shown partiality

    Psalm – Psalm 84:1-6

    This psalm resembles the songs of Zion (see Psalms 46, 48, 76 and 87) and the pilgrim Songs of Ascent (Psalm 120–124). Likely composed on the occasion of a pilgrimage to the temple, the psalm express the strength of the psalmist’s longing for the temple and the trials and rewards of the journey.

    Psalm 84:1-7 sings praise of God who is our home, God who is our shelter, God who is the one who is our strength. God is the God of Creation, and in God we find our joy, our contentment, our being.

    All find a home in the temple, even the humble bird, and all who make pilgrimage to come there.  They are happy.  The image is of the pilgrim making a journey to the temple, the pilgrim’s every thought being of the Temple.  They journey across mountains, but it is Mt. Zion where they will find a home and see God

    Epistle-  2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18

    Paul loved the young churchman Timothy and gave him encouragement and various instructions in at least two letters. Today’s is the last passage we’ll read from this source this year. It’s a kind of farewell from the senior apostle. He speaks of himself as one whose life is ebbing away, “poured out as a libation” (v. 6). 2 Timothy proclaims the grace of God’s protection.

    2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 contains familiar words of perseverance, of keeping the faith and finishing the race. Wreaths and crowns were worn by Jews as a sign of honor and joy at feasts and weddings; for Greeks they were a sign of a victorious athlete.

    God is the source of protection and deliverance.  The grace of God has protected the apostle in the “many dangers, toils, and snares” of life and God will “lead him home” to the heavenly kingdom  From divine protection and sustenance, grace abounds.

    When we see our faith through, sticking through with God when everything else around us fails us, we know that God will see us through to the end. Similar to the psalms of old, the writer shares that God will be their defender, their strength, and their endurance

    The “lion’s mouth” (v. 17) is a common Old Testament metaphor for violent death; thus figuratively for the imperial power. Verse 18 seems to echo the lord’s Prayer. Paul acknowledges that his work is finished, and he looks forward both to God’s reward and Jesus’ return.

    Gospel –  Luke 18:9-14 

    In last Sunday’s sharp divide between a pompous and unrighteous judge and a persistent widow (two aspects of the social spectrum)  Luke’s again lifts up the poor and the lowly by offering a commentary on prayer – prayer that comes from both ends of the spectrum. 

    Jesus uses the example of a Pharisee and a tax collector, figures that would have been common in his day—a Pharisee would have been someone who was respectable and a tax collector would have been despised; he uses these figures and flips the stereotype—the Pharisee ends up being the one who is self-righteous, looking pleased with himself and it is the tax collector who is humble, looking for forgiveness from God

    Jesus’ parable contrasts two styles of prayer: the first, by the Pharisee, is loudly self-righteous. The second, by the tax collector (another social reject), is a plea for God’s mercy to a sinner. The prayers themselves are distinctive with the one emphasizing the innate righteousness of his situation, and the other recognizing his sinfulness.  The Pharisee’s biddings all begin with “I am”, while the Publican simply acknowledges that he is a sinner.  The Pharisee’s behavior is typical, attempting to outdo what the Mosaic Law required. 

    The Pharisee in today’s story seems truly thankful. According to the beliefs of the times, he shows an honest and laudable desire to contribute to the coming of the kingdom by fulfilling the law. Indeed, he exceeds the demands of the law. Fasting was required only once a year on the Day of Atonement. The Pharisees, however, fasted twice weekly, on Mondays and Thursdays. Likewise, the law required a tithe of all produce of grain, fruit and herd. The Pharisee extended his tithe to include all his income.

    The tax collector, whose occupation branded him as an extortioner and traitor, knows he has no merits of his own. Using the language of Psalm 51, he throws himself on God’s mercy. It is he who is “justified” (v. 14), that is, accepted, made right with God.

    Caught up in his self-made goodness, the Pharisee closes the door to the grace of interdependence on a power more loving than himself.  In contrast, the Tax Collector knows that he cannot survive apart from divine gracefulness.  He throws himself on God’s mercy, knowing that mercy alone can save.

    Another distinction between the praying styles is the amount of time each gives to listening. The Pharisee is so busy extolling his virtues that God would be hard pressed to get a word in edgewise. The tax collector’s simple sentence leaves plenty of silent spaces in which God can speak.