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.

The Shape of Advent in Scriptures, Year B

Each week in Advent has a specific theme:

Week 1- The End of Time / Remaining Awake
Week 2 – God promises for Peace and Justice / John the Baptism
Week 3 – Rejoice (Gaudete Sunday) / John the Baptist
Week 4 – The Messiah

Advent comes from a Latin word – “advenire” – which means to come to/ During Advent. There are three comings:

• The Coming of God to the world as a human baby
• The Coming of God to the world in His glory at the end of time where God’s purposes will be fulfilled. The second coming
• The Coming of God into the world today. Jesus comes to us now in word and sacrament, in prayer and praise, in his Body, the Church

Advent causes us to remember that we are a people who live “between.” We live between the incarnation and the parousia, the day of the Lord.

Advent is a journey, a pilgrimage of watching and waiting. We are not ready for the Christ Child as we have work to do.

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Origins of the 12 days of Christmas


During the next few weeks you’ll be hearing it over and over, perhaps to the point of saying, “Enough already”! But you might be interested to know the origin of the

familiar “secular” holiday song; it has roots as a teaching tool to instruct young people in England in the content of the Christian faith!

From 1558 to 1829, Roman Catholics were not able to practice their faith openly in  Protestant England, so they devised ways of passing on their beliefs to their children.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is one example of how they did it. Each of the gifts mentioned represents something of religious significance:

1. On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me:  

The “true love ” represents God, and the “ me ” is the believer who receives the gifts.  The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ who died on a “tree” as a gift from God.

2.Two turtle doves are the Old and the New Testaments – another gift from God.  

3.The three French hens are faith, hope, and love –the three gifts of the Spirit that abide. (I Corinthians 13)  

4.The four colley* birds are the four gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ. (Although most modern versions say “ calling ” birds, the proper word is “ colley ”, which is a type of blackbird common in England.)  

5. The five gold rings are the first five books of the Bible, also called the “Books of Moses” or the “Pentateuch”.  

6. The six geese-a-laying are the six days of creation. (On the seventh day, God rested.)  

7.The seven swans – a – swimming are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:8-10)  

8.The eight maids –a – milking are the beatitudes. (There appear to be Nine in Matthew 5: 3 -11, but the first eight are the ones directed at others ; the ninth refers only to Jesus’ listeners on the mountain.)  

 9. The nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5: 22 -23)  

 10. The ten lords – a- leaping are the Ten Commandments.  

 11. The eleven pipers piping are the eleven faithful disciples.  

 12. The twelve drummers drumming are the twelve major points of the Apostles’ Creed.  

So the next time you hear “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, consider how this otherwise Secular sounding song was a tool to instruct the young. Remember, it’s still Christmas for 12 days . . . until theFeast of the Epiphany!

-Father Rod Caulkins, St. James Episcopal Louisa 

Music filled the Air, Sun Dec. 17

As part of the sermon on Advent 3, Dec. 17, 2023, Catherine explored the role of music and sang a number of Christmas pieces important in her faith life. You might call this the “singing sermon.”

The music theme carried forward to the offertory. During the offertory we had 5 of our youth entertain us on trumpet, French horn, piano, ukelele and vocals

From the sermon Dec. 17, 2023

“In the Living Compass publication, Living Well through Advent, Scott Stoner talks about the music of Christmas.  He says that “music is a thin place for many, where the distance between themselves and God is narrowed.  It has long been said that music is the language of the soul and that those who sing, pray twice.” 

“So in this year’s last  week of Advent, let the music of Christmas become the language of your soul, your own prayer. Let this music bring you closer to God.  ”

“As you pray, let the  music of Christmas bring you back into that unbroken circle of love with those who are here, and those who have gone on to glory.

“May the light shining in us, bring  light into the darkness and witness to God’s glory.”

Written Sermon

Videos, Third Sunday in Advent, Dec. 17, 2023

1. Advent 3 – Candle Lighting –

2. Opening Hymn – “People Look East”

3. Hymn of Praise – “Rejoice the Lord is King!”

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Christmas Play, 2023

We had about 50 people to view and participate in our play, including members from other churches. New this year – 3 live goats in the field for the shepherds and a reconstructed star to display. Of course there were all the ingredients of a typical Christmas Play.

There were 5 scenes around the church and the next door home:
1. Annunciation
2. Joseph and Mary on the way to the Inn
3. At the Inn
4. Shepherds and Angels in the field
5. Manger scene with Shepherds and Angels and the arrival of the wisemen. Conclusion. See photo above.

Thanks to all who those who directed, acted and viewed the play. It is our gift to our larger congregation and the spread of the Christmas spirit.

1. Photos

(full size gallery)

2. Video – 26 minutes

Sermon, Advent 3, Year B – “Music, a thin place “

In the Living Compass publication, Living Well through Advent, Scott Stoner talks about the music of Christmas.  He says that “music is a thin place for many, where the distance between themselves and God is narrowed.  It has long been said that music is the language of the soul and that those who sing, pray twice.” 

Every Sunday, at the Great Thanksgiving, our Eucharistic Prayer, we sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.”  We join our voices with angels, archangels, and with all the company of heaven, who forever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of God’s name.” 

That music brings us directly into the presence of God and all the company of heaven as we prepare to come to God’s table and share the bread and wine together.  Those who have gone before us surround us in this thin place at the table every Sunday.  Music helps us to know that they are there with us, the company of heaven, and once more, the circle of love is unbroken, even by death. 

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Sunday links, Dec. 17, 2023

Advent 3, Dec. 17 – Rejoice!

  • Web site
  • YouTube St. Peter’s Page for viewing services
  • Facebook St. Peter’s Page
  • Location – 823 Water Street, P. O. Box 399, Port Royal, Virginia 22535
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Dec. 13 10am-12pm, Parish House Reading Lectionary for Dec. 17, Advent 3
  • Wed., Dec. 13, 12:15pm right after Bible study— Come all to help put together Advent/Christmas arrangements for the church windows.
  • Thurs., Dec. 14, Vestry, 2pm
  • Compline Thursdays in Dec. Dec. 14 on Zoom, 7pm. Praying for a peaceful night during a hurried season Zoom Link
  • Sat. Dec. 16, 2023, 5pm, Christmas Outdoor play
  • Meet in front of the church
  • Sun. Dec. 17, 2023, 11am Church service – Eucharist Live or YouTube St. Peter’s Page
  • Poinsettia forms and Gifts to the Endowment Fund are on the back pew. Poinsettia due Sun., Dec. 10th. Endowment due Sun., Dec. 17th Endowment Fund gifts are tax deductible.
  • Lectionary link for Dec. 17, Advent 3
  • Serving – Holy Eucharist
    Lector: Cookie Davis
    Chalice Bearer: Alice Hughes
    Altar Cleanup: Andrea Pogue
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Dec. 20, 10am-12pm, Parish House Reading Lectionary for Dec. 24, Advent 4
  • Compline Thursdays in Dec. 21 on Zoom, 7pm. Praying for a peaceful night during a hurried season Zoom Link
  • Christmas Eve, 4pm, Dec. 24, 2023
  • Dec., 2023 newsletter
  • All articles for Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023
  • Recent Articles, Dec. 17, 2023

    Advent 3, Dec. 17, 2023
    Christmas play – photos, video
    Lectionary for Advent 3, Dec. 17
    Sermon and Offertory
    Videos, Dec 17, 2023
    Photos, Dec 17, 2023
    Advent Candle 3, Joy
    Advent 3 Commentary
    Arts and Faith, Advent 3
    John the Baptist in Art – National Gallery, London
    Advent compline
    Christmas without Anglicans
    Origins of the 12 Days of Christmas

    All About Advent
    Getting Ready for Advent

    Living Compass Advent meditations
    Shape of Scriptures in Advent
    Advent Season Resources
    Advent Online Learning

    Chancellor’s Village Eucharist, Dec. 12, 2023
    Flower arranging for the church windows, Dec. 13, 2023
    Christmas play – 25 year tradition
    Golden Hour at St. Peter’s
    Music of compline, Dec. 7
    ECW takes dinner to the “House”, Dec. 5
    Giving Tuesday results (updated Dec. 4)
    Advent Workshop – the Nativity blocks
    Advent Workshop – the Christmas trees
    Christmas play poster download

    Discretionary Fund in 2023
    End of year gift to the Endowment Fund

    Advent 3 – Joy

    This candle reflects the joy that comes through Jesus’ arrival, and through the salvation he has gifted us. During this third week of advent, this Sunday celebrates the passage Philippians 4:4-5, its verses extolling readers to “rejoice” for “indeed the Lord is near.” This Sunday is traditionally known as “Gaudete” or “Rejoice” Sunday, so called because of the heightened excitement in anticipation for the birth of Christ

    During a time where depression is at an all-time high and people seem to be in the most despair, this candle offers a bright light during a dark time.

    It is also known as the Shepherd Candle to highlight the joy the shepherds experienced when they received the good news about Christ’s birth (Luke 2:8-20). During the middle of the night, the darkest time, the shepherds encountered angels.

    The third candle of Advent has an unusual place. In most advent wreaths, it is the one candle that is a different color, pink, than the others. There is something unique, more spontaneous, and celebratory about the theme of the third week of Advent compared to the others.

    In contrast to purple, pink or rose represents joy and celebration. One of the ancient church’s popes gave a citizen a pink rose on the third Sunday of Lent, symbolizing the moment of joy amidst Lent’s fasting and penance. Therefore, when Catholic priests modeled Advent celebrations on Lent, they wore rose-colored robes and set the third Sunday of December as the time to remember joy. The pink or rose-colored advent candle is lit on that third Sunday.

    It’s also worth noting that more so than the other three Advent themes, joy is something we associate with spontaneous action. Hope, peace, joy, and love are all things that God places in us and should be ongoing attitudes in our lives. However, hope and peace are generally seen as inner qualities that we cultivate by meditating on ideas like God’s provision. Love is something we do, but also something we cultivate and meditate on.

    Joy tends to have a more spontaneous effect. Joy can motivate us to celebrate or worship with glorious abandon (like David did when he danced in front of the ark of the covenant). In that light, it’s appropriate that the advent candle representing joy is a different color, highlighting the different nature of joy compared to the other advent themes.

    Advent 3, Year B

    Advent 3

    Explore Advent, Part 3 – Over the Sundays in Advent there will be a presentation each week focusing on that week’s scriptures, art and commentary and how they demonstrate the themes of advent. Let’s continue with Advent 3.

    A. Voices for Advent 3

    “In Advent the church emphasizes these ways of continual change: Repentance. Conversion of life. Self-examination. Awakening. Deepening.  “

    – Suzanne Guthrie

    B. “You Don’t Want to Be a Prophet (Isaiah, Luke)

    Christmas without Anglicans?” – Anglican contributions to Advent and Christmas carols.

    Voices, Advent 3, Year B

    1.  "In Advent the church emphasizes these ways of continual change: Repentance. Conversion of life. Self-examination. Awakening. Deepening.  "

    – Suzanne Guthrie

    "Advent invites us instead to pause for a moment that we might reflect long enough to assess our deep need and longing for something more, for something beyond ourselves, for something of the divine to penetrate the ordinary even if for just a moment to remind us that there is indeed, something beyond the possible that will save us.  "

    – David Lose

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