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, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

3 saints after Christmas Day

1. St. Stephen Dec. 26

Stephen was among the earliest Christian martyrs, stoned to death for his beliefs. St. Paul not only witnessed the event but held the garments of those stoning Stephen which he regretted later on and carried a lasting sense of guilt.

2. John the Apostle Dec. 27

John, one of the Apostles, possibly lived the longest life associated with the Gospel, an author in that time and Evangelist spreading the Gospel to many in the Mediterranean area who were not of Jewish background. He is believed to be the only Apostle not martyred for the cause. He is associated with the Gospel that bears his name, 3 Epistles and possible authorship of the Book of Revelation.

3. Holy Innocents Dec. 28

The term “Holy Innocents” comes from Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 2. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, King Herod, fearing for his throne, ordered that all the male infants of Bethlehem two years and younger be killed. These children are regarded as martyrs for the Gospel — “martyrs in fact though not in will.” This can be compared to the conduct of Pharoah in Exodus 1:16. “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”

Videos, Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2023

1. Larry Saylor – Carol Medley

2. “I Wonder as I Wander” – Denise Gregory, Mary Peterman

3. Gospel and Sermon

4. “In the Bleak Midwinter” – St. Peter’s choir

5. “Silent Night” – Larry and Brad Saylor

Sermon, Christmas Eve, 2023 – “Peace on earth, good will to all people”

Peace on earth, good will to all people. 

Yet another war is raging in the Holy Land, a war that in a few short months has caused unimaginable terror, a war in which over 20,000 people have been killed.  The Christians in the Israeli occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, have cancelled the usual Christmas celebrations, for celebrations seem out of place with so many people dying such a short distance away in Gaza. 

I’m willing to bet that every year since the birth of Jesus, violence and war have been going on somewhere on this earth, and that God’s peace seems like nothing more than a dream. 

So more than ever, we need this story of the birth of Jesus,  the story that I’m convinced is the most important story in the entire Bible.  This story reminds us that God likes to start small.   God uses the small things that we make available to do great things. 

This story  also gives us hope that in spite of all of human history, we can, along with Edmund H. Sears, who wrote  “It came upon the midnight clear” firmly believe that “when with the ever circling years shall come the time foretold, when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, and all the world give back the song, which now the angels sing.” 

Read more

Caroling Dec. 20, 2023

We had a small, but vocal group to go caroling in Port Royal, VA and Portobago on Wed. evening Dec. 20. Attendance was affected by the chill of the evening, sickness among prospective carolers and simply the many things to do 5 days before Christmas.

We visited 4 homes in Port Royal and 4 in Portobago singing the classics “O Come all Yet Faithful,”Joy to the World”, “Silent Night”, “Angels we have heard on High” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. We rounded off each visit with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Despite the challenges, we enjoyed the evening and spreading good cheer among the homes we visited.

The Village Harvest rallies, Dec. 20 2023

We had 112 people to receive food, the largest monthly number in almost two years (since Jan. 2022 with 115). It was reported, there were more shoppers from Port Royal itself and fewer from King George. We also serve Esssex and Westmoreland counties.

We had 1,343 pounds which was just under the largest delivery of the year (April, 2023, 1,365 pounds). Included were 398 pounds of meat, including 35 chickens, one to a family for Christmas which is 33% of the harvest (see photo). The rest of the harvest is grocery 51% and produce 17%. There are a number of apple-related products from the fruit to apple sauce.

The photo shows the items unloaded from the truck – apples, tomatoes, and boxed items from Food Lion which includes tomato sauce, corn, spaghetti and macaroni. Separately we have frozen green beans.

For the year, we recovered from a slow 1st quarter, 2023 and ended the year serving 1,063 people compared to 1,051 in 2022. It was the best yearly total since 2019.

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Advent 4, Christmas Eve, Year B

The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not yet Christ. – Thomas Merton

Explore Advent, Part 4 – 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 4.

Explore the Christmas Scriptures Let’s move to the Christmas scriptures

From the Presiding BishopMessages since 2012


Diocese of Va. Advent Meditations, Week 4

Feast of the Annunciation –  9 months before we celebrate the nativity there is the related Feast of the Annunciation on March 25 which is described here .

Art of the Annunciation – The Annunication has been depicted in art for a thousand years. Here are 30+ images of that history .

Nativity art, all around the world.

“I will light candles this Christmas” – Howard Thurman

Blessed Like Mary- David Lose invites us to understand that we are Blessed Like Mary

National Geographic explores"How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman"

A Digital Nativity.

What if current social media like Facebook, Gmail, etc had been available at the birth of Christ ? Watch the Digital Nativity

Advent IV – Love

Love is a crucial part of the Advent story. Because of Joseph’s love for Mary, he didn’t stone her when he found out she was pregnant with what he thought was a child out of wedlock with another man (Matthew 1:18-19). Mary has a natural motherly love for Jesus, and ultimately, we see God’s love for everyone by sending his son for us (John 3:16).

Jesus focused on preaching love throughout his ministry. Two of his greatest commands involve love: Love God, love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).

Love is the greatest of all the virtues on the Advent wreath and encompasses Jesus’ entire purpose for being on earth (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Arts and Faith- Advent 4, relating art and scripture

Commentary is by Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, director of ministerial formation at Saint John’s University School of Theology and Seminary.

John Collier’s contemporary depiction of the Annunciation brings the story of Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel into our present reality. Collier’s The Annunciation stands on the shoulders of Tradition, depicting the encounter in such a way that includes the standard symbols of the past. We see Mary and the angel face-to-face, Mary holding a book as a symbol of her piety. We see the lily as a symbol of her purity, the painted window as a symbol of her virginity, and the dove perching in the background as the symbol of the Holy Spirit. These symbols are the familiar language of many Annunciation scenes and connect this work to those from the great masters of the past.

While using these familiar elements, Collier retells the story for our present day: Mary is a young schoolgirl with a ponytail, still in her uniform, and she lives in a suburban neighborhood. Her shoes are playfully untied—she must have just slipped back into them to come to the door. In bringing together past and present, Collier invites us to see the Gospel scene not as a distant story but as one unfolding in our lives here and now.

As the story unfolds, the encounter between Mary and the angel reveals even deeper meaning. Mary is a young schoolgirl with untied shoelaces, but she is also a figure of strength, steadfastness, and faith. She looks squarely at the angel, who in contrast bows reverently before her, paying homage to God’s grace manifest in his lowly handmaid. The angel’s presence is subtly liturgical—in his dress and posture, he resembles an acolyte serving at the altar, ready to adore the presence of the Lord who will in a moment become flesh in the body of this young girl. The angel-as-server is a beautiful reflection of Christ’s bodily presence in our midst, first welcomed through the faithful “yes” of Mary. Standing at the door with Mary and Gabriel, we are at a liturgy, gathered into one Body to encounter the real presence of Christ in our midst. Like Mary, we are called to say “yes” to this moment and offer ourselves to await his arrival.

Christmas Flowers

Flowers cut on Dec. 13 just after Bible study and then arranged. Thanks to Alice Hughes for leading this effort. (In the full post, click on the photos for a lightbox)

Freshing up the flowers, Sun., Dec 17

Shadows from the window panes

Looking up

The full arrangement

With the poinsettias

Sunday Links, Dec. 24, 2023

Advent 4 and Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 4PM

  • 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
  • Wed., Dec. 20, Ecumenical Bible Study, Parish House, 10am-12pm  Reading Lectionary for Dec. 24, Christmas Eve
  • Wed., Dec. 20, 2023, Village Harvest, 3pm-5pm
  • Wed., Dec. 20, 2023, Let’s Go Caroling!, 5pm
  • Meet in front of the church to carol in Port Royal and Portobago Bay
  • Compline Thursdays in Dec. Dec. 21 on Zoom, 7pm. Praying for a peaceful night during a hurried season Zoom Link
  • Christmas Eve, 4pm, Dec. 24, 2023
    Lector: Johnny Davis
    Chalice Bearer: Elizabeth Heimbach
    Altar Cleanup: Linda Kramer
  • Dec., 2023 newsletter
  • All articles for Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023
  • Recent Articles, Dec. 24, 2023

    Advent 4, Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2023
    Bulletin, 4PM
    Sermon – “Peace on Earth, good will to all people”
    Christmas invitation video
    Lectionary for Christmas Eve, Dec. 24
    Commentary, Advent 4, Christmas Eve
    Advent 4 – Love
    Arts and Faith, Advent 4
    Christmas without Anglicans
    Origins of the 12 Days of Christmas
    Space in the manger
    Cry of a Tiny Baby
    Blessed Like Mary
    Where Jesus was born

    Young volunteers at the Village Harvest
    Village Harvest, Dec. 2023
    Caroling! Dec. 20, 2023
    Youth music, Advent 3, Dec. 17, 2023
    Christmas play – photos, video
    ECM Christmas collection
    Christmas flowers
    Village Harvest in December
    Sacred Ground votes scholarship funds
    Chancellor’s Village Eucharist, Dec. 12, 2023
    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

    Flash backs
    Christmas Celebrations since 2010
    Golden Hour at St. Peter’s
    An Amazing Sunset in December
    The Storycorps Christmas sermon, 2017
    Apollo 8, 1968

    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.

    Read more

    The Story Corps Christmas sermon from 2017 –

    Flashback to a gem from Christmas, 2017. …”This story is the good news of Christmas– the story of open doors and open hearts, forgiveness, and unexpected generosity.”

    Dr. William Lynn Weaver with his younger brother, Wayne, in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1963. Courtesy of the Weaver family.

    “I recently heard this story on Story Corps.

    On a cold Christmas Eve in 1967, just before dark, William Weaver, age 18, home from college, was walking down the street in his small neighborhood in Knoxville, TN,  when a young boy rode by on a bike.

    “Hey,” William thought to himself.  “That looks like my brother’s bike.”

    So when he got home, he asked his little brother Wayne where his bike was.  And his brother said it was outside against the steps.

    “No, it’s not,” said William.  “It’s gone.”

    Read more

    Our Christmas Invitation..

    This is our Christmas invitation video. Thanks to the Episcopal Church for the footage and voice overlay. The video is somewhat long at 3:20 minutes but it has a vital message. As the carpenter builds a manger, we use the message about Jesus to also build – a better world.

    Our Christmas Eve service Dec. 24, 4pm St. Peter’s 823 Water Street, Port Royal, Virginia or on the web

    The basis of the video is Luke’s Christmas story from Luke 2. Luke is writing about the true “savior of the world,” one from the line of the great King David. He looks to Bethlehem, the city of David, and not to Rome, the city of Caesar.

    The birth is announced to shepherds in the field, and not to the powerful in rich palaces. The scandal of the virgin birth is not so much that Mary was a virgin. The scandal was that Jesus–a poor kid from a backwater town–was born of a virgin.

    The word savior appears only three times -Luke 1, Luke 2, and John 4. It was a politically charged term since the Roman Caesar Augustus was known as “the savior of the world.” He had brought peace to the world, the pax Augusta and in gratitude people celebrated his birthday and remembered the gift of peace received in and through him.

    Jesus’ peace is not the same as the peace brought about by Caesar Augustus. It has more in common with the quality of life envisioned in the Hebrew word, shalom, (be whole, be complete). In Luke’s scriptures this word meant not merely the end of hostilities, but rather the well-being that comes from God

    Throughout his gospel Luke tells the story of the work that helped earn for Jesus the title “Savior.” In a world where Samaritans were despised he showed Jesus telling stories in gratitude to God. In a society which treated women as second class citizens he showed Jesus welcoming them into his fellowship, along with the disciple, and taking them with him on his travels through the cities and villages of Galilee. In a religious community that excluded sinners, he showed Jesus eating and drinking with them, telling stories accenting God’s care for them, and extending his hospitality and best wishes to them. The Jesus of Luke’s gospel was one who broke through the barriers of nationalism, sexism, and religious chauvinism, who awakened repentance, set people free, who opened communities and brought in peace. Indeed, as Luke stated, he was One who had come “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

    The shepherds share what they have learned about Jesus. Already, we get signs of the mutuality and reciprocity of the kingdom of God. The shepherds share with each other, and with Joseph and Mary. The words of the shepherds stir “all” who hear them. They return praising God.

    That’s the savior we welcome this Christmas.