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.

Souper Bowl collections

Today, Feb. 12, 2023, we collected soup from parishioners today plus cards addressed to the recipients to provide additional connections to our Village Harvest food distribution, happening next Wed Feb. 15, 3pm-5pm. We collected about 25 cans and numerous cards. If was not just the donation that was important but also the symbolic bringing of the donation to the altar which we did today. This practice goes back to at least Exodus in the Old Testament when Moses encourages bringing donations forward to the Lord.

Videos, Epiphany 6, Feb 12, 2023

1. Prelude

2. Hymn – “Praise to the Living God”

3. Collect for Sunday

4. Gospel – Matthew 5 21-37

5. Sermon – the Rev. Tom Hughes

6. Souper Bowl foor donations

7. Offertory – “No Greater Love”

8. Hymn – “I come with Joy”


Jesus is not just interested in our spiritual selves, but our physical needs as well. After Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter, he says, “give her something to eat.” When the disciples return from mission, Jesus can see they are exhausted and says, “Come away by yourselves and rest.” Jesus has come to satisfy our hunger – both physical and spiritual – and the hunger of the whole world.  -Br. Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE

Souper Bowl- Giving a can of Soup and a card this Sunday – the Gift of Life

Why give ?

A sermon by the Rev. Evan Garner highlighted why Church food ministries are so important in our time:

“Because feeding them is our job. As followers of Jesus, it is our calling to feed these people, indeed to feed all hungry people. The kind of people who left their homes to walk out into the wilderness and hike up a mountain to see Jesus are the kind of people who were desperate to be fed. Some of them may not have needed physical nourishment, but most of them did. For most of them, their spiritual crisis was born out of an economic crisis. We know that because usually the kind of people who had enough on their own weren’t very interested in Jesus. The rich and the powerful ignored him or laughed at him or, sometimes, plotted against him.”

“It is our job as the leaders of the church, as the stewards of the resources entrusted to us by God and by our parish, to count costs and estimate resources. But it is never our job as the people of God to allow an attitude of scarcity to overcome a theology of abundance. “

The Village Harvest addresses the Food Insecurity issue in surrounding counties and is one our key ministries. The definition of Food insecure is “these households who not have access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.”

Food insecure is not the same as poverty. Many of those in poverty are not food insecure though poverty is one cause of food insecurity.

There is a “poverty circle” just south of Port Royal in the direction of Fort A.P. Hill (map from Virginia Community Food Connections):

Food insecurity is associated with numerous adverse social and health outcomes and is increasingly considered a critical public health issue. Key drivers of food insecurity include unemployment, poverty, and income shocks, which can prevent adequate access to food. Figures for food insecurity are expressed as a percentage of the population.

Here is the data for the local counties which we serve from Feeding America. There have been significant improvesments in all counties since 2017 except for Westmoreland. Half of the local area is still above Virginia in food insecurity:

2020 2017
County % %
Caroline 7.4% 11.3%
Essex 11.0% 14.0%
Westmoreland 10.7% 10.8%
King George 5.6% 8.1%
Virginia as a whole 7.7% 10.2%

St. Peter’s spends about $2000 a year on food purchased from the Healthy Harvest Food Bank for the Village Harvest. Please give generously this Sunday. Thanks!

Absalom Jones

New! Absalom Jones video


““Greater love has no man…” John 15:13

Religious denominations often accept members from other denominations that have been affected with adversities through policy decisions, change of beliefs or disagreements in relationships. Imagine coming to a new church after achieving success another denomination.

That’s what happened to Absalom Jones (b 1746), whose day we celebrate on Feb. 13, the day he died in 1818. Jones became not only the first trained black minister in any denomination but the first black minister ordained into the Episcopal Church and the first to create a Black religious organization in Philadelphia.

Absalom Jones was born enslaved to Abraham Wynkoop a wealthy Anglican planter in 1746 in Delaware. He was working in the fields when Abraham recognized that he was an intelligent child and ordered that he be trained to work in the house.

He wrote later. .” I was small, when my master took me from the field to wait and attend on him in the house; and being very fond of learning, I was careful to save the pennies that were given to me by the ladies and gentlemen from time to time. I soon bought myself a primer, and begged to be taught by any body that I found able and willing to give me the least instruction. Soon after this, I was able to purchase a spelling book; for as my money increased, I supplied myself with books, among others, a Testament. For, fondness for books, gave me little or no time for the amusements that took up the leisure hours of my companions. By this course I became singular, and escaped many evils, and also saved my money.”

At the age of 16, Jones’ mother, sister, and five brothers were sold, but he was brought to Philadelphia by his master, where he attended a night school for African-Americans operated by Quakers.

His master granted him a manumission in 1784, after refusing for several years to allow Absalom to purchase his freedom. As he wrote, “My desire for freedom increased, as I knew that while I was a slave, my house and lot might be taken as the property of my master. This induced me to make many applications to him for liberty to purchase my freedom.”

He met Richard Allen while worshiping at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church who had been engaged to preach at St. George’s and the two became lifelong friends.
Read more…

The Gospel for Feb. 12-“But I Say to You”

By Debie Thomas from the website “Journey with Jesus”

“So I come to this week’s Gospel reading with trepidation, because Jesus’s words seem — at first glance — to support a very transactional version of God: “If you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment.” “If your right eye causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” If you don’t reconcile quickly with your accusers, “you will be thrown into prison until you’ve paid the last penny.” “Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

“Yikes. What are we supposed to do with such dire warnings? Where is the unconditional love we’d much rather hear about? This portion of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount sounds like it’s chock full of threats, issued by a severe and perfectionistic God. Is there a loophole somewhere? Anywhere?

“I wonder if the problem is in part a cultural one. As a 21st century Christian living in America, I am inclined to read Jesus’s sermon — or rather, I am inclined to read all of Scripture — through an individualistic lens. Whenever I see “you” in the text, I think: “Me. Me, Debie Thomas. This is a warning to and for me.”

“But that is not an accurate reading. Jesus isn’t admonishing individuals in his Sermon on the Mount; he is calling forth a new community. A blessed community. A beloved community. A community meant to initiate a radical way of doing life on the earth. A community Jesus trusts will follow in his footsteps, and incarnate divine love to a world hungry for hope and healing.

“If we read Jesus’s words about murder, anger, reconciliation, adultery, lust, divorce, and oath-making in this more communal context — if we read them as instructions given in the hope of building and sustaining a community that is both blessed and commissioned to bless — what version of God might emerge?

“I think the version that emerges is of a God who cares profoundly about human dignity. A God who takes our relationships with each other very seriously, and wants us to treat each other — not with a bare minimum of civility and morality — but with the deepest respect, integrity, and love.

“Take, for instance, Jesus’s teaching on murder. You have heard that murder is wrong, he tells his listeners. “But I say to you” that coexisting without literally killing each other is not enough to sustain a beloved community. It’s just the beginning. Agreeing not to commit homicide is essential and lovely, but what about all the other ways we human beings “kill”our relationships through resentment, rage, unforgiveness, and spite? Don’t we often treat others as if they are dead to us? Less than human? Unworthy of love? Don’t we inflict soul-killing violence on each other through our words? Our silences? Our refusal to extend and receive forgiveness? What good is it if we, God’s children, technically spare each other’s lives, and yet commit unspeakable acts of murder through a refusal to love?

“Or consider Jesus’s teaching on adultery. You have heard that you shall not commit adultery, he says. But I say to you that refraining from sleeping with each other’s spouses is just the barest foundation of Christ-centered community. What about honoring human dignity by refusing in any way to cheapen or objectify other people for our own pleasure? What about helping each other to succeed in our marriages and other relational commitments, instead of making those vows even harder to fulfill? What about taking seriously our responsibility to encourage each other in holy living? Not “holy” as in stiff, boring, lifeless, and prudish, but holy as in whole, abundant, faithful, and life-giving?

Or consider Jesus’s instruction not to swear by anything on earth or in heaven, but to simply let our yes be yes, and our no, no. Imagine, Jesus is suggesting, a community in which the default assumption is that people tell each other the truth. People keep their promises. People don’t deceive one another. In such a community, no one needs to say, “I swear!” in order to earn trust. In God’s beloved community, no one uses language to connive or manipulate others. We remember that the words we say are spoken in the presence of God, and so we speak with care and respect for each other.

“Finally, consider Jesus’s words about divorce, which I know strike us contemporary Christians as particularly jarring. Remember that in Jesus’s day, women whose husbands divorced them were often left to starve in the streets. They had no financial recourse, they would not be welcomed back into their childhood homes, and the social stigma attached to divorce was severe. What if Jesus is saying, “It’s not enough to follow the letter of the law, hand your wife a certificate of divorce, and send her packing — as if you have no further obligation to a fellow human being. What about her vulnerability? Her shame? Her future? In other words, in the beloved community Jesus is shaping, we have a responsibility to uphold each other’s dignity as brothers and sisters in Christ — even when our relationships as spouses or partners come to an end. That deeper responsibility cannot be signed away with a piece of paper. It endures no matter what.

“The longer I sit with this passage of Scripture, the more I see in it — oddly enough — the care and attentiveness of God. God wants us to treat each other well. God cares a lot about our dignity. God doesn’t want us to settle for bare minimums in the communities we create; God wants us to relate in ways that reflect the fullness of divine love, mercy, grace, and generosity.

“I believe we do ourselves a disservice if we read Jesus’s words as condemnation. Jesus isn’t condemning us; he’s reminding us of truths we intuitively know. The way of love is hard. It’s costly. It hurts. But let’s not fool ourselves; there is a place called hell. It’s the place we create for each other every time we choose an easy and austere legalism over an arduous and radical love.

“SO PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT’S IMPORTANT, Jesus says in every way he can think to articulate it. You matter. How you live with each other matters. What you say and do, what you focus on, what you prioritize as my disciples — these things matter! Your choices have life-and-death consequences, so please take your communal lives seriously. Please don’t make faith harder for yourselves and for others by settling for bare minimums. Reconcile with each other. Honor each other. Speak truthfully to each other. Protect each other. Do these things — not to earn God’s blessings, but because you are already so richly blessed.”


Lectionary, Feb. 12, Epiphany 6

I.Theme –   The joy and blessings of obedience. Also, is the idea of building a new community through new behaviors  (culminating in Matt 5: 37).


“Hands across the Divide” – Maurice Harron. A metal sculpture in Londonderry, Northern Ireland  

Since the 17th century, Londonderry has had two cultural traditions: Catholic and Protestant, Irish and Ulster Scots. During the Troubles, this became a big problem. The city became best known for tragedies like Bloody Sunday, and so most tourists stayed away. Yet since the start of the peace process, Londonderry has been transformed. It’s rediscovered its rightful role as a cultural destination, and its dual heritage has become an asset, rather than a source of strife. The image is included in relationship to the Corinthians reading.

The lectionary readings are here  or individually: 

1A. Old Testament 1 Ecclesiasticus 15:15-20

1B. Old Testament 2 Deuteronomy 30:15-20

2.  PsalmPsalm 119:1-8 Page 763, BCP

3.  Epistle – 1 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

4.  GospelMatthew 5:21-37 

The Old Testament and Gospel readings are linked around the older community in Deuteronomy (The setting is the plains of Moab, as the Israelites prepare to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land) and the new community in Matthew (Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount).  How do we get along in community ? The focus is the calling and teaching of disciples of Jesus. (Paul in Corinthians is centered on a related idea – being or becoming healthy as the body of Christ.)


In the four verses immediately preceding 30:15–20, Moses assures the people that the commandments of the LORD are neither too hard nor too remote. 
Just prior to our text, Moses announces wonderful blessings for an obedient Israel and blood-curdling curses for an apostate Israel (chapter 28). These benedictions and maledictions are followed by a prediction of eventual exile (29:18–29) and return (30:1–10) . 

Having assured the people that what God commands they can do, Moses launches into his final call for a decision.

The choice is stark. “If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today…then you shall live and become numerous
But if your heart turns away and you do not hear… I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.”  Moses use of the word “today” is the hope for a new beginning.    

Like Matthew there is the emphasis on the creation of a new community. There is the need for a break with the past. However,  in the following chapter, it becomes very clear that both Moses and God know that the people will fail miserably. 


The first section of the ‘long Psalm’ is an acrostic based on alpeh, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Like the other 21 sections of the Psalm, it consists of eight double lines. The longest acrostic Psalm, it is therefore constructed with great skill, which no translation can really convey. The choice of vocabulary is also rich, expressing different terms for what we very flatly call ‘law’. Although the Jewish celebration of ‘rejoicing in the law (simchat torah) was a later development in Judaism, the psalm expresses similar sentiments. As a Psalm extolling the torah, it has similarities to Psalms 1 and 19:7-11. These eight verses are a suitable general introduction to the rest of the Psalm.

1 Corinthians 3: 1-9 

Following on from the situation reported to him by ‘Chloe’s people’ (1:11), after an excursus dealing with ‘the message of the cross (1:18-2:16), Paul returns to the theme of factions in the church at Corinth. However, the intervening section emphasizes the cross as God’s wisdom. This stands in sharp contrast to the rivalry exhibited by the groups in the church. The metaphor of ‘growth’ is developed both in the imagery of the ‘child’, and also of the ‘field’. Paul’s favorite dichotomy of flesh and spirit is also to the fore. Nevertheless, the Corinthian believers are still Paul’s ‘brothers and sisters’, and fellow workers. Despite their shortcomings, although he does reprimand them he does not disown them. The fact that only Paul and Apollos are mentioned here (and not Cephas nor Christ, as in 1:12) probably reflects the history of the congregation’s founding and leadership by these two apostles. Paul might have taken some of the glory for this, but he refuses to do so. 

Matthew 5: 21-37 

The first four of the six ‘antitheses’ of the Sermon on the Mount are included in this reading (the final two are in next week’s reading). The quotations from ‘those of ancient times’ include aspects of both torah and tradition (halakah). The time-honoured description of this section as ‘antitheses’ may be misleading, for although in part Jesus cuts across the interpretation of the law, he does not contradict or discard torah itself. Jesus’ own interpretation intensifies and internalises the force of the commands. 

Jesus also broadens the impact of torah/halakah, ie murder becomes an issue of anger and unforgiveness; adultery is broadened to include lust and stumbling-blocks in general; divorce and adultery are linked; and the making of vows is illustrated by specific examples and by the simplicity of Jesus’ teaching. 

The explanatory expansion of these commands by Jesus may also be understood as the root cause of the specific sin, eg anger or unforgiveness in the heart can lead to physical murder. 

Re ad more about the lectionary

Sunday Links, Feb. 12, 2023. Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany – Souper Bowl Sunday

Souper Bowl Sunday It began over 20 years ago with a simple prayer : “Lord as we enjoy the Super Bowl, help us to be mindful of those without a bowl of soup to eat. The photo is our collection ten years ago – in the snow!

Bring a can, or cans, of soup to church on the 12th, along with a Valentine’s Day card wishing the recipient love from St Peter’s to be included in a Village Harvest bag on Weds, February 15th. The goal—thirty cans of soup and thirty cards for those who come to the distribution. Monetary donations to the Village Harvest also welcome with Village Harvest in the memo line of your check.

Feb. 12, 11:00am – Holy Eucharist

  • Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany Zoom link Feb. 12, 2023 Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929

  • Lectionary for Feb. 12, 2023,
    Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
  • Bulletin for Feb. 12, 2023,
  • Morning Meditation , Feb. 13, 6:30am Zoom link Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Feb. 15, 10am-12pm.
  • Village Harvest, Wed., Feb. 15, 3pm-5pm. Please email Andrea to volunteer at wakepogue.public@gmail.com, or (540) 847-9002. Pack bags 1-3PM, Deliver food to clients’ cars 3-5PM.
  • February, 2023
  • All articles for Feb.12, 2023

  • Coming Up!

  • Sun, Feb. 19, Congregational Meeting, 11am