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.

Village Harvest, Feb. 2023

The pace has been slower in the first 2 months of 2023. The chart illustrates this summary over 3 years with fewer clients combined with a smaller food distribution:

Feb’s total clients were 77 above Jan 60. Food distributed was also lower at 836 pounds vs. 1,137 for Jan. Feb’s total represented the lowest pounds distributed since Sept. 2021

Videos from Lent 1, Feb. 26, 2022

1 Prelude- “Soul Adorn Yourself with Gladness”

2 Hymnal discussion

3 Hymn “Lord who throughout these forty days”

4 Gospel and Sermon – Rev. Tom Hughes

5 Announcements

6 Offertory “Chorale -Christ the Flower”

A Prayer for Entering Lent

God of mystery and wisdom,
be with us this Lenten season.
It’s been a long way, already
sickness, worry, isolation, fear, waiting
our hearts are heavy
our souls are weary
our bodies are hurting
our hope is wavering
yet, you are with us.

God of mystery and wisdom,
be with us this Lenten season.
Show us your grace
in the small moments of silence
the prayers offered in person or virtually
the kindness of a stranger
the lighting of a candle
the listening to a friend
the care of neighbors,
you are with us.

God of mystery and wisdom,
be with us this Lenten season.
Settle our hearts
revive our spirits
increase our faith
spread our love.

God of mystery and wisdom,
be with us this Lenten season.
In ashes and dust
reading and listening
wandering and walking
praying and singing
eating and fasting
show us the way forward.

God of mystery and wisdom,
be with us this Lenten season.
As we walk to the cross
keep our eyes fixed
on you and your love –
caring for others
crossing boundaries
reaching out to the poor
taking our pain
transforming death into life
over and over again.

God of mystery and wisdom,
be with us this Lenten season.


By Kimberly Knowle-Zeller. She is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor.

Lectionary, Lent 1 Year A

I.Theme –   Dealing with Sin and Temptation

Duccio di Buoninsegna – “Temptation of Christ on the Mountain” (1308-11)

The lectionary readings are here  or individually: 

Old Testament – Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 
Psalm – Psalm 32 
Epistle –Romans 5:12-19 
Gospel – Matthew 4:1-11 

One key word this week is “Sin” and it fits in well with Lent. We remember Jesus 40 day fast and resulting temptation by the devil. The 40 days fits in with the period designated for Lent.  Lent is 6 days of fasting over 7 weeks with the period at Ash Wednesday.  Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter.

As we begin Lent, let’s start at the very beginning and consider why we need to go on this trip in the first place.

What does it mean to be human ? From the Genesis story of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, through Paul’s exploration of how Jesus functions as a “second Adam,” to Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, these readings cut to the chase of what it is to be human. 

The other key word this week is “temptation.”  As  Brian Stoffregen writes  “ Wherever it comes, the tempter/tester does not have the power to make someone do something. Temptation is not coercion. The serpent in the garden didn’t make Eve and Adam eat the apple. The devil in our text can’t make Jesus turn stones into bread. “To tempt” means to try and convince someone to do something. It means enticing someone to want to do something. Tempters can’t make someone do something bad, but try to make the temptee want to do something bad. They don’t take away the will. Rather, they try to change one’s will.”

“The way [the devil] seeks to change our wills is by lying, by stretching the truth. Generally, [the devil] entices us not to do great evil acts, but to good things for the wrong reasons. It could be argued that none of Jesus’ temptations were to do anything grossly evil, but to do good things for the wrong reasons or at the wrong time.”

In essence we need a relationship with God living not by our own whims but by God’s limits.  We are also tempted to be self-succient in Genesis by eating of the tree of knowledge as Jesus is tempted to be self sufficient in turning stone into bread, cheating death and controlling the whole world. We are insufficient, We are not complete in and of ourselves, that lack is a permanent part of our condition.

There is more to it as David Lose maintains. “Rather, to be human is to accept that we are, finally, created for relationship with God and with each other. Perhaps the goal of the life of faith isn’t to escape limitation but to discover God amid our needs and learn, with Paul, that God’s grace is sufficient for us.”

Lose continues, “Perhaps faith, that is, doesn’t do away with the hardships that are part and parcel of this life, but rather gives us the courage to stand amid them, not simply surviving but actually flourishing in and through Jesus, the one who was tempted as we are and thereby knows our struggles first hand. This same Jesus now invites us to find both hope and courage in the God who named not only him, but all of us, beloved children so that we, also, might discover who we are be recalling whose we are.” 

II. Summary

Old Testament

In the story, humankind ‘falls’ from a state of grace and blessing in an ideal world to the state of sinful creature in a world beset by hardship and wickedness. This ‘fallen’ state is then passed from generation to generation, and is that from which we are redeemed in Jesus.

It is about limits – the tendency to transgress the relationship established between God and humans, to want to be more than the human creatures they are created to be. It is not so much about a ‘fall’, as about hubris, the attempt to be more than what one is, to gain qualities not intended for human possession; in short, to seek to be like God.

It does not speak about a point in time when sin entered the world, as much as about how it enters. In addition, many things have been read into the story which it does not support, such as the close association of the woman with sin, and the connection of the serpent with Satan.

One thing to note is that the garden, which the Lord plants, is not a place especially prepared for human occupation; ‘paradise’ as it has been called. Rather, this garden possesses all the qualities of a place where gods reside in ancient myths. It is a place of abundant fertility, with supernatural trees of great beauty offering divine gifts (wisdom and life; 2:9). There is a subterranean source of life-giving water which feeds the whole earth (2:6, 10-14). It is the place where the Lord resides and takes rest (3:8) and where, in the presence of other divine creatures (the cherubim and flaming sword in 3:24, and the ‘us’ referred to in 3:22), the Lord makes decrees affecting the destiny of the world (3:16-19). The Garden of Eden is not intended to be a human ‘paradise’, but is actually the garden of God into which humans are placed by the one who is its chief resident (cf. Ezek 28:1-19).

Our reading is excerpts from an epic tale about the creation of humanity, beginning from after the creation of “the heavens and the earth” (2:4), a time when the earth was semi-arid. Ancient peoples thought that there were waters under the earth. Seepage of this water was insufficient for cultivation; as yet there was no rain and “no one to till the ground” (2:5).

At that time, God formed human (Hebrew: adam) “from the dust of the ground” (2:7) and gave him his spirit of life. God put in Eden (2:8), his earthly domain, to cultivate (“till”) and care for it.

First, the creature is to “serve” this garden. The traditional translation of this word as “till” is plainly a throwback to the King James reading, published in 1611, which reflected an agriculturally based culture. But this Hebrew word is the common word “serve,” from which, for example, the word “slave” derives. Tilling” implies that I am in control of the garden and am called to work it so as to make it better, more productive. That in itself is not so bad, but it can become dangerous if I assume that I am in fact in complete control of the garden, rather than being a servant of the soil, working in consort with it to make the garden more fruitful.

Second, the creature is to “protect/guard” the garden. The more common reading “keep” has the air of ownership, of having a rightful claim on the garden. To protect or guard the garden is a more useful partner with “serve”; I serve the garden and then I protect that which I serve. I do not control or own.

God tells him he may eat the fruit of the trees there, except for two:

that of “the knowledge of good and evil” (2:17), of complete knowledge and understanding (or of moral choice); and

that of “life” (2:9, 3:3), of eternal life, of becoming divine.

Plainly, God, who presumably is the possessor of the “knowledge of everything,” wants to be certain that God’s created creature does not seek such vast and ultimately divine knowledge

If he does, he will “die”, i.e. be separated from God. God provides human with an equal “partner” (2:18) of human’s flesh. Thus the tale explains sex, of “Man” (2:23, Hebrew: ish) and “Woman” (isha).

At this point, the couple do not see shame in nudity, for their relationship to God is guiltless. Now the snake, a mischievous creature, (also a character in other ancient epics) appears. He sows doubt in the woman’s mind about what God has commanded, and she responds inaccurately (3:2): she adds “nor shall you touch it” (3:3). The snake suggests that God is trying to fool her: rather than dying, she will attain mastery of knowledge, and become divine (“like God”, 3:5).

She finds this irresistible; she eats of its fruit and gives some to the man. Nudity is now embarrassing, for the couple has lost its innocent trusting relationship with God (3:8). In 3:8-19 God metes out punishment for disobeying his order:

to the snake: it will lack legs and eat dust;

to the woman: (a) despite the great pain of child-bearing, she will seek to bear more children; (b) (in an ancient society) man “shall rule over you”;

to the man: (a) cultivation will be hard ; (b) he will die, returning to “dust”; and

to all three: humans and snakes will be enemies.

Thus are explained some basic facts of life. But sin has not changed God’s intent: Eve is “mother of all living” (3:20) and God protects the couple by making “garments” (3:21) for them. To protect them from exceeding human limitations and becoming like gods, he expels them from Eden, into the ordinary world.

There are limits – We simply cannot eat of the tree of divine knowledge; it is far too dangerous for us human beings to do so. God made us to serve and protect the great garden of God. But we would rather control and plunder and take over, forgetting that God is creator and sustainer of all of us and of all of the cosmos

The result of this transgression is alienation in every direction: the woman and the man from each other, the humans from the ground, and the humans from the Lord God. The intimacy that was the hallmark of the garden, has been broken. Indeed Eve also attempts to pass the buck, blaming her sin on the snake. Adam blames Eve on causing this trouble – and so it goes.

We have to reclaim our relationship with God and that is part of Lent 


This psalm has elements of lament (e.g. vv. 3-4), aspects of penitential psalms (e.g. vv. 1-2, 5) and elements of wisdom psalms in vv. 1-2, and 8-9. The psalm is often classed as one of the seven penitential psalms but is really of a mixed type. As a whole, the psalmist revels in the Lord’s forgiveness (vv. 1-5) and urges other faithful ones to offer prayer to God (v. 6). The theme of forgiveness fits well with the Old Testament and Gospel readings for this week.

The psalm opens with a statement of blessedness or happiness . The psalmist tells us what he has learned in life: happiness is having one’s sin forgiven and taken away (“covered”) by God, and enjoying a clear conscience (v. 2). Forgiveness is joy. In the first two verses the psalmist uses four different nouns to describe ‘sin’ translated into English by transgression, sin, iniquity and deceit

In vv. 3-5 the psalmist traces their journey toward forgiveness. He states his experiences: he was seriously ill (“your hand was heavy upon me”) and was in pain (“groaning”), both signs of his alienation from God. (Illness was commonly regarded as punishment for sin.)

Silence was the psalmist’s enemy. He didn’t get it in the open – sin got the better of him. The psalmist’s relationship with God at this time feels oppressive and they are deeply drained of energy and life. It is only when the psalmist acknowledges their sin to God that they know relief. Above all, they know forgiveness. He acknowledged his sin and did not continue his waywardness (“I did not hide …”, v. 5); he confessed to God, and God forgave him.

The psalmist’s immediate response (vv. 6-7) is to call all who are faithful to offer prayer to God, especially when they are in distress, which could be by reason of their own sin or other circumstances. They have found God to be a place of security and the source of ‘glad cries of deliverance’. T

In the theology of this psalm, confession of sin and subsequent forgiveness are not simply private matters, between the sinner and God. While they are that in one respect, they are things which have ramifications for the whole of the confessor’s community. Confession and forgiveness flow over into mutual building up the other community of the faithful.

There is ambiguity in vv. 8-9. It is unclear whether these words are those of the psalmist as one who has experienced forgiveness and who now dares to teach another the way they should go or are we hearing the Lord’s own words to the psalmist – he will lead the psalmist in his ways, through instruction and counsel. Don’t be like “a horse or a mule” (v. 9) who must be coerced into action: use your initiative in being open to God.

V. 11 is spoken to the congregation in the Temple, calling calling the people to shout for joy (v. 11) even as they experienced such joy (v. 7). They matter of individual confession spills over in the community not only in terms of calls to prayer and words of exhortation, but also in feelings of joy and acts of celebration. Individual confession and forgiveness are truly matters of community concern and benefit.


Paul has said that Christians, reconciled to God, will be saved, sharing in the risen life of Christ.

Two notions are important here: the punishment for Adam’s sin was to die both physically and spiritually (“death came through sin”); and we both sin ourselves and share in his sin (“spread to all”).

Paul contrasts Adam and Christ, both inaugurators of eras. Adam foreshadowed Christ as head of humanity (“type”, v. 14, precursor). Adam disobeyed God’s direct command (“the transgression”, v. 14, “the trespass”, v. 15).

The “free gift”, i.e. Christ, is unlike Adam’s sin:

-“many died” before Christ’s coming but even more so are “many” (indeed all) saved through Christ;

-Adam was condemned to separation from God but Christ brings union with God (vv. 16, 18);

-Adam’s sin allowed “death” (v. 17) to rule through the Devil (“that one”) but we let good rule our hearts (“dominion in life”); and

-Adam’s action led to the sin of many but Christ’s will lead many to godliness (v. 19), to “eternal life” (v. 21).

(Vv. 13-14b are an aside: before God gave Moses the Law, humans were not held accountable for their sins; even so they died.) 

Paul, however, does not think we are dealing with some kind of easy formula but that we are in real relationships that have choices and consequences. In these personal relationships, personal responses matter.

The sin Paul talks of does not need to be understood only as personal but systemic and institutional. We are all part of the sin that keeps people poor, and makes power rest with the powerful, even the sin that passes through generations. We can easily pass on negativity to different groups through prejudice and fear. Equally, the salvation Christ brings is not limited to the individual. Salvation is found in the destroying of the forces that bind us, that brings dull living and limits people.

The law does not help here, according to Paul, for what we need is love to free us fully. Paul is quick with the Law and we cannot fully unpack it but the full transformation comes through love.


This scripture is the famous narrative of Jesus’ temptations as told by Matthew. The disciples probably knew none of the details of Jesus’ trials, for temptation is essentially a personal inner battle with one’s conscience. Jesus has 40 days of fast before being tempted. “Forty days” (v. 2) reminds us of Moses and Elijah, both of whom also fasted for forty days as they prepared for their roles as God’s agents to Israel – as does Jesus.

The devil appears in Genesis first as the snake. In Job, Satan acts as a secret agent of God who tests the loyalty of Job through a series of tragic calamities. Indeed, the name “Satan,” comes from the Persian for just such a person – a secret agent of the King who secretly tests subjects’ loyalty to the King. In that belief system, world history was viewed as a cosmic struggle between the forces of good and light and those of evil and darkness with each represented by various angelic or demonic beings. Satan became the force of evil in the world. However, by the time of Jesus, Satan has become a rogue agent a cast out angel who not only tests loyalty but also recruits persons to join his circle of anti-God people.

This is another Old Testament parallel with Israel. Where Israel wandered as punishment for mistrust, however, Jesus fasts and is tempted in order to prove his trust in God and thereby his trustworthiness for the journey ahead. In this way, this scene not only links Jesus to the past of his ancestors, it marks him as superior to them and ready to inaugurate a new era in the ongoing history of God and the people of God.

Why are people tested in the first place? One reason is given in Dt 13:3b: “for the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you indeed love the LORD your God with all your heart and soul.” A slightly different reason is given in Dt 8:16: “to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good.” God wants Jesus/us to pass the test — to prove our abilities to God and to ourselves. It shows the depth of our faith.

The three tests / temptations are intended to demonstrate that Jesus is indeed worthy of the most exalted position: Son of God. All three of the temptations present to Jesus are ways of sinning against the great commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, … soul, and … might”.

What’s wrong with doing these temptations “. They come from a word other than God’s. If Jesus does what the Devil asks — even if they are very good things, he is then living by a word that is not coming out of the mouth of God. They are self-serving. Contrast that with Jesus feeding of the 5,000 which came from Jesus perception of the problem at hand.

God trumps the devil. Good trumps systemic evil. It also allows us to see that our opponents are victimized by the same evil they hope to spread.

Taken together, the three rejected temptations not only demonstrate that Jesus is righteous according to the law but also prove his identity as God’s divine and beloved son. Indeed, Satan’s temptations get immediately to the core question of Jesus’ identity, calling into question his relationship with God by beginning with the provocative, “If you are the Son of God….” This relationship, announced just verses early at his baptism, is now confirmed through Jesus’ unswerving trust in God.

In each case, Jesus rejects the temptation and lodges his identity, future, and fortunes on God’s character and trustworthiness and quotes scripture. He can now expand his personal ministry after dealing with the devil. He has affirmed his call – doing the will of God.

Individually, each temptation invites Jesus to turn away from trust in God in a different way.

1. In the first, the devil invites Jesus to prove his son ship through a display of power; that is, by changing stones to bread. Providing food for all to provide food for all would meeting an obvious human need, corresponding to popular messianic expectation

To do this would be to use his power for his personal benefit. Jesus says that the “word” (v. 4) of God is the chief nourishment. Jesus emphasizes his own humanity rather than as a superman which is closer to the concept of messiah.

We also know that bread as food and bread as money does not solely meet the needs of people. That is, human beings need food and money to live and survive in this world, but food and money are not the ONLY things necessary to live. Not at all. Jesus did not say that bread was not important. Jesus said that a person cannot find life simply by the accumulation of wealth and food.

2. In the second, the temptation is to test God’s fidelity. Is God here among us or not? In this we are putting God to the test.

“Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.” The holy city was Jerusalem and at a point that overlooked the temple course.

Jesus answers: testing God’s protection by unnecessarily risking life is a mockery of real martyrdom – and of his sacrifice to come (v. 7). When we start looking for miracles to prove God’s presence, we are not living by God’s word.

3. In the third — more an out-and-out bribe than temptation — Jesus is promised all the power and glory the earth can offer if he will give his allegiance and devotion to the Tempter. The promise was glory, fame and recognition. Could the devil actually provide this? That’s not clear and the wrong question. The power and authority over the kingdoms of the world comes at too high a price — selling his soul to the devil by worship him. Jesus answers: God is the only god to be worshipped and served (v. 10). Jesus only reveals he is focusing on his mission as the son of God.

Jesus will find his challenges are just beginning and they will come from humans – Pharisees and Sadducees (16:1); Pharisees (19:3); Pharisees and Herodians (22:18); and a legal expert (22:35).

These temptations can be rephrased in a modern context and seem relevant (from “Sermons from Seattle”)

1) People still want free food when hungry. Bread is symbolic of food and money.

2) People still want God to do “magical miracles” and rescue us from our foolish decisions.

3) People still want the glory, recognition, and authority of political power.

From “Sermons from Seattle”

We are continually being tested in our lives.

“The power of evil is forever testing us to draw us away from God. The power of evil wants to destroy and kill us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Evil wants to destroy our faith in God, our faith in each other, our good values, our good marriages, good families, our good communities, our good nations and any goodness of God living inside of us.

“The power of evil tests us in order to see what quality of genuine faith lives inside of our hearts.

“We all they know the numerous tests of life: a sudden battle with cancer, a heart attack, a loss of our child, war, starvation, hunger, financial collapse, marital collapse. The list goes on and on.

“We as Christians are always faced with the power of evil testing us to see if we will crumble and curse God, forget God, not draw on God, and gradually let go of God. That is what the story of Job was about in the Old Testament.

“The power of evil also tempts us. The power of evil knows where we are most vulnerable and “weakest” and often tempts us at those points of our personal life. The Apostle Paul refers to these weaknesses as “the flesh.” Greed, money, success, sex, pride, gluttony, self- righteousness, complacency. The list is endless. “

“Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit when he faced the inner temptations of the power of evil. Jesus wants us to be full of the Spirit as we face our inner temptations and testings.

“Focus on the phrase, “in the wilderness.” All human beings experience “the wilderness” during our lives. “The wilderness” symbolizes those times when we feel alone, when we feel that we may not be up to the challenge, when we feel the challenges before us are greater than our resources to overcome.


III. Articles for this week in WorkingPreacher:

Old TestamentGenesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7

PsalmPsalm 32

EpistleRomans 5:12-19

GospelMatthew 4:1-11

Jesus Makes a Difference, Lent 1

The Gospel from Matthew this Sunday Lent 1, Feb. 26 is about Jesus 3 temptations. Temptation is an inner battle we all face and appropriate on the first Sunday in Lent

This text and video are from the Diocese of Atlanta, Bishop Rob Wright and their 5 part Lent series, “Jesus makes the difference”

“The devil’s first move on Jesus and on all of us is to come for your sense of identity in God. At his baptism Jesus heard God say, “This is my son with whom I am well pleased.” God said it to Jesus, and he said it to anyone who was listening. Seems clear and settled doesn’t it, but just a few verses later the devil leads with, “If you are the Son of God turn stones into bread. In a repeat attack, the devil says, “If you are the son of God jump off the temple steeple into the arms of waiting angels.”

“Notice, the devil always tries to bend God’s resolute exclamation points into insecure question marks! The difference between Jesus and the devil is that Jesus knows he doesn’t have to prove who he is to God. He knows he doesn’t have to earn God’s love. He knows he can’t earn or lose God’s approval. Jesus knows that we are so much more to God than we can produce or fail to produce. Jesus’ example in this exchange can be difference making for us if we let it. Jesus doesn’t question our identity, ever. We are God’s beloved, full stop. We are invited to trust our reflection in God’s eyes first and always! We are invited to “let love be genuine” as a means of feeding ourselves and the world. We are invited to love what God loves, which is always sincerity and not spectacle. – Bishop Rob Wright, Diocese of Atlanta

Here is the Video and reflection guide

Art for Lent 1, Year A

This Sunday’s first reading from Genesis invites us back to the beginning—to the creation of man and woman, and their original fall, succumbing to the temptation of the serpent. Ivan Kramskoi’s Christ in the Desert returns Jesus to this same beginning to face his own temptations before heading out to engage in public ministry.

Christ is seated in a rocky, arid landscape. Seated in the dust from which we came, Christ is battling. His battle is intensely psychological. As the devil tempts him with thoughts of worldly satisfaction, power, and an easier way out, he recalls the original temptation, the one Adam and Eve could not resist. This time around, Christ knows what is at stake—the gravity of the difference between Paradise gained or lost is visible on his face.

In the stillness of this arid scene, we see heaven and earth clash. In the distance we see a sky that is dawning, a subtle sign of hope that this New Adam will bring humankind back to right relationship with God. The bottom half of the image, though, is the rocky earth— a symbol of the human struggle, of the toil man has endured after the Fall, and of the unforgiving realities of human suffering if separated from God’s life-giving grace. Christ faces downward; he is embedded in this struggle, committed to enter into the depths of it. On his right, where the sky touches the desert, the background is the darkest—evoking these depths. Yet on his left, the rocky terrain reaches up to the brightening sky, seeking the light of a graced existence. And in the middle, Kramskoi places Jesus. He is the bridge between this darkness and light.

But his bridge-building will not be easy. The burden of this process shows on his face, weighs down his shoulders, and pierces his bare feet. His resolve culminates in the center of the image, in his hands gripping one another, fused together in a gesture of prayer. Strength emanates from these hands, hands of prayer fusing heaven and earth together once again as he resists temptation and remains faithful to who he is and what he is called to do.

On this first Sunday of Lent, Jesus’ strength in prayer is a gift of encouragement for our journeys as well—a gift to take with us into our own wildernesses where the voice of temptation utters false words. These hands fused in prayer remind us to resist the isolation that the devil’s false words bring, and to remain in the grip of grace—joined to God.

Lent is…

Lent is:

• A time for looking at the things we do that are wrong or that tempt us, asking God’s and other people’s forgiveness;
• A time for giving up things that keep us from being loving people;
• A time for doing extra things that will help us grow closer to God;
• A time to be more aware of what it means to love as God loves us;
• A time to ask God to help us to be more loving, remembering that God is always ready to strengthen us.
• A time to let go of our normal routine, try a new spiritual practice, to step out of our box, to reflect on ourselves, to reflect on a relationship with God. It can be a very creative time. At a later time these practices may help us endure trying of challenging times. Lent gives us a chance to practice facing our fears, journeying in the wilderness, confronting the dangers and difficulties we find there, and reaching out for Jesus’ hand for the entire trip.

The Lenten service

“Lent is the season to prepare for the journey through Holy Week and the joys of the Easter season to come. The beginning of the service provides time for solitude, to seek and find God within ourselves. The Confession of Sin and the Absolution are both part of the Penitential Order and occur at the beginning of the service. Both the Trisagion, near the beginning of the service, and the fraction anthem, which immediately follows the breaking of the bread, emphasize the merciful nature of God’s love for us.”

Voices of Lent

1.  Desmond Tutu   from In God’s Hands

And humans were given dominion over all creation. That is why we were created to be God’s viceroys, to be God’s stand ins. We should love, we should bear rule over the rest of creation as God would. We are meant to be caring in how we deal with the rest of God’s creation. God wants everything to flourish. It gives us a huge responsibility – that we should not ravish and waste the natural resources which God places at our disposal for our wellbeing. 


 2. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

Lenten Message

Clarence Jorden of the Koinonia Movement many years ago wrote this: Jesus founded the most revolutionary movement in human history, a movement built on the unconditional love of God for the world, and the mandate to those who follow to live that love.

The season of Lent is upon us. It is a season of making a renewed commitment to participate and be a part of the movement of Jesus in this world. You can see some of that in the Gospel lesson for the first Sunday of Lent where Luke says that after the Baptism of Jesus he went into the wilderness, there to be tempted of Satan.

After the Baptism. Baptism is the sacrament of commitment to the Jesus Movement. It is to be washed, if you will, in the love and the reality of God, and to emerge from that great washing as one whose life is dedicated to living that love in the world.

In this season of Lent, we take some time to focus on what that means for our lives, whether it is as simple as giving up chocolate candy or as profound as taking on a commitment to serve the poor or to serve others in some new way. Whatever it is, let that something be something that helps you participate in the movement of God’s love in this world following in the footsteps of Jesus.

And the truth is, the fact that Jesus was baptized and began that movement in the world and immediately found himself tempted by the devil is an ever-present reminder that this movement is not without struggle. It is not easy. The truth is, this movement is difficult. It’s hard work. It’s work of following Jesus to the cross. And it’s work of following Jesus through the cross to the Resurrection. To new life. And new possibility. That is our calling. That is the work of the movement. To help this world move from what is often the nightmare of the world itself into the dream that God intends.

So I pray that this Lent, as they used to say many years ago, might be the first day of the rest of your life. It might be a new day for this world.

3. Pope Francis

God’s people, then, need this interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves. To further this renewal, I would like to propose for our reflection three biblical texts.

1. “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26) – The Church

2. “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9) – Parishes and Communities

3. “Make your hearts firm!” (James 5:8) – Individual Christians

First, we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven. Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer! The 24 Hours for the Lord initiative, which I hope will be observed on 13-14 March throughout the Church, also at the diocesan level, is meant to be a sign of this need for prayer.

Second, we can help by acts of charity, reaching out to both those near and far through the Church’s many charitable organizations. Lent is a favourable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family.

Third, the suffering of others is a call to conversion, since their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my brothers and sisters. If we humbly implore God’s grace and accept our own limitations, we will trust in the infinite possibilities which God’s love holds out to us. We will also be able to resist the diabolical temptation of thinking that by our own efforts we can save the world and ourselves.

4. Catherine Hicks

Lent is the season to spend some time on this part of the journey through the friable sand, asking God to help us clean up the areas in our lives where trash has built up…

So on this snowy Ash Wednesday take an imaginary summer walk across the sand to the ocean and lay out your own path through this season of Lent.

Returning to the Sacred Presence

 "One of the greatest theologians the world has ever known, St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), wrote about his prolonged, drawn-out search for God and the revelation he finally had that God had been with him all along: 

"I have learnt to love you late, Beauty at once so ancient and so new! I have learnt to love you late! You were within me, and I was in the world outside myself. I searched for you outside myself…. You were with me, but I was not with you."

Confessions, Book X.27, St. Augustine

"Waking to the reality of this very present Eternal Life, this "Beauty ever ancient, ever new," is a transforming experience. This life-giving Presence is always with us and within us. The problem, of course, is that we are often distracted by many cares and occupations that keep us far away from God and from ourselves. It is as if we spend much of our lives wandering "in a land that is waste," while God constantly calls to us to return–to ourselves, to our true life in God.

"The forty days of Lent serve as a time for Christians to return to the Sacred Presence, to the God who has never left us, even though at times we have been far away. Lent is a time to renew classic disciplines of prayer and reflection, as well as ancient practices such as fasting and Bible study. All of this is designed to renew a right spirit within us and to prepare us for the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection at Easter."

‐The Rev. Gary Jones, St. Stephens, Richmond

A Lenten Reflection

As we begin the 40-day Lenten journey it is traditional to give up something during this penitential season, to fast from some thing or some behavior in our lives. As you contemplate your own Lenten discipline, here is a reflection adapted from: We Dare to Say: Praying for Justice and Peace, eds. Sylvia Skrepichuk & Michel Cote, Novalis.

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on difference; feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressure; feast on unceasing prayers.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from laziness; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that sustains life.

For your Father who sees the good you do in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:4)

Lent is Weird, a Little Sad and Oddly Beautiful

Lent is a weird thing. In the Church we take this time to prepare ourselves for Holy Week and Easter, and its forty-day duration reflects the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. In many ways this is our time to be in the wilderness as well. On Ash Wednesday we will spread ashes on our heads and be reminded of our mortality. The music during this season will be muted and not have the joy that is typical of our worship, and we are forbidden from saying “Alleluia”. We also have the informal tradition of giving up nasty habits during Lent, or sometimes even adding various disciplines with the idea that these habits will draw us closer to God.

Some of these rituals and customs are somewhat strange, especially giving up stuff for Lent, but for me I am amazed at the amount of people, especially people who don’t go to Church, that are fascinated by this season. Ash Wednesday is arguably the most depressing day of the Church year. The purpose of the service is to openly remind people that one day they will die, which contrasts the hope of the resurrection that we see on Easter Day. A lot of people come out of the woodwork for Easter for obvious reasons, but you would be surprised how many people who do not claim to be Christians that go to get the ashes on their forehead on Ash Wednesday. Even my atheist friends in the past had a lot of questions about Lent and one even came up with his own Lenten disciplines despite his general skepticism of organized religion. There is something special about this season, something that goes against the grain of society that appeals to people.

In many ways our culture is constantly trying to live in a manufactured false state of Easter. Of course we want to be happy all of the time and we wish our youth would last forever, but we are unique in history as actually having the resources to live into these delusions. Entire industries have popped up promising to keep us young, healthy and happy, but even these efforts will ultimately fail, and no one seems to be talking about this difficult truth. This is where Ash Wednesday enters into our world, and it is what draws people into Church to receive their ashes. Ash Wednesday is unapologetically melancholy and honest when it comes to the reality that we cannot always be happy, and that our days of health of youth will one day end. Yes, we rejoice in the hope of the resurrection, but Christ wept at the tomb of Lazarus, and we should not ignore the sadness that we feel when confronted with our mortality, and we should not think that coming to God with sadness is any less holy than praising God with joyful Alleluias.

Ash Wednesday is a phenomenon in the Episcopal Church. It seems to go counter to everything that we think people want, to constantly live in a joyful state of Easter, but priests stand on street corners in urban areas with ashes and scores of un-churched, or under-churched are compelled to hear the words, “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Lent is weird, a little sad and oddly beautiful. It tells us something we spend most of our time avoiding, and without the sadness that Ash Wednesday, Easter means nothing. Lent invites us to be whole, to be able to face the good and the sad knowing that God walks with us. Blessings, Fr. Nick

Lent Prepares Us for the Wilderness

In the beginning of this season I told you that I don’t really understand the whole giving up stuff for Lent. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all, and many times it can be a helpful way to change our lives, but other times it becomes more about self-improvement than throwing ourselves into the wilderness, shaking up our lives and finding God in the most unlikely of places. During Lent it is our custom to choose what we give up. We maintain control of how far we are going to push ourselves, we choose our path and make our own wilderness. There is nothing terrible about this. I do it too. I have my two Lenten disciplines that I carefully chose, and I have been challenged in all of the ways that I expected. But, what happens when something is taken from us, for good or ill? True wilderness happens unexpectedly, it is disorienting, challenging, and calls into questions things we thought we knew about the world and about God, and in these moments we can find ourselves in Lent regardless of the season.

The status quo is comfortable. Even if it is killing us, or tearing away our humanity we cling to it, because it gives us a sense of stability and control. We can see this plainly in Exodus. As children we are told the story of Moses leading the enslaved Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land. We hear the stories of God’s miracles that freed the Jews from their bondage. Go back and read the story again. Many of the Jews weren’t necessarily asking for this freedom. Once in the wilderness they were quick to turn on Moses accusing him of leading them to die. They missed their stability, food and homes. They were driven into the wilderness against their will just as much as they were freed from slavery. They were quick to turn on God as well. Even after witnessing the power of God and knowing God was invested in their lives they worshiped their golden calf as Moses was receiving the commandments. They could not understand what God had in store for them, and all they could feel was loss. This is what being in the wilderness feels like. Even if we cannot understand, choose not to understand, or can only feel sad for what we have left behind, it does not mean that God has given up on us.

The most traumatic event of my childhood was moving from Michigan to Georgia when I was twelve years old. In Michigan my life revolved around my friends. I could ride my bike anywhere and I was always just few minutes from people who knew me and wanted to spend time with me. I did not choose to move. It was something that happened to me, and I could not have felt more lost. I lost my friends, I was acutely aware that I was different than everyone else in my new town, and our new house did not feel like home. I felt like a stranger living in a foreign land. I could not see that this move would shape my life for the best. I could not see that this traumatic event would shape my personality, my opportunities and make me who I am today. I was lost and depressed as a child, but that did not mean that God had abandoned me. Even though it hurt it was path that God was leading me down. When the things or even the people that we love, that give us security and identity, are taken from us we can find ourselves in the wilderness. We can feel abandoned by God and nostalgic for the past, but we can also feel hope for the future. Lent is less about self-improvement and giving things up that we ought not to do, and it is more about reminding ourselves that one day our lives will be shaken up, we will feel sad and lost, but we can feel that loss while trusting in God. Blessings, Fr. Nick

Sunday Links, Feb. 26, 2023. First Sunday of Lent

The Beginning of Lent – Spring, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday

  • First Sunday of Lent Service 11am Zoom link Sun.,Feb. 26, 2023 Meeting ID: 869 9926 3545 Passcode: 889278

  • Lectionary for Feb. 26, 2023, First Sunday of Lent, First Sunday of Lent
  • Bulletin for Feb. 26, 2023, Bulletin
  • Morning Meditation , Mon., Feb. 27, 6:30am Zoom link Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., March 1, 10am-12pm.
  • February, 2023 Newsletter

  • Coming up!!

  • Psalms Study, Mon., March 6, 7pm-8pm. on Zoom
  • The Book of Psalms is generally believed to be the most widely read and the most highly treasured of all the books in the Old Testament. It is a collection of poems, hymns, and prayers that express the religious feelings of Jews throughout the various periods of their national history. The Psalms contain wisdom that is eternal. “ “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:3,4. There are 5 ideas in this one passage that will help you lead a productive life.

  • Stations of the Cross in our churchyard
  • Meditate on the last hours of Jesus’ life by walking the Stations of the Cross. Mary Peterman’s moving watercolors and the text for each station are on a series of fourteen banners which you will find placed outside the church for quiet meditation either in solitude or in small groups.

  • All articles for Shrove Tues, Feb. 21, 2023
  • All articles for Ash Wed., Feb. 22, 2023
  • All articles for Lent 1, Feb. 26, 2023