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 Presentation and Candlemas, Feb 2, 2022

Feb 2 – The Presentation and Candlemas

“Today is a day of purification, renewal, and hope.”


The Presentation of our Lord commemorates when Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem where he was greeted by Simeon and Anna. By the Law every first born male was to be consecrated to the Lord.” This happened 40 days after his birth at Christmas.

It is a feast day though it does not often fall on a Sunday. Candlemas occurs at a period between the December solstice and the March equinox, so many people traditionally marked that time of the year as winter’s “halfway point” while waiting for the spring.  

Candlemas is actually a very old feast, celebrated by both the churches of the East and the West, and in some places it is on this day that the creche is finally removed from the church.  The passage from The words in this scripture are often part of Compline

According to some sources, Christians began Candlemas in Jerusalem as early as the fourth century and the lighting of candles began in the fifth century. Other sources say that Candlemas was observed by blessing candles since the 11th century. An early writing dating back to around 380 CE mentioned that a feast of the Presentation occurred in a church in Jerusalem. It was observed on February 14. The feast was observed on February 2 in regions where Christ’s birth was celebrated on December 25.  It is also Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada on February 2.

Candles are blessed on this day (hence the name “Candlemas”). It was the day of the year when all the candles, that were used in the church during the coming year, were brought into church and a blessing was said over them – so it was the Festival Day (or ‘mass’) of the Candles. Candles were important in those days not only because there was no electric lights. Some people thought they gave protection against plague and illness and famine. For Christians, they were (and still are) a reminder of something even more important. Before Jesus came to earth, it was as if everyone was ‘in the dark’.

Pieces of these candles are considered of great efficacy in sickness, or otherwise. When a person is dying, a piece is put in his hand lighted, and thus he passes away in the belief that it may light him to Paradise.

Sermon 4th Sunday after the Epiphany

At the beginning of creation, God put everything into perfect balance, each part of creation connected to the whole, and everything supporting and supported by everything else.  God made conditions ideal for all of creation to grow and to thrive.  We all live within a great web of life.

But depending on conditions within the web, growing and thriving may be compromised. 

I want to tell you about the African violet I got from a friend. 

Periodically, I find that one of its leaves has dropped. If I just left it where it fell, the leaf would die.  But if I place that African violet leaf in water, it will start to root.  And if I leave it in the water long enough, the one leaf will get more leaves. 

But for this leaf to thrive and to grow into a plant,  I need to plant the leaf with its new roots and leaves in some dirt, because water, by itself, doesn’t have everything this plant needs to grow and thrive. 

So here’s a plant that I grew from one leaf.  You can see that putting the roots in dirt meant that the plant could grow. 

But dirt is not all the plant needs.  At first, as the plant put out new leaves, the leaves grew long and scraggly and were more yellow than green. 

What do you think my plants lacked? 

They lacked light!

So then I got a grow light.

With enough light, the leaves became green, and then, to my surprise, my new African violets bloomed!

So with the right soil, enough water and enough light, these African violets are growing and thriving. 

God made each one of us with the hope that we will grow and thrive, for after all, we are part of God’s creation.  We are like the leaves that fall from my African violet.  Without the essential things we need to live and grow, we just wither away.  But when we have all we need, we too can grow and thrive and live in a thriving community with one another, in the human web of life. 

Read more of the sermon

Matthew’s Beatitudes

Today’s scriptures underline the upside-down nature of life in God’s kingdom. The prophet Micah proclaims that the only sacrifice God wants is justice. Paul insists that God’s foolishness and weakness are more powerful than worldly wisdom and strength. In the Beatitudes, Jesus describes true happiness in a way of life that runs contrary to ordinary human expectations.

The Gospel probes contrasts with the Beatitutes. Matthew gathers the teaching of Jesus into five great discourses and balances them with narratives of Jesus’ deeds. Today’s reading is the first of a series drawn from the first discourse, the Sermon on the Mount.

The “blessed” in the Old Testament are those who receive an earthly fulfillment—of prosperity, offspring and long life. In later Jewish writing, the blessings belong to those who will enter the final age of salvation. Jesus offers these future blessings now, for the kingdom is present in him.

The first four beatitudes reflect attitudes that climax with an unceasing hunger for a right relationship with God—both personally and communally. The second four reflect the actions and lifestyles of those who hunger in this way. In verse 10, Jesus teaches that those who live the Beatitudes will face persecution, for this way is contrary to all that the world espouses.

Jesus spoke these words to a crowd of peasants, a tattered bunch, probably not even knowing what they were searching for. They lacked an understanding of their plight. Jesus offered them another view of their aching unhappiness, a hidden dimension beyond their misery.

Jesus assured them that they were holy. He corrected the misconception that salvation must be earned and that earthly prosperity was a sign of divine favor. He reversed “top down” notions of religion, where sanctity filtered from the religious hierarchy to the common folk. He praised the kind of ordinary sanctity that Salvadoran theologian Jon Sobrino called, “in the God of the lowly, the greater God.”

Those whom the world would consider miserable are in Jesus’ eyes most happy. They have seen through the false promises of wealth and the fragility of human relationships. Knowing that all illusions must fail, they seek security in God. Those who mourn are blessed for several reasons: because they have loved deeply, and because God will comfort them.

Lincoln and the Beatitudes

From James C. Wright, Jr.
Published in Christianity Today|
Feb. 4, 1983

In a few days we will celebrate the birthday of our sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln. There is so much inspirational quality in his life for all people, and especially today, that it should be profitable to spend a few minutes meditating upon it.

No other person in American history is known and quoted so widely. “What is it,” I have asked myself, “that makes Lincoln stand apart from all the rest?” The more we grope for the things that raised Lincoln to his distinctive pedestal of greatness, the more we are forced to conclude that they lay in the realm of the spirit. The attributes that were distinctively Lincoln’s were remarkably those set forth by Christ in the Beatitudes.

Lincoln was poor in the sense that Christ was poor. True, he had few financial resources. But more to the point, he had a basic spirit of humanity that is rare on the political scene. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Lincoln was dogged by defeat, hounded by failure, and stalked by tragedy. From the loss of his mother, at the age of nine, grief followed his footsteps like an unshakeable shadow. The youthful love he shared with Ann Rutledge ended in heartache at her death. He knew unspeakable anguish at the death of his son Eddie at the age of four, and later, as President, the death of his beloved son Willie. But “Blessed,” said Christ, “are they that mourn.”

There can be no doubt as to Lincoln’s personal feelings about slavery. The spectacle of one human being owned as property by another did violence to his sense of right and wrong. On a trip to New Orleans as a young man he saw for the first time the true horrors of slavery. His conscience rebelled against the inhumanity of human creatures in chains, whipped and scourged. Then and there he swore an oath against the cruel and heartless institution, for it was wrong and reeked of evil. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.”

Above his distaste for slavery, his greater passion was to save the nation. With the vision of the pure hearted, he knew the Union must endure. Still, he was a peaceful man, not a warmonger. He believed the North was as much responsible that slavery existed as was the South, and that both should bear equally the burdens of its elimination. Fanatic abolitionists railed against him and called him an appeaser and a compromiser.

Finally, as President, he proposed that the slaveholders would be recompensed by the government, paid $400 for each slave who was freed. He called representatives of the states to the White House and urged this settlement. They rejected the entire plan. Lincoln the peacemaker had failed, but, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said Christ, “for they shall be called the children of God.”

Left no alternative, the President proceeded to gird the Union for war. He proclaimed the emancipation of the slaves, armed the Negroes, and devoted his singular energies to the distasteful business of destroying the enemy. Gloom hung heavy in the North and in the White House. Lincoln’s generals failed him, his cabinet snubbed him, the public reviled him.

The abuse he suffered would have made any ordinary man strike back in wounded pride. When Salmon Chase humiliated him and plotted against him, Lincoln praised Chase and made him chief justice of the Supreme Court. After Edwin Stanton had scorned him as an “imbecile,” Lincoln made him his secretary of war. “Blessed are the meek,” said Christ, “for they shall inherit the earth.”

When the war was finally over and Lee met Grant at Appomattox Court House, there were no humiliating ceremonies of capitulation. There was to be no vengeance such as that demanded by the Northern radicals who for four years had been insisting that Lee and others be hanged for treason. The terms of the surrender were remarkably generous and gentle. Why? Because Abraham Lincoln, just hours before his death, had personally dictated the terms. “Blessed are the merciful,” said Christ.

In the end, Lincoln had done what he had set out to do. Over the most difficult obstacle course to confront a career, he had fulfilled his mission. As he lay dying in the little rooming house across from Ford’s Theater, it remained for Edwin Stanton, his former detractor, to speak the fitting tribute: “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen … [and] now he belongs to the ages.”

Lincoln does belong to the ages because the virtues upon which his life were founded are timeless. They have been the message of God to mankind since the dawn of history. Jesus not only taught these principles of life, but he demonstrated them in every word spoken and in every act performed.

These are the qualities that make a people great, and the neglect of these is the source of evil in the world. My prayer to God is that men and women at all levels of society and in every nation will find in Christ the strength and the courage to demonstrate these virtues in the conduct of the affairs of individuals and of nations.

Lectionary, Epiphany 4, Jan 29, 2023

I.Theme –   The Way of Life –  the Beatitutes


The lectionary readings are here  or individually: 

1.  Old Testament – Micah 6:1-8
2.  Psalm- Psalm 15
3.  Epistle – 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
4.  Gospel – Matthew 5:1-12 

The readings this week are like a mission statement – what should we do. The setting is important for the Old Testament and the Gospel – the Mountains. That’s traditionally where God is , a place of learning, a place where justice is fostered

The prophet Micah speaks to a people who have been led astray by other gods and by leaders who have failed to look to God’s ways. Micah declares that all of creation is listening; the mountains are acting as a jury in which the people and God come together with their conflict. Micah calls upon the people to set aside the religious practices of the peoples around them, which include giving of the harvest, burnt offerings, even one’s own firstborn child—and instead do what the Lord requires: to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God.

Psalm 15 speaks of those who will abide with God: the ones who practice God’s ways of righteousness and justice, who live out of honesty and give out of their hearts. This psalm is a song of preparation, for those to come before God, they must live into God’s ways.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 continues Paul’s discourse to the Corinthian church

Proclaiming Christ crucified is the message that should unite the Corinthians—above all else, they follow a Savior who died for them. Corinth is a divided place – it was a diverse group, comprising slaves, freemen, Jews, Greeks, and others.

Paul now wants to show them how their faith distinguishes them from others, or how their faith has changed their orientation within their own tribe or family.  For Paul it is all about knowing – “how do we know God, how to we apprehend God?”  Paul surmises that the Jews have knowledge about God through the Law, and that the Greeks attempt to know God through philosophical dialogues.  Into this sophisticated world, Paul inserts an embarrassing and even upsetting notion – that the cross (stumbling block and foolishness) is the real wisdom of God. 

The focus this week will be on the Beatitudes.

Read more about the lectionary.

Sunday Links, Jan. 29, 2023 Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany – The Beatitudes and Youth Sunday

Sunday Links, Jan. 29, 2023 Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Collage from Jan. 22 service

Jan. 29, 11:00am – Morning Prayer, Youth Sunday

  • Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany Zoom link Jan. 29, 2023 Meeting ID: 869 9926 3545, Passcode: 889278

  • Lectionary for Jan. 29, 2023,
    Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
  • Bulletin for Jan. 29, 2023, Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany,
  • Morning Meditation , Jan 30, 6:30am Zoom link Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Feb. 1, 10am-12pm.
  • Tues, Feb. 7th, Bingo Night 6-7:30PM at Port Royal Fire Department St Peter’s is serving as a Partner in Education with the Caroline County Public Schools. We will be providing snacks for the Caroline County Bingo Night, Tuesday, February 7th, 6-7:30PM at the Port Royal Fire Department. If you would like to help, please bring granola bars, individually wrapped bags of trail mix, or small bottles of water and place them in the back pew.
  • January, 2023
  • All articles for Jan 29, 2023

  • Catherine’s sermon for Epiphany 4 on Jan 29, 2023 may be called the “African Violet” sermon to illustrate the readings. She brought 3 of her violets.

    The readings this week are like a mission statement – what should we do ? What are the essential things ? The sermon uses the Prophet Micah as a resource and Jesus teaching in the Beatitudes.

    “So with the right soil, enough water and enough light, these African violets are growing and thriving. We are like the leaves that fall from my African violet. Without the essential things we need to live and grow, we just wither away. But when we have all we need, we too can grow and thrive and live in a thriving community with one another, in the human web of life.

    “Micah speaks to a people who have been led astray by other gods and by leaders who have failed to look to God’s ways. His message “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Jesus speaks his message to the poor and lost and the message is the Beatitudes which considers the areas of Micah

    In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches the disciples about loving kindness—blessed are those who mourn, who are willing to let the sorrows of the world in and to feel the world’s pain, blessed are the ones who are merciful. Jesus teaches the disciples about doing justice—blessed are the peacemakers, the ones who work for justice, for when there is justice for all, God’s peace be realized on this earth.

    Jesus teaches the disciples about walking humbly with God—blessed are the poor in spirit, the ones who know that they are completely dependent on God; blessed are the meek, those who live under God’s control rather than their own wills.

    Jan 29, 2023 Epiphany 4 as well as the last Sunday of the month and youth Sunday. The youth were the readers of the lectionary. It was Morning prayer and the youth contributed some prayers printed below, printed in the bulletin. You can see what is important for them to bring to God

    Prayers from our Youth

    Dear God, Heavenly Father, thank you for the life you have given us. We thank you for our talents and what makes us unique. Amen

    Dear God, Heavenly Father, thank you for the family you have given us and the friends we make along the way, especially my brothers and my sister. Amen

    Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the beautiful world we live in and thank you for all the animals that inhabit this earth. We pray that one day there will be no more fighting across the world you created. We will live in peace and harmony. Amen