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.

What to remember about St. Patrick on March 17?

Today is March 17, 2023, St. Patrick’s day. Among all the saints, St. Patrick’s day is easily remembered. You can’t forget it with all the celebrations. In our time it is connected with parades, wearing green, and drinking green beer among others.

Many things may be surprising about his life. No, he didn’t wear green. He wasn’t Irish but British. His original name wasn’t Patrick. Plus there may be parts of his original story made up by him to promote his cause. British professor Philip Freeman, author of a biography on St. Patrick has tried to strip away the legends – That he was “kidnapped from Britain, forced to work as a slave, but managed to escape and reclaim his status, is likely to be fiction/” Were the stories a way to escape his place in England?

So what is left and what’s in it for us in 2023? Plenty! Subtitle – how to succeed in the world? First, you must have a mission. Then you must pursue it with all of your talents. You must have a unique angle, different from others. Call it creativity and add in some luck. Let’s take each one.

1. He succeeded in his mission which is his objective and also includes his methods. He was determined to convert Ireland to Christianity from the Druids. In 431, St. Patrick was consecrated Bishop of the Irish and went to Ireland to spread “the Good news” there. He baptized thousands and ordained many priests to lead new communities of Christians. Patrick made his headquarters at Armagh in the North, where he built a school, and had the protection of the local monarch. He had a stable base! From this base, he made extensive missionary journeys, with considerable success.

2. He was known for his passion and zeal and was creative at the same time. He was totally dedicated as a priest for 40 years. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, demonstrating that God is both three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), yet one, as the shamrock is both three-leafed, yet a single plant. Shamrocks were sacred plants for the Druids, symbolizing eternal life. So he re-interpreted known symbols.

3. He is considered the first writer in Irish history. He has left us an autobiography (called the Confessio), a Letter to Coroticus (cruel ruler who persecuted Christians) in which he denounces the slave trade and rebukes the British chieftain Coroticus for taking part in it, and the Lorica (or “Breastplate” a poem of disputed authorship traditionally attributed to Patrick), a work that has been called “part prayer, part anthem, and part incantation.”Breastplate” is in the Episcopal Hymnbook. The version tune we sing was written by Mrs. Cecil F. Alexander, for St. Patrick’s Day, 1889, and sung generally throughout Ireland on that day

“Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

A possible 4. Tell your own story which he did!

Sermon, March 19, 2023 – Lent 4

Are you stuck in your ways?  I know that the older I get, the more I would say that being stuck in my ways is true of me.   After all, it’s good to do things in a particular way, to be a certain way, and I like my comfortable beliefs.   Life is less complicated if we know how we want to do things,  and we have beliefs that support the way we tend to see the world. 

But today’s passages have made me think differently about being stuck in my ways.  The many people in today’s lectionary readings who are stuck have got some issues to face! 

In today’s Old Testament reading, God shakes his prophet Samuel up a bit because Samuel is stuck.    Samuel is balking over anointing a new king.  After all, Samuel had anointed Saul, the current king, and had been a big supporter of Saul.    But now, God is ready to move on, since Saul has been a disappointment to God as the leader of Israel.  So God tells Samuel—stop being stuck in the past.  It’s time to do something new.  So Samuel finally gets himself together and goes to Bethlehem to find Jesse, the father of many sons. 

Samuel expects that the Lord will choose the one of the oldest, kingliest-looking sons.  He has a preconceived idea of what a king should look like—and yet, seven sons pass by and God doesn’t choose one of them.  So Jesse sends for his youngest son, David, who is out in the fields keeping the sheep.  Certainly not king material—a shepherd, and too young to be given such responsibility. 

But surprise of surprises, when David shows up, the Lord says, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.”  And the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.  

The most unlikely person is the one that God chooses as the next King of Israel and not only that, the one from whose family the Messiah will someday be born. 

Samuel isn’t the only one who is stuck. 

Read more

Sunday Links, March 19, 2023, Lent 4

Thanks to Denise and the choir for their work

  • Fourth Sunday of Lent Service 11am Zoom link Sun., March 19, 2023 Meeting ID: 869 9926 3545 Passcode: 889278

  • Lectionary for March 19, 2023, Fourth Sunday of Lent, Fourth Sunday of Lent
  • Bulletin for March 19, 2023, Bulletin
  • The Psalms study , Tues., March 21, 7:00pm Zoom link Meeting ID: 873 0418 9375 Passcode: 092098

    The study continues after reading and exploring the backgrounds of Psalm 4-7. The study is reading through the Psalms each Monday, exploring the meaning and background of the psalms

  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., March 22, 10am-12pm.
  • Reading the lectionary for March 26.
  • March, 2023 Newsletter
  • 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 Lent 4, March 19, 2023
  • Art for the 4th week in Lent, Year A

    Art for the 4th Week in Lent, Year A

    Commentary is by Daniella Zsupan-Jerome.

    We enter into this fourth Sunday of Lent with the words of Samuel I telling us that, “not as man sees does God see.” At Mass, we then hear the story of Christ healing the blind man at the pool of Siloam. El Greco painted two versions of this story; here we explore his first rendition. Christ Healing the Blind tells the story but also reveals El Greco’s blossoming artistic vision. In this early painting, we observe El Greco learning to see with the eyes of an artist as he depicts perspective and the movement of bodies from all angles. Just as the blind man learns to see, El Greco is gaining his unique vision here.

    Christ Healing the Blind presents two main groups of people: Christ healing the blind man on the left, and the Pharisees clustered on the right, suspicious and protesting. Front and center are the blind beggar’s meager possessions and a sniffing dog—perhaps his only loyal companion. Further back, two figures complete the circle, engaged in a pose of compassion and healing—God’s mercy juxtaposed with the confrontation below. Placing Christ and the Pharisees on the left and right is a point of irony: the Pharisees, who are assured of their right vision, are in fact blind to the truth unfolding before them, while Christ reveals the truth on the left. Behind the Pharisees a sky of swirling clouds reinforces their disarray, but Christ’s healing act takes place in front of a firm visual backdrop of stable architectural elements. Behind Christ, El Greco leads our eye to a vanishing point with a long row of arches, hinting that the sight Christ grants to the blind beggar is long-ranging and far. In contrast, the cluster of Pharisees obscures their own horizon, as their near-sighted vision lands on one another.

    Finally, the four men gathered on the left seem unaware of what is going on. Here, El Greco inserts another kind of blindness: oblivion to grace unfolding before their very eyes. Their mild presence is perhaps more challenging than that of the Pharisees, who are lacking vision but not awareness.

    This story invites us to open wider our eyes of faith and become aware of the merciful, healing grace all around us.

    The Gospel in Lent 4 – Light for the World

    We’re moving towards the end of Lent. It is helpful to review where we have been over the last 3 weeks. The second Sunday through the fifth has Jesus confronting various characters – a educated Pharisee, a Samaritan Women, a blind man and a man recently deceased. These texts from John are about revelation–the revelation of who Jesus is, the one sent by God, the begotten God, whose offer of life is in his presence and not necessarily delayed until his death.

    Except for the beginning and end of the Gospel this week, Jesus is absent in the twists and turn of the plot. Jesus does make himself known in a significant way. It shows the power and glory of Christ and how humans confront it. The blind man gains more than his sight – he gains faith and spiritual maturity.

    In today’s readings, we explore this idea of light for the world, dispelling spiritual darkness. In the first reading, Samuel sees beyond outward appearances to choose the least likely son of Jesse to anoint as king. Paul explains that the Christian’s life must be characterized by the light of holiness. In today’s gospel, a blind man gains sight and worships Jesus.

    Throughout the Hebrew scriptures, the prevailing understanding of illness was that it came from God, the result of sin. The disciples, however, find a flaw in the theory: if illness was the result of sin, how could a tiny baby be afflicted? How could a man born blind be culpable? Passing the buck to the parents hardly seems fair.

    Jesus turns from the verbal and intellectual exercise to the direct, and in this case dirty, work of healing the individual. It is as if he deliberately chooses the most basic elements–spit and mud–to show his preference for action over theory.

    Read more

    Lent 4 – Mothering or Laetare Sunday

    This week was the first day of spring on March 20,  “And Spring arose on the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere; And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.” — Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Sensitive Plant”

    Spring is about a change in vision. Part of this is the increasing sunlight and warmth returning to the land, this year in fits and starts. The sky has a variety of light based on the clouds. Flowers appear in waves. Animals such as squirrels wake up from their hibernation.

    The Fourth Sunday of Lent is “Mothering Sunday” expressed with baking simnel cakes. It is sometimes called refreshment Sunday. This comes from Galatians 4:26 “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”

    There are several possible origins of this tradition: 

    1. A tradition of visiting one’s mother after this particular service. Expecting their families, mothers would bake this cake to serve with tea.

    2. Serving girls on estates and in households were allowed this Sunday off to visit their mothers.

    3. A family would travel to its ‘Mother Church,’ or parish they were originally from, on this Sunday.

    These cakes became popular over time for that occasion midway through Lent, which was a good time to break the fasting a little. Much like the third Sunday of Advent, ‘Stir Up Sunday,’ with its baking tradition. “Simnel” is from the Latin ‘similis,’ as in similar or same, as the cakes were originally made with equal parts of flour and sugar.

    But today is also sometimes known as Refreshment Sunday. Rather like the 3rd Sunday of Advent, it’s a day which stands towards the middle of the season of Lent, and traditionally, a certain amount of relaxation of Lent was allowed. 

    Seeing Differently -Lent 4

    Seeing like Jesus makes the difference. That is implied in every story about Jesus in the New Testament. Still, we should ask, what does it mean to see like Jesus? One way to answer that question is to look at a particular story from John’s gospel. It’s a miracle story. Jesus gives sight to a man born blind. It’s messy, spit and mud are a part of the process. But when you need to be healed you’re open to the unconventional.

    Jesus’ friends and the community at large look at the blind man’s infirmity and see punishment from God because of the sins of his mother and father. Jesus sees things differently. He sees the man’s infirmity as an opportunity for God’s glory. That is, for the shine and celebrity of God to burn a little brighter. They see a punishing God; Jesus sees a God of healing and opportunity. That’s how Jesus sees our world, limitations, obstacles, and family of origin issues- as the perfect precondition for the wonderful restorative impulse of God to showcase themselves, You could say, that seeing like Jesus is to receive, keep and increase a sensitivity to light, especially in the darkest times, places, and circumstances. Seeing like Jesus is to see your healing as a part of being sent.