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.

Stations of the Cross in our graveyard

This past Wednesday our Lenten Stations of the Cross went up in our graveyard. The Stations of the Cross began as the practice of pious pilgrims to Jerusalem who would retrace the final journey of Jesus Christ to Calvary.

Later, for the many who wanted to pass along the same route, but could not make the trip to Jerusalem, a practice developed that eventually took the form of the fourteen stations currently found in almost every church. This allowed people to follow the way in their hearts as they meditated on the last hours of Jesus’ life.

Our Stations features 14 paintings of our talented parishioner Mary Peterman and the work of Creative Color in Fredericksburg to create the posters. They are hung outside in our graveyard to increase visibility.

This video features photos taken by Catherine on the actual day they went up combined with the haunting Adagio of Tomaso Albinoni. If you are in the area, come by and walk the stations.

The stations can be walked in a small group or in solitude. Meditating on the words for each station, and on Mary’s watercolors, will be a spiritual experience that will deepen your relationship to Jesus and your faith.

Walking the stations of the cross also remind us that Jesus lived and died as one of us, and knew horrible suffering. As we travel with him through his last hours, we come to know that Jesus travels with us in our hours of greatest need.

Sermon for March 5, 2023 – “Faith is foundational to our lives as Christians”

Faith is foundational to our lives as Christians.

In the Living Compass Lenten devotional that some of us are reading during Lent, the readings last week were about faith.  Robbin Brent wrote in her entry for Friday, March 3, that faith is believing in something and then acting on that belief. 

And she quotes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who says that “faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole stairway.” 

We are practical people—we like to see what’s ahead, and plan accordingly so that we can be thoroughly prepared.  Planning trips, planning vacations, planning for school, planning for retirement, planning for issues that we may face toward the end of our lives—all of this planning is good to do.  But we so often plan as if we are the only ones in charge of our lives and fully in control,  forgetting that life is notorious for handing us unexpected and often unwelcome challenges that we have not planned for. 

But when these unexpected things happen, we can act on our belief in God by stepping faithfully into whatever the situation is, knowing that God is with us, and will go with us, and will never, ever leave us alone—so we can proceed, yes, often with trepidation, or with caution, or even with great sorrow, but proceed we can and will.  We can lay aside our own plans and enter the unknown into which life is calling us.   

We can step into the unknown because we are people of faith.

In today’s Old Testament reading, God tells Abram, just a regular person like us, to go from his country and his kindred and his father’s house to the land God will show him.  God does not give Abram a map or tell him anything about how to get where God is leading him—that is the future that Abram cannot see.   

But Abram believes in God, and so he acts in faith.  The writer of Genesis states succinctly, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” 

Today’s psalmist is starting out on a difficult journey to Jerusalem, a trip that will be full of unknown challenges, since the traveler must pass through the barren wilderness, exposed to the heat of the day and the chill of the nights, possible attacks by thieves, getting lost, and no telling what else.  Wouldn’t it be easier just to stay home? 

But the psalmist is willing to set out because that person has faith in God’s steadfast love.  The traveler knows that especially in the difficulties of the journey, God, like a mother hen spreading her wings over her chicks to protect them from predators and to keep them warm and safe, will also protect the psalmist in the face of any challenge that may arise. 

And then we come to Nicodemus.  I really like the story of Nicodemus because he is a practical human being, a literal thinker with a bit of an imagination,  a law keeper and a planner, all admirable traits. 

Read more of the sermon

Lectionary, Lent 2 Year A

I. Theme –   Signs and promises, signs requested, signs given, and signs difficult to discern. 

 "Christ Instructing Nicodemus" – Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678)

The lectionary readings are here  or individually: 

Old Testament – Genesis 12:1-4a
Psalm – Psalm 121
Epistle –Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
Gospel – John 3:1-17 

Today’s readings are all about signs and promises, signs requested, signs given, and signs difficult to discern.  Lent is a time to ask God to help us to be more loving, remembering that God is always ready to strengthen us.    The thrust this week is to believe and be reborn.

Abram is covenanted by God; he is given the promise of a being a leader of a great nation, when he was beyond the years of having children. Abram trusted God to chart a path for him into the unknown, leaving his people and country and venturing into a new life.

In contrast, Nicodemus, certainly better educated, never understood the significance of Christ beyond the miracles.  Nicodemus comes to Jesus looking for a sign – and when he is given it, he cannot understand it.  

The issue is how you can be reborn at his age.  The meaning of being “born from above” begins their discussion. The first is ‘anew, again’ on the physical level, which is what Nicodemus understands; the second is ‘from above’ spatially, which is what Jesus seems to intend. Jesus contrasts the realm of the Spirit, which is eternal and heavenly, with the realm of the flesh, which is earthly, weak and mortal (but not necessarily sinful).

Nicodemus never understood that Jesus’ teachings were for more than the Jews and that he would have to abandon his older understandings. His knowledge was a barrier trying to understand. God ultimately gave us his Son for stengthening us and the community.

Paul discusses Abraham’s ‘wages’ which he says are a gift when the promise comes true.  Paul explains how Abraham’s faith, revealed in his willingness to believe and act on God’s promises, makes him right with God.

Who is driving your car ? You or God ?

Read more about the lectionary…

Sunday Links, March 5, 2023, Lent 2

Lent 1, Feb. 26, 2023

  • Second Sunday of Lent Service 11am YouTube link Sun., March 5, 2023

  • Lectionary for March 5, 2023, Second Sunday of Lent,
    Second Sunday of Lent
  • Bulletin for March 5, 2023,
  • Coffee Hour immediately following the service
  • Morning Meditation , Mon., March 6, 6:30am Zoom link Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929
  • The Psalms study , Mon., March 6, 7:00pm Zoom link Meeting ID: 873 0418 9375
    Passcode: 092098
  • 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.

  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., March 8, 10am-12pm.
  • Village Dinner, Wed., March 8, 4:30pm-6pm.
    Italian Night—Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad, Garlic Bread, Dessert–Cost $10. Let Catherine Hicks (540) 809-7489 know if you would like to reserve a dinner and whether you plan to eat in or take out.

  • 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 2, March 5, 2023
  • The Lenten Gospel Readings

    The Lenten Gospel Readings- the Path Ahead

    Lent has five Sunday plus Palm Sunday.

    Except for Lent 1, all of the Gospel readings come from the Gospel of John, specifically the second part Book of Signs (Jn 1.19-12.50).  Palm Sunday has its own readings.

    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.

    The key is in the dialogues that the characters try to understand Jesus from their own backgrounds. Is he who he says he is ? How does he challenge Jewis teachings in the past ?

    Along the way, it deals with man’s constant temptations and limits vs. Jesus as the source of light and eternal life.  Jesus does make himself known in a significant way.  It shows the power and glory of Christ and how humans confront it .

    Are they going to find themselves within Christ ?  Ultimately, how are we finding our way through Christ ? Will we recognize him? Will we witness for him? Will we see him and worship him? Will we come when we hear him call our names? Will we move as these stories show from darkness to light, from insecurity to testimony, from blindness to sight, from death to life?  Here are the Sundays:

    First Sunday of Lent: The Temptation of Jesus, following upon the account of Jesus’ own baptism, is a vivid reminder that our baptismal life is similar to Christ’s life: we will be subject to trial and temptation.

    Second Sunday of Lent: The Story of Nicodemus , the Pharisee never understood the significance of Christ beyond the miracles despite his education. To stand accepted before God requires a conversion of one’s whole being. It requires being born from above, washed new by the Spirit of God.

    Third Sunday of Lent: In the story of The Samaritan Woman the gradual enlightenment of the woman by Jesus is a pattern of baptismal grace that steadily purifies and enlightens us.

    Fourth Sunday of Lent: The Man Born Blind shows the power of God offered to cure a helpless blind man. God’s power is no less evident in the sacrament of baptism.

    Fifth Sunday of Lent: Raising of Lazarus is a powerful reminder that Christ is the “resurrection and the life” and those who believe in him will have eternal life.

    Indeed the continual revelation of Jesus becomes a reason why the authorities conclude he is a dangerous man that needs to be dealt with in Holy Week.

    One more look at Nicodemus – from a sermon in 2011

    “Nic was a big guy in many ways.  He was tall, and even though he had put on a little weight in middle age, he still had a certain youthfulness and confidence that other men envied.  Nic was a big guy at work too, having successfully risen to the top of his profession, known as a leader, not only in the local company, but also at the corporate level.  People listened when Nic spoke.  They paid attention, sought his guidance.

    Black Escalde“Nic drove a large black Escalade. He loved the way the Escalade roared to life when he turned the key in the ignition, the way he sat up high above the rest of the traffic, barely having to press the accelerator to gun past anyone in his way and to get to his destination in record time.The Escalade suited Nic, summed up who he was, really.Big, bold, in charge.”

    Read more of the 2011 sermon