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, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

ECM Community Thanksgiving donation

From Ken Pogue. “Each year the Episcopal Church Men help St Peter’s provide support to those in need during the holidays.  The men coordinate with the Caroline County Department of Social Services to provide families in the area with gift cards

 “Your donations are greatly appreciated by the ECM and the recipients of the gifts in the Port Royal community, Thank you so very much in advance from a grateful community.”

If you’d like to donate for the Thanksgiving offering, please make a check to St Peter’s with ECM in the memo line by Sunday, Nov. 5

Last year $500 was given at Thanksgiving and $750 Christmas.

Introduction to Thessalonians

Editor’s note – Passages from 1 Thessalonians will be the Epistle reading until Nov. 16. Here is a short introduction –

Thessalonica was a bustling seaport city at the head of the Thermaic Gulf. It was an important communication and trade center, located at the junction of the great Egnatian Way and the road leading north to the Danube.

It was the largest city in Macedonia and was also the capital of its province. Thessalonica was the largest city of Macedonia. It has been estimated that during Paul’s time its population may have been as high as 200,000. The majority of the inhabitants were Greeks, but there was also a mixture of other ethnic groups, including Jews

In c. 315 BCE Cassander, the son-in-law of Philip of Macedon (who fathered Alexander the Great) gathered and organized the area villages into a new metropolis, Thessalonica. He gave the city its name in honor of his wife, the half-sister of Alexander.

Thessalonica remained in Greek hands until 168 BCE, when the Romans took possession after winning the battle of Pydna

The Roman proconsul, the governor of Macedonia, had his residence in Thessalonica, but because it was a “free city” he did not control its internal affairs. No Roman garrison was stationed there, and in spirit and atmosphere it was a Greek rather than a Roman city. Enjoying local autonomy, the city was apparently governed by a board of magistrates

It is most likely that 1 Thessalonians was written shortly after Paul’s arrival in Corinth, for he would be eager to correspond with the new church as soon as possible. This would be spring of 50 CE. It may have been 51 CE based on an inscription discovered at Delphi, Greece. Thus, 1 Thessalonians is the second canonical book penned by the apostle Paul, written within two years after Galatians.

The background of the Thessalonian church is found in Ac 17:1–9. Since Paul began his ministry there in the Jewish synagogue, it is reasonable to assume that the new church included some Jews. However, 1:9–10; Ac 17:4 seem to indicate that the church was largely Gentile in membership.

Why Paul goes to Thessalonica ?

Paul’s purpose in writing this letter was to encourage the new converts in their trials (3:3–5), to give instruction concerning godly living (4:1–12) and to give assurance concerning the future of believers who die before Christ returns (4:13–18)

On his Second Missionary Journey, Paul had travelled through Asia Minor. Paul wasn’t a "solo missionary," rather he operated with a small team — in this case it consisted of Paul, Silas, and Timothy.[4]

At Troas, Paul has a vision of a Man of Macedonia asking him to come and help them. He takes it as God’s call, travelling to Macedonia and later to Greece (Achaia).

In Philippi he begins a church, but Paul and Silas end up being beaten and thrown in jail. They are released by m e ans of an e arthquake, convert their jailer and his family, but are still asked to leave by the city officials in the morning.

Undeterred, Paul and his band continue south to Thessalonica.

"1 When they had passed through[5] Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As his custom[6] was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with[7] them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining[8] and proving[9] that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,’ he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women." (Acts 17:1-4)

Some of the converts are women of high rank, wives of city officials. However, most of the converts seem to have been Gentiles from the working class, and many of these are saved not from the synagogue, but directly from paganism (1:9). The Jews in Thessalonica are upset that Paul is attracting such a large following and seek to stop him.

"5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace,[10] formed a mob[11] and started a riot[12] in the city. They rushed[13] to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged[14] Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: ‘These men who have caused trouble[15] all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.’" (Acts 17:5-7)

Notice that the Jews don’t attack Paul directly. They find "some bad characters from the marketplace" to do their dirty work for them. In this period, a militant messianic movement (different from Christianity) was spreading among Jewish communities. To stop the violence, in 49 AD Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome — which is why Aquila and Priscilla had recently moved from Rome to Corinth (Acts 18:2).  

So when the mob accuses Paul and Silas of having "caused trouble all over the world" and "defying Caesar’s decrees" with regard to a messiah figure, they are connecting Paul and Silas to the recent civil unrest among the Jews in Rome. That’s why the Jews couldn’t bring these charges themselves.[16]

"8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil.[17]

9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. 10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea." (Acts 17:8-10a)

Jason is a prominent Jew who has converted to Christ, since elsewhere Paul seems to refer to him as a kinsman (Romans 16:21). The Greek name "Jason" was common among the Hellenistic Jews, who used it for "Jesus" or "Joshua."[18] Jason is apparently forced to put up money and pledge to the city officials that Paul and his band would leave the city and not cause further problems.

But the Thessalonian Jews don’t stop there. They disrupt Paul’s ministry in the next city, too.

"When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating[19] the crowds and stirring them up. The brothers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea." (Acts 17:13-14)

Paul travels to Athens and stays there for a time. Later he goes to the Greek city of Corinth, where he apparently writes the Thessalonian letters

To Be a Church Rooted in Love

Grace and peace.

This is the month when we consider how we’ll support St Peter’s financially in the coming year. We have an opportunity to consider what being part of a church means, and where we are in our commitments not just to God, but to this body of Christ of which we are a part. Are we a church rooted in love? And if so, how do we continue to grow into God’s love for our own good and for the good of the world around us?

To be a church rooted in love is to be a church that does two things well. The first thing is to be a church that opens its doors to any person who comes. This person may simply be curious. Perhaps this person may desire community with others, and/or desire a deeper knowledge of God. These desires may surface only after the person walks through the open door and finds a loving, accepting community within those walls, a community of people who model the meaning of loving God and one another.

The second thing that a church that is rooted in love must do well is to grow strong, faithful disciples, those who will follow Jesus, no matter the cost, and will support one another in their life in Christ. We do this together through worshiping, praying, studying, giving in support of the church, sharing fellowship with one another, and reaching out into the world to share God’s love. These strong faithful disciples are the ones who throw open the doors and welcome others in, hoping that they too will decide to join fully and to become disciples themselves. These disciples are the ones who worship, pray, study, give, share together in one another’s joys and sorrows, hoping to deepen their relationships with God. These are the ones who reach out into the world on God’s behalf.

Our ongoing challenge as disciples is to grow stronger and ever more deeply in our love for God and in our desire to follow Jesus, more giving, and more compassionate toward one another and toward those who may never walk through our doors, but who are desperately in need of God’s love—our ongoing challenge is to be more complete and more loving in our welcome.

For those of us who are on the fence, and that’s all of us at some point or another, torn by so many things that keep us away from God and halfhearted toward one another: Jesus asks us to decide to move beyond seeking, or being halfway committed, and to commit to becoming a whole hearted disciple, one with a new heart and a new spirit of love, ready to follow wherever Jesus calls us to go as this community of faith. And Jesus calls us to be patient with one another in our varying levels of commitment, to have compassion for one another, to encourage one another, and to help one another to be rooted in love as we grow together, and welcome the stranger in.

Catherine+

Stewardship is….

“When I fill out my pledge card this year, I’m going to try to remember that all that I have is a gift—as Richard Rohr says, “It’s all a gift!” –and that I can share my financial gifts freely with not only St Peter’s, but with many other groups as well, the groups that are doing what I would consider to be God’s work out in the world.”

Stewardship is … Everything I do after I say, “I believe.” Stewardship is our thankful and intentional response to the question, “What is God calling me to do with the gifts God has entrusted to me?”

Why pledge ? The pledges are the major way to support what St. Peter’s values – food distribution and meals in our community, education, outreach to those in need, Christian education and fellowship for all.

We are stewards, caretakers of God’s gifts. Everything we have was a gift from God, and God asks us to use it all for God’s purposes. Generosity flows naturally out of our gratitude for the gift of love, family, and life itself.

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5 Principles of Stewardship

Here are some thoughts on giving and stewardship from From The Evangelist, Newsletter-letter of St. Mark’s Cathedral Shreveport, Louisiana, Nov. 2021

  • God owns everything. Everything means everything. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it (Ps. 24:1) The Genesis creation record makes it clear that God is the sovereign Creator who owns and reigns over the earth. It is also clear that God appointed man to manage this creation (Gen. 2:15).

  • The people of God are God’s management company. If you are a Christian, remember that being part of God’s household gives you responsibilities to work for the house of God. You enter into a contract with God that requires you to be a steward of your part of his creation. It is a further obligation that although you are free to make your own choices, the choices you make must give God glory.

  • Stewardship is responsibility with accountability. God did not create a people to be servants but to be relatives, sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth (Is. 43:6). He receives little glory from having slaves; he receives tremendous glory from people who willingly serve him as a manifestation of their relationship to him. God wants to know if you truly love him, and he intends to test that love by seeing how you respond to the temptation of money.

  • Stewardship demands a commitment to others. It is a response to God’s goodness to you. Stewardship is not doing something for God with your money, but doing something for others with his money. You act on God’s behalf and in his name. The apostle Paul described himself as a slave to everyone (1 Car. 9:19) and always seeking the good of them. (1 Car. 10:24, 33). Further he told us to look not only to our own interest, but also the interests of others (Phil. 2:4). Your attitude, Paul wrote, should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness (Phil. 2:5-7). Stewardship is both an expression of your love for God and the realization of that love in your relationships to others.

  • Stewardship has eternal consequences. Underlying most of Jesus’ instruction is the assumption that your life on earth will prepare you for your future in heaven. Paul explained to the Philippian believers, I am [not] looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your [future, heavenly] account (Phil. 4:17). Stewardship builds heavenly treasure by transferring wealth from your bank account to your heavenly account. Because God is eternal, he operates in an eternal time frame. Likewise, the actions of God’s stewards will have eternal consequences

What Does Ministry Look Like ?

This is a PowerPoint comprising a list and description of St. Peter’s ministries under four headings – internal, local partners, state and national partners and international partners. The internal are distinguished by parishioner involvement and are generally active yearly. The others may not be active every year.

Many of these ministries represent the day to day work of the church, both outreach into the world and inreach for those within the church. The church is more than just Sunday and the St. Peter’s building but is working in the world! They involve the both the clergy and parishioners in the church as well as others. Many of these ministries are historic (Bible Study is 20 years old) but some, like Sacred Ground were created in the last five years.

To see a full screen version, press right button in the bottom windows   to open in a new window

Your giving for 2024 is crucial to making these ministries thrive. Also, consider joining these ministries and contribute toward their successes. We are always on the lookout for new ministries. An example is Andrea Pogue’s work with Shred-it which originated with her.

Robert Frost “October”

October

 BY ROBERT FROST

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Photo Gallery of early fall color, Oct., 2016

Early Fall


Early Fall(full size gallery)

Fall is a wonderful time to pause and look at nature all around you. You have to take the time and not think of the minutes. The time before church is my time to let nature envelop me.

The effect of fall is magnified after a rain. Add another plus for leaves beginning to fall around you in all their color. It’s the sound of the crunching of leaves beneath your fee. It’s a time to look at those small things along the ground- small flowers, water pellets on leaves. It’s time to lookup to see fall advancing in our trees.  So many things we never notice or take the time to see.

Water is life giving – and destructive. The effect of rain was seen this week along the gravestones, often with leaves falling around.  The wet leaves along the ground reflect up at you. Then over the river to see the water rushing along as I am trying to be still.

Fall is a time to get out Robert Frost for yet another fall.


October
By Robert Frost
 

“O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall”

Music and Noisemakers – “Earth and all stars”

From Catherine’s introduction to the Oct. 22, 2023 service:

“I am dedicating today’s service to Brad and the Choir. Aren’t we so fortunate to have music! You have noise makers.. you are going to need them. three of the hymns are about singing and then there are two about seeking God and God seeking us.”

This was apparent in our hymn of praise – “Hymn #412 Earth and all stars”, always a favorite. See the one minute video of a selection of this energetic hymn:

Sermon 21st Sunday after Pentecost, Oct. 22, 2023

Sermon, Proper 24, Year A 2023

Psalm 95, I Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22

Sing to the Lord a new song!  Sing to the Lord, all the whole earth! 

The times we live in certainly do call for a new song, and today’s scriptures help us to figure out how to sing the song that God wants the world to hear about the good news of God’s salvation. 

During the readings today, we got to hear from the earliest book in the New Testament.  Even before the gospels were completed, Paul wrote a letter to the church in Thessalonica which he had started. 

The Thessalonians had it together—because they had become imitators of Jesus.  They served the living and true God.  News of their works of faith and labors of love and steadfastness of hope in Jesus spread far and wide.  As Paul tells them, “The word of the Lord has sounded forth from you in every place your faith in God has become known.”

Through the way they were living their lives, the Thessalonians were showing the world who Jesus was by the way they were following him—by doing their best to be like him—to be people of faith, hope, and love in all that they did.

They were singing a new song of praise and joy, blessing the Lord and declaring the good news of God’s salvation, available to all who chose to listen. 

And now, over two thousand years later, we also try to follow Jesus by serving God and doing works of faith and labors of love.  We try to be steadfast in our hope that God’s kingdom will come on this earth. 

It’s our turn to sing to the Lord a new song, to sing out to God and to bless God’s name and proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day. 

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Sunday Links, Oct. 22, 2023

The focus this Sunday continues to be the stewardship campaign, All Saints (in two weeks) and collection for the ECM Thanksgiving. The service revolved around Psalm 96 “Sing to the Lord a new song… Proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.”


  • Web site
  • YouTube St. Peter’s Page for viewing services
  • Facebook St. Peter’s Page
  • Location – 823 Water Street, P. O. Box 399, Port Royal, Virginia 22535
  • Sun. Oct. 22, 2023, 10:30, God’s Garden — A gathering of children ages 5-9. Sunday School activities and fun, led by Elizabeth Heimbach, Jan Saylor in the Parish House
  • Sun. Oct. 22 2023, 11am Church service – Eucharist Live or YouTube St. Peter’s Page
  • Lectionary link for Oct. 22, 21st Sunday after Pentecost

  • Serving
    Lector: Johnny Davis
    Chalice Bearer: Andrea Pogue
    Altar Cleanup: Andrea Pogue
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Oct 25 10am-12pm, Parish House Reading Lectionary for Oct 29, Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost
  • All articles for Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023
  • Oct. newsletter
  • Looking ahead…

  • All Saints Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023
  • All Saints Sunday, Nov. 5. Please email Catherine by Monday, Oct. 30 with the names of those who have died in the past year that you would like to have remembered on All Saints’ Sunday.
  • ECM Thanksgiving Donations due Nov. 5
  • Episcopal Church Men (ECM) will team up with the County Department of Social Services to provide families in the area with Thanksgiving gift cards. If you’d like to donate, please make a check to St Peter’s with ECM in the memo line, by Nov 5th.

    Prayer Service for Peace in the Middle East, Oct. 17, 2023

    St. Peter’s Episcopal, Port Royal was open Tues, Oct. 17 for a prayer service, 12pm to 2pm for peace in the Middle East. The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem called for this day of prayer and so we prayed in solidarity with them and others around the world who prayed for peace. We had 14 people in the church at various times. Some stayed for the entire period.

    Our time together included a short prayer service at noon, other prayers at 1pm and concluding prayers at 2pm. Larry Saylor provided the meditative music throughtout the 2 hours.

    The video includes Catherine’s description of the service.

    There were 5 prayer stations in the windows of the church:
    1. “Place your prayer into the spring of water gushing up to eternal life”
    2. “The healing touch station”
    3. “Prayers for Peace”
    4. “Pray for peace in the Holy Land”
    5. Station with water from the River Jordan and earth

    Video and Photo Links
    1. Video
    2. Photos
    3. Music by Larry Saylor – selection

    Pentecost 21, Proper 24, Year A, Oct. 22, 2023

    I.Theme –    Grow in trust and generosity as followers of Christ and discover new ways of living our stewardship. God rules over all creation  

     "The Tribute Money" – Jacek Malczewski (1908)

    The lectionary readings are here  or individually: 

    Old Testament – Isaiah 45:1-7
    Psalm – Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13) Page 725, BCP
    Epistle –1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
    Gospel – Matthew 22:15-22

    In the Isaiah reading  God directs affairs of Israel’s adversaries. Isaiah 45:1-7 speaks of God’s anointing of Cyrus to help bring the deliverance of Israel out of exile

    While the Jews were exiled in Babylon, the Persian emperor Cyrus began defeating neighboring kingdoms and letting the defeated peoples practice their own religions. Isaiah foresaw Cyrus defeating Babylon and liberating the captives there. The Jews would be free to return to Jerusalem. So in this passage, the prophet declares that Cyrus, even though a pagan, is God’s instrument, even God’s "Anointed," that is, "Messiah."

    This is the only occurrence in the Old Testament of the term "messiah" referring to someone outside of the covenant community. Of Cyrus it is said that God calls him by name, language applied previously to Abraham and Israel, indicating a close relationship between God and his anointed ‘agent’. God’s sovereignty is, however, absolute: I am the Lord; there is no other

    This was a daring thing to say by Isaiah so may have cost the prophet dearly.

    Isaiah, while speaking to the Hebrews in exile about to return, gives us a glimpse of the kind of Messiah God would bring in Jesus–someone who would be an unlikely leader but one who would break through the gates and chains that kept the people separated from God–sin, the oppression by the religious elite, prejudice, poverty, racism, and all other barriers to freedom in God–Jesus would break these wide open. 

    What was going on among the Christians in Thessalonia that led Saint Paul to write? That unfolds slowly in the selections we’ll proclaim over five Sundays. From today’s text, it’s clear that these people worked hard at being Christians, and that Saint Paul thought that praiseworthy.  Paul greets them with the assurance that God has chosen them for great works of faith

    Thessalonia was a new Christian community less than a year old. Despite this newness the Thessalonians are held up as examples for all across the young church. The word example is one that speaks volumes for the Thessalonians were folk who did not shout about what they had done, but acted out that they had turned from idols and all that that lead to and in that living proclaimed the Good News.

    The life and faith of the Thessalonians, in the face of persecution, is a sign that God has chosen them: they are imitators of the Lord and an example to others. 

    Psalm 96 sings praises to God who is the judge of the world, the judge of all nations, and reminds us that God is the one due our praise and worship, and that the whole earth is judged by God. Psalm 99 similarly sings of God as judge over the peoples, and that God hears the prayers of the prophets and priests who call on God’s name. Both psalms call upon the people to worship God and to remember that God is the one who is the judge of the world.

    Matthew 22:15-22 is the story of how Jesus was questioned about paying taxes.  He redirects Pharisees thought to God’s sovereignty. 

    The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus, so they had the Herodians accompany them, members of the ruling family who were Hellenistic Jews–they had taken on the practices and culture of the Greeks and were mainly Jewish in name only, as they were privileged in living off of the wealth of the people and kept in power by Rome.

    The question of whether or not it was lawful to pay taxes to the emperor was loaded. The tax in question was an annual tax, administered by Jewish authorities, but levied by Rome. This tax put such a burden on impoverished Jews in Palestine that, at least on one occasion, it provoked rebellion against Rome that ended the way Rome tended to end things – decisively and with much bloodshed.

    When Jesus is asked about paying taxes, they are questioning his authority–is the Messiah really going to rise up against Rome, which means rising up against these Herodians, or is this Messiah a coward, going to bow to the pressure of Herod’s family under Rome?

    So, if Jesus answers his opponents simply by saying yes, it is lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, then he risks alienating the poor and the oppressed who bore the greatest burden. And if he says, no, it is not lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, he risks facing charges of sedition. Jesus’ answer, therefore, is brilliant, as he allows for the possibility of paying these taxes but makes it clear to any person of faith that he or she must consider what belongs to God.

    Jesus, in reminding them that the coin shows the Emperor’s face, saying the famous “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” shows that the Messiah is neither an earthly leader going to overthrow the Roman government nor is he a coward bowing to the pressures of the ruling class. 

    God is concerned about Godly things–which is everything. Since God has given everyone all that they have, everything belongs to God. Caesar may think he is God or may be called a god, but he is not. If one knows the one true God, then one knows that all things come from God. God is interested in how we use our resources, how we live on this earth, how we do what God has called us to do, and is less concerned about whether or not we pay taxes. It is how we use what we have been given to further God’s kingdom and remembering that God has given us everything that is important.

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