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.

Reformation Day, Oct. 31, 2023

Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31, alongside All Hallows’ Eve, in remembrance of the Reformation, particularly by Lutheran and some Reformed church communities. It is a civic holiday in some German states.

It celebrates Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses on the church door at Wittenberg in Germany on Oct. 31, 1517. The event is seen as sparking the Protestant Reformation.

There are some questions of fact. The event was not publicized until 1546 by Philipp Melanchthon and no contemporaneous evidence exists for Luther’s posting of the theses. At the time, it was common for scholars to post their debate points on the door where people could read them. Copies of Luther’s theses and his fiery follow-up sermons were mass produced on a relatively new invention the printing press.

Luther’s movement began as a criticism of Catholic practices, not to split off from the Catholic church. Sinners could buy God’s forgiveness by purchasing an indulgence. Luther preferred justification by faith.  He also wanted people to read the Bible in their own languages and not just in Latin

The Reformation led to the split from one Catholic church to Protestant ones. There are now nearly 45,000 Protestant denominations around the world, including mainline Protestants, Anglicans, Evangelicals, Pentecostals and more.

It has been seen as the most significant event in Western Christian history and mirror in which we measure ourselves today.  Many of the differences that promoted the reformation have been solved – indulgences, justification by faith and having the Bible printed in multiple languages. Others such marriage of priests, same sex marriages are still divisive.  Will they be able celebrate communion together ?  That may take another reformation.

Here is an impromptu performance after the 11am service on Oct. 27, 2019 of part of Luther’s famous hymn. He wrote the words and composed the melody sometime between 1527 and 1529:

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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.

Sermon, 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, Oct. 29, 2023

Today’s passages are about love:  loving God, loving our neighbors, and loving creation as well.  When we love all that God has made, we discover for the first time, or all over again, even more brightly, that  God’s glory shines through all of creation.  When we enter that sacred glory, we can’t help but open our hearts to God’s deep, healing love for each one of us and for all that God has made. 

As we enter God’s shining, whether it’s walking through the woods on a bright autumn afternoon, the air shimmering golden, or seeing a glimmer of silver light reflected in drops of falling rain, we begin to sense that God’s glory dwells not only in the beauty of creation, but in our hearts as well.  We begin to sense that we, ourselves, our souls, our bodies, are all caught up in this glory, that we are part of God, part of the earth and part of one another. 

This same shining glory that we find in creation is the shining glory that we see in one another when we remember that God made us all, loves us all, that all of us are beloved by God.     

Opening our hearts to God’s glory and being willing to enter it is the path to holiness. 

“You shall be holy, for I the Lord God am holy,” God says to the Israelites. 

God intends for each one of us to claim our holiness by coming to know that all that God made is holy and blessed, that all creation holds the shining glory that is God. 

And then God asks us to gratefully respond to this shining glory with compassion, mercy and justice, for the compassion that we have for one another is a holy act that allows God’s shining to break through, even in the places where God seems to be absent. 

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Lectionary Pentecost 22, Proper 25, Oct. 29, 2023

I.Theme –    Love as the greatest of God’s commandments.

 "The Greatest Commandment "  – From Wortle

The lectionary readings are here  or individually:

Old Testament – Leviticus 19:1-2,15-18
Psalm – Psalm 1 Page 585, BCP
Epistle –1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Gospel – Matthew 22:34-46

These passages this week echo the challenge of the Christian journey. We have moments when we see God’s reign breaking through in this world–moments of justice, of hope, of peace–and other times, it seems like war, poverty and famine will continue forever. But we do not lose hope, and we know that our part counts in the reign of God. And our part is to create equitable relationships with those around us. We can’t expect to save the world but we can seek to maintain relationships with those around us. 

Leviticus provides a taste of the holiness codes of Israel, on how to live in community with one another. Leviticus is one of the most difficult books to read in the Bible, mainly for the listing of codes and laws that do not necessarily make sense in today’s society, and we are missing the context, both historically and culturally for understanding the application of them. However, the theme of how to live together in community is a theme that transcends some of the cultural and historical context–when decisions or judgments have to be made in the context of community, you can’t show partiality, but you have to be just. In connection with the Gospel the statements on our neighbors concern us – avoiding hatred, vengeance, grudges and basically love your neighbor

In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8, Paul shares about his journey to Thessalonica, not physically, but rather how he has come to be there on his journey of faith–coming not to judge or to trick them or to test them, nor to please them or flatter them, but simply coming as they are, people who follow God. Echoing back to the passage in Leviticus, Paul is coming as a person of the community of faith–treating the Thessalonians as such, and expecting the same treatment in return. Paul tells them “so deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our very selves” (vs 8). To Paul, telling about God is one thing–living it out is what we are called to do, by sharing ourselves fully with the members of the faith community–being our honest and true selves, without trickery or deceit, without slander or gossip or hate in our hearts–but to be genuine people that follow Christ.

Psalm I extols the blessedness of one who avoids the path of the wicked and walks in the way of wisdom and life. The psalm is built around two contrasting images, that of a tree planted by streams of water and that of chaff in the process of winnowing the grain. The former is an image of the righteous, the latter of the wicked. The former person is ‘happy’ or ‘blessed’, the latter is perishing.

The tree prospers by fulfilling its purpose of bearing fruit in its season. God has ordained that this is a process which takes time, indeed, a different time for each individual. We prosper by growing in grace, coming to maturity, and bearing fruit. Material prosperity is not the principle focus of this text.

The law was not only the source of specific rules and regulations, but it was also intended to teach the Israelites principles which would govern their actions. The fundamental issue underlying the Sermon on the Mount was over the interpretation of the Old Testament law

Matthew’s passage is on the Greatest Commandment. Jesus has been leading up to this pinnacle teaching in his parables and teachings about the kingdom or reign of God.  This passage represents the third of three attempts to entrap Jesus, after he has entered Jerusalem in triumph, riding on a donkey, with a large crowd spreading cloaks and branches on the road as they shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” 

After the Pharisees and the Sadducees have questioned him, a lawyer asks him which is the greatest commandment. On the face of it, the question appears very honest. The Pharisees identified 613 commandments in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Two hundred forty-eight were positive (“thou shalt”) and three hundred sixty-five were negative (“thou shalt not”). How could anyone remember all of them? Were some more important than others?

And Jesus sums up the commandments in the recitation of the Shema, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and with the call “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He was the first to place both of these side by side.

Both of these commandments sum up the Ten Commandments, for the first four are about relationship with God and the last six are about relationship with each other in the community. But Jesus goes further in saying, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” In Jesus’ day, the Bible that the Jews knew had the Torah, the Law, the first five books–and it contained the books of the prophets (the Psalms and other writings were still being compiled). Basically, Jesus is saying that this is the point of the whole Bible. Everything else hangs on it. All other laws, codes, rules, ordinances and such fall under these two commandments. This is the point of the whole thing.

After answering this question, however, Jesus poses a question to the Pharisees about whose son the Messiah is. Jesus is trying to emphasize that the Messiah is the son of God, not just of David–in other words, the Messiah, while prophesied about in Hebrew scripture and understood in Jewish culture, is a Messiah for the world, not just for the people. Jesus is not just the son of David as a descendant of David, but Jesus is the Son of God, and therefore a Messiah for all people. And therefore Jesus’ teachings about loving others and loving God are beyond the community present but are teachings to be lived out by all who follow Jesus. They are beyond the law and culture of one people, but for the whole world.

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Sunday Links, Oct. 29, 2023

The focus this Sunday continues to be the stewardship campaign, All Saints and collection for the ECM Thanksgiving. ”

  • 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. 29 2023, 11am Church service – Morning Prayer Live or YouTube St. Peter’s Page
  • Lectionary link for Oct. 29, 22st Sunday after Pentecost

  • Serving – Morning Prayer
    Lector: Andrea Pogue
    Altar Cleanup: Jan Saylor
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Nov 1 10am-12pm, Parish House Reading Lectionary for Nov 5, All Saints Sunday
  • All articles for Sunday, Oct. 29, 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 Sun., Nov 5th.
  • Stewardship pledges for 2024 are due by Sun., Nov 19th. By pledge (Estimate of Giving) card or online
  • Recent Articles, Oct. 29, 2023

    Pentecost 22, Oct. 29, 2023
    Lectionary for Pentecost 22
    Photos Oct. 29, 2023
    Videos, Oct. 29, 2023
    Commentary Oct. 29
    Vanderbilt visual commentary
    The Flow of the lectionary
    Stewardship Commentary
    Gospel Reflection
    Concept of love in Biblical times
    Introduction to Thessalonica
    Why does Paul go to Thessalonica”
    Request for names for All Saints Sunday

    The Village Harvest, Oct. 2023, the end of 9 years
    ECM Thanksgiving donations
    Completion of God’s Garden class

    End of October
    Reformation Day Oct. 31, 2023
    How do we get halloween (Oct. 31) from All Saints (Nov. 1) and All Souls(Nov.2)?

    Stewardship 2024
    To be a Church Rooted in Love
    Planning your financial giving
    Options for estimating your giving
    Ministry Connections

    About Stewardship
    5 Principles of Stewardship
    Stewardship is…
    Stewardship FAQ

    2024 Planning
    Walk in Love planning help

    Fall photos
    Robert Frost, October
    Early Fall