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.

Photos from Ash Wed., Feb. 22, 2023

(full size gallery)

We had 15 people in the church and another 5 on Zoom. Preceding the service was a gorgeous sunset. The sermon was about how the righteous live – “storing up treasures in heaven and returning to God” which is our goal in Lent. Catherine ending was from a Jewish writing – “When all is left is Love”. The tag line -“Love doesn’t die, people do”

The Ash Wed service is a special service during the year getting the congregation ready to embark on a “Holy Lent” – “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” Read more about the service

3 Key points for Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023

Sarah Bentley Allred at Virginia Theological Seminary has identified 3 teaching points for Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the season of Lent, the forty days set aside to prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Before he began his public ministry, Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness, being tempted by Satan, and resisting those temptations. The forty day season of Lent gives us needed time and space to enter into our own wilderness spaces as we examine our lives, acknowledge the ways that evil has slipped into our lives, ask for forgiveness, and make needed course corrections in our lives so that we can whole heartedly follow Jesus. The Ash Wednesday service is our doorway into this Lenten time and space in which we come before God in repentance, praying that God will strengthen our faith.

1 The Call to A Holy Lent “Our liturgy directly invites us into a holy season of specific practices aimed at helping us reconnect with God in preparation for the celebration of Easter. “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent.” (Book of Common Prayer, page 265)

We see in this invitation that there are six specific ways which christians are called to deepen their devotion in this season.

Read more about Ash Wednesday

Lent begins Feb. 22, 2023

Lent is a 40 day Christian festival beginning Ash Wednesday and concluding on Easter (Sundays are not counted).  The 40 day fast of Jesus in the wilderness was responsible for the number 40 being chosen .  It was said by Athanasius in 339 AD to be celebrated the world over.

The word “Lent” comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word lengten, which means “springtime,” named so for the time of the year in which it occurs.   The five Lenten Sundays are followed by the Sunday of the Passion, Palm Sunday, which begins Holy Week, when we relive the events of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death.

What we now call Lent was originally a period of fasting and study for catechumens who were to be baptized on the Saturday before Easter.  The purpose of this extended fast was to practice self-denial and humility. This was to prepare oneself for receiving God’s grace and forgiveness in baptism, given on Easter Saturday or Easter Sunday.

The Ash Wednesday service

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

We began our observation of Jesus’ death and resurrection by preparing for Easter with a season of penitence.   Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent.

The liturgy provides words about the purpose of Lent. “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”

The service started without music and opening readings and flowed into a collect and readings, followed by the sermon. Examine yourself to see what divides you from others, from the earth and from God, and repent from these divisive things. Prayer, fasting, and denying yourselves these divisive things will be helped by meditating on God’s holy Word.

Read more about the service

Ash Wednesday from the Diocese of Atlanta, Bishop Rob Wright – “Under Construction”

“Today by the grace of God we begin again. Today we are marked with ashes to remind ourselves and the world that God sees in all of us more than our worst decision, day or deed. And that because of God’s compassion on display audaciously in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and his spirit at work in us, there is hope for a turn around! That turn around will look like a better, kinder, more forgiving, more just, more generous world. And that world begins with you and I joining God’s purpose more focused than ever before.

“You might say that the ashes that we smear on our forehead today are a sort of construction dust! We are under construction and so are all of our neighbors. But this construction is not a self-help kind of construction. No! In these next weeks we are invited through, worship, study, silence, prayer, service and fasting to put ourselves in the hands of the Master Builder. The God of all the worlds, the lover of our souls and the forgiver of our sins. And so, as your bishop and brother, I call you and all of us to the keeping of a Holy Lent. God bless you!

Art for Ash Wednesday

From the Loyola Press

Commentary is by Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, assistant professor of liturgy, catechesis, and evangelization at Loyola University New Orleans.

Art expresses the key themes of the season – conflict between secular and religious, the forces of temptation and selfishness affecting all of us, the importance of retreat, repentance, and conversion in this season. We have three pieces of art to view these themes thanks to the Loyola press

1. Pieter Brueghel the Elder, “The Fight Between Carnival and Lent,” 1559

Sometimes when the spiritual and the secular clash, we can see the hand of God at work. In Pieter Brueghel’s The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, there is a clash of contrasts happening in this 16th-century Dutch village. Near the center of the hustle and bustle a curious pair is ready to spar: “Carnival,” represented by a well-endowed man riding a barrel, wears a meat-pie hat and is ready for action with a spear loaded with roasted pork. “Lent” faces him, personified by a clear-eyed but gaunt woman on a spare cart, wearing a beehive and holding out two fish on a peel. She is surrounded by loaves, pretzels, and a basket of mussels.

Read more about art for Ash Wednesday