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.

The Season after the Epiphany – What’s it all about ? Focus on the Gospels

The Season after the Epiphany – Epiphany is all about establishing the identity of Jesus. Now that he has been born who is he ?   Epiphany continues to define who Jesus is – healer, preacher and the Messiah, the last one comes early in Epiphany and continues.

Epiphany refers to the appearance of Jesus Christ as the savior of the world—of Israel and the Gentiles.  For this reason, Epiphany is commonly associated with the visitation of the Magi (or “wise men”), who were almost certainly Gentiles, in Matthew 2:1–12.

We focus on the mission of the church to reach all the peoples of the earth with the great gift of God’s grace in revealing healing truth and light to the world.”

It is very much present oriented. The main idea of Epiphany is that Christ is the light of the world that came at Christmas and now beckons us to travel with Him ths year. The story of the Epiphany is about discovery—following a star to the source of salvation.Epiphany is filled with unexpected revelations that change our minds and ways – we have to be willing to experience them.

Epiphany is our jumping off spot. From the Eucharistic Prayer – “With each new day, you call us to feed the hungry, bring recovery of sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed, heal the broken hearted and bind up their wounds, and keep watch for the dawn of your reign on this earth. ”

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The Way of Love – in summary

1.  From the book Love is the Way by Michael Curry

Love is a firm commitment to act for the well-being of someone other than yourself. It can be personal or political, individual or communal, intimate or public. Love will not be segregated to the private, personal precincts of life. Love, as I read it in the Bible, is ubiquitous. It affects all aspects of life.”

“Love is a commitment to seek the good and to work for the good and welfare of others. It doesn’t stop at our front door or our neighborhood, our religion or race, or our state’s or your country’s border

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Sunday’s Links, Jan. 7, 2024

Sunday Links, Jan. 7, 2024, First Sunday after the Epiphany, Jesus’ Baptism

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  • Location – 823 Water Street, P. O. Box 399, Port Royal, Virginia 22535
  • Lectionary, First Sunday after the Epiphany, Jan 7
  • Servers, First Sunday after the Epiphany, Jan 7
    Lector: Elizabeth Heimbach
    Chalice Bearer: Elizabeth Heimbach
    Altar Cleanup: Andrea Pogue
  • Wed., Jan 10, Ecumenical Bible Study, Parish House, 10am-12pm  Reading Lectionary for Second Sunday after the Epiphany
  • Thurs., Jan 11, Vestry, Parish House, 2pm

  • Jan., 2024 newsletter
  • All articles for Sunday, Jan 7, 2024
  • Recent Articles, Jan 7, 2023

    The Epiphany, Jan 6
    The Epiphany
    The Three Miracles Associated with the Epiphany
    The Epiphany Readings
    Journey of the Magi
    6th Mosaic exposes the Magi

    First Sunday after the Epiphany, Jesus’ Baptism, Jan 7
    Sermon, the Rev. Tom Hughes
    Lectionary, Jan 7
    Lectionary commentary
    The Baptism page, 2024
    Sunday’s Thoughts
    The Gospels in the Season after the Epiphany

    Ministries – “A Case for Love”
    “A Case for Love” movie
    What does Bishop Curry mean by the “Way of Love”?
    How to bring love into workplaces?
    The Way of Love as part of our daily lives

    End of 2023
    2023 Highlights
    2023 Gallery photos
    2023 Photos, Part 1
    2023 Photos, Part 2
    Jan 1, Feast of the Holy Name
    3 Saints after Christmas

    Sunday’s Thoughts – Jan 7, Epiphany 1 – “Beginnings”

    So when does the church proclaim the new year? Typically it is the first Sunday in Advent. However, the scriptures seem other than joyous. On the recent First Advent, the Gospel was from Mark. Jesus said to his disciples, “In those days, after that suffering, the sun will be  darkened,      and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven,    and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” Nope, doesn’t make it

    I would make a case for the Sunday after the Epiphany, Jesus’ baptism. This is Mark’s birth story since he didn’t write one for Bethlehem.

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    Sermon, First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B – Rev. Tom Hughes

    “Good morning to you all and welcome. I am sitting here with the Sun shining in and sitting in warmth and in comfort and peace and safety together here in the Lord’s house. What a blessing that is! So many people in places in the world do not have this service this morning and we take it for granted.

    “The whole idea, however, of the way the world works was captured by me during this Christmas season in “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”.  Verse four captured for me what I want to share it with you because it really was a kind of a high moment for me.

    “For lo the days are hastening on, by prophets seen of old
    When with the ever circling years shall come the time foretold”

    “The ever circling years” phrase carries real power for me because if you think about the way time moves there’s a real sense in way things move on from day to day and there seems like there’s some kind of repetition in the way things occur from generation to generation but most ways it seems like time moves in a straight line but in fact that’s not entirely true. It also moves in a circular way so God’s timing seems to move like this. It’s moving in a in circle as well as moving forward and so God’s purposes for us always are moving forward and that’s really what the basis of our time together this morning is as far as the scriptures are concerned because we read from the  Old Testament.

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    Lectionary, Epiphany 1, Year B

    I.Theme –  Meaning of Baptism for Jesus and us

     "Baptism of Christ"- Fra Angelico (1450)

    The lectionary readings are here  or individually: 

    Old Testament – Genesis 1:1-5
    Psalm – Psalm 29 Page 620, BCP
    Epistle –Acts 19:1-7
    Gospel – Mark 1:4-11

    Genesis – God parts the waters, transforming darkness and turmoil into light and hope.

    Acts – Baptism is linked with descent of the Holy Spirit in the developing Christian community. It is the story of Paul baptizing some of John the Baptist’s disciples. They understand the need for repentance, but they do not understand that God through the Holy Spirit is now at work in their life. They had not heard about the Holy Spirit, and they did not understand how they could participate in the reign of God now.

    Mark – This is beginning of the ministry of Jesus, which actually begins with the ministry of John the Baptist, the voice coming out of the wilderness, as God’s voice hovers over the face of the deep. God calls forth light, and therefore life; John the Baptist calls forth repentance and forgiveness, and through baptism, a new life is born. Jesus comes to John to be baptized in the River Jordan. Jesus baptizes Jesus, the heavens split apart and the spirit descents affirming Jesus as both messianic King and Spirit filled servant. 

    As Jesus’ head rises above the waters, breaking through into our world, God breaks through from heaven as well. Baptism is the re-entry of God into our lives, and the re-entry of ourselves into God’s intended goal for creation: goodness and life. Repentance and forgiveness is our way of turning back, of re-breaking into the reign of God on earth.  

    Psalm – Psalm 29 is hymn to God as God of storm to overcome pagan worship of Baal as thunder god. God alone is source of strength and blessing for the people. It is a song of wonder and amazement towards God our Creator, where the voice of God thunders over the waters .

    Baptism is a time of transition. Jesus moves from the obscurity of Nazareth to larger stage. His gifts become public. God is not making demands but delights in his son. For Jesus as with us the mission begins in gift. Hearing that affirmation must have strengthened him for his trials – 40 days in the desert.  

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    The Baptism Page 2024

    “Go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….and remember I am with you always.” – Matthew 28:19-20

    Baptism is…..welcoming into the community of faith & the Body of Christ.

    Baptism is…..belonging to God as “Christ’s own forever.”

    Baptism is….washing of our sins and renewing our life in faith.

    Baptism is…..a holy sacrament, an outward sign of God’s inward grace.

    Baptism is…..a gift of God’s grace through the Holy Spirit.

    “Why baptize? God has no need of our baptism. But we do. We need to hear; we need to know. Whether emerging from the waters of the womb or the waters of a river, we need to hear again that we are beloved.” – JoAnn A. Post in the Christian Century

    Michael Curry – From Crazy Christians A Call to Follow Jesus

    “We come to the mountain, then, and experience a deepened and revived relationship with God and with each other.”

    “You will notice this three-fold pattern in how Jesus forms his disciples and sends them out. First he invites his disciples to come. “Come and see,” he says, “Follow me” (John 1:39; Mark 1:17). Jesus beckons his disciples to him in order to enter into a deepened relationship, through him, with God and each other in community. That is what baptism is about, a deepened relationship with God and each other in Christ.”

    “If you look at the words of the Great Commission, you’ll see this is precisely how Jesus forms his disciples. After the resurrection, Jesus takes the disciples to a mountain. He tells them: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20). We form disciples through baptism and teaching so they might come into a deepened, transforming relationship with God and each other, as we learn and live the gospel of Jesus.”

    The Setting for Sunday

    We have just celebrated the birth of Christ and will experience his death and resurrection on Easter. However, one key event we should put in the same category is Jesus’ baptism.  We have various  weeks set aside for baptisms – first Sunday after Epiphany (Baptism of Jesus), Easter, Pentecost,Feast of the Transfiguration (Sunday nearest Aug. 6), All Saints Sunday, whenever the Bishop visits) .  Whether we have a baptism or now, we usually include the section in the prayer book for the renewal of the Baptismal Covenant in the service. In the past we have also “sprinkled” people.

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    Looking to the New Year

    By Br. Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE

    “Each of us can light a candle in the darkness and bring good news to a world in so much need. Is there someone I need to change the way I look at; to see them with God’s eyes? Or is there something bold and courageous I can do, to bring God’s Good News into this broken world which God so loves? Make good news this coming year.”

    The 3 Miracles associated with the Epiphany

    Epiphany is Jan 6 and is one of the essential feasts in the Christian year. The essence of Epiphany is found in 2 Timothy 1:10: “And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior.”

    The English word “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which means “appearing” or “revealing.” Epiphany focuses on God’s self-revelation in Christ, the divinity of Christ.

    The Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River with the voice from heaven that identifies Jesus as God’s son, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana.

    The Roman Catholic Church in Sylva, NC planned to install the above art in their baptisty to celebrate the miracles. From their website:

    “The works selected are high-quality reproductions of frescoes painted by late medieval Italian painter Giotto di Bondone. Giotto was one of the first medieval artists to depict his subjects in a more realistic, natural style, breaking away from the earlier tradition of more stylized figures.”

    “In our display, the Baptism of the Lord is central, being aligned with the baptismal font, to remind us that all those baptized in the sacred waters of this font are baptized into the Lord, to share in his Passion and Resurrection. To the left, the Adoration of the Magi is a reminder for us to give our homage to Christ who is the Lord of all, no matter our ethnicity or nationality. And on the right, the scene from the Wedding at Cana brings to our mind the words of instruction spoken by our Blessed Mother to the servants, which we have emblazoned on our baptistery wall: “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).”

    The Epiphany

    Epiphany occurs January 6!

    Adoration of the Magi by Zietblom

    Adoration of the Magi – Bartholomäus Zeitblom (c. 1450 – c. 1519)

    The English word "Epiphany" comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which means "appearing" or "revealing." Epiphany focuses on God’s self-revelation in Christ.  

    Epiphany celebrates the twelfth day of Christmas, the coming of the Magi to give homage to God’s Beloved Child.

    The Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River with the voice from heaven that identifies Jesus as God’s son, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany, and its meaning is drawn from these occurrences. 

    In either case, the emphasis is upon God making himself known to the world through Jesus, the divine Son. During Epiphany, the divine words at Jesus’ baptism—"You are my child, my Beloved"—are spoken to every child of God.

    The theological essence of Epiphany is found in 2 Timothy 1:10: "And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News." If you were reading this verse in Greek, you’d find the word epiphaneia where we have "appearing." God has made "all of this" plain to us through the epiphany of Christ.

    1.  Epiphany is the season of the Church year from January 6 to the beginning of Lent  which we experience the unfolding of the identity of Jesus as the Son of God through scripture and song.

    2. Epiphany is the season of wonder. Epiphany invites us to take the long view of her or his vocation and God’s ministry in the world. The season of Epiphany joins, like Christmas, mysticism and mission in revealing God’s vision for all creation and humankind.

    3. Epiphany is about the unexpected: unexpected joys and synchronicities and unexpected challenges and tragedies. Epiphany is filled with unexpected revelations that change our minds and ways.

    Some examples In Epiphany, the magi take another road home; Peter discovers that God’s grace is wider than he ever imagined; and the disciples experience Jesus as transfigured, like Moses, on the mountaintop and then, to their chagrin, realize that beyond the transfiguration stands a cross on the horizon.

    Let’s take the magi. The magi left the land they knew, following a light to a place of uncertainty, and discovered the savior of the world, and it changed, literally, the direction of their lives.

    As Matthew puts it, "They returned home by another way." The old way of traveling would no longer work. They needed to follow a different path.

    At a critical moment in their journey, they realized what the lyrics of that song say: "

    Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten."  Changing direction

    Eventually, all of us take routes that we had never expected to travel, whether these involve changes in employment, health, relational, or economic status. When life forces us from the familiar highway onto an uncharted path, we are challenged to experience holiness as we travel on another road. The path is seldom easy, but within the real limitations of life, we may discover unexpected possibilities for vocation, mission, and transformation.

    4. But, a spirituality of Epiphany reminds us that God is a fellow adventurer on every road we travel. Awakened to divine companionship, every path can become a holy adventure with surprises and epiphanies around every corner

    While Christian wisdom has affirmed that God is omnipresent, most of us have never fully explored what it means to assert that God is everywhere. At the very least, the doctrine of divine omnipresence means that God is present as our companion on every pathway—in certainty and uncertainty, and in celebration and grief. It means that as we face the call of new horizons, whether by desire or necessity, often as pilgrims without a map, there is a divine wisdom moving through our lives, giving us insight, providing synchronous encounters, and awakening us to unexpected energies.

    It is about what happens to those who are searching, and who encounter Christ.

    It is, whether we realize it or not, about a kind of conversion; about finding another way of walking the journey of life, a way that has been transformed by a star. By a light. By Jesus Christ himself.

    5. Fundamentally, the story of the Epiphany is about discovery—following a star to the source of salvation. The readings are overflowing with references to the light: "Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem," Isaiah cries out. "Your light has come. The glory of the Lord shines upon you."

    There is a sense of redemption and relief, of deliverance and hope. Indeed, once the magi arrive in Bethlehem, they cannot contain themselves. As the gospel puts it: "They were overjoyed at seeing the star." They had arrived at the source of all their yearning, and all the searching. They had found what they were looking for.

    People claim in our lives of "having an epiphany." In this case, an epiphany has come to mean a sudden insight into the truth or reality of an event or situation. Here, the word "epiphany" means seeing more than meets the eye; discovering the sacred embedded in ordinary events; and seeing our context as if for the first time, bathed in God’s presence. The reality of divine wisdom invites us to awaken to holiness in the quotidian.

    6. Epiphany is the season of light and transfiguration. On Epiphany, the Church is drenched in light. It begins with a star guiding the magi and ends with dazzling light illuminating Jesus and his followers. For those who live in the spirit of Epiphany, all things dazzle with divine light. Even darkness reveals divinity in the hidden movements of growing things, whether in the womb or in the good earth.

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    Epiphany Readings

    The Epiphany readings are about travel, journey and ultimately sharing Christ’s light. But it is not easy as the opponents of Christ are present. Link to the readings:

    Epiphany means “appearance of the Lord.” In the East, where it started, this feast was instituted not to recall the Magi, but the birth of Jesus, the Christmas, the appearance of the light. In the West—where Christmas was celebrated on December 25—it was received in the fourth century and became the feast of the “manifestation of the light of the Lord” to the Gentiles and the universal call to all people to salvation in Christ. Magi reveal the truth of John 1:9 – the true of God, coming into the world, enlightens all creation and every person. Every child is an incarnation of our beloved Savior.

    The light image is significant. The word used for the “East” in the Gospel , "anatolai (plural)/anatole (singular)", really means “the rising,” that is, the rising of the sun (our word “orient” comes from a Latin word with the same meaning: oriens). The word "anatole" would have had a number of resonances for the first Greek-speaking, Jewish-Christian hearers of Matthew’s story.

    First, the rising of the sun in the East readily suggests the imagery of light, which is often associated with salvation in the Bible. The Old Testament reading for the day (Isaiah 60:1-6), to which the magi story clearly alludes (see especially verses 5-6), begins with the words, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”

    Isaiah’s vision of salvation, the light of the Lord shined, includes a pilgrimage of the nations, who will come to Israel’s light, to worship the God of Israel, bringing their gifts. With the story of the Magi, Matthew is telling us that this prophecy is fulfilled: guided by the light of the Messiah, the Gentiles (represented by the Magi) make their way to Jerusalem, to bring gold, frankincense and myrrh. The popular piety applied to each of these gifts a symbolic meaning: gold indicates the recognition of Jesus as king, incense represents the adoration in front of his divinity, myrrh recalls his humanity—this fragrant resin will be remembered during the passion (Mk 15:23; Jn 19:39).

    Even the story of the mounts was not invented for nothing. It is still the first reading today that speaks to us of “a troop of camels and dromedaries” that come from the East (Is 60:6). Unlike the shepherds who contemplated and rejoiced in front of the salvation that the Lord had revealed to them, the magi prostrated themselves in worship (v. 11). Their gesture recalls the court’s ceremony—the prostration and kissing of the feet of the king—or kissing the ground before the image of the deity. The pagans have therefore recognized as their king and their God, the child of Bethlehem and offered him their gifts.

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    Journey of the Magi (1459)


    “Benozzo Gozzoli created Journey of the Magi for the Medici family in Italy in 1459. The Medici were members of a Florentine confraternity that celebrated the journey of the magi to Bethlehem every five years by parading the streets of Florence.

    “The Medici often commissioned artworks depicting the magi to display their association with the confraternity. The landscape in the painting resembles Florence, and includes castles and villas owned by the Medici family. Some of the prominent figures in the painting are portraits of Medici family members, such as Piero the Gouty (on the white horse at the left, leading the procession), Cosimo (riding the donkey behind Piero), Piero’s children, Guiliano and Lorenzo, and Benozzo himself. The Florentines in the procession can be identified by their red costumes. The landscape is repetitive, unifying the composition and giving the painting a tapestry-like effect. Tapestries were prestigious commodities in renaissance Europe. Benozzo successfully combines the patterning of tapestries with a Florentine interest in broad panoramic landscapes, strongly modeled figures, animals seen in perspective, and attention to detail in this painting. ”

    6th Century Mosaic exposes the Magi

    From The Visual Commentary on Scripture
    by Timothy Verdon

    “As a subject in art, the Adoration of the Magi illustrates the events described in Matthew 2:1–12 and elaborated in the liturgical festivity known by the Greek name of ‘Epiphany’ or ‘Manifestation’. The central meaning of the Adoration for Christians is in fact articulated in 1 Timothy 3:16, which says that Christ, the Messiah promised to the Jews, was also ‘proclaimed to the gentiles, believed throughout the world’.

    “Matthew’s Gospel was written for a Jewish public, and his account of Wise Men ‘from the east’ bringing gifts to honour the child whose ‘star’ they had seen rise realizes Isaiah’s words to the Chosen People: ‘The nations will come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness’ (60:3 NJB).

    “A sixth-century mosaic in the church of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo at Ravenna suggests this inter-cultural message, showing the Magi clothed in garments that would have looked exotic to a Western audience, wearing ‘Phrygian’ (Anatolian) caps, and advancing with their gifts among palm trees. The mosaic, which gives the Wise Men’s traditional names—Balthasar, Melchior, Gaspar—, is part of a larger programme, and visitors to Sant’Apollinare see the Magi approaching figures of Mary and the baby Jesus, in reference to Matthew’s statement that, when the star they followed halted, they finally saw the Child and his mother (Matthew 2:10–11).

    “Behind the Magi in the Ravenna mosaic, we see a procession of female martyrs who also advance toward Christ. These evoke a further meaning attributed to this event by Christian theologians. One of the gifts brought by the Magi, myrrh, was an unguent used to embalm the dead, and Christ’s manifestation to all nations was thus seen to include the mystery of his death: an interpretation legitimated by Matthew’s insistence on King Herod’s attempt to eliminate the baby Jesus, killing all infants of the same age (Matthew 2:13–16). The women martyrs following the Magi in the mosaic had shared Christ’s death.