St. Peter’s by-the-Sea’s Weekly – December 20, 2021

The Christmas Creche

The Reverend Elizabeth Jones for the Episcopal Cafe’

Collector, afficianado, lover and deeply devoted to the child within me, the Christmas creches are generally the first things out of my many, many boxes of Christmas ornaments. From the beautiful papier mache Nativity from my own mothers collection, to the artful Italian manger scene lit with real tiny lights, (always on the prime real estate of the mantle), to the tiny Mexican nativity scene complete with its own mariachi band bought by my family in Valladolid, Quintano Roo on a vacation- the creche and its attendant mangers are the most important part of my Christmas. My very favorite is the precious wooden and felt set made for me by my daughter some 30 years ago.

Of course, all these memory-filled magical mangers are without the baby Jesus, because he can’t come to the creche, until Christmas morning. At that point we all troop around the house carefully placing the babies, (who have been watched over by a gentle porcelain Mary, kneeling by the bowl where they have all waited). We sing “Joy to the World” and place Jesus carefully home in his proper place.

Which brings me to the point of this little travelogue of mine. Every year Epiphany rolls around and so do the boxes to be filled with the now dismantled scenes waiting to be carefully put away for next year’s Coming. It always makes me a bit sad.

This year, as we celebrated communion round the breakfast table and its creche, I realized there was one manger that did not have to be put away. And that is the creche of our own hearts, where this Christ child snuggles in filled with warmth and love, and with the power of God to light our way home forever.
God bless you one and all. Merriest Christmas from one creche to another.

Rev. Liz and her husband David, celebrate Christmas in their home, in Long Beach, MS, just outside New Orleans, along with their two cats Taj Mahal and King Leo, their daughter Sarah who resides in New York and a host of precious memories they love to share.

A look back at our Christmas 2021 Services

Christmas Eve
The Nativity of Our Lord
Friday, December 24th
4PM Service

5:30PM Service
Rite II with Children’s participation in
“Walk through Bethlehem”
followed by Apple Cider
in the parish hall

Chorale Christmas Performance
 and Rite II service of Holy Eucharist
Midnight Mass

Christmas 1
Sunday, December 26th
 8AM Deacon’s Mass

Take a look back at our
Lessons and Carols Streamed Service
[order of service]




Christ Candle and the Creche, Delicious Poinsettias and Music by Stanley, By-the-SEAsons Greetings !
Our favorite Elf, Preachin’ in PJs and a VERY Holy Eucharist


Gifts for Life Matching Funds Until December 31, 2021 !

[From the ERD press release]
Episcopal Relief & Development is kicking off its annual Year-End Match, offering supporters the opportunity to transform lives with twice the impact this holiday season. Thanks to a very generous group of donors, contributions that Episcopal Relief & Development receives between now and the end of the year will be doubled, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $650,000.

The Year-End Match will benefit the organization’s Global Needs Fund, supporting key programs in three priority areas:  Women,  Children  and  Climate. Gifts will bolster work promoting the health and wellbeing of children, empowering women and helping communities…

Contributions made to Episcopal Relief & Development before the end of the year are eligible for matching, including Gifts for Life, the organization’s alternative giving catalog…
“Each year, during this matching gift period, thousands of generous donors – individuals and churches – answer the challenge to contribute,” said Mike Smith, Major Gift Officer. “It is a strong financial partnership, and it’s what makes the global work of Episcopal Relief & Development possible.”
[read the entire press release]

Our ERD giving campaign goes until the end of the year.
It’s never been easier to DOUBLE the  Big Love from our church pews.

Our goal is $2500, which doubled, could purchase an entire water well for a village.  Checks should be made out to St. Peter’s with ERD in the memo OR maybe made on-line through our website: and choosing “Episcopal Relief and Development” under the Fund Menu.

Weekly Worship Schedule

 We are now offering bread AND wine during Holy Eucharist,
 but… Dip ! don’t Sip.

Wednesday People

10:30am Bible Study
in the Great Room
12:05 pm Litany of Healing
in the Chapel
~12:40 pm Via Media
on the Internet

Sundays by-the-Sea

8:00 am Rite I Service
~9 am Coffee in the Courtyard 
(weather permitting)

9:30 am Kids’ Sunday School
10:30 am Rite II Service*
In-Person and LIVE Streaming Service*
10:30 am Children’s Church
Child Care Available

Last Week’s Streaming Service

Via Media

December 19th’s
Lessons and Carols

December 26 – January 1st

26th Bob Montgomery
27th Hannah Black
30th Libby Koch
30th Ian Phillips
31st Lamar Billups
31st Stanley Hastings
1st Ashley Crump
30th Tim & Pam Barrineau


January 2nd – January 8th
4th – Heather Rafferty
4th – Mike Ward
5th – Tim Silkman
6th – Lauren Porter
7th – Chris Scarborough
8th – Ida Curtis
2nd – Lee & Ashley Crump
7th- Bob Galloway & Ann Bowden

A memorial service for long time parishioner Phil Parker, who passed away earlier this year in Tennessee,
will be held on

December 30th 11AM
at the Biloxi National Cemetery.
Phil’s family has invited his friends from St. Peter’s to join this celebration of his life.


The Second Sunday after Christmas
January 2nd

Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-14Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19aMatthew 2:13-15,19-23Psalm 84

Collect:   O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

RCL READINGS for this week
The Feast Day of St. Stephen
The Feast Day of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist
The Feast Day of The Holy Innocents
The Feast Day of The Holy Name of Jesus

  Lesser Feast Days and Fasts for this week
29 Thomas Becket,
Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr, 1170
31 Frances Joseph Gaudet,
Educator and Prison Reformer, 1934

Lesser Feast Days and Fasts site

Christmas Tide

This week, in addition to being Christmastide (the 12 days of Christmas), we celebrate and recognized a Triduum of Feast Days plus One. Yesterday, specifically two days after Christmas, we celebrated the Feast of St. Stephen, today, December 27th, we celebrate the Feast Day of St. John and tomorrow, the 28th, we recognized Holy Innocents’ day. On January 1st, we celebrate Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.  However, since St. Stephen’s Day was Sunday this year, each of these Feast Days has been transferred to the 27th, 28th and 29th.
A little bit about each…

The Feast Day of St. Stephen
Appropriately, we celebrated St. Stephen with a Deacon’s Mass on Sunday. Stephen was, according to the Acts of the Apostles, a deacon in the early Church at Jerusalem who angered members of various synagogues with his teachings. The only source for information about St. Stephen is in the New Testament book, the Acts of the Apostles. Stephen is first mentioned as one of seven deacons appointed by the Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to poorer members of the community in the early church.
In the synagogues of Hellenistic Jews, Stephen performed his teachings and “signs and wonders”.  Members challenged Stephen’s teachings, but he bested them in debate. Furious at this humiliation, they suborned false testimony that Stephen preached blasphemy against Moses and God. In a long speech to the Sanhedrin, comprising almost the whole of Acts chapter 7, Stephen presents his view of the history of Israel
Stephen faced two accusations: that he had declared that Jesus would destroy the Temple in Jerusalem and that he had changed the customs of Moses. Stephen  denounced his listeners as “stiff-necked” people who, just as their ancestors had done, resist the Holy Spirit.  The crowd could contain their anger no longer. Stephen looked up and cried, “Look! I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God!” The people from the crowd threw the first stones.  Stephen prayed that the Lord would receive his spirit and his killers be forgiven, sank to his knees, and “fell asleep”, becoming 
 the first Christian martyr.
Artistic representations often show Stephen with a crown symbolizing martyrdom, three stones, martyr’s palm frondcenser, and often holding a miniature church building. Stephen is often shown as a young, beardless man with a tonsure, wearing a deacon’s vestments.
The second day after Christmas is also called Boxing Day, originating as a holiday to give gifts to the poor. The tradition of giving money and other gifts to those in need dates to the Middle Ages. The tradition may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era wherein alms boxes placed in churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, the second day of Christmastide.

The Feast Day of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist
St. John the Apostle, also called the Evangelist was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus playing a leading role in the early church at Jerusalem.
His brother was James, another of the Twelve Apostles.
Church tradition is that John is the author of the Gospel of John and four other books of the New Testament – the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation.
John is referred to as “beloved disciple”, and “loved by Jesus as a brother”.

John (the future Evangelist) is present when John the Baptist points out Jesus as the “Lamb of God” then, with Andrew, spends the day with Him; he was one of the three who witnessed the Transfiguration. With Peter, John was sent to prepare the Passover Meal, was the lone apostle at the foot of the cross at Calvary and, as instructed by Jesus “Here is your mother” (John 19:26-27), takes care of Mary. After the Ascension and Pentecost, again with Peter, John takes a prominent role in the founding of the church.
It is believed that John was the youngest of the apostles and survived them all having lived on for another generation after the martyrdom of his brother James, dying at Ephesus sometime after AD 98, during the reign of Trajan.
In Medieval iconography, John is depicted with a chalice, often with a serpent emerging from it. This symbol is a reference to a legend from the Acts of John (an apocryphal text), in which John was challenged to drink a cup of poison to demonstrate the power of his faith (the poison being symbolized by the serpent). Other common attributes include a book or scroll, in reference to his writings, and an eagle, which symbolizes the high-soaring, inspirational quality of these writings.

Feast of the Holy Innocents
On this feast day we recognize the massacre of young children in Bethlehem by King Herod in an attempt to kill the infant Jesus. These children were regarded by the early church as the first martyrs. In Rome, it was a day of fasting and mourning.
Also known as Childermas, the account in Matthews’ Gospel is King Herod’s reaction to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. The Magi arrive in Jerusalem looking for guidance as to where they can find the newborn King of the Jews. Herod directs them to Bethlehem and asks them to return to him and report their findings. The Magi were warned in a dream not to do so and did not return.
“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under…”
- Matthew 2:16
For some it is customary to give the youngest child in a home the power to rule for the day, from meals to where to go and what to do. Some cultures allow children to play pranks like on April Fool’s Day or, to have their toys blessed at a Mass to celebrate the these young Saints of God.

The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
Celebrated January 1st, eight days after Christmas, this feast day commemorates the naming of the child Jesus; as recounted in the Gospel read on that day, “at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”


St. Peters “Community” Night
Wednesdays in the Parish Hal

Begining January 19, 2022, St. Peters will begin having Wednesday night gatherings in the Parish Hall aimed at expanding our sense of community and providing “multi-generational” opportunities for spiritual growth. The schedule for these nights will look like this:

5:30PM Compline

6:00PM – Dinner and spiritual discussions

Adults in Parish Hall

Teens (EYC) in Library

Pre-YC in Sunday School rooms

Nursery will be made available

6:45PM – All hands “community” cleanup

To execute this program, we will need some volunteers to prepare the meals on a rotating basis, one or two volunteers to shepherd the teen discussions, and one or two volunteers for the Pre-YC children. Topics will be selected by Father Patrick and the Wednesday night team, and discussion cards will be provided to group leaders – so, no extensive prep work should be required!

Our intent is to offer a mid-week opportunity for all to come and continue their growth in Christ and community. So as to maximize everyone’s ability to join in, we will hold off on cleanup until after the discussions are completed – and then we will clean up as a community. We hope to have everyone on their way home by 7:15PM each night.

If you feel called to service, please consider volunteering for one of the team positions! Otherwise, come on out and grow with St. Peters!

Contact Chuck Rollins at 228-617-8149 or for more information.


For the Kids !

Christmas Lesson:
The Wisemen

Joseph - Free printable at home Bible lesson for under 5s






We are on our final week of the Christmas lesson series. (If you missed any of the past Christmas lessons click here). This week, we will look at the contrast between King Herod and the Wise Men. Our Bible text is found in Matthew 2:1-12.

Some of the key points we will study are:

    • Wise men seek Jesus – Seeking Jesus is always the wise thing to do.
  • No one is too far away from God.
  • God wants us to be humble.

Advent 4 Lesson: 
Jesus is Born

Welcome to week three in our Christmas lesson series. (If you missed any of the past Christmas lessons click here). This week, we focus on Luke 2. We will look at the trip to Bethlehem and Jesus’ birth in a stable, because of the lack of room in the inn.  Some of the key points we will study are:

  • We need to make room in our lives for Jesus.

  • Jesus fulfilled the prophecies in the Old Testament with His birth.

  • Jesus came for a purpose.

  • God is in control.

Download Jesus is born lesson

Youth Groups

Check out all of the upcoming events
for our youth and follow their
instagram page

FAMILY FUN – 12 Crafts of Christmas
Day 1 – Ringing the Bells
Day 2 – Two Turtle Doves
Day 3 – God’s Eye Snowflakes
Day 4 – Pinecone Gnomes
Day 5 – Gold Crown Tea Lights
Day 6 – Origami Stars

View more…

Support our Local Non-Profits

Gulf Coast Community Ministries

Agency Logo

Support our ECW with the purchase of a St. Peter’s Ornament!

Commissioned in 2009, and the 4th in a series of Downtown Gulfport Landmarks, these cast pewter ornaments are the original work of artist Maurice Milleur. Measuring approximately 2 3/4″ tall.
These make great gifts and help support our ECW.
Ornaments are $20/each and may be purchased by contacting any ECW member or the church office.


Bulletin Insert: 1 Christmas – The Presiding Bishop’s Christmas Message – December 26, 2021 

A number of years ago, I read a book by Roberta Bondi, who at that time was teaching at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. The title of the book was “To Love as God Loves”. Professor Bondi, in that book, looked at and examined early Christians. And one of the things she observed was that early Christians saw their vocation of following Jesus as learning how to love as God loves. And that was the title of the book, “To Love as God Loves”.

If that is true, as I believe it is, when we look at the New Testament stories of Jesus, and particularly the stories around Christmas, we see early glimmers of Jesus showing us how to love as God loves. The Christmas stories found in Matthew and in Luke, for example, actually show us something about God’s way of love. We all know the Christmas stories, the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes as it’s found in Luke’s gospel, the baby that’s born of Mary, the stories of Mary while she was pregnant meeting her cousin Elizabeth, and the words of the Magnificat, “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” We know the stories of Mary giving birth in the manger, because there was no room for them in the inn, the stories of the shepherds out on the field beholding the angel choir: “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!”

The story of a baby born is the story of beauty, a story of hope, whereas the Jewish tradition says every child who is born is a reminder that God is not finished with the world yet. In this case, the baby that was born was named Jesus. But Matthew tells the same story, but highlights other dimensions that remind us profoundly of the way God loves. In Matthew’s story, the child is born and there is great beauty in it, but there is some difficulty, even in the relationship between Mary and Joseph when they discover that she is with child before they’re actually married. But an angel intervenes and tells Joseph in the dream that this child is God’s miracle. And so, Joseph accepts his responsibility and cares for Mary and the baby Jesus who is to be born. And all moves along well. And in Matthew’s version there is the star, the Magi or the wise men who come from afar, but then the story takes a dark turn.

And all of a sudden, the same beauty that surrounded the birth of a child now is tinged by an ugliness of tyranny, the ugliness of injustice, the ugliness of hatred, the ugliness of unbridled selfishness as King Herod hears rumors of a rival to his throne being born and begins plans to execute children to stamp out his rival. In Matthew, that is the context for the birth of Jesus. And Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus when he is born are forced to flee as refugees, seeking political asylum eventually in Egypt because of the wrath of King Herod. They are saved from the destruction, but many do die.

In the late 1930s, The Episcopal Church embarked on efforts to save refugees who were fleeing tyranny, evil, injustice, bigotry, hatred in Europe at the advent of the Second World War. In The Episcopal Church, Episcopalians and many other Christians and Jewish people in the United States and people of goodwill and human decency worked together in a variety of ways to save as many refugees as they could. And at that time, Episcopalians created this image. It shows Mary holding the baby Jesus in her arms on the donkey, with Joseph walking with them. And as you can see, the sign said in the name of these refugees, aid all refugees.

The Christmas stories are reminders that this Jesus came to show us how to love as God loves. And one of the ways we love as God loves is to help those who are refugees, those who seek asylum from political tyranny, poverty, famine, or other hardship. In the 1930s, Episcopalians did this to love as God loves, and today, ministries like Episcopal Migration Ministries, the work of this church, have helped to resettle some 100,000 refugees as of December 2021. And that work goes on for refugees from Afghanistan and from other places around the world.

The Christian vocation as Jesus taught us is to love as God loves. And in the name of these refugees, let us help all refugees. God love you, God bless you. And this Christmas, may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.




Bible Study – 1 Christmas – 2021
December 26, 2021

RCL: Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Psalm 147 or 147:13-21; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7; John 1:1-18



Isaiah 61:10-62:3

It is clear in the prophecy given to Isaiah that God intends for his people Israel to be a beacon to other nations. The strong imagery of “garland,” “jewels,” “crown,” and “diadem” bespeak a richness that God bestows upon those who are faithful to him. But these riches adorn his people for a single purpose: they are meant to be a sign to those who do not yet know the God of Israel. The gifts which God graciously gives his people are meant to draw others into relationship with him. The salvation we receive from the Father is meant not as a vindication of ourselves in the face of those who are perishing, but as a means to bring salvation to them. God intends Israel to be a torch to light the path for others.

  • What gifts has God bestowed upon you? How might you use those gifts to draw others to God?

read more…

Bible Study – 2 Christmas – 2022
January 02, 2022

RCL: Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 84; Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23



Jeremiah 31:7-14

Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of what is really important in life. The people of God have struggled to keep their end of the covenant with God, and every time they stray, disaster befalls them. In the Deuteronomic Code, they have been given numerous and detailed examples for how to love their God, yet Jeremiah has spent almost 30 chapters demonstrating that their repeated failures to love God as their God loves them has brought them into ruin and exile. At the end of Jeremiah, however, he assures them that God has not forgotten them. No matter how many times God’s people stray and forget to love their God, God remembers them and will always bring them back into the covenant that was promised to them.

In our own lives, it is easy to become distracted by all the things in the world that pull on us. Sometimes, it is only when we lose something that is really important that we realize how valuable it was. Fortunately, we have been assured that God will always be ready to welcome us back when we get distracted, and it is never too late to remember God’s love for us.

    • When have you found yourself so distracted that you missed what was truly important in life?

  • What is it like to only realize something is important when it’s gone?

  • How can you remind yourself that God will always be waiting to take you back?

read more…

Did you know there are RCL (Revised Common Lectionary) Readings for each day ? 
While there is a little overlap each day, they are posted on-line as a service of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library:  Daily Readings

Daily Readings for this week



Being Episcopalian

The Mississippi Episcopal Diocese

The Episcopal Church

National Cathedral

Episcopal Cafe


Check out our neighboring
Coast Churches

St. Mark’s Gulfport

Trinity Pass Christian

Christ Church Bay St. Louis

St. Patrick’s Long Beach

St. Thomas Diamondhead

Church of the Redeemer Biloxi

St. John’s Ocean Springs

First United Methodist Church


O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go:
preserve those who travel; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger;
and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Contact Us
         phone: 228.863.2611    
   address: 1909 15th Street  Gulfport, Ms 39501
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Kids and Teens join us each Sunday Afternoon for EYC