Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Blessed Advent

As I listen to talk radio debate the greetings of "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" by store clerks, I want to call in and say that the correct answer is NEITHER. Christmas starts at the Eve on December 24th and goes to the Eve of Epiphany January 5th - those are the 12 Days of Christmas! We should wish each other a Blessed Advent! One priest I know from an email list responds to a wish of "Happy Holiday" with "thank you, for wishing me a happy St. _____'s Day (fill in the blank with the Saint of the Day). It is a good opening for a conversation about the Church Calendar - especially helpful if you are wearing a clerical collar!

Now we are in the penitential season of Advent. Not the 'heavy' penitence of Lent, yet it is still one of reflective preparation. We look at the "Already and Not Yet" - the already of the coming of Jesus' birth and the Not Yet of his "return in glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead" (Nicene Creed). In the liturgy we give up the grand processions, altar flowers, and singing the "Glory be to God on High". The altar hangings and vestments go back to purple (except Rose Sunday on December 11th) and we hear about the End Times and our Judgement, John the Baptist's calling us to repentence in preparation of Jesus' coming, and the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she would bear in her body the Son of God, and her "fiat" - "be it unto me according to thy word".

Advent is a great time to put things in right order, and not be overwhelmed with the consumerism of the secular holiday madness that made it's official start after Thanksgiving (although one radio station in Detroit has been playing Christmas music since November 1st)!

O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel - and the whole world!
He has...and He will return again! Already and Not Yet....