Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 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

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Disappointed in President's funeral liturgy at Cathedral

What a great opportunity to show the nation something the Episcopal Church does well - worship. Nothing beats a cathedral choir, singing glorious Anglican Hymns, in the setting of Prayer Book worship (Book of Common Prayer, or perhaps occasionally the 1979 alternative), glorifying God and edifying His Creatures.

Today the National Cathedral hosted a memorial service for President Ford. Millions of people watched and/or listened on the radio both in the US and around the world.
They heard beautiful choral music, and the words of the Episcopal Liturgy. Everything was done decently and in order as far as the way the liturgy looked (eulogies are not a part of the prayer book liturgy, but the ones done were decent and short).

But unfortunately, there were two glaring issues with the service. One is one that only those "in the know" would notice. The other was a general embarrasment.

For the Gospel Lesson they chose John 14:1-6 (one of several choices in the 1979 book). But when it was read, they cut verse 6 in half. They left in
Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life
and stopped there, mid-verse.
They left out,
NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME! ....the second half of the verse!

ARRGH! A great opportunity for evangelism to a captive audience! If no one comes to the Father but by Jesus, then people need to be right with JESUS: not muhammad, budha, or any new age incantation! JESUS! And if we believe that is true we need to be motivated by prayer, holiness, and sharing the good news to bring others to Jesus!

Then, as my juices were stirring from that omission (I was listening on the radio in the car), The Rector of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Springs, California preached his sermon. It started out with an interesting use of the Beatitudes - pretty well done (but interestingly even though it was a choice of gospel readings for the funeral, it was not the one used). But then he decided to use President Ford's death to air the Episcopal Church's dirty laundry. With millions of listeners/watchers, the priest said this....

Early this past summer, as I prepared to leave for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, President Ford’s concern was for the church he loved. He asked me if we would face schism. After we discussed the various issues we would consider, particularly concerns about human sexuality and the leadership of women, he said he did not think they should be divisive for anyone who lived by the Great Commandments to love God and neighbor. He then asked me to work for reconciliation within the Church. I assured him I would, just as he had worked for reconciliation within the nation thirty years ago.

God help us all! May He have mercy on the Episcopal Church for wrong doctrine and missing opportunities to proclaim Jesus as uniquely Lord!.