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, February 12, 2008

Rector's Rambling for February 10th

Friends -

My Rector's Rambling in the weekly Chronicle was cut off before the end, so I thought I would reproduce it in full here.


We have finally come to my favorite season of the Church year – Lent. I certainly like Eastertide and Christmastide too, but Lent is a time that appeals to my sense of order and discipline, a sense that is well hidden under layers of disorganization and sloth! It is during Lent that I make a good effort, by God’s grace, to ‘clean house’ spiritually, and prepare myself for the coming celebration of the Resurrection at Easter.

One of the things even the world has noticed is the Lenten discipline of “giving something up for Lent”. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t really understand why. It isn’t to lose weight, or to prove your will-power. It is about holiness and learning sacrifice (which actually means, from the Latin, to make holy) in our lives.

When we ‘give something up for Lent’ we are doing a couple of things. One thing we might give up is something that is not good for us. If this is true we give it up in hopes of learning to live without it not only in Lent, but permanently (smoking is a good example of this!). Other things we might give up for Lent are things that are not necessarily bad for us, but are a good thing to give up because we need to learn that we don’t have to give in to every desire or passion we might have! Not eating meat on Fridays (or perhaps Wednesday or Friday) is not because meat is bad, but because we sacrifice it to learn the discipline of not having it whenever we may want it! And the expense saved by eating vegetarian or a simple fish or egg dish could be used for something like your UTO offering, or other giving to the poor.

But ultimately we do this in Lent because we need to learn that we can depend on God and His grace to conquer our passions (as scripture calls it “the flesh”) and not be enslaved by it! A Russian Orthodox priest and I were once discussing the strict Lenten discipline in their Church. I asked if he expected his 7 year old to keep a Lent without sugar, oil, eggs or meat (all 40 days). He quipped, “If my son can’t learn to say no to a candy bar or hamburger now, how is he going to learn to say no to the allure of drugs, alcohol, or pre-marital relations when he is a teenager – especially when the rest of the world is encouraging it?”

Becoming holy is learning how to say no to the temptations of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, so we have room to say Yes to God! Lent is a good training period for us!