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

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rector's Rambling - January 3rd, 2010!

Happy 2010.
On January 1st the Holy Communion was celebrated here at for a special Holy Day. Not “New Year’s Day” (the Church New Year started on the first Sunday in Advent back on November 29th), but the Feast of the Circumcision.
Jesus, born into a family of the original Covenant with the people of the Hebrews, was circumcised as the outward sign of his membership in that Covenant between God and His chosen people.
There are several theologically important things happening at this event on Jesus’ eight day of life.
1) Jesus, as the fulfillment of the promise of God to send a Messiah as the fulfillment of the Law, keeps the law by being Circumcised.
2) This covenant, as all ancient covenants (agreements between two parties), was sealed in blood. An agreement between two parties involved a shedding of blood of some sort as a sign of the importance and long term effect of it. The shedding of this first blood through circumcision was also a permanent reminder of that membership in as God’s chosen people. MORE IMPORTANTLY it is a foreshadowing of how the NEW COVENANT would be sealed - by the shedding of Jesus’ own blood on the hard wood of the Cross!
3) On this eight day another very important thing happens in the life of the Jewish male - he officially receives his name! And of course, the Name of Jesus is not only the name given by the Angel to Mary when she conceived Him by the Holy Ghost (Matthew 1:21), but the Name of Jesus is THE ONLY NAME UNDER HEAVEN BY WHICH WE ARE SAVED! (Acts 4:12).
So while many were recovering from the celebration of the new secular calendar year we have started this year off with a wonderful remembrance of our Salvation through Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
1 Corinthians 15:57


Rector's Rambling - December 25th and 27th

A hearty welcome to all those joining us for worship at St. John’s. In our 151 years we have been a church of ‘destination’, with people coming from far and wide to worship in this beautiful building with its sublime music, traditional Anglican liturgy, and wonderful people.
Although up until the invention of the automobile that ‘far and wide’ probably meant the city of Detroit itself, St. John’s is now the Church home of choice for parishioners who drive in regularly from as far as Algonac, Ann Arbor, and Clarkston - and some from even further for special occasions (up from Ohio and from beyond Saginaw)!
Why St. John’s? You could ask a dozen parishioners and get a plethora of answers. Some come for the music, others for traditional liturgy as expressed by the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (the last in the line of classic Anglican prayer book tradition). For many it is the adherence to, and propagation of, the “Faith once delivered to the saints” as revealed in to us in The Word of God. Others might say they like the preaching, and yet others that it is wonderful to worship in a building that actually looks and feels like a Church! I would add that it is all those people with their various reason who bring it all together by being a group who welcomes newcomers and visitors, and is open to having more and more people joining the fellowship of this parish.
It has been a long time since St. John’s averaged a high of over 2000 people on Sunday. But it has also been over 10 years ago that we hit a low of 37! God has been at work in rebuilding St. John’s, and we believe that not only is He not done, but that there are amazing things ahead for this parish and its parishioners - both those here now and for those not YET members of it!
If you are visiting today we would invite you to consider joining in on all the wonderful things God has in store for this parish! Become a ‘regular’ by worshipping with us on Sundays and becoming involved in the ministries and activities of the parish and the neighborhood.
You are most welcome to join us!


A problem we'd love to have!!!

from the website of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York City www.saintthomaschurch.org

Christmas Eve Seating
Many people ask about available seating on Christmas Eve. Here is how it works:

Our church holds approximately 1,850 people, including the seats in the rear gallery and the south gallery. Many more than 1,850 people would like to worship with us on Christmas Eve, and that warms our hearts. Yet, unfortunately not everyone who wants a seat may get one.

Our pledging members (those who have given to the Every Member Canvass for 2010)are given tickets to arrive through a side door at 9:30pm. If you have tickets, please arrive between 9:30pm and 10pm and take your seat. We do not reserve pews. The best selection are available to those who arrive first.

Approximately 800-1,000 seats may still be empty at 10pm, when we open the Fifth Avenue doors to those who do not have tickets. The line outside the Fifth Avenue doors may begin to form at around 9pm, depending on the weather and other factors. Year to year the number in line has varied, so it is a bit unpredictable. All we can say is early is good; late is not.

If you are concerned about getting a seat, might we suggest you avoid the long lines and come on December 25? We have a nearly identical service at 11am on December 25. That service, too, is often crowded, but lines do not form. Last year, the attendance at the 11am Christmas Day service was about 1,000, somewhat full, but with room left for more.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rector's Rambling - December 13th, 2009

First, let me wish everyone a Happy St. Lucy’s Day, and a blessed Rose Sunday.
No one likes to be told to “lighten up”, but that is exactly what we are doing this Sunday.
After the last two weeks of deep purple vestments and altar hangings to begin the season of Advent (signifying the penitential aspect of this season), this week we ‘lighten up’ with the Rose colored vestments and hangings, and even have flowers on the Altar this week. Or perhaps you hadn’t noticed that we haven’t had flowers recently?
So how is Advent going for you? Have you given much thought (other than on Sunday in Church) to the fact that we are in more than just ‘pre-Christmas’? Have you revived or increased your prayer life? Opened your bible and read it? Taken on a charitable cause or two (the ECW at St. John’s has had opportunities to help others less fortunate, and other opportunities abound)? Examined the state of your soul? Repented (and even made a sacramental confession) of those sins you have observed in the examination? Have you shared the reason for your hope, Jesus Christ himself? Invited someone to Church for a Sunday? Invited them for Christmas Services?
If you have done any of the above - THANKS BE TO GOD! And if not, enjoy ‘lightening up’ today, and start fresh for the rest of Advent! Our Lord is coming back, and the celebration of his first coming is coming soon. Let us be in a State of Grace for both!
(reprinted from 12/14/08)
PS - St. Lucy was a virgin martyr who died about the year 303 at the age of 20. Her name means “Light” - something in short supply in mid-to-late December!


Monday, December 07, 2009

God help the Episcopal Church!

After this weekend's election of an unrepentant lesbian as suffragan bishop in Los Angeles, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued the following statement.

"The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.

The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications.

The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."

God help us all.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Rector's Rambling - December 6th, 2009

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

In the midst of the penitential season of Advent, when we are preparing ourselves, our souls and bodies, for not only the commemoration of Jesus’ nativity (Christmas) but also his coming again in glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, there are a few Feasts in the midst of the Fast.
One of these feasts is St. Nicholas’ Day. St. Nicholas of Myra, a city in modern day Turkey. He was tortured and imprisoned for faith in Jesus Christ, and died about the year 342. His name is enrolled among the bishops who attended the Council of Nicea in 325, from which we get the Nicene Creed (recited each Sunday at Holy Communion). He is considered the patron saint of sailors, and of children. His remains were moved to Italy in the 11th century (rescued from the mohammadens who had taken over Turkey) and became a popular saint in Northern Europe. The Dutch brought his reputation to America, as well as the tradition of giving gifts to children on St. Nicholas’ Day, in his name. This has morphed into a bigger tradition, a few weeks later in the month, under his dutch name.
As an aside, the first meeting of the founding families of the parish 151 years ago was on December 6th. Instead of picking St. John’s as our name (the day we incorporated - December 27th) we could have been St. Nicholas’ Church!
Another big feast this week is the feast of the Conception of Mary on December 8th. Although no where as miraculous as our Lord’s conception (occurring by the Holy Ghost, and known as the Feast of the Annunciation), Mary’s conception by her natural parents, Anna and Joachim, has since ancient times, been honored by the Church because the Archangel Gabriel addressed Mary as “thou who are highly favored” or “full of grace’. The Church believes that from her conception God had prepared Mary for the special ministry of taking flesh from her by the Holy Ghost, and giving birth to the Son of God himself - thereby being “highly favored” or “full of grace”.
Why isn’t the Church decorated for Christmas yet? - because it isn’t Christmas yet! We are keeping Advent in Advent. The Church will be “greened” for Christmas on Sunday, December 20th, after the 10am Service for the 4th Sunday in Advent. Some ’pre-greening’ will be done the day before, but all are encouraged to stay for an hour after Church to decorate for the big celebration!