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

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!