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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rector's Rambling - October 30, 2011

A Blessed Christ the King Sunday to you.
Although not found in the 1928 Lectionary as a separate celebration, we keep the last Sunday in October as the Feast of Christ the King in addition to whatever “Sunday after Trinity” it may be.
The celebration was kept on this particular Sunday first by the Roman Catholic Church, and later by many Anglicans. It was seen as an antedote to “Reformation Sunday” celebrated on this Sunday in Lutheran and other protestant bodies. The thought was that although much needed to be reformed in the 16th century in the Church, the Reformation itself was not a cause for celebration because it had caused division in the Body of Christ. By celebrating the Kingship of Christ on this day it is hoped that all the various fellowships claiming Lordship under Jesus Christ, could find common faith, and eventually come into organic unity as One, as Jesus prayed that we all may be one as He and the Father are one. (John 17:21-23).
In the new Lectionary Christ the King is celebrated in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran Calendars on the last Sunday before Advent.
This week is certainly a busy one for Feast Days. Tuesday is the Feast of All Saints (which we will also commemorate next Sunday), All Souls Day is celebrated with 3 Requiem Masses on Wednesday (one at Elmwood Cemetery at 10am). Be sure to submit the names of those you would like remembered at the Altar at the 12:15 and 5:30pm Masses in the Chapel.
Finally, a word about tomorrow, Halloween. The word comes from All Hallows Eve - better known as All Saints Eve (ie...the day before All Saints Day). Although the world has secularized it at best, and in some ways demonized it, it can be a fun occasion to celebrate in anticipation the gift of The Saints by hospitality to your trick-or-treating neighbors. But be sure to not get caught up yourself with the creeping superstition of spirit and ghost seeking, or other things that might seek to draw you away from the Love of Christ!

Rector's Rambling - October 23, 2011

Welcome Home!

Homecoming Sunday began 10 years ago with the recognition that St. John’s Church has a lot of friends and visitors who join us with varying degrees of regularity. Some of these friends are people who at one time were members of the parish but moved away and joined a local parish nearer to their homes.
Although homecoming is generally associated with alumni of a high school or university, I chose this title because many people who had moved away and visited again mentioned how, after so long, it was like coming home. And although we don’t have a homecoming game or dance, a wonderful potluck luncheon is a warm welcome to friends old and new.
Would I like all of our regular and occasional visitors to come to Church here every Sunday? Yes, absolutely! (Actually, I would love to have all our regular and occasional members to come to Church every Sunday too.) But we are glad to have those who have an affiliation elsewhere come here occasionally to be edified by our worship of Almighty God, and to participate, as they are able, in the life of the parish.
Be sure to join us downstairs for the festivities after the 10:00 AM service. Lunch will be served, and there will be a bake sale and cookbook exchange. And be sure to peruse the Chronicle and inserts to see the upcoming events being offered. Daughters of the King, Brotherhood of St. Andrew, St. Catherine’s Guild of the Episcopal Church Women, Sunday School and Adult Education, and those involved in Social Fellowship outings all host various opportunities for spiritual growth, service, and fun. Whether St. John’s is your every Sunday home or not, please avail yourself of the opportunities offered here at the parish!
Recently someone who sang here in the 1960s was in town from out of state, and worshipped with us. Afterwards they said that since moving they haven’t found anyplace like St. John’s, and that it is always nice to come back. Welcome home.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rector's Rambling - October 16, 2011

Yesterday in England, in a small town called Walsingham, there was a celebration of an event that happened 80 years ago, but in the bigger picture it was a celebration of an event in England that began 950 years ago and continues today.
October 15, 1931, an Anglican Priest named Fr. Alfred Hope Patten held a celebration to “translate” the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham from his parish church to a newly restored Shrine Church.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham was a great of place of pilgrimage, prayer, and miracle from its founding in 1061 until its destruction during the political and religious upheaval of the 16th Century.
Lady Richeldis received a vision that instructed her to build a shrine of the home of the Holy Family of our Lord. In doing so, she had a statue carved of Jesus being held by Mary which became a central focal point of the shrine, along with a well from which Holy Water was dispensed. That original image of our Lord and his mother appeared on pilgrims’ medals and coinage which survive to this date.
During the Reformation the Shrine was destroyed, the property confiscated by the King (the same King, who, along with six other Kings of England, had previously made official visits to the Shrine) and sold.
Today the Shrine continues to be a wonderful spot of spiritual refreshment, rejuvenation, and healing. This English Shrine is the only one in the world which has official recognition by the Anglican, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic Churches, and all have chapels there to support and encourage the faithful and inquirer.
St. John’s has a copy of the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham (original sized) in the chapel, located behind the votive candle rack and screen.


Rector's Rambling - October 9, 2011

It is always good to be home, especially after over 3 weeks away. Thank you all for your prayers as we had a detour with Andrew’s emergency appendectomy in Mexico.
Now that we are back I look forward to seeing all the progress that has been made in the return of our many ministries that got up and going in my absence. The Brotherhood of St. Andrew has already met twice, the Daughters of the King once, the St. Catherine’s guild of the Episcopal Church women have met, and a social fellowship outing has occurred to the Edsel and Eleanor Ford house. And of course, Sunday School and Adult Education are underway again. I hope that if you have not plugged yourself into one of these groups/ministries, you will do so soon!
In the next few weeks, we have some other events planned. Homecoming is October 23rd, All Saints Sunday is November 6th, and another Social Fellowship outing or two are planned for the coming weeks. Also, let us not forget about the big goings-on here at St. John’s for Thanksgiving!
Looking even longer term, I hope that we will soon have Small Group ministries up and meeting in people’s homes. The Alpha Course begins again next winter, and a confirmation preparation class will be held during Lent in anticipation of the Bishop’s official visit to St. John’s in June.
All of the above, of course, must have its foundation in everyone’s coming to Church on Sundays, seeking to do God’s will in becoming holy through prayer, scripture study, selfless service, and reception of the Sacraments. We are called to be a holy people for our Holy God…and he has accomplished the hardest part of the work for us on the Cross!
It is wonderful to be back. I imagine it will take a day or two to get through my pile of mail and e-mails before things get back to normal (as normal as a priest’s schedule gets). So please be patient with me if it takes me a few days to get to back to you.


Rector's Rambling - September 25, 2011

As you can tell, I am still away on my vacation, in lieu of a sabbatical for my 10 years at St. John’s. If all goes as planned, I am in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California this morning.
One of the interesting things about being the Church “next to Comerica Park” is that over the past 10 years I have had the opportunity to interact on various levels with members of the Detroit Tigers staff, front office, and the players.
The first year I was here, then Tiger manager Phil Garner invited me to come to the clubhouse (locker rooms) to “bless the bats”. This was back in 2001 when the Tigers were not winning too many games. I got to meet the players, got a tour of the clubhouse, and threw around some holy water. On that day, I met Brandon Inge who is the only player still on the roster from that team. President and GM Dave Dombrowski has been in our church for our Pray Here for the Tigers service as have a few pitchers and front office staff. I have had the opportunity to meet Pudge, Magglio, Don Kelly, Schlereth, and even got to interview former 1st baseman Sean Casey for the Episcopal newspaper. On that day I also met Justin Verlander and have a picture in my office of the two of us talking.
Another perk is meeting players and staff from visiting teams. If all has gone according to plan, we had the chance this past week to have a tour of the Los Angeles Angels facilities with recently retired Head Trainer Ned Bergert. For the past 10 years, whenever the Angels were in town, Ned would attend either Wednesday or Sunday 8:00 AM services at St. John’s, and I have had many an opportunity to visit with him before and after Mass. Each time he said, “If you ever get to Anaheim, I’d love to show you around.” This week we finally had the opportunity to take him up on the offer.
Baseball is a fun distraction. I love coaching and watching my boys play, and of course look forward to a long run in the playoffs for the Tigers this year!


Rector's Rambling - September 18, 2011

Today Fr. Michael Bedford is at the lead of worship at St. John’s, since I am on my long vacation (in lieu of a sabbatical) with my family. If all goes as planned I am in Phoenix, Arizona today and worshipping in Church with former St. John’s parishioners John and Ranée Les Callett.
Having Fr. Bedford with us at St. John’s is one of the great blessings to me and to the parish. After he retired as rector of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Redford (that’s right – Fr. Bedford from Redford) he began assisting at St. John’s while Fr. Kim was still Rector. After Fr. Kim retired in 1997 he held down the fort until the interim rector was hired. He then assisted the interim and continued on as the supply priest after the interim left in the Summer of 2000, staying until I arrived in February of 2001.
Shortly after I arrived Fr. Bedford meekly asked if I minded if he and Mary continued to worship at St. John’s. It may seem like an odd question to you, but in church circles when a new rector arrives the old clergy usually clear the deck so the new man can have a fresh start without people going to the long-timer to complain.
However, there was not only no fear of that with Fr. Bedford, but I was most happy to welcome him to assist at the altar. And although he officially retired (again) two years ago, we continue to be blessed by his and Mary’s presence among us on most Sundays of the year!
If you didn’t know, Fr. Bedford drives a long way to be here with us. The Bedfords live out in South Lyon. We thank God for their sacrifice of time and gasoline to be with us each week.
And I am most grateful to know that when I go away with my family the people of St. John’s are well cared for by a priest who knows and loves them as I do.
Thanks be to God for Fr. Bedford and Mary, and for their long and fruitful ministry with us. Ad multos annos! To many more years!


Rector's Rambling - September 11, 2011

It is remarkable to think that 10 years have passed since the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Having been born in 1966 I missed that pivotal moment in history and the subsequent question of “what were you doing when John F. Kennedy was assassinated?” Other pivotal moments in history however have been engrained in my psyche: President Nixon’s resignation, President Reagan’s attempted assassination, and Pope John Paul II’s assassination attempt. All these events evoke strong memories of those moments in time when they happened, what I was doing when I heard the news, and the well-spring of emotions associated with them.
That morning in 2011 will forever be etched in my memory: hearing the report while listening to the radio of the fire at the World Trade Center, and watching in horror, live on television, as the second plane hit the other tower. It was at that moment that I realized this was no accident but a calculated attack on the citizens of the United States. By the end of the day there was additional carnage and destruction.
But who could have imagined, on that morning, that nearly 10 years later we would be engaged in a 10-year war in Afghanistan and eight years of fighting in Iraq. And words like Jihad, Shiite, Sunni, and a host of Arabic named entities, cities, and provinces have become common-speak in our media and households.
There was an initial surge in attendance at churches as people in fear were moved to prayer. That uptick did not last long. Although the country became inconvenienced by new security measures and security alert codes, life mostly returned to “normal” for most Americans.
However, the one thing not touched upon in the media or the churches is to pray for the root cause. Since that day I have prayed regularly this collect For Missions from the prayer book, p. 38:
ALMIGHTY God, whose compassions fail not, and whose loving-kindness reacheth unto the world’s end; We give thee humble thanks for opening heathen lands to the light of thy truth; for making paths in the deep waters and highways in the desert; and for planting thy Church in all the earth. Grant, we beseech thee, unto us thy servants, that with lively faith we may labour abundantly to make known to all men the blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Rector's Rambling - August 28, 2011

Yes, we are still here. Last week when I discussed in this column my family’s upcoming three-week trip, many people seemed to miss the opening line “Three weeks from tomorrow I leave…” We will be leaving Monday, September 12.
Today is the last Sunday in August, and the cooler nights and more temperate days let us know that fall, and the school year, are on their way. In a week or so, kids will be heading back to school, and the activities of the new season get back under way.
The Church (and I would guess most of society) operates on a school calendar. Activities and programs begin in the fall, continue through the winter, and end late spring, with a hiatus in the summer months. Although in years past in my ministry (here and at previous parishes) we have had some summer programming and activities, for the most part they are not as well, or regularly, attended as those during the school year. And worship attendance also declines due to vacations, etc., and generally increases in the fall as well.
Now is the time to fix certain things on your calendar: Sunday worship every Sunday, Sunday School and Adult Education every Sunday, involvement in a church organization or two (Daughters of the King, Episcopal Church Women, Armitage Men’s Club, Brotherhood of St. Andrew, Altar Guild, Ushers, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, Social Fellowship Group, etc.), and involvement in other activities like a weekday Mass, or newly forming weekly small group gatherings.
But more importantly, be renewed in your heart and mind, in your faith, by prayer and sacrifice. Put Jesus first, first thing in the morning, and keep Him front and center in your thoughts throughout the day. And of course thank Him at the end.
And share The Faith with others.