Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 50 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 impending hockey arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rector's Rambling - November 19, 2012 - Thanksgiving Day @ St. John's


This upcoming week is one of the best weeks, outside of Christmas and Holy Week/Easter at St. John’s.
On Thursday we interact with the larger community, in a way we are otherwise unable, through the America’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  We have a chance to interact with thousands of people who are downtown for the festivities, and unlike the baseball and football games where they are going from one place to another, most of these folks are spending hours around our facility, inside or out.
The ministry of hospitality on Thanksgiving has been going on for many years before I arrived with the St. Catherine’s Guild sale of donuts, hot chocolate, and coffee at the front door of the church.  Since 2001, we have invited people inside the church for pancake breakfast, to warm up and use the bathroom facilities, and to view the church.  This ministry of hospitality is a great opportunity for us to reach others with the Love of Christ, to share the Gospel with them, and share our wonderful facilities in the midst of all the excitement of the parade.
I hope that you will join us on Wednesday evening for our Thanksgiving Eve service at 7:00 PM, and on Thanksgiving morning for the festivities.  And if you would like, you are welcome to sleep over at the church on Wednesday night.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Rector's Rambling - Morning Prayer with Communion


Being the second Sunday of the month we have Morning Prayer with Holy Communion at our 10am Service.  This is a hold over from a former time at St. John’s, our “middle 70 years” when St. John’s alternated Holy Communion with Morning Prayer at the 10am Service (the earlier service was consistently a celebration of the Holy Communion).
The first 70 years of the parish Holy Communion was the primary worship of the parish.  Being an early proponent of the Oxford Movement restoration of the primacy of the Sacraments in the life of the Church, St. John’s not only had Communion weekly (rare in ECUSA), but in the 1920’s we also had 4 weekday celebrations of Communion (very rare) and more in Lent.
The combination, using Morning Prayer as the first portion of the Communion service (known as the ante-communion), was promoted by the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, to both promote weekly Communion and to preserve and promote Morning Prayer.  In addition to praying corporately here at St. John’s, Morning Prayer can be  prayed privately at home by all the parishioners of St. John’s because you know how to do it! And I would encourage your frequent use of it as well!
A Stewardship Prayer
Almighty God, whose loving hand has given us all that we possess; Grant us grace that we may honour thee with our substance through the support of our parish church.  Filled with your love, we respond to your call to be disciples of your Son.  Unite us as a community of your disciples.  Open our hearts and minds to your abundant grace so that we might become good stewards of your gifts.  As good stewards, teach us to receive your gifts gratefully, nurture them responsibly, share them selflessly, and return them to you with increase, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Teaching Notes - Veterans Day


Veterans Day


Began as a holiday to commemorate the ceasing of combat in World War I on November 11, 1918, this day was originally know as Armistice Day.  It was a day when people stopped to remember those who gave their lives in that awful conflict.  Know also as Remembrance Day, after World War II it became known as Veterans Day to broaden the commemoration. 
In the United States the Memorial Day holiday began as a commemoration of the Civil War dead and continues to be the primary celebration in this country.  Veterans Day seems to me to have morphed into a more general holiday to commemorate not only those who died in the service of our country, but also all those who served in the Armed Forces, our Veterans.
One particular poem, written in 1915 after the   battle of Ypres by Lt. Col. John McCrae, summed up the sense of Remembrance and poppies mentioned in the poem have become a symbol of this day. 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
We give thanks to Almighty God for all those who served our country in the Armed Forces, and for those who gave their lives we pray
Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.  
May they rest in peace.

Rector's Rambling - All Saints Sunday


A blessed All Saints’ Sunday to one and all!
Early in the life of the Christian Church the members of the body of Christ began to venerate those who lived lives of heroic virtue and witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ.  They became examples of that new life in Christ that could be achieved by cooperating fully with God’s grace.
The Apostles, Evangelists, and Martyrs (those who were killed because of their faith in Jesus) were used as examples in teaching to the new Christian, and as an encouragement to those struggling against the temptations of “the world, the flesh, and the devil”.  Soon afterward, not only were those of very public example exhorted, but those who lived lives of quiet sanctity became examples that holiness could be lived every day and in every circumstance.
Even in our modern day we can think of those who are very public examples of the love of Jesus: Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, Janani Luwum.  And yet, as the hymn says, “there are hundreds of thousands still” who are striving for that holiness which God desires of us, and are doing so in relative obscurity.
Let us strive to be a Saint!  Let us strive for greater holiness!  Let us strive to be like Jesus!
A Stewardship Prayer
Almighty God, whose loving hand has given us all that we possess; Grant us grace that we may honour thee with our substance through the support of our parish church.  Filled with your love, we respond to your call to be disciples of your Son.  Unite us as a community of your disciples.  Open our hearts and minds to your abundant grace so that we might become good stewards of your gifts.  As good stewards, teach us to receive your gifts gratefully, nurture them responsibly, share them selflessly, and return them to you with increase, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.