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, May 13, 2013

A 'tweener' Sunday at St. John's - Rector's Rambling, May 12, 2013

This Sunday is a “tween-er”, a day in between two major feasts.
Last Thursday we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension, our Lord returning into heaven and into the Godhead of the Triune Deity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Next Sunday we celebrate Whitsunday, also known as Pentecost Sunday.  It is on that day that we are celebrate the gift of the Holy Ghost to empower the Church for the work of the ministry that she has been entrusted to in the world.
It is on this in between Sunday at we are celebrating a “secular” holiday, Mother’s Day, as well as our bi-annual United Thank Offering.
The United Thank Offering is a long-standing tradition of the Episcopal Church Women, of which our St. Catherine’s Guild is a member.  As is noted on the Episcopal Church’s Web site, “United Thank Offering (UTO) is a ministry of the Episcopal Church for the mission of the whole church.  Through United Thank Offering, men, women, and children nurture the habit of giving daily thanks to God.  These prayers of thanksgiving start when we recognize and name our many daily blessings.  Those who participate in UTO discover that thankfulness leads to generosity.  United Thank Offering is entrusted to promote thank offerings, to receive the offerings, and to distribute the UTO monies to support mission and ministry throughout the Episcopal Church and in invited Provinces of the Anglican Communion in the developing world.”
And, of course, Mother’s Day is important because we give thanks for the ministry of mothers.  It is a ministry because it is of God, and to His greater honor and glory.  The Service of Holy Matrimony prays for “the gift and heritage of children; and grant that they may see their children brought up in thy faith and fear, to the honour and glory of thy Name” and it is through this ministry of Motherhood that children are cared for and nurtured.
May God bless all mothers, living and deceased, for their love and good work!

Monday, May 06, 2013

A Rogation Parade - Rector's Rambling, May 5, 2013

Nothing like a parade to celebrate an occasion!  That is certainly the world’s attitude.  Here at St. John’s we are not strangers to secular parades.  The Thanksgiving Day parade passes our building every year, and we make a great celebration of it by having pancake breakfasts, selling donuts and hot chocolate, and offering a ministry of hospitality by opening the doors to all.  In my time here, we have also been witness to two Red Wings’ Stanley Cup parades, for which we have also had our ministry of hospitality.
In the church, we have processions, which are like a type of parade.  The Litany is sung in procession in Lent.  On Palm Sunday, we have a procession around the church in honor of our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  On Corpus Christi we have a very grand Eucharistic Procession.  And of course, every Sunday we have a procession into and out of the sanctuary by the altar party, servers, and choir.
Today we have another big “parade”.  We celebrate Rogation Sunday today and one great tradition is to “bless the bounds” of the parish.  A hold over from agricultural days, the origin of this feast is to bless the fields in anticipation of our Lord’s most gracious provision for his people in nurturing the growth of the crops in the coming season.  Blessing the bounds is one way to take the holiness from within the church building and publicly display and disperse that blessing within the community and neighboring farms.
Having a parade around the boundary of the “parish”, which was a geographic system of church membership, would be hard to do since our membership is spread from as far afield as Ann Arbor, Algonac, and Pontiac.  That would be one long parade!  But we will have a procession around the outside of the building as a symbolic offering, as well as a public witness!
The Christian Faith is a pilgrimage towards our heavenly home.  We are (should be) moving forward in faithfulness and love.  A procession is a wonderful reminder, a prayer in motion, of our active, living faith that Jesus Christ is Lord.

A month of Feasts! - Rector's Rambling, April 28, 2013

This week we close out April and begin the month of May on Wednesday.  Because of the early date for Easter this year, May is chock full of important Feasts to be celebrated.
Next Sunday we will begin the four-day celebration of the Rogation, praying God’s blessing on the planting of crops (and by modern extension on commerce and industry).  This begins with the outdoor procession while singing the Litany Hymn at the beginning of the 10:00 AM service.
On Thursday, May 9th, we celebrate the 40th day of Easter with the celebration of The Feast of The Ascension (see Acts 1:6–11).
Just as the Apostles and other disciples spent the nine days after Jesus’ Ascension in prayer, so too we will keep a nine-day prayer vigil (a Novena) to the Holy Ghost in preparation for Whitsunday, also known as Pentecost Sunday.  Then on Sunday, May 19th, we will celebrate the gift of the Holy Ghost descending upon the Church and empowering her to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ.
A week later we celebrate that great sublime mystery of the faith of One God in three persons with Trinity Sunday.  Yes, this is the day that we do that LONG Creed of St. Athanasius!  It also is the day, this year, of our Tiger Baseball Outing!
Four short days later, on Thursday, May 30th, we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi.  This is one of the grander liturgies we have at St. John’s, as we pull out all the stops and celebrate the great gift of Jesus giving Himself to us under the species of bread and wine in the Blessed Sacrament.  You will want to invite your friends and family to come on this evening to hear the choir and to worship with us.
In addition to these major feasts we will celebrate such weekday feasts as the ember days, Ss. Augustine of Hippo and Monnica, Bl. Jackson Kemper (who preached here at St. John’s), St. Boniface, St. Augustine of Canterbury, and the Venerable Bede.
Overarching these greater and lesser feast days is that May is dedicated to the honor of St. Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Plenty to celebrate… be sure to be present and active at St. John’s in the month of May!