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

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.