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, September 23, 2013

The Church (written in 1956) - Teaching Notes for September 22, 2013

Published in the Parish Chronicle – October 21, 1956

We are too often inclined, in this modern day, to take the Church for granted.  I am sure that most of our people share with me a sense of gratitude for all that St. John’s Church has done for us and for all that it has enabled us to do for others.  However, when life runs smoothly and the days come and go without many serious problems; when no great demands are made in our faith and when we are physically well, we are apt to take all the good things in life as something which just happens.  We don’t realize how many blessings we have and as a result we have no deep sense of gratitude.
And then we think of the tragedies that we have read about as happening to someone else suddenly breaks through into our lives and there comes the testing time.  Can we keep that faith that seems so natural and so easy when it was largely a matter of academic, intellectual acceptance?  Can we hold our hope and still look forward to the days ahead as a great adventure with God?
It all depends upon foundations—whether we have built our “house of life” on rock or sand.  It is in these testing times that are bound to come to all of us at some time or other, that we discover the only kind of a foundation that can withstand all of life’s storms is a spiritual one.
That is one of the basic reasons why the Church is so significant, for it is the Church alone in our western culture, that is the permanent witness that life has an eternal meaning and that the soul alone has the ultimate mastery over all the tragic forces of existence.
When we begin to think of the Church in these terms then we realize it is not just something to be taken for granted.  It becomes not a luxury but a necessity, as necessary to our real natures as food and water and shelter is for our physical bodies.  All of us are in debt to the Church as we are in debt to no other institution in the world except our homes, and they would have been poorer without the Church.  It is when we glimpse this significance of the Church of ourselves and our means to help it carry on its work, but rather how much can we possibly give for its survival?
It is the time, now, for each of us to enlist more whole-heartedly in her service and to regularly attend her services of worship as some measure of our gratitude to God for all the rich gifts that HE has given to us and our children.  One of the truly real ways to thank Him is to share with others what He has so richly given.

 Written by then rector The Rev’d Irwin C. Johnson, who served at St. John’s from 1934 to 1962.