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, October 28, 2013

A busy week of Feasts - Rector's Rambling for October 27, 2013

A blessed Christ the King Sunday to you and yours.  Today we celebrate Jesus’ Lordship, an otherwise unpopular concept.  After all, who wants to be in submission to someone else?  Thankfully, as God, we have one who is good and gracious, merciful, and whose yoke is easy and burden light.
Additionally this week we have some special days coming up.  Tomorrow, October 28, we have the Feast of Ss. Simon and Jude, Apostles.  It is believed that they were martyred (killed for the faith) bringing the Gospel to the Persians.  On Tuesday we remember James Hannington, Bishop of what is now Uganda, and his companions who are martyred by the then regional king who objected to Hannington’s (and others’) rebukes for his debauchery, as well concerns about foreign intervention in the region.  Those companions who were not martyred were sold into slavery to the Muslim slave traders.  As Hannington was being speared he said, “Go, tell (king) Mwanga I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.”
Friday is the Feast of All Saints, and we will have our primary celebration of the Feast on Sunday, November 3 (it is a “moveable” Feast).
On Saturday we have the Feast of All Souls.  There will be two celebrations of the Requiem (Remembrance) Mass that day.  At 10:00 AM we will have a service in the chapel at Historic Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit. http://www.elmwoodhistoriccemetery.org/ It is here that our founder, Henry Porter Baldwin, and first rector, Bishop William Armitage, are buried.  Also, the vast majority of our late parishioners through the 1930s are buried here as well.  At 12:15 PM we will have our second Mass of the day in the chapel at St. John’s.  It is at this second service that we will read the names of those loved ones that you have submitted.  Be sure to get that list in with your offering by Thursday.
The Lord is glorious in His Saints:  O come, let us adore Him.  Amen.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Marathon Blessings - Rector's Ramblings for October 20, 2013

(Published for Sunday morning)
This morning, before any parishioners arrived at St. John’s, I had the chance to perform a particular ministry; the blessing of runners for today’s Detroit Free Press Marathon.
When I experienced my first Free Press Marathon in 2001, the number of runners was smaller (no half-marathon or relay-teams).  The finish line was inside Ford Field, and the start was in front of the large Tiger statue in front of Comerica Park.  For those first few years the sexton and I spent an inordinate amount of time, from 4:30 AM until race time, welcoming runners but having to prevent them from filling up all our parking spaces before the morning services.
Since then the start and finish have moved to the front of the Fox Theatre, then down to Washington Avenue, and now is in front of the Free Press offices on Fort Street.  Despite the change in starting point, I still make it a ministry to welcome the runners parking in the neighborhood and administering blessings to those who desire them, especially our own parishioners participating in the races.  And yes, there is a bit of time spent reserving our parking spaces as well.
It is certainly less hectic and chaotic with the race course being further downtown, with the additional advantage of fewer road closings near our church building.  Several churches, including Christ Church Detroit, Fort Street Presbyterian, and The Mariners Church, find themselves completely encircled on Sunday morning by road closures, preventing people from attending Sunday worship.
By coffee hour today after the 10:00 AM service we may have a few runners wandering in after their race with medals around their necks and walking a bit stiffly.  Be sure to welcome them and congratulate them on finishing the race!  And, God willing, some of those 18,000 runners downtown today will return on another Sunday to worship the Living God here in this wonderful parish!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Choral Morning Prayer - Rector's Rambling for October 13, 2013

Being the second Sunday of the month, today we do our “Morning Prayer and Holy Communion” service.
Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury who compiled the Book of Common Prayer, desired to have a form for daily morning and evening prayer that was not overly cumbersome for the clergy, and accessible to the laity as well.  Before the Book of Common Prayer, the clergy were expected (as are Roman clergy today) to pray the Breviary or Divine Office.  This is a set of services to be prayed seven times a day, with  a complicated set of instructions (rubrics) as to when different lessons, seasons, and feast days take precedence.
Thomas Cranmer combined and simplified Matins and Lauds into Morning Prayer, and also combined and simplified Vespers and Compline into Evening Prayer.  It is required of all clergy in the Anglican Communion (with the exception of the American Church) to pray the daily office.
It was the expectation that the Daily Offices would be done corporately or individually, but the primary corporate Sunday worship of the Church would be The Holy Communion (usually prayed with Morning Prayer and the Litany first).  Over time a change occurred and Morning Prayer alternated with Holy Communion on Sundays in many parishes.  But in the mid-20th century the proper reclamation of The Holy Communion as standard Sunday worship had taken root.
We do this combination monthly to honor the Anglican tradition of corporate Morning Prayer without missing the grace of the Holy Communion on Sunday.  But perhaps more importantly, you now know how to pray Morning Prayer and can pray it at home daily.  Morning and Evening Prayer is not just for the clergy!
The assigned readings are found on page three in this Chronicle.  The Daily Office is a wonderful discipline for all members of the Church, and aids greatly in the growth in the spiritual life.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Stewardship begins! - Rector's Rambling for October 6, 2013

October has arrived, which means that it is time for the people of St. John’s to think about their support of St. John’s in the coming year.
Stewardship is the belief that all that we have is a gift from God, and therefore it is our responsibility to return a portion of that to the Church to support her ministry.  The second Office of Instruction in the Book of Common Prayer reminds us that our bounden duty, “is to follow Christ, to worship God every Sunday in his Church; and to work and pray and give for the spread of his kingdom” (p. 291).  Your pledge to support the parish in 2014 is a promise to be faithful to God in the year ahead.  We do this by attending and giving to support the Church, which is the foundation for the spread of Christ’s kingdom.
What a difference a year makes, and it is primarily because of you, the parishioners.  Last year the Vestry was faced with further budget cuts to balance the budget.  Several individuals stepped forward to give additional financial support of those ministries close to their hearts, and overall giving has been up this year through your regular contributions.
For the first time in over 50 years St. John’s has not had to use any income or growth from the parish endowment fund to pay our operating expenses!  By the combination of your contributions, and the parking income, St. John’s is paying her bills.
But now is not the time to rest on our laurels.  I don’t want us to do Stewardship in order to just fulfill a budget.  I want Stewardship to be the expression of a grateful heart!  The biblical admonition for support is at least 10% of your income.  We give not because we want to meet a budget, or because we “have to”.  We give out of gratitude for God’s provision for us in our lives, and gratitude for this parish church!
Great, wonderful, positive things are happening here at St. John’s.  I pray that you will consider what that means to you, and support this work through your contributions.