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, August 25, 2014

Baptism Celebration! - Rector's Rambling for August 24, 2014

Today we celebrate new life in Jesus Christ!  In addition to four baptisms scheduled for today, we are celebrating Baptism as a Sacrament in the life of the Church in general, and in the life of St. John’s in particular.
Baptism is most generally appreciated as the gateway to membership in the Church.  It is the outward public statement that you belong in this group of believers that claims Jesus Christ as Lord.  It is public in the sense that in the last generation or two the Church has reclaimed the ancient practice of having baptism done either during, or immediately proceeding, the primary worship gathering of the community.  The baptism service is a public statement that this child (through their sponsors) or adult is making promises in a community.  The community witnesses the promises and itself promises support to the newly baptized.  In the case of infants and young children the parents and godparents promise to be sure the children “learn the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul’s health”.  And not only the parents and sponsors, but all in attendance at the baptism do their part in prayer, fellowship, and support of the Sunday School ministry of the parish.
But something deeper than a public affirmation of belief occurs in the waters of baptism.  We are all born into the Body of Adam and therefore are inheritors of sin and death (known as birth sin or original sin).
But by the grace of the Sacrament of Baptism we are BORN AGAIN of water and the Holy Spirit; we are taken out of the body of Adam and grafted into the Body of Christ.  This is called Baptismal Regeneration.  More than just a public promise or membership ritual, it is God changing people!  And changed we are!
By the end of this day, St. John’s will have baptized, God willing, 7258 people.  Next week we have number 7259 scheduled.  What a great grace to be a part of the continuance of the Kingdom of God by making heirs for it!