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, January 19, 2015

Holy Innocents - Rector's Rambling for December 28, 2014

Merry Christmas!  I hope that you haven’t already tired of hearing that phrase since today is only the fourth day of Christmas!  Christmas is a SEASON, which runs from December 25 until January 5.  The 12 days of Christmas are these 12 days, not the days preceding the Feast.
After Christmas there are three immediate Feast Days on the Church calendar.  December 26 was the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr.  December 27 was the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, our patron because the parish was incorporated on that day in 1858.
Today’s Feast Day is tragic.  The event itself, chronologically, occurred much later after the birth of Christ.  Herod, jealous that the wise men told him that a new king was born, and angry that they did not come back to tell him where Jesus was, orders the destruction of all children under the age of two.  St Augustine says of the slaughter “they are the first buds of the Church killed by the frost of persecution; they died not only for Christ, but in his stead .” (“Sermo 10us de sanctis”)
These three Feasts are placed on the calendar so close to Christmas because “These dates have nothing to do with the chronological order of the event; the feast is kept within the octave of Christmas because the Holy Innocents gave their life for the newborn Saviour.  Stephen, the first martyr (martyr by will, love, and blood), John, the Disciple of Love (martyr by will and love), and these first flowers of the Church (martyrs by blood alone), accompany the Holy Child Jesus entering this world on Christmas day.”
On the revised calendar, this Feast Day is no longer observed on Sunday.  It is transferred to Monday.  Most members of the Episcopal Church and the other churches using the new lectionary will most likely know nothing of these innocents who died for and in the place of Christ, since not many attend weekday Masses (if they are held at all).
And as the Collect for today reminds us, we should pray that God will “mortify and kill all vices in us, and so strengthen us by thy grace” so that we glorify Jesus this Christmastide, and all our lives.