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

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - Rector's Rambling for January 18, 2015

Today on the new Church Calendar the Church celebrates the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter, and next Sunday the old and new calendar commemorates the Conversion of St. Paul.  These two Feast Days frame what is known as the week of prayer for Christian Unity.
In the Teaching Notes section of this Chronicle there is an article on the history of this particular week of special devotion and prayer.  It has roots in an Anglican (Episcopal) Religious Order in New York that converted to the Roman Church, but has made it’s ministry to work toward the reunion of all Christianity.
In the 1990s, my favorite author, Dr. Peter Kreeft, published a book called The Ecumenical Jihad.  It was meant to be a provocative title (and even more provocative today with current world political unrest) because both Ecumenism and Jihadism are considered by many to be dirty words.  Ecumenism is often the cry of those who would water down the doctrines of the faith in order to achieve an earthly but false sense of unity, and Jihad invokes a hard-handed approach at conversion that seeks to do so by any means necessary.  By putting these two words together in a title, Dr. Kreeft offends all, but ultimately invites all to read the book to see what he means by that title.
Jesus prayed that we all be one, as He and the Father are one (John 17:21–22).  But the reality is that the Church is deeply divided because of human sin.  Divisions have continued over interpretation of the authority of the Church and her Scriptures.  Some of these honest disagreements have been to seek greater holiness, other disagreements are based in a desire for power or to justify sinfulness.  Despite Jesus’ admonition for unity, there are thousands of denominations in the United States alone.
Yet if it is Jesus’ prayer that we be one, then it is our bounden duty to work and pray toward the unity of the Church.  This begins in personal conversion, continues with conversation and lifting up what we have in common, and finally helping to correct, the ways that churches have erred.
And although this is a week to spotlight the need, unity is year-round work to glorify God and work for the common mission to bring the whole world to know Jesus is Lord.