Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 50 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 impending hockey arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Visit is coming soon - Rector's Rambling for April 26, 2015

As Eastertide rolls onward (we are now about mid-way) planning is well underway for our big celebration of The Feast of the Ascension on May 14.  It is on that 40th day of Easter that we will welcome the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, The Rt, Rev. and Rt. Hon. George Carey, to St. John’s.  The Archbishop will be preaching and celebrating the 7:30 PM service that day.
The Feast of the Ascension kicks off a wonderful weekend of activity here at St. John’s.  In addition to the Feast Day celebration, the Archbishop will be the guest of honor at a clergy luncheon the next day at noon, and the guest of honor and speaker at our Grand Banquet and Silent Auction at the Detroit Athletic Club that Friday evening.  On Sunday he will once again be with us for worship, preaching at the 10:00 AM service.
Archbishop Carey retired in 2002 as the head of the Church of England (our mother church) and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.   Since his retirement he was made a Life Peer in England’s House of Lords, being made the Baron of Clifton by Queen Elizabeth.
As far a we can tell, this will be the first visit of an Archbishop of Canterbury to Detroit since the late Geoffrey Fisher, the 99th Archbishop of Canterbury, visited St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1962.
We need YOUR help!  Buy your tickets ASAP for the Friday banquet, donate items for the Silent Auction, and plan on being present at both the Thursday evening service and Sunday morning service with the Archbishop.
May 14 to May 17 is shaping up to be an historic weekend at St. John’s.  Plan on being a part of it to God’s greater honor and glory.


Monday, April 20, 2015

The Benedictus qui venit - A teaching note for April 19, 2015


Some people may have noticed while following the liturgy that there is a phrase said or sung after the Sanctus (Holy, Holy Holy), that is not printed in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (page 77).  This phrase, “Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord: Hosanna in the Highest.”, is also known by its Latin name, the Benedictus qui venit.
First appearing in the 4th century, both the Sanctus and the Benedictus qui venit have been the introductory song to the Eucharistic Canon.  The Sanctus is the phrase that has always been used to describe how the angels worship God (see the Book of Revelation), and the Benedictus qui venit echos the shout of those who greeted Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
In our Anglican Tradition, the first Book of Common Prayer, published in England in 1549, contained both the Sanctus and Benedictus qui venit.  The more radically reformed version of 1552 omits the Benedictus qui venit, but it found its way back into the English Prayer Book of 1662.
The American Prayer Books have followed the Scottish tradition of omitting it in the text, but more often than not using it during the liturgy.  Most great liturgical musical settings for the Holy Communion contain music for the Sanctus and Benedictus qui venit to be sung together.  Our 1940 Hymnal is further proof of the actual practice of the parishes since they contain the musical settings for the Benedictus qui venit even though the text is not contained in the Prayer Book issued just 12 years earlier!
Just after joining the angels in proclaiming Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts: Heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord most high… lift up your voices and proclaim in welcome and thanksgiving the coming of the Eucharistic King, just as the people did in welcoming Jesus on Palm Sunday.  Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the Highest!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Celebrating the 40 days of Easter! - Rector's Rambling for April 12, 2015

At every service between now and May 14, this large candle will be burning somewhere near the sanctuary.  It is known as The Paschal Candle.  The word Paschal comes from the greek for “passing over”.  Our Lord Jesus Christ “passed over” from death to life in His Resurrection, which we celebrated on Easter and continue for 40 days.  This candle symbolizes that passing over.
Like Christmas, Easter is not just an event and a day, but an entire church season, lasting 40 days until the Feast of the Ascension (although those using the new calendar pass over Ascension and make the season last for 50 days, until Pentecost).  Those 40 days represent the 40 days in which Jesus, after His Resurrection from the dead, continued to appear to the disciples to console, encourage, and teach them.
At the Easter Vigil service a week ago Saturday, we blessed this candle and prayed as it was lit for the first time, “May the light of Christ, gloriously rising, dispel the darkness of hearts and minds.  O Father in Heaven, pour forth we beseech thee, Almighty God, thy abundant blessings upon this lighted candle.”
At the Feast of the Ascension, after the reading of the story of our Lord’s Ascension at the Communion service, the candle is put out.  But it won’t stay out.  It will continue to be used for baptisms and funerals, two occasions when we particularly remember Christ’s death and resurrection (in baptism we die to sin and rise to newness of life, and at funerals we pass to eternal life with Jesus).
This year, our Ascension Service will be particularly grand, being celebrated by the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury!
Take note of that Paschal Candle because it is a wonderful, tangible reminder that Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death, and that through Him we rise to newness of life!


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

He is Risen! - Rector's Rambling for April 5, 2015

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!
       The Lord is risen indeed!
                                         Alleuia!

Today we proclaim Jesus’ victory over sin and death, having conquered the grave.  What those first century religious leaders believed was the ultimate solution to the troublemaker preacher/healer/miracle worker actually was a part of God’s plan and purpose to pay the price for our sins.  And through that shameful death WE are healed, restored, forgiven, saved.  May we take this Easter Triumph, Easter Joy, into our daily lives today and tomorrow and beyond.
We welcome our many visitors today to St. John’s.  We are a ‘destination’ parish for many people who join us for the “high holy days” and special occasions.  We are really glad for all who join us for whatever the reason, whatever the occasion.
Exciting things are happening at St. John’s, and around St. John’s.  As you noticed on the way in, construction on the new M-1 Rail line is happening in front of the Church.  Across Woodward the excavations have begun for the new Detroit Red Wings hockey arena. 
Plans are being finalized for yet more construction in the coming year, including a new parking garage behind St. John’s, the expansion and re-landscaping of our garden space, and eventually the building of 500 to 700 apartments  with first floor retail space in the parking lots along Woodward in front of Comerica Park.
But even more exciting is what is happening here within St. John’s: God is glorified in sublime worship, people are being edified and educated in The Faith, and new ministries and opportunities for worship are being developed.   In many ways St. John’s continues her resurrection begun in 2000 with the revitalization of the neighborhood through the opening of Comerica Park.   I am grateful that God has called me here to be a part of the wonderful things He is doing.
And of course, you are invited to be a part of all this excitement every Sunday!  As many of us here will attest, St. John’s is worth the trip every week.