Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 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 31, 2015

What's old is new again, for now - Rector's Rambling for August 30, 2015

I once was told that if you stand still upon the truth, the world in its whirling dervish of circular-striving-after-something-new will eventually find you again.  Our job is to hook them as they look in and convert them before they spin away again.
This is proving true as the Millennials, those born after 1982, are discovering traditional liturgy.  Kelsey May of Converge Magazine wrote, “Technically, all churches have liturgy.  But The Book of Common Prayer is different.  In this liturgy — based on the oldest traditions of the church — are rich words, painstakingly composed from the truth of Scripture, to express the faith.  They demand meditation and absorption.  They become fuller for being repeated week after week, not depleted.  And delightfully: they remain the same….  The service is rich with the Word of God…  The brief sermon is quickly overshadowed by the recitation of the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed, the same words Christians have used to affirm their faith for millennia.  Liturgy endures not because it is pithy, but because it centres on the Eucharist.
In another article one young convert muses, “If you ask me why kids are going high church, I’d say it’s because the single greatest threat to our generation and to young people nowadays is the deprivation of meaning in our lives,”  “In the liturgical space, everything becomes meaningful.  We’re so thirsty for meaning that goes deeper, that can speak to our entire lives, hearts, and wallets, that we’re really thirsty to be attached to the earth and to each other and to God.  The liturgy is a historical way in which that happens.”
St. John’s, by standing firm on the faith once delivered to the saints AND worshipping as the church has done for centuries, has begun to “hook” many of those whirling by.  Let us be firm in our faith, be ready and willing to give a reason for the faith that is in us, and be welcoming and a help to those who are attending and trying to figure out our worship as they fulfill their Godly yearning.
~ http://convergemagazine.com/finding-faith-through-liturgy-14983
~ http://www.realclearreligion.org/2014/01/16/why_millennials_long_for_liturgy_258514.html

First thing First for the Church - Teaching Note for August 30, 2015

Following is an excerpt from a booklet published on a series of talks presented by Bishop Emrich, Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan from 1948 to 1973, the last bishop of the diocese to see growth in attendance and number of parishes.  This paper is on the topic The Renewal of the Church.        ~ Fr. Kelly

The Church is renewed from above, and we miss the whole point of our faith if we do not see that to worship is the greatest thing we do.  Since we are set in the midst of a secular culture, we are doubtless tempted to believe that renewal will come with better organization, promotion, public relations, the acquiring of more money, or any of these secondary things; but we must realize that worship is the most important thing we do simply because it alone changes our hearts and strikes at the center of our being.  As we worship, and truly worship, all good flows from that worship; and we worship, not because we are good, but because we are little, needy, petty, and sinful creatures who need to be raised by the glory of the Lord.  The Divine Life will break in, renewing and remaking, whenever we are willing to receive it and be renewed.
New life comes from above.  We do not offer programs to men; we offer God to men.  And we cannot become more selfless, more kind, filled with zeal, wiser, unless we wait upon Him who is the author of peace and lover of concord, and from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed.  We cannot be light, salt, leaven unless we look at this world with eyes that are free of passions, fears, and prejudices that surround us.
The Church lives from above, and therefore, we worship.  By worship we do not mean occasional acts which are unrelated to the rest of our lives, but acts that reveal that in all our doings we are striving to promote God’s glory.  Only by prayer and worship can we go down from hazy Christianity of the surface to the Christianity of the deeps.  The worship of God is the root, and our works the fruit; and, therefore, the first business of the Church is to worship Him who alone can make us holy.

~ Given at the Triennial Meeting of the Women’s
Auxiliary to the National Council in 1952

Monday, August 24, 2015

Parking and Construction - Rector's Rambling for August 23, 2015

The M-1 Rail construction has now moved to our side of Woodward Avenue, and it makes for new challenges to our old patterns of getting to Church.
With the one-way Fisher Freeway service drive no longer accessible from Woodward for a few months, our usual parking lot entrance is now no longer generally accessible.  The primary entrance of the parking lot for Sunday services in the meantime will be the double gates on East Montcalm Street.  Montcalm is the street between St. John’s and Comerica Park.  The gate will be opened for worship, and is also a primary entrance for the Tiger baseball parking later in the day.  On Tigers game days, there will be no access to Montcalm Street from the east (closer to Comerica Park), but will always be accessible via Woodward Avenue.  On non-game days, the gate house entrance on Montcalm may also be accessed.  If the attendant asks you to take a ticket, please do so.  You will be able to exit without paying.  You never have to pay for parking at St. John’s for our worship service.  If payment is requested when you are entering, remind them that you are coming to the worship service and have them speak to Fr. Kelly or the parish office if they have any questions. However, if you are coming for a game or event, and not for church, you do not automatically have access to the lot since it is leased to the parking company.
Within a few weeks the new pattern will become familiar.  Please be patient with everyone involved during the transition.  And of course, give yourself a couple extra minutes to arrive on time while you become acclimated with the new pattern.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Planning for the autumn programming at St. John's - Rector's Rambling for August 16, 2015

As the summer continues its long march through August, the staff here at St. John’s has been busy getting ready for the programming year, which is generally mid-September through May.
In the coming weeks you will receive information on upcoming offerings of Sunday School (beginning September 20 during the 10:00 AM service) and the Sunday morning Adult Education Series at 9:05 AM.  Additionally, the Thursday evening Bible study series will return, an updated Pub Theology series, an Alpha-related course, and a new film discussion series which is in the planning stages.
One area where we can use YOUR HELP in planning is for Social Fellowship activities this fall and winter!  We need people to be coordinators for an event or outing of your choice.  Everyone who attends the event pays their own way in advance so you are not on the hook for anything financially.  We need you to pick something you want to share with others, get the information on having a group attend, and then help with signups and attendance on that day.  Past events have included brunches at local restaurants or clubs, trips to the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Holocaust Museum, local plays, neighboring church tours, Vespers and dinner at an Orthodox monastery, and a cookout at a parishioner’s home, to name a few.
We would like to have at least one event a month, and it doesn’t have to be on a Sunday afternoon (although many events are planned then).  Harriett Mottley can help you find a date that doesn’t conflict with other parish events, and Rosie Kiley and Harriett can help you with the planning if you are new at such a thing.
The idea behind these events is not only to see and learn something new, but primarily to encourage parishioners to spend time together, getting to know one another.  And it is also an opportunity to invite friends/neighbors to an event and introduce them to parishioners as they think about coming to St. John’s.