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, September 28, 2015

We must worship - Rector's Rambling for September 27, 2015

Worship. We must worship.  It is a simple statement.  We must worship.  But it contains a powerful truth that cannot be avoided.  Human beings were created to worship.
Worship is to show reverence and adoration, expressed in private or corporate actions.  Worship is what we do here at St. John’s this morning; showing reverence and adoration (love) to the Good God who created us and redeemed us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Of course, we do it here formed by the Prayer Book tradition which is theologically precise, biblically sound, and beautifully expressed in word and action.  Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi is the Latin expression that what we pray is what we believe (literally The Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief).  The Prayer Book helps us to stay on track in our worship of our Lord.
Unfortunately, our urge to worship can also be distorted, as all good and natural desires can be, through the destructive effect of original and actual sin.  We can be drawn to worship that is misdirected, whether in be in a religious context or not.  Within the Church we are sometimes drawn only to worship that makes us feel a certain way, rather than objectively worshipping Him.  By turning it primarily toward our own desires and feelings we risk the danger of de facto worship of our own self.
And in our actions and beliefs in the world we can be mistakenly drawn to worship that which is not God.  How many people in their actions are worshipping money and possessions, holding them up and reverencing that as the ultimate good?  What about power and prestige?  And of course there is the cult of personality of those of a religious, personal improvement, or political nature that tries to whip up a type of devotion that can fall into worship.
The remedy, of course, is to stay on course and to worship the true God, and to do so regularly.  This is done in daily prayer at home AND in regular Sunday attendance at Church.  And there is also the opportunity to worship and receive Communion on weekdays as well.
Worship the one, true God in our Lord Jesus Christ, and do so faithfully!

Weekday Mass - Teaching Note for September 27, 2015

During the weekdays at St. John’s a most wonderful, amazing, and glorious thing happens, and it is witnessed and attended by relatively few people, some of whom aren’t even members here.
On most Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 12:15 PM, and Thursdays at 10:30 AM, Jesus Christ is present.  He is present in a wonderful, sacramental way.  It is during those times that the Holy Communion is celebrated.
As Catholic Christians (which Anglicans are – see the last few lines of the Nicene Creed) we consider the reception of the Blessed Sacrament a weekly, Sunday obligation.  It is Jesus’ gift to us, His own Body and Blood, to nourish and equip us by Grace to become saints and share the Good News of God’s love with others.  But it is also our privilege as members of the Church to receive this Sacrament more frequently.
Although our Sunday celebration is our primary worship, and performed at 10:00 AM with solemnity, ritual, and music, the weekday celebration of the Holy Communion is closer in comparison to the 8:00 AM celebration on Sunday.
Fr. David Ousley wrote, while he was an Episcopal Priest in Philadelphia, that the difference between the Sunday Solemn High Mass and a weekday service (called “Low Mass”) is like the difference between a formal state banquet with a King and a quiet dinner at home with the same potentate.  Although one is fed in both instances, the grand occasion of the larger gathering with guests calls for greater ceremonial, whereas the regular dinner is just as nourishing but simpler and more intimate.
A weekday Low Mass at St. John’s is an intimate encounter with Jesus our King.  Come spend 30 minutes during the week worshiping Him, being instructed, and being fed with His own Body and Blood at a weekday Mass in addition to Sunday.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Christian Education and new organ scholar - Rector's Rambling for September 20, 2015

This week we resume our Christian Education program for the academic year.  Sunday School begins at the beginning of the 10:00 AM service (children go immediately to the undercroft to begin Children’s Chapel at 10:00 AM).  Once again, the children will worship together and then be instructed in age appropriate groups, from nursery through high school.  A thank you in advance to our volunteer teachers and to the parents, godparents, and grandparents who make sure the children arrive on time for Sunday School.
Also beginning today is our Adult Education Series at 9:05 AM.  We will be doing a Bible study which will be complementary to our Thursday evening Bible study, but not a repeat of it, so you are encouraged to go to one or both.  In Advent, we will have the first appearance during Adult Education of St. John’s 101, a 4 week course being designed to introduce newcomers to the basics of the parish: Faith, Worship, History, and Opportunities.  This course will appear two or three times a year to incorporate newcomers into the life of the parish.  ALL CURRENT parishioners are invited to the series in Advent to help smooth off the rough edges and make suggestions for additions to it.
Also today we welcome our new Edwards Organ Scholar, David Heinze.  He is a third-year student at Hope College, majoring in Organ Performance and minoring in German.  He is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, and was recently Organ Scholar at Trinity United Methodist in Grand Rapids.
A Grand Rapids native, David is bilingual in Latvian, and his parents originally lived here in Detroit.  David writes, “I look forward to making wonderful music with you to the glory of God and being a part of St. John's ministry here in Detroit.  Please don't hesitate to introduce yourself!  The organ scholarship at St. John's is the perfect opportunity for a young, aspiring church musician, such as myself, to learn the Anglican liturgy and choral repertoire under a expert church musician such as Dr. Lewis.  I understand and deeply appreciate this congregation's support of the Music Ministry and of Dr. Lewis and know we will be a beacon of hope in this exciting time of renewal in Detroit!”

Monday, September 14, 2015

Holy Cross Day - Rector's Rambling for September 13, 2015

September 14th the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Cross.  Although it sounds funny to us to have a church holy day based on an item, it fact we celebrate that item for what it accomplished for us!
Historically, this Feast Day is founded on the story of St. Helena, while excavating for the building of the first Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, finding the cross on which our Lord died.
But what is most important is what was accomplished upon that wood.  A common Roman execution method for non-Roman citizens, crucifixion was painful and shameful, on purpose.  The public nailing of one to a tree at the gate of the city was an example to others of what would happen if you went against the authority the Romans had taken upon themselves.
But for us, and for our salvation, Jesus Christ died on the cross.  He went willingly (after all, as God, Jesus could have certainly called a legion of angels to take him down) because he did so as a sacrifice for our sins!
Sin has a price to be paid, and although until Jesus it was done by blood sacrifice of animals in a symbolic way, Jesus paid the price for our sins in a real, tangible way.  And in doing so has accomplished our salvation once and for all.  He was a one, sufficient sacrifice offered for the sins of the whole world.
Also, he has sealed a NEW covenant, which isn’t sealed in the blood of circumcision or animal sacrifice, but in Jesus’ own blood.  All this was accomplished through the cross, which is why celebrate Holy Cross Day.

Faithful Cross, above all other,
one and only noble Tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit thy peer may be;
sweet the wood, and sweet the iron,
sweetest weight is hung on thee.

V.H. Fortunatus (d. 569)
Translated by John Mason Neale

How to Pray the Daily Office

There is no better habit to start for autumn than praying the Daily Office!  The Daily Office was designed so that EVERYONE could be praying at home or at Church.  You will need a 1928 Book of Common Prayer (available from the ushers) and a bible, plus a copy of each week’s Chronicle to follow the appointed daily bible lessons (called a Lectionary).  The Lectionary is the front of the prayer book and also in The Parish Chronicle

Items with * are optional.

MP=Morning Prayer page EP=Evening Prayer page

The Sentences (chose one or two)*
MP 3–5 EP 22, 23
Confession, Absolution*
MP 5–7 EP 23, 24
Lord’s Prayer (*if said later)MP 7 EP 24Preces (“O Lord, open thou our lips…”)MP 7 EP 25Venite (MP only)MP 9 Psalm – See Lectionary 
First Canticle – Choose one
MP 10–4 EPThe Magnificat, 26
First Reading – See Lectionary

Second Reading – See Lectionary
Second Canticle – Choose another
MP 10–14 EP – Nunc Dimittis, 28

Apostles Creed
MP 15 EP 29
Lord’s Prayer (if not said earlier)
MP 16 EP 30
Versicles and Responses
MP 16 EP 31
Collect from Sunday – See bulletin
Collect for Peace and Grace/Aid
MP 17 EP 31
Any other Collects you would like* 
General Thanksgiving*
MP 19 EP 33
The Grace
MP 20 EP 34

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Labor Day weekend - Rector's Rambling for September 6, 2015

This year Labor Day falls as late on the calendar as possible, the first Monday of September being the 7th.  It feels as if we have been given an extra week of summer to enjoy.  The hot weather lingered for one last week as well to make it all a festive last hurrah of outside activity.
After taking time to pray and give thanks on Labor Day for Labor and Industry in our country, we move forward on Tuesday into the start of autumn, at least mentally.  The children return to school and here at St. John’s we look forward to the return of our wonderful full choir next Sunday.  Our Sunday School and Adult Education programming resume on Sunday, September 20, and Thursday programming that week as well.
Although I write this column on Monday or Tuesday, I anticipate that many will be away today, getting in that last holiday vacation.  But I also hope that the following week will bring a renewed emphasis on being regular about Sunday worship attendance.  I know that people travel during the summer, and that for a few with health issues the heat prevents them from being with us during the summer.
We have to make the commitment to make attending worship the #1 priority on your Sunday morning schedule.  The world is pressing on and scheduling alternative activities on Sunday morning, a time-slot that even secular society respected as sacrosanct even a few years ago.
Stand up!  Be counted for Christ!  Come to Church on Sunday!
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who declarest thy glory and showest forth thy handiwork in the heavens and in the earth; Deliver us, we beseech thee, in our several callings, from the service of mammon, that we may do the work which thou givest us to do, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as thy servants, and to the benefit of our fellow men; for the sake of him who came among us as one that serveth, thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ 1928 Book of Common Prayer, p. 44