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, April 25, 2016

Sunday Parking on Tiger Game Days - Rector's Rambling for April 24, 2016

This Sunday we get to experience our first Tiger Baseball Sunday of 2016, and you may notice some changes to traffic patterns around St. John’s.
Last year it was M-1 Rail work that was our biggest challenge.  The Fisher Freeway Service Drive has been closed for 9 months already, and we have watched as Montcalm to the south has been intermittently closed.  Baseball or no baseball, when the crew needed to work on the intersection they closed it and sent us scurrying a few blocks north or south to double back to the church parking lot.
The service drive intersection just to the north of the church building is due to be re-opened by our next Tigers home-stand on May 8.  We will then have access to the parking lot (at least until August) through both sides of the lot; Service Drive and Montcalm.  In August, the construction of our new drop off area will briefly interrupt access to the lot from the service drive, but the Montcalm entrance will remain open.
Please note a few important things about St. John’s and events at Comerica Park.  First, Montcalm Street on game day Sundays will close completely at 11:00 AM.  Be sure to get to church in time for the 10:00 AM service (if you are coming in at 11 you are REALLY late anyway).  On other days, such as Saturday games or Thursday games, Montcalm will be completely closed four hours before the game.  If you need to get to the church on a weekday, for the office or for weekday worship, you will have enter off Elizabeth Street, two blocks to the south, and then come toward the church through the two other lots.
Finally, just because you are a member of St. John’s (and we are thankful that you are) you do not get to park in the lot for Comerica Park, Ford Field, or Fox Theatre events.  We have leased the property to Olympia Development.  We have use of the lot for our Church services and other business, but when an event is being held, it is all theirs to use.  Please do not attempt to get into the lot because “I am a member of St. John’s” when we are not holding an event at St. John’s.
Before long the construction on the garage will be done and we will have it to use as well.


Monday, April 18, 2016

"In the midst of life we are in death" - Rector's Rambling for April 17, 2016

In the eight century a phrase began to appear in burial liturgies.  Media vita in morte sumus; quem quaerimus adjutorem, nisi te Domine, qui pro peccatis nostris juste irasceris?  Sancte Deus, sancte fortis, sancte et misericors Salvator, amarae morti ne tradas nos.  Believed to be of Benedictine origins, it was translated for Burial of the Dead in the Book of Common Prayer by Thomas Cranmer as In the midst of life we are in death; of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased?  Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death. (p. 332, 1928 Book of Common Prayer).
This phrase is a meditation on the reality that even though life continues, earthly, physical death is a reality around us, and ultimately for us as the gate to eternal life.
During this Eastertide we are celebrating Jesus’ conquering of death by His Resurrection from the dead.  The eternity of the separation from God in death has been conquered by Jesus paying the price of our sin on the cross, and His rising again Easter Day.  Physical death could not hold He who is, The Resurrection and The Life.
By the forgiveness of our sins we are given the grace of eternal life through Jesus Christ, yet physical death continues.  Our bodies do not last forever despite the great advances of medical science.  These physical bodies will rise again at the General Resurrection of the dead at the end of time, and our souls live forever with God our Redeemer.
As I write this on Tuesday, the reality of being in the midst of life while we are also in death is made poignant by the news this morning of the death of long-time parishioner Bob Delaney, followed by a phone call to bring Communion to another parishioner critically ill.  In the midst of the celebration of new and eternal life with Jesus, the painful reality of our fallen condition continues.  Jesus Christ is Risen!  And in Him we are risen!  May we be prepared for our earthly end, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Under construction! - Rector's Rambling for April 10, 2016

As you have noticed by now, there are exciting projects happening around St. John’s, and more to come at St. John’s as well.
Shortly after Easter Day the construction by Olympia Development on the new five-story parking garage began behind St. John’s.  Fencing is up, and in the coming months we will see drilling for footings, ground re-graded and a new cement first floor poured, and then the rest of the garage will arrive in pieces on flatbed trailers, pre-fabricated, to assemble.  Wetherill Street, the road that runs in front of Comerica Park perpendicular to Montcalm, will be re-opened to the service drive and will serve as the entrance into our drop off area as well as the parking garage when the project is done.  We will keep you alerted to the various changes to traffic patterns (such as the long-awaited opening of the Fisher Freeway Service Drive) as they are implemented.
Here at St. John’s a contract has been signed to do some tuck-pointing and stone repair to the building.  When repairs are finished the building will be cleaned for the first time in over 40 years and a sealant applied to help prevent future leaks.  Most of this will be done via a bucket truck so no scaffolding will have to be installed on the building.
Lighting upgrades will also begin soon, to both the chapel and the church buildings.  This will include new L.E.D. lighting and wiring installed in existing fixtures, and new fixtures installed were dark spots occur.  Some scaffolding will be used, but we will try to minimize their presence on Sunday mornings.
Two-year old restaurant kitchen equipment has been donated to St. John’s, and soon the kitchen will be renovated for the new equipment installation.
The vestry is also preparing to hire an architect to help with preparations to renovate the undercroft and office building, both of which were built to current design in 1971, with a few minor updates over the years, and are both long overdue to be upgraded to better serve our mission and ministry.
Where is the money coming from?  The stone work and lighting is being paid from funds given at the property lease signing for capital improvements, as is the hiring of the architect.  The cleaning is a part of the lease arrangement.  Kitchen renovation has some private donations earmarked to cover a portion of it.
The undercroft and office building renovation is to be determined, and it is hoped that parishioners and friends will be interested in aiding in that effort.


Monday, April 04, 2016

Thank God for those here today! - Rector's Rambling for April 3, 2016

On the First Sunday after Easter, we see that there are fewer people in the pews than Easter Day.  Guests who love to come down for the big Feast Days have gone back to their home parishes.  Some who are seeking and came for the big day, but may not yet be “good soil”, are not here today (and we pray that as God works on them they will find their way back).  Other regular parishioners are traveling back today from their holiday and we pray for their safe return.
But I thank God that YOU are here today!  We have not only our wonderful regular Sunday worship today, but two big additional events.
After the 10:00 AM service we will go out to Montcalm street for our PRAY HERE FOR THE TIGERS service.  This is an annual event, held the Sunday before the Detroit Tigers home opener.  We pray God’s blessing on our neighbors, the Tigers, and all who are impacted by their presence next door.
Additionally, we will also formally dedicate our new PRAYER WALL, which is set up on Montcalm Street.  Already prayers are accumulating in the wall niches, and we will add prayers in our regular prayers for those using that wall.  Additionally, parishioners are encouraged to go out to the wall regularly and say a prayer, asking God to hear the petitions of those who have inserted those prayers.  This is a wondrous way to connect the parish and the neighborhood through the ministry of prayer.
Thank you to Joe Alff for hearing the promptings of the Holy Spirit and putting this project into motion!
Join us today, outside, for 15 minutes of grace and blessing as we pray for our neighbors, both at Comerica Park and those requesting prayers through our new ministry.