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, 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.