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, August 15, 2016

St. Mary the Virgin - Rector's Rambling for August 14, 2016

As we continue our way through August, the church has put a Feast Day smack-dab in the middle for our edification, as well as a good sweat in our not air conditioned church.
August 15 is known as the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin in the Episcopal Church and much of the Anglican Communion.  In the Eastern Orthodox Churches it is call the Feast of the Dormition (or the falling asleep of Mary) and in the Roman Catholic Church it is celebrated at the Feast of the Assumption.
Although the Roman Catholic feast day contains theological and historical assertions that are not expressly contained in scripture (the story of Mary’s death was not included in the collection of writings we now call The Bible), the Orthodox and Anglican commemorations stress the truths that 1) Mary died, and 2) She is the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ.  The truth is done by observation (we all die, and Mary is not alive in the earthly form that she was 2000 years ago), and that she conceived the Second Person of the Holy Trinity in her womb without the natural means of procreation between man and woman as is recorded for us in Scripture (Luke Chapter 1).  Both of these truths are also a part of the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.
Why is belief about Mary important?  There are many reasons.  She plays a prominent role, as recorded for us in Scripture, in the story of our Salvation.  She is Jesus’ mother, uniquely chosen and prepared by God to bare His only begotten Son.  And that preparation is summarized in her willingness to be his mother when the Angel announces God’s plan and Mary acquiesces to it – ”be it unto me according to thy word”.  Mary is present and faithful to Jesus throughout all of his public ministry, death, and resurrection.  And the Virgin Birth has theological implications in the relationship of Jesus as the Second Person of the Trinity, as well as the uniqueness of being both God and Man.  A correct understanding of doctrines about Mary helps to avoid heresies about Jesus such as Nestorianism (go ahead and look that up), and other Christological deficiencies.