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 26, 2016

Much good news - Rector's Rambling for September 25, 2016

As you noticed today as you arrived at St. John’s, the new parking garage is starting to take shape with walls.  They are on schedule, and if the winter is not too severe they plan on having that edifice completed and operational for Tigers Home Opening Day on April 7, 2017.  This is exciting news for the neighborhood, and by next week I should have more exciting news about decisions for improvements around St. John’s.

Last Sunday was a momentous occasion.  We hosted our first Outreach Ministry Opportunity Fair, with our 13 outreach ministry partner organizations.  It was wonderful to watch parishioners interact with representatives of the various groups we are supporting financially, as well as watching the representatives themselves interact with each other.  One organization mentioned a need of one of their clients to another organization, and soon the other organization had a lead for them to help.  Additionally, we have offered to the organizations the use of our buildings for meetings or events, which will bring more and varied people through our doors.  Last week was a wonderful opportunity to remember that the Church primarily exists for those who are not yet members of it!

We also had a nice reminder that we are a part of something larger, with the visit of two bishops.  With the House of Bishops meeting in Detroit, the Bishop of Albany joined us for worship, as did the Bishop of Nebraska (who did so in street clothes so that he could just sit in the pews unnoticed).  The Bishop of Central Florida also intended to join us, but was not feeling well on Sunday morning.  I have to admit, I was a bit nervous preaching in front of bishops!  But both expressed gratitude for our worship and warm welcome, and the Bishop of Albany was very impressed to see the work of the Outreach Committee and even joined the Prayer Wall Team after the service outside on Montcalm Ave.

Thanks be to God for these many blessings!


Monday, September 19, 2016

Autumn's busy-ness - Rector's Rambling for September 18, 2016

The time has come to get everything back up and running for the autumn season.  Much of the northern hemisphere runs on a school type calendar, with summer being “time off”.  Much travel takes place, and people get busy with the many outside activities taking place.
Our calendar has reflected this out of necessity.  People travel, and the stifling heat keeps many away from worship here in the summer months.  I remember with sadness two of our dearest long-time parishioners asking me to be excused from coming for a few weeks because the heat was bad for their heart conditions.  I hope air conditioning will be in our future to cut down those absences.
But now is the time to get involved and get back to work.  Cinema and the Spirit began it’s monthly offering last week.  Sunday School and Adult Education begin today.  We also have our Outreach Ministry Fair with 13 organizations here to give you info about their work and to give you an opportunity to volunteer to enter into their labors.  The Daughters of the King have resumed their monthly meeting routine, the members of the St. Catherine’s Guild chapter of the ECW begin their activities, as do various other groups of parishioners.  We get busy around here for autumn.
But the most important thing for us to get involved in is regular church attendance.  As I have often said – if all those who attended once a month all showed up on the same Sunday, we would have over 200 people in the pews.  Many people in the parish attend nearly every week (for which I thank God).  But many more do not, and for a variety of reasons.  I understand sickness, travel, and an occasional conflict here or there.  But if attending church becomes a “well, we aren’t doing anything else” decision, or worse, an “I have been busy so I need a day off” decision, then I am worried about the spiritual health of the congregation.
“First things first” needs to be a motto concerning our regular attendance at worship.  Coming together to be fed in Word and Sacrament weekly, as our Lord expects of us, is definitely a “first thing”.

Monday, September 12, 2016

15 years later.... - Rector's Rambling for September 11, 2016

It is remarkable to think that, with the exception of the first 6.5 months of my rectorate at St. John’s, all of my time back here in Detroit has been shaded by the events of September 11, 2001.
For most of us, we can remember quite vividly exactly where we were and what we were doing that morning 15 years ago.  Personally, I was getting ready to leave the house to come to St. John’s when I heard on the radio that the World Trade Center was on fire.  I turned on the TV coverage just in time to see the second plane hit the other twin tower, and realize at that very moment that this was not an accident but an attack on our nation.  But if you were to tell me that day that we would still have troops in foreign combat situations 15 years later, I would not have believed it.  Fifteen years?  Yes, 15 years.
Unfortunately, over these years the tenor of the situation has gotten darker, and it has become quite apparent that at the root of all of this is a cultural battle that is based in religion.  And although we certainly have been diligent in praying for our country, for the safety of the combatants, and for those in harms way, my prayers have also leaned toward the need for us to be vigilant in the work of evangelism and witness to the truth of God in Jesus Christ.  At the root of this cultural disagreement is whether Jesus Christ is Lord, or just one of a line of prophets ending with Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn six centuries after Jesus’ death.  Contradictory “truths” cannot both be true.  Either Jesus Christ is Lord, as He asserts, or He lied and Muhammad and his followers are correct about it.  What is Truth forms our culture and who we are as a nation of laws.
We know that Jesus Christ is Lord, and for that truth we are willing to lay down our lives.  Although we are to always live in love and charity with our neighbors, no matter their religious belief, we need to be strong and firm in not only believing the truth about Jesus Christ, but become willing to share that truth in love with those who do to know Him yet.  May God grant us the grace to do His work faithfully!