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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Anticipation - Rector's Rambling for December 18, 2016

One week!  Can you feel the excitement?  The anticipation?  Yet the 4th Sunday of Advent cannot get further away from Christmas Eve and Day as it does this year!  We have a full week before the Christmas celebration begins.  Next year the 4th Sunday of Advent is a Sunday morning and then Christmas Eve is that same evening!  I am guessing we will do our pre-greening a bit earlier next year.

This week we have a great opportunity to finish our last spiritual preparations for the coming Feast of the Nativity, as well as Jesus’ return (it could happen beforehand).  If you would like to make a private confession this week, please call the office to make an appointment, or plan on being at a weekday Mass and we can do so before or after Mass.

The other thing we can do with this long week between Advent and Christmas is to spend time inviting people to join us for worship at St. John’s this weekend.  Christmas is a time when people are looking for a place to come to church.  Your invitation could be how God will reach the heart of someone searching!  Invite them to a Christmas service and even offer them a ride if they are unsure of driving downtown.  The fear of the unfamiliar can be overcome by your hospitality.  It is a great chance to introduce people to St. John’s and to have them join us for worship and fellowship in the Lord.


Thank you to all who joined us yesterday in worship to thank God for the life of Liz Oates.  Every funeral in the parish is a loss for us, and we mourn because of the love we have for each other.  The absence of another person diminishes us in one way or another, and Liz’s long and very active ministries around the parish contributed to the wonderful spirit of this church that she called home all her life.  And, of course, we continue to love and support Greg, Holly, Wendy and Tom, and the grandchildren as they grieve.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Lightening up - Rector's Rambling for December 11, 2016

We are over the mid-point of our Advent observance, which means we have come to Gaudéte Sunday, sometimes known as Rose Sunday.  It is a chance for us to “lighten up” in the heaviness of a penitential season, which is signified liturgically by the use of the rose colored vestments and altar hangings in the place of the “heavier” purple.
In recent years there has been a push to make Advent less penitential in nature.  Lent is the grand penitential season of course, with its precursor “-gesima” Sundays.  There was a third penitential season, observed by the devout, centuries ago.  It was from early August to September 14 (Feast of the Holy Cross), but it was not universally observed.
One way that portions of the Church have downplayed the penitential aspect of Advent is to replace the purple with blue.  I see this frequently in Episcopal and Roman parishes.  Blue for Advent seems to be an adaptation of the color scheme for the season from the Sarum Rite.  But mixing Rites is generally discouraged, and I certainly wouldn’t want to wear the burnt brick orange of Trinitytide of the Sarum use.
We need to be penitential.  Not only do we have to frequently (even daily) acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness, but we also need to spend extended periods (a season) in a penitential mode in order to be prepared for the glories of the great gift of Holy Days like Easter, and of course Christmas.  Lightening up today, but in the bigger picture, still preparing!
· A reminder that we will gather next Saturday, December 17, at 1:00 PM, for the Burial Service for the repose of the soul of Liz Oates.  A reception follows.
· Also, the pre-greening of the church takes place this week on Thursday, starting at noon.  If you are able to attend at any point during the afternoon, even if for a little while, we can use your help.  Contact Debbie Swain for more information.
· Thank you to all who pitched in to help with yesterday’s Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings Holiday Brass concert.  It was a great occasion, and very well-attended.  Thank you to vestry member Anne Ruffley for arranging for it to be held “back home” at St. John’s where the DCW&S was founded.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Advent 2 - Rector's Rambling for December 4, 2016

Advent at St. John’s got off to a powerful and poignant start last week with the death last Sunday morning of life-long parishioner Liz Oates.
Liz’s nearly four weeks in Intensive Care after a fall in her house was a time of great angst and anxiety for her, the family, and for the people of this parish who loved her dearly.  Despite the intense medical intervention, the damage done to her spine was permanent which caused other complications with her being able to breath.  She passed away shortly after 9:00 AM on Sunday.
Being the First Sunday in Advent last week, we start with the “not yet” of  Advent, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to judge the living and the dead, and our need to be prepared to see Jesus.  And, of course, the corollary of that is that we don’t know when we may die and go to meet Jesus first.  The sorrow of the news of Liz’s death drove home the importance of this reality.  On Sunday, October 30, she was in church, at her usual helpful place organizing Coffee Hour with Chris Golembiewski and others, and on November 1, her life changed in a catastrophic moment.  On December 17, at 1:00 PM, we will gather to pray, and to remember the great gift she was to us as wife, mother, friend, and sister in Jesus Christ.  Life is precious, and even fragile.  Let us live it fully in the love of Jesus Christ.
We thank all those who participated in yesterday’s Women’s Advent Tea.  It is the first time this has been tried at St. John’s, and we look forward to its return next year, God willing.
Remember to purchase your tickets for this Saturday’s concert at St. John’s.  Carol singing begins at 1:15 PM, the show at 2:00 PM.
And it is not too early to start inviting people to join you for Christmas services at St. John’s!  Christmas Eve – 4:00 PM Children’s Pageant Service, 8:30 PM Carol Prelude, 9:00 PM Solemn High Mass.  Christmas Day – 11:00 AM Low Mass with carols.