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 24, 2017

Low Sunday - Rector's Rambling for April 23, 2017

Last Week we had a fantastic celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!  I am grateful for all the participants who helped to make such a wonderful day possible, from acolytes, choristers, ushers, and altar guild, to all the friends, family, and members who were present for worship.  The brass accompaniment was great, and the choir sounded fantastic, but nothing topped having so many people present for worship and fellowship!
If past proves provident, we will have half the people in Church today, or fewer, than we did last Sunday.  Three quarters of the choir take a week to rest their voices, and many of our guests go back to their neighborhood parishes for the regular week to week worship in which they participate.  Others, who attend worship less frequently, will go back to their regular non-attendance.
But I have something for all of us in the parish to think about.  St. John’s could be as well-attended on a “regular” Sunday as it was for Easter.  This could be accomplished if all those who consider themselves members of the parish were to attend every week.
Although some members have moved out of the area, we have enough people locally (or relatively locally) who are or were regular worshippers here, that if all made an effort to be here at least three Sundays a month, we would find the nave as full today as it was last week.
Regular attendance at worship not only helps you (receive the Grace of Communion, teaching, and fellowship), but your presence also encourages others in attendance.  The congregation also sings better when there are more people gathered.  And think of the impression a fuller church makes on a visitor!
Today this column reaches those who are here and I hope you will be here next week as well.  But for those not here, let us pray for them, that they return soon!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Thy Kingdom Come - an introduction - April 23, 2017

As announced last week from the pulpit, we will be participating in The Archbishop of Canterbury’s program Thy Kingdom Come.

The official dates of the program are May 25 to June 4.  These are the days beginning with The Feast of the Ascension (Fortieth Day after Easter) and Whitsunday, also known as Pentecost.  We will begin with a special evening Holy Communion Service on May 25th to celebrate the Feast Day, and then for the 9 days following we will have daily Communion and a special Evening Prayer session out at the Prayer Wall (weather permitting, or inside) with an opportunity to have a parishioner give a testimony to their faith in Jesus Christ. 

The daily Communion Service is important because it is primarily who we are - a Christ-centered, Bible-believing community that takes Jesus at His command to eat His flesh and drink His blood under the species of the bread and wine of His Sacrament.  The Catechism defines a Sacrament as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us; ordained by Christ Himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof” (p. 581 - Book of Common Prayer).  Jesus has commanded and given it to us with the promise of His Grace.

The other daily event, Evening Prayer, is also something that helps to define us as faithful Christians in the Anglican Tradition.  This tradition has for centuries molded the lives of holy men and women in a regular systematic form of Scriptural reading and worship.

Common to both these daily events is that they are forms of PRAYER.  Prayer is the vehicle for Thy Kingdom Come.  But our praying is not confined to just these two Prayer Book formularies.  NOW is the time for all of us to START PRAYING!  Every day ask God to bless the upcoming program, bless this parish, and pray that He will help us to know Jesus better so that we can share Him with others.  LET US PRAY - every day, starting right now!

He is Risen! - Rector's Rambling for April 16, 2017

The shock of Jesus’ death, and the mourning of His followers did not prepare them for the surprise of an empty tomb.  We know they were not prepared because the Gospel accounts tell us that they went to the tomb to mourn, as well as properly prepare the body, because he was hastily buried on Friday before the High Sabbath Day for Passover.
The Sabbath prohibition against work being over, the women go to the tomb with spices to anoint the body (notice the woman depicted above our altar with a jar in her hand).  And we even hear their concern that they would need help rolling away the stone from the front of the tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, who had offered it for Jesus’ burial, so they could accomplish this task.
Jesus had spoken plainly and openly about His impending death, and that in three days he would rise again.  St. Thomas mentions that the disciples will go to Jerusalem to die with Him, and St. Peter tries to forbid Jesus from going to fulfill God’s will (and was suitably rebuked by Jesus for it).  Yet once arrested, all but St. John flee from Jesus, and we hear that they were cowering together for fear that the authorities would come for them next.
How often do we not want to hear the hard things that Jesus has to say?  They couldn’t hear or accept his warning that all this was to come, and that it was a part of a bigger plan.  How often do we go on with the easier things of Jesus’ teaching with blinders on against what we don’t want to hear?
The Good News is that just as they were all surprised by the Resurrection of Jesus, we too can be surprised, caught unprepared, by the miracle that is Jesus Christ and His plans for us.  Like the disciples, it is our response after that surprise that makes all the difference.  Let us rejoice, as they did, and follow Him as Lord and Saviour.