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 23, 2018

Tiger Baseball Outing - Rector's Rambling for April 22, 2018

Welcome, friends, to our 18th Annual Detroit Tigers Baseball Outing Sunday.  What a wonderful day it is to worship AND to head over to the Detroit Tigers game too!
When I first arrived here in 2001, we had that great banner on the Church proclaiming “Pray Here for the Tigers” which garnered much attention for the Church.  For the first few years it was met with some mocking and derision because the Tigers were pretty bad (and in 2003, one loss short of worst record bad).  “Praying doesn’t seem to be helping, Father”, I would hear.  But of course, as with all prayer, there is no guarantee of outcome.  By 2006, when the Tigers made it to the World Series, again the banner was featured as evidence that Detroit Fans were so hard-core that even the Church was in on it.  Now our signboard displays a similar message.
The banner and the sign board are an invitation for people to join us for prayer.  But we do pray for the Tigers organization because they are our neighbors, and one way that we “love our neighbors as ourselves” is to pray for them.  And if you have been to our Pray Here for the Tigers Service before the first game of the season, you know that those prayers extend to the players, coaches, concession staff, parking attendants, and all in the neighborhood involved with the organization.
This year our outing is earlier than usual.  The only Sunday games in May are Mother’s Day (not a great day to invite guests to a game) and Memorial Day weekend (when a military related anthem singer has been scheduled).  This pushed us back into April….but who would have thought in January when I scheduled this that April would be so cold and wet?
I am glad we have come to this day to worship the Lord and to have fun.  And there are 11 more Sunday games for you to buy tickets on your own and come to Church before the game.  You’ll get the best pre-game activity (worship) and parking space in town!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Time capsule from 1971 - Rector's Rambling for April 15, 2018

Last weekend I was chatting with the demolition crew, who casually asked me, “where would you like the time capsule we found behind the date stone on the office building?”  Time capsule?  We had no idea there was one in there!
Today those items, inserted in the wall of the office building in May of 1971, are on display in the undercroft.  What an exciting find of eclectic items placed in there almost 50 years ago.  The largest piece is a entire copy of the Sunday Detroit News from May 2, 1971.  Other items include 1928, 1892, and 1789 editions of the Book of Common Prayer, our 1959 Centennial Anniversary book, a photo from the groundbreaking of the office building, newspaper articles about the parish from 1969 and 1970, including a photo of the current kitchen newly constructed, some  old interior and exterior photos of the church, vestry minutes, financial reports and bank statements, national and diocesan church newspapers, and even a copy of the TV Guide.
Our neighborhood was quite different in 1971 than it is today.  In fact, those dedicated parishioners could not have foreseen that, in the next 15 to 20 years, things would get much worse before they would start to get better.  And even then, it would be 30 years before a baseball stadium would open next door to begin the revival of the neighborhood.
By September the new building should be on the way toward completion, and Bishop Gibbs will be making his last “official” visit to St. John’s.  While he is here we can have him bless a new cornerstone, where we can insert the original items AND put together new items to be added to it.  If you look at the church cornerstone at the base of the bell tower, you will see that the west side has the original date of 1860 on it, and the north side has a date of 1937 when the tower was reassembled after the building was moved 60 feet for the widening of Woodward.  We read from our 100th Anniversary book that they opened the original cornerstone at that time and then inserted new items in there as well.  On the new building we can use the original 1971 stone on one side and a 2018 stone on another.
Fifty years from now others can discover what we have left for posterity.

Monday, April 09, 2018

40 Days of Celebration, plus 10 more! - Rector's Rambling for April 8, 2018

"Wouldn’t it be great if we could celebrate Easter for a long time?”  I overheard this statement at brunch last week, uttered by a young boy as he added treats to his basket at the candy bar.
I am pretty sure that his reason for wanting a longer celebration was probably centered on that basket of candy, but in fact Easter is a long-time celebration!  Forty days on our calendar and then a 10-day ancillary celebration following – from Ascension to Pentecost.
Yes, friends, it is still Easter!  We will continue the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ until May 10.  Just as Lent was a 40-day season, so too is Eastertide.  During this time we will look at what the Resurrection means to us believers in Jesus Christ, and we will also focus on the life of prayer in preparation for the Thy Kingdom Come Novena from May 10 to May 20.
We have several great opportunities for learning, fellowship, and outreach to the community during these next 50 days (40+10).  Yesterday, we had our second Community Hymn Sing,.  Thank you to Morley and Martina Stevenson, Anne Ruffley, Rod Gillespie, and the Music Department for putting together a wonderful afternoon.
On April 22, we have our Tigers Outing with the choir singing the National Anthem.  WE NEED YOUR TICKET ORDERS ASAP.
On May 5, we have our special event, actress Karen Abercrombie from the movie War Room, speaking about the Power of Prayer.  This is a fantastic movie, which you can watch today after coffee hour if you have not done so already.  This is already attracting a lot of attention and should be very well-attended.  We need St. John’s folks to attend to welcome our many guests!
From May 10 to 20 we will have our daily Evening Prayer at the Prayer Wall for Thy Kingdom Come.  On May 20, the Daughters of the King will be hosting a baby shower for Pregnancy Aid and the Outreach Committee will also on that day distribute yearly checks in support of local ministries.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

He is Risen! - Rector's Rambling for April 1, 2018

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!
   The Lord is Risen Indeed!

After a long Lent of looking at our sins, and being reminded of God’s mercy and forgiveness, we come to the big day!   Jesus Christ, having been sacrificed on the Cross for our sins has now risen from the dead!  We rejoice with resounding Alleluia and celebration.
Sunday after Sunday, we look at the remarkable super-reredos in the church, that wonderful mosaic high above the altar, and see it for its beauty and artistic merit.  But more than that, it is a weekly reminder of today’s celebration.  There, recorded for us in gold leaf and colored stones is a mosaic re-creation of Ella Condi Lamb’s painting depicting the angel of the Lord greeting the three Mary’s who went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus.
But instead of finding Jesus, they came upon an empty tomb.  According to St. Matthew,
“And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.  His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.  And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.  He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matthew 28:2–6)
This wonderful depiction shows the angel resplendently arrayed, and the three women in surprise and awe.  In the hands of one of them is a container, and at the foot of another a jar, containing the spices to anoint the body of Jesus.  He had been hastily put in the tomb because he died at the opening of the high Sabbath day when bodies could not be properly prepared.
Their last act of love and responsibility was instead met with surprise and yes, awesome joy to the words of the angel, “he is risen, as he said.”
May we, in the weeks and months to come, look on this wonderful sight above the altar and be reminded of this grand day, and rejoice with them that Jesus is risen!