Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 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 160 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 28, 2006

St. John and Holy Innocents

I am away on vacation, in Sturgis, Michigan (in-laws). I meant to send a note of reminder yesterday that it was St. John's Day, the 148th Anniversary of the founding of the parish, but travel and family were a wonderful distraction from the computer.

Today is Holy Innocents, when in Herod's lust for power and fear of a new king taking his thrown had all boys slaughtered to prevent the new king from coming to power. Of course that new King is Jesus Christ, and just a Moses was rescued and raised in Egypt to later save his people, so too our Lord is rescued and the holy family flees into Egypt for a time. (see Matthew 2:13-18)

One of my old professors had a real beef with the revision of the Collect in the Prayer Book for Holy Innocents Day. It used to be about glorifying God by their deaths (martyrdom) and becoming saints ourselves - "Mortify and kill all vices in us, and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the innocency of our lives, and constancy of our faith even unto death (martyrdom), we may glorify thy holy Name: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

The new collect is all about social justice - not personal holiness and accountability. The new one prays to change others, the old to change us that we may change the world through holiness!

"We remember this day, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by the order of King Herod. Receive, we beseech thee, into the arms of thy mercy all innocent victims; and by thy great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish thy rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."

So, we can always pray both! Pray for the innocents victims of poverty, war, and abortion, as well as praying that WE MAY BE MADE HOLY to make real changes. But remember to do first things first! The social injustice will not happen without changes of hearts and souls!

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Happy Christmas to All!

I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all who worked so hard to make the Christmas Celebrations at St. John's so wonderful; the Altar Guild (for so much prep and clean up work for Sunday Morning AND Evening), Ushers, Acolytes, The Choir and their beautiful music (and of course Susan, and Huw for playing and directing), Chris Sayers for doing the bulletins (if you didn't see them they were professionally printed with a glossy cover - very beautiful!), Fr. Bedford, Paul MacDonald, and Tristan Williams who did alot of folding and stuffing as well as running around before services to make sure things were in their place!

Something Old, Something New

This weekend we revealed something old and something new at St. John's.
The 'old' was the reappearance of the 100 year old St. John's Banner! I found it in the archives room, in a box marked "to be thrown away" with other junk in it. Immanuel Banners of Lansing, MI restored the banner and it was used for the first time at the Christmas Eve Service. Some longer-time parishioners will remeber that Gar Williams used to carry the banner in processions at St. John's. Gar is now in a nursing home in Bingham Farms. Pictured is Dave Schafer holding the restored banner.

The 'new' is our new window, in the Chapel. It is Ruth. Note the red sandals. It matches the red shoes of Mary in her Annunciation Window on the opposite side of the Altar in the Chapel. This replaced a very badly damaged 'griese' glass window. The old one was like the plain painted glass above the nice windows in the Church.

The new window was built by Willett-hauser, the same firm that fixed the new safety glass this past summer.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Going to Church Twice on Sunday?

Tomorrow, Sunday, is TWO different days!

In the MORNING it is the Fourth Sunday of Advent.
Those services are at 7:30am, 8am and 10am and ALL SERVICES IN THE MORNING are in the CHAPEL. Yes, God expects to see you to worship on the 4th Sunday of Advent. Sunday School and Adult Ed take a week off.

In the EVENING it is Christmas Eve.
Services are at 5:15pm- Children's Pageant Service in the Chapel
10:30pm Carol Prelude followed by 11:00pm - Festive Candlelight Service in the Church.

You need to come in the Morning on Sunday for Advent IV, and either in the evening for Christmas Eve OR Christmas Morning at 11am in the Chapel.

The Eve of Christmas Eve

With all our shopping done a few weeks ago, everything baked and distributed that needs to be baked, meals planned and put together in the fridge/freezer for our house full of guests this weekend, and the grey weather enveloping us makes today, the eve of Christmas Eve, a 'blah' sort of day! The morning was spent putting the finishing touches on cleaning for all the company coming starting today (Laura, Troy and godson Seth arrived at 1:30pm), but no other plans for the day. The rest of the guests arrive at various times tomorrow.

One disappointment - we never received the Christmas Invite here at home, bulk mailed December 14th. The Eagle, mailed Thursday, arrived today. I am afraid that post office lost or put aside those invites (did anyone else receive theirs?). I'm having a hard time offering that one up if it is true. But the radio ads sounded wonderful all week. And the newspaper ads looked good too. I hope many will be drawn to services for Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Parishes/diocese leaving ECUSA

As the two largest parishes in the Diocese of Virginia have voted to leave, joining 4 others and possibly 8 more, many of us are getting jumpy. What is going on, and in particular, how does St. John's fit into all this.

First, I find it particularly troubling that the Diocese of Virginia worked out a program for parishes to take these votes and deal with property issues ahead of time, and now they are going on their own agreement. Just my opinion, but it smells of National Church interference in this local policy! Bishop Lee was quoted as saying the properties are an historic trust to the diocese which must be protected. Too bad he/they are not as zealous to protect the historic FAITH to which the people who donated the properties believed and for which they were motivated to give!

As I said in a recent email to the St. John's list, commending us to pray for those leaving as well as those of us staying in ECUSA to continue the fight for The Faith, which St. John's is doing (staying to fight that is).....

Finally, let me assure the people of St. John's that we continue to proclaim and believe in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith as received by this Church, not the new religion being foisted upon Episcopalians by General Convention in the last 40 years. Jesus Christ is still uniquely Lord, His Word in Scripture still contains all things necessary for salvation, and the Faith is unchanged as it has been once delivered to the Saints! Let us pray that we continue to be strong in these things, and stronger still as well ask the Holy Ghost to empower us to bring more and more people into the Faith in Jesus Christ!

Today there was a good article in the Pittsburgh papers quoting Bishop Duncan, my old diocesan bishop, on this situation. His words ring true to me and colors my prayers and thinking on this.

"It's the innovation that's torn the church apart. All of this gets blamed on the conservatives. The conservatives haven't changed. We're standing where we always stood," he said.
Duncan said the number of local congregations wanting to move in the direction of the national church has fallen from 13 to nine, and he expects more to have second thoughts. No local parishes have broken away.
"The Christian faith, being a revealed religion, you cannot change its faith or its ministry," he said. "Any church that turns away from it finds itself in deep trouble."
Seven of the 100 U.S. Episcopal dioceses have threatened to break from the denomination but have so far stayed put. Duncan said there has not been consideration of the Pittsburgh diocese's breaking away.
"Our view is that the national church has left its own constitution and we're standing where we always stood," he said. "We are the Episcopal Church here. We have not changed our beliefs or the way in which we stand."

The entire article can be found at http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/today/s_484704.html

Lord have mercy upon us all as we sort all this out!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A blessed (if hectic) Rose Sunday

How strange it was today, so late in December, to have Rose/Gaudete Sunday (with our nicest set of vestments)! With Christmas Eve being the same day as Advent IV, we deocrated the Church after the service today instead of next week. We didn't decorate the chapel though. We left undecorated that for next Sunday morning, where we will have all the Advent IV morning services.

So, you are thinking, "isn't the chapel smaller that the Church?" Yes, it seats 125 people (or so). I hope I am wrong....but I suspect that we won't get as many people in Church for Advent IV as we do most Sunday Mornings. Many will make Sunday evening's Christmas Eve their only worship that day - trying to make it a 'two-fer'.
Would that all the parishioners would be motiviated to serve and worship the Lord by keeping the fullness of the obligation to Worship on Sunday AND the Feast - which means keeping both Advent IV in the AM, and Christmas Eve or Day that night or Monday Morning. But then, I have to confess I am quite frustrated at the number of parishioners who don't keep their bounden duty to worship God EVERY Sunday in Church. (p. 291 - Book of Common Prayer - Offices of Instruction).
Come Holy Ghost and inspire the hearts of your faithful people, convert the unconverted, restore the lapsed, and warm up those that have become tepid!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Who are you inviting to Christmas Services?

1150 Invitations to Christmas Eve and Day services were mailed yesterday to all members, visitors who have signed the guest book in the last 4 years, and all the neighbors around the Church in Brush Park.

Newspaper Ads in the Ann Arbor News, Grosse Pointe News, and all 12 editions of the Observer and Eccentric have started running about the service schedule.

On Monday we begin advertising on WRCJ 90.9 FM (Classical Music Public Radio) and WDTK 1400 AM (news/talk). Beginning Wednesday a series of ads will appear on WJR 760 AM.

BUT - the most vital part of the "marketing" package is YOU - the parishioner at St. John's! People may read/hear/receive in the mail our invitation to St. John's, but it is up to YOU to 'seal the deal' by personally inviting people to join us at St. John's! Tell people why you come downtown to worship! Invite them to come and see and be a part of all the amazing things God is doing at and through St. John's! Offer them a ride with you!

Christmas is a time when people, including those nominally of faith or perhaps fallen away due to some internal parish problem, are looking for a place to go to Church for Christmas Eve. Be the person who Jesus uses to invite them here, and perhaps into a new or renewed relationship with Himself!

In the next 9 days make it a point to invite at least 3 people a day to come the Christmas Services at St. John's. Not all will come - but an invitation is important and maybe what the person needs!

On Christmas Eve Children's Pageant service is at 5:15pm (this service is not just for the Children if someone can't be out too late). Also on Christmas Eve at 10:30pm is our Carol Prelude Service and then at 11pm the primary service, our Festive Candlelight Service. On Christmas Day at 11am we have an a cappella service in the Chapel (this is a small service - about 30 people).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

St. Lucy's Day

A blessed St. Lucy's Day to one and all! We remembered her at Mass today (bio info below).

Sorry for the lack of posts - things are getting busier around the house and St. John's as the holiday's approach! And today we have another showing on our house (S. Joseph - ora pro nobis!).

from Justus.anglican.org

The early Roman lists of martyrs commemorate Lucy, virgin and martyr, on 13 December, and her name, with that of Agatha, appears in the Roman Liturgy as an example of those who have gone before us, in whose company we join in giving thanks and praise to God. Aside from this, little is known of her, except that she lived in Syracuse in Sicily, and probably died around 304. Her name, which means "light," probably accounts for the story that her eyes were put out and her eyesight miraculously restored, and may be connected with the fact that her feast occurs near the time when (in the Northern Hemisphere) the nights are longest.

In Sweden and elsewhere, the day is observed by having one of the daughters of the house dress in a white robe with a crown of lighted candles and go singing from room to room (presumably followed by an adult with a fire extinguisher) early in the morning when it is still dark to awaken the other family members and to offer them St. Lucy's Cakes and hot coffee.
Ember Wednesday (of the winter season) is defined as the Wednesday after Lucy's Day. (An equivalent definition would be: the Wednesday preceding the last Sunday before Christmas.)
Agatha was from Catania in Sicily, and probably martyred in the late 200's. Nothing else is known of her.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Happy St. Nicholas of Myra Day!

From New Advent.org

Bishop of Myra in Lycia; died 6 December, 345 or 352. Though he is one of the most popular saints in the Greek as well as the Latin Church, there is scarcely anything historically certain about him except that he was Bishop of Myra in the fourth century.
Some of the main points in his legend are as follows: He was born at Parara, a city of Lycia in Asia Minor; in his youth he made a pilgrimage to Egypt and Palestine; shortly after his return he became Bishop of Myra; cast into prison during the persecution of Diocletian, he was released after the accession of Constantine, and was present at the Council of Nicaea. In 1087 Italian merchants stole his body at Myra, bringing it to Bari in Italy.
The numerous miracles St. Nicholas is said to have wrought, both before and after his death, are outgrowths of a long tradition. There is reason to doubt his presence at Nicaea, since his name is not mentioned in any of the old lists of bishops that attended this council. His cult in the Greek Church is old and especially popular in Russia. As early as the sixth century Emperor Justinian I built a church in his honour at Constantinople, and his name occurs in the liturgy ascribed to St. Chrysostom. In Italy his cult seems to have begun with the translation of his relics to Bari, but in Germany it began already under Otto II, probably because his wife Theophano was a Grecian. Bishop Reginald of Eichstaedt (d. 991) is known to have written a metric, "Vita S. Nicholai." The course of centuries has not lessened his popularity. The following places honour him as patron: Greece, Russia, the Kingdom of Naples, Sicily, Lorraine, the Diocese of Liège; many cities in Italy, Germany, Austria, and Belgium; Campen in the Netherlands; Corfu in Greece; Freiburg in Switzerland; and Moscow in Russia. He is patron of mariners, merchants, bakers, travellers, children, etc. His representations in art are as various as his alleged miracles. In Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, they have the custom of making him the secret purveyor of gifts to children on 6 December, the day on which the Church celebrates his feast; in the United States and some other countries St. Nicholas has become identified with Santa Claus who distributes gifts to children on Christmas eve. His relics are still preserved in the church of San Nicola in Bari; up to the present day an oily substance, known as Manna di S. Nicola, which is highly valued for its medicinal powers, is said to flow from them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Denial? Ignorance? Irony? or Malice?

You make the call!

In her official response to The Diocese of San Joaquin's convention this past weekend (see video or text link below), Ms. Schori states

"Our task as the Episcopal Church is God’s mission of reconciling the world, and actions such as this distract and detract from that mission."

My first question is - "reconciling the world," - to whom/what? "Reconciling the world to God through the saving power of the Cross of Jesus Christ" is the orthodox statement of faith. Her statement here makes it seem like TEC's job is to make people be nice to each other, not repent of the sin that separates us from God. It is another one of those statement that sounds orthodox at a glance, but has been twisted to mean anything or nothing.

My second question is - Does she really think the actions of San Joaquin distract and detract from the mission of the Church? If what she means in question #1 is that TEC's job is make everyone get along and be reconciled to each other in TEC, then yes...perhaps. But if she means it in the orthodox sense, or in keeping the Anglican Communion together, then it is either Denial, Ignorance, or Malice to think that what San Joaquin is doing is causing trouble compared to what she proposes as the new religion: biblical disregard in matters such as Salvation (her statement to the media that Jesus is not the unique Universal way to salvation), Morality (human sexuality for one), and Church order (the attempted ordination of women). All these, and more, are TEC's causes for distraction affecting The Anglican Communion's mission and ministry to reconcile the WHOLE WORLD TO GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!

Lord have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep your laws!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bishop Schofield's Address to his convention

Thank you to AnglicanTV.org for making this available.
A text version is available at


Friday, December 01, 2006

"That they all may be one as I and the Father are one"

May God grant us the unity he desires for the members of the Body of Christ!

For those who do not know, this is Benedict XVI, leader of the Western Church (Roman Catholic), which has 1 billion members. Next to him is Bartholomew I, the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Churches and her 1/2 billion members. Here is pictured The Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, representing probably 75% of those who follow Jesus!

May God bless their efforts at Unity in the Body of Christ - not an easy task due to long standing theological and authority issues, and especially difficult with the lose configuration of national churches and their several patriarchies in the east.