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

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rector's Rambling for September 23rd

With all that is going on this week/weekend with the House of Bishops, I thought I would put this up here for advanced reading.

Once again our beloved Episcopal Church, as a national institution, finds herself in the news. Unfortunately, it is not for good reasons.
Some parishioners have been following closely the goings on of our National Church, particularly in relation to our world-wide Anglican Communion. Being at St. John’s, it is easy to think that all is well in the Episcopal Church because things are going well (by God’s Grace) at St. John’s. But not all parishes in the Episcopal Church are like St. John’s.
For quite some time (decades) the Episcopal Church has been slipping further and further from its biblical foundations in teaching, preaching, and discipline. Innovations, theological ignorance or disobedience (often wrapped in good intentions) have damaged not only The Episcopal Church’s ability to witness the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord, but also has damaged relations with the rest of the Anglican Communion.
Since Wednesday the Bishops of the Episcopal Church has been meeting, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, to make a response to the demands by the Primates (heads of the National Churches in the Anglican Communion) that the Episcopal Church repent and turn away from its rejection of biblical teaching and actions, and make a way for Traditionalist in the Episcopal Church to receive pastoral care, free from coercion or persecution. The initial response of the Bishops in the Spring was not favorable (after all, who likes to be chastened and corrected?). Over the Summer most responses by dioceses and committees to their demands has been to either stress that other provinces have no right to tell us what to do, or to claim some sort of prophetic voice to justify disobedience to scripture. The final report of the US House of Bishops was not available as of this writing, and one can only hope for a radical change of course!
Yet, there are faithful voices, faithful dioceses, faithful parishes in the Episcopal Church, and we do believe in TRUTH. Pray, Pray, Pray for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion during this very turbulent time. Schemes, Plans, and People come and go, but Jesus remains Lord and He desires that we in His Church all be one as He and the Father are one. That Unity is achievable only on His Terms and by His Grace!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Must not lose hope!

As the House of Bishop's meets in New Orleans to discern the future of their membership in the Anglican Communion, based on thier decisions to follow, or not follow, the correction issued by the Primates (heads of national churches), I read this interesting quote from Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria - a leader of the conservative movement.

Dr Akinola said: “It is still hoped that somehow the good Lord will save His Church from further fragmentation. We are praying for Dr Williams. We are still full of hope. Remember that we are Christians. If we lose hope, then everything is gone.”

gleaned through a link on www. kendallharmon.net/t19

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stigmata of St. Francis

Before the day slips away, I wanted to recall the wonderous feast today of our seraphic father, St. Francis, receiving the marks of our Crucified Lord in his hands and his feet.

From The Life of St. Francis by St. Bonaventure


Two years before his death, when, according to his custom, Francis had repaired to Mt. La Verna to spend the 40 days preceding the feast of St. Michael the Archangel in prayer and fasting, this wonderful event took place.
"Francis was raised to God in the ardor of his seraphic love, wholly transformed by sweet compassion into Him, who, of His exceeding charity, was pleased to be crucified for us. On the morning of the feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, as he was praying in a secret and solitary place on the mountain, Francis beheld a seraph with six wings all afire, descending to him from the heights of heaven. As the seraph flew with great swiftness towards the man of God, there appeared amid the wings the form of one crucified, with his hands and feet stretched out and fixed to the cross. Two wings rose above the head, two were stretched forth in flight, and two veiled the whole body.
"Francis wondered greatly at the appearance of so novel and marvelous a vision. But knowing that the weakness of suffering could nowise be reconciled with the immortality of the seraphic spirit, he understood the vision as a revelation of the Lord and that it was being presented to his eyes by Divine Providence so that the friend of Christ might be transformed into Christ crucified, not through martyrdom of the flesh, but through a spiritual holocaust.
"The vision, disappearing, left behind it a marvelous fire in the heart of Francis, and no less wonderful token impressed on his flesh. For there began immediately to appear in his hands and in his feet something like nails as he had just seen them in the vision of the Crucified. The heads of the nails in the hands and feet were round and black, and the points were somewhat long and bent, as if they had been turned back. On the right side, as if it had been pierced by a lance, was the mark of a red wound, from which blood often flowed and stained his tunic."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Start humming "its a small world afterall"

I received this forwarded email from my brother Dave, who got it from a friend he went to college with in Cleveland.....

Dave....you are not going to believe this!!! A little less than a week ago, I get a call from my parents who tell me that they have finally sold their house. I told them congrats it will be nice to move on. A couple days later while talking to them about the house I ask them if they know anything about the buyers. She said she believed that he was a minister in a local church and already lived in Grosse Pointe. I said great. Today I called my mom because she had one of her knees replaced yesterday to see how she was doing and after talking awhile she said,"Your dad brought in cookies yesterday that had a note on them....I thought they were from the neighbors but they weren't, guess who they are from". I said I had no clue. She said they were from the people that bought their house and they had left them on the counter when they had been there for the inspection. She proceeds to read the note and it was a very warm and kind note about buying the house and hoping her surgery went well. At the end of the note it was signed ~ The Kelly's. I said WAIT A MINUTE!!! I went to JCU with Dave Kelly and I know his brother is a minister in Grosse Pointe!!! I said I need to check. I came back to my desk, went to your blog so that I could link onto his blog and guess what is on the front page.....A PICTURE OF THE HOUSE I LIVED IN SINCE I WAS 16. Talk about a small world....your brother bought my parents house! I can't get over this it's crazy. Enough rambling...its a great house and great neighborhood they will enjoy.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Blessed Holy Cross Day today!

Today is the Feast of the Holy Cross. It was on this day that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was dedicated, built over the place of our Lord's Crucifixion (Golgotha) and the place of his Resurrection (the empty tomb). The Church was built under the direction of Roman Emperor Constantine's mother, St. Helena.

More importantly, it is a wonderful reminder that it was on the hard wood of the Cross that we have had the price of our sins paid by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

Here is an ancient hymn (#66 in our hymnal) to sum up the glory of that Holy Cross.

Faithful Cross, above all other,
one and only noble Tree,
none in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit thy peer may be;
sweetest wood, and sweetest iron,
Sweetest weight is hung on thee.

Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory,
thy relaxing sinews bend;
for awhile the ancient rigor,
that thy birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heavenly beauty
On thy bosom gently tend.

Thou alone wast counted worthy
this world's Ransom to sustain,
that a shipwrecked race for ever
might a port of refuge gain,
with the sacred Blood anointed
of the Lamb for sinners slain.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sam's awesome rocket

This past Saturday my son Sam and I went to the Jackson Model Rocketry Club and Sam moved up to a new level of skill.

For the first time he did a rocket with 'dual deployment'. Sam worked hard all Summer, cleaning bathrooms for Little League, cutting neighbor's grass and walking their dogs. Some of the money he earned went to the electronics for this rocket. It had an Altimeter on board that recorded how high the rocket went (2,002 feet) and then as the first ejection charge separated the rocket in half (connected on a shock cord) to free fall until it reached 300 feet. At that height it ejected a parachute to slow the descent without it floating from too far up and off the range

It was amazing thing to see him build, and great to watch him launch it and recover it. I am very proud of him!

The photo is his rocket, the Raptor, taking off. The photo was taken by our friend, Eldred Pickett

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six years later.....

September 11th, 2001.

I day I will never forget: the anxiety, sorrow, fear, anger.

Each year we have had a commemoration of the tragedy of the terrorist hijacking and deaths. At St. John's that has been either through a weekday Mass, or a few years ago it fell on a Sunday.

Last year was pretty well attended. It was the 5th Anniversary - and news coverage was high (we like things in even 5's and 10's apparently).

This year we had 5 people at the 12:15 Mass for the anniversary. 4 of them come regularly on Tuesday anyway. At 11:30 the Police and Fire Departments had a memorial service at Campus Martius Park. I went down for a while before Mass (it didn't start on time - the Mayor was running late). It was about 1/3 the crowd from last year.

Why smaller crowd/congregation?

Not a 5 or 10 year anniversary? War weariness? The political climate? Less media coverage (my wife thought today was the 10th, not the 11th of September - but then she does not check the media very often)? Healing and a desire to move on?

Whatever the reason - we continue to pray anyway.

We did the votive Mass today for the Enemies of religion (Also known as the Mass for protection from the heathen) because I thought the Collect and readings for the day were appropriate.

The Collect for the Mass -

Almighty and everlasting God, in whose hand is the dominion of all kings and the governance of all kingdoms, look down in mercy and deliver all Christian peoples: that the nations of the heathen, which put thier trust in the might of their violence, may be confounded by the strength of thy right hand. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A great funny from the other side of the Tiber

Anyone who has visited around at parishes at ECUSA knows that the Sunday Liturgy varies greatly from place to place. In the Roman Communion, there are strict rules what may and may not be done - which is frequently disregarded by 'hip and with-it' clergy/laity trying to be relevant.

This link is to a great blog with the handsignals for the "Liturgical Referee", who will call the service as he sees it!

Old Time religion?

St. Maximilian Kolbe was said to throw holy water on the printing press when it broke down, in case the problem wasn't mechanical but spiritual (the devil sticking his tail in the press). And I must confess the copier repair guy at my last parish was surprised to find droplets of holy water on the copier when it broke down during holy week......but this goes a bit further.

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Officials at Nepal's state-run airline have sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft, the carrier said Tuesday.
Nepal Airlines, which has two Boeing aircraft, has had to suspend some services in recent weeks due the problem.
The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft Sunday at Nepal's only international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, an official said.
"The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights," said Raju K.C., a senior airline official, without explaining what the problem had been.
Local media last week blamed the company's woes on an electrical fault. The carrier runs international flights to five cities in Asia.
It is common in Nepal to sacrifice animals like goats and buffaloes to appease different Hindu deities.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

If only we had done this in the USA

Scientology was recognized, by executive order, as a religion with tax exemption during the Clinton Administration - which you remember was heavily laden with hollywood types and several close advisors were scientologists!

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - A Belgian prosecutor on Tuesday recommended that the U.S.-based Church of Scientology stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10- year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization.
Scientology said it would fight the criminal charges recommended by investigating prosecutor Jean-Claude Van Espen, who said that up to 12 unidentified people should face charges.
Van Espen's probe also concluded that Scientology's Brussels-based Europe office and its Belgian missions conducted unlawful practices in medicine, violated privacy laws and used illegal business contracts, said Lieve Pellens, a spokeswoman at the Federal Prosecutors Office.
"They also face charges of being ... a criminal organization," Pellens said in a telephone interview.
An administrative court will decide whether to press charges against the Scientologists.
In a statement, Scientology's Europe office accused the prosecutor of hounding the organization and said it would contest the charges.
"For the last 10 years, the prosecutor has been using the media, trying to damage the reputation of the Church of Scientology and not being able to put a case in court," Scientology said. "As a consequence, this created a climate of intolerance and discrimination" in Belgium.
It added that the prosecutor's recommendations suggested Scientology was guilty even before a court could hear the charges, making it "difficult for the Church of Scientology to recover and properly defend (itself) before the court."
Scientology has been active in Belgium for nearly three decades. In it opened an international office near the headquarters of the European Union to lobby for its right to be recognized as an official religious group, a status it does not enjoy in Belgium.
A Belgian parliamentary committee report in 1997 labeled Scientology a sect and investigations were launched into the group's finances and practices, such as the personality tests conducted on new members.
Investigators have spent the past decade trying to determine how far Scientology went in recruiting converts after numerous complaints were filed with police by ex-members alleging they'd been the victims of intimidation and extortion.
Justice officials seized financial records, correspondence, bank statements and other papers in their decade-long probe to track the flow of money to Scientology. Police also raided the offices of several consultancy firms linked to the Church of Scientology.
Pellens said that prosecutors expect Scientology to mount a strong legal challenge to the charges at a court hearing, which could come in the next two to three months. She acknowledged that could delay the case for years.
Belgium, Germany and other European countries have been criticized by the State Department for labeling Scientology as a cult or sect and enacting laws to restrict its operations.
The German government considers Scientology a commercial enterprise that takes advantage of vulnerable people.
The Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology, which is seeking to expand in Europe and be recognized as a legitimate religion, teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve problems. The church, founded in 1954, counts actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its 10 million members.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A blessed Labor Day

The Collect "For every Man in his work" - BCP p. 44

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who declarest thy glory and showest forth thy handiwork in the heavens and in the earth; Deliver us, we beseech thee, in our several callings, from the service of mammon, that we may do the work which thou givest us to do, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as thy servants, and to the benefit of our fellow men; for the sake of him who came among us as one that serveth, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.