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, February 27, 2014

The Observance of an Holy Lent

1. Fasting  -  The weekdays of Lent are fast days, meaning that the amount of food is reduced.  A good (if modern) suggestion is no snacks, no seconds, no desserts, and no alcohol.  If you don’t normally eat snacks or drink, you may consider giving up some favorite food.  The idea is to undertake something sacrificial, yet not overwhelming.  Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are strict fast days: one full meal in the evening, a very light one in the afternoon and for some nothing before 3pm.  Those who are ill, elderly, pregnant or nursing are excused from this discipline. (Page li, 1928 B.C.P.)

2. Abstinence - Abstaining from flesh meat on Fridays (as required by the Prayer Book) is a common discipline for Lent.  An ancient custom is to abstain from flesh meat on Wednesdays as well as Fridays.  Flesh meat includes all meat except fish.  Going vegetarian these days is also an option. (Page li, 1928 B.C.P.)

3. Holy Communion  - Lent is a good time to add a weekday Service to your usual Sunday attendance.  Weekday Services are about 30 minutes and are of a rather more intimate and quiet nature than those on Sunday.  The Wednesday Service also includes the Sacrament of Healing (Holy Unction). 

4. Daily Office  - If you do not now read Morning and/or Evening Prayer from the Prayer Book, Lent is a good time to begin doing so.  It takes some effort and discipline to get the habit established, but once accomplished, it can bear great fruit in your spiritual life.  Each Office takes 10-15 minutes a day.   Ask the Clergy if you need help in how to do it.

5. Spiritual Reading  - An ancient custom is to take a spiritual book for regular reading during Lent.  This can be a book on the Scriptures, or one of the spiritual classics.   Many are available in the parish library, and the clergy would be happy to make suggestions as well.

6. Confession  - A sacramental confession, in private to a priest, is not only an opportunity for a thorough self-examination, but also a powerful weapon against the temptations which come our way in Lent.   The Parish Clergy are available for this sacrament, as are other priests in the area.  Although the Anglican Communion does not require Sacramental Confession, it is permitted, and helpful.  More individuals should take advantage of this sacrament.

7.  Self-Denial  - You may want to give up some special pleasure or recreation for Lent (smoking, sweets, television), and perhaps give what you would have spent on it to charity.  This can be done in conjunction with other practices: if, for example, you give up an hour of TV every day, you might use it to read Evening Prayer and some Scripture. 
8. Service  - As well as “giving up” something in Lent, some wish to “take on” some special service, such as visiting a shut-in parishioner, volunteering at a hospital or nursing home, running errands for an elderly neighbor, or some special project at the church or in the community.

9. Scripture Reading  - Delving into the Word of God is never out of season.  Lent is a good time to establish (or re-establish) the discipline of a daily time of Scripture reading at home.  Using the lectionary (the appointed readings) for the daily office is a good starting point.

10. Educational Opportunities
Take the opportunity in Lent to join the Adult Ed. Class on Sundays at 9:05am or join a local bible study.

11. Corporate Special Devotions  - There are numerous opportunities for your spiritual growth throughout Lent.  In addition to Communion and Daily Offices, on Thursdays we have Adoration and Benediction, and on Fridays at noon the parish will gather at the Church for Stations of the Cross following Mass.   

12. Evangelism  - Lent is a good time to renew ones commitment to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with friends and neighbors, and to invite them to worship with us here at St. John’s.

Brochure originally written by the late Ann Marie Shuster,

and revised periodically  by Fr. Steven J. Kelly.

Opportunities in Lent and Holy Week 2014

The Blessed Sacrament
Our Lord’s Sacramental Presence

As Christians in the Anglican Tradition, we have a particular emphasis on our Lord’s Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. 

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”   John 6:53

The Holy Eucharist
Tuesday, Wednesday 12:15pm
Thursday 10:30am
Friday 11:15am

Holy Hour Adoration
Thursday 9:30am to 10:30am
with Benediction after 10:30 Mass

The Daily Office
Tuesday – Thursday @ 4pm
Join us for the praying of Evening Prayer.  We will offer this 15 to 20 minute service as we pray for the Church internationally, locally, and in the parish, as well as those whom we have been asked to pray into a deeper relationship with our Lord.

Fridays in Lent

Stations of the Cross  - 12noon
A tradition in Lent, this is an opportunity to retrace Our Lord’s steps on his way from His Judgment by Pilate to His Crucifixion on Golgotha.  The Service concludes with Benediction.

Educational Opportunities

Adult Education– Sundays 9:05
March 9 – April 6 will be a series on The Cardinal & Theological Virtues.

The Lectionary Bible Study Guide
The readings for Morning and Evening Prayer will be briefly discussed and questions posed via email this Lenten Season.  Open your bibles and read deeply this Lenten Season!

Tuesdays, Wednesdays 11:30 to 12:05
anonymously, in acolyte/chapel sacristy
Other times by appointment

Sunday Luncheon Fellowship
On Sundays in Lent we will be having a Soup Luncheon after the 10am Service, hosted by the St. Catherine’s Guild. 

On March 23rd we will have our Annual St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon.

Sunday Worship Schedule
Lent 2014

March 9  - First Sunday in Lent
The Litany and Holy Communion

March 16  – Second Sunday in Lent
Holy Communion with Decalogue

4pm - Evensong with Confirmation
        Bishop Gibbs, presiding

March 23 Third Sunday in Lent
The Litany and Holy Communion

March 30  – Rose Sunday
Holy Communion with Decalogue

April 6  Passion Sunday
The Litany and Holy Communion

April 13  Palm Sunday
Liturgy of the Palms
 and Holy Communion


The Litany is found on page 54 in the Book of Common Prayer.  The Decalogue is on page 68.

When the Litany is used, the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church is omitted.

Holy Week

 Palm Sunday April 13

Liturgy of the Palms and Holy Eucharist

8:00am and 10:00am

Wednesday  in Holy Week
Holy Eucharist

Tenebrae Service

Maundy Thursday – April 17
plan on staying afterwards to
spend time at The Garden Watch

Good Friday – April 18
12noon to 3pm

Holy Saturday – April 19

Easter Vigil Service/First Service of Easter

Feast of the Resurrection

Easter Day – April 20

Low Mass - 8am

Solemn High Mass
with Choir and Brass

Monday, February 24, 2014

13 years ago this weekend - Rector's Rambling for February 23, 2014

Every year at this time I wax nostalgic because it was this last Sunday in February in 2001 that I arrived at St. John’s for my first Sunday as your Rector.
It is hard to believe I have now finished my 13th year as St. John’s 13th Rector.  At the parish I served in the Diocese of Pittsburgh they are on their third rector since my departure, and I was surprised to learn at our most recent diocesan convention that I am now the second longest tenured parish priest in the entire Diocese of Michigan (only Fr. Lutas at St. Cyprian’s, Detroit, has served longer, with 19 years).
When I arrived, Comerica Park had been open for one season, and the Tigers were among the worst teams in baseball.  Ford Field was still under construction.  Only a quarter of the new houses across the freeway were constructed and there were three times as many dilapidated Victorian mansions still standing in Brush Park.  Crossways over the freeway stood the boarded up Donovan building (demolished before the Super Bowl), where we dreamed that some day the Red Wings and/or the Pistons would build a new arena (ground-breaking, spring 2014).  Proposals for a light rail system up Woodward were in early discussions (groundbreaking, spring 2014).  Only two buildings around Grand Circus Park were occupied.
In my first year here, Detroit elected a mayor younger than I was (35) named Kwame Kilpatrick.  We are on our 3rd mayor since that election.  The Tigers are now on their 5th manager (Phil Garner was skipper when I arrived), and the Lions on their 6th head coach.  Michigan is on its third governor since my return home.
My son Sam was nearly five when we moved here from Charleroi, Pennsylvania.  This summer he begins college.  Andrew was three, William only six months, and Meg five years from being born when I  began as your rector that cold February Sunday in 2001.  Time certainly does fly.

More musings from the Rector - February 23, 2014

Thirteen years ago this week I arrived as the Rector of St. John’s Church here in Detroit.  I consider it to have been a great privilege and a great grace to baptize 137 adults and children, present 105 people for confirmation or reception, solemnize 70 marriages, and officiate at the burial rites for 77 people.
For those who have not heard the story of my being called, I will share it here.  I was the Rector of a parish in a small town 25 miles south of Pittsburgh.  Having felt that perhaps I was finished there, God provided, through the recommendation of David and Sharon Schafer, the opportunity to apply for the position of rector at St. John’s.  They were long-time friends of my family and Dave worked with my father.
Fr. Richard Kim had retired in 1997 and the parish had been without a rector since then.  The Diocese, under a previous administration, was not keen on the election of a new traditional 1928 Prayer Book priest, and worked to prolong the search process.  But the combination of the institution of a new Bishop and staff, and the determined work of the vestry and search committee, accelerated the process so that I was able to interview the week after Thanksgiving in 2000.
Generally, a candidate for rector only meets the search committee members, but a part of my interview included a dinner with the committee, vestry, and spouses and families!
After accepting the call in January 2001, during a phone call with Fr. Bedford (who was holding down the fort), I discovered that during the interview process I had never asked what Sunday attendance was, or to see the budget.  God had put blinders on me to prevent me from asking those two questions.  Little did I know that at that dinner in November I had met just about everyone in the parish, and that the average Sunday attendance was less than 50!  I think I might have hesitated if I had known that during the interview process.  God did a good job of focusing me on coming here!
Tempus fugit – time flies!  St. John’s has so many wonderful people, and her future is certainly bright, all by His Grace!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Calling the priest - Rector's Rambling for February 16, 2014

Where were you a few minutes ago?” the stranger asked me in the lobby of Beaumont Hospital in Troy this past Sunday evening.  I was there because a parishioner had taken a turn for the worse, and had been intubated and moved back to Intensive Care.
The question caught me off guard.  I think they could see I was confused, and they continued, “he just died.”
Now my mind was racing.  Were these family members of our parishioner whom I hadn’t met yet?  I thought I had travelled quickly from Grosse Pointe to Troy.
Finally one of the group blurted out, “did anyone call a priest?”
Now I realized they were not the family of our parishioner.  After a minute or two of talking I discovered that 1) they hadn’t called a priest, 2) they weren’t sure which parish their dad/grandfather attended, and 3) none of them attended Church anymore.  But they knew instinctively a priest should have been there for Last Rites.
Unfortunately, it is not one of the charisms of the priesthood to read minds, although occasionally the Holy Spirit (or perhaps my guardian angel) pushes me into situations where He needs me to be without my knowing it.  And I hope that perhaps my assurance of prayer for their recently deceased loved one, Peter, and promise to remember him at the altar, will prompt at least one of them to practice the faith.
As the culture continues to change, and fewer and fewer people attend church, it is interesting to note how the sight of a priest at the hospital immediately brings up the realization that someone should have called a priest.
God willing, we will call on Him who is our health and life, Jesus Christ, before we are in that dire situation, so the calling of a priest will be a first instinct, not an afterthought.

Monday, February 10, 2014

5 out of 6 Sundays now - Rector's Rambling for February 9, 2014

Winter seems to be administering quite a beating upon us.  As I write this on Monday morning we have had four of the first five Sundays of the calendar year affected by snow and ice.  And if the forecasters are correct we have had to deal with snow again this weekend in addition to snow during the week.  At this rate the plowed snow pile near the shed won’t melt until May!
I thank you for your hearty spirit in making the trek down to St. John’s from your home in these less than ideal road conditions.  For many of you that trip to St. John’s in good weather takes between 20 and 40 minutes, and considerably longer in the weather we have had to put up with this winter.  Your being present and active in the regular worship of the Church is greatly appreciated by me and your fellow parishioners.  When I was a young curate in Philadelphia in the 1990s, I was approached to apply to become rector of a parish in Western Minnesota, where they boasted that “most of the Sunday attendees in winter arrive by snowmobile.”  That was not an enticement to me then, but it seems this winter that snowmobile parking might be an option here in Detroit!
We are now less than two weeks away from our second annual parish fundraiser dinner and silent auction on February 22.  Last year it was not only a great evening of fellowship, but we raised money to help us to cover this time of “low cash flow” for the parish.  The Tigers’ pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in Florida this week, but we will not begin to realize income from stadium parking until mid-May.  As I have said at announcements from the pulpit, we need parishioners to do 3 things: 1) Come to the dinner, 2) Invite friends to come with you, even if you have to pay for their tickets, so they can meet the parish and bid on silent auction items, and 3) donate items for the silent auction.
We need to know this week how many people are coming with you to dinner.  Please be sure to get your reservations in to the office ASAP.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Annual Parish Meeting Good News, Presentation, and St. Blase - Rector's Rambling 2/2/2014

Today we resume our Annual Parish Meeting, having called it to order last Sunday and immediately recessed it to today after the 10:00 AM service.  This has given us a chance to get to you last Sunday the published reports and financial statements so that you could review them before today’s meeting.  Unfortunately, with all that careful pre-meeting preparation, it snowed last week and many of you were unable to attend worship and pick up the booklet.
The financial reports will be gone over more closely at the meeting, but there are several glaring highlights.  Pledge income for 2013 was $40,000 higher than in 2012, and total income over $28,600 higher as well.  Expenses were reduced by $21,135 in 2013 from 2012.  For the first time in over 40 years, no money was used from endowment funds for the operating of the parish.  The financial situation for the coming year looks positive as well, God willing.  Pledges for 2014 are almost $37,000 higher than last year’s pledges and once again we are expecting to not use the endowment funds.  The value of the three funds is $1,163,755 which is up from $1,049,210 last year.
Be sure to join us downstairs for the Annual Parish Meeting after the 10:00 AM service.
Today we also celebrate a major and a minor feast.  The Holy Communion service commemorates The Feast of the Purification, a prayer book holy day that always occurs on February 2, and takes precedence over the celebration of the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany.  It is a quick deviation into the white vestments before returning to the green for one more week of Epiphany, and before breaking out the purple for Pre-lent ( gesima Sundays) and Lent itself.  (Ash Wednesday is March 5).
Immediately following today’s services we will anticipate tomorrow’s Feast of St. Blase.  All are welcome to come back to the chapel for a blessing to be “freed and protected from all ailments of the throat and all other infirmity” through the mighty intercession of St. Blase.