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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Worth the effort!!! - Rector's Rambling for October 25, 2015

Another month of Sundays is nearly complete.  October is always a busy time around here.  We had our  Homecoming Sunday, Sunday morning and Thursday evening activities are in full swing, and our first Cinema in the Spirit Movie Night was well attended and appreciated.
But as always, we cannot just rest on our laurels.  Next month also promises to be one of great opportunity!  In addition to the Sunday morning and Thursday evening programming, we add to our schedule All Saints’ Day (November 1), The Feast of All Souls with its Requiem Masses both here and at Elmwood Cemetery (November 2), The U.S. Naval Academy Women’s Glee Club concert on Veterans Day (November 11), and the activities surrounding the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Add to this mix the St. Catherine’s Guild Bazaar and you have a month full of great activity!
We are also promised that by Thanksgiving the construction on the road immediately in front of the church will be complete (but not the bridge over I-75 until perhaps March), which will be a welcome change.
I know that it has been a challenge to get TO St. John’s on some Sundays, and for that I apologize for any inconvenience.  The rail construction project timing has been beyond our control, and we have done our best to try to insure access to St. John’s despite the work.
I can assure you that GOD IS WELL PLEASED at your effort in attending St. John’s.  In fact, Sunday attendance is the minimum expectation for members of the Body of Christ, and I am grateful for so many that have labored with extra effort.
I hope that those who have fallen out of the habit, have been scared away by construction, or by rumors of problems of any type, will be moved to return to the regular practice of Sunday attendance.  It is important for you to be here for your soul’s health, your presence encourages others, and a fuller church is both a welcome and an enticement for newcomers to join!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Healing ministry - Rector's Rambling for October 18, 2015

“Does God heal today?” is one of the lectures for The Alpha Course, which we have offered here at St. John’s.  It occurs the ninth week of a normal course, after dealing with questions about Jesus, the Bible, Prayer, Faith, and The Holy Spirit.
For many people healing is a primary question when it comes to the issue of faith and their relationship with God.  The gospels record for us many healings: palsy, leprosy, inability to walk, blind, deaf, and dumb.  Even possession is healed by the power of Jesus Christ.  These healings occur as a sign of God’s mercy, forgiveness of sins, reincorporation into the worshiping community (communicable diseases like leprosy got one banished from the synagogue), or are recorded for us to teach us something about the nature of God.
But Jesus doesn’t hold this power to himself.  He commissions 72 to go out and heal the sick, and announce the coming of the Kingdom of God (Luke 10:9).  And throughout the Acts of the Apostles, we read about the early church continuing in the healing ministry.
Here at St. John’s we have parishioners involved in the healing ministry, praying with parishioners for God’s intervention for healing.  The Order of St. Luke will be available today after Communion at the baptismal font to pray with you.
Yes, God does heal today.  As Alpha’s Nicky Gumbel states, “Not everyone we pray for will necessarily be healed.  Of course no human being can ultimately avoid death.  Our bodies are decaying.  This should not discourage us from praying for people to be healed.  The more we pray for, the more we shall see healed” and “ another man said to me recently that, although he had not been healed when he was prayed for, he had had his greatest experience ever of the Spirit of God, and his life has been transformed.”  Alpha Questions of Life, 3rd edition, pgs. 198 & 199
Let us pray and minister without ceasing, with faith that God is merciful and cares for us!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Something I dislike talking about - Rector's Rambling for October 11, 2015

It is that time of the year again when we ask you to consider your support of St. John’s Church, both of your time and talent, as well as your tithe.
One complaint that I hear, in general, is that the church is always asking for money.  I hope that this hasn’t been said about St. John’s.  In fact, I would posit to you that one of my besetting faults is that I DON’T like to talk about or ask for money!  In fact, I loathe it.  It makes me very uncomfortable and I would rather write, speak, or preach about just about any other subject other than money.
Now some of you might read this and think, “doesn’t sound like a fault”, but it is.  Because it is in fact a part of our spiritual life and discipline.  Money, possessions, and the support of the church are all intertwined and are in fact an important part of who we are as Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christians.
Money and possessions (zeal to obtain them and keep them, as well as worry about not having enough) can be a great distraction in the spiritual life, and can even become an idol.  We worship what is most important in our life, or what occupies a disproportionate amount of our thoughts and activities.
The solution, as the church has taught throughout time, is to be generous.  If we realize that all that we have is a gift from God, then giving back a portion of it makes perfect sense.  For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. (1 Chronicles 29:14) sums up the theology of this mentality, as well as Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
The reason that we ask you to pledge, and to do so generously, is not that St. John’s needs your money to further her mission (although we do).  It is because YOU need to give for the support of the Church, learning to acknowledge that all we have is a gift from God, and that we need to be generous in supporting the building up of His Kingdom.

Monday, October 05, 2015

St. Michael, Homecoming, and the Ombudsman - Rector's Rambling for October 4, 2015

One of my favorite Church Feast Days is Saint Michael and all Angels, which we celebrate today.  The readings, the hymns, and the theology of it is not only wonderful (and perhaps wondrous), but important for understanding God’s created order.  More about that in today’s sermon!
Another reason for my love of this feast day is that St. Michael is the patron for our summer Youth Conference.  The St. Michael’s Conference for Youth, lovingly referred to as “Anglican Boot Camp”, introduces our 12 to 20 year olds to the fullness of Anglican, Prayer Book, Catholic theology and worship.  St. Michael is a strong patron – a warrior for God.  Our opening hymn today is sung 4 times during the course of the conference, and it is amazing, after so many years, how it is absorbed into your very being.  Good hymns sung regularly will do that for you.
And of course, today is even better because it is our Homecoming Sunday!  Welcome to our many friends and visitors here today for the occasion.  We know that many folks consider St. John’s home, but live very far away or are involved in another local parish.  We are grateful for your participation in worship with us when you can, and hope that you will do so more often if possible.  And to our newcomers and visitors we extend a hearty WELCOME, and hope that you will come back again.  Traditional Anglican worship is beautiful, but can be a bit confusing at first.  Most of us have been there!  But in a few weeks of regular worship here it will become second nature.
Finally, we have the special occasion of honoring Durene Brown as she has completed her 10 year term as Ombudsman of the City of Detroit, and pray for her successor, Bruce Simpson, Jr., as he begins his term as advocate for the people of Detroit.  Durene is a member of our parish, and a member of the Vestry too, and we are grateful to Almighty God for the good work she has done in the past 10 years.