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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A reminder for me for Memorial Day - Rector's Rambling for May 29, 2016

This past Monday I had the honor and privilege of witnessing the swearing of the Oath of Allegiance by one of our parishioners, to become a citizen of the United States of America.  It was a moving ceremony as 78 people raised their right hand and proclaimed that they “will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law.”
This last line struck me particularly poignantly because of this Memorial Day weekend.  Although many don’t get beyond it being the start of the summer season of pool and picnic, it is a time of remembrance and thanksgiving for those who gave their lives in the service of our country.  Begun as a remembrance day for the Civil War dead, by 1890 is was observed by the northern states, and eventually by individual southern states over time.  It became a federal holiday in 1971.
On Monday, those 78 people pledged to defend the United States of America, alongside you and me if we are so called to do.  And to do so means risking one’s life, as so many have done in the nearly 240 years since we declared our independence from a foreign potentate.
The federal judge administering the oath was the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants, and she spoke of the great privileges and opportunities this country provides to both her native born and naturalized citizens.  With those privileges and opportunities come the responsibilities of good citizenship, including voting and becoming involved in one’s local community.
It was a moving morning, and I am most grateful to have been invited to be a witness.  It was wonderful to be reminded of what people have died to defend, and to renew my gratitude for having been born in this country that so many people around the world aspire to come to and in which to obtain citizenship.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Trinity and Tigers Sunday - Rector's Rambling for May 22, 2016

Welcome to our many friends who are joining us today for our Tiger Baseball Sunday!
This tradition began the year after the stadium opened, with the Rector throwing out a first pitch.  Since then the choir has done a wonderful job of presenting our National Anthem before the game, representing our parish church.
Second only to Christmas and Easter, our Tiger Baseball Sunday is our best attended single service of the year.  The three services on Christmas and Easter total many more people, but this one service, with hot dogs following and then over to the game, attracts both parishioners and friends for the festivities.
What amazing changes this grand old edifice has seen in the last 157 years!  Hard now to imagine that when St. John’s chapel opened in 1859, and the big church in 1861, this was considered “out in the country”.  This land was an apple orchard when purchased by Henry Porter Baldwin to plant a parish.
But the city grew up and around us, and St. John’s has seen many different neighbors come and go.  The revitalization of the Fox Theatre, followed by the opening of Comerica Park and Ford Field, began the first phase of neighborhood rebuilding.  By next year’s Tiger Baseball Outing we should be parking in a new five story parking garage behind the church, and by next fall of 2017, St. John’s will be mid-way between Tigers home plate and the Red Wings center ice.  Even more vitally, hundreds of new apartment units will be built in the parking lots to the south of St. John’s, and even more housing units built in Brush Park and beyond.
The neighborhood has changed for bad and for good, over the years, but what has not changed is the Faith in Jesus Christ as the Anglican Communion has received it, and for which this building was erected.  Fads and novelties come and go, but the Good News of God in Jesus Christ remains constant and unchanged, and by His Grace we continue to worship and glorify Him on this corner of Woodward Avenue.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Whitsunday - Rector's Rambling for May 15, 2016

“And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?  And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?  Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”
~ Acts 2:7–12

We joke that the person assigned to this morning’s reading should get an award for making their way through this daunting list of ethnicities, but it is an important list.
Today for Pentecost, or the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples, we hear of this wondrous act of the Galilean followers of Jesus preaching the Good News of the Resurrection in these various languages.  Pentecost, as a Jewish holiday, is the bringing in of the tithe offering of the winter wheat harvest 50 days after the celebration of the Passover.  Just as the city of Jerusalem would have been overflowing with pilgrims and visitors for Passover, so too it would be for this important religious event.
As the Holy Ghost lights upon the disciples, there could be no better opportunity to begin the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those living beyond Palestine than to preach it to those Jews who came from these various and far flung lands to Jerusalem with their offering.  All those folks, hearing the Good News could then take that message of the fulfilment of God’s promise to send a Saviour back to their own countries.  The scriptures say that 3000 souls were added to the faithful that day (Acts 2:41) and that more souls were added daily afterwards.
God the Holy Ghost is a vital part of making us holy as individuals, and He is also a driving force behind the growth of the Church.  He uses us to accomplish that task.  We are equipped with the gifts of the Holy Ghost in order to bring others to Christ.  He will give us Grace overflowing, by His love showered upon us.  Let us be receptive to this outpouring to grow the Church and His Kingdom.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Between times - Rector's Rambling for May 8, 2016

Eastertide has now come and gone and in a few weeks we will be back in the “green” of ordinary time, also known as Trinitytide.
Easter is certainly the primary feast of the Church calendar.  It is by Jesus’ death and resurrection that we have the price of our sins paid, and death conquered by Jesus himself.
Ascension Day, which was last Thursday, is the culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Jesus takes his human body, resurrected, with Him back into the Godhead to intercede for us.
Today we are between times.  Like the disciples we are preparing for the promise of the coming of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.  We have been praying since Friday a Novena for the gifts of the Holy Ghost, just as the disciples spent those nine days between Ascension and Pentecost in prayer.  You are most welcome to join this novena – there are forms for it at the back of the church, and it is being sent daily to the St. John’s e-mail list.
Sunday, May 15, is Whitsunday, also known as Pentecost.  On this day we celebrate the birthday of the Church by the coming of the Holy Ghost to empower the followers of Jesus to continue His work and propagate the Gospel.
The following week we have Trinity Sunday, when the Rector feebly tries to explain this vital dogma about God being one God in three persons.  Trinity Sunday this year is also our baseball outing Sunday.
The following Thursday, May 26, we have our festive celebration of Corpus Christi – the Body of Christ.  We rejoice and give thanks that Jesus feeds us with his own body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.  It will be followed by a torchlight reception in the Garden.
I would be remiss if I did not mention a non-church holiday today.  Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers in the congregation, and we give thanks for the love and ministry of our mothers, whether living here on earth or gone on to great life with the Lord.
Finally, we need your orders for Tigers tickets for our outing on May 22.  Be sure to invite friends for Church, Hot Dogs, and then to go over to the game to see the Choir sing the National Anthem, and watch the Tigers Game.

Monday, May 02, 2016

May Musings - Rector's Rambling for May 1, 2016

May is my favorite month, and not just because I have an ordination anniversary and a birthday in it.
Usually a lovely, temperate month (not too hot, not too cold), the flowers come into full bloom.  The grass has finally greened up and the trees finally get their leaves.  The earth puts on its spring and summer splendor this time of the year.
May has traditionally been a month dedicated to St. Mary, the mother of our Lord.  In my former parish in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, dedicated to her patronage, we had a crowning of her statue in the church and special prayers of thanksgiving for her life as the mother of our Lord.  We give thanks for her purity, her willingness to say yes to the archangel’s announcement that God had chosen her to be the mother of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and for her faithfulness throughout all of Jesus’ earthly life, death, and resurrection.
Because Easter was early this year (end of March) we also find May chock-full of important feast days!
This Thursday, May 5, is the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord into heaven.  We will celebrate this at our 10:30 AM Mass as well as at a special 5:30 PM Mass in the chapel.  The next day we begin our nine day special prayer intention, called a novena, in preparation for the Feast of Whitsunday/Pentecost.  We ask God to prepare us and fill us with the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Ghost on that day, May 15.
May 22 is not only our Tiger Baseball outing, but also the celebration of Trinity Sunday.
Then the following Thursday, May 26, we celebrate Corpus Christi, the gift of The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, with a special Solemn High Mass and Eucharistic procession.  A garden party follows.
All of these, and everything in between, make May a wonderful month to be alive, to be a Christian, and to be a member of St. John’s.  Take advantage of, and celebrate, all these great things!  There is no better place and time to do it.