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, March 25, 2021

Hip Hip Hooray! - Rector's Rambling for March 28, 2021

     Hip hip Hooray!  We are open back to our Phase 2 level, according to the standards set by the four dioceses here in Michigan.  This means we can be at 25% occupancy of our church (200 people max.) and our chapel (30 people max.), which is plenty of room for our current service-attending parishioners, and room for guests to join us too.

This phase puts us back to the standards we followed from July until November 22, when we managed to navigate having worship safely.  These last 18 weeks have seen us doing nine to ten services a weekend, at “nine-plus-the-priest”, in order to have room for those who desired to join us for worship.  So instead of 36 weekend Communion services in those 18 weeks, and 36 Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer, we managed 140 Communion services and 38 Offices, for a total of 178 weekend worship services.  Thank you all for your patience and perseverance.  This weekend and next we will whittle it down to three weekend Masses (one Saturday, two Sunday) and then after Easter will return to two Masses on Sunday.  The return of Tiger Baseball and the interference of parking and traffic/road closures makes it prudent to suspend the Saturday service after April 4.

Speaking of worship opportunities, we have plenty of them this week, being Holy Week.  Maundy Thursday we have only one Communion service, at 7:00 PM, the Commemoration of the Last Supper.  Good Friday we will gather for the Liturgy of the Day, followed by a series of mediations on the Last Words of Christ, from noon to 3:00 PM.  Saturday evening at 6:00 PM we will have the grand Easter Vigil service, and then we will, of course, be celebrating the Resurrection on Easter Day next Sunday.  Be sure to come, and invite others as well!


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Evangelism - Rector's Rambling for March 14, 2021

     I know that the idea of being an evangelist makes most Episcopalians nervous.  The image of Billy Graham preaching to a stadium of people, or the person on the street corner wearing a sandwich board and asking passers-by “are you saved?”, feels downright un-Anglican.

But we are all called as members of the Body of Christ to share the Good News – to be evangelists.  And there are many ways that you can do that without being the public spectacle of the two examples above.  Evangelism is about relationship: both your relationship with Jesus and your relationship with others.  I hope that you are “not ashamed of the gospel” (Romans 1:16) and that as your love for Jesus grows you will want to share Him with others.

There are many ways to open up an opportunity to share with others about faith in Jesus.  When you hear someone is in need, pain, about to have surgery, etc, offer to pray for them.  “I will be praying for you” and then follow up with them in a day or two to see how it is going.  Or if you are comfortable, pray a quick prayer for them right on the spot.

This sort of thing opens up an avenue for them to see that you believe in Jesus and in the power of prayer, and may open their hearts to hear the Good News.

Another way to introduce friends to Jesus is through social media.  Once or twice a week share a St. John’s Morning Meditation or Lenten Lesson and say, “I found that ______ on this video was helpful or challenging for me”.  Putting the video on your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter feed may be the way the person hears the Good News.

Remember that our motto is, to Know Christ and to Make Him Known.  It is two sides of the same coin!  Let us learn more and share more!


Saturday, March 06, 2021

Talking to God - Rector's Rambling for March 7, 2021

 I have had people say to me, almost as if embarrassed, ‘well Father, most of the time I just talk to God rather than pray.”  We are three weeks into Lent and we are certainly thinking about, and doing more, prayer.   Lent encourages it!  But we do need to remember that there are various types of prayer, and that this variety is a positive thing.

In our Anglican Tradition we speak of three major categories of prayer.  The Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer is a wonderfully stable and ordered way to pray through the Psalms and the Bible.   It helps us to keep regular about prayer with well written prayers collected over the centuries that helps to keep us doing so with right doctrine. The Holy Communion Service helps us to glorify God and to receive the grace assured to us by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  And the third is that time of private, individual prayer. 

Although there are other corporate worship services that we conduct here (Benediction, Stations of the Cross), it is that “most of the time I just talk to God” that cements everything together. 

Time of private prayer can be a set aside time to speak with the Lord and listen quietly, meditate by thinking about a portion of Scripture or holy reading and asking God for depth on the subject, offering thanksgiving in gratitude for His Blessings, and offering intercessions to Him for ourselves and for others.

But throughout the day we should also take a moment or two, frequently, to offer up little prayers and ‘just talk’ to Our Lord.  Make Him a regular part of all of our day rather than just once or twice a day.


Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Prayers for healing - Rector's Rambling for February 28, 2021

     A great thing about being an Episcopalian is that we have the Book of Common Prayer to help us and guide us in the life of prayer.

There are prayers for healing and surgical recovery on page 597 in our 1928 Prayer Book, in a section titled “Family Prayer”.  Most of us know the Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Holy Communion, and Psalter portions of the prayer book, but there are other wonderful sections for the milestones in the life of a Christian.  Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Thanksgiving for Childbirth, Visitation of the Sick, and Burial of the Dead, as well as the various ordination liturgies are all laid out for use and study.

The Family Prayer section includes shorter liturgies for Morning and Evening Prayer to be used in a family that isn’t quite up to the lengthier Daily Office discipline.  It also contains “Additional Prayers” such as the two listed above.  I encourage you to read through these prayers beginning on page 594, as well as the various Collects given in the section of “Prayers and Thanksgivings” beginning on page 35.

The two prayers above were helpful this week as I prepared for some laparoscopic surgery last Wednesday to repair a part of my abdomen wall that did not heal properly after my emergency surgery in Finland in September 2019.  Thank you for your prayers before, during, and after the procedure.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, our Lenten Classes are all recorded on video.  I hope that you are taking advantage of the Morning Meditations, Lenten Lunchtime Lessons, and our class on the Lord’s Prayer.  And although I have to take it a bit slower this week (I might take it easy while trying to genuflect), all liturgies are back on the schedule.