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, March 28, 2022

Lætáre - Rector's Rambling for March 27, 2022

        Happy Lætáre Sunday!  This Sunday is also known as Rose Sunday (take a look at the vestments and hangings today to figure out this title), and in our mother Church of England it is known as Mothering Sunday (like our Mother’s day in May).

Still a Sunday in Lent, this Sunday is a mid-point when we “lighten up” a bit.  The deep penitential purple vestments are replaced with the lighter rose.  The Latin title gives us a hint as to this lightening up of the day.  Lætáre is the opening word of the liturgy in Latin, on which our liturgy is based.  The first word of the Introit, sung by the choir at the 10:00 AM service, is “REJOICE”.

Although a penitential season, on this Sunday we rejoice that we have passed the half-way point of Lent.  We rejoice because Passiontide (the last two weeks before Easter) and Holy Week are in sight.  We rejoice because Easter is just around the corner.  We rejoice because to date we have kept a good Lent OR because we still have a chance to have a good Lent starting today.  But above all we rejoice because we have a Saviour, Jesus Christ, who paid the price of our sins.  We rejoice that in Jesus Christ we have forgiveness of those sins and are reconciled unto the Father through His blood.


Thank you all for your prayers this past week. Assuming all went as planned this time (unlike 3 weeks ago) the surgery was done on Thursday and I am grateful to be standing at the altar today to celebrate Holy Communion.


Monday, March 21, 2022

"We beseech thee to hear us..." - Rector's Rambling for March 20, 2022

     Today we begin our Sunday Morning Worship with the recitation of The Litany, found on page 54 in the Book of Common Prayer.  On the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Sundays of Lent we pray this wonderful form of intercession to remind us of our deep need for repentance and amendment of life, as well as to be reminded of our Lord’s merciful love in taking human flesh and dying for our sins.

The Great Litany was the first English Language liturgy published by Archbishop Cramner during the Reformation.  Much of the worship in the Church of England, our mother church, remained in Latin throughout King Henry VIII reign.  The first Book of Common Prayer was published in 1549, two years after King Henry VIII’s death.

The original expectation in Anglican Churches is that the Litany would be prayed EVERY SUNDAY.  The formula for gathering for worship in church was to pray Morning Prayer AND the Litany AND the Holy Communion Service (or at least the first half of it) as one gathering.  Done fully and completely that would mean the reading of 4 lessons, recitation of one to four psalms, and lots of collects and praying.  Receiving Communion might happen weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on the availability of the priest and the preferred churchmanship (high church or low church) of the congregation.

By the  publication of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer the instructions on page 54 says it is to be used after the Third Collect at Morning or Evening Prayer, or before ethe Holy Communion, or separately, in recognition of the fac that this how the Litany was being used in parishes in the United States by that time.  Only a few parishes use it with any regularity any more.


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Worship God, or worship self? - Rector's Rambling for March 13, 2022

     O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker” Psalm 95:6

One of the things we are called to do, above all things, is to worship the Lord.  We are created to worship, and if we do not worship the Living God then we will worship something else, willingly or not. 

For many people, that worship is of the self, one’s own desires and urges.  In the Garden the great temptation by the evil one was that if they ate the fruit they would ‘be like God’.  Being like God on His terms is admirable, and cannot be achieved in disobedience to God’s commandments.  And one way our fallen nature acts out on this innate desire to worship is to misdirect that worship towards self. 

Other objects of worship include another human being, money, possessions, and power.  And sometimes the worship of excitement and thrill, or a desire to flee from pain, becomes a loss of freedom through addiction.

This Lenten season we are looking at sin because we need to realize the depth of our distortion from God’s created image in us, and our God-given desires twisted by that sin.  Once we have acknowledged that sin and whole-heartedly asked God for forgiveness, purposing to amend our lives and not sin again, then we can make a start toward the holiness that Our Lord desires for us.

One way we enter into the great mystery of God’s awesome power is to worship him in the beauty of holiness.  We must worship, and worship Him alone.  And when we give that focus and effort toward the worship of God, then we will find ourselves become loosed from the chains of sinful desires that bind us.  We begin to soar, spiritually, as we find ourselves elevated in heart and mind and we focus that time using the bodies his has given us to worship Him.

Beauty in building, vestment and sound (music), the use of other senses through things like incense, and the use of our body’s posture (stand, sit, kneel) all contributes to the glory of worship that is pointed toward God alone, as we “bow down, and kneel before the Lord our maker”