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 25, 2024

Palm Sunday and Holy Week - Rector's Rambling for March 24, 2024

Today is a day of contradictions.  We begin our worship with the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and then very quickly the tone and tenor of the worship turns to Jesus’ death and burial as we read the Passion Gospel lesson.

I wish that we could just spend the entire liturgy concentrating on the events of Palm Sunday, and those immediately following.  On the same day, he cleanses the Temple by casting out those who sold, and overturned the tables of the money changers – all of which must have been quite a sight.  He also has an encounter with the chief priests and scribes who are displeased that their children are proclaiming, “Hosanna to the son of David” to which Jesus responds, “Yea: have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise?” (Matthew 21:16).  And in between Palm Sunday and Jesus’ arrest there are five chapters of Matthew’s gospel full of some of the most important of Jesus’ teaching.

But the Church puts these two lessons together for a reason.  When the lectionary was developed centuries ago, it was assumed that attendance at a weekday service would not be as good as on Sunday, and that proves to be correct today.  Not as many people will join us for worship on Good Friday, although I would like to be proven wrong on that point this year.

During this week there will be ample, important opportunities to worship and enter deeply into the last days of our Lord’s earthly life.  On Wednesday we have a service of Psalms and Lessons, called Tenebræ, to set the mood for the upcoming Three Holy Days (Sacrum Triduum) of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.  Tenebræ on Wednesday, and the Maundy Thursday service are both at 7:00 PM.  Good Friday worship is from noon to 3:00 PM (come for all or whatever portion you are able).

On Saturday evening, at 6:00 PM, we begin our celebration of the Resurrection with the deeply symbolic service of the Easter Vigil, and then, on Easter Day, we have our 8:00 and 10:00 AM services, with Brass accompaniment at the 10:00 AM Solemn High Mass (prelude at 9:30 AM).

Now is the time to set these dates on your calendar, and to invite friends, family, and neighbors to join us for worship!