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

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Come Holy Spirit! - Rector's Rambling for May 19, 2024

    I had the opportunity in seminary to get to know the then Archbishop of Canterbury’s special advisor on evangelism, Bishop Michael Marshall.  When consecrated, he was the youngest bishop in England, who then subsequently spent some time in the United States at the Anglican Institute before returning to England to serve under the Archbishop.  He was adjunct faculty at Nashotah House and came to lecture us periodically.

One of the lectures that has stuck with me was when he spoke about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and in particular how we often begin to exercise them without realizing it.  In fact, Bishop Marshall said, it is other people who begin to recognize how these gifts are being made manifest through our faithfulness and desire to serve.

He harkened this observation back to the day of Pentecost itself.  The disciples, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, would not have seen or recognized at first in themselves what was going on, but they would recognize it in others.  As the bishop described the scene in his proper English accent, “excuse me love, but you seem to have a bit of flame up on your head.”

We should certainly be praying and asking God to make manifest in us the gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (as we have been praying for in our Novena the last nine days).  And we should also pray that we may begin to manifest the fruits of the Spirit as well: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  (Some ancient translations of Galatians 5:22–23 break down “temperance” into self-control, modesty and chastity, which are all aspects of it).

The world wants to reject much of this, or try to redefine the terms into its distorted own image, but God’s plan for us is to live in these gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.  It often takes a loving word from a fellow member of the church for us to realize that these things are in fact beginning to be made manifest in us even if we don’t see it.  And we should press on in faith and hope, relying on God’s grace, to continue to grow in all these attributes.

It is only by His most gracious favor that the world will be changed.  And it starts with our cooperation with Him!