Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday (St Ninian)

  • Weekly/daily task planning at home.
  • Consulted a but with the Archdeacon regarding the material detritus of the now-closed St Laurence, Effingham.
  • Morning Prayer in the cathedral.
  • Began work on refining this Sunday's homily (Trinity, Mt Vernon).
  • Participated in a scheduled conference call in connection with my duties as co-trustee of the Putnam Trust, which benefits two of our parishes; the call was with representatives of the Bank of America, which is the other co-trustee, through its investment arm, U.S. Trust. Have the OK on some recommended asset re-allocation.
  • Completed the word I had begun earlier on this Sunday's homily; put the manuscript in my car (yes, I'm that paranoid).
  • Walked (at the behest of the pedometer in my pocket) to Illinois National Bank's downtown location to arrange for a wire transfer from my discretionary fund to Fr Ernest Nadeem, a priest/evangelist/teacher in Pakistan who visited the diocese last winter, and who has a pressing need.
  • Lunch at home; leftovers.
  • Developed the raw ideas for my synod homily that I jotted down (electronically, of course) last week, ending up with a workable sketch that will allow my to create an actual draft next week. Baby steps.
  • Participated in a scheduled telephone appointment with a senior administrator at Nashotah House.
  • Scanned and otherwise processed the bulging pile of paper in my physical inbox (it's been a while). Feels good to look at it and see it empty.
  • Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Lord's Day (XIV Pentecost)

Christ is risen ... and there are still times of sadness en route to the realized fruition of that fact. Today was one of those times, as we celebrated the final Eucharist at the Church of St Laurence in Effingham. There were tears. After Mass, we loaded up the most valuable hardware, along with the parish records for the archives, into the YFNBmobile. There will be another trip in due course to deconsecrate the building, which is listed for sale. Eventually, we will replant in Effingham, but with wholly new ecclesial DNA.

Brenda and I arrived home around noon. After an hour's rest, I headed to the office to allow my vehicle to disgorge its contents from the morning, then continued east to Decatur for the Northwest Deanery pre-synod meeting. I delivered myself of what I hope was an effective apologia for the proposed addition to the diocesan staff (Canon for Mission Development), and was back on the road toward home at 3:45.

Sermon for Proper 19

St Laurence's, Effingham--Romans 14:1-12

I of course cannot talk about anything except the elephant in the room, right? The decision that all of you have reached together, and which was my sad duty to agree to, is that this is the final service for St Laurence, and that the church will be closed permanently when we leave here this morning. A situation like this brings up all sorts of complex emotions. Just a few weeks ago I spoke with a woman who was a member here at one time, and later became my parishioner in Warsaw, Indiana; her name is Nanette Newland. She was quite sad, though not shocked, when I told her that this day was coming.  

Among these feelings, I hope gratitude is in the mix, because there is indeed much to be grateful for. Blessings have been given and blessings have been received in the life of this community. We have loved and been loved here. We have known God here.

There is also, no doubt, some measure of relief. It takes work just to keep the minimal infrastructure of an organized mission up and running, and … well … you’ve worn yourselves out trying to do that, because there just haven’t been enough of you to go around. You deserve a break, and, as sad as I am about what’s happening today, I’m glad you’re getting one.

But the most dominant feeling in this church today, I suspect, is regret. This is not something any of us wanted to have happen. What did we—any of us, at any time—do wrong?

But our gospel hope discourages us from taking this opportunity to cast blame. Paul addressed a community (Romans 14) that was divided and prone to judgmentalism (over ceremonial food issues, no less). He waves them off: “Who are you to pass judgment on the servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall.”

Are there things for us to learn here? Yes, I believe there are, and, at a diocesan level, we will attempt to understand the history of our work in Effingham, so we don’t repeat any mistakes, here or elsewhere. But for those who have been “on the ground” here, today is just a time to given thanks for what has been, stand relieved, and move on.

As St Paul says, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”

For each of us personally, and for the Church collectively in every place, God is, in the power that raised Jesus from the dead, reweaving the torn fabric of creation—restoring, redeeming, renewing. “For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.”

Christ is the Lord of the Church and Christ is the Lord of Effingham. We will all one day give an account of our faithfulness in the work God has placed before us. Not for the results of that work, but for our faithfulness. In the meantime, God continues to work his purposes out, given whatever raw material he can find. So we place ourselves—including this church and all that has happened here—in his merciful hands, knowing that he is already doing more for us than we can ask or imagine. “Whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lords.”


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday (St Cyprian)

Good weight workout and long walk after a "soft" morning. Spent most of the afternoon working on household finances. Ugh. Hit the road with Brenda at 6:00 for Effingham, where we enjoyed dinner at her favorite casual dining chain that doesn't have a Springfield location--Ruby Tuesday. Soaking in the ambience at the Hampton Inn, where we just learned via text message that our five-year old granddaughter broke her arm (both radius and ulna) in a playground accident. Please hold Charlotte in your prayers.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday (John Henry Hobart)

  • Morning Prayer in my office (since the pavement between the Roundhouse and the cathedral entrance was coned off for sealing ... though that project was left uncompleted because of the incipient rain).
  • Took a phone call from a lay leader in one of our parishes, with the news she has been diagnosed with ALS. Sobering beyond words. She and those who love her are about to walk the way of the cross. I pray they indeed find it to be the way of life and peace.
  • Took care of some Nashotah-related administrative detritus (which will be ramping up as we head toward an October board meeting). Began to review some documents produced by one of the board committees.
  • Spoke by phone with a colleague bishop regarding some Living Church Foundation business.
  • Took a call from one of our clergy wanting to unpack further on the meeting we had yesterday.
  • Spent a (scheduled) hour on the phone with a consultant to the Nashotah House board and administration. His particular area of expertise is what will keep our accrediting agency happy about what we're doing, and his help is invaluable.
  • Lunch at home. Leftovers.
  • With the help of some information compiled by Fr Evans, I prepared a brief "talking point" narrative about the need for and the budget implications of hiring a Canon for Mission Development as a new diocesan staff position. Sent this out to the Rural Deans.
  • Reviewed and commented on a second draft of the synod liturgy booklet.
  • Finished reviewing and offered email feedback on the Nashotah trustee committee documents I began looking at in the morning.
  • Conceived a homily for the institution of Mother Beth Maynard as rector of Emmanuel, Champaign on 18 October. Now it needs to gestate and grow.
  • Brief two square block walk outside.
  • Drafted and sent a memo to all the committee chairs of the Nashotah trustees. Traded several emails with the Secretary of the trustees and the Dean's personal secretary over board meeting logistics.
  • Took care of some dangling items of administrivia.
  • Friday prayer: Spent about 30 minutes sitting back and listening via YouTube to anthems and hymns from the choir of King's College, Cambridge.
  • Evening Prayer in the cathedral.
  • The 88 tasks I mentioned on Tuesday morning are now down to 33. Most of them will get carried over to next week, It could have been worse.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


  • Customary Thursday morning weights and treadmill.
  • Morning Prayer at home, after which I dealt expeditiously with a couple of newly-arrived emails.
  • Prepared the common area of the Roundhouse for an 11am gathering.
  • Began initial work on my homily at the synod Mass next month, but then got distracted trying to chase down some anomalies in the electronic versions of the liturgy booklet that are circulating.
  • Between 11:00am and 1:30ish I hosted and participated in a meeting of diocesan clergy who lead pastoral or program-size parishes, all in a continuing effort to vet and carefully weigh both the missional and the financial implications of the nascent plan to add a Canon for Mission Development position to the diocesan staff. The conversation got a little visceral at points, as anything involving money is bound to get. But even difficult conversation is necessary conversation ... probably all the more so precisely because it is difficult.
  • Met briefly with Fr Wetmore, the host rector, and Fr Hankinson, the MC, about some details of the synod liturgy.
  • Took a substantive phone call from a priest outside the diocese who had an important matter to bring to my attention.
  • Attended to some more late-arriving email.
  • Debriefed a short bit with the Archdeacon regarding the clergy meeting.
  • Participated in a conference call for members of a special working group of the Living Church Foundation board.
  • Returned a phone call from Fr Evans, our Finance Department chair, over still more issues flowing from the clergy meeting.
  • Took a short walk around a roughly one block radius of the office.
  • Got back to my synod homily, and arrived at a basic sense of direction, which was my goal at this point.
  • Turned my attention to my state-of-the-diocese address at synod, and moved a broad sketch to becoming a rough outline.
  • Put some meat on the bones of a rough outline of a sermon for Proper 20 (September 21 at Trinity, Mt Vernon).
  • Blew through three or four action items on my list that turned out to be simpler than I had anticipated.
  • Evening Prayer in the cathedral.
  • This was an intense day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday (Alexander Crummell)

  • Usual AM routine; Morning Prayer in the cathedral.
  • Prepared to be celebrant and preacher at the midday cathedral chapel liturgy.
  • Regular monthly meeting with clergy associated with the cathedral. Usually not anything too substantive, but good to develop collegiality.
  • Closed the loop that I opened yesterday with a bishop in whose diocese I have a DEPO parish. All is well, given the anomalous circumstances.
  • First meeting with a potential aspirant for Holy Orders.
  • Celebrated and preached the noon Mass (celebrating the lesser feast of Alexander Crummell).
  • Lunch at home (leftovers).
  • Half-hour phone conversation with one of our rectors.
  • Took care of three or four recently-arrived emails, in violation of my rule that anything requiring more than two minutes of my time gets turned into a task and placed in the queue. I just wanted these things off my screen, so I broke my own rule. I guess I get to do that.
  • Finished cranking out a homily for this Sunday. It's a special occasion, though not a happy one--the final service at St Laurence's, Effingham. The time has come to close that mission, which we will do following this Sunday's Eucharist.
  • Addressed some issues related to the Cursillo movement in this diocese.
  • Took care of about a half dozen small items of administrivia (lay ministry licenses, updating contacts, reviewing draft minutes, and the like).
  • Evening Prayer in the cathedral.