Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday


  • Usual morning routine; MP in the cathedral.
  • Processed a load of emails.
  • Traveled out to Jacksonville with the Archdeacon to see his brother the jeweler. There are some beautiful items that were used by some of my predecessors and have been tucked away in various places. Now they are being rendered usable for special occasions, part of the living heritage of the diocese.
  • We then kidnapped the rector of Trinity Church and had a nice lunch at Mulligans, on the square in downtown Jacksonville.
  • Spent the rest of the afternoon completing the draft of a sermon for St Paul's, Alton on July 10. It came with a little more difficulty than I like, but that's the way it is sometimes.
  • Drove out to Champaign to meet with the vestry of St John's Chapel. They are beginning their first pastoral interim in 35 years, so there was a lot to talk about. 
  • En route I kept a phone appointment (remember my hands-free bluetooth; it's like talking to somebody in the passenger seat) with a dear long-time friend and former colleague who has taken one of the many variant paths that have become available to those who once journeyed together in the Episcopal Church. It is meet and right that we continue to minister to one another. For reasons beyond our understanding, we have been called to walk apart, which is an occasion of no small amount of grief. But there is no reason we ought not to be able to walk apart together. Indeed, few endeavors are more vital than finding a way to do just that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday (Ss Peter & Paul)


  • Out of the house just beforre 7am for 2.5 miles of hard walking.
  • Read the paper over tea. Processed emails, planned tasks
  • Morning Prayer in the cathedral.
  • Spent the rest of the morning hand-writing cards to clergy and spouses with June birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Met with a representative of Church Insurance who had business with the cathedral and wanted to meet me. (The diocese has its property & casualty coverage with a local broker.)
  • Navigated the byzantine maze of mouse clicks leading to airline and hotel reservations for the September House of Bishops meeting in ... wait for it ... Quito, Ecuador. Why are we meeting there? Anybody's guess. I just go where I'm told. 
  • Felt like I needed a vacation just after accomplishing that task. Fortunetely, it was by then time to head home, load up the back of my car with vestments, grab Brenda, and head south to Carlinville, where we duly ordained John Henry to the priesthood, and instituted him as rector of St Paul's Church. Wonderful garden reception following the liturgy. Got home around 10. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday (St Irenaeus)


  • Task planning, email processing, and Morning Prayer at home.
  • Usual Tuesday desk-clearing and catch-up chores in the office.
  • Consulted by phone with the Parish Warden of St James', McCleansboro regarding some of the details of the in-progress winding down leading up to the August 27 final service.
  •  Conceived, hatched, and put some flesh on the bones for this Sunday's homily. There was an unexpected vacancy in my visitation schedule, so I asked the cathedral to put me to work. Somewhat to my surprise, I discovered that I have apparently never preached on Year A, Proper 9, as, most years, I've been on vacation around this time. So I couldn't even use any old material to prime the pump; this one will be entirely new. 
  • Accompanied the Archdeacon to Illinois National Bank to have a document notarized. We took the opportunity to examine the contents of the diocese's safe deposit box, and admired some of the "bling" (rings, pectoral crosses, and the like) left by some of my predecessors.
  • Since I have a couch and a chair for my office arriving later this week, it seemed about time to get my framed documents, icons, photographs, and artwork up off the floor and on to the walls. This entailed playing with some man-toys: a power drill loaded with a masonry bit, and a power screw driver to take care of the masonry screws I bought yesterday in anticipation of this job. I would say it looks fairly decent; the place is taking shape nicely.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday (Pentecost II, Proper 8)

My visit was to Christ Church, Springfield. While I do enjoy getting out and about in the diocese, I cannot deny that it was a treat to have barely a ten minute drive to get to the venue of my duties. Celebrated and preached at two Eucharists, taught an adult class, confirmed nine, and enjoyed fellowship at coffee hour. Driving home, I realized that it all felt familiar, like a typical Sunday in parish ministry. In honor of the recollection, I indulged in an old Sunday afternoon habit: a long nap.

In an attempt to process some of what I experienced at EYE this past week, I churned out a fairly substantive blog post on the subject of mission. Feel free to comment here or there.

Sermon for Proper 8

Matthew 10:34-42
Christ Church, Springfield

Some of you have no doubt been around the Episcopal Church long enough to remember the turmoil that surrounded the process leading up to the publication of the Prayer Book that has now sat in our pew racks for more than three decades. Of all the new things that were introduced in that book, the one that I suspect has enjoyed that least actual use across the church is the “contemporary” version of the Lord’s Prayer. Even in congregations where the rest of the service is in contemporary English, the Our Father is still usually said using the traditional version. I won’t attempt to speculate on why this is, but I will observe that there are portions of the “new” Lord’s Prayer where the meaning is much clearer than in the familiar form. We are accustomed, for example, to say “lead us not into temptation,” and this has always troubled me because, biblically and theologically, it’s clear that God is never the source of temptation to sin, so it seems a little odd to be asking God not to do something that we know he’s not going to do anyway. The contemporary form of this line reads, “Save us from the time of trial,” and while it’s still unfamiliar to many people, it’s actually a more accurate rendition of the original Greek text.
In all likelihood, what this petition refers to is the end of history, the last judgment, the time when all will be revealed and brought to light, the time when wrongs will be put right and the secrets of every heart laid out in the open before the throne of God. The scriptures of the Judeo-Christian tradition, whether they speak literally or metaphorically, characterize this time as one of great stress and conflict and tribulation, with wars and natural disasters and plagues and that sort of thing. So, when Jesus gave us this prayer, he was encouraging us to ask God to see us through that difficult time, the time when we will be judged, the time when all our works will be put on “trial” and evaluated according to the standards of God’s righteousness and justice and love.
I don’t think it’s too long a leap, however, for us to understand “time of trial” in a secondary way as well, one that refers to adversities that believers in and disciples of Jesus might be prone to in this world, before the cataclysmic crises of the end of the age. It’s probable that this is what Matthew had in mind when he wrote this gospel. More specifically, he was probably thinking of the experience of suffering persecution for the sake of the gospel. To the original readers of Matthew’s gospel, that was a very real possibility, and would certainly have constituted a “time of trial” from which they hoped to be delivered. None of us suffer overt persecution for our faith, though, as our society continues the ongoing—rapidly ongoing, I would say—process of dechristianization, covert and subtle persecution is becoming quite ordinary. We have several candidates for Confirmation today, and as I lay hands on them and pray for them, I will conclude with a gentle tap on the cheek, which is, of course, a ritualized slap, and is a traditional reminder that says to someone embracing the vows of their baptism: “If you are a disciple of Jesus, you’d better expect to be persecuted. That’s what you’re signing up for.”
Yet, our understanding of the “time of trial” from which and in which we hope to be saved can even cover more than persecution. It can cover grief, disappointment, failure, shame, anxiety, fear, or even just everyday stress.  So the question arises, How are we going to hold up when the time of trial arrives? How should we deal with the prospect—the threat, actually—of being tested, of having what we’re really made of revealed in the crucible of adversity? In a passage from Matthew’s gospel that, if we pay close attention to it, we should find quite troubling—quite challenging and even distressing, really—Jesus gives us a strong hint as to how we might find ourselves prepared to be saved from the time of trial. He says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Well, right away, that gets our attention, because it flies in the face of our image of Jesus as Mr Nice Guy who doesn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and wants everybody to just get along. “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
But it gets worse. He continues, “I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household.” If there’s anything we hold almost universally sacred in America, it’s the family, and in this passage, Jesus seems to be putting a bullet right between the eyes of the family. “A man’s foes will be those of his own household.” Well, from the context of other passages of scripture, I think it’s safe to say that this is not in fact what Jesus is doing. He’s using literary hyperbole, intentional exaggeration, to make a point. And the point is this: Being a Christian, being a disciple of Christ, means that we prefer Christ above all other commitments and ties, even the blood ties of family. When the crunch time comes, when the time of trial arrives, our brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and parents and grandparents are those who are walking with us on the road of Christian faith and discipleship. If they happen also to be blood relatives, or spouses and in-laws, so much the better. But our primary connection is to Christ, and our primary loyalty is to Christ.
The alternative to preferring Christ is to follow our own basic human instincts. These are the instincts that, among other things, cause us to love the members of our family, and they are generally good things. The only problem is, they are also distorted by sin. It’s like a mixture of cancerous and healthy tissue—you can’t touch one without also touching the other. The fact is, we simply cannot trust our instincts, because we are all born in sin, and our instincts are corrupted. Our human instincts lead us to compartmentalize matters of faith and religious practice. They lead us to think of our life of discipleship as just one more in a long list of priorities that we need to somehow keep in balance—priorities like work, sports and leisure activities, civic and community service, political activity, exercise and health, and, of course, family.
Mind you, these can all be good things. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of them. They are just not the best thing; they are not the one thing needful. We need to think of them, not as other priorities alongside God and our commitment to the people of God, but, rather, as gifts that we have surrendered to God, and then received back from his hand, transformed and made holy and consecrated to him. If we are not willing to first surrender them, no strings attached, then these severe words of Jesus are for us: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Like I said, these are severe words, and they certainly seem counterintuitive to us, even going against nature. But they are, in fact, the very font of life and health and joy and peace—a fact that will become evident to us only when the time of trial arrives.
If we are not able to make this gift to God of all that we are and all that we have—our bodies, our affections, our family relationships, our hopes and aspirations—if we choose to follow instead our own sin-corrupted human instincts, we will find the time of trial—whether it’s a momentary affliction in this life or final judgment at the end of the age—we will find the time of trial quite “trying” indeed. If our faith and Christian discipleship are only compartments within our lives, and not the very center of our lives, when the stress of adversity comes, we are at risk of losing even what faith we have. And in the last time of trial at the end of time, we will find that we have rejected the gift of salvation that God has so freely offered us.
Jesus says, “Whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” Our modern ears tend to hear the phrase “little ones” and think automatically of children. But that isn’t what Jesus means here. The “little ones” are those who have put their faith in Christ and set out to follow him as disciples. Maybe it’s a very simple and not very educated faith. Maybe the discipleship is inept and inconsistent. We’re not talking about heroic Christians here, people who have their names in the liturgical calendar. We’re talking about ordinary folks, not “super disciples,” but “little ones.” Jesus is saying that not only will these little one not lose their reward, but even those who somehow help them along the way will also be rewarded. Honest discipleship, even if it’s imperfect, enables us to hang on to our saving faith when the time of trial arrives. Lord, save us from the time of trial. Amen.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday

  • Took advantage of a relatively rare meeting-free and travel-free Saturday to putter around the house and help Brenda with an important errand. It's salutary to putter once in a while.
  • Caught up with an impressive backlog of email processing. I'm uncomfortable when the number of "unresolved" messages in my Inbox creeps over fifty, and I'm happiest when it's below 25.
  • Sitting in a sheltered outdoor area during a thunderstorm is one of my favorite things in the world to do. But this is getting to be an embarrassment of riches.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday (Nativity of St John the Baptist)

  • Checked out of my hotel room in St Paul and rejoined EYE on the Bethel campus  in Arden Hills.
  • Attended the morning plenary session, then had a good long visit with a bishop friend and colleague. I may in due course have more to say about my EYE experience over at my "real" blog.
  • Hit the road to the airport at noon. All went smoothly, for which I am grateful, given my relative unfamiliarity with the Minneapolis/St Paul road system.
  • On my way home from the airport in St Louis, after fighting construction traffic on I-55, I headed up Hwy 41 to Carlinville. Met with Soon-to-be-Father John Henry to go over some logistical details of his ordination to the priesthood next week.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday (Corpus Christi)

Left home just past dawn to catch a 9:39 flight from St Louis to Minneapolis. Arrived just before noon on the campus of Bethel University, site of the triennial Episcopal Youth Event. It's only a cameo, as I'm returning home tomorrow afternoon. But it's a delight to be with Youth Department Chair Kathy Moore and two young people from the diocese ... along with 900 of their closest friends! Several colleague bishops are here, as well as old friends from Northern Indiana.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday (St Alban)


  • Usual morning routine; MP in the cathedral.
  • Conceived and hatched my sermon for July 10 (at St Paul's in Alton).
  • Processed my notes from last Saturday's Commission on Ministry planning meeting; created several related tasks.
  • Started an Ad Clerum--letter to the clergy.
  • Went to lunch with the Dean of the cathedral.
  • Finished my letter to the clergy.
  • Worked on scheduling and planning a working retreat for the Department of General Mission Strategy.
  • Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday


  • Morning Prayer at my desk (via iPad). Then on to a thick stack of email processing. The tempo of incoming emails has spiked lately. Not sure why.
  • Took a scheduled conference call, along with the Treasurer and the Archdeacon, with a representative of U.S. Trust, a division of Bank of America. The Bank of American and the Bishop of Springfield are co-trustees of the Putnam Trust, which provides major funding for two of our congregations. It was time for me to be "read in" with respect to investment goals and strategies.
  • Routine Tuesday chore: Processing the pile of desk paper that has accumulated over the last week.
  • Drive-through lunch at Taco Gringo.
  • Honed my sermon for this Sunday (at Christ Church, Springfield).
  • First meeting with a potential postulant for the priesthood.
  • Have I mentioned there's been a spike in emails?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Trinity Sunday

Despite fears of finding flooded roads after the storms of the last couple of days, we got into and out of Jacksonville without incident. (The locals are under a "boil order" for their tap water, however.) The Holy Trinity was duly worshiped at two liturgies at--appropriately enough--Trinity Church. Brenda and I were well-feted and well-fed.

Mid-afternoon, we headed up I-55 for Chicago, where we are now enjoying time with family.

Homily for Trinity Sunday

Trinity Church, Jacksonville

If it were up to me—if it were up to any of us, really—to make up a religion from scratch, to define its doctrines and practices and rules of behavior, I very much doubt that we would come up with anything much like Christianity. For starters, some of the Ten Commandments might need to be revisited, and the whole business about the Son of God getting crucified is just … well, distasteful. Actually, it’s because Christianity is so very odd, so very much something we would not come up with on our own, that gives it a certain credibility as actually having been revealed by God. And the centerpiece of our faith’s glorious unlikeliness has got to be the doctrine of the Holy and Undivided Trinity—God who is Unity of Being and Trinity of Persons, to whom we give laud and honor on this feast day. The Trinity is a most unlikely doctrine. It is unbearably complex and maddeningly easy to get wrong if we start trying to explain it. I’m particularly fond of the language from the ancient Creed of St Athanasius, which you can look up later if you want to; it’s in the back of the Prayer Book in the section labeled “Historical Documents.” The Athanasian Creed reminds us that “the Father is incomprehensible, the Son is incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit is incomprehensible; yet there be not three incomprehensibles, but one incomprehensible.”

Right.

The notion of the Trinity is implied in a handful of passages in the New Testament, but not in a way that might not otherwise be accounted for without resorting to the mental gymnastics of the Athanasian Creed and the mountain of books that have been written on the subject. The fully-developed doctrine of the Trinity of the sort that we now consider a linchpin of Christian theological orthodoxy was not refined and distilled and hammered out completely until some 300 years after the time of Christ, and even then only at the cost of a great deal of sweat and tears, not to mention a fair amount of blood.

So…what does this mean for the ordinary Christian? That is, the average Christian (let alone the average non-Christian) who has a limited interest in the subtleties of theology, who will never take a course on Trinitarian thought, or even read a book on the subject, who may, on a good day, read a tri-fold leaflet, or perhaps even listen attentively to a sermon on Trinity Sunday. Such people are regularly made into semi-hypocrites by the demands of the liturgy, in the demands placed on them by the Church’s response to their desire to be baptized or confirmed, or to have their child or godchild baptized, or even, the way we do things now, to just be present at a service that includes a baptism. These average, theologically unsophisticated people are apt to profess semi-blind belief in the Trinity, and then proceed directly to ignore the Trinity, not out of any duplicity or malice, but because they perceive the Trinity as simply irrelevant to their real workaday lives.

The task of a preacher on Trinity Sunday, then, is not so much to explain all the subtleties as it is to somehow make a case for the relevance of this core doctrine of the Church, to show that, without it, the gospel would no longer be the “good news” we claim it to be. So, let’s give it a whirl.

Many of you may recall a film that was released several years ago, The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey. A man named Truman was living what he thought to be a normal life in the town in which he had been born—holding a job, raising a family, doing the ordinary things that ordinary people do. What the viewer of the film soon realizes, however, is that it’s all fake. Truman is in fact the main character in the ultimate reality TV show, and he’s the only one who doesn’t know it. His whole life has been lived on a huge television sound stage, with a very high ceiling painted to look like the sky. Everything around him is a prop, and all the people in his life—his parents, his wife, his employer and co-workers, everyone—all the people in his life are paid professional improv actors. Their job is to preserve the illusion for Truman that his world is a real world, so that the people who are in the real world can tune in and watch him 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just like they’ve been able to do since the day he was born.

Now, I don’t want you to have me committed or anything, but I will tell you that in a handful of moments of bizarre philosophical speculation during my life, long before I ever saw The Truman Show, I have indeed wondered whether what I experience and take for granted as reality is, in fact, reality. Maybe you’ve fantasized along these lines too; I don’t know! The thought of it, however, is disorienting and disintegrating precisely because we realize deep down that we are not fully human except as we know ourselves in relation to others. Even a hermit defines himself as having no contact or limited contact with others; without others, he would have nobody to not relate to! Psychologists tell us that, when we’re born, it takes a while for us to realize that we’re actually a separate entity from our mother. Then we expand our world and know ourselves in relation to our father and other family members; then neighbors, friends, and the rest of the world.

For Truman, his crisis arrives when he begins to notice some glitches, some inconsistencies, in the massive illusion that the TV producers had maintained for him, and he grows suspicious. He starts thinking back over his life and remembers more glitches and inconsistencies. In the climactic scene of the movie, he’s on a sailboat on the stage set’s fake ocean, undeterred by the storm the producers concocted as a means of inducing him to return to shore. He reaches what, for him, is literally the end of the world, the edge of the earth—in other words, the wall of the sound stage. At this point, he has a conversation with a voice booming down from above—a God-figure if there ever was one!—yet, it’s only the TV show’s producer. He comes clean with Truman, but nonetheless attempts to talk him into returning to the only world he had ever known and resuming his normal life, rather than walking through the door to the outside world. (There’s obviously a lot at stake for the producer; if Truman walks through the door, the show’s long run is immediately over.) To his credit, Truman realizes that he literally faces dehumanization unless he makes the choice to walk through the door out of his artificial world where he had not one authentic relationship, because the only authentic human life is a life lived in relation to others.

In many cultures, there is an enduring myth of a human child raised from infancy by wild animals. Assuming this could happen, would such a person be truly human? He or she would have the DNA of the species homo sapiens, but, without ever having been in a human relationship, could we say that this individual is really and fully a human person? I think this is a good question, a very good question indeed.

And it leads directly to the relevance of the doctrine of the Trinity for our lives. You see, the life of Holy Trinity—God’s own life, God’s own experience of God’s own self—reflects the structure of human experience, your human experience and mine. It would be much more accurate to say, of course, that it is our human experience that reflects and bears the imprint of the structure of God’s life as trinity of persons in unity of being. Just as we would not be human without being in relationship with other humans, just as Truman realized he would not be a real person unless he walked through the door of the sound stage and into the real world, so God would not be God if He were not trinitarian. God is a single being, but He is also a community of persons in relation with one another: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, never to be confused with one another, and never to be separated from one another, and thereby forming the template for our humanity, wherein I am not you and you are not me, but I can never truly know myself apart from my relationship with you, and you can never truly know yourself apart from your relationship with me.

This all leads, of course, to a central affirmation of both Jewish and Christian faith, one that goes back to the beginning of the book of beginnings, the Book of Genesis. In that primeval narrative of human origins, we learn that we are made in the very image and likeness of God. Unlike bacteria and snails and rabbits and horses and even porpoises and chimpanzees, we bear a family resemblance to God. This is what sets us apart from all living creatures. Yet, as we have seen, we are obviously not truly ourselves apart from community with others. So, if God were not trinitarian, our “resemblance” to Him would be meaningless. However, God has revealed Himself as a holy and undivided Trinity. God experiences “community” within His own being. As human beings created in God’s image, we reflect that community in the structure of our life and experience, particularly our life together in the Church.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday (Bernard Mizeki)

Productive quasi-retreat with the Commission on Ministry. We needed to have this time to talk about the process of raising up vocations to both lay and ordained ministry without the pressure of interviewing people and making decisions. We also needed to begin to learn the steps of the dance in the Bishop-C.O.M relationship, which varies from diocese to diocese. It was time well-spent, that will pay dividends in the quality of our future work together.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday

  • Usual morning routine (which now includes reading the morning paper al fresco on the front porch); Morning Prayer in the cathedral.
  • Mutually debriefed on sundry topics with the Archdeacon.
  • Responded to an unexpected flurry of emails that were semi-urgent (or time-sensitive, at any rate) in nature.
  • Further developed the homily for June 26 that was conceived yesterday.
  • Reviewed proofs (with Shawn+ and Sue) and made decisions for the official portrait of the XI Bishop of Springfield. The plan is for about a half-dozen options to be available for purchase from a website that will soon be announced.
  • Lunch (late and longish) with two Anglican (and Episcopalian) Benedictine brothers--same community, though one lives in Chicago and one (the prior) lives in Australia. 
  • Processed some more emails. It's been a little fast and furious in that department this week.
  • Wrote a letter to the Dean and Chapter of the cathedral requesting their concurrence in my naming two priests as honorary canons.
  • To the cathedral for some time in lectio divina (on Psalm 91) and Evening Prayer.
  • Home for another before-dinner four miles on foot.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday (Joseph Butler)

  • Task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral.
  • Read and responded to the draft of a member survey prepared by the lay leaders of a congregation in transition.
  • Processed several emails.
  • Took a scheduled phone call from Bishop Bill Love of Albany. He is my assigned Peer Coach for the first three years of my episcopate. We spoke for about 45 minutes.
  • Reviewed and provided feeback on a service bulletin draft for my July 15 Sunday visit to St John's, Albion.
  • Met over lunch with Fr Gene Tucker, who looks after not only the parish of which he is the rector (Trinity, Mount Vernon), but, as priest-in-charge, three other congregations of the Eastern Deanery, and, as dean, three more as well. We talked about the gifts and challenges facing each of these communities.
  • Further developed and refined my homily for Trinity Sunday, to be delivered at Trinity Church in Jacksonville.
  • Gave consent to the retirement of three other bishops. Yes, bishops have to get permission from a majority of their colleagues in order to retire, even when they've reached the age when the canons mandate that they do so! (This entailed printing out forms, signing them, and giving them to Sue to mail to New York.)
  • Took a chunk of time to give detailed feedback on a set of proposed interview questions from the Search Committee of another congregation in transition.
  • Filled out a couple of surveys that the College for Bishops had hoped I would have responded to some weeks ago. Some things are only gotten to when they're gotten to.
  • Hand-wrote five notes to people who were in written communication with me following my election and consecration. There are more in the queue, and my plan is to dispatch them in batches of five until there are no more. See above re when some things are gotten to.
  • Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday (Evelyn Underhill)

  • Heavy email processing at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral a little on the late side.
  • Reviewed Springfield School for Ministry curriculum as part of prep for Saturday's Commission on Ministry planning day.
  • Responded to a request for a marital judgment from a priest of the diocese. Made a mental note to revise the guidelines and process.
  • Worked on guidelines and a training outline for licensed Eucharistic Visitors. With some further refinements, I expect this will be sent out to the clergy fairly soon.
  • First meeting with a potential postulant for Holy Orders.
  • Quick drive-through lunch at Taco Gringo. (Laugh if you must, but I like their enchiladas.)
  • Gathered info regarding air travel to Quito, Ecuador, where the September House of Bishops meeting is taking place.
  • Met Fr Greg Tournoux, rector of Christ Church, Springfield, regarding details of my visit there a week from this Sunday.
  • Registered (online) for the September House of Bishops meeting in Quito.
  • Hatched a sermon for Proper 6 (June 26, Christ Church, Springfield).
  • Took care of a handful of relatively trivial administrative loose ends
  • Reviewed and renewed the diocese's participation in the Education for Ministry program, a lay training course sponsored by the School of Theology at Sewanee.
  • Knocked off a little early (around 4:15) so I could get a walk in before dinner. Exercise needs to be a "big rock" in my time management (referring to the model of different size rocks representing things that need to get done by putting them into a bucket or bowl--put the big rocks in first, or else there won't be room for them). Evening Prayer (memorized short form) while walking.
  • I probably ought to say how blessed I feel to live in an area of town where walking through neighborhoods (and Washington Park) is such an experience of beauty.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday (St Basil)

  • Task organization and Morning Prayer at home.
  • Due to being away from the office for ten days, there was a lot of catching up to do with staff, and a large pile of documents on my desk to process. This took the whole morning.
  • Fr Tim Goodman, master woodworker, came by to install a small shelf on one wall of my office. It sits above my prei dieu and underneath a good size crucifix on what is shaping up to be my "devotional wall" ... or perhaps an ikonostasis of sorts. I also picked his brain about the Hale Deanery congregations, with which he is intimately familiar.
  • Late lunch at home.
  • Worked on my sermon for this Sunday at Trinity, Jacksonville.
  • Worked on planning for this Saturday's working mini-retreat witht he Commission on Ministry.
  • Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost

  • At Emmanuel, Champaign. Preached at the early liturgy; celebrated, preached, and confirmed at the principal service. Both were well-attended, and Brenda and I were made to feel completely welcome. This is a healthy parish, and is one of the anchors of the diocese.
  • Headed for home around 12:30, stopping in Decatur for lunch. Taking much-needed time to decompress after a challenging travel schedule over the last month. Looking forward to 11 consecutive nights at home!
  • Sabbath time now. Going dark in this venue until Tuesday night.

Sermon for Pentecost

(Emmanuel Church, Champaign)

This is the Day of Pentecost. It is one of the “Big Seven” in our liturgical calendar—those special occasions that are styled “Principal Feasts.” But even within that elite group of seven, there is a sort of unofficial hierarchy, in which Pentecost would occupy the top tier, along with Christmas and Easter. Historically, in the Church of England, you were considered in good standing if you received Holy Communion on at least those three occasions.

But we have to admit, in terms of popular piety, Pentecost is a shrinking violet in comparison with Christmas and Easter. It has nowhere near the emotional appeal and sentimental associations that those holidays have. Nobody tells stories about their recollections of family gatherings on Pentecost. It’s not a time for exchanging gifts,  I’d bet most of us here would be hard pressed to name our favorite Pentecost hymn, and,  this year so far, I have yet to receive one Pentecost card!

No doubt, the main reason why Pentecost, as a feast day, has failed to occupy a very large place in our hearts is that the Holy Spirit, the One whom Pentecost celebrates, is one of the least understood aspects of our Christian belief system. “The Lord,” the God of the Old Testament, is at least somebody we’re familiar with. He’s a “character,” with a lot of outrageously memorable words and deeds to His credit. And in the New Testament, Jesus, of course, is human, so we can identify with him. He eats and sleeps and walks and talks just like we do.

But the Holy Spirit is slippery, difficult to pin down. The Spirit therefore remains, for many, an abstraction, a concept . . . unless, that is, you are one of those who believe they have experienced the Holy Spirit in a dramatic and personal way. Most of the time, such a powerful experience of the Holy Spirit comes by means of witnessing, or being the subject of, a healing miracle. When broken bones and damaged spinal cords heal in ways they’re not supposed to, when cancer cells voluntarily disappear, when nearsightedness corrects itself to 20/20 overnight, it’s suddenly a lot easier to talk about the Holy Spirit.

Or, much of the time, when someone testifies to a close encounter with the Holy Spirit, it’s after receiving the gift of tongues—the ability to pray aloud in speech patterns that one has not learned and does not recognize, but which flood the soul with warmth and a conviction that one is in the very presence of God. People who have had these sorts of experiences sometimes—and I do stress sometimes, because it isn’t always the case—such people sometimes “major” in the Holy Spirit at the expense of a fully balanced Christian walk. Just as it is a mistake to overlook the Holy Spirit, it is equally wrong to dwell on the Holy Spirit, to the exclusion of the Father and the Son—or, for that matter, the church, the sacraments, the scriptures, or a disciplined life of prayer.

But the more dangerous temptation that beckons those who have experienced the Holy Spirit in a powerful way is to become smug and superior, to scorn, belittle, intimidate, and become generally obnoxious toward those Christians who have not had such an experience. This can be as overt as a finger-pointing lecture, or as subtle as a condescending smile. Either way, the implication is that Christians who have not had some obvious powerful experience of the Holy Spirit are somehow inferior, second-class, or maybe not even authentically Christian.

So let’s get back to basics, and see if we can’t begin, at least, to clear up a misunderstanding or two. We’re not doing any baptizing today, but if we had any candidates, this is one of the days which the discipline of our church recommends that baptisms be reserved for.  We do, however, have several candidates for the sacramental rite of Confirmation. We used to talk about Confirmation as the “completion of Baptism.” For a number of good reasons, we don’t do that anymore. Nonetheless, I believe we can still think of Confirmation as an “echo” of Baptism. The candidates will verbally reaffirm the renunciation of evil and the commitment to Christ that was made at their baptism, and, together with the whole assembly, they will profess the faith of the Church and renew their vows and promises. And when I lay hands on each confirmand, I will pray that each one “daily increase in [God’s] Holy Spirit more and more.” This is a sort of shadow of the prayer that is said by the celebrant when a newly-baptized Christian is anointed with the oil of chrism: “You are sealed with the Holy Spirit in baptism, and marked as Christ’s own forever.” It’s also a shadow of the prayer that follows, in which we thank God our Father that He has bestowed on these newly-minted Christians the forgiveness of sins and the life of Christ’s resurrection by means of “water and the Holy Spirit.” And then we go on to ask God to “sustain them in [His] Holy Spirit.”

If we indeed believe as we pray, what this means is that all of us who are baptized have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God, who was already working on our hearts in preparation for the day of baptism, has taken up full-time permanent residence, and become a personal resource more valuable than any mentor or teacher we will ever have. But what’s even more remarkable is that, along with this gift of the Holy Spirit, we also received, through the sacrament of baptism, gifts from the Holy Spirit. Some of these gifts may include items from the list enumerated by St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian Christians: the utterance of wisdom and/or knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, spiritual discernment, tongues, or the interpretation of tongues.

At the time of baptism, we don’t know who’s going to be getting what gifts. Nor is this an exhaustive list—there are other lists elsewhere in the New Testament, and probably these aren’t exhaustive either. The Holy Spirit is an abundant giver. Moreover, the Holy Spirit is not for an elite minority within the church who have had some kind of dramatic experience. The Holy Spirit is for the whole church, and for all her members. If you are baptized, you have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t matter whether you feel it or not, you have it! The Holy Spirit dwells within your soul, ready to fill you with the life of God, ready to unleash His power within you as soon as you give the green light.

Indeed, St Paul says, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit...”. However, he doesn’t stop there. He qualifies his statement. The gift of the Holy Spirit is universal to all Christians, but there are strings attached. Along with this essential birthright comes an equally essential responsibility.  “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” The gift of the Holy Spirit, and the gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit, are not personal playthings. They are to be employed to the glory of God and the building up of His church. In the book of Acts we read of a fellow named Simon Magus. He was impressed with the power of the Holy Spirit, particularly as it operated in the gift of healing in the ministry of St Peter and other early apostles. Simon was a man of some means, and he offered Peter cold hard cash in exchange for the spiritual gift of healing. As we might say today, he was “clueless.” The Holy Spirit is not for sale to the highest bidder. No gift from the Holy Spirit is for our own self-aggrandizement.
Rather, they are all for the building up of the whole people of God, for the strengthening of the church in her mission and ministry.

Now, it must not be left unsaid, many gifts of the Spirit are woefully and tragically underutilized. If all Christians became aware of their gifts and began to exercise those gifts in a faithful manner, the impact on the church—and the church’s impact on the world—could scarcely be imagined. The situation as it actually exists in many Christian communities can be likened to that of a professional soccer match in South America or Europe, where 60,000 fans desperately in need of exercise are watching 22 athletes desperately in need of a rest!

So as we confirm these people today, and as we renew our own baptismal vows, let our prayer be that they develop an early awareness of the gifts they received in this Baptism, and that one of those gifts be faith sufficient to exercise the others. The Holy Spirit is the birthright of all Christians; not just for a few, but for all. And exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the responsibility of all Christians; again, not just the few, but all.

Come, Holy Spirit, come. Fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in us the fire of your love. Alleluia and Amen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday (St Barnabas)

  • Took the morning for a down payment on some of the decompressing I need to do in the wake of a hectic travel schedule the last three weeks. Good long, hard walk--always a welcome event.
  • Refined and polished my homily for Pentecost (at Emmanuel, Champaign) and got a head start on processing the emails that have been in limbo while I had limited internet access.
  • Brenda and I dropped by a graduation party for a young lady from St Paul's Cathedral whose family has been exceptionally kind to us during our transition into Springfield.
  • Hit the Illinois highway system (my new best friend) once again at 3pm, heading for a 5pm Solemn Evensong for the Eve of Pentecost at St John's Chapel in Champaign, at which I "pontificated." As always at St John's, the liturgy and music were first rate. What a magnificent tradition Fr Tim Hallett has helped foster there over the last 35 years. He concludes his ministry tomorrow. We were honored to be invited to a wonderful, and emotional, dinner given in his honor, and Mary's, by parishioners and alumni of the chapel.
  • Repaired to the La Quinta in Champaign and caught up on the email processing I had started earlier.

Friday (St Ephrem of Edessa)

  • Up and packed to depart the Swan residence in Eldorado around 8:30.
  • Followed Fr Swan to Marion, left my car at St James', and rode around town in his vehicle for an orientation tour of the community. It's the largest and most "going" town in the Hale Deanery cluster ministry, and there would seem to be great potential for a substantial congregation there.
  • Circled back to St James' for a tour of the church, office, and parish house, and a conversation with the Bishop's Warden. It's small and land-locked, circumstances that help stifle numerical growth.
  • Followed Fr Swan about 15 miles to Carbondale. I was surprised to notice that Route 13 between the two communities (and the smaller ones it traverses) is practically one long zone of commercial development. There's no sense of being in the "country" between towns.
  • Fr Swan then left me in the hands of Fr Keith Roderick, rector of St Andrew's in Carbondale. We chatted in his office for a while. Then I presided at the regular Friday 12:15 Mass in the chapel, without about eight in attendance. 
  • Fr Roderick and I continued our discussion at a local pizza restaurant before he drove me on a tour of the city and the Southern Illinois University campus. (St Andrew's is strategically located right across the street.)
  • Then I hit the road for the 90-minute drive to Salem for a scheduled 5:30pm liturgy rehearsal prior to the ordination to the priesthood of Fr Jeff Kozuszek. I pulled into the parking lot of the venue (St Teresa of Avila Roman Catholic Church) in the middle of a hail storm. Just a little unsettling!
  • All the important stuff in the ordination went smoothly, and it was actually a quite wonderful occasion. It was my first ordination as a bishop, and it evoked a similar feeling in me as did my first Eucharist as a priest--utter wonder that I am the conduit for something so magnificent.
  • Brenda had hitched a ride from Salem with Archdeacon Denney, so she joined me for for the 100-mile trip home at around 10pm. There was an attention-getting light show in the night sky as soon as we headed north on U.S. 51. A couple of phone calls to relatives with internet connections revealed that there were no tornado warnings on our route, but there were still several storm cells traveling across central Illinois, and our paths finally collided in Hillsboro, with the heaviest rain I can remember ever driving through. We were grateful to roll in to our Springfield driveway just after midnight.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday (St Columba)

  • On the road from the Swan residence in Eldorado around 8am--destination: Cairo, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississipi Rivers, the very southern tip of Illinois, geographically (and possibly culturally) closer to New Orleans than to Chicago.
  • Enjoyed an informative tour of the old Custom House--forrmerly a federal building, now a museum, and an excellent one at that. Our docent was Louise Ogg, a parishioner of the Church of the Redeemer for many decades, and for whom the museum is a true labor of love.
  • When I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time 20 years ago, even though I knew what it was and had seen pictures and movies of it my whole love, nothing could have prepared me for the breathtaking (literally) moment of first looking over the rim. My experience in Cairo today was of the same nature, only the dark shadow thereof. This is a town that is devestated on every conceivable level--Detroit simultaneously in miniature and on steroids. Being there was surreal, blight like I have never seen. Anywhere. I fear it has passed the tipping point, and cannot even imagine what might be done to help it.
  • The Church of the Redeemer is truly a gem. Really beautiful. Sadly, the state of the congregation reflects that of the town. I pray for wisdom and vision as we seek to discern how to be faithful stewards of the assets to which we are entrusted in this diocese.
  • We had lunch at one of the very few up-and-running business establishments in Cairo, a BBQ place. The brisket was fork tender and flavorful, really good. The sauce, however, was much more Carolina than Texas, and would have gone better with pork than with beef.
  • After a banking errand (at one of only two banks in town) in connection with Fr Swan's imminent departure from the Hale Cluster ministry, we headed 8 miles into Missouri to buy gas at 3.499/gal. Sweet.
  • Then up I-57 to Marion, where we took a look around the town, including a stop by a very handsome minor league ballpark, home of the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League.
  • Next up was St Mark's, West Frankfort for a meeting with the Bishop's Committee from St James', McLeansboro. Sadly, it was an end-of-life conversation about the timing for the removal of artificial life support for a terminal patient (that is, St James'). It's really heart-breaking, because these are people of faithfulness and vision. But there are just too few of them; they are worn out, and they deserve to be relieved of their burden, with thanks. They have fought the good fight, and we now await what a generous God has in store for them and for the diocese as a result of the ministry that has gone on in that place for 130 years.
  • A happier occasion was dinner back in Marion with the clergy and spouses of the Hale Deanery. Excellent cuisine at Sao Asian Bistro.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday

  • Hit the road shortly after 7am, headed for a 10am arrival at St Mark's Church in West Frankfort, for the beginning of a three day "residency" in the Hale Deanery, the southernmost portion of the diocese.
  • Met Fr Dick Swan, the (outgoing) Cluster Missioner, who gave me a thorough tour of St Mark's and a briefing about the congregation.
  • Followed Fr Swan eastward and southward to the community of Eldorado, where he and his wife Marv make their home. After settling in, I got into his vehicle and we drove to nearby Equality, where Marv manages a bank branch. We checked in with her and then had lunch at a locally-owned restaurant.
  • Got to see the residue of the recent flooding in this area, where the waters of the Ohio River backed up into it triburaries.
  • After lunch, Fr Swan drove me to the nearby Shawnee National Forest, where we toured the Garden of the Gods, interesting and ancient rock formations, completely atypical for Illinois, where the very concept of topography is generally considered exotic.
  • Then on to the county seat town of Harrisburg (where we have St Stephen's) for a look around. The high school could be a movie set for the quintessential American high school.
  • Back to Chez Swan for some down time. Then back to Harrisburg, joined by Marv now, where I celebrated the regular Wednesday evening (6pm) Mass at St Stephen's. The church occupies the former Carnegie Library. It was interesting to see the creative ways they have adapted a secular building for use as a church.
  • Then back again to the Swans for a lovely dinner of plank-grilled wild caught Salmon, and good conversation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday

  • Returned to my Province V bishops meeting for the morning. Headed back to Logan Square a little before noon for some time with family. Hit the road for Springfield around 3:30.
  • My route home after exiting I-55 takes me right by St Luke's Church, which is having Vacation Bible School this week (evenings, except for Thursday, when they have a daytime outing planned), so I dropped in on them. To say I am "impressed" would be an understatement. They had 40 kids last night and 47 tonight, with lots of help from adults and youth. Games, crafts, music, food, teaching--the classic VBS stuff. For those of you not familiar with Springfield and St Luke's: This is real inner-city incarnational ministry. It's in a poorish predominantly African-American neighborhood, and it actually draws from the neighborhood, not only on Sundays, but especially for events like this. It's a congregation that numbers in the 60s on an average Sunday--mid-size by diocesan standards--and makes the most of a quite modest physical plant. Kudos to St Luke's. 
  • You may wonder what bishops talk about when they get together for meetings like the one I just attended. Obviously, it would be inappropriate to quote anyone or even characterize the tenor of a conversation. But I don't think it's compromising anything to just name the categores: 
  1. Idiosyncracies of midwestern culture that affect our ministry in midwestern dioceses.
  2. Issues around TEC's full-communion relationship with the ELCA, now ten years old.
  3. Issues around that Denominational Health Plan that is still in the process of being rolled out.
  4. Scuttlebutt regarding potential changes to the administrative structure of the Church Center in New York (in the wake of last week's announcement of a new COO).
  5. The changes to Title IV that go into effect July 1.
  6. A proposed amendment to the bylaws of Province V that will be considered by next April's Synod.
  7. The movement toward a sort of "endowment superfund" in which multiple dioceses will participate in order to achieve the investment return advantages only available to funds with assets of at least $1 billion.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday

Drove to Chicago in time for a noon start to the semi-annual meeting of the bishops from Province V (the Province of the Midwest). After meeting all afternoon, we adjourned to the Lakeview apartment of the Bishop of Chicago and his wife--12th floor, spectacular view of Belmont Harbor. I stopped in Logan Square en route to retrieve Brenda and got to meet Elsa--even more beautiful in person than she is in pictures! Then back by Logan Square after dinner for more time with family.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Homily for Easter VII

This sermon was delivered from the aisle without notes, but this is the mental outline that I both worked from and strayed from! I was at St John's in Centralia, and the text was John 17:1-11.


The story of Jesus where we pick it up today in John 17:
·       the Last Supper, the eve of the crucifixion
·       John (the Evangelist) is teeing up the ball for the way he wants us to understand the narrative of the crucifixion and resurrection (Jesus “lays down” his life as part of God’s grand plan; it is not taken from him)
·       “liturgical time” sees it poetically rather than literally—we stand with the disciples (weeks later) who have seen Jesus disappear from their midst, but the Holy Spirit has not yet been poured out
The disciples whom Jesus left behind were confused about …
·       who they were (identity)
·       what they were supposed to do (mission)
It is easy enough for us (“liturgical” disciples?) to empathize with them—
·       especially in small-town central Illinois (talk about “left behind”!)
·       in a rapidly-evolving post-Christian culture
Jesus prays
·       first he has some of his own “baggage” to take care (regarding his identity and his mission)
·       then he gets down to serious intercession, but not, interestingly, first on behalf of the world, but for “those whom you have given me.”
·       for his Galilean 1st century disciples about both the identity and the mission of the community of his disciples (who have also been “given” to him)
·       …implicitly he also intercedes for his rural southern Illinois 21st century disciples: We are to be a sign and herald to the world of all that God is doing to redeem us from the power of sin and death (recount a bit of the devastation that such power produces)
·       Our vocation to be a SIGN says something about identity: We are “God’s own people” (as we heard from St Peter two weeks ago), a prefigurement and a model of how things are in the Kingdom of God < a sobering and awesome responsibility
·       Our vocation to be a HERALD says something about mission: Helping people connect with their own brokenness and the brokenness of society, and then introducing them to the One who stands ready to heal that brokenness (“the only true God and Jesus Christ whom [he has] sent”)
And the place where that sign shines most brightly, and the heraldic proclamation is heard most clearly … is in our unity [keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one]
·       the unity that we have in Christ is the foundation of our identity and our mission
·       this means unity at all levels (parish, diocese, province, communion, ecumenical)
The clarity of our identity (sign) and mission (herald) rises and falls on the strength of our unity

Easter VII

This morning was my first visit not only to St John's Church, but to Centralia. It's a lovely town that, sadly, has seen better days, with a huge part of its economic base (railroad, oil, coal mining, manufacturing) having steadily dried up over the past two or three decades. St John's as a congregation dates to well before the Civil War and the building to 1924. Some of their stained glass is among the finest I've seen, even in much larger churches.

As always, the Bishop of Springfield was greeted with great affection, fed sumptuously, and left bearing gifts. I don't know if I could stand this job being any more fun. What wonderful people we have in this diocese.

Here's a photo with Fr Gene Tucker and Deacon Sylvia Howard at the rear of the church following the Mass.

And here's the sign in front of the church across the street.

I told the people of St John's in my homily that we want St John's not to have a sign saying they are soaked in scripture, welcoming of sinners, and manifesting true community, but to be a sign of those things.

I the evening, I also posted something substantive on my "real" blog that you may want to check out.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday

Writing from the Holiday Inn in Mount Vernon (about 2.5 hours from Springfield) in anticipation of my visit tomorrow to St John's in Centralia, at an 8:30am liturgy. With Brenda in Chicago helping out post-partum in our daughter and son-in-law's household, I indulged in a leisurely morning (leisurely, that is, save for a four mile walk in 90 degree heat; it was that hot before 11am, and it's not exactly a "dry heat," for whatever that's worth). Then I processed a few emails, reviewed a draft of the liturgy sheet for an upcoming ordination, and worked on a writing project for The Living Church. Rolled into Mount Vernon a little before 9:00.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday (Martyrs of Uganda)

  • Usual morning routine; MP in cathedral.
  • Prepared music for a sung Psalm at next Friday's ordination of Jeff Kozuscek to the priesthood.
  • Met with the Rev. Mollie Ward, and talked about her work as a hospital chaplain and CPE supervisor at Advocate BroMenn hospital in Bloomington. Glad to be able to learn more about one of the extra-parochial ministries of our diocese.
  • Talked with the Archdeacon at some length about some property and finance issues. (The two usually do seem to go together.)
  • Tried to register for the September House of Bishops meeting in Quito, Ecuador. Ran into various technological snags, and the job is not yet done. Grrr.
  • Lunch at home while Brenda hurriedly packed in response to the news that our daughter had officially gone into labor in Chicago.
  • Had trouble getting traction on the task list the rest of the afternoon. One of "those days" that just seems to get away and you're not quite sure what happened. Did, however, make serious progress on a sermon for Pentecost (June 12) at Emmanuel, Champaign.
  • Evening Prayer in the office between phone calls to/from Brenda helping her negotiate Chicagoland roadways and traffic. Then I loaded what seems like most of my liturgical haberdashery in the car since I won't be back in the office until the 14th.
  • Got news that little Elsa (well, not so little at 9 lbs. 11 oz.) was born around dinner time. Brenda is there helping take care of big sister Charlotte, so I'm on my own for a few days. Poor me. If I go missing, question the orange tabby first. With a little enhanced interrogation, he'll talk.
Here's Elsa. What's more blessedly beautiful than new life?


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ascension

  • Morning at home: Planned tasks, read the morning office for the Feast of the Ascension, took a long hard walk in the rain (my usual four miles in an hour), hatched my homily for Trinity Sunday in Jacksonville, and responded to some emails requiring a fair amount of thought.
  • Departed at 12:30 for Edwardsville for a 2pm appointment with the rector of St Andrew's. We had a nice long and deep conversation, (part of my "How are you doing and how can I help you?" project with the clergy of the diocese) and a tour of their impressive physical plant. Much good work has been done there.
  • Next I headed east for Salem and a 6pm Ascension Day Mass at St Thomas'. There were over 30 in attendance--pretty good for that congregation on a weeknight--including six children. We worshiped the Lord in spirit and in truth, and then enjoyed a wonderful repast in the parish hall. The Bishop returned home bearing gifts from the hometown of both William Jennings Bryan and John Scopes (though their fateful 1925 confrontation took place in Tennessee), and the birthplace of Miracle Whip. Everyone looks forward to my return next Friday night to ordain their pastor, Jeff Kozuszek, to the priesthood.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tuesday (St Justin Martyr)

  • Task planning and eMail processing at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral.
  • Processed various items with the Diocesan Administrator and Archdeacon (mostly involving shifts in my visitation schedule, supply work, and the like).
  • Took a phone call from a cleric regarding a potential request for permission to solemnize a marriage in which both partners have at least one former spouse still living. (These questions, by canon, fall to the Bishop.) We discussed the options, and agreed that being both pastoral and principled usually involves walking a pretty fine line.
  • Made travel plans for a cameo appearance (about 24 hours) at EYE (the trienniel Episcopal Youth Event, to be held later this month in St Paul, MN). Had to evaluate the relative merits of driving vs. flying. Finally decided to fly, and made the necessary reservations. But even with Sue handling the hotel piece of the puzzle (as she does for me routinely now), I remain distressed by the inordinate amount of time such endeavors suck up by the time your look at the relevant options. Seriously.
  • Lunch at home.
  • We have two ordinations to the priesthood later this month, so Sue informed me it was time to play with hot wax. She turned the heat on under the pan and I grabbed my engraved stamp of the diocesan seal. After a couple of practice runs on some blank card stuck, we were successful in applying a seal to the two ordination certificates and one Letter of Institution. 
  • Took a phone call from the head of the search committee of one of our congregations currently in transition. She had several questions and concerns that she wanted my input on.
  • Left a phone message with, and emailed, a colleague bishop in my "Class of 2011" regarding a potential project that we hatched together over evening libations last week at the College for Bishops event we both attended.
  • Advanced the gestation of my sermon for this Sunday at St John's in Centralia. Hopefully it will be ready to be born when the moment arrives.
  • Took a call from the rector of the parish where I am visiting on Trinity Sunday to discuss the details of the visit. He gets points for having actually read the customary and making the requested call! (Actually, compliance has so far been stellar by everyone concerned.)
  • Evening Prayer (for the Eve of Ascension) in the cathedral.