Thursday, January 31, 2019

Thursday (Samuel Shoemaker)

  • Usual early weekday AM routine.
  • Developed my homiletical message statement for Epiphany VII (St George's, Belleville) into a filled-out outline.
  • Took care of a couple of personal/household chores.
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Did some substantial chipping away on the pastoral teaching document on sexuality and marriage that I've been working on.
  • Sat with my exegetical notes on the readings for the Last Sunday after Epiphany and labored on to a homiletical message statement for that occasion (St Paul's, Pekin).
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.
  • I had gotten word during the day that the water in the diocesan office is out, so my travel destination for the evening was the Doubletree in downtown Springfield. Because it was snowing in Chicago at my 7:00pm leaving time, which caused a couple of accidents on my travel route, which significantly impeded traffic, the trip took me an hour longer than usual.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Wednesday (St Charles Stuart)

  • Usual early AM routine (intercessions-devotions-Morning Prayer-tea-breafkast-task planning-shower-dress)
  • Took my homily for Epiphany VI (St Thomas', Glen Carbon) from message statement to developed outline.
  • Broke for an impromptu brunch in my son's apartment, as all the residents of our building were honoring the warnings to stay out of thye cold today,.
  • Responded to some accumulated emails.
  • Did a deep dive into yet another database software possibility. May have found a winner this time.
  • Did an abbreviated exegesis on and birthed a message statement for Epiphany VII (St George's, Belleville).
  • Worked some more on the exorcism rite project. Coming in for a landing soon on this one.
  • Got the ball rolling on liturgy prep for the Chrism Mass (April 13).
  • Attended to some routine personal organization maintenance (cleaning up my computer desktop).
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Tuesday (St Andrei Rublev)

One of the unplanned results of my move to Chicago has turned out to be that, on the weekends when I am in Springfield, time on Friday night and Saturday that would in times past have been spent around the house on "domestic" activities, is not available for ministry-related activities, and often quite productively so. This is just by way of putting into context that fact that I didn't get down to "working" until about 2pm today, the morning and early afternoon being dedicated to "homey" stuff (mostly basement organization, finishing laundry from yesterday, and taking Brenda to a healthcare appointment. Once I got going, the main accomplishment was the production of a rough draft sermon text for Epiphany V (Sunday after next at Holy Trinity, Danville). The usual backlog of emails also got attended to.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Third Sunday after Epiphany

Up and out of the Hampton Inn, Lincoln in time to preside and preach at 0730 at Trinity, meet with confirmands (and eavesdroppers) at 0645, then preside, preach, and confirm two adults at 0945. What an encouraging visitation to Trinity, Lincoln this morning. The fruit of the recent "harvest" from among students and faculty at Lincoln Christian University was abundantly evident, with a full church and a dramatically lowered median age. The party continued with food and fellowship at the home of Fr Mark Evans and his wife Sandy. We arrived back at our Chicago digs around 4:00, whereupon I took a brisk walk in single-digit temperatures. 

Sermon for III Epipany

Trinity, Lincoln--Nehemiah 8:2-10, Luke 4:14-21

One of the universal features of Christian worship is that we read the Bible. On a normal Sunday, lectors read aloud selections from the Old Testament and the New Testament epistles, a deacon or priest reads a portion of the gospels, and the whole congregation recites or sings several verses from one of the Psalms. On other occasions, we read even more of the Bible in a single service: At the Great Vigil of Easter, most communities typically read five quite long Old Testament lessons—up to nine are provided for in the Prayer Book—each of which is followed by a Psalm, and later on we read an epistle and gospel lesson. And those who have the habit of praying the daily office, whether alone or with others, are exposed to another potential 18 passages from the Bible per week, not to mention substantial portions of the Psalms each day, such that all 150 of them are read in their entirety over the course of about seven weeks. So, whatever anybody wants to say about us, they certainly can’t say that we ignore the Bible! We may not always pay attention to what we’re reading, we may not always understand what we’re reading, we may not always live consistently with what we’re reading, but we are a Bible-reading people!

Yet, for all of our Bible reading, I doubt that any of us have ever experienced, or would ever want to experience, anything like the incident described in the eighth chapter of the Book of Nehemiah. It takes place a little more than 500 years before Christ. A community of Jews had recently returned to Jerusalem following two generations of exile several hundred miles away in Babylon. As they were in the process of rebuilding the infrastructure of their civic and religious life, their leader, Ezra, gathered all the people together early one morning by one of the city gates. He called for the Torah—which, for Jews of that time, would have been the entirety of their sacred scriptures—Ezra called for the Torah to be presented to him, after which he mounted a wooden pulpit, and proceeded to read from the Torah.

This took place for several hours—until midday, Nehemiah tells us—during which time all the people—men, women, and children—remained standing, out of respect and deference to what they were hearing. Then, while the people remained in their places, several leaders of the people explained—amplified, illuminated, gave instruction from—what had been read. It was a reading and teaching marathon that makes even the Easter Vigil—which is a lot of scripture at one time by our standards—even the Easter Vigil pales in comparison. Then, I’m glad to say, the people feasted. They ate, drank, and enjoyed one another’s company.

Several hundred years later, Jesus took up a copy of the Hebrew scriptures—by then, including the prophets as well as the Torah—while attending a regular synagogue service. He read from Isaiah, about the servant of the Lord who would restore sight to the blind and proclaim release to those in prison. And then he went on to identify himself with that servant, and thereby launched his public ministry into overdrive Reading the Bible, apparently, is powerful stuff.

So, it seems like an opportune moment today to raise the question, What is the Bible to us? We apparently think enough of it to read from it every time we come to church, and we even stand—just like the people in Ezra’s crowd—for part of it. But what is the Bible to us, or what should it be, at least? I propose to answer that question with four points, which I will make as succinctly as I can.

First, the Bible is a library. It is a collection of 66 (or 80, if you count the Apocrypha) individual documents written over a span of more than a thousand years, some in Hebrew and some in Greek, and by several dozen different human authors, some of whose identities are unknown to us. Most of these documents originated as oral tradition—stories told around the campfire, and the like—which were then written down, and later edited, combined with other written sources, then edited again, before emerging in the form in which we now know them.

These writings represent several different categories and sub-categories of literature, including poetry, legend, history, travelogue, systematic theology, biography, sermon, teaching, practical wisdom, social commentary, prophecy, and apocalyptic vision. Some of it is very stylish, exhibiting great erudition and learning, and some of it is very direct and crude. Some parts appear to contradict other parts. The authors and editors have different agendas, different axes to grind. The Bible is a diverse library of distinctively different documents, and we will never understand it well if we forget that fact.

Second, the Bible is one book, inspired by one Authority. It is the Word of God, and tells us what we need to know about the nature of God, the nature of Man, and the meaning of life. Despite its undeniable diversity, there is a coherent thread of unity which runs through the scriptures from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation. It tells one grand story of God’s creative and loving and redemptive pursuit of the human race. If we indeed fail to properly understand the scriptures if we overlook their diversity, even more so do we fail to understand the scriptures if we overlook their unity. When we treat the Bible as one book, we find that one part interprets another, one part illuminates another, and what appears muddy often becomes clear in the process. It is for good reason that the Bible is generally available as one volume, between the covers of one book, for that is what it is. Jesus is God’s Word spoken, and the Bible is God’s Word written.

Third, the Bible is the Church’s book. The Church existed prior to the Bible—that is, Israel—existed as a people before the scriptures of the Old Testament were written and compiled, and the Church existed and thrived before the scriptures of the New Testament were written and compiled. It was the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that collectively decided which documents should be included in the list of New Testament scriptures, and which should not. Sure, anybody can pick up a Bible off a bookstore or library shelf and read it, cold, and probably benefit from doing so. It contains a great deal of practical teaching on how to live life well, and reveals a great deal about the nature and ways of God. But as sacred scripture, it has no independent life apart from the tradition and teaching authority of the Church. The Bible is our story, our song, our language and vocabulary of faith.

When divorced from the context of the believing community which is itself in continuity with the life and teaching of the Apostles, the Bible can be desperately confusing, and lead to serious distortion of Christian teaching. About 150 years ago, an earnest young Christian named Charles Taze Russell got frustrated with the smorgasbord of Christian denominations that existed even then. He picked up a Bible and determined to base his faith and life solely and completely on what he read there, ignoring anything he had already been taught or otherwise exposed to from the teaching of the churches. He arrived at a theology, and attracted a band of followers who subscribed to that theology. They called themselves . . . Jehovah’s Witnesses. By ignoring the teaching authority and tradition of the Church, Mr Russell ended up founding a cult that teaches doctrines that were defined as heresy as long ago as the fourth century. He could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he had not chosen to ignore the fact that the Bible is the Church’s book. Of course, the Bible also judges the Church, and the Church must submit to the authority of scripture. Yet, scripture cannot be fully known outside the fellowship of the Church.

Fourth, and finally, the Bible is the Holy Spirit’s book. The Bible is inspired, and by that, we mean that God the Holy Spirit dwelt within and worked through those who passed on oral tradition, those who wrote that tradition down, and the final editors of those documents. God the Holy Spirit dwelt within and worked through the councils of the Church which discerned the writings that should be included in the canon of scripture, and the ones that should not. God the Holy Spirit dwells within and works through the people of God throughout succeeding generations in correctly understanding and expounding the word of God. And God the Holy Spirit dwells within and works through each Christian who opens the pages of the Bible in purity of heart. Through the words of scripture, God convicts human hearts of sin, and draws them to His irresistible love. Through the words of scripture, God provides guidance to those who submit their wills to Him in faith. Through the words of scripture, God lifts up and encourages those who are discouraged or sorrowful, and strengthens those who are weak. Through the words of scripture, God enlightens and instructs minds that seek the ‘truth’ by seeking the ‘Truth,’ minds that want to yield to authority by coming to know the Author.

When Ezra and the returned Jewish exiles finished their scripture-reading marathon, though they were doubtless tired physically from all that standing, they were refreshed and renewed spiritually. They had a new sense of identity, a clearer vision of who they were as a people. That’s what the public reading and teaching of scripture does—it forms us as the people of God. And in doing so, it holds us accountable in ways that are not always comfortable. There are passages in scripture which are, to say the least, challenging, if not downright scandalous. As faithful Christians, however, our response is not to discard or ignore or deny such passages, but to engage in faithful dialogue with them. Maybe there is a way of interpreting them that is honest  yet avoids the scandal without destroying the meaning. And maybe there’s not, and we are the ones who must change, and agree with God by agreeing with His word. If we are faithful to this task, collectively and as individuals, we will indeed know the truth, as Jesus says, and the truth will make us free. Our blind eyes will be opened, and our imprisoned souls released. What a day that will be.

Praised be Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Saturday (Ss Timothy & Titus)

On the road northbound with Brenda at 0830. Pulled into the campus of Nashotah House a couple of hours later, ahead of the 11000 Annual Solemn Mass of the Society of King Charles the Martyr. Due to a perfect storm of adverse circumstances, I was the sole member of the Society board in attendance. Professor Father Thomas Buchan presided, and delivered a fine homily extolling the Blessed Martyr's the witness-unto-death to the centrality of episcopacy in the life of the Church Universal. As the only bishop in the room, I was overcome with gratitude! (It's been said that Anglicans tend to have a high view of episcopacy and a low view of bishops.) After the Mass, about a dozen of us repaired to Perkins' in Delafield for lunch (since the Society's formal luncheon was cancelled due to lack of RSVPs). Brenda and I then headed south, arriving in Lincoln around 6:30. Checked in at the Hampton Inn, then joined Fr Mark Evans and Sandy for dinner at the town's Mexican restaurant. Trinity Church in the morning.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Conversion of St Paul

  • Usual early AM weekday routine.
  • Sat with the texts and my exegetical notes for Epiphany VI until they yielded a homiletical message statement (St Thomas', Glen Carbon). Sometimes it's difficult labor, but this birth happened relatively smoothly.
  • Took Brenda to a hair appointment. Impressive pictures on Facebook.
  • Dealt with a quick bit of administrative detritus.
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Pored over commentaries and made exegetical notes on the readings for the Last Sunday after Epiphany (St Paul's, Pekin).
  • Spent most of the rest of the afternoon on some personal chores and errands.
  • Prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary before Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Thursday

  • Up and dressed and fed in time to attend an 0800 special meeting of the Nashotah House corporation in Sarasota--but, sadly, I was not in Florida. I attended via video conference technology. It lasted about an hour.
  • Reviewed and commented on the draft service bulletin for this Sunday at Trinity, Lincoln.
  • Spent the rest of the morning taking the developed outline of a sermon for Epiphany IV (Christ the King, Normal) and turning it into a draft working text, for refinement next week.
  • Lunch from Pizza Hut down the block. Some will no doubt wonder why I patronize a place like Pizza Hut when I live in a city known for its pizza. It's a mystery.
  • With time out for a substantial walk, the afternoon was devoted to planning the liturgies (two Masses, two Evensongs, two occurrences of Morning Prayer) for the clergy retreat next month.
  • After dinner: Exegetical work on Epiphany VI (St Thomas', Glen Carbon) and initial drive-by of the readings for Epiphany VII (St George's, Belleville.) 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wednesday (Phillips Brooks)

  • Usual AM weekday routine.
  • Responded to a batch of accumulated emails, which sent me off into some calendar work. 
  • Spoke by phone with a cleric of the diocese who was (quite understandably) seeking a bit of pastoral care.
  • Did the finish work on my homily for Epiphany III, this Sunday at Trinity, Lincoln.
  • Chinese carryout lunch, from the joint around the corner.
  • Spent an hour or so making incremental progress organizing our basement, which will be an ongoing project for quite some time.
  • Plotted the shape of a sermon for Epiphany IV (Christ the King, Normal), from message statement to developed outline.
  • Took my accustomed walk, on an afternoon of falling temperatures.
  • Did similar homiletical development on my sermon for Epiphany V (Holy Trinity, Danville).
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.
  • After dinner: Wrote a substantive memo to my Communion Partner colleagues, summarizing last week's meeting in Toronto.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tuesday (St Vincent of Saragossa)

Started the working morning with a short stack of email-generated tasks. Got into "uniform" and headed north at 1015 to Nashotah House. Had good private visits with each of our three residential seminarians there, attended evensong, then took them, along with two distance students who are on campus this week, out to dinner. Got back home around 10:45. Driving conditions were far less than ideal in both directions, but delays were minimal, for which I am grateful.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Second Sunday after Epiphany

I woke up, of course, carless, having ridden Amtrak to Springfield last night. Normally, that would not be daunting, but with absolute temperatures in single digits, with added wind chill, I didn't feel quite so tough. So I became Uber's favorite customer, riding down to Charlie Parker's for breakfast, back to the office, then to Christ Church for my visitation. Held a wide-ranging adult forum at 0900, then presided, preached, and confirmed three adults at 1015. After the coffee hour potluck, Fr Greg was kind enough to drive me back to the office, where I spent the afternoon trying to be productive, making substantial progress on sermon prep for Epiphany V (Holy Trinity, Danville)and Epiphany Last (St Paul's, Pekin). Hoofed it up to Amtrak to catch the 4:55 northbound departure, from which I write now just pulling into Chicago at 8:00. Got *a whole lot* done en route, thanks to their wifi.

Sermon for Epiphany II

Christ Church, Springfield--John 2:1-11, I Corinthians 12:1-11

I started taking a serious interest in baseball when I was about ten years old. I was small for my age then, and although I would have wanted to be a pitcher, I could throw a baseball neither very fast nor very accurately. So I fancied myself a fleet-footed, base-stealing, leadoff-hitting center fielder. The following summer, I played the first of my two seasons of Little League baseball. The coach didn’t know me, and I had no idea what his plans were for me during the handful of practices we had before the first game. But when that day arrived, I could not have written a better script for myself. The coach put me in center field, batting leadoff! In my first at-bat, I drew a walk—not a hard thing to do in Little League, especially when you’re short—and trotted confidently off to first base.

I should have ended my playing career right then! On the very next pitch, the first base coach instructed me to steal second, so off I went. On a not particularly close play, I was thrown out. Then, in my first chance to field a fly ball while playing defense, I couldn’t quite get under it, and it fell to the ground for an extra-base hit. I finished the game on the bench, which is precisely where I started every other game for the rest of the season. When I did play, I got on base regularly by walking, but when I didn’t walk, I struck out. I don’t even know whether I hit so much as a foul ball that year. I was given my big chance in the opening game. The coach evidently thought I had potential. But when the crunch came, I didn’t come through. I lacked what was required. I didn’t have the resources to be a successful baseball player, as much as I wanted to.

You may never have been a Little League baseball player—or maybe you were and were good at it!—but I bet you can think of some similar experience to mine, something you wanted to do, something you wanted to be good at, but just didn’t have what it takes. It’s humbling and painful. One area where a great many Christians feel inadequate, like they lack the necessary resourses to be successful, is in…well…being a Christian! We too often feel like we don’t actually grow in the strength of our faith, or in the depth of our relationship with God. For some reason we never rise to our potential as disciples of Jesus. Maybe you’ve heard me and other clergy talk about how every Christian has “spiritual gifts” and every Christian is called to a “ministry,” and you feel like that’s a party you just haven’t gotten an invitation to, but you’re too embarrassed to say anything about it. So you just go on feeling uncomfortable and ashamed in your spiritual inadequacy.

And all too often church communities feel the same way, collectively. At Christ Church, I’m sure there is sometimes a temptation to look back over your illustrious history of over 130 years, and think of the people who were able to gather the resources to erect this beautiful building. I’d bet there’s a temptation to look back at the glory years—not too long ago, actually—when Christ Church was the largest parish in the Diocese of Springfield. There was a time, no doubt, when the pillars of civic life in Springfield also served on the vestry at Christ Church. And then embarrassment arises, because there no longer seem to be the resources to bring those days back. We are unable to rise once again to our potential.

But, I’ll tell you, you’re not alone in this. A sense of failure and inadequate resources leads many church communities to operate out of a very unhealthy place—a place of fear. And when we operate out of fear—whether individually or corporately—fear itself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We make decisions based on an assumption of scarce resources. Everything we do flows from the notion that we don’t have enough of whatever it is that we’re going to need. As individuals and households, this assumption of scarcity—an assumption grounded in fear—leads us to emphasize our needs rather than God’s provision for those needs. It prevents us from embracing the call to tithe, and blocks us from experiencing the joys of faithful stewardship. As a parish, the assumption of scarcity holds us back from taking risks for the sake of mission because we fear that if we go out on a limb for the Kingdom of God, God will saw the limb off behind us. It keeps us focused on the past, concerned with institutional survival, rather than leaning into the future, consumed by a passion for mission.

The bottom line is that when we give in to fear, we are demonstrating the immaturity of our faith. Our faith is green, wet behind the ears, not yet able to stand up and walk. It needs a tonic, a pick-me-up, a growth hormone, or at least a swift kick! And today’s liturgy gives us precisely what is prescribed. We have the wonderful story about a wedding banquet in the village of Cana, where Jesus and his mother and some of his disciples were guests. You know the story: The supply of wine grows unexpectedly low unexpectedly soon. With some reluctance, and perhaps more out of regard for his mother than anything else, Jesus invites the caterer to draw the contents of some large stone water jars that were nearby, and out comes, not only wine, but premium quality wine, the really good stuff, and plenty to keep everyone in a party mood for as long as they wanted. John the Evangelist calls this the first of seven “signs” that Jesus accomplished during his ministry. It is also, in the symbolic vocabulary of the Church, the last of the three signs of the Epiphany, the “showing forth” of Christ (the other two being the coming of the Wise Men and the Baptism of Christ).

A sign, of course, doesn’t exist for its own sake; it points to something else, right? So we do well to ask ourselves: What does this miracle of water becoming wine point to? What can we learn from it about God’s ways with us, or God’s will for us? I would suggest to you that the miracle at Cana is, among other things, a sign that God’s default desire and plan is to provide what we need in abundance. Not mere adequacy, but abundance. Therefore, our default frame of mind should be one of abundance, not scarcity. The assumption this incident invites us to embrace—as individuals, as households, as a church community, and as a diocese—is that God will provide everything we need, and then some, to accomplish that which he calls us to do. I once had a parish treasurer who said every year at budget time: “There’s never enough, but there’s always enough.” Going in, it seems like there’s never enough. Coming out, somehow there’s always enough. Before I was a tither, it seemed like there was never enough even to pay my bills. On the other side of the decision to tithe, there is somehow always enough.

God’s abundant provision for us is more than just financial, more than just material. Today’s selection from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians talks about the abundance of gifts that have been scattered across the Church by the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, interpretation—and this is just a partial list. Whatever God calls you to at Christ Church, whatever God calls us to as a diocese, whatever God calls any portion of his church to do, the resources are there in abundance, as surely as wine came out of the stone water jars. Our first question should never be, “What can we afford?” or “What do we have the human resources for?”  Rather, it should be, “What is our vocation? What is God calling us to do or be?” Because if God is calling, and we are listening, the resources will be there. The miracle at Cana is a sign to us that God provides what we need, and then some.

It is also a sign that the best is yet to come! It wasn’t merely wine that came out of those stone jars at the wedding banquet, it was good wine. Better wine than had already been served. The people didn’t know it, but that party hadn’t even gotten started when Jesus was asked by his mother to intervene, and came to the rescue of the caterer. The best was yet to come. And the best is yet to come for us. We’ve all experienced both joys and sorrows during our journey through this life. None of us know what sorrows may yet await us, and none of us know what unexpected joys yet lie in our future. Yet we know that eternal joy awaits us in the end—the joy of looking God in the eye, of enjoying the light of his presence forever. The parish community of Christ Church has a long and illustrious past. Yet, today we are faced with a sign that the best is yet to come. You’re rich in some ways and poor in others. You’re large in some ways and small in others. But either way, the best is yet to come. The “glory years” of Christ Church are not behind you, they are ahead of you! May we be eager to claim that blessing, and follow where he leads. '

Praised be Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday (St Wulfstan)

Writing from my Springfield encampment at 821 S. Second Street, after having deciding to make the journey by train rather than face adverse driving conditions. As it turns out, they wouldn't have been all that adverse. But, as it was, I got my next Covenant blog post finished, edited, and submitted. Before setting out from Chicago I did the necessary finish work on tomorrow's homily at Christ Church here in Springfield, took an aggressive walk in aggressive weather, and attended to some personal chores and errands.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Confession of St Peter

Joined the academic community at Wycliffe College at 0830 for Morning Prayer. Then the Communion Partner-Canada bishops (plus Bishop Love and me) reconvened and met until noon. I am gratified by the deepening bond between the CP bishops from TEC and the ACoC. I enjoyed an extended leisurely lunch with my seminary classmate, longtime friend, and bishop colleague Greg Kerr-Wilson, Bishop of Calgary and Metropolitan of the Province of Rupertsland. I then had a pilgrimage moment at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, where the composer Healy Willan was organist and choirmaster during a golden age there. I eventually made it back to the Doubletree to collect my luggage, doing a substantial bit of walking in the meantime, and then grabbed a Lyft to Billy Bishop Airport. Everything went smoothly and I was home around 8:45.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Thursday

Up and out of our apartment at 0815--15 minute walk to Rockwell CTA Brown Line stop, transferred to Orange Line downtown, arrived at Midway Airport at 0945. Cleared TSA and got something to eat, as I had plenty of time to kill. Eventually boarded the 1130 departure on Porter Air to the smaller downtown lakefront airport in Toronto. A Lyft driver delivered me to Wycliffe College, an evangelical Anglican theological school that is part of the University of Toronto complex, a few minutes ahead of the 3:00pm scheduled start to a gathering of the Canadian version of the Communion Partner bishops in TEC; they go by Gracious Restraint, or more recently, Communion Partners, lie us. The Bishop of Albany and I are here representing CP/TEC. We had a "working dinner" and finally adjourned around 8:00 with Compline. We'll reconvene in the morning.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wednesday

Usual early AM routine. Then out of the building at 0820 and back northwest to Rosemont and the Province V bishops meeting. As I mentioned, this is a very informal gathering, bit a lot of substantive things get talked about that find their way up the chain and become ingredients in the stew that eventually results in action. Plus, episcopal ministry is a structurally lonely way of life, so maintaining collegiality with the only others who fully "get it" is important. We adjourned at noon and I headed back home. After lunch and a long walk, I took care of a couple of email responses that were in the hopper, did surgery on the text of a "vintage" homily for Epiphany III (Sunday after next at Trinity, Lincoln), and got to work on my next-due post for the Covenant blog.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tuesday

After MP and breakfast, started the day with a modest walk, then got down to a stack of relatively small tasks, handled by email. Around 11:15 I got in the YFNBmobile and headed west on I-90 ten miles to Rosemont, near O'Hare. At the Sheraton, the bishops of Province V assembled for our annual informal get-together. Most of us (those who didn't go out to a movie) then enjoyed dinner together at nearby Harry Caray's. We;ll reconvene tomorrow for the morning, then go our separate ways.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

First Sunday after the Epiphany

My visitation today just involved crossing the alley between my encampment in the diocesan office and the cathedral church. Preached at 0800, presided and preached at 1000, with two confirmations. Had enough time between services for the biscuits & gravy I missed yesterday at Charlie Parker's. While the cathedral parking lot was well plowed and de-iced, not all the areas of the city and suburbs were in similar condition, so attendance was very thin. After visiting at the coffee hour, changing clothes, and getting fully packed, it was 1:00 before I hit the road northbound. With stops for lunch and gas, I pulled into my Chicago garage just before 5:00. 

Sermon for Epiphany I

Springfield Cathedral--Luke 3:15-16, 21-22; Isaiah 42:1-9

For most my life since I was in my late teens, I’ve kept a journal of sorts. Sometimes it’s just some sketchy notes on a page when my calendar took the form of a large three-ring binder: I went here, I did that, I spoke to this or that person. At other times, I’ve written long reflections on what’s going on in my life, or in the church, or in the world. One of my annual rituals, usually on New Year’s Day, is to skim over, and occasionally do more than skim, whatever I wrote a year ago, five years ago, ten, twenty, and now, even fifty years ago.

I am quite frequently awed by my own life. My ministry, both as a priest and as a bishop, has put me in touch with the entire range of human need, from the trivial to the profound. And as if the human need that I actually have to face personally weren’t enough, my ministry as Bishop of Springfield puts me behind the wheel of a car for several hours each week, and while I’m cruising the highways of central and southern Illinois, I often listen to talk radio. More human need, in the news, and in the call-in programs. I sometimes have the sense of the whole world being one big need, one big problem, one big bottomless-pit demand.

The world is indeed a needy place; human need abounds. There is hunger, there is pain, there is poverty, there is grief, there is captivity and tyranny, there is addiction, there is loneliness, there is guilt, and as if all this weren't enough, there is death. So most of us will look for hope, for the plausible possibility of meeting these abundant needs, wherever, and in whomever, we think we might find it. If we're hungry, we hope for the one who will feed us. If we're in pain, we hope for the one who will bring relief. If we're held captive, we hope for the one who will set us free. If we're poor, we hope for plenty. If we're lonely, we hope for companionship. If we're guilty, we hope for forgiveness, and if we're surrounded by or facing death, we hope for life.

But very often, we're disappointed in our search for hope. We find someone or something that might meet one of the items on  our list of needs, but instead of being grateful, we become angry and resentful that this person or thing can't meet all of our needs. Who and what are these "stopgap saviors" that disappoint us?  The list is a long one, and includes spouses, children, this parish—or any parish, a twelve-step program, a therapist—or therapy in general, a form of prayer, a priest, an author, a politician, a career, or a beautiful body. It's kind of silly to be angry with one or more of these for not being able to meet all our needs—it's like being angry with a cat for not being able to bark!—but we do it anyway.

The people of the Old Covenant, the nation of Israel, were a people of hope. They shared each and every one of these human needs that we've just catalogued, and they hoped for one who would meet those needs. Over the centuries, over times of hunger and captivity and guilt, they were promised, through the words of the prophets, just such a deliverer, just such a hope bringer. At times, this savior, this object of hope, was characterized as a servant of God who would suffer on behalf of God's people. Isaiah writes:
Behold, my servant, in whom my soul delights ... He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the         street; a bruised reed he will not break, a dimly-burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.
At other times, the hope-bringer is characterized as a king, as an anointed one, or, in Hebrew, a messiah. Isaiah also writes:
The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.
This suffering servant, this messiah-king, became the figure in whom all the hopes and aspirations of Israel were focused. The Greek word for messiah is Christ, and as Christ-ians, followers of Christ, we have a conviction about who the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed-One of God, is—namely, Jesus. The feast that we keep today, the feast of the baptism of the Christ, the baptism of Jesus, reveals Jesus as the one promised by Isaiah and the other prophets, the one who embodies and shows forth the hope, not   only of the people of Israel, but of “the nations,” the “goyim,” us!— all people, in every place and in every time.

In each of the four gospels, the account of this incident marks the beginning of Jesus's public ministry. Before this moment, he was, if you will, a “private citizen,” Jesus the carpenter's son. After this moment, he is very much a public figure: teaching, healing, and planting the seeds of the community that would spring to life following his death, resurrection, and ascension. In the eastern church, it is the baptism of Christ, not the coming of the Wise Men, that is the primary symbol of his epiphany, his showing forth, his manifestation, his revelation. More accurately, it's not the actual baptism that is the epiphany, but what immediately followed: the heavens were parted, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father gave his seal of approval on the whole occasion: "You are my beloved Son, with you I am well-pleased."

In this wonderful moment, all signs point to Jesus.  Earlier, John the Baptist had been asked if he were the Messiah, and he quickly set the record straight:  "I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." John points to Jesus and says, "He's the one, the Anointed One of God who will establish justice and righteousness and forgive the sins of those who are penitent.” The voice of God the Father points to Jesus and says, "He's the one, the one in whom I show you myself, the one through whom you can share my very life." The Holy Spirit not only points to Jesus but almost lands on him and says, "He's the one, the one who will proclaim good news to the poor and liberty to those who are held captive." Jesus is in the center of the picture, pointed out, recognized, designated, revealed ... as the one in whom all the deepest hopes of humankind are gathered, or, in the words of the German chorale, "Jesu, joy of man's desiring".

I hesitate to try and illustrate by historical example what was going on at this moment, because anything I can think of seems utterly lame by comparison, but this is such a substantial landmark, such an important element in the pictorial vocabulary of our faith, that I want you to really grasp it. So, on a much less cosmic scale, and this is something that’s just beyond the living memory of even the oldest members of this congregation, but most everybody here at least knew somebody who remembered it well—it's like Franklin Roosevelt taking the oath of office in 1933, gathering into himself, representing, the deepest hopes of Americans who were being crushed by the Great Depression. On an even less cosmic scale, it's like a university athletic director calling a press conference to introduce a new head football or basketball coach, and saying, "This is the one on whom our hopes for a winning season are fastened."

If we can open our eyes to see this picture of time and space transcended, of heaven and earth momentarily joined, we can face the neediness of the world, the neediness of our own lives, not with panic, not with desperation, not with despair, but with authentic, deep, and abiding hope, because we see the one who alone is worthy of our hope.

Several years ago, in the realm of pop psychology, there was a technique called the “relaxation response.” It was said that, by assuming the right physical position, and engaging in the right mental exercises, we could make relaxation a learned, conditioned response.  I tried it and it worked—for me, at least—and I still use it from time to time. I would like to think that, as the relaxation response provides a shot of stress relief, the picture of Jesus at his baptism, being pointed to and designated as the focus of our hope, can provide a shot of faith; that to conjure in our mind's eye the picture of Jesus standing waist-deep in the water, with an wild-eyed John the Baptist looking on, with heavenly light emanating from a hole in the sky, and a dove gently descending toward Jesus, can provide us with the moment-to-moment spiritual lift that we need to walk the road that God puts us on.

The Lord has shown forth his glory: Come let us adore him.

Amen.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday (St Aelred)

Woke up to the promised snowfall--about five inches at the time, I would say, with more coming down. Got myself put together and trudged across the alley for Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Then ventured out by car to hunt for some breakfast. In my AWD vehicle, the streets were not a problem, but there was evidence that others were not so lucky. Charlie Parker's, my biscuits & gravy place, may have been open--their lot was plowed--but there were no cars, so I assumed the worst and moved on to IHOP way out on West Wabash. By the time I got back to the office, and shoveled a bit of snow around the garage door and between the office and the cathedral atrium, it was mid-morning, which I devoted the rest of to the finish work on my homily for tomorrow at the cathedral. Then it was down to McD's for a snack-lunch. At 1:30, I participated in a meeting with three of our priests that was supposed to be in-person but morphed into a video conference because of the snow. We got done what needed to get done in about an hour. I attempted a walk, but the sidewalks are generally just too impassible. Opened a sermon file (prayed, clipped the readings into a document, made initial notes) on Epiphany VI (St Thomas', Glen Carbon). Dealt by email with some Province V issues. Got another chunk of work done on my pastoral teaching on marriage document. Evening Prayer, a bit on the late side, in the cathedral. Dinner out a Longhorn, followed by a brief bit of shopping at HyVee.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday

  • Up and out of my office encampment in time to offer Morning Prayer in the cathedral at 0730. Then on to McD's to pick up some breakfast and have a phone conversation with Brenda.
  • Caught up with the Archdeacon on a range of issues.
  • Got my tasks for the day organized, which took longer than usual because of an inordinately large onslaught of recent emails.
  • Consulted with the Archdeacon on a canonical issue.
  • Had a brief but substantial conversation with the Archdeacon and the Administrator on sharpening our data backup and archiving protocols. This will never be an urgent issue (unless a tornado makes a direct hit on our virtually indestructible building), but it is nonetheless important. 
  • Dealt by email with some suddenly emergent Communion Partner business.
  • Worked with Paige to develop a Plan B for an important meeting scheduled for tomorrow, since several inches of snow are predicted. We'll try a video conferencing solution.
  • Resumed working on master sermon planning for Lent through Trinity Sunday.
  • Lunch from KFC, then down to the Mazda dealer to have them deal with the tire pressure warning light that was on.
  • Back to the sermon plotting work, with several email interruptions. This basically took the rest of the afternoon, apart from ...
  • ... a vigorous walk west to Walnut, north to Carpenter, east to Ninth, south to Lawrence, and back over. Synergized by doing en route an Ignatian meditation on the gospel reading from the daily office lectionary.
  • Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Thursday (William Laud)

  • Customary weekday early AM routine.
  • Hunkered down with commentaries and did the exegetical work on the readings for Epiphany V (Holy Trinity, Danville).
  • Reached out by email over a couple of pastoral/admin issues.
  • Wrestled with my notes on the readings for Epiphany IV (Christ the King, Normal) and arrived at a homiletical message statement,.
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Began working on master sermon prep planning for the period between Ash Wednesday and Trinity Sunday,
  • Took Brenda to a healthcare appointment.
  • Took a 75-minute power walk (the "power" part necessary to generate some body heat on a very cold day).
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.
  • Order-in Thai food for dinner. Then packed at hit the road southbound at 7:15. Arrived at the diocesan center in Springfield for my weekend deployment at 10:30.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Wednesday

  • Early Morning Prayer in the domestic oratory. Made tea and breakfast. Planned the day's work. Did the crossword. Got showered and dressed.
  • Responded to a request for an appointment, made a step of progress toward an annual review regimen for YFNB, responded to a late-arriving but time-sensitive email.
  • Did some appropriate surgery on a "vintage" sermon text for Epiphany I, toward delivering a version of it this Sunday at the cathedral.
  • Took a phone call from the President of the Standing Committee.
  • Digested an email and attached newsletter from our representative to the Province V ECW board.
  • Responded by long-ish and substantive email to an emerging pastoral issue in one of our Eucharistic Communities.
  • Carry-out lunch from the Chinese place around the corner.
  • Took a brisk 70-minute walk on a brisk day in the Windy City. 
  • Performed a similar homiletical task as my morning activity, this time on a text for Epiphany II, to be delivered at Christ Church, Springfield.
  • Worked some more on the exorcism liturgy project.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda in the oratory.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tuesday

In view of having spent my regular personal sabbath day traveling, I had to devote today mostly to personal chores and errands. I say "mostly" because I did do some substantial prep work for next month's clergy retreat. My overall productivity was significantly hampered by a really bad case of hay fever-like allergy symptoms, although it isn't the time of year for that sort of thing. Feeling a bit better as bedtime approaches.

Monday

Breakfast with my hosts in Greenville, SC, then on the Christ Church to get read for the 1100 requiem for Bishop Hulstrand. I assisted with Holy Communion and gave the Commendation. It was a lovely service, and I was honored to be part of it. Then I took my old parishioner out to lunch before she showed me around downtown Greenville and we headed to the airport for my 5:30pm flight back to Chicago. I arrived home around 7:30.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Epiphany

Left my basecamp at the diocesan center at 0700 and arrived at Trinity, Jacksonville in time to preach for the 0800 celebration and preside and preach at 1000. There's a good spirit at Trinity under the pastoral leadership of Fr Zach Brooks. Around noon I hit the road northbound and arrived in my Chicago home at 3:45. Had time to unpack, repack, and rest a bit before calling a Lyft to pick me up at 6:45 and take me to the Jefferson Park blue line station, where I caught a train to O'Hare, then boarded a 9:00 departure for Greenville, South Carolina. I was met a little past midnight local time by an old parishioner from my California sojourn, who now lives in Greenville and sings in the choir at Christ Church, venue for Bishop Hultstrand's funeral. She and her husband graciously gave me lodging for the night.

Sermon for Epiphany

Trinity, Jacksonville--Matthew 2:1-12, Ephesians 3:1-12

Epiphany. Wise Men. Gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Camels, oxen, sheep, shepherds, angels. It evokes a memory of any number of children’s Christmas pageants, and it’s precisely the tableau that I bet is on more than one of the Christmas cards that you haven’t gotten around to throwing out yet … or perhaps you’ve been waiting for today, for Epiphany, to toss your 2018 Christmas cards around the same time you undecorate your tree and restore your home to its pre-holiday configuration. (That will be my job on Tuesday, as tomorrow I have to be at the funeral of my predecessor once-removed, Bishop Hultstrand).  Of course, any scene that includes both the shepherds and the Wise Men is taking some liberties, because Luke talks about the shepherds and Matthew tells us about the Wise Men, but no biblical text ever puts them in the same place at the same time. Just don’t tell the greeting card industry.

Sadly, though, that’s where we tend to get stuck: at the manger with baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary and St Joseph and the Wise Men and the shepherds and any number of four-footed creatures of various sorts, with the angels just having finished their singing. And, while it’s a beautiful scene, it’s not a very good place to linger. It’s not a fruitful place to hang around. It’s just a Christmas card image, and that’s it. It’s flat, two-dimensional. There’s no substance, nothing deep, nothing revealing.

Ah, revealing. That’s the actual meaning of the word “epiphany”—a revelation, a demonstration, exhibition, showing forth, a manifestation, to use our traditional Anglican language. An epiphany reveals. It makes known something that was previously unknown, previously a secret, previously a mystery. To understand Epiphany, we need to allow ourselves to think, not literally, but symbolically. What mystery does the two-dimensional but comfortably familiar Christmas card tableau lead us or call us into? What’s the “deeper place” that we are invited to explore?

Precisely this: The encounter between the Wise Men and the infant Jesus symbolizes the foundation of Christian mission. If you happen to serve here at Trinity on what is customarily referred to among Episcopalians as the Vestry, you probably know that, in the canons of the Diocese of Springfield, we have adopted the term Mission Leadership Team. I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole of why we did that here, except to make the further observation that members of the Mission Leadership Team, aka Vestry, are no doubt aware that one of its duties is to annually prepare and submit a document called a Mission Strategy Report, which lays out a definite plan for, in this case, Trinity Church in Jacksonville, to take its share in the grand missionary mandate of the church throughout the world, which is nothing other than Jesus’ Great Commission: “Go into all the world and make disciples.” That missionary mandate, including Trinity Church, Jacksonville’s missionary strategy, is symbolically revealed, manifested, shown forth, exhibited, demonstrated … in the encounter between the Wise Men and the infant Jesus.

How, precisely, can our celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany assist in the pursuit of the mission God has given us? I will suggest three ways that this happens:

First, the encounter between the Wise Men and the infant Jesus establishes the scope of Christian mission, which is, that it is universal. Mission is directed toward all people in every place. Here we ought to remind ourselves of St Paul’s relentless work toward inclusion of Gentiles in Christian missionary efforts. All the first Christians, of course, were Jews, and some of them thought it should stay that way. Paul cashed in all his political chips in the cause of making the gospel available to non-Jews, for which most of us here, I would expect, should be duly grateful. This is indeed one of the marks of the “mystery” that Paul writes to the Ephesians about in our second reading this morning: “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” It is precisely this “mystery” that allows us to read Matthew’s story of the Wise Men the way we do. It allows us to see significance in the fact that they were Gentiles, they came from unspecified foreign lands, and therefore figuratively represent all Gentiles, and bear witness to the universality of the Gospel. There is nobody anywhere for whom the Church’s proclamation that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” is not good news. We have no license to place restrictions on with whom this good news gets shared. Christian mission is universal.

Second, the encounter between the Wise Men and the infant Jesus defines the objective of Christian mission, which is what the Wise Men themselves were seeking; namely, an encounter with Jesus. In the free-church evangelical subculture in which I was raised in the 1950s and 60s, we spoke freely of the duty of all faithful Christians to “lead people to Christ.” Indeed, this is the fundamental movement of the activity we know as evangelism, which is the heart of mission. In a sense, the Star of Bethlehem was the first evangelist—it led the Wise Men from wherever in “the East” they were from, to their awkward meeting with King Herod, and then finally to “the place where the child lay.” The route to Jesus can be long and circuitous, but the objective of the Church’s missionary outreach must always point to Jesus, and broker an encounter with Jesus. It’s up to Jesus to close the deal, but he wants us to take responsibility for arranging the meeting. Mission has an objective, and that is to lead people to Christ.

Third, and finally, the encounter between the Wise Men and the infant Jesus identifies the fruit of Christian mission, which is, to use a slightly fancy term, oblation—that is, people giving themselves to Christ. The gold, frankincense, and myrrh may have their individual symbolic associations, which we sing about in that most famous of all Epiphany hymns—We Three Kings—but, generically, they were gifts. In this very celebration of the Eucharist we will explicitly make such a gift: we will offer “ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice” to God the Father, through God the Son, in God the Holy Spirit. The Wise Men presented their gifts and left, never to be heard from again. But we give ourselves to Christ as one continuous lifelong movement, “that we may dwell in him, and he in us,” using the words that we will pray together in a few minutes, until we see him face to face. We take up where the Wise Men leave off, and don’t just bring gifts; we become gifts. We give ourselves. Self-giving is the essential fruit of mission.

Epiphany reminds us that the scope of our mission is universal, the objective of our mission is an encounter with Jesus, and the fruit of our mission is a continuous act of oblation, of self-giving. This is daunting. Fortunately, grace abounds, and we are never under-resourced for this work.

Praised be Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Saturday (12th Day of Christmas)

  • MP in the cathedral around 0800. Then off for biscuits & gravy at my new "regular" Saturday morning haunt, Charlie Parker's.
  • I decided to take advantage of a postponed afternoon meeting and devote most of the day to the project of producing a substantive pastoral teaching document on sexuality and marriage. It's the kind of thing that requires a big block of time for sustained focus and research, which doesn't just happen--moments must be seized, and I seized this one. I'm happy with what I got done.
  • In the midst of that, I did manage a major walk--east on Lawrence to Sixth, north all the way the North Grand Avenue, west to Second, and back down.
  • Dinner at O'Charley's. 
  • Spent the bulk of the evening writing out greetings to clergy and spouses with birthdays and anniversaries in January.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Friday (11th Day of Christmas)

  • Morning Prayer in a still-dark cathedral before breakfast, then ton the drive-through at Hardee's (for a change of pace from McD's).
  • Culled the accumulated hard-copy items on my desk.
  • Ran (well, walked, actually) down to Illinois National Bank to initiate a wire transfer of some funds to our companion diocese of Tabora, funds that have been lying around, earmarked for that purpose.
  • Took care of a handful of small administrative items.
  • Consulted with Paige on a couple of her ongoing projects. Did some internet followup of my own on one of them.
  • Got to work refining and editing the working text of my homily for this Sunday (Trinity, Jacksonville).
  • Broke off from this to greet my 113o lunch appointment, arriving fifteen minutes early--one of our postulants. We walked over to Boone's Tavern for a productive "live Ember Day letter."
  • Got back to the sermon work I had started earlier, ending up with a manuscript in my car, and e-versions scheduled to post at 10am Sunday.
  • Plotted and scheduled the tasks related to getting ready for this year's Chrism Mass.
  • Stepped out to get my hair cut, my car washed, and a bit of personal shopping done (the venues of my former Springfield routine continue to beckon, just because of their easy familiarity).
  • My usual Friday prayer practice consisted of a deep final (for this season) listen to Ralph Vaughan Williams' Christmas cantata Hodie, with the sung texts open on my computer so I could follow along. It is a marvelous work of art, not nearly well-enough known, IMO. Because I was the only one in the building by this time, I could have the sound up as loud as I wanted!
  • Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Thursday (10th Day of Christmas)

  • Same early AM routine as yesterday.
  • In consultation with three commentaries, did exegetical work on the readings for Epiphany IV (February 3 at Christ the King, Normal). This is often my favorite part of the sermon development process, and I devoted the entire rest of the morning to it..
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Took my daily 75-minute (or thereabouts) walk on a sunny and somewhat mild early afternoon.
  • Got through a big chunk of the exorcism rite development project.
  • Got organized for preaching on Epiphany V (February 10 at Holy Trinity, Danville)--said my prayers, created a Word file, pasted the texts of the readings into it, read them carefully and jotted down a few preliminary notes.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda in our domestic oratory.
  • After a dinner of homemade Cincinnati-style chili, I packed for three nights away and hit the road southbound at 7:07pm, arriving at the Springfield office at around 10:30.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Wednesday

  • Up and in our domestic oratory by around 0630 for some time in quiet contemplation, deep intercession, and, eventually the morning office.
  • Fixed tea and breakfast, which I ate (and drank) while taking a short pass through social media, checking overnight email, and planning my day's work. The USA Today crossword puzzle is also establishing itself as part of my morning routine, the goal being to finish it in uder 15 minutes.
  • Showered, dressed, and attacked my task list, starting with ...
  • ... doing appropriate surgery on the text of a pre-used sermon for Epiphany II, getting it ready for deployment at Christ Church, Springfield on January 20.
  • Exchanged emails with the rector of Trinity, Jacksonville, covering some of the details of my visitation there this Sunday.
  • Attended to a handful of pastoral issues via text and email, one of which required an unusual amount of thought and care, and was yet undone when I ... 
  • ... took Brenda to a scheduled healthcare appointment. Stopped to pick up some lunch at Popeye's afterward, bringing it home to eat.
  • Continued to labor over the undone pastoral email, finally bringing it to a conclusion.
  • Said my prayers, and then took a first homiletical drive-by at the readings for Epiphany IV, when the plan is for me to be presiding and preaching at Christ the King, Normal (February 3).
  • Took Brenda to yet another medical appointment (MRI of brain, which is not a pleasant procedure).
  • Despite the mostly-fallen darkness, I braved the elements for 7000 steps, which took me about an hour.
  • Evening Prayer in the oratory.