Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Lord's Day (XI Pentecost)

Out of my hotel accommodations in Glen Carbon in time to arrive at St Bartholomew's in Granite City about 30 minutes ahead of the regular 0930 Eucharist. Presided and preached for the small but dedicated band of regulars there, along with Fr Scott Hoogerhyde, who regularly takes care of them. After some post-liturgical visiting, it was time to head up to Edwardsville for a lunch appointment with a lay leader in one of our communities. Then, about 35 minutes back south on I-255 to Toddhall, where it was my joy once again to preside and breach the closing Mass for the Cursillo weekend. It was back in my car heading out at 4:50, and home exactly six hours later (after a brief stop at the office in Springfield, dinner in Lincoln, and gas in Odell).

Sermon for Proper 16

St Bartholomew’s, Granite City--Hebrews 12:18–29
                      
One of the attributes of God is that God does not change. In a universe full of change, God is the one constant, a fixed point. We can depend on God to be who God is, to be consistent with his own nature. But the way human beings speak about God changes all the time. Sometimes we talk about God as distant, severe, a Supreme Being who provokes us to fear and trembling. At other times, we imagine God as nearby, a kind and merciful Grandfather figure.

Perhaps you’ve heard of a famous sermon given by the New England Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards in the early 1700s. It’s known by the title Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Edwards paints such a vivid picture of eternal damnation that you can feel the flames of Hell beginning to singe the hair on your arms! And then, by contrast, there the lyrics of “praise choruses” in the “Contemporary Christian Music” genre that have led some critics to sarcastically summarize them as “Jesus is my boyfriend.”

Or, if you’re looking for contrasting ways of describing God, spend some time with the Psalms. They are all over the map with regard to whether God is frightening or benevolent, angry or loving.

So … how are we supposed to approach God? Should we be kind of casual about it, like the grown child who walks through the front door of his parents’ home at 1am, raids the refrigerator, and plops down on the couch to watch a movie without giving a second thought to his sleeping parents? Or … should we come into God’s presence like the subjects of the Mongolian Khans, who entered the throne room with their heads bowed, never looked the ruler in the eye, and exited walking backwards so as to not turn their backs on the sovereign?

The answer, as you might imagine, lies somewhere between those two poles. But, if we take our cue from the twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, we’re going to find ourselves wanting to more closely imitate the behavior of the Mongols than that of the casual and presumptuous adult child. God is so utterly awesome that it makes sense for us to approach him with grateful trepidation, with confident fear, with humble trembling. Listen to the text of our reading:
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”
So, Moses is trembling with fear, and for good reason. If you’re paying attention, that description has to give you goosebumps. But what’s truly terrifying is that this description is of what the reader is not facing—“You have not come to what may be touched” etc. etc. So, what have we come to?
You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Now, this is less immediately terrifying than the description of Moses going up Mt Sinai, but it is certainly still immensely humbling. It puts us in our place! Heavenly Jerusalem … innumerable angels … God, the judge of all … sprinkled blood—it’s all pretty darn impressive!

And then the author wraps it up with this:
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
Whenever you’re reading the Bible and you see the word “therefore,” that’s when you know to start really paying attention; that’s when the super-important stuff shows up. Therefore … what? Therefore let us be grateful. Gratitude is the foundation of our approach to God. We are grateful to God that he has given us a “kingdom that cannot be shaken.” But then there’s more. “Let us offer to God acceptable worship.” And what constitutes acceptable worship? Well, the author tells us. “Let us offer acceptable worship with reverence and awe.” Reverence and awe. Why? Because “our God is a consuming fire.” Now we see where Jonathan Edwards got part of his inspiration!

This is why traditional Christian worship is full of symbolic objects, symbolic actions, and symbolic postures, all of which point to the sacredness of what we’re doing and the holiness of God. When we’re in church, we see and use material objects that we don’t see and use anywhere else. We speak words that we don’t speak anywhere else. We do things with our bodies that we don’t do anywhere else. Even in a small church with a small congregation like at St Bartholomew’s, there’s nothing “casual” about what we’re doing. We have “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.” We have come to invoke the Holy Spirit of God on our humble gifts of bread and wine, that they may become the very Body and Blood of his crucified and risen Son, given to us for the salvation of our souls, as we ourselves are given for the life of the world.

Praised be Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

St Bartholomew

Made the very short (5-7 minutes) drive from my hotel in Columbia to Toddhall in time for my scheduled 0930 presentation on the sacraments at the Cursillo weekend. It went well, though I could have talked much longer. It's a big subject! After a brief break, I presided and preached at a Eucharist in which we observed today's feast day. Not much is known about Bartholomew, so I spoke about apostolicity and apostleship in genera. I grabbed lunch from Burger King on my way out of town, and drove up to Fairview Heights to get some steps in by walking around St Clair Square mall. Malls are kind of sad places these days. Having killed sufficient time, I kept going north and slightly west to the Hampton Inn in Glen Carbon, my home for the night. Took a necessary nap, did some reading (the novel I'm in the midst of), and processed a few emails that were stragglers from yesterday. Drove back down to Fairview Heights for a dinner of Thai food, then enough walking back around the hotel to get me over the 10K step threshold. 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday

  • Up at 0500 so as to be in the road to Springfield at 0530. I ended up eight minutes behind schedule, but still got to the office right at the targeted 0900.
  • Had the predictable extended discussion with the Archdeacon on a range of issues.
  • Processed the thick stack of hard-copy items on my desk, most of it having accumulated during my vacation, since last weekend was so jammed I didn't get to deal with it.
  • Refined, edited, printed, and scheduled for posting the text of my homily for this Sunday (at St Bartholomew's, Granite City, and probably some version of it at the Cursillo closing Eucharist on Sunday afternoon).
  • Did my due diligence on a request for consent to the consecration of the bishop-elect of Montana. Unable to find any red flags, I consented.
  • Lunch at Chick-Fil-A, then a brief personal shopping expedition at Best Buy.
  • Made significantly more progress on the pastoral issue affecting one of our communities about which I cannot yet say anything.
  • Took a phone call from a colleague bishop in another diocese over a recent development that can only be described as "bizarre."
  • Hand-wrote notes to clergy and spouses having nodal events in September.
  • Friday prayer: Lectio divina on today's daily office Old Testament reading, which was a pretty eventful narrative from II Samuel. This happened in the cathedral, after which I offered Evening Prayer, a bit on the early side.
  • Took a phone call from a lay leader in one of our Eucharistic Communities. Then more conversation with the Archdeacon.
  • Left at 5pm headed south. Arrived at the Hampton Inn in Columbia two hours later. Took a long walk, grabbed some dinner at a BBQ place, and did some reading. Here because of proximity to Toddhall for my appearance at the Cursillo weekend tomorrow.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thursday (Mary, Queen of Heaven)

  • Morning preliminaries done in time for me to be out the door to another chiropractic appointment by 0735. Back home a little past 0930.
  • Organized tasks for the day, took a couple of phone calls from diocesan clergy, did the crossword, got cleaned up.
  • Reviewed the draft minutes of the August Diocesan Council meeting sent to me by the Secretary. Suggested a typo correction.
  • Began the process of reviewing Mission Strategy Reports from the Eucharistic Communities.
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Dealt with some details pertaining to a couple of upcoming ordinations to the priesthood.
  • Moved the ball considerably down the field toward the clarification and resolution of a significant pastoral issue related to one of our communities. (Sorry about the vagueness; all will be revealed in due course.)
  • Continued to an organic stopping point with the Mission Strategy Reports.
  • Goosed the conversation along with the board chair of the Society of King Charles the Martyr, looping in the Archdeacon and the Dean, looking toward the cathedral hosting the Annual Mass & Luncheon in January.
  • Read a progress report from the Communications Coordinator about her work with Breeze, the database program we are currently using. Then I played around in the system a while. This is a HUGE step. For the first time ... ever ... after literally years and years of trying, I feel like we are on top of this quest. We may be arriving late to the 21st century, but it feels good.
  • Dealt by email with an ongoing clergy discipline issue.
  • Caught up on some sandbagged internet reading (the Covenant blog, mostly).
  • Domestic complications caused EP to fall through the cracks tonight.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wednesday

  • Usual morning routine.
  • Responded to an email from the Senior Warden of one of our Eucharistic Communities that will soon be in transition. Trying to set a time for an initial vacancy consultation.
  • Took care of some bits of administrative business toward the end of being able to set ordination dates for our two transitional deacons, and making sure someone who has been nominated for postulancy will get in front of the Commission on Ministry.
  • Turned my attention to a rather substantial administrative issue and sent the results of my work off to those who will know whether I did an adequate job.
  • Read another big chunk of Dignity, the book I'm committed to reviewing for The Living Church. Almost done with it.
  • Drove to one of the local parish churches for an appointment with a priest who has expressed in interest in exploring the vacancies that we have in the diocese.
  • Lunched (a bit late) at home on leftovers.
  • Had a substantive phone conversation with the bishop of another diocese over an issue that has an impact on us here in Springfield.
  • Spent a big chunk of quality time with commentaries on St Luke's gospel, in preparation for preaching on the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus on September 29 at St Stephen's, Harrisburg.
  • Responded in a more-substantive-than-usual way to a message from the Bishop of Tabora.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Tuesday (St Bernard)

  • Prayers, tea, breakfast, and crossword in the usual fashion. Then out at 0735 for a chiropractic appointment at 0800. 
  • Back around 0915. Got cleaned up. Planned tasks for the day.
  • Took a phone call from one of the clergy of the diocese.
  • Stepped out to take Brenda to a 1030 acupuncture appointment. Picked up some Italian beef sandwiches from Al's Beef on the way home. They make the absolute best. Ate in front of an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles. Yes, I can have pretty trashy taste in TV at times.
  • Composed and sent a substantive email to a colleague bishop about a rather sensitive and complex issue about which I can presently say nothing specific.
  • Took care of a fairly small duty in connection with my role as board secretary of the Living Church Foundation.
  • Dealt at considerable length with an emerging pastoral issue in one of our Eucharistic Communities.
  • Took care of a loose end related to my registration for next month's House of Bishops meeting.
  • Emailed the presenter for our November clergy conference with an eye toward fostering the process of content development.
  • Extended some pastoral care by phone to a cleric from outside the diocese.
  • Because of some recent changes to my weekend schedule in September, I had to revisit some preaching prep plans. This involved identifying a couple of old texts that can be reworked.
  • Evening Prayer in our domestic chapel.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Lord's Day (X Pentecost)

Presided and preached both morning liturgies at St Andrew's, Edwardsville, which was an extraordinary visitation in view of the recent sudden and unexpected departure of the still-new rector last month (made possible by the fact that services at St Mary's, Robinson are on Saturday evenings for the time being). After coffee hour, I spent some time with a combined meeting of the MLT and Search Committee taking stock of their situation and roughing out some plans. Began the drive home about 12:45, and it took me all of six hours to get there, owing to two cars catching on fire in the middle of a bridge across the Illinois River, about a huindred yards in front of me, which necessitated a bunch of traffic being rerouted. 

Sermon for Proper 15

St Mary’s, Robinson; St Andrew’s, Edwardsville--Hebrews 12:1-14 ,  Luke 12:49-56

Our attention was riveted in horror earlier this month by a series of mass shootings in quick succession—in California, Texas, and Ohio. On the same weekend that two of those events happened, there were several independent gun violence incidents just in the city of Chicago, and seven people were killed. My only point in bringing that up is that, in the words of Gilda Radner’s Saturday Night Live character from the 1970s, “It’s always something.” We are indeed regularly faced with the reality that “it’s always something.” If it’s not violence caused by human beings, it’s violence caused by nature: earthquakes, fires, floods, and storms are simply a ubiquitous part of human experience. Plane crashes, computer viruses, internet hacks, and industrial accidents will just happen. The same goes for organized crime, cancer, and flesh-eating bacteria. Even when people aren’t getting shot, drugs still get sold to school children, alcoholics who decide to drink will still drink, husbands and wives and children will still quarrel with one another, the demand for divorce lawyers will not suddenly disappear, people will still hurt and deceive and betray each other, and psychotherapists will still be able to fill their appointment calendars. In short, suffering will continue to be a part of human experience, just as it has always been since the fruit got eaten     from that tree in the middle of the garden.

And since suffering is all around us, whether it’s a stubbed toe or a broken heart, it’s often tempting for us to conclude that it is therefore meaningless, random, without purpose or any redeeming value. It’s purely the laws of physics and the laws of statistics that determine which golfers get a hole-in one and which ones get killed by a lightning bolt on the green. There’s no more meaning to it than that. The best we can do in the face of such a reality to be stoic and keep a stiff upper lip.

If we don’t have that much strength of character, then we simply fall victim to cynicism and despair. This can take the form of profound depression, leading ultimately to suicide. Perhaps you have experienced this, either personally or through somebody whom you love. Or, more frequently, despair can take the form of “let it all hang out” licentiousness. We’re all going to suffer and die anyway, so let’s enjoy as many of the sensory pleasures of this world as we can while we can. What difference does it make? If you don’t see yourself as the depressed and suicidal type, then maybe you have a place among the party animals—let the good times roll and keep them rolling like there’s no tomorrow because  … maybe there’s not!

Now, the reason we are all here at this moment doing what we’re doing, is that some part of us, at least, believes or hopes or suspects or wishes … that there’s another alternative. I know that’s why I’m here. Most of the time, I’m in the category of believing. There are days, however, when I am among those who can only hope or suspect or wish.

But, in any case, I have pretty well staked my life on the notion that God is in the business of providing meaning and purpose for events and experiences that seem meaningless to me, and without any redeeming value or purpose. I have bet all my chips on the hope that God is a God who redeems, who hates the thought of losing any part of his creation to the forces of evil. If I am a prisoner in this world of child abuse, human trafficking, forest fires, and serial killers, then my hope is that God’s philosophy of prison management is one of rehabilitating the offenders, in which company I number myself, rather than punishment for its own sake. When I have my rational wits about me, when I pay attention to the clues God has left about himself—in nature, in the pages of scripture, in the tradition and teaching of the church—then my confidence in the wisdom of my cosmic bet, my grand wager, that on which I have staked everything—my confidence is bolstered.

In everything that God actually tells us about himself, he is revealed as a God whose purposes are always oriented and ordered toward redemption. This includes the debris of human suffering left in the wake of mass shooters, wife beaters, child rapists, drunk drivers, con artists, identity thieves, genocidal maniacs, arms dealers, dope pushers, “frank exchanges” between ambassadors, corporate mergers, stock market crashes, plant closures, crop failures, boring teachers, stupid bosses, inattentive spouses, and bad hair days. God wants to redeem it all. None of it is devoid of meaning. All of it is ordered toward the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

Now hear me well here: I do not believe God ever wills or sends suffering. God’s not sitting up in heaven at some master control board pushing a button labeled “smite” whenever he gets the inkling. In his wisdom, however—which does not always, or often, make sense to me—in his wisdom God has chosen to allow evil to exist in the universe. And since it’s there, he finds ways to use it creatively to the advantage of his purposes.

In the classic Asian martial arts, one is taught to defend oneself, not by directly resisting the movements of the attacker, but by cooperating with them. The aggressor’s own moves are co-opted by the defender and ultimately become the aggressor’s own undoing. That’s the way God redeems suffering. He does not conjure it, but he employs it for his own righteous and loving purposes. When we’re on the receiving end of such righteous and loving strategy, of course, it often seems like we are being punished. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews likens this to the way good parents discipline their children. Real discipline, of course, operates from love, and no other motive. Otherwise, it’s just sadistic. When love is present, however, parental discipline can serve a fruitful end. It instills a knowledge of the difference between right and wrong, builds integrity, and strengthens character.

And when there is no discipline, one suspects that there is a corresponding lack of love. When I was a child, I rolled my eyes whenever I heard the cliché, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” But when I became a parent, I realized—it’s true. Many of my failures as a parent arose from not being willing enough to face the pain of being the one to hand out discipline. Surely God is heartbroken, as well, when he exploits suffering—suffering that was going to happen anyway, I should add—when God exploits suffering as a means of discipline. And when we’re experiencing such discipline, we need to remember that we are not necessarily being punished for something we have done wrong. This side of eternity, we might not ever know the purpose of the pain we are required to endure.

Then again, with some prayer and discernment, we may be able to learn something of that purpose. St Luke’s gospel records for us a talk Jesus had with his listeners about how one particular kind of suffering would be a natural consequence of the decision to become his disciple--the suffering that attends alienation from family members. Many of you have been a party to, or been otherwise close to, a marriage that is “mixed” with respect to religion. Christians often marry Jews or Muslims or Buddhists or agnostics or atheists or some other brand of Christian, or someone of the same denomination who just believes less intensely or more intensely. I don’t particularly recommend such marriages—St Paul himself says, “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers”—but they happen. Sometimes the religious disparity appears after the    marriage is several years old, and the partners in that marriage experience something of what Jesus was talking about, which is a very personal and often quiet kind of suffering when two people who are supposed to enjoy intimacy find they are at odds in their core values. Of course, this, too, is suffering that God can employ for his purposes. But Jesus goes on to chide his audience about how adept they are at predicting the weather by looking at the sky, but are unable to discern the will and purpose of God by the signs he provides in the experiences of their lives. So when we we’re on the receiving end of what might be disciplinary suffering, it’s probably a good idea to ask some questions:

         “How can God use this?”
         “What special grace might there be in it for me?”
         “Is there an opportunity here for me to grow in faith and hope and charity?”
         “What is God trying to get my attention about?”
         “Is there some area of my life that I am holding back from God?”
         “Is there a pet sin—even a little one—that I really know about but have been unwilling to own up to?”

If we ask ourselves these questions, we may be led to the answers. What a blessing that is! Then again, they may go completely unanswered. That’s a blessing too. At least it helps us learn trust and patience! And we’re getting the kind of practice in reading the signs of the times that Jesus commends so strongly. Inch by inch, step by step, irritation by irritation, heartbreak by heartbreak—even, at times, tragedy by tragedy—real change takes place in our souls. We are being made holy. Christ is being formed in us. We are being conformed to the image of Christ, which is the image of triumph through suffering, light through darkness, strength through weakness, victory through surrender, and life through death.

And whatever we have to endure, it’s worth it, because we are being made worthy to wear the victor’s crown. And while we are yet running the race, we are cheered on from the celestial grandstands—what a picture the letter to the Hebrews paints for us!—we are cheered from the grandstands by a “cloud of witnesses”: saints, apostles, prophets, and martyrs who testify to God’s enduring and great faithfulness. So give him the glory, and keep on running.

Amen.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Saturday

Today was pedal-to-the-metal from beginning to end (and I do mean that metaphorically, even though I did a prodigious amount of driving).
  • Morning Prayer in the cathedral.
  • Breakfast from McD's, eaten in the car.
  • Made liturgical/homiletical preparations for the Diocesan Council Mass.
  • Got my office encampment securely packed up, with appropriate items loaded in the car.
  • Presided and preached at the Mass (10am).
  • Presided at the regular August meeting of the Diocesan Council. Discussion was rather livelier than usual at times, but I think we got an important snag sorted out. 
  • Met with a priest of the dioceses to discuss some discernment issues in significant detail.
  • Took an unscheduled meeting with another priest over a vexing pastoral issue. I had to cut it a little short, owing to my need to be on the road in a timely manner.
  • Headed out of town at 2:30, stopping for gas and a drive-through burger on South Grand Avenue.
  • Arrived at St Mary's, Robinson around 5:10, ahead of their scheduled 5:30 liturgy. Presided and preached. St Mary's is in a pastoral hiatus, but they are under the able leadership of Senior Warden Mike Clark.
  • Enjoyed some dinner and conversation in the parish hall following the liturgy. Then got back on the road westward around 7:15, arriving at the Hampton Inn in Glen Carbon around 9:40.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday

  • Up and out and across the alley to the cathedral for intercessions and Morning Prayer at 0735. Then breakfast at Hardee's.
  • Long wide-ranging catchup conversation with the Archdeacon, consuming most of the morning.
  • Made hotel reservations, belatedly, for the House of Bishops meeting in Minneapolis next month. Somehow, the original email didn't find its way into my inbox when it was sent.
  • Stepped out at 11:30 for an early lunch at Chick-Fil-A, ahead of a 12:15 appointment at the blood bank. Unfortunately, my hemoglobin was a bit on the low side, so they didn't allow me to donate. Not quite sure what went wrong.
  • Back at the office, then, I had a bit of a wrestling match with Microsoft Excel, which I need to use for a little project I'm working on. When you don't use something very often ...
  • Between 2:00 and 4:00, I was tutoring an individual in the ordination process who already has a great deal of theological education. The one area where he needs some filling out is in applied pastoral liturgy, and I figure me may just as well learn to do it right from the get-go, so I'm teaching him myself!
  • More conversation with the Archdeacon.
  • As a prayer practice, sat down at the cathedral organ and contemplatively played through some hymns from the Hymnal 1940. Then prayed the evening office.
  • Dinner at the Pasta Company, then a small bit of personal shopping.
  • Walked for the better part of an hour, getting me to and over my 10,000 step goal.
  • Did the finish work on this Sunday's homily (tomorrow night in Robinson and Sunday morning in Edwardsville).

Thursday, August 15, 2019

St Mary the Virgin

  • Customary early AM weekday workday routine.
  • Out the door at 0735 for my 0800 appointment at the chiropractor. (The occasion includes chiropractic adjustment, rehab exercise, and massage therapy). Back home at 0930.
  • Organized my tasks, visited with our daughter for a bit, got cleaned up.
  • Spoke to an advice nurse by phone about a lightly mysterious sore throat.
  • Substantive phone conversation with a priest from outside the diocese about the feasibility of his serving in the Diocese of Springfield.
  • Lunch from Subway, eaten at home.
  • Spoke by phone with a priest of the diocese on a pastoral concern.
  • Ran a quick errand to the nearby Walgreens.
  • Yet another substantive phone conversation with a priest from outside about potential deployment within.
  • Made an initial homiletical drive-by of the readings for Proper 21, in preparation for preaching at St Stephen's, Harrisburg on September 29,
  • Reviewed and responded to a request for a marital judgment.
  • Composed and sent a carefully-worded email to the Presiding Bishop's canon about a sensitive canonical issue. (Ultimately, it concerns clergy deployment.) This precipitated a phone call from him, getting us pointed in a helpful direction.
  • Knocked back another section of the book Dignity (Chris Arnade), which I am reading to review.
  • Attended to packing and getting dinner made.
  • On the road for Springfield at 7:25. Arrived at 10:50. Settled in at my office encampment.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wednesday (Jonathan Myrick Daniels)

  • Customary weekday early AM working routine.
  • Continued substantive pastoral correspondence with a layperson of the diocese over discernment issues.
  • Carefully attended to some pragmatic details of a clergy discipline situation.
  • Took care of a brief administrative detail.
  • Developed my homiletical notes on Proper 16 (St Bartholomew's, Granite City) into a rough draft.
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Reviewed the résumé and cover letter of a priest from outside the diocese with an eye toward potential deployment with us.
  • Continued my focus on deployment issues with a detailed inquiry to the Archdeacon and Chancellor.
  • Bit off another large chunk of the book I'm reviewing foe The Living Church. This chapter had a good bit to do with the community of Cairo, part of the diocese, so it was of particular interest to me. I'm about three-quarters of the way through the volume now.
  • Went online and ordered some shelving units for my basement. The project continues.
  • Attended to a bit of General Convention detritus (digesting a message from a Task Force on liturgical revision, and informing the Chair that we will not likely be forming a diocesan version of said task force (per resolution A068), since, for the most part, we remain quite content with BCP'79.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tuesday (Jeremy Taylor)

  • Intercessions, Morning Prayer, tea, breakfast, social media cruising, crossword, task planning, shower.
  • Took care of a small accounting matter with the Diocesan Administrator via email.
  • Engaged the Communications Coordinator over her evolving plans for the Springfield Current.
  • Corresponded by email with three potential candidates for the four impending diocesan clergy vacancies.
  • Ran an errand to a nearby Staples for inkjet printer cartridges. They always seem to run low at the most inopportune times.
  • Executed some forms at the behest of my tax preparer.
  • Spoke by phone with a priest from outside the diocese on a potential clergy disciplinary matter.
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Consulted via email with the Chancellor and the Archdeacon over (another) clergy disciplinary matter.
  • Put some more finishing touches on my draft pastoral teaching document and sent it out to some friends and colleagues for peer review and critique.
  • Read another in the collection of catechetical tracts recently made available by the Living Church Foundation. I'm digesting the series in preparation for commending it thoughtfully to the clergy of the diocese.
  • Sat down to read a substantial chunk of the book I've committed to reviewing for The Living Church.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Friday

  • Prayers, tea, and breakfast per usual.
  • Took a long and vigorous walk while the cool of the morning still endured.
  • Got cleaned up and planned tasks for the day.
  • Took care of another income tax detail and puttered around a bit getting the apartment ready for some weekend guests (Brenda's college roommate and her husband).
  • Dealt with some communication and clergy deployment issues.
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Dealt via a chain of email exchanges with a sensitive pastoral-administrative matter.,
  • More clergy deployment issues.
  • Prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary.
  • Made travel arrangements for my next DEPO visitation to Trinity, Yazoo City, MS. Turns out Amtrak will work really well.
  • Welcomed our friends who drove up from Tennessee and spent the evening with them.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Thursday (St Dominic)

  • Up for prayers, tea, and a breakfast muffin before briskly walking the one-plus miles to my 0800 chiropractic appointment.
  • Back home around 0900. Worked the crossword, planned tasks for the day, showered, and got laundry started.
  • Sent a brief email to my tax preparer with a couple of questions.
  • Email exchange with the rector of my DEPO parish, We need to reschedule my visitation.
  • Substantive phone conversation with the senior warden of one of our Eucharistic Communities that is facing a pastoral vacancy.
  • Engaged in a bit of internet pastoral care, responding to a long email from a lay communicant of the diocese with another longish email of my own.
  • Lunched at home on leftovers.
  • More significant progress on my pastoral teaching document.
  • Developed my homiletical message statement for Proper 16 (St Bartholomew's, Granite City) into an outline that I can further develop into a draft text next week.
  • Did a major chunk of reading in the book I've promised to review for The Living Church.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Wednesday (John Mason Neale)

I guess there have to be days like this from time to time. It must be in the Law of the Medes and the Persians. Or something. The first half was actually pretty good. I prayed, I had tea and breakfast, and I did the crossword in a reasonable time. I had significant email interactions with the Communications Coordinator. I gathered the documents I would need to renew my driver's license (stay tuned) and mentally mapped out a homily for the Mass I was scheduled to celebrate at noon at the Church of the Ascension. I sent an email to the priest of my DEPO parish, where I am scheduled to visit in a week's time.

At 1115, Brenda and I were out the door to Ascension, where we celebrated the feast of the Transfiguration a day late, and it all went splendidly well. We then hopped on the CTA Red Line train to downtown, since my notice from the Secretary of State's office said I qualify for an "Express Service" location, and it was a straight shot. Got there only to find out that they don't do federal standard "Real ID"-quality licenses at that location, which I kind of what I need, since I fly a fair amount. But there was another location at the Thompson Center about three blocks away, so we hoofed it over there. It's not very well marked, but we finally discovered where the license facility is located. But when I finally got to the window, all organized and confident, I discovered that I lacked on the two necessary documents to prove that I actually live where I live. One of the papers that I brought with me was a medical bill. Not accepted. Had it been a healthcare Explanation of Benefits, it would have been accepted, but ... not a bill. And never mind that the very piece of paper that they day mailed me with all the wonderful but inaccurate information had been delivered to where I indeed live, and I had it with me, because ... that doesn't count either. So, there was nothing left to accomplish there. Back up to the street and the subway station, when I discovered that I didn't have my soon-to-expire driver's license. Thinking that I had left it at the counter, we walked back, only to have me discover that I had just misplaced it in the binder I was carrying. Back up and over to the Red Line, stopping at McD's for a repast. Back to the YFNBmobile in the Ascension lot, and back home, having to stop for gas along the way--the first time since moving to Chicago that I've had to actually buy gas in the city, with it's inflated prices.

Home for a brief bit of refreshment, then back out. Since I was already "in uniform," which is how I wanted to appear in the required photo, my mission was to "get 'er done." So we drove west to a license facility about three miles away. Everything went smoothly there, but still slowly. Right when I got back to my car, I got a phone call from my chiropractor's office reminding my, at 4:30, of my 4:00pm appointment. Darn. I hate it when that happens. Now rescheduled for tomorrow morning. Home just before 5:00. I decided to at least symbolically redeem the day by doing the finish work (refining, editing, printing) on this Sunday's homily. Then, Evening Prayer with Brenda, followed by Chinese carryout, since my dinner cooking plan was also a victim of the day's events.  Then, in the evening, I got to review the draft income tax return sent to me by the accountant (yes, we filed for an extension in April). It's not a pretty picture, and doesn't help my disposition.

Tomorrow cannot but be better, right?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Transfiguration

... aaaaaand we're back. Vacation was great. We got some time with family and friends in California and Oregon. Then some lovely beach time on the Florida gulf coast. The "staycation" portion of the time featured some major progress toward basement organization, the chief sign of which is that there are only token amounts of cardboard and packing paper left to be seen. 

As one might imagine, there was a pretty big pile of emails waiting for me when I logged onto my diocesan account this morning. I spent the entire morning and a portion of the afternoon getting caught up on them. Spoke with two parish clergy by phone. Checked another box toward the publication of my pastoral teaching on sexuality and marriage. Did some major cosmetic surgery on a sermon text for Proper 15, in preparation for preaching at St Mary's, Robinson on the evening of the 17th and St Andrew's, Edwardsville on the morning of the 18th. Made an initial dent in reading a book I've promised to review for The Living Church. A pretty good first day back.