Showing posts from 2011


Given that nobody else who's usually in the office was going to be in the office, I declared this a work-from-home day. And given that we're closing in on the end of the calendar year, it seemed appropriate to focus on meta-issues of personal organization and planning--the kind of stuff that would ordinarily get swamped by more pressing concerns. By that measure, the day was fruitful. But when something is pressing ... it's pressing. So I did spend some energy on the phone and trading emails over an emergent pastoral issue affecting one of our Eucharistic Communities. By the time I went to bed, the situation was stabilized. Not solved, but stabilized. Of course, emails popped up that needed responding to as well. In the evening, Brenda and I went out and saw  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo . 

Thursday (St Thomas Becket)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Drafted the text of my sermon for next week's institution of Fr Mark Evans as rector of Trinity, Lincoln. Received a phone call regarding an acute pastoral emergency and took appropriate followup action. Lunch at home, Finished the sermon draft I had started in the morning. Since this is sort of a "slow" work week, I had the luxury of reorganizing and culling the items in my electronic files (Evernote, if you're techno-savvy). This is never an urgent task, but it is important, as it pays dividends in efficiency down the road. It's also very time-consuming ... and did indeed consume most of my afternoon! Power walk around downtown around 4pm. Reviewed a couple of other non-urgent items that have been in the queue for months.  Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Holy Innocents

Usual routine. Morning Prayer in the office. Began the process of concrete preparation for my Lenten teaching series at St Paul's in Alton. The subject is "Patterns of Ministry." Made broad notes on broad categories. Took care of a minor administrative chore. Began composing the draft of a sermon for the eve of Epiphany at St John's, Decatur. Lunch at home Completed the Epiphany sermon draft. Wrote out some "talking points" pertaining to the emerging missional vision of the diocese, to the end of giving the clergy who preside at annual parish meetings a substantive resource. Took a brief power walk of a bout 20 minutes duration. Drafted a sermon for the First Sunday after the Epiphany (Trinity, Jacksonville). Organized my February calendar (a routine end-of-month chore, looking at the month after next). Evening Prayer in the office.

St John

Task planning at home. Said goodbye to Kid #3 and spouse as they continue their holiday sojourn to Tennessee. Deposited Kid #1 at SPI for her return to NYC, hoping United doesn't lose her luggage again. (Kid #2 and family drove back home to Chicago last night, and arrived safely.) Morning Prayer in the car (memorized short form). Handled some minor administrative chores. Processed a batch of emails in my inbox. Wrote a (hard copy) letter to the Bishop's Warden of one of our Eucharistic Communities regarding an administrative matter. Refined my sermon for this Sunday (St Paul's Cathedral). Lunch at home. Hand-wrote greetings to clergy and spouses with birthdays/anniversaries in January and early February. Routine Tuesday hard-copy scanning chores, which prompted an email exchange regarding a tentative date for an ordination in June. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Sermon for Christmas (Eve)

St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield How are you tonight? No…I mean, really. How are you tonight? Are you feeling a little under the weather, perhaps? There are a lot of bad bugs flying around this time of year. Or maybe you’re feeling pretty good, but you know that all is not right with your body, and you’re facing some pretty daunting physical and medical challenges. Perhaps you even know that you’re dying—not just in the abstract, but within a particular time frame. Are you lonely? Maybe you yearn for a certain person to be with you for Christmas, but you’re here, and they’re…wherever they are—not here. Are you afraid? Perhaps you live in dread of an email or a letter or a phone call or a knock on the door that will bring news you very much do not want to hear. Are you wounded in your spirit? Has a loved one let you down, or outright betrayed you? Are there painful memories that seem to just always weigh you down emotionally, and you can’t ever really get past them? Are you an

Friday (O Emmanuel)

With two of our three offspring, along with their offspring, having arrived in Springfield for Christmas (and the remaining offspring on the way), there was great motivation for me to hang around the home front today, so I succumbed. I did manage to process a few emails in the midst of everything.

Thursday (O Rex Gentium)

More Christmas tree moving first thing in the morning. This is getting to be a habit. Hint: They're a lot harder to move once they're in a stand and that fancy netting shrink wrap is removed. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a batch of emails. Began drafting my sermon for the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 1--there is no "First Sunday after Christmas" this year). Met with Dean Brodie to discuss the Christmas Eve liturgies. I'm preaching early and preaching/celebrating late. Lunch at home, after a brief last-minute "focused like a laser" shopping expedition for a gift for one of our daughters. Completed the draft of the aforementioned sermon. Took another power walk around downtown. The colder weather is actually conducive to midday walks. Registered for the March House of Bishops meeting (Camp Allen, Texas). Conceived and hatched a homily for the First Sunday after the Epiphany (January 8 at Trinity, Jacksonville). Evening P

Wednesday (O Oriens)

Delayed start getting out of the house, as my brawn was required to bring the Christmas tree we bought Sunday night from the garage into the house and get it set up. We're expecting Christmas house guests to start arriving tomorrow night, so the clock is ticking on getting the house ready. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Substantive phone conversation (by appointment) with Deacon Bruce DeGooyer, whose professional background in organizational development will be an important resource in the execution of our emerging diocesan vision for mission. Conceived, hatched, and rough-plotted a homily for the eve of Epiphany, to be delivered at St John's, Decatur. Lunch at home. Spent a good while updating the customary for visitations of the Bishop to Eucharistic Communities. Having now completed my first circuit of visitations, I've learned a few things, so it was time to stabilize and codify those learnings. Took a mental and physical health break in the form of a brisk wa

Tuesday (O Clavis David)

Today was dominated by three long phone conversation and one long in-person appointment. Some of this (most, probably) was high energy and acute, and some of it was low-energy and more routine. Some of it dealt with personal issues, some with parochial issues, and some with diocesan issues, and often all three at the same time. That which was of an urgent character was dealt with--I can say with some degree of confidence--successfully. I decided long ago that, however it might feel in the moment, people are not interruptions to my work; people are my work. This was a people day. I also managed to finish pulling together my homily for Christmas Eve at the cathedral, and clear my desk of accumulated hard-copy items.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Celebrated the Fourth Sunday of Advent with the people of St Barnabas', Havana. Confirmed two teens and received two adults. Havana is a picturesque and historic county seat town on the left bank of the Illinois River (and, hence, right on our border with the Diocese of Quincy). Nobody seems to know how it got its name, though there used to be a cigar factory there, so maybe that has something to do with it. There is a wonderful core group at St Barnabas', and they are enjoying the fine pastoral care and leadership of Fr "Flip" Boeve.

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Luke 1:26-38 St Barnabas', Havana I love Advent. It has a shape that is completely irrational, but, somehow, when it all plays out, it just works beautifully. We began, three weeks ago, you might recall, at the end, with the end of time, the Second Coming of Christ. Then we were shot as though from a sling into a strange dimension of time, where we hung out for two Sundays, with one foot in the wonderful prophecies of Isaiah, which Christians have always interpreted as foretelling the coming of the Messiah, and the other foot in the “rude and crude” figure of John the Baptist, preaching on the eve of the adult Jesus’ arrival on the stage of public life. This morning, we are finally encountering scripture readings that are recognizably part of the familiar Christmas narrative. We have the Annunciation—an angel named Gabriel shows up at the home of a young woman named Mary and informs her that she’s going to have a baby—only the baby is not going to be conceived in the usual

Saturday (O Sapientia)

After a long stretch since the last such occasion, I didn't need to drive somewhere and spend the night in a hotel today. While I do enjoy my work, this was a welcome change of pace. Brenda and I took the opportunity to begin to get organized, and actually make a little progress, toward preparing for a house full of people (children and spouses, granddaughters) next weekend. 


Having fasted all night, this time I was successful in leaving a blood sample at the lab so they can tell me my latest cholesterol numbers. Then back home for breakfast.  Morning Prayer in the cathedral, then a bit of email processing.  The Department of General Mission Strategy convened at 10 for a very productive meeting that ended around 12:30. There is a great deal to be done, but I believe we are pointed in the right direction.  Late and long lunch downtown with the Archdeacon and the Rector of Morgan County Parish (part of our DGMS meeting was spent discussing the need to begin using the new terminology).  Made a phone call to one of our retired priests who has been dealing with some very serious health issues of late.  One of my ongoing projects is to learn the names and county seats of all sixty counties in the Diocese of Springfield. To that end, I tested myself today. I'm apparently a little more than a third of the way toward the goal.   Friday prayer time: Turni


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a relatively short stack of emails. Took a call from Fr David Boase in Alton as we continued to lay plans for the Lenten teaching series I will be doing at St Paul's. Did some brain work and made a few notes in preparation for tomorrow's meeting of the Department of General Mission Strategy. Lunch at home, then a fruitless shopping quest for a dry erase board for the conference room in the diocesan office. We need one. But it needs to be free-standing, since we don't have a wall to mount one on, and it needs to be bigger than a newsprint tablet. Took a broad look at the propers for the Sundays after Epiphany and made some sketchy notes and plans for sermons on those Sundays. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Wednesday (St John of the Cross)

Task planning at home, then took the vehicle to the dealer for some warranty work. Brenda met me there and ran me in to the office. Completed a survey (by hand, no less!) from the College of Bishops regarding the impact that their program has had on my ministry. Exchanged substantive emails with a potential candidate for one of our vacant clergy positions. Wrote an email to the members of the diocesan Disciplinary Board prompting them to elect a president. Finished a draft of my homily for Christmas Eve at St Paul's Cathedral. Since my car wasn't finished yet, thus stranding me in downtown Springfield, I "made lemondade" by walking to the  heart  of downtown for lunch, grabbing a sandwich within sight of the old capitol building, and dodging raindrops on the way back to the office. Wrote a snail mail letter (since I couldn't find an email address for him) to a priest I am hoping to entice into becoming a candidate for the same open position I referenced ab


Morning Prayer in my parked car outside the dental office where Brenda was scheduled for some oral surgery, from which she would emerge as a bit of a road hazard were she to get behind the wheel of a car. As it turned out, the procedure got delayed, but that's another story. the office just past 10am. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on my weekend visits to Paris, Mattoon, and Champaign. Processed a batch of emails, which took me all the way up to noon. Lunch from TG, eaten at home. Usual Tuesday hard-copy scanning chores. Reviewed the items on the "tree" of the diocesan website, in preparation for beginning the transition to a new one. I'm hoping to see a "beta" of the new site before too long. Refined and otherwise polished my homily for this Sunday, at St Barnabas', Havana. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.


I'm truly religious about taking a full day off from my main work each week, sabbath rest being a key spiritual principle and all. But worthy exceptions can sometimes be made, an example being tonight's social gathering for members of the cathedral chapter and their spouses, held at the gracious home of Dean Bob and Linda Brodie. The meal was followed by the regular December chapter meeting (at which the Bishop by statute has seat, voice, and vote).

Advent III ("Rose Sunday")

Woke up in Charleston and actually remembered where I was (not always guaranteed these days!).  Celebrated, preached, and confirmed at Trinity, Mattoon (the confirmand was actually from Holy Trinity, Danville), with surprisingly good attendance, by Mattoon standards (I counted around 70). Discovered actual rose-colored cope and chasuble in the sacristy closet, so I was properly decked out for  Gaudete  Sunday. The liturgy was followed by a delicious catered repast in the parish hall, which was, in turn, capped off by a vigorous discussion of mission and ministry in a post-Christian culture, and ways that Trinity might be engaged in that work. Good questions and observations from parishioners. Then it was off to Champaign for a 2pm meeting with the vestry of the Chapel of St John the Divine. They are about to give their charge to the search committee, and we had a productive discussion of the parameters of that process.  After availing ourselves of the hospitality of one of the mem


Quiet easy morning. Good power walk. A couple of household chores. Then pack and hit the road for Paris (yes, Paris, Illinois, the seat of Edgar County). Celebrated and preached at St Andrew's, then went out to dinner with all the active members of the parish. Both of them. Over dinner, it seemed self-evident to everyone that the time has come to pull the plug. So we will close the books on St Andrew's (pending Standing Committee approval, of course) at year's end. This is certainly a sorrowful decision to have to make. But it's the right one. Our hotel room tonight is in Charleston, in advance of tomorrow's visit to Trinity, Mattoon.


Usual morning routine. Morning Prayer in the (cold) cathedral. Spent the rest of the morning processing emails. The difficulty of the task was compounded by the fact that they just kept pouring in! Though it was frustrating at moments, a great deal was accomplished. Lunch at home (on the late side). Studied the questions on the congregational profile survey for St John's Chapel in Champaign. Friday prayer: Ignatian-style discursive meditation on the gospel passage in the daily office--Jesus ripping into the Scribes and Pharisees for their self-absorbed and self-serving hypocrisy. It was a bit of a disturbing challenge to "pray through" a passage like that. But prayer should be disturbing and challenging, at least occasionally, I guess. Met with Vice-Chancellor Kevin Babb, only today he was wearing his Department of Campus Ministry hat. Wide-ranging discussion that started with campus ministry but ran to mission strategy in general. Evening Prayer in the office.

Thursday (Immaculate Conception)

A play day for the Bishop and Brenda. Through a fortuitous combination of events, some tickets to the Chicago Lyric Opera came our way, which was too good an offer to pass up. So we hopped a 6:30 Amtrak departure in Springfield, which deposited us at Union Station in Chicago in time to walk the twelve or so blocks (with a Starbuck's stop en route ) to the Frontera Grill at Clark and Illinois, where we had 11:30 lunch reservations (and a gift card from a wedding I presided over a year ago!). This is "creative Mexican" (google Chef Rick Bayless) and was phenomenally good. We were joined by our son and daughter-in-law, as well as our son-in-law and older granddaughter. Then we hoofed it back down to the opera house for a fine and enjoyable production of Mozart's The Magic Flute . After grabbing a bite in Union Station, we boarded the 7pm southbound departure and were back in our vehicle in Springfield just after 10:30. A full day.

Wednesday (St Ambrose of Milan)

Usual morning routine. Upon arrival in the office, seized a moment of kairos and wrote a blog post about the season of Advent . Spent forty minutes on the phone with the investment adviser for the Putnam Trust, which provides significant income to two of our congregations, and of which the Bishop of Springfield is one of two trustees (the other being Bank of America). This was a routine year-end review. Publicized the appointment of the Archdeacon as Intake Officer under Title IV canons (clergy discipline). Any incidents of clergy misconduct (perish the thought) should be reported promptly and directly to him to begin the process. Fleshed out a draft of a homily for Advent IV (December 18th at St Barnabas', Havana). Took a phone call from one of our rectors with a liturgical question. I am, after all, a certified liturgy geek. Lunch at the Sangamo Club with Dean Brodie. We discussed an array of topics having to do both with the cathedral and the diocese. Conceived and hatche

Tuesday (St Nicholas)

Usual morning routine: task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a longish batch of emails. This required reading several attachments and writing several replies. Consumed most of the morning. Scheduled a lunch appointment with the Dean for tomorrow. Took a phone call from one of our rectors regarding a pastoral matter. Began to process the pile of hard copy items that has been accumulating over the last week or so. Lunch at home (sliced deli turkey with Thai peanut sauce, sprouted grain bread with melted Parmesan cheese). Continued and completed the document processing work. Refined my homily for this weekend (St Andrew's, Paris and Trinity, Mattoon). Prepared a couple of my "official portraits" for mailing to some former parishioners who were extraordinarily kind to me when I left Warsaw, IN last January. Took a phone call from the Rector's Warden of St John's Chapel in Champaign with some questions regarding their search process

Second Sunday of Advent

All my Sunday visits so far have been joyful and uplifting, and today's to St Andrew's, Carbondale was no exception. They are an engaged and positive group of people.  But Carbondale is a long way from Springfield, of course, and there's "no good way to get there." So it was well past 4pm by the time we rolled back into our driveway.

Sermon for Advent II

Mark 1:1-8-- Isaiah 40:1-11-- II Peter 3:8-15a St Andrew’s, Carbondale     Back when the personal computer was a relatively new thing—and, I’m afraid to say, I’m old enough to remember that—we had to learn some new vocabulary; most of the time, familiar words used in an unfamiliar way. One of these words was “peripheral,” used as a noun. A peripheral is something that performs a useful function—a printer, for example—but is more or less useless unless a computer tells it to do whatever it does. A printer, or a speaker, or a set of headphones, are absolutely dependent on being connected somehow to a computer (keeping in mind that a smart phone or an iPod is actually a small computer). That's why they call it "peripheral."  Practicing Christian faith in this complex world of ours is in some ways like using a computer. There are fundamentals and there are peripherals. Both fundamentals and peripherals are necessary and good, but they are of benefit to us only if we remembe


Leisurely Saturday morning, followed by a good long and hard walk. I've had a bit of something all week and fell off the exercise wagon, so it was good to rack up some steps on the pedometer. Then it was time to pack and hit the road for Marion, where we are staying in advance of our visit to St Andrew's in Carbondale tomorrow (the two towns are about 15 miles apart, and the intervening stretch of Illinois 13 is about fully developed). Fr Roderick, the rector of St Andrew's, picked us up and drove us to the lovely home of a parishioner, who hosted an elegant dinner for vestry and spouses. Stimulating and wide-ranging conversation.

Friday (Channing Moore Williams)

Usual planning and Morning Prayer at home. Appointment with my primary care physician. Bronchitis. Drafted a letter formally appointing the Archdeacon to the enviable position of Title IV Intake Officer. This is only one of a series of administrative moves I have to make to ensure that our processes are ready for clergy-behaving-badly (which we hope, of course, never happens). Conceived and hatched a homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 18, at St Barnabas', Havana. That visit will conclude my first full round. I will have then presided and preached at 38 Eucharistic Communities in the Diocese of Springfield. Lunch at home. Fleshed out a draft of a sermon for Advent III (Saturday night at St Andrew's, Paris and Sunday morning at Trinity, Mattoon). Responded on Facebook to a fairly substantive pastoral care issue. Prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary in front of the lovely statue of Our Lady holding the infant Jesus that stands in the rear of the cathedral

Thursday (Nicholas Ferrar)

Usual morning routine at home, then off to a 10am meeting in Chesterfield (an approximately 75 minute drive). Met for over two hours with virtually all the present active members of St Peter's, Chesterfield--about ten people--in search of a sustainable approach to ensuring their future as a Eucharistic Community, the third oldest in the diocese, with their little building dating back to 1848. Lots of good honest dialogue. More is yet needed.  Grabbed lunch on the go at a Dairy Queen in Carlinville. Got back to the office somewhere south of 1:30, and then worked a good while on processing my email inbox only slightly faster than new ones were arriving.  Solidified and refined my homily for this Sunday, to be delivered at St Andrew's, Carbondale.  Took a couple of substantive phone calls regarding a couple of emerging (well, ongoing actually) pastoral/administrative situations in a couple of our congregations. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Sermon Notes for Advent III

When preaching in very small congregations, I usually work just from memory or skimpy notes, so this one was not written out. But you can get the gist, I hope. B: Advent III (2011) St Andrew’s, Paris / Trinity, Mattoon John1:6-8, 19-28 Isaiah 64:1-4, 8-11  Psalm 126 I Thessalonians 5:16-24 MESSAGE: Seeing what God is doing leads inevitably to rejoicing. • The shape of Advent … Gaudete Sunday • J the B … “Why are you doing what you’re doing?” … “Because this is BIG, really BIG!!” • Isaiah: good news to everyone who is disenfranchised, marginalized, and victimized by injustice and exploitation … the good guys win in the end (Jerusalem restored) • This is God’s “project,” and the coming Christ is a pivotal moment in the execution of that project (hence, John’s enthusiasm) • Nod toward Ps 126 • So … per Paul: Rejoice! “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.”

St Andrew's Day

Task planning at home. Dropped shoes off at repair shop, took car for routine service; Brenda drove me in to the office. Sorted and culled and otherwise processed a stack of snail mail on my desk. Debriefed with the Administrator and the Archdeacon on sundry minutia. Began hand-writing greetings to clergy and spouses with December birthdays and wedding or ordination anniversaries. (December is a big month for ordination anniversaries!) Some of them may even be partially legible. Hoping it's the thought that counts. Sue took me to retrieve my car, then lunch from you-know-where, eaten at home. Finished the milestone greetings begun before lunch. Usual weekly scanning and e-cataloging of hard copy documents. Left at 3:30 with the Archdeacon for Trinity Church, Mount Vernon, arriving just in time for a 6pm liturgy rehearsal for the ordination of David Peters to the transitional diaconate. David is an Army chaplain stationed at Fort Knox. I won't describe here the confluenc


The November crud was knocking at my door yesterday, and by this morning it was fully arrived. So I opted to not inflict it on those in office, and stayed home to work from my recliner. To be honest, I wouldn't want to make a habit of it, but it's amazing how productive one can be with the right devices and a broadband internet connection.  Spoke by phone with the rector of one of our parishes regarding an upcoming meeting I have with some of his lay leaders to discuss the emerging diocesan vision for mission. Negotiated (by email) a conference call appointment with the lay leaders of two yoked congregations to discuss a particular candidate for becoming their priest. Contacted the Bishop of Kentucky to let him know I'm about to ordain a military chaplain who is physically resident in the territory of his diocese (David Peters, who is stationed at Fort Knox). Exchanged several emails throughout the day with Fr Tucker in Mount Vernon regarding details of tomorrow night&#

Advent Sunday

Woke up in a Champaign hotel room, having returned to the diocese last night after a really quite lovely Thanksgiving weekend with my extended family-of-origin in the Chicago suburbs. There were over 40 people at my sister's for the big dinner, including my mother, all six of my siblings, and 14 of the 19 great-grandchildren/second cousins.  This morning's visit was to St Christopher's, Rantoul, a Eucharistic Community of great care for one another, under the watchful eyes of Fr Steve Thorp and Deacon Ann Alley. I made friends with a 95-year old Welsh-born parishioner during coffee hour by sitting down at the piano and playing several classic Welsh hymn tunes, from which there are a number of fine ones to choose. 

Sermon for Advent Sunday (Year B)

Mark 13:24-37                                                                                             Isaiah 64:1-9a 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (St Christopher’s, Rantoul) Most of you are, I suspect, at least somewhat familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis’s popular series of children’s books, and particularly the first volume— The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe , which, as of a few years ago, was made into a quite well-done movie. As the story opens, the land of Narnia is in a dreary state, and is there a better description of dreariness than this?: “Always winter… but never Christmas.” Narnia is under the oppressive rule of the wicked white witch. It’s always winter, but never Christmas. But there are rumors in Narnia—rumors whispered from person to person, elf to elf, and—in that magical land—from tree to tree. “Psst, Aslan is on the move.” Aslan was a powerful lion who was thought to be the only hope for Narnia against the power of the White Witch. The rumor that “Asl

Wednesday (St Clement of Rome)

Task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Reviewed the draft program for a diaconal ordination scheduled for next week. Processed a batch of emails. Revised and refined my homily for this Sunday (at St Christopher's, Rantoul). Lunch at home. Took care of some correspondence on behalf of a priest-friend needing some pastoral care in another part of the country. Usual Tuesday chore: Scanned the accumulated hard copy items in my inbox. Produced a working draft of a homily for Advent II (December 4 at St Andrew's, Carbondale). Conceived and hatch a sermon for Advent III (St Andrew's, Paris and Trinity, Mattoon). Contact the lay leadership of two Eucharistic Communities that share one priest regarding the next priest I'm going to suggest they share. Took a phone call from a priest outside the diocese who is a potential candidate for an upcoming vacancy. Took care of some administrative detritus (appointment scheduling) via email. Evening Prayer mana

Tuesday (C.S. Lewis)

Some days just never seem to get traction. This was one of them. My time in the office was consumed by off-list administrative minutia, phone calls, and just ... whatever, all to the detriment of whatever was on my well-planned to-do list. It was a good reminder that people are not interruptions. People are my job. The busier I get, the more I probably need to spend extra time in prayer.

Christ the King

Rose in time for a 6am departure to Edwardsville for a visit to St Andrew's--two Masses (8 & 10) with an adult forum in between. It turned out we got there with time to spare, but no harm done; it certainly beats being late. Wonderful visit to a lively congregation. After a much needed nap of nearly an hour, we headed over to Westminster Presbyterian Church for a hymn festival sponsored by the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists. The guest artist was Bruce Neswick, lately of the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York City and now on the faculty of Indiana University, and who happens to be an Episcopalian. It was splendid.

Saturday (St Elizabeth)

Quarterly Diocesan Council meeting in the morning. Beyond the routine reports, we considered a request from several other bishops and dioceses to pass a resolution requesting a  special  General Convention in 2014 for the sole purpose of reforming the structure of the Episcopal Church. Lively discussion but no vote. That may happen at the February meeting. After a long walk, and some putting and relaxing around the house, Brenda and I attended a concert of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra. It was astonishingly good. Worth every penny of the ticket price.

Friday (St Hilda of Whitby)

The concluding session of the Bishops of Small Dioceses conference was a free-flowing discussion of several topics that we had identified on Wednesday afternoon.  Our one "action item" was to draft a letter to the Medical Trust expressing the hope that we will move toward price parity, with a reasonable phase in period to allow those dioceses that would be adversely affected time to adjust.  The rest of the day was devoted to travel, which occurred without incident, and to a couple of not overly-long but quite important phone conversations about exigent matters in the diocese.

Thursday (St Hugh of Lincoln)

Still at the conference for bishops of small dioceses in Salt Lake City. The morning was devoted primarily to interacting with representatives of the Episcopal Church Medical Trust. There is a move afoot at a grass-roots level to achieve more pricing parity between the dioceses, which are now divided into ten price bands--rated on demographics (read: age and sex), geography (cost of providers), and prior claims experiences. Springfield is in Band 10, the most expensive. If the pricing were to be distributed evenly across the church, we would see premium reductions of 29%. Of course, dioceses in Band 1 would see increases of a corresponding scale. There was certainly a consensus among the bishops present that, for moral reasons if nothing else, price parity is a wothy goal, but that some reasonable phase in period is probably necessary to cushion the shock for those who will have their rates raised. The afternoon was given over first to a presentation by Anthony Guillen, the Latino mi

Wednesday (St Margaret)

Up at 4am to catch a 0630 flight from Bloomington to Minneapolis, then on to Salt Lake City. Did some touristy things walking around town in the afternoon (the LDS complex is impressive but the Roman cathedral is spectacular; I'm envious) before settling in for a meeting of about twenty bishops from small dioceses. Utah is a small diocese--about two-thirds the size od Springfield in terms of membership and number of churches--but they have a significant endowment that has allowed for the construction of a beautiful office and conference center complex around their historic cathedral. It's top drawer in every way, and right in the heart of downtown SLC. I'll be here unti Friday afternoon. Might learn something. Might share something. Might do both.


Usual morning routine. MP in the cathedral. Talked with the Archdeacon at some length about an emerging pastoral situation. Took care of some administrative minutia (Commission on Ministry business and email correspondence regarding my trip to England in January). Spoke on the phone with Betsy Rogers of St George's, Belleville. We both serve on the board of Forward Movement, and that was the primary subject of our conversation. Spoke on the phone with a rector regarding a pastoral situation (not the one mentioned above). Refined my sermon for this Sunday, to be delivered at St Andrew's, Edwardsville. Lunch from you know where, eaten at home. Performed my usual Tuesday hard copy scanning chores. Answered an email regarding the liturgical details of an upcoming visitation. Wrote a note of condolence to a colleague bishop who has suffered a death in his family. Talked with Sue about getting the incoming rector of Trinity, Lincoln up to speed on unique-to-Springfield stuf

XXII Pentecost

Met Fr Tom and Sue Davis for breakfast at the Garden Inn on the main drag in Salem. Fr Tom is the retired Vicar of St Thomas', and was assisting today with a baptism. Celebrated, preached, baptized, and confirmed at St Thomas', to a near-capacity "crowd" (if one can call 65 a crowd). Baptized a 6-week old and confirmed her mother. Doesn't get much more fun than that! Left Salem around 12:30. Crossed two interstate highways on the way home, neither of which was headed a way we wanted to go. Central Illinois is funny that way. Pulled in to the Springfield area about 2:30, just in time to drop Brenda off at home before heading over to the cathedral to preside and preach at the closing Mass for Happening #54. That, too, was great fun. Huddled about twenty minutes in my office with the Archdeacon and one of our Rural Deans while we discussed an administrative/pastoral matter. Home at 5:30, dog tired but grateful for the work I've been given to do.

Sermon for Proper 28

Matthew 25:14-15, 19-29                                             St Thomas’, Salem                                                                                          I Thessalonians 5:1-10 We hear a lot these days about the notion of “accountability.” Everybody from presidential candidates to college football coaches are finding out very painfully what it means to be held accountable.  And we certainly talk about accountability in the church, for both clergy and laity, and in several different dimensions. Yet, the kind of accountability that really nags at us, and may even cause us to lose sleep from time to time, is final accountability, the kind of accountability that St Paul has in mind when he writes to the Thessalonians about the “day of the Lord.”  We’re talking Judgment Day here, Doomsday, the end of the world, the curtain coming down on the stage for the last time, the final exam for which our entire life is a marathon study session. We’re now into the tail end of

Saturday (Charles Simeon)

Indulged in a somewhat leisurely morning at home, took care of some administrative detritus from my laptop, took another long hard walk, and solved a technological issue on the home computer system. Then it was time to pack and head to Salem, where we checked in to the Super 8 and grabbed a quick dinner at Denny's, after which I met with the Vicar and Bisops' Committee of St Thomas' Church (the venue of tomorrow's visitation).

Friday (St Martin of Tours)

Inasmuch as the office was closed for Veteran's Day, and having determined that there was nothing on my task list that couldn't be done from home (God bless the internet), I opted to work once again from my recliner. I read and commented on a couple of chapter from a potential book that priest acquaintance had asked me to look at. Wrote an Ad Clerum--letter to the clergy. Exchanged emails regarding a potential date for the institution of the new rector of Trinity, Lincoln. Took a good hard long walk on a sunny day. Not as productive as I might have wished to be, but ... it was a holiday, right?

Thursday (St Leo of Rome)

Task planning at home. Visited with my sister Janet for a bit, who spent the night en route back to her home in the Chicago 'burbs after spending some time with a college student daughter in St Louis. Feeling better today; I seemed to have dodged whatever bullet was heading my direction. Morning Prayer in the office. Some days just have trouble getting traction. This was one of those days. Lots of distractions (some self-generated), most of which were important, but were nonetheless distractions. Couldn't find my groove. Processed a batch of emails (in which were included some distractions). Took a phone call (she was already on my list, but got to me first) from Ruth Wene, Rector's Warden at the Chapel of St John the Divine in Champaign. We discussed various issues relating to their search process. Searched for, evaluated, and booked lodging in London for a portion of my January continuing ed time. Lunch at home. The monitor on my computer at home died last night,


Task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the office. Revised, edited, and refined my sermon for this Sunday, to be delivered at St Thomas', Salem. Took an incoming phone call from Fr Dick Swan, wearing his hat as Education for Ministry coordinator for the diocese. Took an incoming phone call from Fr Rob Nichols, the interim rector at St John's Chapel in Champaign, giving me a routine report on the status of things there. Lunch at home. Scanned and otherwise processed a batch of hard copy items in my inbox. Dashed off a thank-you note to the parish where I was a guest preacher for All Saints (Redeemer, Sarasota, FL). (Went home to work from my recliner at about 3pm, as I was beginning to feel "puny" [as they say in the south]. Hoping that some version of flu is not laying siege to me.) Took care of an important chore related to this weekend's Happening (renewal program to high schoolers), to be held at the cathedral and the diocesan office. Wrote a letter


Task planning at home (record number of actions on the docket this week!). Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on sundry administrative matters (lots to discuss after a thirteen day absence from the office). Met with the Board of Trustees for the diocese, the group that oversees the investment of our endowment and reserve funds. Met with chancellor Rick Velde around various (non-emergent) issues. Worked through the pile of snail mail on my desk. Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Wrote a note to a colleague bishop whose wife is seriously ill. Checked in by phone with a priest of the diocese who has recently had a serious medical procedure. Spoke by phone with one of our rectors regarding the health of one of our retired priests who is connected to his parish. Took a reference check phone call from a search committee chair outside the diocese; one of our clergy is a finalist in that person's parish search process. Dashed off an article on th

Sunday after All Saints

The mini-vacation ended yesterday as we flew home from Florida. The trip itself was blessedly uneventful--Cape Coral to Sarasota by rental car, Sarasota to Atlanta and Atlanta to Bloomington by air, then the 65 miles back to our Springfield home in the familiar Episcopal Chariot, 9.5 hours door-to-door. The fly in the ointment was that I was recovering from being wretchedly seasick during a "rough crossing" by ferry from Key West back to Fort Myers Beach on Friday night. I shan't mention the details, save for the fact that today it hurts to either cough or laugh! So we were grateful for the "fall back" time change, compounded by another extra hour delivered by our transit from the eastern to the central time zone. This made for a very pleasant 8:30am arrival in Pekin for a 9am Mass at St Paul's, with one confirmation, followed by a very brief visit to the coffee hour, and then on to an 11am liturgy at All Saints', Morton, where I confirmed identical tw

Sermon for Sunday in the Octave of All Saints

St Paul's, Pekin & All Saints, Morton Those of you who have traveled around the country some bit, or even just around our own diocese, and visited other Episcopal churches, have discovered that there is a tremendous amount of diversity in our services—diversity in liturgical style, diversity in music, diversity in preaching. But you may also have discovered that there is one element of our Episcopalian culture that cuts right across these dividing lines as if they weren’t there. I’m talking about the Coffee Hour—known in some quarters as the “eighth sacrament.” It’s in the parish hall, after church, over coffee and lemonade and cookies or donut holes or whatever, that new relationships are formed, visitors looking for a church community try one out to find out what it’s like, and old relationships are nurtured and sustained, week by week, month by month, year by year. Parish social events of various sorts are a vital link in the chain of relationship building and relationship