Showing posts from August, 2011

Wednesday (St Aidan)

"Short form" walk (not quite three miles). Morning Prayer at home. Task planning and email responding in the office. Took an incoming phone call from the Rector's Warden at one of our parishes in transition ... regarding, of course, issues related to their being in transition. Picked up where I left off yesterday planning the Synod liturgy. I found myself curiously energized by this project, as I miss the regular crafting of liturgy that is part of a parish priest's routine. Take-out tacos for lunch (from La Bamba "Burritos as Big as Your Head!"). Had an impromptu, but good and long, visit with Dean Brodie next door in the cathedral offices. We had not seen each other since before out respective vacations and there was a good bit to catch up on. Responded to a request from the publishers of the Episcopal Church Annual (the "red book") for a pic and bio to go in their "new bishops" section. Did the nuts-and-bolts drafting

Tuesday (Blessed Charles Grafton, Bishop of Fond du Lac)

Task planning at home, MP in the cathedral. Took care of a batch of emails, a couple of which required fairly thoughtful and detailed responses, debriefed with the Archdeacon on various matters, and did my usual Tuesday scanning chores. Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Checked in by phone with Fr Tucker regarding some details of my visit to Mount Vernon this weekend. Had an hour-long scheduled phone conversation with a dear old friend, a discipline we have agreed on as a measure of mutual spiritual accountability, given an added dimension of poignancy since our paths have taken us in divergent ecclesial directions. Completed and refined my homily for this coming Sunday, at Trinity, Mount Vernon. Wrote some emails by way of preparing for the Mass at October's annual Synod of the diocese (known as "convention" in most dioceses). Began to get my thoughts in order as to the details of that liturgy. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Woke up in Effingham in time to arrive at St Laurence's Church to preside and preach at the liturgy of the day, at 8am. Joined by all four of the remaining members of the congregation, plus Fr Jim Fackler, their regular supply priest, and his wife. Had a lively and serious discussion with all of them after Mass. I came away much better informed about the town, the history of the Episcopal Church's presence there, and the prospects for the future. Two of those present are distant relatives of the legendary 19th century bishop Jackson Kemper (they still carry the family name), one of the true heroes of the Episcopal Church's expansion into the Midwest. Once again, because of the early time of the service, I got back home at a reasonable hour, in time for the sort of nap that truly makes Sunday afternoon special, followed by a nice long and leisurely walk in Washington Park with Brenda.


Leisurely Saturday morning at home, marking 39 years of marriage to the light of my life, Brenda. Good long walk on one of the many trails in Springfield built on abandoned rail beds. Sad that there are no more trains on them, but glad to have access. Puttered around the house before heading off to Effingham in the early evening (flying solo this time due to pet care issues). Effingham has risen in prominence since becoming the nexus of two major Interstate highways. Unfortunately, neither one goes anywhere near Springfield! So it was a hundred scenic miles on seco dary roads. Glad to hear from daughter in NYC that she's ready to ride out the storm.


Task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Today was our quarterly Diocesan Council meeting, of which I am the President. Though it officially begins with Mass at 10am, people trickle in for an hour or so beforehand, and if the Bishop is visible, the Bishop participates in welcoming the tricklers. It's my joy! The liturgy was ably celebrated by Fr Dave Halt, with Fr Gene Stormer "bringing the message" (as we used to say in my long prior ecclesial incarnation). The meeting--shall I say it?--was more substantive than the last three (all that I have attended), as it involved presentation, discussion, and approval of the 2012 operating budget, which will now be presented to Synod in October. Met briefly in my office with Fr Dale Coleman (rector of St George's, Belleville), and then set out on foot for lunch with him and with Chuck Evans, a Council member also from St George's. (It was nearly 1:30 before we left for lunch.) Responded to some ema

Thursday (St Louis, King of France)

Walking the street by 6:45, my usual weekday/workday 2.5ish mile route. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Sundry administrative minutia. Conceived and significantly gestated a sermon for September 11, when I will be at St Stephen's, Harrisburg,  Lunch at home. Met with Fr John Henry, Rector of St Paul's, Carlinville and Vicar of St Peter's, Chesterfield.  Conferred with the Administrator at some length about the medical insurance program for diocesan clergy. It's mostly good news: Rate increases are generally low to modest. Hand-wrote my personal greetings to clergy and spouses celebrating birthdays and anniversaries in September. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. In the evening, I delivered myself of a theological reflection from my vacation on my "regular" blog. If you're interested, look here .

St Bartholomew (Wednesday)

Usual routine, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Wrote a couple of letters of recommendation for a couple of diocesan clergy who are pursuing post-retirement or continuing education opportunities. Began work on the sermons and talks I have agreed to give as part of an All Saints preaching mission in a Florida parish this fall.  Put substantial meat on the bones of the homily I will give on September 4 at Trinity, Mt Vernon. Met with Fr Dave Halt (rector of St Matthew's, Bloomington) regarding some D.Min. work he is doing. Lunch at home. Completed an application for a conference for new bishops sponsored and hosted by Canterbury Cathedral that I hope to attend this coming January. Tied up some loose ends in the personal organization project I worked on last week, resulting in a much tidier "My Documents" folder on my laptop! Traded several emails with individuals who are seeking to get on my calendar, or I on theirs. I continue to be astonished at the time


Morning Prayer at home, then off to a doctor's appointment; got into the office sometime after 10am. Processed several pending emails and organized my tasks for the rest of the week. Conferred with the Archdeacon on some clergy deployment and personnel matters. Spoke by phone with the Bishop of Missouri and invited him to bring a word of greeting to our annual synod in October (we'll be meeting just across the river from him, in Belleville). Began the usual Tuesday chore of scanning accumulated "snail mail" documents. Lunch at home. Continued the document scanning task. Refined my homily for this Sunday (I'll be at St Laurence in Effingham), Sat down with the Archdeacon and the Administrator to discuss the agenda for Synod. We're slightly changing the pattern of recent years (Eucharist on Friday, no Evensong), which raises all sorts of unanticipated questions. Continued on my own with some broad brush planning of the Synod liturgy and my hom

Sermon for Proper 16

Matthew 16:13-20 Romans 12:1-8 St Mark’s, West Frankfort                                                                                                                                     In January of 2009 I had the privilege of being part of a tour of the Holy Land. One of the places we went to was Caesarea Philippi, to location of the narrative from Matthew’s gospel that we just heard read. It’s a beautiful area—wooded, mountainous, in the area now known as the Golan Heights, where Israel and Syria and Lebanon all come together. There’s an ancient Roman temple there, a temple to the God Pan, set into the rocky side of a mountain—you can still walk among the ruins—and at the time when Jesus and his disciples were there, the temple was in all of its glory. So, try and imagine that scene. Picture Jesus turning his back, both literally and symbolically, to the Temple of Pan and posing his question: “Who do you say that I am?” The implied subtext of his question, given the setting,

X Pentecost (Proper 16)

Checked out of our hotel in Marion in time to find a WalMart and purchase an item for an emergency haberdashery adaption (the secret is mine), and arrive at St Mark's in West Frankfort in time for their 9am Eucharist. Presided, preached, and shared good fellowship with about 35 souls in a church hand-built by English coal miner immigrants in the 1930s. We enjoyed it immensely. With the relatively early Mass time, we made it home at an eminently decent hour--around 2:30. Then the down time began.

Saturday (St Bernard)

Leisurely morning ... long walk ... on the road south and east around 12:30. Stopped by the BalloonFest in Centralia, but didn't get to actually see any balloons. Bad timing. Then on to a joyful and delicious dinner with the people of St Mark's, West Frankfort in their parish hall. Fajitas! Nice time visiting with them. Looking forward to Mass in the morning.


Task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed another batch of emails that have come in over the last couple of days. Some of this was complex, and sucked a lot up more time than I anticipated. Lunch at home after driving through ... wait for it ... Taco Gringo. (I can tell people actually read this diary blog because I get asked about Taco Gringo!) Got back to the office a little late because I was seduced by the Cubs-Cardinals (or Cardinals-Cubs if you prefer) game on TV. Stayed to watch the first inning. I was glad about the eventual outcome, but grateful I didn't watch the process of getting there. It would have given me an upset stomach! Major progress on conceiving, hatching, and growing a sermon for my visit to Trinity, Mount Vernon on Labor Day weekend. Building on the "sharpen the saw" theme from yesterday, I took some time to re-examine and revise my personal Rule of Life and personal Mission and Vision statement. These documents wer

Thursday (Wm. Porcher DuBose)

Task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took care of some administrative minutia. Sent a fairly detailed email to the rector of a parish out of the diocese where I have been invited to give a preaching mission this fall, trying to solidify some of the particulars. Met with a retired priest of the diocese in my office. Tweaked and refined my sermon for this Sunday (St Mark's, West Frankfort). Made a pastoral check-in phone call to a priest of the diocese who has recently been hospitalized. Responded to an email request from a national advocacy group to add my name to a petition to Congress regarding some proposed legislation. Here is what I said: "Since I was first ordained in 1989, I have had a policy against using my position as a religious leader to advocate specific positions on public policy. I don't even allow myself to have political bumper stickers on my car or signs in my yard, even though I like to think of myself as an informed citize


Sneakers on the asphalt at 6:40am for a 2.8 mile brisk walk on a beautiful morning. So nice for the heat to have abated. Morning Prayer and task planning at home. Phone conversation with a priest/friend in another diocese regarding potential deployment and some "larger church" issues. Carefully reviewed a draft of proposed changes to diocesan canons designed to bring them into conformity with the national canons on clergy discipline (Title IV). This is a complicated and vexed subject. Engaged several details of the planning process for October's regular diocesan Synod. I have a very detail-oriented Administrator who relentlessly makes this "forest" guy look at "trees"! After a substantial amount of soul-searching over the past month or so, I signed the canonical form withholding my consent to the consecration of the bishop-elect of Washington (D.C.). This was not a casual decision; given my recent history in the consent process, my default i


Task planning and Morning Prayer at home. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on some recent developments. Processed several items in my email inbox. Discussed an emerging administrative/financial/pastoral issue (yes, it was all three) with the Archdeacon and Treasurer in person, and one other individual by phone. Walked down to the main branch of the Illinois National Bank to sign some documents in the presence of a notary relative to the sale of some property adjacent to one of our churches. (Logged about 3500 steps on my new pedometer doing so--toward a recommended daily total of 10,000.) Began to process yet another pile of snail mail that had arrived since last Friday. Drove down to Subway to pick up a sandwich for lunch and bring it back to the office to eat. Continued my processing-scanning project. Spoke by phone with a priest of the diocese over sundry matters. Responded in writing to a request from a priest from outside the diocese to preside at a wedding within

Pentecost IX (Proper 15)

The morning had a gentle beginning--a welcome development, since my first obligation at St James' in Marion was a 10am meeting with the Bishop's Committee. So we took our time getting ready and checking out of the hotel, with a stop by Starbuck's on the way to church so Brenda could get her green tea. Discussed a range of concerns with the lay leadership of St James'. There are some very dedicated and faithful people there. Presided and preached at an 11am Mass, followed by a delicious potluck in the parish house. Had a couple of different "small world" conversations with people whose life paths have put them in places we are also familiar with. On the road home around 1:20, taking just over three hours to cover the 180 or so miles between Marion and Springfield. Blessedly, the stretches of I-57 and I-64 that we interacted with were free of construction zones. I-55 ... not so much.

Homily for Proper 15

Matthew 15:21 28                                                                                            Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32                                                                                       Isaiah 56:1, 6-7                                                                                                   Psalm 67 Redeemer, Cairo & St James’, Marion    If you ever want a dramatic reminder of how the world is passing you by, just pick up a map of the world that is only a few decades, or even just a few year, old. Even my children, who are only in the 30s, can do this. When they started school, there was a country called the Soviet Union. Now we look at a map and certainly see Russia, but also a lot of smaller countries that end in “-stan”. When I was a school child, ther was Yugoslavia, but that’s now long since been divided up several ways. Maybe you’re old enough to remember French West Africa, which is now a handful of separate nations. Now, unless you


Finished email catch-up in the morning, then headed for points south shortly after noon. Celebrated and preached at Redeemer, Cairo, with good local BBQ after the liturgy. What a gorgeous church, and what a devastated town. Major kudos to Louise Ogg, who drove 15 miles back to church to let me in after I discovered I had left my iPad on the organ console! Now ensconced, with Lady Brenda and her canine maid Lucy, at a hotel in Marion, awaiting a visit to St James' in the morning.


Vacation was great, but it was nice to be back in harness. Task planning and Morning Prayer at home. The morning was consumed by catch-up conversations with the Archdeacon and the Administrator over various developments during my absence, and then by processing the sizable stacks of snail mail that had piled up on my desk over the last three weeks. Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. After lunch, I met for a good while with a finalist for one of our vacant cures. Refined and began to "internalize" my homily for this weekend (tomorrow evening at Redeemer, Cairo and Sunday morning at St James', Marion).  Continued to process (by responding or creating a planned task) a formidable number of emails that appeared when I reconnected to the diocesan email server last night, all of which require some action on my part. (Devoted a good bit of my evening at home to this same work.) Evening Prayer in the office.

Sermon for Proper 13

On July 31, while on vacation, it was my joy to preach at St Timothy's Church in Salem, Oregon. This is the parish where our family was active for ten years (1976-1986), where two of our children were baptized, and from which we were sent off to seminary. It remains a remarkable worshiping and serving community all these years later. Here's what I shared with them about the feeding miracle in Matthew's gospel. Matthew 14:13 -21 Have you ever noticed how the most wonderful experiences that are available to us in this life are often best appreciated if they’re not talked about? It is, rather, in the doing of them that we know their meaning and feel their power. So, in a sense, I’m hesitant to be even giving this sermon, because what I want to talk about is one of those things. And, moreover, I want to talk about it while we’re in the middle of doing it, which is to say, I want to talk about the Eucharist, which is clearly one of those things that is at risk for being spoil