Showing posts from October, 2011


Celebrated Mass at Redeemer, then led a clergy day until 2pm, talking about the challenge of being part of the "minority party" in the Episcopal Church. Shared some reflections from Jeremiah, Hosea, and Joshua. Interviewed a priest from a neighboring diocese who is interested in exploring opportunities that may come open in Springfield. Accompanied Brenda and an old friend who now lives in the area to a nearby botanical garden. Fascinating and exotic flora and fauna (little lizards). Attended a dinner party at the home of a Redeemer parishioner. Very elegant. Good food. Stimulating conversation.

Homily: Evensong for All Saints

(Delivered at Redeemer, Sarasota as the preaching mission continues.) “I sing a song of the saints of God …”  This is the opening line of what I would dare say is one of the more popular All Saints hymns in the Anglican tradition. It’s a children’s song, really, and rather obviously reeking of Victorian Englishness, so much so that the liturgical powers-that-be in the Episcopal Church made the decision to omit it from the most recent revision of the hymnal in 1982. But the members of the House of Deputies at General Convention that year—God bless them, a group not generally not known for being nostalgic about the past—voted overwhelmingly to restore it, and it remains one of the quaint and quirky elements of our Anglican sub-culture. Behind the Victorian schmaltz, however, behind the poetic images that make us grin—the lines about meeting the saints of God in “shops” or in “lanes” or “at tea”—is a repeated refrain that is as serious as a heart attack. Each of the three stanzas ends

Homily for Proper 26

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13, 17-20 Matthew 23:1-12 Micah 3:5-12 (Given at the Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida, where I am giving a "preaching mission" today and Tuesday.) I don’t see it so much lately, but, for a while in the middle years of the last decade, a 1999 film called Office Space seemed to be constantly popping up on one TV channel or another. Office Space is a parody of what life is like for those on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder—working in a cubicle doing repetitive tasks that don’t seem to have any bearing on anyone’s real life, dealing with a smug and condescending boss who’s more concerned with getting the paperwork right than with actual productivity, and a pair of rather idiotic “downsizing” consultants who identify the main character, who is in fact a complete slacker who hates his job and everything about it—they identify this guy as prime leadership material, and earmark him for immediate promotion! Prime leadership material indeed. O

Saturday (James Hannington & His Companions)

Today was a day of travel in preparation for the preaching mission I am giving at the Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida. Redeemer is a thriving resource-size parish with over 700 in average Sunday attendance. Left home at 8:15 to catch a 10:30 flight out of Bloomington. Three hour layover in Atlanta provided opportunity for some significant walking--always welcome. Lovely dinner in Sarasota with the rector of Redeemer, Fr Fred Robinson, and his wife Linda.

Ss Simon & Jude

Took it just a little easy on myself this morning, given the late night of baseball watching. So ... I read the morning office in my room, and missed Matins & Mass in St Mary's Chapel. Took part in the fall academic convocation, at which several degrees were awarded, mostly to distance learning students. The distance learning program at Nashotah has been a raging success. Lord Carey of Clifton, the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury (will there ever be a 103rd Bishop of Springfield?!) delivered a fine talk on the significance of the King James translation of the Bible, on this, its 400th anniversary year. At lunch, I had the opportunity, at a table with some students, alumni, another bishop, and a priest trustee, to share the nascent Springfield vision statement. There was great excitement. After lunch, participated in the afternoon session of the Nashotah trustees meeting. We were one short of a quorum, so we couldn't transact any official business. Fortunately, we had alre


Solemn Choral Matins at 8, followed by breakfast in the refectory. Trustees met all morning and all afternoon. Had lunch with a seminarian and his wife, at the recommendation of a faculty member. The seminarian is currently an "orphan" looking for a diocese. Attended the installation of Bishop Edward Salmon as the new "temporarily permanent" dean and president of Nashotah House. Scrumptious dinner at the refectory, then over to the deanery for some socializing with Bishop and Mrs. Salmon (she is an over-the-top rabid Cardinals fan) and some parishioners from All Saints, Chevy Chase, MD, where the bishop has recently completed a 26 month interim stint. We were also joined by Lord and Lady Carey. Watched three or four innings with some Rangers fans in one of the guest apartments, but came back to my hotel room to watch the agonizing/exciting finish to Game 6 of the World Series. My introversion was pretty well taxed today. I'm beat.

Wednesday (Alfred the Great)

Hit the road northbound at 7:45. Lunch in Beloit, WI. Had a couple of fruitful phone conversations along the way. Arrived at Nashotah House with about fifteen minutes to spare before a 1:30 committee meeting .... ... said committee being External Affairs. Heard an upbeat (all things considered) report on enrollment. Some particularly creative work is being done in student recruitment. I am particularly impressed with the work done by a couple of young staff members on the website. Do check it out . Back to Delafield to check in to my hotel, make a pastoral call by phone, and process some email. Solemn Evensong in St Mary's Chapel, followed by the dedication of the new wing of the refectory, which includes lots of additional classroom and meeting space. Hung out for a bit at the reception/happy hour. Chatted some with Fr Mark Evans, rector-elect of Trinity, Lincoln. Excited about his coming to the diocese. Also got to meet George Carey, the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, who is


Task planning (always more complex on Tuesdays) at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Debriefed on several matters relating to our recent diocesan synod with the Administrator and the Archdeacon. Took a phone call from the rector-elect of Trinity, Lincoln concerning various details of the beginning of his ministry (Advent). Took a phone call from the Rector's Warden of one of our parishes regarding an administrative/pastoral matter. Gave written consent to the resignation of the Bishop of Ecuador Central. (If you know the back story here, you know it's a sad one.) Followed up with the Archdeacon with an administrative matter regarding one of our clergy. Processed about a half dozen emails. Lunch at home (from McDonalds--a McRib ... available for a limited time only!) Finished and refined the drafts of four sermons: the three I'll give at Redeemer, Sarasota as part of my All Saints preaching mission, and the one I'll give in Pekin and Morton the following Sun

XIX Pentecost

St Bartholomew's, Granite City at 8:45 and St Thomas', Glen Carbon at 10:30, the latter with two confirmations. Then home for some down time after a long and challenging--but invigorating--weekend.

Sermon Notes for Proper 25

I stuck fairly close to this outline at St Bartholomew's, Granite City and St Thomas', Glen Carbon, but delivered the homily without notes. It's just a walk-through rough exposition of the Psalm for the day--Psalm 1. The Matrix—red pill/blue pill choice (truth and potential happiness vs. comfortable anxiety and despair) Psalm 1 presents us with just such a choice 1 Happy are they... Happiness/blessedness—the highest human aspiration (lies beyond intermediate “I would be happy if…” statements) who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,  nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful First advice, a negative: avoid the wicked/sinners/scornful (in Heb. parallelism, those terms are successively illuminating, and they all refer to those who are self-sufficient, autonomous)  2 Their delight is in the law of the and they meditate on his law day and night. Hard for me to conceive of “delighting” in any law (60s, evangelicalism—only


We wrapped up the business of the 134th synod of the Diocese of Springfield pretty much on schedule, with adjournment around 12:15. I was encouraged by both the tone and substance of the the whole event. There is much daunting labor that lies ahead of us, but we are rather clearer about it now, I think, and that clarity is a necessary step. Brenda and I had lunch with a friend, then grabbed some down time, as we are remaining in the Metro East area for the night because my visits tomorrow are to Granite City and Glen Carbon. We saw the movie Moneyball , which was probably a providential choice, as it deals with precisely the sort of seismic shift in thinking that I tried to articulate in my address yesterday.


Didn't go in to the office, but took such steps at home as were necessary to leave at 10am for Belleville and the 134th annual synod of the Diocese of Springfield. Trying to sort out what vestments to bring and what to carry them in made Brenda remark that I'm worse than a girl getting ready for prom! Spied a Ruby Tuesday (always Brenda's casual dining establishment of choice) in Belleville and grabbed lunch before checking in at the Four Points by Sheraton. Gaveled synod to order promptly at 2pm and took care of the organizational and administrative formalities that need to be taken care of on such an occasion. Introduced and heard greetings from two special guests: the Bishop of Missouri (whose office is only a 17 minute drive from where we are meeting) and the new ELCA bishop of the Central-Southern Illinois Synod.  Delivered the Bishop's Address, the text of which can be found here . Recessed a little earlier than we had planned on (no complaints from anyone on

Sermon at 134th Annual Synod Mass

Revelation 21:1-7 When I was a boy, I had a sort of recurring fantasy—it may have been rooted in a dream, I suppose; I don’t know—a fantasy in which I rescued the rusted out shell of an automobile from a junkyard and painstakingly restored it to bright and shining mint condition. Then, as young adults, Brenda and I took great delight in watching episodes of the old PBS version of This Old House , and watched Bob Vila work his magic every week on another gem of an old home. At one level, it’s odd that I would find these things interesting, because I don’t really have the aptitude or the patience to actually do them, at least with cars, although we’ve have a small degree of success with a couple of houses. But at another level, maybe it’s not so odd. Maybe youthful fantasies about restoring and renovating cars and houses have prepared me for just this moment, just this season, in my life and ministry, and this season in our life together as the Diocese of Springfield. “Behold, I make a


Usual AM routine. Remembered Morning Prayer this time! Wrote out notes to clergy and spouses with November birthdays and anniversaries. (I only hope they can read them; my handwriting is not what it used to be!) Met, along with the Archdeacon, with the Bishop's Warden and Treasurer from St Michael's, O'Fallon in connection with the process of calling their next Vicar. Lunch at home. Conceived and hatched a sermon for November 13, when I'm at St Thomas' in Salem. Went online to reserve a rental car for when we're in Florida for a preaching mission the week after next (followed by three days of R&R). Wrote my "From the Bishop" article for the November edition of the  Springfield Current . Evening Prayer in the office.

Wednesday (Henry Martyn)

Task planning at home. Got to the office and immediately got distracted such that I completely forgot about Morning Prayer. Not quite sure what happened there; didn't even realize it until late in the afternoon. Played email tag with a couple of potential candidates for a parochial vacancy. Took care of some details related to my registration for a continuing ed program for new bishops sponsored by Canterbury Cathedral. Happily, I learned that I have been accepted, and began to investigate air travel arrangements. (This takes place in late January.) Refined and attempted to interiorize a bit my homily for this Sunday, to be given at St Bartholomew's, Granite City and St Thomas', Glen Carbon. Lunch from TG, eaten at home. Spoke by phone with one of the candidates for the aforementioned vacancy. Labored successfully on a final draft for my synod address, including coordinating the PowerPoint slides that will accompany it. Spoke by phone with another of the candidates f

St Luke

Task organization at home; MP in the cathedral. Debriefed on sundry items with the Administrator and the Archdeacon and the Treasurer. Processed several pending emails. Initiated some contacts with potential candidates for a parish vacancy we're trying to fill. Processed the accumulated paper items in my (physical) inbox. Lunch at home. Finished drafting and refining my homily for the synod liturgy this Friday. Worked some more on the vacancy situation. Prepared (mentally) my homily for tonight's Mass at St Luke's, for St Luke's Day, Celebrated and preached at St Luke's. We worshiped in spirit and truth, and then enjoyed a good meal. Doesn't get any better.

XVIII Pentecost (Proper 24)

A long and demanding day, but a wonderful one. I left home before sunrise and arrived back after sunset. My official visit was to St John's, Decatur: Masses at 7:30 and 10, with an open forum between the liturgies, and lunch with the vestry following the final coffee hour. What a drop-dead gorgeous church St John's is. The liturgy had lots of energy; we confirmed four adults, and three others reaffirmed their vows. Morale is good in the parish; Fr Swan is doing excellent work as priest-in-charge. Then it was off to Holy Trinity, Danville to preach at their annual Our Lady of Walsingham pilgrimage. (Holy Trinity is the site of an OLW shrine.) It was an ecumenical event, with two local Roman Catholic priests and several of their parishioners present. Fr Scanlon put together an excellent Vespers liturgy, and we duly made our public witness with a procession up and down the block in front of the church. Great food and fellowship afterward in the parish hall. Pulled back into our Sp

Homily for Danville Walsingham Pilgrimage

When God manifests himself to a human being in an extraordinary way, we call it a “theophany.”  A theophany is invariably accompanied by a command: Do this … be this … say this.  I don’t know whether there’s a special word by which to talk about a appearance by someone very close to God, but not God himself, to a human being in an extraordinary way, so I’m going to invent one: hagiophany—the appearance of a saint, a holy one. Today we celebrate a hagiophany. And it’s not just any saint, any holy one. It’s the person who is as close to God, as close to Jesus, as it’s conceivable to get—his mother, the one who gave birth to him, the one who gave birth to God-in-the-flesh.  And in this hagiophany, as there would be with a theophany, there is, indeed, a command. When Our Lady appeared to Lady Richeldis 950 years ago in an out-of-the-way Norfolk village, her command was, “Build a house.” Build a house that replicates the house in Nazareth where the boy Jesus was nurtured to adulthood by Ma

Sermon for Proper 24

Matthew 22:15-22 St John's, Decatur You may have noticed that, for the last three months or so, we’ve been slowly but surely working our way on Sunday morning through the gospel of Matthew. So now we’re coming up on the end of the story, and the plot is definitely beginning to thicken. Matthew is turning up the flame underneath Jesus’ relationship with a group of Jewish leaders called Pharisees. He sets them up as Jesus’ adversaries, the “bad guys.” They’re feeling all threatened by Jesus’ popularity, so they keep trying to trap him into saying something that will get him into hot water with his supporters, and send him packing back off the Galilee where he came from. They come up with what they believe is the ideal ambush. There was a particular tax at that time that was imposed by the Roman Empire on the Jewish people, and it was very unpopular, not only because it was a tax, and all taxes are unpopular, but because this tax was required to be pain only in Roman currency—Roman

Saturday (St Teresa of Avila)

My morning was consumed--joyfully--by my attendance at and participation in the installation of John Roth as the new bishop for the Central-Southeast Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. By virtue of the Episcopal Church's full-communion relationship with the ELCA, I was among those laying hands on him. The intention of the agreement was (and presumably still is) that, by such acts, ELCA bishops and clergy will, gradually over a generation, be brought fully into the historic succession. Household chores and a long walk along a straight-as-an-arrow former rail bed on a gorgeous autumn afternoon. Getting prepped for a very full day in Decatur and Danville tomorrow.

Friday (S.I.J. Schereshrewsky)

Usual routine at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took care of some more odds and ends relating to synod. Processed about a half dozen emails that were in the queue. Finished creating Power Point slides for my synod address. (Don't go running into the night screaming--they're practically all pictures. I'm well aware of abuse-by-PowerPoint, and endeavor not to commit that sin.) Lunch at home (from Popeye's). Fleshed out working notes for my second clergy day address for my Sarasota preaching mission. Put some more meat on the bones of my homily for the 23rd (Granite City and Glen Carbon). Trolled YouTube in search of hymns. Strange to say, but this is actually a form of prayer for me. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Left a tad early so as to be able to get a walk in before dark.


Task planning and Morning Prayer at home. Haircut appointment. One last consultation with Sue over the 2012 visitation calendar. Took care of some more email responses that have been pending. Took some time to keep updated via internet on the breaking developments in and about the Diocese of South Carolina. Sad that there is once again drama at a national church level. Lunch at home (leftovers). Took a phone call regarding some synod-related issues. Invested another big chunk of time on my address to next week's annual synod of the diocese. Evening Prayer in the office.


Usual morning routine; MP in the cathedral. Responded to a couple of emails that had been in the chute for a few days. Took care of some minor chores related to an upcoming trip. Met with two lay persons over a pastoral matter. Refined the final draft of my homily for the Walsingham Pilgrimage service in Danville this Sunday afternoon. Wrote an email concerning an administrative matter. Lunch from Subway, eaten in the office. Fleshed out the structure of my sermon for the synod Mass a week from Friday. Finished a working outline for my first clergy day address, as part of my All Saints preaching mission at Redeemer, Sarasota. Took a second look at the draft of my 2012 Sunday visitation schedule, talked it over with Sue, made a couple of adjustments, and gave the thumbs up for publication. Clergy will be getting the info shortly. Headed for home about 45 earlier than usual in order to get a walk in. The shorter days and cooler mornings (with the exception of the last few days)


Task planning at home; lot's to do this week. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a load of new emails that had arrived in the past couple of days. Reviewed service leaflet drafts for my visit to Granite City and Glen Carbon on the 23rd, and discussed them by phone with Fr Pence. I always monitor the internet message board run for the members (and recently former members) of General Convention, but I rarely post anymore. Once in a while, though, something occurs to me that just needs to be said, and I figure it's part of my vow to "take my share in the councils of the church" to just go ahead and say it. My remarks there, slightly expanded, now appear on my "real" blog . Spoke by phone with Fr Swan regarding the details of my visit to St John's, Decatur this Sunday. Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Handled some executive decisions regarding the upcoming synod of the diocese. Processed an unusually large load of hard copy that had accu

Sermon for Proper 23

A: Proper 23 (2011)     ​     Matthew 22:1-14                                                                                                                      Isaiah 25:1-9 Psalm 23                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     ​​ (Trinity, Lincoln)            Every time Brenda and I pack for a trip, I receive a fresh education in the difference between men and women. I try to be as frugal as I can. I try to anticipate as best as I can what I will need, and then bring as little as I can get away with. Brenda, on the other hand, prefers to have a range of options once we reach our destination. She wants to be prepared with the right outfit for whatever occasion might arise. And, I might add, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that approach!   Brenda, perhaps, has taken to heart


Usual morning routine. Read, commented on, and returned a draft of the search profile for St Michael's, O'Fallon. We will be giving them some candidates to interview soon. Dealt with some outstanding issues relating to music for the Synod Eucharist. Wrote a first draft of my homily for the Walsingham Pilgrimage service in Danville on the 16th. Lunch at home. Conceived and hatched a sermon for my visits to Granite City and Glen Carbon on the 23rd.  Spent my regular Friday prayer time in an Ignatian-style discursive meditation on the daily office gospel reading for the day--Jesus heals two blind beggars and a demoniac. Finished a draft of my homily for when I visit St John's, Decatur on the morning of the 16th. Wrestled some more with the second reading for the Synod Mass (Revelation 21:1-6) and distilled a central message for my sermon on that occasion. Dinner (Kiku's) and a movie ( The Ides of March ) with the Dragonfly in the evening.

Thursday (William Tyndale)

Dropped my car (the diocese's car, actually) off at the dealer for scheduled maintenance. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Debriefed with the Archdeacon and the Administrator over sundry developments since we were last in the office at the same time, which has been several days. Took care of several small administrative chores. Reviewed the Synod agenda with Sue--that is, the special binder she prepared for me as the chairman of the meeting. Began processing a fairly large batch of emails. (This is what happens when I'm out of the office for a few days--they mount up.) Got a ride back to the dealer to pick up my car. Then home for lunch. Continued processing emails. Finished and refined my sermon for this Sunday (Trinity, Lincoln). Wrote a quick blot post on the recent newsworthy developments in the Diocese of South Carolina. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. This was one of those days that just seemed to "get away." I didn't make nearly a big enough den


Finished up a very stimulating Forward Movement board meeting in the morning. I hope I contributed in some proportion to what I received, because I came away with some insights into the dynamics of digital communication that may yet become concretely applicable to our work in the diocese. Left the Cincinnati area just after lunch and arrived home just prior to 6:30. A more or less uneventful drive, which is what one wishes for a drive.

Tuesday (St Francis)

Still in Cincinnati for the Forward Movement board meeting. It was a stimulating day, both with the board and, beginning in the afternoon, with staff members as well. There is some very creative thinking going on about what it means to be a "content provider" contributing to the "re-invigoration" of the church (the language of the original charge from General Convention in 1937) in an age of transition from print to digital media. Part of my interest is selfish: Can FM potentially be a resource to us in the Diocese of Springfield as we also seek re-invigoration and try to negotiate that same transition? I am hopeful that it might be so.


After finding my way out of all the construction on I-465 on the west side of Indianapolis, I completed the drive to the Cincinnati area, arriving at the Transfiguration Spirituality Center in time for lunch. Spent the rest of the day, and evening, in working sessions, getting to know other board members and getting familiar with the task at hand.

XVI Pentecost

What a day. Rose at 5am in order to leave at 6am in order to be in Chesterfield in time for a 7:30 liturgy. (How many towns of 250 have an Episcopal church?--one of only two churches in town, no less! It was spectacular watching the day dawn over central Illinois farm country. Then off the brunch at the home of a parishioner, which had to be cut short in order to be at St Paul's, Carlinville in time for a 9:45 service. Wonderful post-liturgical repast in the parish hall (pulled pork). Home around 1:15--just in time to grab a 45 minute nap in my recliner before throwing some clothes in a suitcase and hitting the road again. Slightly late for a 4pm organ recital at St John's Chapel in Champaign, followed by a leisurely dinner at a downtown Champaign eatery with Fr Scanlon. I write now from a hotel room in Indianapolis, as I am en route to Cincinnati for a Forward Movement board meeting that begins at noon tomorrow. Time now to catch a few winks.

Sermon for Proper 22

Matthew 21:33-43 Most of us are only too aware of the particular details of the economic and financial mess our country is in, along with much of the rest of the world. So it’s easy to forget some of the other ways our system can get messed up. This morning’s gospel parable reminds of the 1990s, when every day you could pick up the newspaper and read about one more “hostile takeover” of a corporation by an outside investor or group of investors. If I had a few million dollars of spare cash, for example—I don’t, just in case you’re wondering—if I had a few million dollars of spare cash and saw a company that I thought I could make a profit on if I bought it and broke it up and sold it off piecemeal, or at least reorganized it in some way, I would start by quietly buying shares of stock through normal channels at the market price. Then I would start actively seeking out other shareholders and offering them an above-market price for their shares. If my strategy succeeds, I can vote out t

Saturday (St Remigius)

Leisurely morning ... read the paper ... prayed the office ... finished a Hemingway novel I've been reading ... all in my recliner! Conceived and hatched a sermon for my visit to St John's, Decatur on the 16th of this month. Made significant progress on the Clergy Day meditations I will give as part of my All Saints preaching mission at Redeemer, Sarasota (Florida, that is--there may be a Sarasota, IL, I suppose!). Took a nice long walk on a gorgeous fall late afternoon. Read a history of the Forward Movement ... movement. I'm a new board member for Forward Movement (an Episcopal Church-related publisher of tracts and other devotional/discipleship materials), and I'll be attending my first board meeting this coming week. Hey ... I spent the whole day without going anywhere by car. Cool.