Showing posts from November, 2011

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

All Saints

Preached at the 10am Mass at Redeemer. Met with the director of Redeemer's men's ministry, which is dynamic and innovative. I'm seeing some potential for synergy between what he does and the emerging vision of the Diocese of Springfield. Lunched with Brenda at a Thai place in downtown Sarasota. Ran an errand while she napped. Then we paid a visit to the beach at Siesta Key. It was way too brief, so we may go back tomorrow. Preached again at the evening Solemn High Mass. Three baptisms, the Britten Te Deum, and the usual classic hymns for this wonderful feast. Redeemer does liturgy extremely well. The liturgy was followed by an commensurately fine repast in the parish hall, with veal parmigiana as the centerpiece. We've had an altogether wonderful visit to this fine parish, making several new friends. Tomorrow morning we head down to the Fort Myers area for a three-day mini-vacation, so I'll be going dark in this space until the weekend.

Sermon for All Saints

(Delivered at three Masses at Redeemer, Sarasota, in conclusion of my preaching mission in that parish.) Whenever we say the creed—whether it’s the Nicene Creed of the Eucharist or the Apostles’ Creed of Baptism—we say that “we believe in … the communion of saints.”  So these words cross our lips frequently. But, of all the articles of the creed, I suspect that the one about the communion of saints is probably the least noticed and least understood by the majority of Christians. So let’s unpack it a little bit. First, who are “the saints”? Let’s start with who they’re not. The saints are not people who were perfect in the way they lived their lives. They were not sinless people—at least not in this life, although we do give them that title “Saint” before their names  because we believe—or suspect, at least—that they have now attained a state of sinlessness—in other words, perfect union with Christ—and are able to endure the presence of God without being turned to dust. Nor were the