Showing posts from December, 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.”