Showing posts from January, 2012


We were all awakened by a fire alarm shortly after 7, and were asked, "Please leave the building." Somebody had broken the rule and put a croissant in the toaster, which is for "bread only." It seems there's a good reason for the rule! Packing was an intimidating task, but I accomplished it in just over an hour, paranoid about making sure I leave nothing behind. The conference center staff cheerfully called me a taxi, and I was soon on my way to the Canterbury West rail station. I inquired of the gate agent when the next "fast train" to London would arrive and he pointed to the one currently at the platform. I boarded gratefully, thinking I was on the high speed service. I was not. No harm. I resigned myself to a more leisurely ride, and a longer taxi ride once in London (Charing Cross being further from my hotel than St Pancras). Then, about 30 minutes later, we pulled into Ashford International, and I heard the announcement, "Change here for hi

Monday (St Charles, King & Martyr)

The theme of this final day of our conference was "the bishop as human being." Ponder that. We met for Bible study after breakfast, again in All Saints' Chapel, and again under the capable leadership of Ed Condry. We looked at a rather obscure passage in Luke (obscure in that I don't think it ever turns up in the Sunday lectionary) wherein Jesus in effect promises that he will gird himself up and wait on those who are themselves his servants. The point is that those who regularly minister to others run the risk of forgetting to allow Jesus to minister to them, which can have devastating consequences. Our time in that setting was concluded with a rather sweetly intense period of extemporaneous prayer. The Spirit's presence was palpable. For the later half of the morning, we were joined by Jane Williams, wife of Archbishop Rowan. Though she is a seminary professor and theologian in her own right, she was among us today as a bishop's spouse, to talk about issue

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

This was another relaxed morning. Having been recruited last night, I reported with four of my colleagues at 10:15 for orientation toward the duty of bearing a chalice at the 11am Sung Eucharist. Meeting in the oldest sacristy in continuous use in England, we were supplied with albs and stoles, and then given prominent seats near the High Altar. Serving Holy Communion from that location was surely an unforgettable experience. The Church of England liturgy allows Candlemas to be observed on the Sunday prior, so that feast was kept today. To mark the pivot point between the Incarnational and Paschal cycles of the year (the Sundays that follow are "before Lent"), we concluded by having the entire congregation of about 500 process down from the quire and High Altar into the nave (about a ten foot drop in elevation!) and to the font for some concluding devotions. As it happened, I found myself right in front of the choir, so I had a row of boy trebles singing into my ears for the

Saturday (St Thomas Aquinas)

After breakfast we were taken to one of the places in the cathedral that is not open to the general public--All Saints' Chapel, accessible through a narrow and winding staircase on the south side of the choir. It dates from the fifteenth century, but the vestige of a Norman arch in one of the walls is a telltale sign of an earlier period in the cathedral's life and the very messily organic character of its physical development. There Canon Condry led us in a Bible study on the "road to Emmaus" text from Luke. It was rather more substantive and less manipulative than the three sessions we had previously experienced. Our after-the-break session, back in our accustomed conference center location (a site that was free for the construction of a conference center in the 1990s because the land had been cleared by a German bomb in the 1940s), was a presentation by Fr Christopher Irvine, Canon Librarian, on the role of the bishop in liturgy. It was quite well done. The ensuing

Friday (St John Chrysostom)

It was a late night last night, due in part to some technical difficulties in posting to this blog. Consequently, I played hooky from Mattins and Mass this morning, getting some much needed extra sleep. The day dawned bright and clear, providing a beautiful setting for a couple of local university graduation ceremonies that took place in the cathedral nave. I was surprised to find that some of the trees along the south side of the cathedral are beginning to blossom out. Nonetheless, even with the clear skies, it was rather cooler than it's been, and the next several days look to be miserable--upper 30s with rain. The morning brought us yet another agenda-driven Bible study led by the same individual. The agenda this time had to do with "ministering" to the powerful, using the story of Nathan's confrontation of David as the springboard. After the break, the rest of the morning was spent with the Bishop of Harare (Zimbabwe), whose diocese is locked in a bizarre battle

Thursday (Ss Timothy & Titus)

Road trip day for bishops. We all (27 of us) piled into a bus (aka "motor coach") at 7:50am in the midst of a dreary drizzle for a 2.5 hour trip to London. Now, the same trip took an hour of my time on a high speed train on Monday. The difference is not only that the bus doesn't go 120mph, but that there are no multi-lane controlled access highways that actually go in to central London. So it was all on what Californians call "surface streets"--through the east end and Southwark, over the Thames at the Tower Bridge, through the financial district and Westminster, past Victoria Station, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, and on into Kensignton, finally alighting at the Anglican Communion office, which occupies a former convent. We were greeted by Canon Kenneth Kearon, who talked generally about the work of the ACO before introducing the staff, each of whom took a few moments to speak about his or her area of concentration. We then broke for some informal time with

Conversion of St Paul

Same structure to the day as yesterday. Same Bible study leader, again with a little more of an agenda than I was comfortable with. (Truth to tell, I'm not comfortable with any agenda; the text itself should set the agenda.) After a break, we heard a presentation about and were led in a discussion of power, authority, and influence as they impact mission, both on a global communion-wide level, and within provinces and dioceses. There were certainly some valuable nuggets in this, but, I must confess, I was fighting off sleep much of the time. After lunch (which is at 1, and dinner at 7, both an hour later than my American inner clock is accustomed to), we heard from four non-bishops--two lay and two clergy--on precisely what they think of bishops and what they look for in their bishops. In short: hold power lightly, lead by influence rather than coercion, be available. These remarks, and the ensuing discussion, were probably the best part of the formal conference program yet. Dur


So, are you enjoying my hand-crafted artisanal HTML tags? You're welcome. Mattins (said) in the cathedral at 7:30, followed immediately by Mass in the crypt chapel (the oldest section of the building, dating back well over a millennium), followed by breakfast in the refectory. Continuing to nurture new relationships; most here are strangers to one another. It does tax my introversion a bit. Our first morning session was a long period of Bible study led by a Jamaican woman who now teaches in a theological college in Birmingham. From time to time she had us break out into small groups to discuss questions she would pose. Some of where she took us pressed a few of my buttons, so it was good that the process forced me to articulate discomfort rather than just feel it. After a break we continued with a presentation from another faculty member at the same college on missiology, the character of mission, and the "five marks of mission" (google that phrase). Again, some of my

Monday (Phillips Brooks)

OK! I lied ... that is, when I said I would never hand-insert HTML tags. The only reason there are paragraphs in yesterday's entry is because I did exactly that. It is a little cumbersome, to be sure. Here's one now. This morning I packed, checked out, stowed my bags at the hotel, and hit the Tube system one last time. Sadly, I had to make a return visit to Watts, with what surely must be the most humble request ever made by a walk-in customer: a clergy collar tab insert. The one I brought with me, and which I indeed wore on my first day in London, was nowhere to be found when I packed. It cost me all of one pound. With that work accomplished, I surveyed my options, and decided to keep walking west on Victoria Street, through a very busy retail district, until I spotted Westminster Cathedral (not the Abbey), the seat of Roman Catholicism in England. It's a Byzantine-style edifice from late Victorian times, fairly attractive, in my opinion. My inner musicologist-of-yore r

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

About my technical difficulties: The issue is that, when I'm on a iPad, Blogger's default is an HTML field on which to post. So, if I want to do any formatting, it looks I have to add my own HTML tags. Not gonna happen. However, I'm writing this post directly in Blogger, rather than first putting into Evernote and then copying it over. So, if you see paragraphs, that idea worked. If not, it didn't. For Mass this morning, some sleuthing by the Archdeacon had already pointed me to St Gabriel's, Pimlico, which was an easy Tube ride followed by about an eight minute walk. I was looking for a particular liturgical ethos, one that might be described as "family Catholic." I was not disappointed. The building is Victorian, as is the whole neighborhood, an, while it needs some repairs, it is quite lovely. The liturgy was rich without being fussy. It kind of reminded me of Holy Trinity, Danville, so ... Danites, take a bow. The congregation numbered around 60, whi


Let me first apologize for the general lack of formatting in these last few posts. I'm immensely grateful for my iPad, but it is a little cumbersome in some respects as it relates to my blogging software. There's evidently something I'm not getting. Another day in the country, this time seeing large swaths of the Diocese of Salisbury, where my friend Graham Kings is Bishop of Sherborne, one of the suffragan sees of that diocese. I took the train to the village of Tisbury, where Bishop Graham met me. After a few miles of hedgerows and roundabouts (I'm fairly certain roundabouts are unwholesome and contrary to God's will), we met up with Robert, his omincompetent lay chaplain/executive assistant, who took over the driving chores. I was treated to a pub lunch (a "gastro-pub", I was informed, which means the menu is upscale from the traditional fare) in a town the name of which I cannot remember. We all had the special: pork belly, mash, and black pudding (g

Friday (St Fabian)

Slowly but surely recovering from jet lag. Most of the way there already. Got up at a fairly leisurely hour and caught the 9:50 train from Paddington Station (about four blocks from my hotel) to Oxford. The trip takes about an hour. My observation about trains in Britain is that they are very frequent, very fast, very crowded, they run on time, and while not by any means inexpensive, the fares are not unreasonable. Seats are tiny; leg room is minimal. Makes a coach airplane seat seem spacious. Did I mention they go fast? Even the freight trains go fast. Not what I'm used to seeing. I was met at Oxford by Fr Mark Clavier (son of Tony, who preached at my consecration). Mark is priest-in-charge of the United Benefice of Steeple Aston, North Steeple, and Tackley. Two of the three churches date from Norman times, and one as elements from the Saxon era (which is to say, some of those stones have been in place for more than a thousand years). The villages themselves have a combined p

Thursday (St Wulfstan)

The meeting of Province V bishops concluded at noon yesterday, so I was actually the first one to check in for my flight,mwhich departed a 5pm. How often does one even get to meet, let alone fly across the ocean with, a set of quituplets? They were four yearsold, and very well- behaved. British Airways deposited me at Heathrow shortly after 6am (that is, shortly after midnight central time). A little while later I was in my hotel room, grateful that the Hilton Metropole (Edgeware Road) had a room available for early check-in. After settling in, cleaning up, and arguing my way to a free internet connection in my room, I surveyed the neighborhood on foot (it's even more Arab that I remember it from my last trip in 2005), then entered the labyrinthine Underground system. After a couple of small false starts, I made it to the Westminster area, and to the offices of Watts & Company, purveyors of fine vestments for clergy and churches. They had a mitre ready for me to pick up ... s

Tuesday (St Antony)

All went according to plan, though the train was 20 minutes late getting Springfield. Kept up with the usual email along the way that I would have gotten if I'd been in the office.Beginning with lunch, met with the Bishops of Province V, potentially 18 in number, including retired assistants, but with six missing for various reasons. Dinner with my colleagues from Northern Indiana and Fund du Lac.


I usually let this space lie fallow on my weekly sabbath, which is normally Monday. But in view of what the next two and a half weeks hold for me, a few words might be appropriate. Tomorrow morning I board a train for Chicago, where I will attend a meeting of the bishops from Province V (all of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the eastern half of Missouri--15 dioceses in all). Then, late Wednesday afternoon, I catch a plane from Chicago to London, where I will stay for four nights, with day trips to see friends in the Oxford and Salisbury areas. Then, a week from today, it's off to Canterbury, and the main reason for the trans-oceanic trip--namely, a program for new bishops from around the Anglican Communion offered by the cathedral each January. I will probably be the only American there, and I very much look forward to a time of learning, making new connections, and being refreshed by participating in the daily worship of that great sign of Anglican identity an

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

This was a rare Sunday with no parish visitation on my calendar, so Brenda and I took the opportunity to be pew-sitters in the closest Episcopal parish out of the diocese that we could think of, which turned out to be St Paul's Cathedral in Peoria. I was not in clericals and hoped I might fly under the radar, but I was quickly busted by a couple of people who recognized me. After the liturgy, we were very graciously received and had a wonderful time talking with both the laity and clergy of that congregation.


Met at 9:30 with Fr Tucker, coordinator for the liturgies at the clergy pre-Lenten retreat next month, just to get on the same page. Attended the meeting of the Commission on Ministry at 10. We interviewed two nominees for ordination to the priesthood. One of them was born the year I was ordained, which makes me feel a little ... ancient. The COM meeting ended at 1, and the Standing Committee convened in the same room with nary a break, with four of us involved in both groups. After some routine canonical matters (consenting to three episcopal elections), the group went into executive session to serve as the Bishop's Council of Advice. I was very grateful for their wise and supportive words about a couple of challenging situations. The Standing Committee meeting ended at 3, after which I came home and ... had some lunch!

Friday (St Hilary of Poitiers)

Processed some emails at home. Morning Prayer in the office. Spent the rest of the morning, and part of the afternoon, writing an article for the Nashotah House alumni magazine, requested recently by its editor  pro tempore . Went up to the Lincoln Museum to buy a gift that will end of in the hands (and the suitcase) of an as-yet-unidentified Anglican bishop who will be attending the same program to which I am headed at Canterbury Cathedral week after next. Friday prayer: Ignatian-style discursive meditation on the first of Jesus' "signs" in John's gospel--the miracle at Cana. Evening Prayer in the office.

Thursday (St Aelred)

First snow accumulation of the season. Usual morning routine, save for an extended commute time due to snow and wind. Morning Prayer in the office. Processed a small batch of emails. Met with two lay persons from one of our Eucharistic Communities to discuss their role in the larger mission of the diocese. Took care of air travel (and airport parking) arrangements for the March meeting of the House of Bishops (at Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas). Began to make specific plans for the broad topic of each session in the Lenten series I am giving in Alton. Lunch at home. Resumed work on the Lenten series. Got distracted periodically by various administrative exigencies and some matters related to next week's travel plans. Survey the readings for Lent and Palm Sunday, and plotted my sermon preparations tasks for that season. Evening Prayer in the office.


Usual routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Administrative chores pertaining the clergy deployment, the ordination process, and filling out the cast of characters for the Title IV clergy discipline process that we hope we never have to use. Refined and printed a working text of my homily for the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple (aka Candlemas), to be delivered at St Paul's Church, K Street, Washington, DC on 2 February. Completed a rough draft of my sermon for Epiphany VI (12 February), to be delivered at the Chapel of St John the Divine in Champaign. Met with one of the finalists for Vicar of St Michael's, O'Fallon, along with his wife and daughter, and the Archdeacon, in my office for a few minutes. (Then I took him to lunch while the wife and daughter were otherwise entertained by the Bishop's Warden of St Michael's, seeing the Lincoln Home.) Off quickly after lunch to a dental appointment. Yes, I need to floss more. Isn&

Tuesday (William Laud)

Usual routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Got started processing the accumulated items in my hard-copy inbox, and ended the day just finishing the same thing before going off to get my hair cut. In the meantime, I had several short conferences with the Archdeacon, substantive phone conversations with two rectors, a priest from outside the diocese requesting my help with something, a potential candidate for one of our vacant clergy positions, the Bishop's Warden of one of our vacant cures, and a member of the Bishop's Committee of one of our missions. So I guess the day was productive, though I don't have much to show for it by way of checked-off tasks. In the evening, out to dinner with Brenda and an old clergy friend who is in the area looking at another of our vacant positions (not one of those alluded to above). 

Epiphany I: Baptism of Christ

Celebrated and preached the 10am liturgy at Trinity, Jacksonville, wherein we duly celebrated the mystery of Our Lord's baptism, renewed our own baptismal promises, and blessed a new aumbry for the storage of holy oils. It was a joyous occasion, until ... ... while retiring to the sacristy after administering the sacrament to change from a chasuble back to a cope, I failed to negotiate the steps between the two rooms. I managed to hobble back out and finish the service, grateful for a sturdy crozier which served as a cane during the final trip down the aisle.  Upon arriving back in Springfield, we went right to the nearby urgent care clinic. Diagnostic result: Avulsion fracture of the right distal fibula. My ankle is in a brace for the next four weeks. (I can wear a shoe over it.) It's difficult to predict how these injuries heal. I'm hoping mine is on the fast track, as my intention is to be doing a lot of walking in London two weeks from now.

Sermon for the First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Mark 1:7-11 Isaiah 42:1-9 Trinity, Jacksonville                                                                        We don’t hear about it so much anymore, but for a while during the ‘70s and ‘80s, one of the great themes in pop psychology in our society was “self esteem.”   It was said that a great many people simply have a poor self-image; they think ill of themselves, don’t ‘like’ themselves.”   I’m not qualified to jump into that subject in a direct way, except to make the intuitive observation, based on my own informal experience as a pastor, that a good many Christians do have a poor spiritual self image.   By this I mean, actually, a spiritual inferiority complex.  “Everyone else’s spiritual experience is more real than mine—by comparison, I’m just faking it. Everyone else around me is spiritually more mature than I am. Others seem to have fruitful and satisfying prayer lives, but I feel like my prayers just bounce off the ceiling.”  I’m not going to ask for a


This being Christmas Day for Orthodox Christians on the Julian calendar, I accompanied the Archdeacon to Benld for the Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos (aka St Maria's), an old and very beautiful church in the jurisdiction of what used to be known as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) which, as of the last few years is back in full communion with the Orthodox Church in America after several decades of separation. The congregation was small--about 20--but the service was lovely. Fr Denney and I were singled out as honored guests during the announcements, and we got to sample some delicacies imported from Russia during the coffee hour. In the afternoon, Brenda and I attended a "Twelfth Night" (transferred to "fourteenth afternoon") at the home of Deacon Tom and Elisabeth Langford, which, on account of the guest list, turned out to be a sort of warmup act for our visit tomorrow to Trinity, Jacksonville. A deligh


Usual routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a batch of emails. Wrote three (snail mail) letters to lay leaders in one of our Eucharistic Communities, hoping to be in clearer communication regarding some pressing concerns. Once in a while, I get to play with hot wax (under the close supervision of Sue Spring, of course). This time it was to put a seal on the Letter of Institution for Father Mark Evans, who was formally inducted as Rector of Trinity, Lincoln this evening. Tackled yet another project related to personal organization--tidying up the files on my hard drive (actually, in Dropbox). Like the physical world, the law of entropy applies to the cyber-world as well, and periodic maintenance needs to be done in order to avoid hair-tearing-out situations down the road. Lunch at home. Revised the forms that clergy and prospective marriage partners are required to complete when one or both of the couple have been previously married to someone who is still living. (

Sermon for the Institution of Father Mark Evans as Rector of Trinity Church, Lincoln, Illinois

Matthew 2:1-12 Institution of Fr Mark Evans at Trinity, Lincoln Tonight is about the completion of a journey, on many levels. The Wise Men from the east, “bearing gifts,” have “traversed afar…following yonder star…,” crossing “field and fountain, moor and mountain,” and now arrive at the destination to which the star has been leading them, and they lay their gifts at the feet of the infant Jesus before making the long trek back home. Trinity Church also marks the completion of a journey tonight, a journey that began two calendar years ago when Father Cravens announced his retirement. There have been no literal moors or mountains involved in this journey, though it may have sometimes felt like that to members of the vestry and search committee! Of course, Mark Evans has also been on a journey, a journey of discernment and formation and more discernment, moving from the world of finance, to being a seminary student, to being a priest and seminary staff member, and now to his fi


Hung out at home the first part of the morning to await delivery of the treadmill I bought on Monday (though if winter never actually arrives it may turn out that I didn't need it!). Read Morning Prayer, processed a load of emails, and worked on a sermon for Epiphany V (5 February at St Mary's, Robinson, just after I get back from my England trip). In the office shortly past 10. Devoted the rest of the morning, and part of the afternoon, to preparing for my Lenten series presentations at St Paul's, Alton ("Patterns of Ministry"). This got me deeply into Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Kittel's Theological Wordbook of the New Testament, and the Interpreter's Bible Dictionary. It was fun to do that sort of close Bible study. It's been a while, and needs to happen more often. Lunch with a young aspirant to Holy Orders, discussing his seminary plans. The afternoon had me bogged down for an inordinate length of time chasing down, by phone and inter

Sermon for Epiphany (Eve)

Ephesians 3:1-12 Matthew  2:1-12 St John’s, Decatur (Macon County Parish)   So … what’s up? Why are we here on a Thursday night? This isn’t usually a time for coming to church, so there must be something important to do. What’s on the agenda? Good question. For one thing, at least, we’ve got a story—a story that is at the same time very familiar and very strange. Some mysterious figures that Matthew’s gospel calls Magi, from some mysterious location somewhere east of the Roman territory of Judea—which could potentially include an incredibly vast area—arrive in Jerusalem after following some mysterious star for some mysteriously unspecified length of time. (There’s a whole lot of mysteriousness going on here.) They ask around whether anybody knows where the baby boy is who was born “King of the Jews,” because they’ve been following the star in the expectation that it will lead them to that child. Well, this gets the attention of Herod, the Roman Empire’s puppet king of J


Usual morning routine. Morning Prayer in the office. Completed and refined my sermon for Friday night's Celebration of a New Ministry with Fr Mark Evans and Trinity, Lincoln. Began a long-deferred "scheduled maintenance" task: Updating, correcting, and purging my Contacts (all of which are stored in the visually ho-hum but workable contacts section of Gmail). Lunch at home. Resumed the Contacts task. Somewhat arduous and time-consuming (a lot of data entry), but important. (My technology wish list for the office would include a single database in the cloud that would continuously sync across all platforms for any authorized user. In other words, I'd like to have the diocesan directory that Sue Spring updates as a Word or PDF file on an occasional basis seamlessly integrate with my contact manager.) Took a phone call from one of our rectors with some concerns about our emerging diocesan Vision for Mission. I'm always grateful for the opportunity to expound, c


Out of the house early to get Brenda to a 7:30 oral surgery appointment. The procedure was mercifully quick and we were back home before 9:00. Got her settled on the couch with her pain killers and made it in to the office around 9:30, having said Morning Prayer in the car. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on some currently pressing concerns in three of our parishes. Refined my homily for the Eve of the Epiphany, this Thursday night, at St John's, Decatur. Lunch at home; the patient was fast asleep. Wrote an article for the next issue of the  Springfield Current . Usual Tuesday scanning chores, which included drafting a hard copy letter in response to one received from a lay person. Took a substantive phone call from a colleague bishop in another diocese around a couple of issues that will come before next summer's General Convention. Surveyed my February visitation schedule and made a few mental notes. Sent out an email in connection with one of the boards on which I ser

Holy Name

Good day at the cathedral. It's always a joy to preach, preside, and confirm at the home church of the Bishop of Springfield. Today we confirmed one and received two adults at the main liturgy. Considering that it was New Year's Day, attendance was actually quite good.

Sermon for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

Philippians 2:5-11 St Paul’s Cathedral  In the secular calendar, today is, of course, New Year’s Day. But in the church, our new year started five weeks ago at the beginning of Advent, so that’s not what today is about here. In most years, the Sunday after Christmas would be styled, appropriately enough, the First Sunday after Christmas—how’s that for stating the obvious? But not this year. Why? Because January 1, in our church calendar, is the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, and the feast of the Holy Name is on the list of a privileged few occasions that, when they happen to fall on a Sunday, trump whatever else would have ordinarily been observed on that Sunday. So here we are, celebrating the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, on the eighth day of the Christmas season, at least, if not technically on the First Sunday after Christmas. Got all that straight?! The feast of the Holy Name invites us to share mystically in a very special moment—a very Jewish moment, as a matt