Showing posts from February, 2012


Usual morning routine; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took care of some documentation chores related to the refinancing activity referenced yesterday. Completed and refined my homily for this Sunday (St John's, Decatur). Took care of an administrative chore connected with the coming Province V Synod (in April). More minor (but inescapable) "administrivia." Lunch at home. Plotted the tasks that will make sure my Holy Week and Easter sermons get conceived, gestated, and hatched in a timely manner. Revised and recrafted a homily for Lent III (St Mark's, West Frankfort). Traveled to Alton and delivered the first of five Lenten teaching sessions at St Paul's. I particularly enjoy this sort of ministry. Home right at 10pm.


Task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral, but the latter delayed by a phone calls from two mortgage lenders, since I put the word out in cyberspace yesterday that I'm considering refinancing our home loan. This happened a couple of more times through the day. The good news is, the conversations are turning out to be fruitful. Brief administrative chores, and some less brief replies to a stack of emails--stuff that's neither particularly major nor particularly minor, just real people needing some real attention from me, even if brief, to some real needs. I'm not complaining. Worked on "packaging" the first batch of names to send to a search committee. Lunch with the Dean, talking about Holy Week services in the cathedral, in which I will take a major part. Drafted an email to the widest diocesan list we have informing those who have not yet heard of the death Sunday of Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife. (They were stabbed to death by their

Homily for Lent I

               I Peter 3:18-22 Alton Parish                                                                                                                      Genesis 9:8-17             Mark 1:9-13             Psalm 25:3-9               Last month, as you may know, I spent some time in England—specifically, at Canterbury Cathedral, where the Dean was in seminary alongside a very famous person; that is, the Rector of the Episcopal Parish of Alton! One afternoon, we were given a guided historical tour of the cathedral. As we stood near the great west door of the church, the guide pointed at the great expanse of floor that lay between us and the choir and the High Altar, and told us we were standing in the “nave.” Then he pointed up at the ceiling, and invited us to look at the peak of the roof and imagine the whole building as an upsidedown ship. This makes the peak of the roof along the lengthwise axis the keel, and the floor in the area where the congregation usually gath

First Sunday in Lent

Arrived at Trinity Chapel, Alton in time to get the lay of the land prior to the regular 8:15am liturgy. Good turnout of 35, which made the place seem nicely full. I have now completed a circuit, having celebrated Mass in every church or chapel of the diocese that has a regular congregation. Principal liturgy of the parish down the hill at St Paul's, 10:30. Confirmed six and received three. Very warmly received. Excited about returning there the next five Wednesdays to give the Lenten teaching series. Chilled out for about 90 minutes at the beautifully-appointed tri-level condo that is home to Fr David Boase, the rector of Alton. Then we headed to Lewis & Clark Community College for a 3pm concert by the Alton Symphony Orchestra (Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in B-flat and the Dvorak 8th Symphony), at which we encountered several parishioners and I was introduced to several "movers and shakers" in the Alton arts scene. Home around 7:30, having stopped for dinner at Br


Resting now at the Holiday Inn in Alton, after a wonderful dinner with the vestry and spouses of the parish. Looking forward t a full day tomorro.

St Matthias

Usual morning routine, at home and in the cathedral, although the latter portion was extended as I prepared to celebrate the Eucharist prior to the Diocesan Council meeting. At my desk just long enough to answer a couple of emails before having to head back next door for the liturgy. We duly kept the feast of St Matthias, Apostle.  Mercifully, Diocesan Council meetings are only quarterly in the Diocese of Springfield. In addition to the usual reports, and tweaking the 2012 budget, we had a fruitful discussion about companion diocese relationships in general, the nature of our commitment to ongoing ministry in the Cairo area. the proposal for a special General Convention in 2014 to restructure the operations of the Episcopal Church, and our relationship to the neighboring Diocese of Quincy. Lunch with the Archdeacon at the Dublin Pub (the iteration thereof that is just a block from the cathedral). Upon returning, took a phone call from the now vicar-elect of St Michael's, O'

Thursday (St Polycarp)

Task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Spent the entire morning and most of the afternoon either processing emails or dealing with details surrounding the call of a new priest to the diocese. Included in the emails was a message from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music regarding lections for Holy Week, which is a somewhat vexed subject, since there are some conflicts between the Revised Common Lectionary and the Prayer Book. This is a subject in which I have more than a little bit of interest, so I invested some time analyzing the differences between RCL and the 1979 lectionary and mentally preparing to make recommendations to the clergy of the diocese. Prepared--liturgically, homiletically, administratively, and presidentially (in that I'm chairing the meeting)  for tomorrow's quarterly gathering of the Diocesan Council. Revised the ongoing working draft of my sermon for Lent II (St John's, Decatur). Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Attended

Ash Wednesday Homily

St Matthew’s, Bloomington Ash Wednesday is one of those occasions which seems simple enough. Its meaning seems obviously, intuitively self-evident—until, that is, you try to explain that meaning clearly and concisely. Then it becomes complex, and fuzzy around the edges, and we’re not quite as sure as we thought we were that we understand it all.  There are several layers of meaning operating at the same time in the liturgy for Ash Wednesday.  Part of what we’re doing, of course, is marking the beginning of the season of Lent. In a few minutes, I will invite you solemnly “to the observance of a holy Lent.” And Lent, of course, does not stand alone. It is not an end in itself, but the means to an end. It is supposed to get us ready to celebrate the Paschal Triduum—the three sacred days which connect us to the deepest realities of our lives as human beings: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter.  The Easter Vigil is the watering trough of our identity

Ash Wednesday

Task planning and some email processing at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Dealt with a request from a bishop in Tanzania, whom I met at the Canterbury conference last month, for assistance in applying for a United Thank Offering Grant. Dealt with some administrative detritus pertaining to the three vacant cures we currently have in play. Refined my homily for tonight (at St Matthew's, Bloomington). Worked on the first of my Lenten series presentations (to be at St Paul's, Alton). Made travel arrangements for my trip to attend the consecration of the next Bishop of Central Florida in March. (As I have noted before, this sort of thing is inordinately time-consuming). Wrote a congratulatory note to a bishop-elect whose consecration I will  not  be attending.  Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Stopped by home to retrieve Brenda, then headed north to preach and celebrate the Ash Wednesday liturgy with the good people of St Matthew's, Bloomington. It was unexpecte

Shrove Tuesday

This was a day of telephone calls. I spoke with a vestry member of one of our parishes (over the search process issues), the interim rector of one of our parishes in search, two colleague bishops about different candidates for two different openings, a potential candidate himself for one of those openings, a priest from another diocese concerning an aspirant to ordination, and my ELCA counterpart regarding a particular cleric whom we share. In between phone calls, I managed to schedule a couple of appointments, process a batch of emails, and refine my homily for this Sunday (to be delivered in the Episcopal Parish of Alton). In the evening, Brenda and I actually found some real Louisiana-style Mardi Gras food at a funky bar in downtown Jacksonville. 

Special Monday Edition

I've written some travelogue/reflections on my recent England trip. See here . Back to my regularly scheduled day off.

Sermon for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany

Mark 9:2-9 St Luke’s, Springfield             Human beings have a love-hate relationship with water. As spring approaches the upper midwest, there’s always a worry about flooding as ice and snow melt and the rivers rise. Under the right conditions, of course, we enjoy being on water and in water. But we also realize that it can cause great harm, and even kill us, quickly and without warning. That’s why we have lifeguards. When we swim under a lifeguard’s gaze, we expect that if we get in over our head, or get a cramp, the combination of the lifeguard’s desire to help us, and his or her ability to help us, and our willingness to cooperate in being helped, will result in our being rescued from danger. Desire + ability + cooperation = deliverance. Or, to express it theologically, making God the lifeguard:  God’s love + God’s power + our faith = protection from whatever it is that might harm us.  God will keep me from getting the flu, or God will get me that job I need, a

Last Sunday after the Epiphany (Transfiguration)

This was a welcome, and rare, "easy" day, in the sense that my parish visit was only a ten minute drive from my home, and the service didn't start until 10:30. And it was also great fun, as St Luke's in Springfield exudes vitality and energy. Preaching there is slightly interactive. Indeed, a young boy actually raised his hand politely at one point. I stopped to acknowledge him and promised to take his question after church. Here's what it was: "Why are you so silly?" Still unpacking that.


Task planning and a bit of email processing at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Phone conversation with my "peer coach," Bishop Bill Love of Albany. Refined the draft of my homily for this Sunday (to be delivered at St Luke's, Springfield). Final preparation for tonight's retreat meditations for the Mission Leadership Team (aka Vestry) of Christ the King, Normal. Lunch at home (leftovers). Attacked a mountain of hard copy scanning and processed a stack of snail mail that arrived while I was away on clergy retreat. Left the office shortly after 4pm, swung by the house to pick up Brenda, then off the Bloomington for the above-mentioned vestry retreat (preceded by a yummy Indian dinner at the home of parishioners Rod and Dee Matthews). Home shortly before 11.


Usual routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Spent the morning (until about half past noon) processing a batch of emails and taking care of some fairly urgent administrative tasks. This involved, among other things, substantive phone conversations with colleagues from two other dioceses. Lunch at home (from you know where). Left at 2pm with the Archdeacon for Salem and a 4:30 meeting with the Bishop's Committee of St Thomas' Church there. It was a fruitful and positive exchange at the beginning of a transitional season for them. I was particularly heartened by their receptivity to the emerging mission strategy of the diocese as I articulated some of its details. We were back on the road (having consumed some pizza during the meeting) before 6:30, and, hence, back in Springfield at a reasonable hour. I am so grateful for a winter (so far!) of snow/ice-free driving conditions.

Wednesday (Thomas Bray)

Concluded the clergy retreat with a "round table" (metaphorically speaking) discussion about ways of more effectively fostering clergy collegiality, the emerging strategic plan for diocesan mission, and the potential pastoral impact of actions taken by this summer's General Convention. I had an afternoon to "kill," so I indulged my fondness for urban rail transit systems and caught an inbound Metrolink train at Swansea and rode it into down St Louis. My aimless walking around let me first to Macy's, where I bought an inexpensive had to keep the light rain off my glasses, then to Busch Stadium, where I quietly pronounced a curse (we'll see if it works; I should have brought a goat!), and finally to Christ Church Cathedral, where I barged in unannounced on Dean Michael Kinman and Bishop Wayne Smith. They received me most graciously. My early evening gig was with the Search Committee at St Michael's, O'Fallon. We needed to have some heart-to-hear

Tuesday (Ss Cyril & Methodius

Still in Belleville on clergy retreat. Two more incisive addresses from Fr McMichael. Three hours of one-on-one conferences. Communal Morning Prayer and Evensong, and a sung Eucharist at midday at which I presided and preached. Lots of conviviality at meal times. We conclude after lunch tomorrow.

Monday (Absalom Jones)

On clergy retreat now, at the King's House Retreat Center in Belleville. Fr Ralph McMichael talking to us about eucharistic theology and spirituality. A good time for clergy who don't see one another very often just to hang out and develop their relationships. We're very blessed. 

VI Epiphany

Met with parishioners from St John's Chapel at the regular Adult Ed hour, prepared to talk about whatever they wanted to bring up, and what we ended up talking about was the still emerging missional vision for the diocese. I couldn't have been more pleased with that development. I'm sensing that we are starting to get critical mass of acceptance and enthusiasm for it across the diocese. The Mass that followed was splendid. Good attendance, glorious music (as always), an altogether superb visitation, IMO.

Sermon for Epiphany VI (Year B)

I Kings 5:1-14 Chapel of St John the Divine, Champaign                                                                        Naaman had a problem. He was a military man, a prominent general in the army of the King of Syria. He was a man of material substance and high social standing. People looked up to him and admired him and envied him. But Naaman was also sick. He had a disease called leprosy, which disfigured the appearance of his skin, a distinctly unpleasant sight to behold. Moreover, unless he could do something about it, Naaman’s leprosy put his high social standing at risk, because lepers were despised and feared;  they were the outcasts of society in the ancient world. So Naaman wanted to be healed. Naaman wanted to be made whole. Naaman needed help. It would surprise me to hear that anyone at St John’s today has leprosy. But it would also surprise me to hear that anyone worshipping with us this morning does not desire healing and wholeness and feel a need for


Left Springfield mid-afternoon for Champaign, pulling up to the Chapel of St John the Divine in time to officiate at 4pm Solemn Choral Evensong. The music program at St John's is one of the jewels of the diocese, and they outdid themselves tonight: Responses by (the recently deceased) Gerre Hancock, Mag & Nunc by Herbert Sumsion, S.S. Wesley  tour de force anthem "Ascribe Unto the Lord", and the lovely hymn "How shall I sing that majesty...", sung to the tune Coe Fen. Wow. We then adjourned to the home of some parishioners for a hearty buffet dinner attended by vestry members and spouses. A quite convivial time. Ensconced now in a hotel room in anticipation of returning to St John's to celebrate and preach at Mass in the morning.


Task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a batch of emails. No single one of them was overly-complicated, but, together, they took a chunk of time. Checked in by phone with one of our clergy regarding an ongoing difficult pastoral situation. It was a substantive conversation. Took some time to write a substantive reply--one that I hope is also thoughtful and from the heart--to an email I received from one of our lay folk while I was in England, this one over another sensitive pastoral concern. Lunch at home, stopping first to make a bank deposit, get some cash, fill my near-empty gas tank, and pick up some tacos and tamales from La Bamba ("Burritos as big as your head!") on MacArthur. Spoke by phone with a priest from outside the diocese who is a potential candidate for openings that may arise in Springfield. Spoke by phone with a colleague bishop over a small but important administrative concern. Spoke by phone with another of our clergy rega


Usual routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. "Revised and extended" (to use C-SPAN lingo) my homily for Lent I, Episcopal Parish of Alton. Phone conversation with Fr David Boase over details of my visit to Alton Parish on Lent I, and the Lenten teaching series I will be giving there on Wednesdays. Personal brainstorming re broad areas of mission implementation. This included fooling around with some organizational chart software, which was kind of fun. Appointment with Fr Dale and Deacon Joan Coleman, bearing much positive news about goings-on at St George's, Belleville. Lunch appointment with John-Paul Buzzard of St John's Chapel in Champaign. He's an organ builder and I'm an organ geek, so we easily kept ourselves amused. Back to the mission implementation flow chart work referenced above. Phone conversation with Ann Wilt, Bishop's Warden at St Michael's, O'Fallon, regarding their search process. Continued with study and research in pr


Usual routine at home, then an 8 am dental appointment. Morning Prayer in office. Refined and signed a couple of  pro forma  letters to persons involved in the ordination process. Exchanged emails with a couple of stakeholders in the development of a new diocesan website. Began planning for vestry retreat that I have been asked to lead at Christ the King, Normal. Wrote my first  Ad Clerum  letter of the new year. Lunch at home. Finished writing notes to clergy and spouses with second-half-of-February birthdays and anniversaries. Spoke on the phone with one of our priests regarding an upcoming change. Developed a draft of my homily for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, 22 February, at St Luke's, Springfield. Refined my homily for this Sunday, Epiphany VI, at the Chapel of St John the Divine in Champaign. Made a major dent in the pending scanning/filing of hard copy items. Evening Prayer in the office.


Task planning at home, which was itself a substantial task today, given that I am now resuming "ordinary time" after having been out of the office for three weeks, and lots of "ordinary" things to do have piled up. Brief catch-up time with the Archdeacon and the Administrator, then short devotions in the cathedral before returning to the office for Morning Prayer, as there were various things going on in the cathedral nave. Took care of a few details pertaining to the liturgies for next week's clergy retreat; conferred by phone with Fr Tucker, who is my "point man" in that area. Attended the regular meeting of the diocesan Finance Committee.  Pondered a couple of challenging situations in two of our congregations, and made some small moves that grew out of my pondering.  Lunch from TG, eaten at home. After lunch, I took a brisk walk on my new treadmill. So far, I'm pleased with the experience. The rest of the day was spent working through th

Epiphany V

A blessed time this morning with the people of St Mary's, Robinson, and their pastor, Deacon Ann Tofani. They are a small but spiritually vital congregation. Stopping for lunch in Effingham, we arrived back home just before 2pm.

Homily for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

Mark 1:29-39        St Mary’s, Robinson It’s winter, and although it’s been pretty mild so far, winter brings with it the cold and flu season, and the majority of us usually catch a bug of one sort or another. My own personal pattern, for as long as I can remember, has been to get sick in November, and then get through the rest of the season without too much trouble. This year it was actually early December, but otherwise it’s been true to form. For the last several years, we’ve heard a lot of frightening speculation in the media about the possibility of a worldwide devastating flu epidemic. But even without anything that drastic, sickness is ubiquitous. It’s all around us. From ear infections in babies to colds and flu to more serious life-impairing and life-threatening conditions, we all get sick, and we all know and love people who get sick. It has ever been so, even though tremendous advances in the practice of public health and medical care in the developed world have


The morning was spent reconnecting with my spouse and home, unpacking, and processing what I unpacked. Made a small dent in the pile of emails that need attention, but there is still much to do. By mid-afternoon it was out the door for a three hour drive to Robinson (practically on the Indiana border) in advance of an 8am liturgy at St Mary's in the morning. Grateful for having made the decision to travel during daylight hours (all two-lane roads), we caught a quick dinner at a Chinese buffet, then found the local cineplex to see War Horse .

Friday (St Anskar)

This was a taxing and at times stressful day of travel, but all's well that ends well. Had a nice breakfast in Washington with my friends Christopher Wells, editor of The Living Church , who also happened to be visiting there. Then by taxi to Union Station, by train to Baltimore-Washington airport, a two hour flight to Chicago O'Hare, a ride on the Blue Line 'L' that lasted the better part of an hour, six long blocks on foot to Union Station (plus a couple of wrong guesses in how to get across a Wacker Drive under construction, a two hour wait in the second Union Station of the day, then a three-and-a-half hour ride on Amtrak to Springfield. Brenda was waiting for me, and we got home around 9. I think I have the public transportation thing pretty well covered.

Thursday (Candlemas)

Recovering from jet lag in Washington, D.C. While enjoying a good long walk in the morning, I got to see a presidential motorcade whiz down Connecticut Avenue en route back to the White House following the Prayer Breakfasr. It's quite an entourage. In the evening, I blessed candles, preached, and celebrated Mass at St Paul's, K Street, one of the venerable east coast Anglo-Catholic shrine churches. They have a gorgeous liturgical and musical tradition, and it was a pleasure to be part of it.

Homily for the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple (Candlemas)

Luke 2:22-40 Malachi 3:1-4 Hebrews 2:14-18 (Delivered as a guest celebrant and preacher at St Paul's, K Street, Washington, DC)  I have learned over time that one of my chronic disabilities is that it is that, when I meet somebody new, it is sometimes difficult for me to remember what he or she looks like apart from the physical surroundings in which I normally see that person. So if I first meet you, say, on the way out of church tonight, and run into you tomorrow at the airport when I’m on my way out of town, there’s a good chance I won’t recognize you. The same would be the case if a the person who bags my groceries where I usually shop in Springfield showed up on at the cathedral the next time I’m there on a Sunday. This is embarrassing sometimes, but I do eventually learn what the regular characters in my life look like.  Fortunately, there are enough people in the world who are good at remembering names and faces to compensate for those, like me, who aren’t.

Tuesday (St Brigid)

Back now where money is green and drivers keep to the right. Ensconsed in the rectory of St Paul's, K Street, Washington, D.C., in which parish I have invited to preach and celebrate the feast of Candlemas tomorrow night. The flight was about as good as flying coach can get, which is to say, I had the row to myself and the row ahead of me was empty. May not be a winning formula for British Airways, but it works for me.