Showing posts from April, 2012


Up at the usual "workday" hour in order to get time on the weights and the treadmill. Took care of various bits of administrivia from my laptop while visiting with Brenda and our house guest. At 11 I hit the road for points east, ending up in Cincinnati in time for a 6:30pm (eastern time) dinner with other members of the Forward Movement board. Our regular spring meeting takes place all day tomorrow and on Wednesday morning.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Having celebrated the Mass of Easter IV last night, we had a Sunday morning at home. It was ... bizarre. Fortunately, I do not often have to cope with such a difficulty. Light workout on the treadmill while watching an episode of  Mission:Impossible  (vintage, from 1966) on my iPad via Netflix. Wrote a couple of emails related to the mission strategy vision--now forming teams with specific tasks. Surveyed the occasions for which I have prepare sermons for the first part of the Season after Pentecost (through mid-September). Scheduled appropriate tasks for appropriate dates. Nice dinner in the evening with an old friend who is passing through town.

Sermon Notes for Easter IV

Preaching in a tiny congregation, so it's just notes, and by the time I give it, just my memory. I John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18, Acts 8:26-40 We are anxious people. We wonder where peace can be found. Jesus in his post-resurrection appearances: “Peace be with you.” We offer one another the “peace of the Lord” at every Eucharist. The (usual) counter-intuitive answer: Peace comes through surrender and loss. Jesus : “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John : “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us--and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” The laying-down of life includes the ultimate sacrifice, and it meant that much for Jesus, but it is not limited to that, which gives us more opportunities to lay our lives for one another than we might have imagined. We lay down our life when we forego our “right to be right.” We lay down our life when we make the effort to actively listen to others, with both our heads and our hearts


Usual Saturday "slow morning." Weights and treadmill. Refined my homily for Easter IV (tonight at St Peter's, Chesterfield). Took care of some routine month-end personal organization chores. Prepared two Bible studies I have been asked to lead at the upcoming meeting of the Forward Movement board. Departed (with Brenda) at 4:30 for Chesterfield. While  en route , had a substantive phone conversation in connection with my membership on the board of The Living Church.  Presided and preached for a small assembly at St Peter's. Sadly, only one actual member of that Eucharistic Community was in attendance. The others consisted of the Vicar's family members, plus Brenda and me. Some hard decisions lie ahead. The church building has been there since the Civil War, and the congregation itself is even older. Long and enjoyable dinner with Fr John and Sandy Henry at a fine eatery on the square in downtown Carlinville. Home around 10:30.


Out the door a little earlier than usual in order to keep an appointment I made for my car to have its 30,000 service. Having inadvertently left my laptop computer in my daughter's Chicago apartment yesterday, I borrowed the one used by Treasurer Jim Donkin on the days he's in the office (happily for me today, not Friday). The fact that virtually all my work now is done "in the cloud" means that my carelessness resulted only in an inconvenience, not a disaster. My laptop will be arriving by FedEx tomorrow. I consider the steep price of that service an appropriate fine for not being more thorough when I loaded the car and headed out yesterday. After securing my new temporary connection to the cloud, and debriefing with the Archdeacon on some administrivia, I prayed the morning office in the cathedral. Made a pastoral phone call to a diocesan lay leader who is facing some serious health issues. Wrote a (somewhat belated) note of condolence to a bishop colleague who


After a shopping run to Trader Joe's (always mandatory when in Chicago), I headed home, but with a significant detour via South Bend, Indiana. Fr Tony Clavier, who will shortly become vicar of St Thomas', Glen Carbon and St Bartholomew's, Granite City has served ably in the Diocese of Northern Indiana for the last few years, and several of his colleagues (who are, of course, friends and former colleagues of mine) gave him an elegant going-away luncheon at a lovely restaurant on the Notre Dame campus. I was glad I went. While en route back to Springfield, I did some business, engaging in a long phone conversation with a potential presenter for a still-in-the-planning stage conference for clergy and musicians. I am excited about the plans we began to lay.

St Mark's Day

Took a personal "play day" in Chicago in the wake of the Province V Synod. Right after getting out of bed I found a ticket to the Cubs-Cardinals game online and snagged it. Had breakfast with Bishop Little again, then checked out of the Marriott and headed on an errant related to ecclesiastical haberdashery. Drove down to where my younger daughter and her family live, parked my car in front of their house and hoofed it to the Logan Square CTA station. A while later I found myself at Wrigley Field, aka the center of the universe. After walking around the neighborhood to kill time and accumulate steps on my pedometer, I consumed an Italian Beef sandwich, and then entered the stadium and found my seat (a very good one, I should say). It was raining off and on, and I wondered whether the game would even get played, but it did. Not happy with the result, but an afternoon at the ballpark can't be beat. Dinner at a nearby Mexican place with my Chicago offspring and their offspri


At the triennial Synod of the Province of the Midwest, in Chicago. Breakfast with my friend, Bishop Ed Little of Northern Indiana. Met up with our Springfield delegation: Charles Palm (St Matthew's, Bloomington), Jan Goosens (St Thomas', Glen Carbon), and Father Kip Ashmore (Trinity, Jacksonville), but the "powers the be" had everyone scattered to assigned seats that didn't permit people from the same diocese to sit together. The day was spent with ministry "vignettes" (youth, campus, ECW, Church Periodical Club, and more), alternated with business (elections, budget) and table discussions on various topics. This allowed me to be an evangelist for our mission strategy vision, which piqued the interest of several at my table. Late in the afternoon, we heard from the Presiding Bishop. Despite my deep theological differences with her, I was encouraged by much of what she said regarding the need to let go of business-as-usual if the Episcopal Church is to ag

Monday (St George)

Treated myself to a "soft" morning, but otherwise got right down to answering and otherwise processing a big batch of emails. Took a phone call from Fr Bettman's daughter, during which we set the date and time for her father's Requiem here in the diocese. After a weight and treadmill workout, I showered, packed, ate a bowl of chili and hit the road for Chicago around 1:45. En route, I had a screening interview with yet another candidate for St John's Chapel in Champaign. Arrived at the O'Hare Marriott just before 5, checked in, cleaned up, and met my Province V bishop colleagues for drinks and dinner. Tomorrow is the triennial provincial synod.

Third Sunday of Easter

A very full day: Celebrated and preached the 8am Mass at St George's, spent about five minutes greeting the assembled Sunday School kids and teachers, addressed a lively and interactive adult forum on the emerging mission strategy of the diocese, confirmed or received several youth and adults (also presiding and preaching, of course), hung out at coffee hour, and went to lunch with the rector and his family. Arrived home around 4:30pm for some serious recliner time.

Homily for Easter III

Luke 24:36b-48 St George's, Belleville My mother was born and raised in northeastern Arkansas, the second of nine children. As I was growing up, we visited the small county seat town of Newport several times, which enabled me to have a relationship with my grandparents and one great aunt who lived there. When I was in first grade, one of my mother’s sisters, along with her four children, my cousins, actually moved in with us for a bit, and then found a place nearby, so I had a close relationship with them. On other occasions, I got to know a handful of other cousins and aunts and uncles. Then, after I went to college, I never really saw them again … until 1999, which was the year of my parents’ 50 th wedding anniversary, and we had a big family reunion down in Arkansas. At its numerical peak, there were nearly sixty people in attendance. So I got to see people I’d had no contact with in several decades (and, to be honest, still don’t; though, thanks to Facebook, I ke


Up and at 'em in time to drive into the diocesan office for a 10am meeting of the Youth Department. We hatched, I believe, a very exciting plan. Stay tuned! Back home for some household chores, a weight & treadmill workout, lunch, and packing. On the road at 2pm for Belleville, and a 4pm meeting with tomorrow's confirmands at St George's. En route, had another screening interview with yet another potential candidate for the St John's Chapel search process. Had just enough time between my meeting with the confirmands to check into our hotel room before heading to the home of Frank and Betsy Rogers for dinner with the vestry and clergy of St George's.


Out the door by 7:15. Rendezvoused with Archdeacon Denney in Rochester and continued east and south for three hours, arriving in Olney just before 10:30. While  en route , had a scheduled phone conversation with another candidate for the search process in Champaign (St John's Chapel). Met with the one former member of St Alban's, Olney who has helped us keep tabs on the building since the congregation disbanded. He turned over keys and some communion ware. It was sad to hear his narrative not only of how St Alban's declined and died, but how the town and the county are chronically depressed, both economically and, I would say, emotionally.  Drove to St Alban's, where we met John-Paul Buzard, a member of St John's Chapel in Champaign and a renowned organ builder. I had recruited him to inspect the organ in St Alban's and give us an opinion as to its salvageability. We went inside, and after just looking around for a bit, we performed the short liturgy for the


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on sundry matters. Met with Norm Taylor (St Paul's Cathedral) in his role as chair of World Mission, in connection with forming a team to assess our diocesan companion relationships. Processed a batch of emails. Met with the Department of General Mission Strategy (DGMS) at 11. This lasted until about 12:45. Met with Fr Tucker regarding some Eastern Deanery matters. Dashed down to TG to picked up some lunch. Back to the office in time to eat it in front of Kathy Moore, with whom I had a 1:30 appointment to discuss Youth Department concerns. Took a phone call from a member of the DGMS wanting to debrief a bit on the meeting. Took a long phone call from a priest outside the diocese on two unrelated but substantive concerns. Placed a phone order with Wippel's for some new starched cotton collars. Gave birth to a draft of my homily for Easter V (Emmanuel, Champaign). Short form of Evening Prayer in the car, a


Task planning and a bunch of email processing at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Just as I settled down to my prodigious to-do list, I was reminded in an email of a writing commitment I had made before Easter; it had somehow slipped through the cracks in my steel-trap task management system. So I got to work on that (an essay on offering Holy Communion to unbaptized persons, to be part of a collection on that subject published by  Leadership Resources ). Early lunch with the Dean at nearby Dublin Pub. We were getting ducks in a row ahead of my attendance this evening at the regular April meeting of the cathedral Chapter. Continued with my writing project until almost 4:00. Sent it off by email. In the meantime, however, I received a phone call informing me of the sudden death sometime during the night of Fr John Bettman, a recently retired priest of the diocese with whom I had spent time just this past weekend at Cursillo. This was a complete shock, and horribly disturbing


Task planning at home. Caught up with the Archdeacon and Administrator on several pending issues. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Met with the Diocesan Trustees--the group that oversees the diocesan investments--along with our investment managers from Bush O'Donnell. Conferred with Fr Nichols concerning a situation at St John's Chapel in Champaign. Lunch at home--leftovers. Made some more progress on planning a workshop for clergy and musicians in the fall. Made email contact with a batch of last-minute potential candidates for the vacancy at the Chapel in Champaign, trying to arrange the usual screening interview. Administrivia and some technological "issues" (solved, happily). Evening prayer in the cathedral.

Homily for Easter II

St John's, Centralia is one of those small preach-from-the-aisle congregations, so all I can give you here is my working outline. You can probably flesh it out mentally. John 20:19-31 St John’s, Centralia “Low” Sunday Jesus’ disciples felt “low” too on the evening of the first Easter Day—then they saw the Lord (but not Thomas) We’re tempted to be envious of them (lamenting our weak faith) … they have “eyes on”, we have doubts Thomas had doubts too, and while, with 20/20 hindsight, it may be easy to judge him, if we’re honest, Thomas is the one we identify with Thomas is also our hero … not because of any wisdom or great faith Why? Because he showed up. (Quote Woody Allen) He had no motivation to keep hanging out with the other disciples, because, as far as he know, who were they disciples of ? But Thomas showed up anyway … and *that* was his act of faith, and that faith was rewarded by an encounter with the Risen Christ We can’t be the 11,

Easter Saturday

Up at an earlier-than-usual hour to arrive at Toddhall Retreat Center (in Columbia, southwest of Belleville, a two hour drive from Springfield) in order to arrive in time get ready for my 10:20am talk ( rollo  is the term of art used) at this year's diocesan Cursillo weekend. I then presided at the Eucharist for the candidates and staff members, had lunch with the group, and participated in a panel of clergy answering written questions that had been submitted by the candidates regarding the talks they had heard thus far.  Got back home just before 4pm. Got about 20 minutes of nap time, then my (becoming) customary thirty minutes of weight training followed by thirty minutes on the treadmill at challenging pace (speed and incline). "High intensity interval training" is the general target I'm aiming at. I'm sure it needs to be refined. Packed for an overnight and hit the road again, with Brenda in tow now, sometime past six. Had dinner at Ruby Tuesday in Litchfie

Easter Friday

Usual AM routine; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Wrote a sensitive email in response to a letter on a sensitive subject. Took the initial steps in preparing a homily for Easter VII (St Christopher's, Rantoul). It could be that I'll have to talk about Judas. He's mentioned in one of the readings and lurks around the margins of the others. Did some mundane "scheduled maintenance" on one component of my personal organization system (Evernote). Grabbed an Italian Beef sandwich from a place called Chi-Town on Jefferson, and consumed it at home. Refined my homily for this Sunday (St John's, Centralia). Prayed the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary in the cathedral. Reviewed my May visitations with an eye toward the conversations I need to have with their respective clergy leaders about the details of the visit. Processed a batch of emails. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Dinner with Brenda at the new Mexican place at Second and Jefferson (El Casino). Thu

Easter Thursday

Usual AM routine; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Began working on getting the new diocesan website ready for prime time. This is a cooperative task shared between about a half dozen people, with a steep learning curve. It can suck up time like a black hole. But it's fun! Met for about two hours with the Archdeacon and Fr Ian Wetmore, who will become my Vicar at St Michael's, O'Fallon on July 1. We had some formalities to take care of associated with "importing" a Canadian, and other details to discuss. Lunch from McD's, eaten in the office ... while I continued to work on the website for a good while longer. Worked on my homily for Easter IV (St Peter's, Chesterfield). Administrivia. Did some personal strategizing and planning for the June 2 Clergy Day. Responded to an inquiry from an "unattached" seminarian seeking a diocese to be adopted by. Plotted the basic shape of a homily for Easter V (Emmanuel, Champaign). Evening Prayer in th

Easter Wednesday

Awoke to an email that there were problems with my e-filed federal tax return, so I have to take a few minutes of my newspaper-reading time at home in the morning to address that issue (successfully). Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Organized my tasks for the rest of the week. Met in my office for 90 minutes with Mark Waight (St Michael's, O'Fallon), Deacon Bruce DeGooyer, and Archdeacon Denney. Together, they have formed a working group known provisionally as the Strategy Resource Team. Their job us to oversee the development of procedures for "resourcing" our parishes for the pursuit of mission at the local level. I'm very excited by this development. Processed a batch of emails. Lunch from TG, eaten at home. Prepared the talk I am scheduled to give this Saturday at the Cursillo weekend. Replied to an Ember Day letter from a postulant. Took some planning steps in the direction of a conference/workshop for clergy and parish musicians, possibly this fall

Easter Homily

Easter, of course, is a time when even those who do not think of themselves as particularly religious feel an urge to connect with spiritual roots—if not their own spiritual roots, strictly speaking, then the spiritual roots of a spouse or a parent or grandparent, or the roots of the larger, still somewhat Christian, western culture. There are a variety of ways by which we acquire faith, by which we put down spiritual roots.  Faith can be passed along through a family member, a friend, or even a chance encounter with a stranger. And there are different levels of faith. There is the naive and trusting faith of a young child. There is the skeptical and questioning faith of a teenager or young adult. Some have a practical sort of faith, demonstrated by concrete and disciplined acts of devotion or service. Others have a more mystical kind of faith, with spiritual flights of fancy and ecstatic experiences. Whatever our style of faith or stage of development, it is possible to pers

Holy Saturday

Observed the Holy Saturday Liturgy of the Word with the cathedral Altar Guild, a brief but rather sweet moment in liturgical time ... "the king is asleep." Came home and spent quality time with offspring and their offspring who are in town for the weekend. Very grateful for this. Good hard workout on the Bowflex and the treadmill. Sat to hear confessions at the cathedral between 4 and 6. It is not frequently that a bishop gets to exercise this ministry, so I was grateful. Presided and preached at the cathedral Easter Vigil, with nine confirmations and two receptions. A beautiful service.

Good Friday

Usual morning routine, though running about fifteen minutes later that usual. Morning Prayer in the cathedral, with some extra time spend in prayer at the Altar of Repose. Processed a batch of emails. This always takes longer than I think it should or will. Worked on my sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter (St John's, Centralia). Needed to do something with a low intellectual demand, so I straightened my credenza, which had many months worth of accumulated detritus on it. Not of major importance, but it's a good feeling. Preached and assisted at the 12:15 Good Friday liturgy at the cathedral. Ran a personal errand, then went home for about 90 minutes. Debated whether to give in to the urge to take a nap, and finally succumbed to a quick one in the recliner. Went back to the office. Spent some time in Igantian-style meditation on the passion of our Lord. Worked some more on my homily for Easter V (Emmanuel, Champaign). Responded by email (and a good bit of considered

Good Friday Homily

Even if you haven’t read it, you’ve probably heard of it. The Italian Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri wrote a fanciful account of his own journey into Hell—that part, the Inferno , is perhaps the most famous of the three sections—as well as Purgatory, and Heaven, a trip, according to the story, which he made during Holy Week of the year 1300. Together, these three long poems have become known as the Divine Comedy . I have to confess, I have not read the entirety of the Divine Comedy . I’ve only read bits and pieces of the bits and pieces that were assigned by a college English professor in a History of Western Civilization course. But of the parts that I’ve read, I would be hard pressed to describe the work as at all humorous. There is no satire, no parody, no slapstick, no verbally-depicted sight gags. There are no punch lines. Leno and Letterman have nothing to fear in competition from Dante Alighieri’s comedic material. Which leads one to wonder—why did he call it a comedy?

Maundy Thursday

Task planning at home. Consulted with the Archdeacon on some administrivia, then with Lori Casson in the cathedral office over some details of the Easter Vigil program. Devotions in the cathedral, actual MP in my own office. More administrivia. Phone interview with another potential candidate for St John's Chapel, Champaign. Determined a date and venue for a June clergy day. Lunch at home--leftovers. Exercise: weights and treadmill. Refined my Easter sermon. Yet more administrivia. Spent an hour working on the still-in-beta new diocesan website. Exchanged emails with the chair of our Department of Communication, who is running point on this. Met with a potential aspirant to Holy Orders (first informal meeting). Went home briefly to eat. Presided at the Maundy Thursday liturgy at the cathedral. (The Dean preached a fine homily.) The washing of feet and the stripping of the altar are always profoundly moving.

Holy Wednesday

Usual morning routine. Processed a fairly formidable pile of hard-copy items, some of it still left over from my period of heavy travel during the latter half of last month.  Began consulting commentaries as part of the work of exegeting John 15:1-5 in preparation for a sermon on the Fifth Sunday of Easter. Lunch from Hickory River (chopped brisket), eaten at home. Quality time with the Bowflex and treadmill. Back to my exegetical work. Screening conversation by phone with a potential candidate for the position of Rector-Chaplain at St John the Divine, Champaign. Officiated at Stations of the Cross and celebrated Mass at the cathedral.

Holy Tuesday

Task planning (always heavy on Tuesday) at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Checked in with the Archdeacon regarding a couple of minor (not unimportant, but in the larger scheme of things, minor) administrative matters regarding a couple of our parishes. Conferred with the Dean and the Verger at the cathedral on some details regarding today's Mass of Chrism (blessing of oils and renewal of clergy vows), as well as the Great Vigil of Easter this Saturday night. Took care of some of my own personal preparation for that service. Spent a good bit of time in the parking lot greeting and chatting up clergy and spouses as they arrived. Got vested. Preached and celebrated the liturgy, beginning at 11. Turnout was excellent, and it was a joy to see everyone together. I am so privileged to be a servant to these servants of God. The event continued with a catered lunch in the Great Hall of the cathedral, during which I took the opportunity for a few brief but important exchanges I&

Homily for Mass of Chrism

  Luke 4:16-21 Isaiah 61:1-8 Revelation 1:4-8                                                                           As I look around at you, I am acutely aware that everyone here made some sort of sacrifice—in some case, a substantial sacrifice in order to be here. I have not forgotten how demanding and consuming the life of parish clergy can be. There is not a soul in this church who would not have had several worthwhile things to do with the time that is now being devoted to the Mass of Chrism. We lead such busy lives. I won’t even argue with you about whether they’re over-busy; it doesn’t matter—we’re busy. We’re busy doing good and worthwhile things. We’re busy in our secular lives –those of us who have a secular life, at any rate—and we’re busy in our ecclesial lives. We’re busy in the Church and, together, we’re busy as the Church. As the Church, we do a great deal, and, for the most part, it is good—very good. We engage in corporate worship—on Sundays and holy

Palm Sunday Homily

(St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield) They’re still around in some places, but not like they used to be. I’m talking about those neon signs that proclaim in brightly glowing letters, “Jesus Saves.” Usually they decorated the roofline of an urban church building, and were often in the shape of a cross. Invariably, they signified a particular style of theology, and a particular genre of Christian piety. Jesus saves. I don’t see the Chapter putting a neon sign on the roof of the Cathedral to that effect. But, nonetheless, I hope we believe it. It’s a pretty clear inference in the words of the Nicene Creed. And the expression raises a good question, one that needs to be asked: What, precisely, are we saying about Jesus, and about ourselves, when we affirm that “Jesus saves”?  How does Jesus save those whom he saves? These questions consumed the church during the third and fourth and fifth centuries, when the language of the Nicene Creed and other doctrinal statements was being ham