Showing posts from September, 2012

Sermon for St Michael & All Angels

No text for this one, given Sunday the 30th at St Michael's, O'Fallon, as it was improvised. But here's a YouTube audio link.

The Lord's Day

On the road at 7am to make a 9:15 Eucharist at St Michael's, O'Fallon. Presided and preached at a spirited celebration of their feast of title, St Michael and All Angels. Brunch followed the liturgy, then a very lively question and answer time on an unusually broad range of issues. Home a little past two o'clock. Enjoyed a very brief period of down time before grabbing a different vestment bag and heading for the First United Methodist Church for the welcoming service for the newly-assigned bishop for their Illinois conference, in which I was honored to take a small part. Then it was back home to quickly change clothes, pack for three nights away, feed and walk the dog (Brenda having already left by train for an overnight in Chicago) before getting back on the road at 7 headed toward Indianapolis, from whence I write.  En route , I had two scheduled phone conversations with potential candidates for the vacancy at St John the Divine in Champaign, and one with the Rector'

St Michael & All Angels

Indulged in a "soft" morning. Then got in a good treadmill workout.  Loaded up and out the door at 11:30 for Decatur, where we duly installed Fr Dick Swan as rector of St John's. It seems to be a very happy place now, for which I give thanks. Back in Springfield just before 5pm. Not my ideal Saturday evening, but one does what needs to be done: Spent most of it responding to emails, making travel arrangements for upcoming trips, and setting up phone conversations with clergy interested in coming into the diocese.


Woke up in a Champaign hotel room. (That didn't come as a particular surprise this time, but there have been occasions since I've been doing this job when I've awakened in the middle of the night and had to focus pretty hard on remembering where I am.) The proceedings for the Annual Assembly of the Illinois Conference of Churches began with registration at 8:30am. Had some productive chat time with my ELCA counterpart, Bishop John Roth, and the ecumenical officer for the Roman diocese, Fr Kevin Laughery. We then had a worship service in the spectacularly beautiful  Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church  I had to smile wryly to myself in observing that, in an ecumenical setting, where worship needs to be as non-specific as possible, the event ends of gravitating to the where non-specific worship is the norm; that is, when the goal is the lowest common denominator, those who naturally occupy that territory end up with an experience very much like what they would have come

St Vincent de Paul

Usual AM routine. MP in the cathedral. Met with one of our priests over some ongoing concerns with respect to a congregation he serves. Conceived and hatched a homily for Proper 22 (St Laurence, Effingham). Took a phone call from another of our priests facing different, but still similar, issues as my in-person meeting earlier. Fleshed out my homily for the Sunday after All Saints' Day (St Andrew's, Carbondale). Lunch from McDonald's, eaten at home Processed a goodly batch of emails. Some that I took care of at the end of the batch did not exist when I attacked the beginning of the batch. Took care of the clergy milestone event cards for October. Got writer's cramp. Fortunately, it's the thought that counts, not legibility. Beginning with an outline already prepared, I began drafting the actual text of my Synod address (October 19). It may look like I'm getting ahead of a lot of work well in advance of due dates. But you haven't seen my October tra

Wednesday (Lancelot Andrewes)

Usual AM routine; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Further developed the outline for my address to the annual diocesan Synod on October 19. Fleshed out the essential content of my homily for Proper 23 (Cairo and Harrisburg). Lunch at home--leftovers. Brought forth a completed but unrefined draft of my homily for the Synod Eucharist. Took care of some administrative work (a marital judgment request). Produced a finished but unrefined draft of my homily for Bruce DeGooyer's ordination to the priesthood next week. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Spent my evening cranking out this blog post.

Tuesday (St Sergius)

Usual AM routine; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed about a dozen email messages, which, to my horror, took me until 11:30. A handful of them required thoughtful responses, and thoughtful responses take time. Took a phone call from one of our clergy, on three disparate matters. Began to work on the accumulated pile of hard-copy items on the corner of my desk and in my inbox, some of which has been there since my vacation. I can tolerate desk chaos for a while, but eventually I reach a tipping point and it just needs to be dealt with. That was today. Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Continued with the desk-clearing, now employing my portable scanner. This consumed most of my afternoon, until after 4:30. Fleshed out and refined a working draft of my homily for this Sunday at St Michael's, O'Fallon. When I finished, it was after 6pm. Evening Prayer fell through the cracks today.

The Lord's Day (XVII Pentecost)

Up and out of our Bloomington hotel at 7am, ahead of a 7:30 Eucharist. Presided and preached, then talked with parishioners about mission and vision concerns during coffee hour. Did it all over again at 10, only with two baptisms and six confirmations thrown into the mix. Spirited plenary discussion of the church’s engagement with culture during coffee hour. Pulled out of the St Matt’s parking lot around 12:45 and headed north to Chicago for some time with the progeny tonight and tomorrow.

Sermon for St Matthew's Day

During Ordinary Time, a worshiping community may transfer its feast of title to the nearest Sunday. Hence, St Matthew's, Bloomington celebrated St Matthew's Day on what was otherwise the  Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost. Matthew 9:9-13, Proverbs 3:1-6, Psalm 119:33-40 As I travel around the diocese, now on my second round of parish visitations, and have conversations with congregations and vestries in parish halls after coffee hour or during the adult education time, and as I share the emerging vision for mission in the diocese, it’s pretty much the same conversation in every place. The details vary, but there are some important themes that come up every time. One of these themes is the rapid dechristianization of western society. Within my lifetime it could accurately be said that, while America has never been officially a Christian nation, it is very much a Christian culture. Not everybody went to church, but pretty much everybody at least had a particular church

Saturday (Philander Chase)

Up and out by 7:30 in order to be at St Thomas', Salem for the second of two "marathon" teaching sessions on evangelism. What an attentive, stimulating, and appreciative group this was, representing four parishes of the Eastern Deanery. Some very exciting things are happening in the Diocese of Springfield. It was nearly four o'clock by the time I left Salem, which put me home around 6:00. After an hour to change clothes, pack, and rest a wee bit, it was back on the highway, this time with Brenda with me. We headed for Bloomington-Normal, where tomorrow's visit is at St Matthew's, beginning with a 7:30am liturgy. We had a late dinner at the Normal incarnation of one of our favorite haunts from our Indiana sojourn, Flat Top Grill, then checked in at the Hampton Inn on the west side.

St Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist

Email processing at home. Up and out at the usual hour. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Called and spoke briefly with Mother Virginia Bennett, rector of St Andrew's, Edwardsville. She fell and broke her leg two days ago, and is still in a St Louis hospital. Wrote a check from my discretionary fund for a member of the cathedral congregation who is participating in the anti-hunger Church World Service-sponsored CROP Walk.  Tried once again unsuccessfully to resolve my sole remaining technical difficulty from my changeover to the world of Macintosh, which is that I can't get my new laptop to connect wirelessly to the printer in Sue's office (i.e. the only one available to me). But I'm nothing if not tenacious, and will solve this. Took a call--finally--from Church Publishing regarding yesterday's technical issue. The answer was hidden in a very non-intuitive place. Bad site design. Worked on my working outline for tomorrow's marathon seminar (Part 2 of 2)

Thursday (John Coleridge Patteson & Companions)

Up 20 minutes early for a treadmill workout.  Began processing emails at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral, then more email processing that, to my horror, took the entire morning. It's not just the emails, of course, but their substance that takes up the time. One rabbit hole after another.  Lunch at home.  Attended to some details pertaining to upcoming ordinations.  Conceived and hatched the broad strokes of a homily for the Sunday after All Saints (at St Andrew's, Carbondale).  Prepared an unrefined draft of the liturgy booklet for the Synod Eucharist. My recent leap from the Windows platform to Mac complicated and lengthened this endeavor, abetted by Church Publishing's website, which has to be one of the clumsiest out there. I left two messages on their tech support line. One was less patient-sounding than the other.  Evening Prayer in the cathedral.  After dinner at home, more work on the Synod Mass. It took some time, but we cracked the nut and mastered

Wednesday (St Theodore of Tarsus)

Back to a more normal routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral.  Spent some more time wrestling with the scriptures for Proper 23 (13-14 October) and emerged with a good homiletical sense of direction. Extended phone conversation with an long time friend who is one of the most well-connected people in the Episcopal Church. I needed to pick his brain about some clergy deployment issues and came away, again, with a good sense of direction. Worked some more on plotting out the four talks I will give at the diocesan ECW retreat in March. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Met with Dean Brodie in advance of tonight's regular cathedral chapter meeting. Processed a batch of emails. Resisted the temptation to get sucked into the black hole of technology issues. Plotted the broad strokes of my homily for the Synod Eucharist. Loaded some more content on to the diocesan website. (Ministries > Liturgical & Music > Sung Psalms for the Eucharist) Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Di

Tuesday (E.B. Pusey)

I look at my electronic technology that way I look at the cars I drive: I'm not much of a nerd; mostly I just want everything to work like it's supposed to, to make my life more efficient and less annoying, and to generally stay in the background and not call attention to itself. These are among the reasons I opted for a Macintosh laptop last week. It came yesterday, and I spent about four hours trying to get it as "set up" as I could, hoping I could hit the ground running this morning and be very productive. Well ... it was a nice idea. I may not be nerdy, but I lean enough in the direction of OCD that it's really hard for me to focus on much else when my technology infrastructure is full of loose ends floating past my field of view. Today was one of those days. I made considerable progress, but the Big Kahuna--getting my Mac to play nice over a wireless connection with the HP LaserJet P2050 connected to the Administrator's desktop PC--is still putting

The Lord's Day (XVI Pentecost)

Wheels-on-the-street just before 7:30am, and on to Mattoon, where we arrived at Trinity Church at exactly 9:30, met by their ever-amiable priest-in-charge Father Ken Truelove. Presided and preached at the 10am celebration of the Holy Mysteries, adorned by absolutely sumptuous organ music rendered on what I am told is Opus 1 of the estimable  Reuter organ company . The post-liturgical plenary downstairs in the parish hall was animated and earnest. I continue to be gratefully amazed at how the faithful throughout the diocese are engaging the discussion about re-tooling for church life and mission in a post-Constantinian age. It is simultaneously terrifying and energizing. Brenda and I then accompanied Fr Truelove to take the Blessed Sacrament to one of the chronically homebound members of Trinity. After a delightful visit there, we got back home just a tick or two past four o'clock.

Sermon for Proper 19

Trinity, Mattoon                                                               Mark 8:27-38, Isaiah 50:4-9 About three and half years ago, I was privileged to make my first visit to the Holy Land. On a glorious sunlit day, our group of sixteen pilgrims left our hotel on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, got into our bus, and drove northward and eastward across the Jordan River—and upward—into the Golan Heights, territory that was once part of Syria but was annexed by Israel following the 1967 war. In a mountainous and heavily forested area, in the shadow of Mount Hermon and close to the borders with Syria and Lebanon, lie the ruins of the ancient Roman settlement of Caesarea Philippi. The jewel of this site was and remains a glorious temple to the Greco-Roman god Pan, built into the side of a mountain. For first century Jews, Pan was a symbol of the “evil empire” of Rome, an icon of everything they resented about foreign domination. So it’s against this very backdro

Saturday (St Cyprian)

Aside from a good long walk in the late morning, I spent the day at home. In addition to some pretty typical household weekend puttering, I dealt with a good bit of the backlog in my email inbox.

Holy Cross

Usual AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. With Sue on vacation and the Archdeacon away on state business (he serves as an appointed member of the Ethics Commission), I had the Round House to myself. Tried not to cause too much damage, surprising a few people by being first up on the phones and declaring it "casual Friday" by showing up in khakis and a blue button-down shirt. No one saw me, though. Spent the morning and the first part of the afternoon producing a draft of a homily for when I visit St Matthew's, Bloomington a week from this Sunday. Sometimes sermons just seem to write themselves and sometimes it's like giving birth. This was more toward the latter. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Had a good phone conversation with Cameron Nations, a first-year seminarian from our diocese at the University of the South. Spoke by phone with the dean of the Darrow Deanery ahead of this pre-synod meeting this Sunday. Spent some prayer time on You Tube. Seriously. T


For obvious reasons, the bulk of my attention is focused on what's going on in the 36 Eucharistic Communities of the diocese. But I'm also aware that a great deal of important ministry goes on "in the world," and sometimes this ministry is shared by clergy of our diocese specifically as a manifestation of their ordained status. So I was pleased to spend several hours today with the Revd Mollie Ward, who directs pastoral care and supervises Clinical Pastoral Education at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. I was privileged to be able to sit in on a didactic session with her current cohort of four CPE residents, the subject being "multiple intelligence" theory. After a walking tour of the beautiful BroMenn facility, we had lunch together in uptown Normal. I came away gratefully with a new awareness of how one of our own priests is a respected and accomplished member of the team at a busy hospital in one of the key cities of the Diocese of Springfield.

Wednesday (John Henry Hobart)

Processed some emails and planned tasks at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Worked on some of the liturgical details for an upcoming ordination. Substantive telephone conversations with two members of the clergy of the diocese. Reviewed the Office of Transition Ministries (OTM) Portfolio (the document formerly known as a Clergy Deployment Office Profile) of a potential candidate for the opening at St John the Divine, Champaign. Arranged for the customary telephone vetting conversation. Responded to an email from a priest regarding an upcoming parish visit. Lunch from China 1, eaten at home. Read, studied, prayed over and mulled the scripture readings for the scheduled October 4 ordination of Bruce DeGooyer to the priesthood, in preparation for being the preacher as well as the presider on that occasion. Emerged from the process with a useful homiletical sense of direction. Engaged in the same process the readings for the lesser feast of Henry Martyn, Priest & Mission


Task planning for the week at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Initially processed a load of snail mail that was waiting on my desk. Some I could toss quickly; others are in the pile for later attention and action. Consulted with the Archdeacon and the Treasurer on sundry administrative matters. My laptop computer--which is to say, the place where I actually live most of my life--has been showing signs of ... well ... wearing out. So, by way of being proactive, and not wanting it to go dark before I'm ready, I've been investigating alternatives. This morning it was time to pull all the research together and make a decision. I'm going over to the Dark Side and getting a MacBook Pro. It's ordered. Not joining the cult, though. Wrote a brief email blast to the clergy on a subject of moderate importance but high urgency. Responded to a couple of emails from clergy whose parishes I am visiting soon. Completed and refined my homily for this Sunday at Trinity, Mat

The Lord's Day: XV Pentecost (Proper 18)

A very full day: On the road with Brenda at 6:30am, arriving at Trinity, Mt Vernon a little past 9:00. Laid out my vestments, assembled my crozier, and otherwise get set up for the liturgy.  At 9:30 there was a forum in the parish hall. It only took one question to get me going on various aspects of the missional challenge in central Illinois in the early 21st century. It was a robust discussion, and, on the whole, I am very encouraged by people's receptivity to my message that it behooves us, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to invent a whole new way of "doing church" than anything we know about or are good at.  The Mass of the day, with two confirmations, was at 10:30. Then followed the coffee hour with a proper cake for the confirmands, and a congregational serenade for YFNB with original lyrics set to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. You had to be there.  Around 1:00, people from all over the Eastern Deanery began to arrive, and we were treated t

Homily for Year B: Proper 18

Mark 7:31-37 -- Trinity, Mt Vernon During the brief time that Jesus walked this earth in his public ministry, he was known primarily for two activities: teaching and healing. He was constantly gathering people and talking to them about the ways of God and the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven , which was breaking into human experience in his very own person, in his life and ministry. Then, he would very often provide a concrete sign of that inbreaking of Heaven into earth by healing people of various illnesses and infirmities. This makes Jesus an immensely appealing figure because, even two thousand years later, and with all the advances in the practice of medicine that have taken place during that time, we can all readily identify with the suffering that accompanies sickness. None of us is without a need and desire for healing, either for ourselves or for someone we love. There are times, however, when the teaching happens, not as a setup for a healing, and not as an explana

Saturday (Nativity of the BVM)

Met with the Cursillo secretariat of the diocese and discussed some important meta-issues. I am committed to helping this important renewal movement renew itself in the Diocese of Springfield, and become a resource for spiritual vitality, this equipping us to be more effective in mission. Had a couple of substantive phone conversations--one lay person, one cleric. Processed a ton of emails. They always pile up when I'm away from home for any length of time.


Allowed myself a slightly indulgent wake-up time, given the lateness of the evening before. Checked out of the Hampton Inn in downtown Milwaukee and on the road toward Chicago around 9:15, having partaken of the breakfast buffet. Made a stop at a mall in the western suburbs of Chicago (Oakbrook) to visit the Apple store. My Dell laptop is beginning to wear out, and I'm contemplating whether I should completely join the Dark Side, since I already use an iPhone and an iPad. I test drove a 15" Macbook Pro, but the jury is still out on the main question. Caught lunch at in Illinois Tollway "oasis" and continued southward on I-57 toward Champaign. Arrived at Emmanuel Church around 2:45 for an appointment with Fr Alan Herbst, the rector. We talked for about 90 minutes, whereupon I head west on I-72 toward home, slowing down in the Decatur area to respectfully accommodate a raging thunderstorm and torrential downpour.  Home about 5:30. Brenda and I then went out to ce


Packed for an overnight and read Morning Prayer at home. Conferred with the Archdeacon on a pastoral situation. Conferred with Fr Scanlon in his role as Rural Dean for the Northeastern Deanery. Met for 15 minutes with the Standing Committee just to touch base on three separate emerging concerns. Got in the YFNBmobile and pointed it north toward Nashotah House, five hours away in southeastern Wisconsin. While en route, had a long and substantive phone conversation with a priest in another diocese who was wanting some pastoral guidance, and then with two potential candidates for the newly re-opened vacancy at St John's Chapel in Champaign. Met for about 90 minutes with the Dean of Nashotah House, in my role as Chairman of the Board. Attending Evening Prayer in St Mary's Chapel. Visited with some students and staff for just a bit before heading to downtown Milwaukee and All Saints' Cathedral for Bishop Roger White's funeral. It was SRO, as you might imagine. Late

Wednesday (Ss Boris & Gleb)

Dropped the YFNBmobile off at the Hyundai dealer for routine scheduled maintenance; sweet hand-crippled Brenda followed me and shuttled me to the Round House. Morning Prayer in the office. Cleared my email inbox. Took some determination. Spoke by phone with a colleague bishop about a potential candidate in one of our search processes. Met with Fr Stormer and the Archdeacon to discuss implementation details for the latest iteration of sexual abuse and misconduct prevention training materials made available by the Church Pension Group. Retrieved my vehicle from the dealer, and had lunch at home, having procured some freshly fried catfish at a seafood market on South Grand. Reviewed and made comments on a draft liturgy booklet for an upcoming ordination. Spoke by phone with the Rector's Warden of one of our parishes. Wrote a fairly detailed email to our communications people regarding some tweaks that the website needs. Investigated potential air travel itineraries for a Co


Beginning-of-work-week task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Consulted with Treasurer Jim Donkin on a couple of administrative matters related to diocesan finances. Had a phone conversation with Fr Roderick, chair of the Department of General Mission Strategy, in advance of Thursday's meeting of the DGMS, which I will not be able to attend. Created a rough draft of my homily for September 16, which will be delivered at Trinity, Mattoon. Refined and finalized the draft of my homily for this coming Sunday, at Trinity, Mt Vernon. Made some substantive progress in planning the details of the Synod Mass. Lunch from China 1, eaten at home. Took care of some Nashotah House-related business. More work on the Synod Mass. Processed a couple of emails and handled some administrivia. Plunged into the preparation process for the diocesan ECW retreat I am privileged to be conducting next February. Got as far as deciding on a theme. Put some significant meat on the

Homily for Year B: Proper 17

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 Trinity, Lincoln You may have noticed, if you do Facebook or other social media, a little slogan that has enjoyed some popularity recently: “It’s not a religion; it’s a relationship.” Have you seen that? This is a reference, of course, to Christian faith, and the relationship in question here is one’s relationship with Jesus. The point of the slogan, I think, is to refocus our attention, to say, “Look, all these things we do and say that are labeled as ‘religious,’ and that often lead to bickering and sometimes even actual violence … they’re really not all that important. What’s important is to have a personal relationship with Jesus, to follow where he leads, and to live how he wants us to live.” Is there not some obvious truth being spoken here? For Christians, for Christ-followers, is not a relationship with Christ pretty much the main thing? Can anything else really be important at all, by comparison? Do our complicated doctrines and rituals n

Saturday (David Pendleton Oakerhater)

Arrived at the diocesan office (sometimes known affectionately as the Round House) in time for an 11am meeting with Kathy Moore and Brian Maves of the Youth Department. We're very excited to be planning a pilgrimage for high-school age youth to Canterbury and other holy places in England that are the foundations of our identity as Anglican Christians. More details will be forthcoming shortly, but the dates we have tentatively settled on are June 20-June 30 of 2014, about 22 months from now. We also discussed a range of other youth ministry-related concerns, and I was surprised when we finished and saw that we had consumed two hours. It didn't seem that long.