Showing posts from February, 2013


Usual Thursday early morning workout at home--then breakfast and daily task planning. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Morning spent working on my presentations at the Diocese of Albany priests retreat in April. Lunch at home (leftovers). First part of the afternoon--Nashotah House-related business. Gearing up for the May meeting of the board of trustees. Second part of the afternoon--exegesis and commentary-consulting in preparation to preach on the Seventh Sunday of Easter (May 12) at Christ the King, Normal. (Again, getting an early start because my travel calendar has me essentially out of action for a lot of Marc and May, and virtually all of  April.) Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Wednesday (George Herbert)

Woke up to about half and inch of snow on the driveway, with more coming down. Took the time to shovel it off before getting dressed. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Wrestled with the gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter--already in incubation for a couple of weeks--and teased what I hope and believe is the one think needful as I prepare to preach the word of God at St Andrew's, Edwardsville on 8 April. Made air travel plans to attend the meeting of the Forward Movement board in April. Lunch at home--leftovers. Finished developing and fleshing out a working outline for the last of the four addresses I will deliver next month at the ECW retreat. Route hard-copy processing and scanning. Departed for Bloomington at 4:15. Gave the second of five Lenten teaching series presentation at St Matthew's. Home around 8:45.


Processed a batch of emails while still at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Briefly discussed a couple of administrative and pastoral matters with the Archdeacon. Spent the rest of the morning developing and refining tomorrow nights Lenten teaching series presentation in Bloomington (weather permitting). Lunch from TG, eaten at home. Via phone and email, attended to a somewhat delicate pastoral and administrative situation in one of our parishes. Refined and printed a working copy of my homily for this Sunday (at St Bartholomew's, Granite City). Handled some more emails. At 4pm, with snow falling rapidly, I headed home. Wrote out personal notes of greeting to clergy and spouses with birthdays and anniversaries in March. Via email, handled a bit of dangling administrivia. Evening Prayer in my study at home.

Sermon for Lent II

St Mark's, West Frankfort -- Luke 13:31-35 OK, it’s time for some honesty. Imagine yourself at the beginning of day in which you know you have a number of tasks that need to be accomplished. In my case, it could be either a day in the diocesan office, or a day off—it doesn’t really matter; you know what your own situation is. Let’s assume that some of the items on your list are things that you really do not want to do; they are unpleasant or messy or frightening, or something. Some are emotionally neutral, and others might actually be fun. Some of the tasks might require only a minute or two of your time, others an hour or two. Let’s also assume that there is no one breathing down your neck—a boss or a spouse, for example—dictating your priorities. Now . . . what are you going to do first? What are you going to squeeze into the middle? And what are you going to save for last? There are some among us, I’m sure, who, as a result of experience and discipline,  would figure o

Saturday (St Polycarp)

I spent some time today with various bits of administrivia, working from home, via phone and email.  Got my usual Saturday weight & treadmill workout in. Tried to be a good Facebook citizen and share a couple of important articles. Left with Brenda around 6pm for Mt Vernon, where we are ready to bed down ahead of tomorrow's visit to St Mark's, West Frankfort.


Awake and out of bed at 5:50, anxious about the decision I had to make regarding the scheduled Diocesan Council meeting. After seeing some more "regrets" emails, and being informed by IDOT road condition hotline that both I-55 and I-72 had significant ice and snow coverage, I pulled the plug. Though it may not have been inordinately unsafe (temperatures were above freezing), none of our business was so urgent as to justify subjecting people to that sort of stress. So I sent out the email notification about 6:15, then camped out in my recliner to begin processing my inbox. Around 7:30, after breakfast, I geared up and started shoveling off the driveway, bearing in mind that, while not necessarily impassible for the YFNBmobile, by the time it thaws to slush and refreezes tonight, it would be a mess tomorrow, I stayed the course, and got it completely cleared. After a shower, I was dressed and out the door around 9:45. Met with a priest who was in the office because I had an


No heat in my office (due to furnace replacement) in the AM + snow and ice in the PM = a day working from home. With a little planning, and a reliable internet connection, there's really no lost productivity. Morning Prayer in the family room. Fleshed out, refined and polished my working notes for the third of four addresses I will deliver at the ECW retreat next month. Replied to a couple of email queries that have been in the chute for a couple of days. Weight & treadmill workout, shower, lunch (leftover homemade chili). Dealt via email with some pending matters pertaining to the Communion Partners bishops and the Title IV "amici." Laid the foundation and erected some of the infrastructure for the fourth of five retreat addresses I will give to the priests of the Diocese of Albany in April. Produced a first draft of what will be a fairly major pastoral letter to the diocese on the subject of Confirmation and Reception. Kept an eye on the weather and road c


Usual weekday routine; MP in the cathedral. Conferred with the Archdeacon over some administrative issues. Processed some email. Wrote personal notes to a couple of colleague bishops who have recently suffered "adverse life events" (for lack of a more felicitous euphemism). Took care of a couple of chores related to people in the ordination discernment process. Produced and printed working notes for this Sunday's homily at St Mark's, West Frankfort. Routine weekly (more or less) processing of my physical inbox. Lunch (on the late side) from Popeye's, eaten at home. Decided to work from home for the afternoon, as the furnace that heats my office was malfunctioning (and is, indeed, going to be replaced tomorrow morning, having served nobly since 1965 when the building was new!). Put some meat on the bones of a sermon for Lent III (March 3 at St Bartholomew's, Granite City). Dealt with some issues pertaining to the Title IV process in which I remain a


Weekly master task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Conferred with the Archdeacon and the Treasurer on an administrative matter. Conferred with the Archdeacon on a different administrative matter, and followed up with a phone call. Amplified, refined, and printed my working notes for tomorrow night's first presentation in my Lenten teaching series at St Matthew's, Bloomington, all the while processing a stream of incoming emails. Lunch from TG, eaten at home. Stopped by St John's Hospital to visit and anoint Deacon Tom Langford, who just had heart valve surgery. Spoke at some length by phone with a potential candidate for one of our clergy vacancies. Made travel arrangements (air, hotel, rental car) for the spring meeting of the Living Church Foundation board, which will meet in Dallas in April. This was not particularly onerous in itself, but a lot of time was eaten up dealing with some login credential issues on an airline website. I believe the

Sermon for Lent I

St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield -- Deuteronomy 26:1-11,   Romans 10:8b-13,  Luke 4:1-13 It’s a joy to be with you during this transitional time in the life of the cathedral congregation, having bid farewell to one clergy leader, but not having yet welcomed the next one. And this is all happening, of course, at the beginning of Lent, which is itself a season of transition, as we move from the sober penitence of Ash Wednesday to the joy of the Resurrection, first going through the intensity of Holy Week. Yet, I’ve been around long enough, doing what I do, to know that many Christians—many active members of St Paul’s, no doubt—will find this most holy and spiritually rich of seasons to be a rather empty experience, a hollow ritual that they don’t really connect with very well, something dry and boring. As a pastor, I find this fact quite troubling. But I’m not alone in this. Both priests and parents in the time of the ancient Hebrews—that is, the time when the Book of Deutero


Out the door at 7:30, heading for points south. Spoke by phone with the Rector's Warden at St Andrew's, Edwardsville , laying out the broad strokes of the transition process and the calling of the next rector after Mother Bennett's retirement in June. Spoke by phone at length with the Executive Director of the Living Church Foundation, on whose board I serve. Arrived in Marion at 10:15, with my engine running on fumes because I hadn't been paying attention to the gauge. Not the first time that's happened, and I feel fortunate not to have paid a more severe penalty than just the cost of filling my tank, which I gratefully did. Showed up at St James about twenty minutes ahead of our scheduled 11am meeting. We discussed near-term, mid-term, and long-term future scenarios, not only for them, but for the four Eucharistic Communities along the Highway 13 corridor (with a spur up to West Frankfort).  About 12:20 I headed west on said Highway 13 corridor to St Andrew

Friday (Thomas Bray)

Usual AM routine; MP in the cathedral. Processed a few emails. Refined and printed a working script for this Sunday's sermon. Left a pastoral check-in phone message with one of our clergy. Lunch from La Bamba (eaten at home). Laid out the broad strokes (and a good number of the fine ones) for the third of five retreat addresses I will deliver to the priests of the Diocese of Albany in April. Laid preliminary plans for a diocesan clergy day on June 1. Friday prayer--time spent with various musical versions of the text  Stabat mater dolorosa , on You Tube. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Thursday (Ss Cyril & Methodius)

U sual Thursday morning weight and treadmill workout. Processed a handful of emails at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Drove to Normal to bless the room newly-designated as a chapel at Christ the King, for use by both the pre-school and the church. Spoke by phone on the way with one of our priests over a sensitive pastoral matter in the parish. Presided at the chapel blessing, followed by a presentation by some of the pre-school kids and a tour of their classroom while in session. This is a wonderful ministry, and I could not be more pleased that we have something like this in the diocese. Lunch with Fr Desmond and some of the lay leaders of Christ the King--at an Indian buffet, or course! Back in the office at 2pm. Caught up on some emails. Tended to some administrivia. Took a phone call from another priest over yet another pastoral situation. Took a phone call from a deployment officer in another diocese regarding a priest who is canonically resident in Springfield.

Ash Wednesday

Task organizing and some email processing at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took care of last-minute physical preparation for the liturgies of the day in the cathedral (making sure the right books are in the right place and marked the right way, thinking through the choreography). Got to work producing a first draft of this Sunday's sermon (again at the cathedral). Presided and preached at the 12:15pm Ash Wednesday liturgy. Finished writing the sermon I had been working on before Mass. Took care of banking errand on foot (need to rack up the steps on the pedometer). Twisted my ankle on the way back to the office. It seems like a relatively minor injury. Placed an order by phone for some starched cotton clergy collars from J. Wippel. Had a conversation with the Archdeacon over some short-term clergy deployment issues. Wrote a followup email. Took a phone call from one of our priests regarding some transition issues. Did the rough planning for the first session of

Homily for Ash Wednesday

St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield Ash Wednesday is a good time to get a few things straight. First, what are we here for, anyway? It’s not like most of us don’t have other things we would ordinarily be doing at this time on a Wednesday. Why did we break our routines and come to church? To answer such questions, we need to look away from them first. We need to look beyond Ash Wednesday, beyond Lent, and look at Holy Week and Easter. Any view of Lent that doesn’t see Holy Week and Easter as the end point, as the direction toward which all our activities are ordered, does not see Lent clearly. And then we need to look behind the actual annual observance of Holy Week and Easter, and see the underlying realities that energize their observance. Those underlying realities can be summarized in four one-syllable words: We sin—God saves.  Or, to expand on that just a little: We all have a powerful tendency to rebel against the authority of our Creator, which leads naturally to a

Shrove Tuesday

Weekly master task planning and a head start of a considerable stack of emails to process while still at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on sundry matters. Attended and participated in a meeting of the diocesan Finance Department. This is when the current year's budget that was adopted at Synod is tweaked to reflect actual amounts (rather than estimated amounts) pledged by the parishes. Next week Council wil be asked to officially amend the budget. Happens every year. Returned to cleaning up my inbox, both what was left from before and messages that arrived during my meeting. Lunch at home, from China 1. Produced and printed a working script of my homily for Ash Wednesday (St Paul's Cathedral). Processed a considerable stack in my physical inbox--work that invariably generates emails, phone calls, additional tasks to plan, and consultations with others in the office. It took me the rest of the afternoon. Evening Prayer in the offic

Last Sunday after the Epiphany

Glorious worship and splendid music at the Chapel of St John the Divine in Champaign, along with four confirmations (all adults). There is a sense of joyful expectation in that community as they await the arrival of a new rector (whose name has to be kept confidential for a few days until he informs his current parish) on May 1.  Dealt with a lot of rain both coming and going, so I was grateful for the new tires ... and warm enough temperatures to keep in rain and not that other stuff.

Sermon for Transfiguration Sunday

Chapel of St John the Divine, Champaign -- Luke 9:28-36 It’s impossible to know how future historians will characterize the era in which we live—the way we now talk about the Stone Age and the Iron Age and the Bronze Age and the Industrial Age. I’ve heard Information Age kicked around, but who knows whether that will stick. I’m kind of a geezer, on the back end of the technology learning curve. But even I have reached the point where if I have a question about most anything—even trying to find, say, a chapter and verse citation for a scriptural phrase that sticks in my mind—I will sooner type my question into an internet search engine than walk across the room and pull a book off the shelf. I usually get better information and get it in less time. You might not immediately think this, but the Information Age has some very concrete religious implications. Religion, generically speaking, is about ultimate worth, ultimate value, ultimate meaning. Whatever or whomever commands ou


Between 9:30am and 4pm I was in the diocesan office either preparing for, participating in, or debriefing from the meeting of the Commission on Ministry. Six potential ordinands, at various stages of the process, were interviewed. All are, I believe, each in a unique way, quite promising.


Usual routine at home. Then off to the Secretary of State's driver services facility (known in some states as DMV) to atone for my carelessness and get a duplicate of the registation renewal and license plate sticker that were paid for but lost. For a price, of course. Took a phone call from a UTO staffer responding to my cries for help from last week when I was a victim of their buggy website for submitting grant applications. It took me about 30 minutes to reconstruct the long online application, but this time it went through. Application submitted (on behalf of the Diocese of Tabora). Wrote a note of thanks (via email) to Bishop Braxton of the (Roman Catholic) Diocese of Belleville for the time he spent with us Wednesday morning at the end of our clergy retreat. At his request, I also emailed a photo of the two of us together to his administrator. Processed a load of emails. Lunch at home. The afternoon was an exercise in patience. When I got my car serviced yesterday I w


Disruptions to the routine of my life have lately disrupted my exercise routine, so it was good to have my usual Thursday morning workout. Task planning and Morning Prayer at home. Then to Green Hyundai for routine service on the YFNBmobile (Brenda followed me and shuttled me to the office). Debriefed with the Archdeacon on various matters, as is our custom when one or both of us have been out of the office for a while. Made a pastoral care phone call to one of our clergy. Processed some emails. Had Sue take me back to the Hyundai dealer to get my car. I have to go tire shopping now, as one of the tires has a slow leak that cannot be repaired. It was getting to be about time anyway. Scheduled meeting wearing my Nashotah House board chairman hat with an interested  stakeholder (son of a longtime former professor and bishop). Lunch at home. Prepared and printed a working script for this Sunday's homily (St John the Divine, Champaign). Spoke by phone with the rector-elect o


This was the closing morning of our annual clergy retreat. We broke silence after Morning Prayer. The Wednesday morning of retreat is usually given to forum.discussion over sundry matters. This year the highlight was a visit from the Most Revd Edward Braxton, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville. Bishop Braxton is a learned and erudite man with broad ecumenical experience and a fine working knowledge of the Anglican tradition and its luminaries. We enjoyed an hour of lively and irenic give-and-take with him. After Mass and lunch, we packed up and and I transported our retreated conductor, Fr Brandon Filbert, to the airport in St Louis. En route hom from Springfield I participated in a conference call with the other  amici  bishops over evolving developments in our quest for a canonical accord in the Title IV action that has been brought against us.  In the evening, Brenda and I went out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. Nick & Nino's has to have the f

Monday (Cornelius the Centurion)

Ran a few personal errands in the early and mid morning, then headed south to the airport in St Louis to meet Fr Brandon Filbert, the conductor for our clergy pre-Lenten retreat. After another errand in St Louis (seeking a luna for a monstrance, if you know what either of those terms mean) we headed across the river to Belleville and Kings' House Retreat Center, venue for the retreat. Now settled in an enjoying Fr Brandon's ministry.

Sermon for Epiphany IV

Trinity, Lincoln -- Luke 4:21-32 When I was in Washington, DC last year, walking down the street with a priest, both of us dressed as we do on a “work” day, we were stopped by a woman who asked for a blessing. I deferred to my companion, but she protested, pointing to my purple shirt: “I ain’t never had a blessing from anybody in  that  color shirt before!” So I gave her a blessing, though I don’t fool myself that she could articulate any sort of coherent theological understanding of what a blessing is. I’m sure many people are quite superstitious, or even frivolous, about the whole thing. But I always give one when asked, because there’s something inside me that tells me, on those occasions, that that’s precisely what I was ordained to do. People want God’s blessing. We want God’s blessing on our personal lives: we want to be set free from our fears and anxieties and besetting sins. We want to be delivered from illness and poverty and hostility. We want God’s blessing on o

The Presentation of Christ in the Temple

It was a joy to preside at the Celebration of a New Ministry for Fr Ian Wetmore as Vicar of St Michael's, O'Fallon. Bishop Ed Salmon acquitted himself admirably as homilist and the feast of our Lord's Presentation in the Temple was duly observed. The people of St Michael's had a long wait (thanks to Homeland Security's suspicion of Canadians), but St Michael's is already prospering under Fr Ian's leadership.

Friday (St Brigid)

Consulted with the Administrator and Archdeacon on sundry matters of minutia. Wrote a Letter to the Editor of the State Journal-Register correcting an inaccurate impression left by a guest editorialist in Wednesday's edition regarding the Episcopal Church and same-sex marriage. Kept a phone appointment with a national church staffer who is trying to gather information and build networks for greater cooperation and synergy between dioceses in the pursuit of the first of the  Five Marks of Mission . Reviewed and revised drafts of bulletins for Ash Wednesday and Lent I at the cathedral, where I will be preaching and celebrating in the short interim between the retirement of Dean Brodie and the arrival of Fr Keith Roderick to become Provost. Lunch at home. Shopped for and purchased a video camera and accoutrements that I anticipate being deployed to record teaching events that unofficial diocesan videographer cannot attend. The Lenten series at St Matthew's, Bloomington will