Showing posts from June, 2013

The Lord's Day (Pentecost VI)

The Eucharistic Community of St James in Marion is presently celebrating the Eucharist on Sundays at 1pm, given that they share a priest with St Andrew's, Carbondale (Fr Ralph McMichael on an interim basis). So we could enjoy a somewhat leisurely Sunday morning and still be on the road around 9:15 for the three+ hour journey. The Word was preached and the Sacrament administered and then was had a candid but hopeful discussion of the challenges this small congregation faces. The emphasis in today's gospel reading about the need for disciples of Jesus to travel light was apropos. After dinner at Brenda's favorite chain restaurant (Ruby Tuesday) in Litchfield, we got home just past 7:30. Soon thereafter I got a call from Fr John Henry, from church camp where he is serving on the staff this week, informing me that Fr Wayne Shipley, sometime Rector of Carlinville and Vicar of Chesterfield is hospitalized in Springfield with double pneumonia and blood clots in his lungs. So I wen

Sermon for Proper 8

St James, Marion -- Luke 9:51-62 We are well into summertime now, and for most middle-class North Americans,  one of the rituals of summertime is taking a trip.  Our prehistoric ancestors were wanderers, nomads, and so there’s something that just appeals to us at a gut level about packing bags and boarding an airplane or a train, or, hitting the open road in the family car. In fact, travelling is so much one our basic instincts, that the notion of a journey has become one of the most powerful and oft-used metaphors in human language. It serves as a symbol for life itself—we speak of the journey from the cradle to the grave. We also use the journey-metaphor for experiences within life: the “journey” from sickness to health, or one’s “trip” through the educational system. St Luke’s gospel makes a special point of drawing our attention to the beginning of the final climactic journey of Jesus’ life, the trip from Galilee, in the north, down to Jerusalem, where he was crucified, buried

Ss Peter & Paul

Usual leisurely Saturday morning. Long, brisk walk of about 75 minutes. Took care of of repeatedly-delayed (because they're never urgent) personal organization chores (cleaning out my Downloads folder and refreshing/reorganizing the contents of my Evernote account), and made progress on my "aspirational liturgical customary" for the diocese.

Friday (St Iranaeus)

Usual AM routine; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Participated in an hour-long conference call with the budget subcommittee of the Executive Committee of the Nashotah House Board of Trustees. Wrote and email and took an incoming phone call in connection with the same subject matter as the conference call. Met with a young man who is a relatively recently-ordained pastor of a Baptist church, but who believes himself to actually  be  an Anglican about what it would take for him to become an  ordained  Anglican. Lunch at home. Plotted the basic homiletical moves and further developed the emerging sermon for Proper 14 (August 11 in Mt Carmel). Took another phone call and traded some more emails about the Nashotah House business. Created a new page on the diocesan website for our companion dioceses. Prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Planned and plotted individual tasks in connection with preparing for Synod in October.


Customary Thursday morning workout ... treadmill only; no weights until I feel more secure about sternum healing. Morning Prayer in the office. Spoke by phone with the Dean of Nashotah House. Prepped for a PM phone conversation from a fund raising firm consulting with the Diocese of Jerusalem on a potential ambitious capital campaign--taking the pulse of all their potential "stakeholders." Preparation consisted of studying their draft "case statement." Took a phone call from Fr David Boase in his capacity as president of the Standing Committee. Met with Fr Gene Tucker wearing his Dean of the Eastern Deanery hat, along with the senior warden's of St Thomas', Salem and St John's, Centralia regarding near-to-long term clergy deployment issues in those two Eucharistic Communities. Lunch from TG, eaten at home. Took the scheduled phone call re Diocese of Jerusalem. Attended to some "elections and appointments" administrivia. Wrote notes to


(I took an extra day off this week so Brenda and I could attend our daughter-in-law's performance at Millennium Park in Chicago on Monday night. Angela is a budding country singer and songwriter, and our son Jordan plays slide guitar in her backup group.) Usual AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Attended to a few items of administrivia that were waiting on my desk , then buckled down to processing a quite full email inbox. Tried to keep up with breaking developments in the U.S. Supreme Court at odd moments. Met with Randy Winn (Trinity, Mt Vernon) in his capacity as stewardship chair for the diocese. We discussed a plan for revitalizing stewardship education in the parishes, and the possibility of a diocesan capital funds campaign at some point. Lunch from China 1, eaten at home. Resumed processing emails, finishing mid-afternoon. Refined and printed a working script for this Sunday's homily at St James', Marion. More small but important administrative ma

The Lord's Day (Proper 7)

I have a very soft spot in my heart for the community of Cairo and the Church of the Redeemer there. In terms of blight and devastation, Cairo is a microcosm of Detroit and East St Louis ... on steroids. It was once a thriving center of river commerce, situated at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. It was considered so strategically important by President Lincoln that he sent Union troops there to secure it against Confederate sympathizers among the local populace; as the crow flies, Cairo is closer to New Orleans than to Chicago! Now, the downtown is abandoned, with sinkholes in the streets. East census records more lost population. The majority of those who live there are in poverty, and there is practically no tax base; even the Alexander County sheriff had his rolling stock repossessed for inability to make payments. Real estate is essentially non-marketable. There isn't even a McDonald's because the labor pool is considered inadequate. Redeemer is

Sermon for Pentecost V (Proper 7)

Redeemer, Cairo -- Luke 8:26-39 We have a really interesting gospel story this week—interesting as in “strange.” Jesus and his disciples make their way by boat to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. This is foreign territory for them. Their normal stomping grounds are west and north of that oblong lake. This is a Gentile area, not part of the land dominated by Jews like themselves. Put simply, they were in the wrong neighborhood, in what they would have considered a dangerous and unsavory neighborhood. The minute they stepped out of the boat, not in a city or town, but in what amounted to a rural cemetery, they encountered a crazy man running around with no clothes on. It turned out he was demon-possessed—not just by one demon, but by a whole horde of demons, such that their collective name was “Legion.” The people from the nearby town were afraid of this guy and tried to keep him chained up, but he kept breaking free from the chains—as well as his clothes—and wandering o

Saturday (St Alban)

Out the door with Brenda at 6:30am, headed for Toddhall, the retreat center in Columbia (near Belleville). Arrived in time to join the ongoing Cursillo #31, where I gave the scheduled talk on the Sacraments, which took about an hour, after which I fielded questions for about 30 minutes. Then we adjourned to the chapel, where I presided and preached at the Mass for St Alban's Day. After lunch, Brenda gave the next talk, on "Action." It was splendid. We then drove into St Louis, where I delivered her to the Amtrak station, where she caught a 3:05 train northbound back to Springfield. Meanwhile, I headed east on I-64, first getting snarled in construction traffic, opting for surface streets instead, and traversing some of the most devastated areas of East St Louis before reconnecting with I-64 past the construction. Between there and Mt Vernon, I was under a violent thunderstorm, dumping barrels of rain. I got away from it as I turned south on I-57 toward Marion, my destinat


This was a day of travel ... with lots of waiting in airports ... first in Richmond because the "van full of bishops" got us to Richmond International two hours before my flight time ... then in Atlanta because my flight to Bloomington was delayed an hour and a quarter due to some mechanical issues on the aircraft. We landed in Bloomington at 6pm and I was home around 8:00.


Last full day at the Living Our Vows conference for bishops in their first three years. The morning was devoted to finishing our "critical incident" reports in small groups. This is an immensely valuable exercise, both for those giving the reports and those giving the feedback. Third-year bishops (my "Class of 2011" plus the Bishop of Cuba, which is an extra-provincial diocese) spent the afternoon with another academician in the field of "leadership studies" (usually nested in university business schools) learning about "complexity leadership" (having done "adaptive leadership" two years ago and "transformational leadership" only yesterday. I found the material very stimulating, but I'm kind of a theory wonk anyway. The world and the culture--which is to say, the environment in which the church pursues her mission--is changing and changing rapidly. If we're on our game, we have an opportunity to not only skate ahead of


Still at College for Bishops "Living Our Vows" conference in Richmond, VA. Third-year bishops spent the morning with Bob Bottoms, retired president of DePauw University and an active Episcopal layman, speaking with us on the subject of "executive decision-making with a moral compass." Challenging. The afternoon was with Professor Matthew Sheep of the business school at Illinois State University, who distributed and discussed with us the results of an extensive leadership style survey we had all taken online. Copious personalized results and analysis provide a lot to chew on. After dinner I had a brief one-on-one with Prof. Sheep, and then joined a plenary on the topic of mission in a post-Christendom world (a subject dear to our hearts in the Diocese of Springfield).

Tuesday (Bernard Mizeki)

Still at the College for Bishops "Living Our Vows" conference. We spend the morning in small groups sharing "critical incident" reports and receiving feedback from our peers. This is a valuable exercise. For my Class of 2011, we devoted most of the afternoon session to planning how we're going to extend the benefits of the Living Our Vows program after we "graduate" (this is our third and final residency week). We have made plans to get back together on our own for similar five-day stretches  in 2014 and 2015. We have a great deal of cohesion as a class and I feel very blessed by these peer relationships. In the evening, Bishop Nick Knisely of Rhode Island, along with his communications officer Ruth Meteer, led us in a splendid seminar on the use of social media by bishops and dioceses. Lots of good ideas and "best practices" to keep in mind. I'm generally kind of proud of the leanness of our staff at the Diocese of Springfield, but I do


Up at 4am ... on the road to Bloomington at 4:45  en route  to a 6:50 air departure. Via Detroit, landed in Richmond, VA a litte before noon (eastern time) and traveled by shuttle bus to the Diocese of Virginia's conference center, Roslyn. Joined here by the bishops of the "classes" of 2011 (mine)m 2012, and 2013 for the last (for me) of three week-long residency programs called Living Our Vows (aka "Baby Bishops' School"). This afternoon and evening were pretty much devoted to "check in"--a process by which members of a group talk about what's been going on in their lives, personally and professionally, since the group last met. We did this by class, and the Class of 2011 is both large (13) and loquacious . Of note here is the value of peers simply being with one another. As close as we are to those who share our lives and ministries on a daily basis, nobody "gets it" quite as much as another bishop. This is not to say that there isn

The Lord's Day

It was the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost across the Episcopal Church--Proper 6 in our lectionary cycle--except in churches under the patronage of St Barnabas, which had the option of keeping their patronal feast day on the Sunday following the feast, which was last Tuesday. We exercised that option today at St Barnabas', Havana, a town that sits on the east bank of the Illinois River about 50 miles NW of Springfield. It's a small church community, but our worship and fellowship had a great deal of vitality. I was blessed by being among them.

Sermon for St Barnabas' Day

On June 16, my visit was to St Barnabas', Havana, which took the opportunity to observe its patronal feast day, transferred from June 11. The lectionary text on which the sermon is based is Acts 11:19-30; 13:13, with a brief allusion to Matthew 10:7-16. We are all no doubt familiar with the expression “think outside the box.” It’s so familiar it’s actually a bit of a cliché. It refers to some default mental behavior that we all engage in when we’re trying to solve a difficult problem—that is, we confine our thinking to certain conventional, established, tried-and-true pathways. By restricting ourselves in that way, by keeping ourselves “in a box,” we stifle creativity, and simply don’t see some potential solutions to our difficult problem. Churches—at any level: local parish, diocese, national church—are certainly not immune to “inside the box” thinking. It’s particularly easy, I think, for church people to get very attached to the familiar infrastructure of our church exp

Friday (St Basil)

Usual AM routine; MP in the cathedral. Called a London hotel to finalize arrangements for my short August trip. Took care of some business related to "Elections & Appointments." Did some last minutes prep in front of an afternoon conference call. Started drafting a text for my sermon on June 22 (Proper 7 at Redeemer, Cairo). Lunch from TG, eaten at home. Resumed work on the Proper 7 sermon. Chaired a scheduled 2pm meeting, via conference call, of the Nashotah House Board of Trustees Executive Committee. It was a jam-packed agenda, and the discussion was animated at times, but I believe we did good work. The meeting broke up at 4:10. I made a couple of short follow-up notes to myself, and sent an email, but was otherwise completely drained. My introversion is taxed by such experiences. Friday personal prayer: lectio divina on tomorrow's Old Testament reading in the Daily Office--Joshua and Caleb getting the hagiographic treatment in Ecclesiasticus. Evening P


I began the day with my customary weight and treadmill workout, which meant that I wasn't in at the office-cathedral complex until a little past 9:00. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Refined and printed a working script for this Sunday's homily at St Barnabas', Havana. Printed, signed, scanned, and emailed some documents related to the Putnam Trust. Sent an email in connection with the "elections and appointments" effort, part of the overall run-up to Synod in October. Lunch at home--leftover beef stir-fry. Worked on arranging lodging in London for a brief (less than a week) trip I will be joining in August. Prepared and emailed a draft agenda for a meeting of the Nashotah House Trustees Executive Committee I will be chairing by conference call tomorrow afternoon. Sent another "elections and appointments" recruiting email. Drafted a report to the full board of The Living Church Foundation on behalf of a small subcommittee to which I was appoin


Up in time for a 7am breakfast with old friend Bishop Ed Little (Northern Indiana). The Province V bishops reconvened an hour later. We heard reports from two bishop members of the Executive Council, the co-chair of the House of Bishops Planning Committee, a member of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop, and talked about various pastoral responses to some emerging phenomena in church and society. With extremely severe weather forecast for the Chicago area in the afternoon, nobody complained when we adjourned at 10:30. I caught the hotel shuttle to the airport, hopped a Blue Line CTA train again, and arrived at Union Station shortly before noon, hoping to trade in my ticket on a 5:15 Lincoln Service departure for the 1:45 Texas Eagle. My wish was granted, which meant that I was back in Springfield by 5:30 rather than 8:45. 

St Barnabas

Got up early and caught the 8:32 Amtrak departure from Springfield to Chicago. With wi-fi on the train now, and I can actually be productive, and I was, even quietly participating in a scheduled conference call (of the sort where I really didn't have to say very much). Negotiated local transit and arrived at the Sheraton O'Hare in time for the lunch that began the semi-annual meeting of bishops from Province V (fifteen dioceses in the upper midwest). We are meeting concurrently with the Executive Board of Province V, so we joined them for an hour of discussion around new models of supporting ministry networks in the province. In our own time together, we covered the upcoming merger of the Diocese of Quincy into the Diocese of Chicago, the recently completed (but as yet unadjudicated) litigation in the territory of the Diocese of Quincy, and sundry other concerns. We continue tomorrow. In the evening, I caught a Blue Line L train to Logan Square and stopped in at the opening rec

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Rose at a comfortable hour in our Joliet hotel room, enjoyed a very nice complimentary breakfast, and arrived at St Paul's, Pekin a comfortable 35 minutes prior to the 11am Eucharist. Fellowship in Word and Sacrament with the people of St Paul's, then had a stimulating time with them after coffee hour sharing the Seven Marks of Discipleship. Got home a little past 2:30 and indulged in a nice nap.

Sermon for Proper 5

St Paul's, Pekin -- Luke 7:11-17 We can’t read very much of the Bible, particularly the gospels, without running into materials that we would label as “miraculous”—things that happen that are outside our expectations of the way the universe naturally behaves: Talking animals, water turning into wine, people who have been blind from birth suddenly being able to see, people who have been crippled from birth suddenly being able to walk, and people whose hearts have stopped beating and whose lungs have stopped breathing and whose bodies have assumed the temperature of the air around them suddenly sitting up and carrying on a conversation, looking quite normal. When we encounter such stories, one possible response is to be skeptical, and insist that they were made up from whole cloth by charlatans bent on deceiving people for their own gain. We can decide not to take them literally, and assign them a merely symbolic meaning. The one thing we are sure  not  to do is say to ourselves


Met with the Youth Department from 10 until almost noon. Then went home, packed, and headed north with Brenda to Chicago for our granddaughter Elsa's second birthday party. She was in good form for a tw-year old, and seemed to enjoy it immensely. At about 10, we decided to get a jump start on tomorrow's journey (to St Paul's, Pekin) and found a hotel in Joliet.


Took a long-scheduled personal retreat/quiet day today at Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area, about 25 miles NW of Springfield. Ended up walking eight miles at full cruising speed in 2.5 hours, so I am pretty wiped tonight. Yes, I did get some good praying done. And FYI, Jim Edgar is one of the few recent Illinois governors who did  not  go to jail ... so he gets a park named after him. Sadly, I seem to have brought home some ticks with me, so there is domestic discontent.


Eight weeks post-op, and my weight-bearing restrictions are lifted. This meant I could resume (at an appropriately scaled-down level) my customary Thursday morning workout routine: Quality time with the Bowflex and treadmill. In the office a little past nine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Conferred with the Archdeacon on some administrative/pastoral matters. Got to work on a draft of a homily for St Barnabas' Day, transferred to June 16 at St Barnabas', Havana. Met with Deacon Tom Langford over one pastoral matter and one program matter. Continued work on the St Barnabas sermon. Lunch at home. Back in the office in time for a scheduled conference call with my co-trustee representative (a Bank of American trust officer) for the Putnam Trust (that benefits St John the Divine, Champaign and St John the Baptist, Mt Carmel), along with the new investment advisor (another B of A employee).  Dashed off to the Crown Plaza Hotel for a cameo appearance at the annual assembly

Wednesday (St Boniface)

Usual morning routine; MP in the cathedral. Did exegetical work and consulted commentaries on the readings for Proper 14, in preparation for an August 11 sermon at St John the Baptist, Mt Carmel. Took a phone call from someone interested in exploring some ministry possibilities. Met with Fr Greg Tournoux in follow up to last Saturday's Clergy Day. Lunch at home. Made air travel arrangements for a brief trip abroad in August. Scanned and otherwise processed a thick pile of hard copy materials in my physical inbox. Took care of a routine self-organization chore. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.


Weekly task planning and email processing begun at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took me until nearly 11am to clear my email inbox. Penned a personal note to a colleague bishop facing some serious health issues. Took a substantive phone call from Fr Ralph McMichael, reporting on his experience as interim priest for St Andrew's, Carbondale and St James', Marion. Lunch at home. Answered a snail mail letter and fulfilled various promises to sent various things to various people. Met for nearly two hours with the Archdeacon and the Administrator over "elections and appointments," an annual ritual that forms one link in the chain leading up to Synod in October. Refined and printed a working script for this Sunday's sermon at St Paul's, Pekin. Conceived and hatched a homily for Proper 13 (August 4 at St Mary's, Robinson). Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Monday (Martyrs of Uganda)

While still in the Sewanee area, I enjoyed a scheduled and leisurely breakfast with the Dean of the School of Theology, Bishop Neil Alexander. Then I went back to my Monteagle hotel, changed into my traveling attire, packed up, gassed up ($.60 per gallon lower than Springfield), and hit the road at 10:30. I pulled into the driveway at home around 6:20. I enjoy road trips.

Second Sunday after Pentecost

Woke up in my Princeton, Indiana hotel room; packed and out the door around 8am. Distressed not to be able to find my wallet anywhere, but glad that I keep an extra credit card in the car. Celebrated and preached with a small but animated group of worshipers at St John's, Albion, followed by a very engaging discussion of mission strategy over an appetizing post-liturgical repast. I shared with them a condensed version of what I presented to the Clergy Day yesterday and it sparked a great deal of interest and conversation. As I was getting ready to leave Albion, I found my wallet, which was a cause of great rejoicing. I hit the road around 11:30, heading east and south to Evansville, IN, then across the Ohio River into Kentucky, eventually picking up I-24, which angles right into Nashville and then on toward Chattanooga, but off at a high point in the Cumberland Plateau called Monteagle, which is the gateway to Sewanee, the University of the South. I checked into the Best Western Sm

Saturday (St Justin Martyr)

We had a fine Clergy Day today, drilling down on an outcome-based approach to the formation of Christian disciples who are competent to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ to a broken world.  This link  is to my working notes for the presentation I made at the beginning of the day. Writing now from a hotel room in Princeton, IN--yes, the best we can do by way of a hotel reasonably near Albion, where I have a visitation at St John's tomorrow. It was a four hour drive from Springfield.