Showing posts from March, 2014

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Up and at 'em in Champaign in time to preside and preach at the 8am liturgy at the Chapel of St John the Divine. Then back to the Hilton Garden Inn to retrieve Brenda and have a quick by delicious breakfast. Reprised my role at the 10am Mass, this time with six confirmations, two receptions, a solemn procession, and drop-dead gorgeous choral and organ music. During communion, the choir sang a setting of the text from the baptismal liturgy, "We receive you into the household of God ....". I had never heard this text set to music before, and it nearly moved me to tears. After the coffee hour, I met the the vestry for about 20 minutes, imagining together some strategic possibilities for mission-driven use of the chapel's real estate footprint. We journeyed back to Springfield, had about an hour of downtime to rest, then headed to the Diocesan Center for a two-hour meeting with 10 of our twelve Canterbury pilgrims for June, most of their parents, and our chaperones, for

Sermon for Lent IV

Chapel of St John the Divine, Champaign -- I Samuel 16:1-13 , John 9:1-13, 29-38; Ephesians 5:6-14 We are now only three weeks away from Easter. The Church’s principal celebration of our Lord’s resurrection is, of course, the Great Vigil of Easter, on the night before, and, in many places, with an ensuing party that extends just into the small hours of the morning. At the Easter Vigil, there are ideally baptisms—infants and children, to be sure, but especially adults. There are a lot of very good reasons to reserve most or all adult baptisms to the Easter Vigil; the Prayer Book implicitly assumes as much. So it’s only fair to ask: Why make such a big deal about it? Why have these baptisms on such a public occasion? Why celebrate them on such a grand scale? When baptisms are completed, it’s customary in many places for the celebrant to walk around the church sprinkling the congregation with water rom the baptismal font while the choir or the whole congregation sings an appropri

Saturday (John Keble)

A very welcome slow-start morning at home. (Few thing make me feel rested more than a slow-start morning.) Lifted weights, then walk a brisk four miles outdoors. For some reason, I felt ten years younger on the walk. Had a spring in my step the whole way. Attended to some household chores in the afternoon. Then loaded up and headed east on I-72, Brenda with me. In Urbana, we paid a visit on our friend and Holy Trinity, Danville parishioner Marti Coffman, who has hit a bit of a bump with her health, but is in wonderful spirits. Then we met up with Fr Sean Ferrell and three members of the Chapel of St John the Divine vestry and, together, we toured a student housing facility operated by the Presbyterian campus ministry foundation. The leadership at the chapel is trying to plan strategically for the best use of their real estate assets (which are formidable), and are gathering ideas. Brenda and I then enjoyed a wonderful meal at a Chinese restaurant with Fr Sean and his wife Kiezha. Looki


Brief devotions in the cathedral, Morning Prayer in the office. Took part in a conference call with several others regarding an important but not emergent issue regarding the summer camp for children and youth that the diocese sponsors on an ecumenical basis with the ACNA Diocese of Quincy. Attended by email to an important clergy deployment issue. Hopeful that this situation will turn into a very exciting development. Prepared for the meeting I will have on Sunday afternoon with the youth and chaperones who will join me on a pilgrimage to Canterbury in June. Lunch at home. Leftover chili. Yum. Further developed the rough broad strokes already laid for next Wednesday's Lenten series program in Decatur. Let and participated in an informal meeting of the Nashotah House Board of Trustees via conference call. Put some meat on the bones of my homily for Lent V, to be delivered at Trinity, Yazoo City, M--one of my two DEPO parishes. Friday prayer:  Lectio divina  on the daily of

Thursday (Charles Henry Brent)

Customary Thursday morning weights and treadmill workout. Discussed a couple of administrative matters with the Archdeacon and the Administrator. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Sorted through the accumulated hard-copy debris on my desk, discarding some and placing others in the to-be-scanned pile. Tweaked, refined, and printed a working version of my homily for this Sunday, at the Chapel of St John the Divine in Champaign. Lunch from Hickory River, eaten at home. Made air travel, car rental, and lodging arrangements for Easter Week (not to be confused with Holy Week), during which the Class of 2011 bishops (and spouses) will be meeting in Albuquerque for some continuing education, and then to Appleton, WI for the consecration of Matt Gunter as Bishop of Fond du Lac. There were lots of options, and it was time-consuming, and, yes, I need to figure out how to delegate this sort of thing. Hand-wrote notes to clergy and spouses with nodal events (birthdays, wedding anniversaries,


A day of travel, mostly. Up at 6:30 to finish packing and be ready for the 8am bus from Camp Allen to George Bush Airport in Houston. All went smoothly; no delays or anything odd. Two hour layover in Dallas, which afforded time for lunch at Chili's. Wheels down in Springfield right on time at 4pm. Home long enough to kiss my wife, pet the dog, change clothes, and head to Decatur for my regular Wednesday Lenten teaching gig. Home about 8:45. Partially unpacked, but the bulk of it still awaits me. Looking at a tight and demanding schedule the next four days.


... and there was evening, and there was morning, the fifth day of the Spring 2014 meeting of the House of Bishops.  Read about it here.


Go here for my account of House of Bishops, Day 4.

Third Sunday in Lent

Go here for the scintillating details of Day 3 of the Spring 2014 meeting of the House of Bishops.

Saturday (James DeKoven)

Go here for my take on Day 2 of the House of Bishops meeting.

Friday (Thomas Ken)

At Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas for House of Bishops. Details here .

Thursday (St Cuthbert)

A day of travel and reconnection. Left from SPI on the 6:45am departure to DFW. After a very brief layover, an annoying maintenance delay, and a short flight to Houston, I cooled my heels for two hours by grabbing lunch at the airport Marriott before joining a van load of bishops headed for Camp Allen, a conference center operated by the Diocese of Texas near the community of Navasota, about 50 WNW of Houston. Checked in, got settled, visited with some colleagues, did some reading, took a brief nap, went to dinner with a seminary classmate who lives nearby, visited more with colleagues as they arrive for the spring meeting of the House of Bishops, and processed a few emails.

St Joseph

Task organization and prioritization at home. Morning Prayer in the office (the cathedral was being looked at by lighting contractors). Prepped for presiding and preaching at the midday liturgy. Took care of some administrative detritus regarding the cathedral and the Canterbury pilgrimage. Fleshed out and printed my working notes for tonight's Lenten series presentation in Decatur, as well as next week's, since I'm going to be gone the entire time between them.  Presided and preached at the Mass for St Joseph's Day--a feast always of special meaning for me, asI was consecrated a bishop three years ago today. Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Reviewed the General Ordination Exam results for one of our ordinands. This involved reading the original questions, reading the candidate's essays, and reading the evaluations of the readers. Made some notes on my thoughts and included them in an email to the Archdeacon and the chair of the Commission on Ministry.

Tuesday (St Cyril of Jerusalem)

Although I rather badly needed a day off, I knew it just wasn't in the cards, given the number of items on my task list and the fact that I'm flying to Texas Thursday morning for House of Bishops. So I created the illusion of a day off by not donning clericals and going in to the office. Most of what I do during the week can be done with an internet connection and a telephone, so I worked from my favorite recliner. Dealt with a stack of emails on a range of issues, worked on my sermon for Lent IV at St John's Chapel in Champaign, worked on the next two Lenten series presentations in Decatur, and participated in a conference call with senior staff at Nashotah House. I also voted, learning in the process of preparation for that act that I can practically throw a stone from my back yard into the next congressional district. Thank-you, gerrymandering.

Monday (St Patrick)

A grueling and demanding day, with my poor introversion taxed to the max. But I came home with that "good kind of tired." In the exercise area of our finished basement by 7:15--weights and treadmill. Two hours later, after a shower and breakfast, off to the cathedral/office complex with Brenda. I do fewer funerals now since I changed the color of my shirt three years ago, but my instincts said to get there 90 minutes early even though I didn't have a specific agenda for being there that early. My instincts served me well. There was stuff to do at every turn. We had a capacity congregation at St Paul's Cathedral for Fr Roderick's funeral, with a fine turnout of diocesan clergy, plus priests and deacons and a bishop from the Diocese of Quincy (ACNA), and some ecumenical dignitaries as well. The music was splendid. As always, the Prayer Book burial office simply "worked"--it bears the freight that needs to be borne on such occasions with surpassing lo

Funeral Homily: Fr Keith Roderick

St Paul’s Cathedral, Springfield My brothers and sisters, it has been roughly somewhere around a hundred times that I have risen to give a homily at a funeral during the course of my ordained ministry. It’s never an easy thing to do, but I must tell you that I have rarely approached the task with as much personal sorrow as I do today. Today I am among you as one who mourns with you. On Tuesday morning, when MaryBeth and Susannah discovered that Keith was gone, their hearts were broken. When the chain of phone calls brought the news to Archdeacon Denney, his heart was broken, and when he then called to notify me, my heart was broken. It was a dark day. Hearts were broken all over town, and before long, all over the world. But of all the hearts that were broken, we need to remember that the very first to break was the heart of God himself. The One who knit Keith Roderick together in his mother’s womb, the One who knew him to be fearfully and wonderfully made, was himself heartbr

Second Sunday in Lent

While I was scheduled to be at St Christopher's in Rantoul this morning, the events of this week dictated that I should beg their indulgence so I could be with the people of St Paul's Cathedral. Addressing parishioners who have suddenly lost a beloved and highly-regarded pastor can be tricky, but I would say that grace abounded. There was a very sweet spirit of mutual support in this time of grief. Presided and preached at both regular liturgies. After some down time at home, including a nap. we headed back to St Paul's for the visitation. The turnout was enormous, which speaks well of Fr Roderick. Returning home again, I zeroed in on finishing my homily for tomorrow's funeral, on which I had made good progress late last night. I got the last words of a rough draft entered right as it was time to departed to a gracious dinner engagement to which we had been invited while at the visitation. It's good to get off the hamster wheel occasionally and engage in live

Sermon for Lent II

St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield -- John 3:1-17 , Genesis 12:1-8 My friends, as you know, it is always my joy to worship with you at St Paul’s and share the word of God with you from this pulpit. But it will not surprise you, I’m sure, when I say that I would give nearly anything for it to not be under these circumstances. Keith Roderick was my esteemed and beloved colleague and friend, and I already miss him terribly. Father Roderick was a devoted and humble priest and pastor for this cathedral congregation, who accomplished a great deal in the one year, plus a couple of weeks, that he served you. My heart breaks with yours at the effect his sudden departure will have on the life of the cathedral parish. May we all hold one another very close in our hearts during the days and weeks ahead. As tomorrow we lay the mortal remains of Keith Roderick in the embrace of the earth, in the joyful hope that we have in Christ of the resurrection of the body, our prayers will make ment


Left the house around 9:15 to pick up some dry cleaning, get gas, and head east on I-72 for an 11:00 engagement in Urbana. Met with one of the finalists for the vacant rector's position at Emmanuel, Champaign. Then lunch with the candidate, the candidate's spouse, the Rector's Warden, and the Chair of the search committee.  Back on I-72 westbound a little past 1:00. Met the Archdeacon at a the mortuary where Fr Roderick's body is being held. We offered general supervision and technical assistance as two employees, who do indeed know what they're doing. vested him in alb, stole, and chasuble, as befits the burial of a priest. Attended to a small bit of pastoral administrivia right when I arrived home, then did my regular Bowflex routine before heading out on a brisk four-mile walk on a beautiful early spring afternoon. Spent part of the evening attending to some Nashotah-related flotsam and jetsam.


Another day consumed by funeral-driven triage: Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Looked in on Bonnie in the cathedral office just to see how she was doing. It's been an inordinately stressful week for her. Through many dangers, toils, and snares, we completed the liturgy booklet for Fr Roderick's funeral on Monday. The problem lay in the fact that neither the diocesan office nor the cathedral office is accustomed to producing such things--complicated by the fact that my Mac doesn't always play precisely nicely with everyone else's Windows devices, and the process for downloading service music graphics files from Church Publishing is the most counter-intuitive piece of technology I have ever encountered. There was probably a more elegant way of doing what we did if we had time to master the learning curve, but Sue was able to take a ZIP drive to the printer down the street a little past noon. Jeesh. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Made phone calls to a couple of non-Epis


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Spent time in the cathedral office helping get this Sunday's service bulletins into printable condition.  Returned to my own office and left a string of voicemail messages for various people, all stemming in one way or another from Fr Roderick's sudden passing. Made some quick administrative decisions on matters that were presented to me. Finished radically revising the homily I had already prepared for this Sunday (to have been delivered somewhere else), placing my message in the context of the week's stunning developments. Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Aside from some minor interruptions (like going to get a duplicate for my disappeared driver's license), I spent the afternoon getting the funeral liturgy booklet 98% ready to print. It will actually be a quite lovely service. Keith deserves a good sendoff. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Wednesday (St Gregory the Great)

More or less still reeling from the shock of yesterday's news ... and still trying to keep upper respiratory crud at bay. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Spent some time with Bonnie, the part-time secretary in the cathedral office, just talking through some emergent issues. Since it was Fr Roderick's habit to personally prepare the Sunday service programs, I had to poke around his computer to retrieve and edit the documents for this Sunday and send them over to Bonnie. Prepared the chapel for the 12:15 Mass. Took care of some administrivia via email. Devoted the rest of the morning to bringing into final form my notes for tonight's Lenten series presentation at St John's, Decatur (the series is called  Unpacking Lent ). Went to the chapel for the midday Mass, but there were no takers. Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Remained at home to work there through the afternoon. Spent most of it pulling together a rough draft of the service booklet for Fr Roderic


I had plans for today, but sometimes plans have to be laid aside. At 8am the call came informing me of the sudden death overnight of Fr Keith Roderick, the Provost of St Paul's Cathedral. Keith was a beloved and esteemed friend and colleague, and I am bowed low with grief. Most of the rest of the day was consumed with processing this news one way or another--informing cathedral staff and lay leaders, informing the diocese, going to see MaryBeth and Susannah and the others gathering in their home. On top of all that, I'm coming down with something, so the shock and grief of Keith's passing combined with a body not running at full strength combined for a real gut punch. I did manage to make a few stabs toward a sermon for Sunday, when I will be at the cathedral to help them through this horrible bump in the road. Grace will abound, I know.

First Sunday in Lent

So ... I got home from my Toronto trip around 12:am, having rented a car in Chicago because my flight from Toronto was delayed three hours and we landed at O'Hare about the same time my ride to Springfield was pushing back from the gate. I am always cognizant of the fact that, while a Sunday parish visitation is routine for me, it's always a big deal for the parish ... a once-a-year big deal, so I'm pretty much committed to moving heaven and earth to make sure it happens.  Dropped the rental vehicle off at SPI this morning, which is handily right on the route to Pekin, where I celebrated the First Sunday in Lent with the people of St Paul's Church, including the Great Litany sung in procession, one of my favorite things to do. Particularly enjoyed getting to spend some time with Bishop Donald Parsons (ret. of Quincy), who is a regular communicant at St Paul's. 

Sermon for Lent I

St Paul’s, Pekin -- Matthew 4:1-11 On the first Sunday after the Epiphany each year, we are with Jesus as he meets John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan River and is baptized. Then we follow him around Galilee as he begins to go public with his ministry of preaching and teaching and healing, and attracts a band of followers. But we have skipped over something very important, something quite significant. The first Sunday in Lent each year offers us an opportunity to go back and pick up that missing piece. Right after he was baptized, and before he began his public ministry, the gospels tell us, Jesus was “driven by the Spirit” into the Judean wilderness, for the express purpose, it appears, of being tempted by Satan. Actually, the temptations take place not all throughout our Lord’s retreat in the desert, but at the very end, just as he’s about to re-enter the real world. The Evil One tries to capitalize on the acute sense of need that anyone who had been alone in the wil

Friday (S. Perpetua & Her Companions)

Busy and full day with my new Canadian friends (and a couple of old ones), as well as the Bishop of Dar es Salaam, whom I met in Canterbury in 2012, at Wycliffe College in Toronto. In the evening, we expanded our circle to include leaders of the Anglican Communion Alliance, a network of laity and clergy advocating for historic faith and practice in the Anglican Church of Canada.


A day of travel and meetings. Caught the 6am United flight to Chicago, then an Air Canada flight to Toronto, where I am a guest of a meeting of some of the more communion-minded bishops-with-jurisdiction in the Anglican Church of Canada. It's a time of stimulating conversation, punctuated by prayer, the renewal of old friendships and the making of new ones. I'll fly home Saturday late afternoon.

Ash Wednesday

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared for my role as celebrant and preacher at the 12:15 liturgy. Interacted with a handful of folks via email over the sudden death yesterday of a Nashotah House student. Laid the foundation for each of the five Lenten teaching series presentations I'll be giving at St John's, Decatur. Framed the infrastructure for the first of those sessions. Took some time, along with the others in the office, to watch the removal of two very diseased trees from the front of our property along Second Street. We're fortunate they haven't already fallen on somebody. Re-engaged the movie-editing learning curve, but discovered in the process I still have some re-recording to do of the last session of l ast year's  Lenten series. Presided, preached, and imposed ashes at the 12:15pm cathedral liturgy. About 30 were present. Updated my contact information on the 2014 Canterbury pilgrims. We have 12 youth and four chaperones (including YFNB) s

Sermon for Ash Wednesday

St John’s, Decatur Well, it’s good to be back. Of course, I was just here on Sunday, and I have a repeating engagement in the parish hall on the next five Wednesday evenings. So let’s cut to the chase. It’s Ash Wednesday, and we’re here to say we’re sorry for our sins, and to begin a journey of repentance that will take us up to Holy Week and Easter. We’re here to acknowledge that we chronically fall short of God’s call to us in what we say and do, and in what we fail to say and do. As a result, we’re stuck. Sin is like signal interference between us and God. Our ability to hear God’s continuing invitation is less than “loud and clear.” We can’t be the people that we are created to be.  Of course, the events that Lent prepares us to reconnect with—the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ—are the remedy for what ails us. In the meantime, then, perhaps it will be helpful to know our enemy a little better. Behind each individual action that we take or fail to take that we m

Shrove Tuesday

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Talked with the Archdeacon about some minor administrative matters. Took care of an administrative chore in connection with the Putnam Trust. Spoke by phone with a representative of ACS, with whom we are considering entering into a database management agreement. They have several Episcopal dioceses as clients, and we need to get into the 21st century. Spoke by phone with Bishop Donald Parsons, retired of Quincy, now canonically resident in Springfield. Refined and printed a working script of my homily for Ash Wednesday--12:15 at the cathedral, 6pm at St John's, Decatur. Did the same thing for my Lent I sermon, to be delivered at St Paul's, Pekin. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Hand wrote greetings to clergy and spouses with milestone events in March. Dealt with a small bit of Nashotah House business. Got to work in some detail on my Lenten teaching series, set to begin a week from tomorrow night and continue on the four successive Wednesda

Last Sunday after the Epiphany

Up at a rather ungodly hour to check the results of overnight weather, thinking that I may have to blow off the driveway. It turned out to be less than half an inch, so I just pushed it off with a blade of a snow shovel (no lifting). We were "wheels up" (so to speak) at 6:22, en route to St John's, Decatur to preside and preach at both liturgies: 7:30 and 10:00. Confirmed three adults at the later service. Given the threatening conditions, attendance was pretty good. Home a little past one.

Sermon for the Last Sunday after Epiphany

St John's, Decatur -- Matthew 17:1-9 , Exodus 24:12-18 Remembering all the places I’ve lived, and the times I’ve lived there, I’m amazed at the variety I’ve seen. When I was a young child growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the 1950s and 60s, I always wore a white shirt, tasteful tie, and dark suit to church every Sunday. All the boys my age—even as young as first grade—did the same. We wore real leather shoes that you can polish, usually black. By the time I was in Junior High School, this code was liberalized a bit, and I would sometimes wear a sport coat or blazer over a shirt, with dress slacks, and no tie. We would never have dreamed of addressing an adult by their first name—it was always Mr or Mrs or Miss So-and-So. By the time I went to college, things were different. This was a function of both time and place. It was the tail end of the ‘60s and the early ‘70s, so a certain spirit of rebellion was in the air. But I was also now in California—the land of beaches a