Showing posts from April, 2014


A long day: Left the house at 7:30. Drove to Champaign, arriving at Emmanuel an hour ahead of the 10am funeral liturgy for Fr Alan Herbst. Consulted with Deacon Chris Hopkins, who did a sterling job coordinating the event. Presided, preached, and greeted people at the reception. Pointed the YFNBmobile back west and slightly north at around 12:30, heading for Bloomington. Spent most of the afternoon at St Matthew's, enjoying a substantive visit with Fr Dave Halt over a range of matters, partially processing an impressive stack of email, then meeting and greatly enjoying talking with a potential aspirant to the diaconate. At 6pm, it was my privilege to preside at the official opening and blessing of a recently-constructed annex to their physical plant, providing a new entrance from the parking lot, two up-to-code restrooms on the main floor, and a spacious new sacristy. This was fun. After enjoying a few bites of ham, fried chicken, sloppy joe, and a homemade eclair, I hit the road a

Funeral Homily for Fr Alan Herbst

Emmanuel, Champaign Alan Herbst was many things to those who are gathered here this morning, or who wish they could be gathered here. He was a brother, a brother-in-law, and a stepson. To the clergy of the diocese he served for nearly three decades, he was a colleague and friend—one who, I am told, delivered some superb meditations in his role as chaplain to the synods in 2010 that resulted in my election as bishop of this wonderful diocese. And shortly following that election, Alan was among the first to reach out to me in welcome by telephone even as I was still trying to process the news of the impending change in my life. But to the great majority of those have come together today in worship and prayer, song and remembrance, Alan Herbst was a pastor and priest, the long-tenured rector of this historic and vital parish. And that is, I’m sure, how Father Alan would most want to be remembered: as a priest. It’s usually quite healthy and necessary for us to maintain a boundary b

Tuesday (St Catherine of Siena)

38 available tasks ... 13 selected for completion today. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on events transpiring during my absence from the office. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Gave final approval to the draft bulletin for Fr Herbst's funeral tomorrow. Took care of a pesky detail concerning one of the credit cards I use for business expenses. Made hotel reservations in Dallas for next week's meeting of the Living Church Foundation board. Met with Sandy Moore, Chair of the Department of National and World Mission. Lunch from ChiTown's Finest, eaten at home. Took care of some administrative details pertaining to the Canterbury pilgrimage. Took care of some administrative details pertaining to the transition of clergy leadership at the cathedral. Hand-wrote notes to clergy celebrating birthdays and ordination anniversaries in May. Conceived, hatched, drafted, refined, and printed a homily for tomorrow's funeral. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Home around 6:3

St Mark

Slept in until the rather embarrassing hour of 9am. Don't do that often. Don't  get   to do that often. After packing up (in the Chicago condo occupied by our son and his wife), we headed northwest about 40 miles to the small exurban community of Cary, where my mother lives at an assisted living facility there. We visited for about an hour, then headed home, traversing a violent thunderstorm in the vicinity of Lincoln. Home around 7. Now unpacked and facing a daunting week, with yet more travel.

Second Sunday of Easter

Spent the day in Chicago visiting with our son and daughter-in-law. Went to the 11am Solemn High at Ascension. Met the new rector, and chatted a bit with an assisting priest there who is a recent Nashotah alum. Great lunch and great dinner at local Logan Square establishments. Did some sight-seeing in the Hyde Park/University of Chicago area, and looked in on an art exhibition there. On the opposite end of town, we enjoyed a bird sanctuary near Montrose Avenue beach. After dinner, we took in the film  The Grand Budapest Hotel  at the local cinema. A very good day.

Easter Saturday

Now happily ensconced for the night in the Chicago condo where our son and daughter-in-law live. We will be ordinary pew-sitters tomorrow morning, then spend the rest of the day and Monday morning in the Windy City before heading home Monday afternoon. It was a joy earlier today to take part in the consecration of the Rt Revd Matthew Gunter as 8th Bishop of Fond du Lac. The deed was done in a large mega-church facility in Appleton.

Easter Friday

Up at ... well, I blanch to even mention the hour, but our departure by air from ABQ was at 6am, so you do the math, factoring in returning a rental car and clearing security. After a layover in Denver long enough to get some breakfast, we were back on a plane to Chicago, touching down around 11:30am local time. After retrieving our bags, riding a train and a shuttle bus, we were back in the YFNBmobile, which we pointed northward. About three and a half hours later, we were checking in at the Hilton Garden in Appleton, WI. Through the day, I'd had two substantive emails and a phone conversation involving three different individuals, but pertaining to the same subject, which then became the subject of another substantive email, this time from me to all of them. We then enjoyed a lovely dinner with our friend Bishop Ed Little of Northern Indiana. Looking forward to tomorrow's consecration of Matt Gunter as Bishop of Fond du Lac.

Easter Thursday

This was a planned "play day" in our gathering of Class of 2011 bishops and spouses in Albuquerque (I'm so tired of spelling that!). We took a day trip to Santa Fe via the (newish) Rail Runner train service. Slightly reduced in number, we were a gang of thirteen, which can become a little unwieldy even among mature adults. We ate well, drank a bit, shopped a bit, toured a bit (churches and museums), and made it, safely and together, onto the 6:46pm departure, with a train car pretty much to ourselves, which was a good thing because we were ever so slightly raucous. Yet, even in the midst of life, we are in death, and the progress in communication technology over recent decades makes it more and more difficult to escape that reality. While on the train this morning, I learned via cell phone of the sudden death of Fr Alan Herbst, recently retired rector of Emmanuel, Champaign. This spawned a handful of texts and emails and phone calls to which I devoted my attention th

Easter Wednesday

We have now concluded the working portion of our Class of 2011 bishops continuing education retreat. This has involved dividing into two groups of five and presenting "critical incident reports." This would be a situation or conflict that has arisen in the course of our ministry that we find challenging and/or perplexing. The person presenting the critical incident lays out the facts, names the key players, and gives background information. Then the others ask questions of information and clarification. At that point, the presenter recedes and remains mute while the others discuss the situation, offer observations, and suggest possible strategies. Then the presenter is brought back into the conversation and given the opportunity to articulate any new insights gained. I have found this a very valuable exercise, both when I have been a presenter and when I have been listening and offering observations.  Tomorrow is a play day. We're making a day trip to Santa Fe via th

Easter Tuesday

Still in Albuquerque, New Mexico for Class of 2011 bishops continuing education. 

Easter Monday

Left the Chicago condo at 7am to head out to O'Hare for a 10:05 departure to Albuquerque. Everything went smoothly, save that, for the first time in a string of flights going back to November, I did not receive "TSA-Pre" status on my boarding pass. Brenda, however, did. So she cleared security about 15 minutes earlier than I did. We landed in New Mexico around noon local time, retrieved our bags, picked up our rental car, drove to the Hampton Inn off Coors Road, checked in, got some lunch at a nearby Mexican place (not memorable), came back to the hotel and got unpacked and otherwise settled in, rested for a while (still greatly in need of that), caught up on some emails, made a shopping foray to a nearby Whole Foods, and eventually made our way to the Bosque Center--a complex that houses a conference center, a retreat house, and the offices of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Here for some self-engineered continuing education with other members of the Class of 2011 bishops

Easter Day

I saw a cartoon on Facebook. There was an empty tomb, and somebody evidently meant to be understood as the risen Christ. Others are asking him, "Since you don't need it anymore, do you mind if we lie down here for a while? Just come by in three days and wake us up. Thank-you, all clergy everywhere." So ... that's pretty much how I felt after celebrating and preaching at both cathedral liturgies this morning. Still, after only a brief afternoon nap, we had to pack up and head north to Chicago, where we have an AM departure from O'Hare to Albuquerque for four days of self-organized continuing education for the Class of 2011 bishops (and, this time, spouses). Spending the night at our Logan Square condo that we rent to our son and daughter-in-law.

Holy Saturday / Easter Eve

Spent most of the morning at the cathedral, helping the Altar Guild get set up for tonight and tomorrow. I logged nearly a mile and half on my pedometer just puttering around there. Got a haircut, did some laundry, took a long walk on a beautiful day, and shopped a bit in the afternoon. Back to St Paul's a little for before 7:00. Walked through the liturgy with the key players, then began the celebration. Nine baptisms, ranging from infants to youth to adults. Six confirmations--three youth and three adult. Here I am after the liturgy with the kids. Great night at St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield. The Holy Spirit was kinetic. Christos aneste!

Easter Homily

St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield Death is all around us. A little more than a month ago, this church was filled for the funeral of its own priest. On most mornings, it’s part of my routine to look at the obituaries in the  State Journal-Register , and I know many of you do the same. Since nearly the beginning of Lent, the attention of the news media has been fixed on the fate of a Malaysian airliner with 239 souls on board. It’s a number that is surely impressive enough. But, as a number, it allows us to distance ourselves from the fact that we’re talking about 239 real people with real lives and real loved ones, and real stories—stories that ended sooner than anybody had planned on. Each one of those lives is precious—precious to those who loved them, and precious to God.  But while there have not been any other spectacular plane crashes since that aircraft went missing, there are still those who became sudden victims of the mudslide near Seattle, those who perished in ye

Good Friday

Up and out at the usual hour, but upon arrival at the office-cathedral complex I was immediately waylaid by a sequence of small but emergent concerns, mostly relating to tonight's liturgy. Finally got to read Morning Prayer in my office, but it was decidedly mid-morning by that time. I was actually fairly productive on a day that suggests a quiet demeanor, but I did get some praying in amid my work. And I'm an inveterate liturgical putterer on the days of the Triduum, so I was back and forth to the cathedral several times for various reasons. I spent a good chunk of the midday consulting commentaries and otherwise closely studying the readings for Ascension. This was in preparation for making a guest preaching appearance outside the diocese. It was a little surreal to be contemplating the ascension on Good Friday, but I handled it. I also checked off a major piece of Nashotah House-related work, did a little bit of online shopping for ecclesiastical haberdashery, and belatedly

Maundy Thursday

Usual Thursday morning exercise. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Puttered around with the cathedral altar guild directress in preparation for tonight's liturgy. Worked on tying up the loose ends of a clergy deployment issue. Reported to the Central Illinois Blood Bank for my 11am appointment, only to be eventually turned away because of last November's visit to Tanzania. Donating blood is complicated when one has a well-stamped passport.  Resumed working on, and completed for the time being, the aforementioned clergy deployment issue. Lunch from La Bamba, eaten at home. Put some substantial meat on the bones of a pretty spare outline for a homily on Easter III (May 4 at St Bartholomew's, Granite City). Dealt sequentially with three different administrative issues that have been in the queue for quite some time. Glad to have them checked off Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Puttered around with more preparations, morphing eventually into the scheduled rehearsal w

Maundy Thursday Homily

St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield What is tonight about? What are we doing here, anyway? We’re going to wash some feet. That, in itself, is pretty ordinary. Feet get washed all the time. I washed my own this morning. You probably washed yours too. But most of us don’t usually have somebody else wash our feet, and feet don’t ordinarily get washed even in public, let alone in church. In our culture, feet are not among those body parts that we consider most private and intimate. But neither are they the most presentable, like our faces. They’re somewhere in between. So we’re doing a very ordinary thing in a very extraordinary context. Then, after we’ve washed feet, we’re going to take some rather tasteless wafers made from ultra-refined wheat, and some after-dinner wine, and say some prayers over them and then reverently consume them in token quantities per person, and just as reverently save the leftovers to be used in tomorrow night’s liturgy. Again, how utterly ordinary

Wednesday in Holy Week

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared for the 12:15 Mass. Consulted with the Archdeacon on a couple of pastoral/administrative matters. Took care of registering for the June Province V House of Bishops meeting. Attended to an administrative/pastoral matter pertaining to one of our Eucharistic Communities that is both important and relatively urgent. Ditto the above, only a different church. Began the process of finishing and refining my Easter sermon. Showed up to celebrate the midday Mass in the cathedral chapel, but ...  no congregation. Since it's a Prayer Book Holy Day, I felt obliged to say the Ante-Communion--the Eucharist up to the Offertory, where customary Anglican discipline dictates I could go no further. Lunch from Hardee's (yes, a new place for me), eaten at home. Completed the work on my Easter homily that I began before lunch. Attended to yet another pastoral/administrative issue, this one involving an individual. Wrote a substantive and belated r

Tuesday in Holy Week

57 potential items for the to-do list for today. 17 made the cut. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Addressed a small but not insignificant administrative chore. Placed a more or less annual phone order for four starched cotton clergy collars from J. Wippell's U.S. office in Branchville, NJ. Worked on refining and printing my homily for Maundy Thursday (at the cathedral).  Welcomed one our priests and his wife into my office for an hour-long discussion of an imminent deployment issue. Attended the 12:15 Mass in the cathedral chapel. Lunch from KFC, eaten at home. Spent a larger portion of my afternoon than I would have liked wrestling with the technicalities of enabling two churches that missed the memo when official portraits of YFNB were easily available to obtain one. Mission accomplished. More or less. Followed up on something I had promised one of the members of the cathedral chapter at the last meeting. Took care of some pending emails and administrivia, following u

The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

Today reminded me that I indeed do work for a living, though that's always a good thing. Presided and preached at the 8am cathedral liturgy--"solo" on the sense that they don't have an in-charge priest at the moment, so when it came time to do things like make the announcements, I was momentarily flummoxed. Between services, I led--"listened to" might be more appropriate--a forum at which parishioners could express their views on the qualities they would like to see in their next priest (who will be, as was the late Fr Roderick, a priest-in-charge styled Provost). I'm doing this in close consultation with the wardens and chapter, but it will be a streamlined process. The 10:30 Liturgy of the Palms had to be held in the atrium because it  started to rain right then. But we still had a proper parade, and the power of Palm Sunday still worked its magic. Looking forward to walking the path of Holy Week with the people of the cathedral. Yard work in the


Arrived at the cathedral-office complex around 9am to begin to get ready for the 11am Chrism Mass. Read Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Got straight in my mind some choreography details for the liturgy. Took care of some last minute physical preparations. Conferred with Barber Potts, the Head Verger of the cathedral on some pertinent details. Greeted clergy and spouses as they began to arrive. Presided and preached at what turned out to be a quite lively service. I find it very moving to be together with the clergy. I see each of them individually and serially, but it's a different experience to be simultaneous and plenary. After Mass we enjoyed our customary repast, this time in the Round House. Then I met privately with one of our clerics for an extended discussion of the congregation he serves. When that meeting concluded, I turned my attention to tomorrow's homily, which still needed to be refined and printed. After stopping for gas, it was nearly 4pm before I got home. Wh

Homily from the Mass of Chrism

St Paul's Cathedral, April 12 “We receive you into the household of God…”.   Three years into episcopal ministry now, I am aware that one of the aspects of parish ministry that I miss is administering the sacrament of Holy Baptism, and the process leading up to it. So I get almost giddy with excitement when a priest tells me there are baptisms waiting for me at my next visit. I’m thrilled to preside at a baptism, and one of my favorite parts of the experience is when we’re all finished and the whole congregation says together, “We receive you into the household of God. Confess with us the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood.” I was at a parish recently where the choir sang a choral setting of that text, and I nearly broke down into tears as I heard it while trying to deliver the body of Christ to people kneeling at the communion rail in front of me. We are on the brink now, in the various Eucharistic Communi

Friday (George Selwyn)

After deciding that some of the tasks tagged "this week" are really more organically appropriate to weeks in the future, and adding three that were generated yesterday, there were 31 actions to choose from, I optimistically selected 11 for the potential honor of being checked off today. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Attended to a small detail pertaining to the Chrism Mass. Attended to a more time-consuming detail pertaining to the Good Friday liturgy ... time-consuming because it involved using some music publishing software that I used to be familiar with, but which has a steep learning curve if one lets one's skills get rusty. Conceived, hatched, and put some meat on the bones of a sermon for Easter--Vigil and Morning. Lunch from China One, eaten at home. Processed a considerable pile in my physical inbox--mostly by scanning, which, in turn, generated a handful of emails and secondary tasks. Friday prayer time: Listening to Tomas Luis de Victoria's settin

Thursday (William Law)

Usual Thursday weight and treadmill workout. I couldn't get Netflix to come up on my iPad for some reason, so ... guess what? I offered Morning Prayer, the Angelus, and some sustained intercession while working out on the treadmill. Talk about multi-tasking! Surveyed the 48 remaining tasks pegged for this week and selected 19 to tackle today. That may be a little ambitious in number, but many of them can be handled very quickly. Took care of a small detail pertaining to the Chrism Mass. Finished drafting, then tweaked, refined, and printed my sermon for the Chrism Mass. The text will appear in cyberspace even before it's preached--right at 11am on Saturday. Reviewed and approved a request for a marital judgment. Lunch from Chi-Town's Finest, eaten at hone. Created an account online with a company that I hope will be able to take care of photo printing and order fulfillment of YFNB's official portraits, given the passing of my photographer brother last year. Not y

Wednesday (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

After assigning some of the tasks that had been marked for this week start dates further off in the future, there were 50 candidates remaining. I chose 12 of the best and brightest (OK, maybe some because they're old and/or short and easy) to take on today. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared readings and the seed of a homily for the midday Mass. Phoned one of our priests, whom I had heard took a nasty fall in his home last night. All seems to be well. Put finishing touches on the liturgy booklet for Saturday's Chrism Mass, and worked with Sue to figure how to get it printed. I used to do this easily when I was in parish work, but that was with a different printer, which makes a huge difference in how you format a document, etc. etc. We're just not set up for that in the diocesan office, so it's a learning curve every time. Attended to a request for continuing ed financial support from one of our priests. Attended to an administrative detail pertaining to t

Tuesday (Wm. Augustus Muhlenberg)

Task planning for the week and the day at home. 75 to-do candidates for the week, most of which will not get done. Judiciously chose ten to try to accomplish today. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Attended to some details pertaining to this Saturday's Chrism Mass. Attended to some details pertaining to June's youth pilgrimage to Canterbury. Attended to some details pertaining to clergy deployment. Attended to some details pertaining to Trinity, Mattoon's role as a provider of campus ministry at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. Drove to Havana to have lunch with Fr James Fedosuk, rector of St Barnabas' Church there many years ago, now serving as supply priest for St James' across the river in Lewiston (formerly of the Diocese of Quincy, now in Chicago). This included a drive to Lewiston and a tour of St James'. En route  back, returned a call from a priest of the diocese, and spoke with a priest from outside the diocese regarding potential depl

Monday (St Tikhon of Moscow)

Most of the day was spent in and around the B concourse of Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. Our 9:10 departure from Jackson, leading to an 11:15 (eastern) arrival in Atlanta was uneventful. But we already had a two hour layover on the schedule, and our connection to St Louis is delayed nearly two more hours. So it was 5pm (central) before we were waiting in front of the baggage carousel at Lambert International in St Louis. After a stop for dinner at our casual dining chain of choice, Ruby Tuesday, in Litchfield, it was around 8:30 before we greeted the quadrupeds at home. What a great trip, though. However, next time, we'll drive.

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Drove the vehicle lent to us by one of the parishioners of Trinity, Yazoo City (MS) from our hotel to the church in time to arrive at 9am. Met with the rector and a handful of laity to pray together before the morning activities. The regular Sunday morning adult class convened at 9:30, during which I held forth on the Seven Habits of Well-Formed Christian Disciples. They were an attentive group. At 10:30 we celebrated the Mass for Lent V, at which it was my joy to preside, preach, and confirm five adults, as well as lay hands on four others who desired to reaffirm their commitment of Christ. After a hearty post-liturgical lunch in the parish hall, there was a fairly intense plenary session at which I fielded an array of questions, all of which served to underscore in one way or another the very reason I was there at all, serving as a special bishop visitor under DEPO. We returned to the hotel around 1:30 for some much needed down time. I had hoped to take a walk, but it rained rather s

Sermon for Lent V

Trinity Church, Yazoo City, MS -- John 11:1-44 When I was growing up, there was a great interest among church people in what is called in academic circles "Christian apologetics.”  Christian apologetics is the art and science of persuading skeptical non-believers that Christian faith is plausible and intelligible. It's a way of answering the various objections, the "hard questions,” that lead some to suppose that the only way to be a Christian is to check your brain at the door of the church and completely turn your back on rationality and common sense. A Christian apologist seeks to demonstrate the truth of Christianity.  I wonder, however, whether, in our own time, the apologetic task is altogether different. There is a body of concrete evidence to suggest that the cry of the non-believer today is not "show me that it's true!” but, rather, "show me that it matters!” Show me that it means anything. Show me that whether or not I am a believing, pr