Showing posts from May, 2014

Visitation of the BVM

Slow morning ... which is therapeutic when I can snag one ... capped off by a nice long walk that got me right up to my 10,000 step daily goal. Took care of various odds and ends of business during the afternoon, none of it very intense. Headed out after supper, around 7, for Effingham, where I'm now bedding down ahead of tomorrow's visit to St John's, Albion.

Friday (St Joan of Arc)

Up at 3:15am (EDST), out at 4am aiming toward a 5am arrival at Boston Logan International and a 6am departure for O'Hare. It all happened smoothly, I'm pleased to say. Racked up multiple hundreds of steps on the pedometer during a three+ hour layover in Chicago. We were keeping our fingers crossed about our 11:30 connection to Springfield, since I've had a run of bad luck in that regard of late, but it all went right by the script and we were on the ground before noon and home by 12:30. After unpacking and resting a bit, I attacked some accumulated emails and a handful of other tasks that didn't require an inordinate amount of creative thinking.


We indulged ourselves in a "late morning" and leisurely breakfast in the hotel restaurant. After a walk around the environs on a brisk morning (New England hasn't quite gotten the memo on spring yet), our hosts picked us up and drove us to the nearby town of Clinton, home of the  Museum of Russian Icons . This was a first-class museum operation in an historic building, and I was pleased that they understand icons not just historically or artistically, but in the context of the spirituality that is their native environment. I found it quite moving.  After lunch at a nearby Irish-themed eatery, and some down time back at the Doubletree, we were ferried to Christ Church in Fitchburg for a liturgy rehearsal and a pizza repast. The liturgy was glorious--ceremonially and musically, and I hope at least workmanlike homiletically. Nice champagne and dessert reception afterward, and it was fun to visit with parishioners.

Sermon for Ascension

Christ Church, Fitchburg, MA -- Luke 24:44-53 I’ll date myself with this reference, but some of you may remember a Bill Cosby comedy routine from the 1960s that began with the simple declaration, “I started out as a child.” We all did, of course. But we can also all take Dr Cosby one level deeper and say, “I started out as a fetus.” We all had the experience of developing  in utero , and receiving necessary oxygen from our mother’s blood supply by means of an umbilical cord, and we’ve all got belly buttons to prove it. All the bodily systems necessary for life in the outside world are developing during the time a baby spends growing in his or her mother’s womb. Some of these systems are functional before birth: muscles, autonomic reactions, hearing, etc. The respiratory system also develops, but it remains dormant, unused. Then, when the child is born, the umbilical cord is cut. There’s a very anxiety-laden period of time—hopefully very brief—between the cutting of the cord and re


Bedding down in Leominster, MA after a long day of travel (most of it spent at O'Hare) and ahead of guest preaching tomorrow evening (Ascension) at Christ Church in Fitchburg. My first time in Massachusetts. Saw bits of Boston in the dark. Hope to come back and see more sometime.


My only day in the office this week, as tomorrow brings more travel. Did some task management while still at home over breakfast. Began to refine my sermon for Ascension the day after tomorrow (as guest preacher at Christ Church in Fitchburg, MA). Arrived at the cathedral/office complex at the usual hour, to find a phalanx of funeral home employees more than two hours ahead of the scheduled 11am requiem for Deacon John Wilson. Morning Prayer got lost in the shuffle, as I was immediately drawn into an array of make-ready tasks. Left two voice mails, one of my own volition and one as part of a volley in response to a message left for me while I was away last week. Conferred with the Archdeacon on an array of pastoral and administrative matters. Finished the better part of refining and printing the Ascension sermon. Presided at the funeral liturgy for Deacon John Wilson, who died last week. John had lived and ministered in the Springfield area since his retirement around two decade

Sixth Sunday of Easter

We rolled out in time for the 8:30am Eucharist at the Church of the Messiah in St Paul. A sizeable portion of their very lively congregation is from a southeast Asian people known as the Karen. What a wonderful connection for them to have made. The rest of the day was spent hanging around our daughter and son-in-law's home and neighborhood, with walking time, and playing-in-the-park time and a nice lunch at a local eatery. Quality time with the grandchildren.


Morning Prayer & Mass ... breakfast ... Nashotah House trustees from 9:30 until 2:30, with a 30 minutes break for lunch. Extraordinarily productive, with a wide range of views advocated for robustly, yet with an effective consensus emerging in each area that allows us to move forward. We're "living into" a long-overdue reconstruction of the governance and governance culture of the House. I was elected to another (regular, not an alumni slot this time) term as trustee and re-elected chair. What a privilege to serve and help lead in institution I love with a bunch of talented and dedicated people. After changing clothes and packing up, we headed north and west to St Paul, MN, where we get to share weekend with our daughter, her husband, and their two rather adorable children.


Nashotah House, Day 3: Morning Prayer ... breakfast ... to St Jerome's byu 9 to get ready for graduation ... presided at the graduation Mass  (a splendid liturgy) ... posed for a lot of pictures ... working lunch with the Executive Committee .... met with trustees from 2:30 until 4:25 (barely made a dent in our long agenda) ... Solemn Evensong (always an emotional time as it's the "last one" for the graduating seniors) ... mixing and mingling ... drinks and dinner in the refectory ... more mixing and mingling ... more drinking at the Deanery while we heard about the Compass Rose Society and a capital funds "quiet phase" venture ... more drinking still at the pub in the basement of the Fort ... another full day. (I didn't drink *that* much ... and I love serving the House).


Morning Prayer ... breakfast ... mixing & mingling ... Alumni Day Mass with splendid homily by Bishop Donald Parsons ... more mixing & mingling ... Alumni luncheon ... short break ... alumni meeting ... Executive Committee meeting ... Solemn Evensong with another fine homily by a graduating senior ... Class of 1989 reunion dinner (shared with the classes of 1999, 1979, and 1974). A full day.

Tuesday (Alcuin)

Met with the special governance task group in the morning. Met with most of the trustees in the afternoon in very helpful facilitated group discussion. No regular board business until Thursday. Dinner with an STM student who lives in the Fort (where I am lodging while here) at LeDuc's, an iconic one-off frozen custard stand that also serves "real food." Tomorrow: Alumni Day.


Enjoyed a partial day off, with all the usual chores and errands, until midafternoon, when I began to pack for a week away. Backed out of the driveway for Nashotah house around 5:30 PM, where I am now safely ensconced, in anticipation of commencement, a Board of Trustees meeting, and then a weekend with our daughter and her family in the Twin Cities.

Sermon for Easter V

St Mark's, West Frankfort -- John 14:1-14 Jesus is taking leave of his closest disciples. It is the eve of his crucifixion, and they will never see and know him again in quite the same way. They’re not yet aware of all the details, but they know enough to be nervous, to be anxious. Jesus recognizes how they’re feeling, and he says to them, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Let not your hearts be troubled. Easy enough for him to say. Back in the ‘80s, a talented musician named Bobby McFerrin made a name for himself with a hit song called, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” It’s a cute song, and maybe even a good idea, but I doubt it had much of an effect on the general level of anxiety in the world. Our hearts are troubled. Our hearts are troubled by fear—fear that we won’t get what we deserve from life, fear that we  will  get what we deserve from life. Fear of the unknown, and fear of the known. Fear of dying, and fear of not being able to die when life becomes too much to bear. O


Up and out at a usual weekday hour in order to get ready for Diocesan Council and the Mass that precedes the meeting. Presided and preached, commemorating ferial Saturday in the week of Easter IV. The meeting itself was devoid of particular excitement (which is a good thing), but I was nonetheless energized by hearing about so many different ministry initiatives taking place in the diocese: Strategy Resource Team pilot project in Mattoon, an effort toward developing training opportunities for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechists, possible new ministry in Cairo, Cursillo and Kairos, youth pilgrimage to Canterbury. Met, along with the Archdeacon, with the Rector of St Andrew's, Carbondale, who is also Priest-in-Charge of St James, Marion, and the Bishop's Warden of St James, to take counsel together for the future of ministry in that portion of the Hale Deanery. Home around 2pm. Rested a bit, ate a bit, watched the Cubs-Brewers game a bit, then took a long walk along one


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took care of several pieces of related by distinct pieces of Nashotah House-related business throughout the day. Spent time preparing mentally for a substantive appointment with a priest of the diocese; then the appointment consumed the better part of 90 minutes. Lunch from the prepared foods area at HyVee, eaten at home. Performed the exegetical phase of the sermon preparation process for Proper 9 (July 8 at St Stephen's, Harrisburg). Friday prayer: Ignatian meditation on today's daily office gospel lection. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.


Customary Thursday morning workout--treadmill only this time, no weights until my travel schedule settles down and I can regain some consistency. Substantive phone call with a member of the Nashotah House board. Part of the process of gearing up for next week. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took care of a small but important administrative task that had been too long delayed. Fleshed out and rough-drafted my homily for Ascension, to be delivered as a guest preacher at Christ Church, Fitchburg, MA. Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Dashed off a belated answer to an email that may be "trivial" to me but is important to the person who sent it. Attended to another small but now formerly important administrative matter ... by doing nothing. Sometimes if you delay acting long enough, the matter  just goes away! One more small administrative chore and one more email. Reviewed my June visitation calendar and scheduled reminders in case I haven't heard from the re


57 potential action items in the chute; 9 chosen for potential completion today. (Afternoon consumed by a funeral in Bloomington.) Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared for the celebration of the 12:15pm cathedral Mass. Responded to some newly-arrived, and semi-urgent, emails. Put some meat on the bones of a sermon outline for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, June 1 at St John's, Albion. Attended to part of the mountain of details that lie before me in advance of next week's meeting of the Nashotah House board of trustees. Showed up to celebrate Mass, but there was no congregation. This happens sometimes. I sat in the church and enjoyed a few minutes of quiet prayer and reflection. Made travel arrangements to attend the Province V House of Bishops in a couple of weeks. With the Archdeacon riding shotgun, drove up to Bloomington via the drive-through lane at Freddy's Steakburgers & Frozen Custard to preside at the funeral of Father Richard Bennett, a long-time


77 individual action items tagged for this week in my task management software. Most will not get done this week. 17 (unrealistically? optimistically?) earmarked for today. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Did some initial culling of the hard-copy detritus that had accumulated on my desk during my absence. Spoke by phone with one of our priests who is in a time of transition. Developed, refined, and printed my homily for this Sunday (St Mark's, West Frankfort). Put the script in my car (a habit that recognizes my fallible memory), and arranged for the text to magically appear on the interwebs about the time it's being delivered. Dealt with some administrative detritus pertaining to the upcoming pilgrimage to England and the upcoming board meeting at Nashotah House. Put the finishing touches on a draft Charge to the Dean Search Committee at Nashotah. Lunch from Market Grille--the restaurant associated with the HyVee grocery store that opened just today (the place was mob

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Up and out of the Hilton Garden O'Fallon just past 7:30  en route  to presiding and preaching both morning liturgies (8:00 and 10:30) at St George's, Belleville, while also holding forth at the adult forum between services. St George's is a lively parish, under the able pastoral and administrative leadership of Fr Dale and Deacon Jody Coleman. Nice lunch afterward; home around 3:30. Did some resting, some TV watching, and made a dent in a long task list. Realized that there are hundreds of airplanes over American at any given moment, and I am not on any of them, which is a blessing.

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

St George's, Belleville -- John 10:1-10 When I was being taught to preach, I was told that, in an era of shrinking attention spans, a good sermon should be, if not itself a story, at least story-like. In order to hold people's attention, a sermon should have a plot, with all the features we learned about in high school English: situation—complication—crisis—resolution. Most of the time, I try to follow this advice, because, if given a choice, I would prefer to keep the attention of my listeners than to lose it!  This becomes difficult, however, when the biblical material I'm given to work with is itself already kind of story-like. It seems kind of unhelpful to illustrate an illustration, to interpret a story by telling another one.  So I'm left with the job of playing straight man to Jesus, and just explaining as best I can what he means with these images that are almost stories—about sheep and shepherds and gates and thieves and robbers and whatnot.  Let&#


Yesterday went smoothly at first. The spring meeting of the Living Church Foundation board convened around 8:15am at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, and we finished all the business on our agenda by noon. After enjoying lunch together, I headed off in my rental car with a board colleague to DFW airport, jumped through all the hoops, boarded my flight to Chicago, and arrived at O'Hare around 5:15. I had a four hour layover before the puddle jump to Springfield, and was successfully killing time walking and reading (not at the same time) when I received a message on my phone a little past 7:30 that the flight had been cancelled. Mechanical issues. Color me suspicious, but there wasn't much to do except high-tail it to the car rental area, procure a vehicle, and point it south. Fortified with ample caffeine, I made the drive from the O'Hare Oasis on I-294 to my home in Springfield in three hours flat, arriving practically right at the stroke of 1am. I was motivated.

Thursday (Julian of Norwich)

Since my duties to my fellow Living Church Foundation board members did not begin until dinner tonight, I had some time to kill in Dallas before that event. Careful to choose a movie that Brenda would never get excited about seeing, I caught a late morning screening of Draft Day. When I watched Moneyball in 2011, I saw parallels between what I do and what a sports GM does--in that case, thinking strategically and making creative use of modest resources. This one was about how leaders have to make difficult decisions under pressure of both time and the divergent expectations of others. Something I've experienced a bit of in the last few months. In the afternoon, I caught up on some reading, and was treated to the excitement of a violent thunderstorm and 45 minutes under a tornado warning. We were told to remain in our rooms and stay away from windows, instructions with which I endeavored to comply. While I was waiting for my dinner companions to arrive, I had a substantive phone con


We concluded our Forward Movement board meeting ahead of schedule ... before 10am. So, since Executive Director Scott Gunn was my eventual ride to the airport, he and I hung out a bit, enjoying a brief excursion and lunch at the National Gallery of Art before making the trip out to Dulles. So, eventually ... from Dulles to Dallas, about 3o minutes behind schedule. Now about to tuck myself in at the Doubletree Campbell Centre.


I've been in Washington, DC since yesterday afternoon, but, to my horror, I'm in the dark ages ... aka a hotel room without functional wifi that my computer will connect with. For some arcane reason, my iPad does connect, but it's verrrrrrry slow. So, since my circumstances are so straitened, I won't say much. The board meeting of Forward Movement has been going well. An added bonus is our location on the grounds of Washington Csthedral, where we have enjoyed choral evensong the last two evenings. The meeting ends at midday tomorrow. Then I fly on to Dallas for another board meeting ('tis the season). In odd moments, I've also managed to attend to emerging issues back home via email. The voice transcription feature on iOS7 has been a blessing.

Sermon Notes for Easter III

St Bartholomew's, Granite City -- Luke 24:13-35 Great 50 days … season  of  Easter … Sundays give us tome to unpack the various biblical narratives of the risen Christ Today takes us back to the very day of the resurrection … Cleopas and his unnamed companion were distraught and disoriented … they had been disciples of Jesus (not the inner core, but disciples nonetheless), and their whole mental map of near-term reality was destroyed by Jesus’ death You and I spend much of our time distraught (real and anticipated loss [personal, national, church], disillusionment, aging and decline) They encounter the risen Jesus, but there’s something about his resurrected body that prevents them from recognizing him Again, we are in a position to empathize … you and I are under vows to “seek and serve Christ in every person,” so there’s a real sense in which we can say we have encountered the risen Jesus. But there’s a good chance we haven’t known it! We’re not always attuned to r


Chores and errands. Worked on several sermons in various stages of incubation. Attended to some issues pertaining to the Canterbury pilgrimage. Took a long hard walk. Watched the Cubs beat up on the Cardinals.

Friday (St Athanasius)

Indulged myself in a "natural" wake-up time, which meant that I was packed and on the road toward home around 10am. Learning of the passing early this morning of Fr Dick Bennett, one of the senior priests of the diocese. Spoke by phone with his son Chris and with their parish priest, Fr Halt. I arrived in Springfield around 3pm, unpacked, rested a bit, and took a long, hard walk. Worked for a while on an upcoming sermon. After dinner, went with Brenda to the season finale of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra season. Copland and Mahler. Very nice.

Ss Philip & James

Spent the day on the Nashotah House campus, wearing my official Chairman of the Board hat on the occasion of the Presiding Bishop's first visit to the seminary. Matins and Mass, breakfast, a look at the new coffee house where the main part of the bookstore used to be. During morning classes, I found a computer with an internet connection in the library and processed a bunch of email. After lunch I met with the Associate Dean for Finance & Administration and the Academic Dean over a range of matters. After a little more (too little) library time, it was back to Adams Hall for a colloquy during which Bishop Katharine responded to a range of questions. There was one candid exchange around a challenging topic, but it never got close to "drama." Then there was Evensong, after which she delivered a eulogy for the late Deacon Terry Starr. After dinner, I hung out a bit with the new and old bishops of Fond du lac, taking a tour of the library, chapel, and sacristy, guided by