Showing posts from June, 2014

Sermon for Proper 8

St Thomas', Glen Carbon -- Matthew 10:34-42 Of all the liturgical changes that we experienced in the Episcopal Church during the 1970s, leading up to the introduction of the Prayer Book that we’re using this morning, the one feature that I suspect has enjoyed the least actual use across the church is the so-called “contemporary” version of the Lord’s Prayer. Even in congregations where the rest of the service is in contemporary English, which is the case in the overwhelming majority in our diocese, the Lord’s Prayer is still usually said or sung using the traditional version. I won’t attempt to speculate on why this is, but I will observe that there are portions of the “new” Lord’s Prayer where the meaning is much clearer than in the familiar form, and in my private prayers, that’s the one I use. We are accustomed, for example, to say “lead us not into temptation,” and this has always troubled me because, biblically and theologically, it’s clear that God is never the source of


Devotions in the cathedral; Morning Prayer in the office. Arranged for a couple of checks from the Discretionary Fund to meet some incipient needs. Spent some more time with the readings for Proper 13 (August 3 in Marion) with the intent of close reading and consultation of commentaries. But, once in a great while, what needs to be preached about just jumps out at me prematurely, and this was one of those times. So I dispensed with the usual exegetical work and went right to the development of a central message statement. Responded in some detail to some technical questions from one of our clergy regarding the liturgy for my upcoming visit to the parish he serves. Took part in a three-way email volley (I was the only one who knew it was three-way) with the bishop of one of our companion dioceses and the chair of our Department of Global Mission. Some important decisions got made in the process. Attended to a bit of administrivia pertaining to my membership on the board of the Liv


Quality time on the treadmill before heading into the office. I've noticed that all the walking I did while in England had a salubrious effect on my blood sugar, so I'm making an effort to ramp up the exercise. Angelus and Visitation in the cathedral (part of my usual morning devotional routine, though I seldom mention it here), but Morning Prayer in the office because of the heat in the church. Worked on revising and reconditioning a prior year's homily for Proper 10 (13 July at Redeemer, Cairo). Yes, I do this from time to time. And I'm not embarrassed. Dealt with some Nashotah-related business. Crafted a word of greeting, and sent it via email, to the upcoming synod of the Diocese of Tabora, one of our companion relationship partners. Lunch from Hy-Vee, eaten at home. Walked down to Illinois National Bank to wire some funds that we have been holding for Tabora. Dealt with two important and long-delayed tasks pertaining to our mission strategy implementation.


Task planning at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Brief check-in with Fr Tucker, newly at the reins (and I say this with great gratitude) of St Paul's Cathedral as Interim Provost. Prepared for the celebration of the midday Mass (preparing the missal, preparing and printing the readings, mentally laying out a homily). Took a first pass by the readings for Proper 13 (August 3), in preparation for my homily when I visit St James' Chapel, Marion. Began to work on notes to clergy and spouses with July birthdays and anniversaries. Presided and preached at the midday Mass.  Lunch from McDonald's, eaten and home. (Still grieving the loss of hot mustard sauce for my McNuggets). Completed the clergy nodal event cards. Went back home to get some time on the treadmill, but was waylaid by a phone call from a friend, so the walk never happened. Left at 4:30, with Brenda, for Urbana, when we enjoyed a lovely dinner at the home of John and Linda Buzard (members and musicia

Nativity of St John the Baptist

Back to a "normal" routine (whatever that is), following a wildly successful youth pilgrimage to England.  Organized tasks before, during, and after breakfast at home -- mostly this involved turning a mountain of emails into tasks, then deciding which ones are more urgent and which ones less urgent. Brief devotions in the cathedral followed by Morning Prayer in the office--too hot in the church! Responded to some emails regarding Communion Partners, Nashotah House, and Youth Department issues. Reviewed and suggested a tweak to the service bulletin for this Sunday's visit to St Thomas', Glen Carbon. More administrative followup on the Youth Department issue. Answered some more emails. Attended the midday Mass for this major holy day. Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Beefed up, tweaked, refined, and printed a working script for this Sunday's sermon. Attended to some Living Church Foundation-related administrivia. Took care of some routine end-of-th


When you travel westbound across the Atlantic, it's always "the longest day." All our Canterbury pilgrims assembled in the hotel lobby at 5:45am GMT and boarded our bus for the nearly three hour drive to London Heathrow (much of it in morning rush hour traffic). It dawned on me en route that there are no highway billboards in England. It makes for a much different experience. We made it to the airport in plenty of time to check in, take our leave of our tour manager Michael, of whom we had become very font, and board our 11am departure on Virgin Atlantic. The flight went smoothly, and after clearing passport check and customs, those who were being met there said their goodbyes to those who still had a train journey ahead of them. That group negotiated airport transit, then CTA, then a walk to Union Station, where more goodbyes were said, as some were on the 5:15 train for St Louis and others on the 8:00 departure to Carbondale. I t was a joy to lead twelve young people in

Second Sunday after Pentecost

This was a bit of a low-impact morning, which most of us rather needed after yesterday's strenuous activity. We were up and out in time to make the trek into town for the 11 AM Choral Eucharist in the cathedral. I was thrilled that our small group of pilgrims got to be about 15 yards from the high altar, with the imposing chair of St. Augustine looming just a few steps away further in the distance. We then had the afternoon to ourselves. After lunch, and some further poking around in the historic city center, some of us returned to the cathedral for evensong at 3:15. Yes, that does seem a little early for evensong, but it's rather standard practice in these parts on Sundays. As always, the choir was spectacular. Brenda and I enjoyed walking along the old city wall and through a local park, where we saw an extended family attempting to play what looked for all the world like baseball. Imagine that!  Just outside the Westgate of the city, there's a pub called The Bishops Fing


We're soaking in the atmosphere of Canterbury and the surrounding area, a region that is incredibly rich with history that extends even before the introduction of Christianity here during the Roman era.  We boarded a bus this morning after breakfast and headed about 20 miles out of town to Aylesford priory, a Roman Catholic Carmelite community that is extremely hospitable to visitors and tourists. One of the friars gave us a brief historical overview, and took us on a tour of the lovely grounds and its three chapels. I was particularly entranced by St. Joseph's Chapel, as St. Joseph is the patron saint of my episcopate (I was ordained on St. Joseph's day in 2011). We then had an hour or so to luxuriate in the peace of the place before being served a hearty lunch. A short bus ride later and we were at an entry point of a walking path that stretches all the way from London to Canterbury. This is the route walked by pilgrims to Canterbury in the middle ages, and possibly even


This was the first of three full days in Canterbury. Our hotel is a good hike – probably a mile – from the ancient city wall. We gathered at 9 AM, and made the trek, ending up at the striking Christchurch gate to the cathedral precincts. We were met by a guy, who promptly handed us off to another guy, who walked us out the opposite city wall from the one we had entered, passed the ruins of the once great St. Augustine's Abbey, and onto the parish church of St. Martin. This is, quite simply, the oldest Christian church in the British Isles. It was originally a Roman building, which was given to the Christian Frenchwoman Bertha, when she married to Saxon king of Kent, Ethelbert, in the late sixth century. When Pope Gregory's emissary, Augustine, arrived in England in 597 A.D., this building was Bertha's church. It has been enlarged and altered many times over the last 1400 years, but, amazingly, it remains a functioning parish church, with regular worship and a stable congreg


We have now put more than 800 miles on our Mercedes bus. With an 8 AM departure from our oxford hotel, we headed south toward the County of Wiltshire. A few miles west of the city of Salisbury, lies the iconic collection of prehistoric stones known as Stonehenge. It's only a couple of hundred yards from a busy four-lane highway, so people on ordinary business in the 21st-century drive past it every day; a monument that goes back 5000 years. It was an amazing experience, on a bright and warm day just prior to the summer solstice, which figures so heavenly in the history of this place. We boarded our coach at 11:30, we headed toward the city, stopping first at the ruins of an ancient castle known as Old Sarum. For centuries it was well used by English monarchs, but was dismantled by Henry VIII I'm  the 16th century, so that the stone facing could be used in other places. What is left are some flint foundations, interesting historical signs, and an amazing view of the surrounding


Up and out from our Peterborough hotel (which, by the way, was a welcome relief from our quite cramped London lodgings with unreliable wifi) promptly at 8:30. On to Coventry, where we arrived a couple of hours later. This city was heavily bombed by Germany in 1940, so there isn't much left of the old medieval fabric. Among the material losses was the medieval cathedral church of St Michael & All Angels. When the dust settled, instead of rebuilding, they constructed an entirely new edifice, in a very modern style, And ... they left the bombed out ruins standing, such that a visitor has to walk through them in order to get to the main entrance of the new cathedral. It is a stunning juxtaposition, and a deeply moving testament to the essential gospel ministry of reconciliation. Right at noon, we got back in our familiar bus and drove another hour or so to the town of Warwick, in the West Midlands. We went our varioius ways for lunch in the area of the town square, and the reboar


The unreliability of the wifi internet connection in our London hotel lobby was annoying to us all, to say the least. It was impossible for me to get a post out either of the last two nights. But Sunday was was a good day. We attended the 11am Sung Eucharist at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square, a lively parish in a vibrant shopping district, and it was my joy to accept the invitation of the rector to be the celebrant for the liturgy, a great honor. (The photo of us all before the service is on the diocesan Facebook page.) Afterward, we hopped on our bus and made our way to a dock on the Thames right across from the iconic ferris wheel (the Eye), and boarded a tour boat for a cruise down the river (yet, oddly, against the flow, as the tide was rising strongly), disembarking at the Tower of London (the Traitor's Gate, through which once passed many malefactors and other enemies of the state, is no longer accessible via the river). After self-selecting into smaller groups for the purpose


A day long anticipated. The four chaperones (including YFNB) and twelve youth pilgrims successfully made our way to O'Hare in Chicago yesterday, experienced some concourse bonding via a game of cards on the carpeted floor, and boarded the 6:45 departure for London Heathrow on Virgin Atlantic. About eight hours after takeoff, we were clearing UK Border Control, and meeting our tour manager, Michael, and our bus driver, Simon. It has, of course, been challenging to stay awake, but they kept us mostly on our feet, so it was rather necessary. We were met by a local tour guide, Marian, at Westminster Abbey, and she led us on about as expert a run-through of that historic and maginificent building as could be accomplished in under an hour. We then walked into St James' Park, which is crowded enough under normal circumstances on a Saturday, but today happened to be the ceremonial birthday of the Queen, so there were tens of thousands of people on hand. Keeping an eye on Marian's p


Over the past few weeks, Brenda and I have morbidly joked about the parallels between the complexities of caring for her declining dog and caring for her declining mother. Earlier this week, we had to say goodbye to the dog. We were awakened by a phone call at 4:45am with the news that late last night , her mother also slipped away. Eery. Susanne Frantz Hansen was closing in on her 98th birthday, lived an incredibly rich life with lots of love, suffered enough to make her more like Jesus, and now rests in his peace. After beginning to process this development, both practically and emotionally, we went ahead with the day. I arrived at the office/cathedral complex at the usual time, and read Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Made an important call to the Vice-Chair of the Nashotah House board of trustees over an emergent matter. Spent an inordinate amount of time on the AT&T and Verizon websites trying to get my mobile phone and Brenda's configured so that we can use them for

St Barnabas

Up and out of the Hampton Inn, Joliet in time to continue westward on I-80 for a 9:30 breakfast meeting in Peru with the chief financial officer and the chief fundraising officer of Nashotah House. We occupied the booth for about two and a half hours, and I believe it was a productive time as we face some daunting but surmountable challenges at the House. At noon, I pointed the YFNBmobile southward on I-39, and arrived at the diocesan center with about 10 minutes to spare before my 2pm appointment with a layperson from one of our Eucharistic Communities. This is about a fairly weighty pastoral matter, and I spent a little over 90 minutes with her. By this time, my introversion was in the red zone, and I really wasn't good for anything else than fending off emails and trolling Facebook. Consulted a bit with the Archdeacon, then left the office a little past 5:00, which, for me, is on the early side. Poured myself a stiff drink at home.

Tuesday (St Ephrem)

We're still trying to get out domestic bearings after having had to make the decision late yesterday to say goodbye to Lucy, Brenda's border collie who has shared our home in three states for more than 13 years. She wasn't my dog, but I was very fond of her, and she definitely had a thing for me. What a sweetheart. It just isn't the same not having her around. Consulted briefly with the Treasurer over an administrative issue as I arrived at the office. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took care of a piece of Nashotah-related business. Reviewed and approved a Marital Judgment request. Responded to an email over an administrative issue. Prepared, by reading a substantive book review online, for a meeting later in the day. More administrivia via email. Met briefly with Frs Halt and Wetmore regarding their work in developing a Springfield iteration of something called the St Michael's Conference--a six-day intensive catechetical experience for youth that has a

Pentecost Homily

Alton Parish --John 20:19-23, Acts 2:1-11, I Corinthians 12:4-13 About a dozen or so years ago, it became very fashionable for groups of all sorts—corporations, schools, government agencies, churches, and even families—to adopt mission statements. Even now, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid them. You can check into a hotel and find the mission statement of the corporate owner prominently displayed in the lobby. I’ve even seen mission statements in fast food restaurants. The idea is that, if you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re supposed to be doing, you’re probably not going to be doing it. You’ll probably feel busy, but you might be busy at the wrong thing. This can all be taken to a bit of an absurd extreme of course. It actually wouldn’t surprise me to hear about a pre-school play group working on a mission statement. And I suspect that, to some extent, the faddish aspect may have run its course. But in principle, I believe in mission statements. Many dioceses and p


Lazy morning ... surfed the 'net ... long, hard walk ... some TV while eating lunch .... cleaned up my email inbox .... routine household financial chores .... packed and out the door for points such (with Brenda by my side) at 4:30 ... dinner with vestry and spouses from the Episcopal Parish of Alton.


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Met with the Archdeacon and Administrator to review "elections and appointments." The countdown to our annual synod in October has begun, and part of that is making sure that we have at least one nominee for each elected office, and people in the pipeline for positions that are appointments of the bishop. For the elections, of course, there is a process for multiple nominations, and that's fine; we just want to ensure that we don't come up empty on any of them. I mean, seriously, who's going to volunteer to run for the Disciplinary Board? Spoke at length by phone with a cleric of the diocese over an emergent pastoral/administrative issue. Took care of some business pertaining to my membership on the Living Church Foundation board. Lunch from La Bamba, eaten at home. Sent out a handful of emails and posted some messages about a pipe organ that needs a good home. It's the one we removed from the former St Alban's, Olney

Thursday (St Boniface)

45 minutes on the treadmill to begin the day. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took the time to respond to some recent, but fairly urgent and important, emails. Conceived, hatched, and dispatched and article for the next issue of the  Current , but you can see it now on the website. This took me pretty much until 1:00, though I laid it aside in order to take a couple of phone calls. Lunch of Italian beef from Chitown's Finest, eaten at home. Made my annual cameo appearance as an "ecumenical guest" at the assembly of the Central and Southern Illinois Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is always held at the Crowne Plaza on Dirksen. Processed, mostly by scanning, the pile in my physical inbox. This is a time-consuming and pretty mundane chore, but it invariably spins off other tasks, and generally makes me less paranoid that something important is going to get by me.  After brief devotions in the cathedral, came home to retrieve Brenda just be


Wow. A day back in the office. Seemed exotic. Initial processing of accumulated letters, magazines, promotional pieces, and other detritus from my absence. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Substantive debriefing conversation with the Archdeacon on an emerging clergy deployment matter. (This is a happy one, which I very much look forward to being able to announce as a done deal.) Wrote out notes to clergy with birthdays and wedding anniversaries in June. The spouse birthdays and ordination anniversaries will have to enjoy the wayside this time around. It's the thought that counts. So ... to all the clergy of the Diocese of Springfield with an ordination anniversary in June (and there are a bunch, which means some are probably reading this): May you experience a fresh sense of the reality and holiness of your vocation. Sing or listen to the  Veni creator spiritus,  and rekindle the moment in the imagination of your heart. And to the clergy spouses with birthdays:  Ad multos ann

Tuesday (Martyrs of Uganda)

We concluded our Province V bishops meeting at 11am, having talked about subjects ranging from diaconal ministry to confirmation to anti-racism training to the General Ordination Exams to the September HOB meeting in Taiwan. Via a combination of taxi, CTA Blue and Green and Red lines, and my own two feet, I made in to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in time for my 1pm appointment for a one-year post-op follow-up visit--not for my benefit, strictly speaking, but for the benefit of the clinical trial that I agreed to participate it. After letting them draw blood and enduring an echo-cardiogram (those things are *so* not fun), I was released at 3, which allowed me time to walk all the way to Union Station (from the vicinity of Ohio and Michigan Avenues), stopping for lunch along the way at an Elephant & Castle. I boarded the 5:15pm southbound Lincoln Service train, which departed on time, but managed to arrive in Springfield right a 9:00, about 21 minutes late.

Monday (Martyrs of Lyons)

Up and out a couple of hours early, aiming for the 6:32 northbound Amtrak departure from Springfield (which didn't actually leave until almost 7:00). The Lincoln Service is pretty much wi-fi enabled these days, so, with my Macbook, I was able to be fairly productive, which has the added advantage of making the travel time seem to pass quickly. Arriving at Union Station in Chicago about 10:30, I hiked the eight blocks or so to the CTA Blue Line station on Dearborn near Jackson Blvd. and rode the train out to Rosemont, whereupon, in deference to the threatening weather, I grabbed a taxi for the final jaunt to the Sheraton on Manheim Road. Beginning with lunch, the bishops of Province V (most of us, at any rate) came together, as is our wont a couple of times a year, for loosely-structured conversation over a 24-hour period. We discussed the Title IV disciplinary canons (which nobody seems to like), the way business comes before the committees of General Convention, confirmation pract

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Today's visit was to St John's, Albion, where the congregation worships in a building constructed in 1842 and is the oldest Episcopal church building in Illinois in continuous use. The parish (and, to some extent, the town) was founded in 1838 by the Revd Benjamin Hutchins, who continued to serve until his death in the 1890s. The celtic cross pictured below marks his grave. To the right, the smaller headstones mark the graves of eight of his children, who perished of an unknown malady within a month of each other. (He and his wife had but one offspring survive into adulthood.) Sometimes I feel as though as stand on the shoulders of giants (Bishop Philander Chase braved harsh conditions in old age to travel to Albion for the consecration of St John's). As I walked out of the cemetery, I invoked Fr Hutchins' prayers for the heirs of his ministry. Today, the congregation of St John's is quite small, coming from all the surrounding communities except Albion itself, but

Sermon for Easter VII

St John's, Albion -- John 17:1-11 If you pay even a modest amount of attention to the life of the Diocese of Springfield—perhaps through the quarterly newsletter, the  Current , or the website, or the Facebook page—you will be aware of the emphasis we are placing on faithful Christian discipleship. We have embraced the notion that every baptized Christian is called to be a disciple—a follower—of Jesus Christ. We have identified seven marks by which discipleship naturally expresses itself in the lives of baptized Christians. If you’d like, I can talk about those seven marks during coffee hour; just give me the thumbs up! Of course, embracing discipleship means that we have embraced a high standard of fidelity and ethical living. It’s not easy to live up to such a standard. We are constantly aware of our failure to do so, and it can become discouraging. We have a sense that God is watching, ever hopeful, and is perpetually disappointed with our efforts. Our default assumptio