Showing posts from November, 2014

Advent Sunday

Up at "zero-dark-thirty" to be out the door and on the road in time to arrive at St Andrew's, Edwardsville for their regular 8am Eucharist. Presided and preached then and at 10 (where we confirmed three and received two) and taught the adult forum between services. Exceptionally carnivore-friendly repast after the principal Mass. St Andrew's has a fine liturgical and musical tradition that I always find uplifting, and they seem to be thriving under the leadership and pastoral care of their newly-permanent priest-in-charge, Fr Ralph McMichael. It was nearly 70 degrees when we got in the YFMBmobile to head home around 1pm. It was 37 when we got there. It was nice while it lasted.

Sermon for Advent Sunday

St Andrew's, Edwardsville -- Mark 13:24-37 , Isaiah 64:1-9, I Corinthians 1:1-9 "Don't go away—we'll be right back after these messages." How many thousands of times have those of us who are a certain age heard that request for us not to get up and change the channel? (Of course, that was in the days before channel surfing with the remote.) We're being told to wait right where we are, the interruption is only temporary. General MacArthur, as he was retreating from the Philippines just ahead of the Japanese onslaught, solemnly promised, "I shall return,” and asked the Filipinos to wait for him. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in the Terminator movies immortalized the phrase "I'll be back", as he vowed to return to the scene of a temporary defeat. And how many times have we told a child or a friend in a public place, "Wait for me here, I'll be right back." As he neared the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus communicate


Finished a "non-statement" about the situation in Ferguson, MO, and posted it both on my own blog and on the  diocesan website . Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared to celebrate the preach the midday liturgy. Got the ball rolling, by means of a fairly substantive email, on planning the liturgy for the ordination of Cameron Nations to the transitional diaconate on January 2. Brought my homily for Advent II (St Andrew's, Carbondale) to the condition of "rough draft." Presided and preached at the 12:15 Mass, using the ferial propers appointed for the day. I was particularly drawn to a line from Revelation 15: "... for with them [the last of the seven plagues] the wrath of God is finished." I went off in homiletical reverie on how what humans tend to experience and name as the wrath of God may actually be the love of God in disguise--that is, God preserving human freedom (a central aspect of the  imago dei ) by allowing us to experience the nat


Usual AM routine; MP in the cathedral. Conferred with the Interim Provost on a range of currently active concerns. Participated via conference call in the regular quarterly meeting of the Diocesan Trustees. The call also included our investment advisor, who was calling in from home, as his office is in Clayton, MO, which was not exactly stable and safe this morning. Met with two representatives from an Ohio-based church-related capital fundraising firm, at their behest. We do have some capital needs, both at a diocesan level and in some of the parishes, and their approach has a bit of a wrinkle that potentially removes the element of tension between diocese and parish whenever the subject of a capital campaign comes up. So ... we'll see what develops. Lunch at home. Took care of three small bits of administrivia by email. Met with a representative of the vendor of our new telephone equipment for a scheduled tutorial on the bluetooth headset that will allow me to participate

The Lord's Day (Christ the King)

Up and out of our Danville hotel room in time to preside and preach at the regular 9am Mass at Holy Trinity. where the liturgy is on Anglo-Catholic steroids, but at the same time is utterly unfussy and unpretentious. It is suffused with joy. Next Sunday, Fr Geoffrey Scanlon marks 27 years as priest and pastor in that community. The fruit of his ministry is amply evident. After the usual post-liturgical hearty repast, we headed west for an appointment in Champaign with a potential aspirant to ordained ministry. There seems to be an abundance of such recently. It was a little past 3:30 when we pulled into our Springfield driveway.

Sermon for Christ the King (Proper 29)

Holy Trinity, Danville -- Matthew 25:31-46,  Ezekiel 34:11-17, I Corinthians 15:20-28 The end of the Christian liturgical year certainly comes at an odd time, doesn't it? One would think that it might have the good sense to coincide with the secular calendar, but, no, here we are bringing our year to a conclusion five or six weeks early. One might think that, given the pattern of our society's ebb and flow of activity, that it might coincide with what we refer to more and more as the "program year", but it doesn't work that way either. So here we are, at the end of that long season of green vestments, about ready to jump into Advent. Under our previous Prayer Book, a few of you may remember, the year just kind of ground to a halt without any particular fanfare, and this day was simply called the "Sunday next before Advent." Now, in an ecumenical spirit, we and the Roman Catholics and the Lutherans, along with any Protestants who wish to join us, cel

Saturday (C.S. Lewis)

Exercise and household puttering until 4:30, when we set sail eastward in the YFNBmobile. Met up in Urbana with Fr Geoffrey Scanlon and two parishioners from Holy Trinity, Danville for Mexican food at Huaraches Moroleon (an eatery worthwhile checking out). I then followed Fr Scanlon to his home for a "serious" discussion, before retrieving Brenda from a friend's house and continuing on to Danville, where we are now settled in at the Hampton Inn ahead of tomorrow's visitation to Holy Trinity.


Morning Prayer in the office. Did some online Christmas shopping (gifts for staff). Took a phone call from one of our clergy wanting to give positive feedback and express gratitude for yesterday's Clergy Day. Spend the rest of the morning cranking out a first draft of a policy on diaconal ministry in the Diocese of Springfield. Sent it along for comment to ... our deacons, naturally. Lunch at home. Gave official notice to the Nashotah House trustees of the details for our special winter meeting in early February. Scanned and otherwise processed my physical inbox. In my ongoing quest to jump start our companion relationship with the Diocese of Peru, I attempted to reach Bishop Godfrey by phone, and got as far as a lovely conversation with his wife. Progress. Responded quickly by email to a Province V-related issue. Friday prayer:  Lectio divina  on today's daily office reading from Malachi--a rather well-known passage, thanks to Handel's  Messiah . Brief devotions

Thursday (St Edmund)

From 9:30 until 4:00, today was dedicated to a scheduled gathering of the clergy of the diocese. We had an excellent turnout of around 30, and we seriously engaged the subject of space, place, and architecture as the context for liturgy. My hope in this was that we would continue to engage liturgy--specifically, in this case, the places where liturgy happens--with informed intentionality and not merely on auto-pilot. Various presenters elucidated material from three challenging books, and discussion was lively. We concluded our time in the nave of St Paul's Cathedral as a sort of lab/practicum in "reading" liturgical space. We also had a very animated discussion of the sorts of gatherings we would like to have going forward. A good day.

Wednesday (St Elizabeth of Hungary)

Usual task planning over breakfast at home. Prepared to celebrate and preach for the regular cathedral midday Mass. This involved moving some furniture, as we needed to be ready for the possibility of unusual numbers (see below), we Fr Tucker and prepared the portable chancel altar for use. Morning Prayer in the office. Worked on my homily for Advent Sunday (St Andrew's, Edwardsville), taking it from developed outline to rough draft form. Attended the regular monthly meeting of clergy attached to the cathedral. Commemorated the lesser feast of St Elizabeth of Hungary at Mass, which ended up being celebrated in the chapel after all, though we did have three out-of-town visitors. Apparently the Equal Rights Amendment (yes, the one that seemed to have died quietly back in the '70s) is being debated in the Illinois legislature, and one of its leading advocates is a devout Episcopalian. She wanted to attend the liturgy, and two of her colleagues, in from the Twin Cities to lob

Tuesday (St Hilda of Whitby)

Weekly and daily task planning at home; MP in the car on the way in. I was under a time bind because of a scheduled 9am training session for the new telephone sets that were being delivered and installed today. But the deliverer and installer was himself running behind, so I could have read the morning office properly rather than hurriedly. Oh, well. When we finally did have our tutorial, I was encouraged that I may actually master the technique of transferring an incoming call to somebody else in the office--either to them directly or to their voicemail. That has heretofore been my principal failing as an office telephone user. The new system is simpler, it seems. We have a clergy day on Thursday, so it fell to me to rearrange the table and chairs in the round room of the round building in an appropriate manner. You may wonder why I don't have my minions do such things, but the twofold truth is that 1) I'm a little short in the minion department, and 2) I wouldn't have

The Lord's Day (XXIV Pentecost)

Up and out at 7:45, headed eastward toward Mattoon through a light dusting of early-season snow. Presided, preached, and confirmed three teens and one young adult at Trinity Church, which is exuding a spirit of renewed vitality under the pastoral care and leadership of Fr Jeff Kozuszek. The age range of those present was robustly encouraging. After a sumptuous post-liturgical repast, Brenda and I headed north on I-57 to Champaign, where will killed some time at the mall, racking up steps on the pedometer, downing some green tea, and rooting around cyberspace on our iPhones. When the time was right, we headed down to the Chapel of St John the Divine for a 4pm organ recital by Mark Dirksen. The instrument there is the renowned work of the renowned builder John-Paul Buzzard, who is a parishioner there. Mark Dirksen is married to Beth Maynard, the rector of Emmanuel parish across town, and is the son of the late great organist at Washington National Cathedral, Richard Wayne Dirksen. It was

Sermon for Proper 28

Trinity, Mattoon -- Matthew 25:14-15, 19-29 ,  I Thessalonians 5:1-10 As a culture evolves over time, certain words and certain concepts go in and out of fashion. Right now in our society, the notion of “accountability” seems to be enjoying its day in the sun. It’s currently popular in the political realm, as we speak of holding elected leaders and government officials and teachers  accountable  for the results of their efforts. We hear about it in the world of business, where everyone from executives to middle managers to production and sales employees are held  accountable  for their contribution to the bottom line. And we talk about  accountability  in the church, for both clergy and laity, and on several different dimensions—from finances to spiritual growth to moral behavior to relations within larger church structures. Yet, the kind of accountability that really nags at us, and may even cause us to lose sleep from time to time, is not any of these. Rather, it’s the contempla


Got to the Cathedral/Roundhouse complex around 9:30 there. Found several members of Diocesan Council already there and milling about. Presided and preached the scheduled 10am Mass. The first reading in the weekday Eucharistic lectionary was from III John, which I do not believe ever comes up on a Sunday, so it was a new experience to preach from it. Presided at the quarterly Diocesan Council meeting. It went most expeditiously, and we were wrapped up by a little past 11:30. A number of impromptu sidebar conversations always happen on these occasions, and everyone wants to leverage the fact that they've already made a drive to Springfield. Joined the scheduled meeting of the Standing Committee. Informally, we had some bishop-with-council-of-advice time. Formally, the committee approved the ordination of Cameron Nations to the (transitional) diaconate. Conferred briefly with a member of the Standing Committee on a pastoral/administrative issue. Drove down to Subway and grabbed

Friday (Consecration of Samuel Seabury)

Brief devotions in the cathedral (cold); Morning Prayer in the office (warm). Back to the cold cathedral chancel to help with the physical setup for tomorrow's Diocesan Council Eucharist. Back to the office to prepare and print the lections and the Prayers of the People (and mentally conceive a homily). Met with a lay person from one of our parishes over some pastoral concerns. Lunch at home (leftovers). Stayed home to meet with a notary and sign some papers. Took care of a couple of routine monthly personal management chores. Attended to an emergent (though relatively minor) piece of Nashotah House business. Drafted and sent a couple of emails to clergy outside the diocese regarding potential deployment here. Made the decision that I will myself conduct the 2015 clergy pre-Lenten retreat, and made some broad stroke notes toward that end. Took a phone call from a priest over a pastoral concern. Friday prayer: Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary.  Evening Prayer in the off


Customary Thursday morning weight and treadmill workout. Task planning for my shortened office work week at home. Morning Prayer in the car  en route  to the office. Unpacked the new scanner that arrived on my desk while I was gone. Unpacked it, installed the software, and gave it a trial run. It's much faster than the old one, and will make my life much easier. Took a phone call from a lay Episcopalian from outside the diocese who was requesting use of the cathedral as a gathering place for prayer and then a launchpad for a procession to and demonstration in the state capitol in support of a particular political issue. I commended her for her strong and Christian faith-based dedication to her cause, but explained that I cannot lend the actual or apparent blessing of the diocese to a particular political cause, no matter how I might feel about it personally. She was quite understanding, and said they still might attend the midday Mass at the cathedral next Wednesday. Attended

Wednesday (Charles Simeon)

This was a travel day, and everything went smoothly, for which I am most grateful. (Flying in and out of Springfield is a statistically significant risk, given the number of canceled flights.) Left the diocesan conference center in Salt Lake City at 9:30am local time, and pulled into my driveway around 6:30pm.

Tuesday (St Martin of Tours)

There are only six of us "tiny bishops" at this year's gathering--around half the usual number--but we had what we all consider an exceedingly productive day. First, it's just good to be with one another and "talk shop," wherever the conversation might lead. We have so to share and so much to learn by pooling our collective experience about trying to do a pretty unique and pretty demanding job, one in which we don't get to spend very much time with peers. But we also had a formal agenda of sorts, with the first part of the morning being devoted to TREC--the Taskforce for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, of which one among us is a member. Their report to next year's General Convention is still a work in progress, but certain features are beginning to emerge. I may have some substantive thoughts to share on my "real" blog in due course. At 10:30, we were joined by three representatives of the Church Pension Group, and pretty high-level ones

Monday (St Leo of Rome)

Had my alarm set for 4:20am so as to be up and around and out in time for a 6am departure on United Airlines to Chicago. My scheduled three hour layover turned into four and half hours due to a mechanical issue and needing to swap out planes, so I got a lot a steps on pedometer walking concourses B and C. Arrived in Salt Lake City around 2pm local time, picked up my rental car (though I noticed too late that the light rail line now goes to the airport), and made my way downtown to the Episcopal Diocese of Utah's conference center. I'm here to meet with other bishops of "small" dioceses (it's a self-selecting group re what constitutes "small"). We're just three blocks away from the venue of next summer's General Convention.

The Lord's Day (XXIII Pentecost)

I was supposed to visit St Christopher's, Rantoul last spring, but a pastoral emergency in another parish caused me to have to reschedule. So today was a makeup. This is a small Eucharistic Community (22 in the room, if I counted correctly), but they are multi-generational and full of love for one another. Fine pastoral leadership from Fr Steve Thorp and Deacon Ann Alley.

Sermon for Proper 27

St Christopher's, Rantoul -- Matthew 25:1-13 , Amos 5:18-24, I Thessalonians 4:13-18 Since the middle of this past summer, we’ve had a series of our Lord’s parables, as recorded in St Matthew’s gospel, for us to consider at each Sunday liturgy. As I look back on these Sunday gospels, what a spiritual feast they are! There is so much there to challenge us, and comfort us, and guide us, and enlarge us. Some of the parables are more immediately accessible than others. They relate to human experiences that are fairly universal across various times and cultures. Others require more “translation” for us to be able to understand them. Today’s parable, the parable of the “Wise and Foolish Virgins,” is one of the latter. So, before we can apply this parable to our own lives, we need to understand what the story means in its own right, and what it meant in the culture of those who first heard it. Obviously, there’s a wedding involved, and these young ladies were what we might call b


Usual Saturday AM lazing around, then weights and treadmill, consumed most of my morning. Most of the afternoon was consumed recording two catechetical videos ("makeups" from the Lenten series at St John's, Decatur some months ago at which there were "technical difficulties")--about 90 minutes in total. This proved to be more cumbersome than I ever imagined (dying batteries, inexplicably full disks, changing light conditions), but I believe it was concluded successfully. Now on to the editing, in due course.


Met the Archdeacon at the office at 9am, and headed east and south toward Effingham. Publicly pronounced a sentence of secularization (yes, that's the formal language) upon St Laurence's Church shortly after 11, with the four people who were members until the bitter end present. The liturgy, while somber and brief, is actually quite pastorally sensitive. Then, the Archdeacon and I, after lunch in a taqueria, met the buyer of the property at an escrow office and closed the deal. Came away with a large check made out to "Daniel H. Martins." Could have thrown quite a party, but I think we'll put it toward eventually replanting in Effingham. Back at the office around 3:30. There were enough emails waiting for me to consume my attention for the rest of the afternoon. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.


Quality AM time with the Bowflex and treadmill. Morning Prayer at home in my study. Kept a 9:30 phone appointment in the same place. This had to do with the spiritual vitality component of our mission strategy. In the office: Did a routine semi-annual review and evaluation of the diocesan mission strategy implementation. Made some notes and plotted some tasks as a result. Located some material for the history-of-the-diocese portion of the website. Set in motion a process that will lead to more being posted in that area. Dashed off an email to a couple of people outside the diocese whose brains I hope to pick on the subjects of evangelism and church planting. Lunch at home--leftover pot roast. Spoke by phone with one of our seminarians concerning some ordination and deployment issues. Cleared by physical inbox, with the help of my optical scanner. Took a brisk walk up to the other side end of the state capitol on Second Street, and back down on Spring Street. With weather like


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared to preside and preach at the midday Mass. Initiated a series of six emails or voicemails on subjects ranging from Nashotah House to clergy deployment to mission strategy to technical support. Developed, refined, and printed a working text for this Sunday's homily, at St Christopher's in Rantoul. Took a brisk walk around the neighborhood, on what may be the last "nice" day of the season. Celebrated and preached the midday Mass (ferial propers for Wednesday in the week of Proper 26). Lunch at home (leftovers). To my consternation, I devoted the great bulk of my afternoon to a very long tech support phone call. Due to some carelessness on my part about three weeks ago, some very annoying malware had found its way onto my laptop computer. Such items are pernicious, and enjoy playing hide-and-seek. Happily, I believe that we successfully located and deleted the offending files. But the effort ate up time. Discussed an ordi


Weekly and daily task planning, and some email processing, at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Met with Walt Born, a postulant for Holy Orders in the diocese. Walked up to Illinois National Bank to make a deposit. (Yes, I could have driven, but I wanted to wrack up steps on my pedometer.) Reworked and freshened the text of a sermon from many years ago for use on Proper 27 (November 16 at Trinity, Mattoon). Drafted and sent a couple of emails: one pertaining to our mission strategy, one pertaining to a companion diocese relationship. Lunch of pulled pork from HyVee, eaten at home. Afterward, I stopped by the neighborhood UCC church to cast my vote on election day. Drafted and sent two more emails: one pertaining to my Nashotah House board responsibilities and another to one of our priests concerning a visitation date. Edited and posted  Prayers of the People forms  for Year B, Advent through Epiphany. This took a while. Took a phone call from a lay leader in one of our p

The Lord's Day: Solemnity of All Saints

Well, it had to happen eventually, I suppose. A communication snafu meant I was 30 minutes late rather than my intended 30 minutes early for the All Saints celebration at All Saints Church in Morton--their 50th anniversary, no less, with their former priest Fr Robert Lewis and his family in the congregation, and Fr Brian Kellington and Deacon Laurie Kellington up front. By phone, I asked them to start without me 15 minutes late. As I walked into the sacristy from the outside, I heard the concluding response to the gospel, so I just emerged in my street clothes and preached my sermon. I made myself "decently habited" during the creed and presided from then on. After a wonderful potluck, Fr Brian and I drove up to Peoria to bring the sacrament to Bishop Donald Parsons, who is laid up with a broken ankle. What a joyful privilege and a wonderful end to my visit.

Sermon for All Saints

All Saint, Morton -- Revelation 7:2-17 As some of you know, I grew up right here in the great state of Illinois, the "land of Lincoln.” As we know, particularly those who live in Springfield, so I’ve learned, Abraham Lincoln is more than just a license-plate slogan in Illinois. I still vividly remember my eighth-grade class field trip, where we took the train, the old Illinois Central line, from Chicago, down to Springfield and by bus up to New Salem Village, where Lincoln spent some of his boyhood years, and then to back to the capitol building, and then to the house Lincoln lived in, and then finally to his tomb. It was moving indeed to gaze at that mass of marble that contains the bones of a man of such mythic greatness as Abraham Lincoln. But such experiences, moving as they may be, are ultimately unsatisfying. We can look at a grave, or walk through a town or a house — we can read and study about a famous person — but the sad fact is, the great ones at whose shrines


Spent the productive components of my day ferrying items to the Chiara Center that were needed for those participating in the clergy spouse retreat (lunch, dessert, supplies for Mass). Then I met the group for dinner at a downtown Springfield restaurant (Julia's Kitchen). Also got some work done in our own kitchen, cleaning up from last night's Cajun dinner.