Showing posts from December, 2014


A laid-back day. Whatever "work" I did, I did from home. Beefed up and did some initial editing on a sermon for Epiphany I (January 11 at St Paul's Cathedral). Began some broad stroke planning for liturgies at the pre-Lenten clergy retreat in February. Ferried our son and his wife on a shoe-shopping expedition, and bought a sweater for myself in the process. Completed the broad stroke liturgical planning I started earlier, then roughed out the first of the three retreat addresses I will be giving. Spent about three hours a the home of some friends down the street, along with several other quite interesting people whom they invited. Happy New Year, everyone.

Tuesday (St Thomas Becket, transferred)

Intentionally slow start to the day ... MP and task planning at home ... in office by mid-morning .... dashed off a note of condolence to a colleague bishop who has suffered the loss of a loved one ... polished, fine-tuned, and printed my homily for this Friday's ordination of a transitional deacon ... digested the content of and responded to a substantive email ... made air, car rental, and lodging arrangements for my February DEPO visit to Holy Communion, Charleston (SC) .... scanned a substantive amount of hard copy --- swang by St John's Hospital to look in on one our priests, who had major surgery yesterday .... home by mid-afternoon.

First Sunday after Christmas Day

A rare opportunity to channel my former incarnation as a parish priest, as I "supplied" at St Paul's Cathedral for the vacationing Provost Fr Gene Tucker, and the effect was compounded by Brenda filling in at the organ during a transition in that position. She and I worked together as priest and musician for many years, so there was an element of nostalgia about doing so again. After some rest in the early afternoon, I tackled a to-do list that included digesting some Nashotah House documents in preparation for an early February trustees meeting, and some materials from a missionary seeking to partner either with the diocese or parishes in the diocese. 

Sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas

S pringfield Cathedral -- John 1:1-18 About a week ago, we passed the shortest day of the earth’s annual trip around the sun. This is a dark time of year. For most of us, it’s dark when we get up in the morning and dark when we come home in the evening. And for that very reason, it’s also a time of year that is full of light. Whether we use candles, or oil lamps, or incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, we go to great lengths to surround ourselves with light in the midst of the pervasive darkness. Most of the houses and lawns that have brightened our neighborhoods with their multi-colored lights will continue to do so for a few more days. The lights on our Christmas trees adorn our living rooms and dens. We are entranced, in an almost mystical way, by the power of light shining in the darkness. When the ancient people of Israel escaped from slavery in Egypt, the Lord led them to their eventual homeland through an extended period of wandering in the desert. The Israelites were at

St John

Slept in (till nearly 9, rather to my amazement) ... morning reading and internet surfing ... weights and treadmill workout ... Did a close reading of the TREC report, and made some notes, seeing as how I will be in a position to participate in debate and vote on its proposals (and I will probably offer some written reflections in due course) ... continued to help Brenda with her preparation to fill in tomorrow as cathedral organist ... attended to sundry household projects and processed a few emails.

St Stephen

A low-key, but not completely unproductive day. Spent a good chunk of time at the office-cathedral complex, helping Brenda get oriented to the organ (she's subbing there this Sunday, and a couple of more time next month), doing some scanning of hard copy detritus, and writing out my customary notes to clergy and spouses with nodal events in January. Also managed to edit and upload the  second session  of last Lent's teaching series at St John's, Decatur.  For quite some time now I've had intermittent wonky chest symptoms, and after my adventures of the spring of 2013, I tend not to blow things off. There' s a list of reasons why they should not indicate coronary artery disease, but lately there's been a bit of an uptick, so it seemed meet and right to have it checked out. The bad news is that I spent about five hours in the ER at St John's Hospital. The good news is that there's no evidence of anything cardiac-related going on. So the symptoms remai

Christmas Eve

Listened to the annual broadcast of Lessons & Carols from King's College, Cambridge (which has become more or less a Christmas Eve habit for us) ... wrestled and continued to settle in with a new domestic technological paradigm (having switched TV, internet, and phone providers on Monday) ... fleshed out developed notes into a rough draft of a sermon for the ordination of Cameron Nations to the transitional diaconate next week ... preached at the 5pm Christmas Eve liturgy at the cathedral ... enjoyed a dinner out with Brenda ... after a brief nap, it was back to the cathedral to preside and preach the Midnight Mass. It eventually felt good to be horizontal. 

Sermon for Christmas Eve

St Paul's Cathedral Part of me identifies with Ebenezer Scrooge. I am not by nature a terribly sentimental person, so by the time Christmas actually rolls around, many aspects of our society’s way of observing the holidays have long since worn a little thin with me, and I’ve been known to utter that famous expletive “Bah, humbug!” from time to time. Some have even used the word “Grinch” in commenting on my attitude. I guess my cynicism about “the holidays”, as the whole season is now commonly referred to, has been a long while in the making. Some years ago, while I served as a the chaplain for a parish day school, the principal had a special sweatshirt made for me. It featured a pumpkin, a turkey, and a representation of Santa Claus. I called it my “hallow-thanks-mas” shirt. It was good from mid-October into the new year, and, in Louisiana, where I lived at the time, I was able to extend its useful life all the way to Ash Wednesday just by adding a necklace of Mardi Gras beads

Tuesday (O Emmanuel)

Task planning (for an abbreviated week) at home; Morning Prayer in the (beautifully decorated) cathedral. Made the requisite preparations to preside and preach at the midday Mass. Took care of a necessary annual administrative chore at the behest of the Treasurer (who asked at the behest of the IRS). Responded to an earlier email from the person who takes care of our diocesan website. There's an attractive new update in the making. Did some minor revising and otherwise polished and edited, then printed, my homily for Christmas Eve (two Masses at the cathedral). Celebrated and preached the 12:15 Eucharist, observing the feast of St Thomas, delayed a day (after already being delayed another day due to a conflict with Advent IV). I was ordained a priest on the eve of St Thomas in 1989, and celebrated my first Mass the following day, so this was my silver anniversary Mass, which is kind of a thing, I guess. It hardly seems possible. What a ride it's been. Lunch at home. Dev

Sermon for IV Advent

St Barnabas', Havana -- Romans 16:25-27 , II Samuel 7:4, 8-16; Luke 1:26-28 For the last twenty years, I’ve always lived fairly close to the office from which I work, so I long ago fell into a weekday lunch hour routine wherein I tend to eat lunch at home, most of the time with micro-waved leftovers—and, I have to say, usually in front of the television. Several years ago, before I discovered TV on demand, and relied on old-fashioned channel surfing, I ran across the last forty minutes or so of a great old western from the ‘60s called  The Command . The main character is a physician who is the medical officer in an army cavalry unit sometime during the great westward migration in the nineteenth century. After an unfortunate skirmish with hostile natives, this doctor is the sole surviving officer, and, according to the rules, he very reluctantly assumes command. A crusty old sergeant, who knows a great deal more about military strategy than the doctor, grudgingly defers to

Saturday (O Clavis David)

Morning: Relaxing, reading, workout. Afternoon: Miscellaneous small work-related tasks. About 45 minutes spent in the office. Evening: Delightful dinner party with some people in the neighborhood. 

Friday (O Radix Jesse)

Usual AM routine. MP in the cathedral. Conferred with the Archdeacon on a pastoral-administrative issue. Began the process of trying to upload the video I spent so much time editing yesterday. I won't chronicle the details, but I was dealing with this on and off the rest of the day and into the evening.  See the results here . Via email and three telephone calls (in various parts of the day), dealt (not conclusively yet) with an emerging Nashotah House concern. Took a homily for the First Sunday after Christmas from many years ago and began the process of refurbishing for use this year at the cathedral. Lunch at home. With ongoing attention to items already mentioned at various points in the afternoon, I spent most of it doing scanning and electronic organizing of hard copy. With my new faster scanner, I'm not only dealing with new hard copy detritus as it accumulates, but going back into other paper records and digitizing them. This will be a long-term project. Intende

Thursday (O Adonai)

Customary Thursday morning weights and treadmill.  Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Reviewed and tweaked a draft of this Sunday's bulletin at St Barnabas', Havana. Reviewed (and responded to) via email an issue pertaining to my membership on the Living Church Foundation. Reviewed via email an administrative issue raised by a priest of the diocese. Developed and fleshed out the pre-existing bare bones of a homily for Christmas Eve. Turned them into a rough draft ready for refinement next week. Appointed a team of priests to review the protocols for regular clergy gatherings. There seemed to be some energy for changes in the routine when were last together about a month ago. Lunch at home. The afternoon--and a good portion of the evening--was devoted to wrestling with technology, which does not put me in a good humor. My goal was to make an incremental step in making the videos from last Lent's teaching series available on the website. However, both iMovie and my com

Wednesday (O Sapientia)

While still at home, I plotted out the tasks involved in preparing for my now-arranged Lenten teaching series at St Michael's, O'Fallon. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared for the midday Mass. Initiated telephone tag with another Nashotah House trustee regarding an issue of follow-through that we need to attend to. I successfully connected with him later in the day, and we have the situation in hand. Made a substantive email reply to a diocesan lay leader on a programmatic concern. We spoke by phone later in the day. Took a brisk walk down to South Grand Avenue and back. Responded via email to a priest regarding an administrative concern. Rolled up my homiletical sleeves and got to work fleshing out the broad strokes of an ordination sermon for Cameron Nations on January 2. Presided and preached the Eucharist for the ferial Wednesday in the third week of Advent. Lunch at home. Finished what I had earlier begun with the ordination sermon, ending up with an outl


Weekly task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Conferred with the Interim Provost on a range of emerging concerns. Conferred with the Archdeacon on a different range of emerging concerns. Reviewed and commented on a draft program for the ordination of Cameron Nations to the transitional diaconate on January 2. Spoke by phone at some length with the rector of Emmanuel, Champaign regarding some potential candidates for discernment toward ordination. Composed and printed a letter to C,M. Almy & Company explaining some ongoing issues with the crozier we bought from them less than three years ago for no small amount of money, the one I use every Sunday. Lunch at home. Thought about and then articulated in writing to the vicar of St Michael's, O'Fallon a proposed topic for the five-Wednesday teaching series I will be giving there this coming Lent. Responded by email to an issue raised by the Bishop of Tabora regarding his visit to the diocese next October

Third Sunday of Advent

Presided and preached the 7:30 and 10:00 liturgies at St Matthew's, Bloomington this morning. Good things happening there under the able pastoral leadership of Fr Dave Halt,with the assistance of Fr Bruce DeGooyer. It was fun to give a homily that proclaim that "we rejoice because we know that in the kingdom of God, Murphy's Law is repealed!" Delicious Chinese lunch after coffee hour with Fr Dave and Amy, along with the Rector's Warden and his wife.

Sermon for III Advent

St Matthew's, Bloomington -- John 1:6-8, 19-28 ; Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, I Thessalonians 5:12-28 When we’re in school, we’re required to learn all kinds of scientific principles and laws of nature. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”—that sort of thing. One law that we don’t learn in class, but which all of us know to be true by actual experience, is known as Murphy’s Law: “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” When I was getting ready to go to seminary in 1986, I bought my first computer. It was a used, first-generation IBM PC, the kind with two floppy disk drives—one for the software program, and one for the data. There was no hard drive. A short while into the semester, I got ahead of myself, and finished three five-page term papers before they were actually due. I had not yet even printed them out. So I wanted to be really, really careful about things, and lots of people had warned me about backing up my work. Enter Murphy’s Law. Between the unfamiliar

Saturday (St Lucy)

Relaxation ... reading ... exercise ... household puttering ... email processing ... dinner at Red Lobster on our way to Bloomington, where we are now camped out ahead of tomorrow visitation to St Matthew's.

Friday (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Usual weekday routine; MP in the cathedral. Conferred with the Interim Provost in his office on a range of matters. Conferred for a bit with the Archdeacon on a different range of matters. Utilized his notary status to execute some documents in connection with a real estate financing transaction one of our parishes in engaging in. Had a surprisingly positive telephone customer service interaction with United Airlines, whereby they rectified the problem caused by my inability to distinguish between AM and PM when booking air travel, and made the necessary reservation change without charging and arm and a leg--or anything, for that matter. I think the fact that I'm a pretty regular and loyal customer may have helped. Tied up the loose ends and otherwise refined, then printed, a working text for this Sunday's homily--two Masses at St Matthew's, Bloomington. Ran an errand, missed a turn, got caught by a train, and eventually got home for lunch. Replied via email to a cou


Back now from my retreat, and re-entering the grid. It was exactly what I needed it to be--the right balance of praying, walking, reading, reflecting, writing, and sleeping. I'm very grateful to the monks of St Gregory's Abbey in Three Rivers, Michigan for their hospitality.

Second Sunday of Advent

Very little pumps me up more than presiding at Holy Baptism. We had four at St Andrew's, Carbondale this morning, plus six confirmations, and about 80 people (by my count) in the room (which is really good for that parish). And I did NOT lower the average age when I walked in. Not even close. Kudos to their rector, Mother Kathryn Jeffrey for "bringing in the sheaves." The morning was capped off by a hospital visit to the seriously ill grandfather of one of the baptizands. What a blessing. I've got some personal retreat time scheduled this week, tomorrow through Thursday, up at the Benedictine community of St Gregory's Abbey in Three Rivers, Michigan. So I will be going dark in this space until Friday. May Advent blessings abound.

Sermon for Advent II

St Andrew's, Carbondale -- Mark 1:1-8 , Isaiah 40:1-11 Christ is coming. God is on the move, as we saw in the liturgy last Sunday, bringing an end to history, an end to reality as we know it, and also bringing a beginning to an age of perfect peace, justice, love, and harmony. We pray for it every day: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.” The season of Advent puts us in mind of that final coming of Christ, to make things all better. Christ is also coming, once again, as he has done a couple of thousand times now, in the “corporate memory” of his people, in the annual rhythm of the Church’s liturgical life, as we once again keep the holy feast of Christmas two-and-a-half weeks from now. When he comes—whether it’s at the end of history or in our hearts on Christmas, Jesus wants very much to save us. He wants to set us free from our bondage to sin and evil and death, and give us a taste of what human life is really supposed to be about. In the metaphorical language of two Sunday

Saturday (St Nicholas)

Leisurely Saturday morning, just hanging out with Brenda, cruising social media, reading the morning office, and eventually getting around to a weight and treadmill workout. A little reading, recreational organ playing, light email processing, and packing in the afternoon. A couple of minutes past 3pm and we were out the door headed for Carbondale. We arrived at the home of super-hostess Trish Guyon right at our 6:15 target time. Enjoyed a fabulous meal and wonderful camaraderie with member of the St Andrew's vestry and many of their spouses, along with their rector, Mother Kathryn Jeffrey. Looking forward to four baptisms and six confirmations in the morning.

Friday (St Clement of Alexandria)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Conceived and hatched a homily for the ordination of Cameron Nations to the transitional diaconate on January 2. Checked in with the Parish Administrator at Emmanuel, Champaign regarding the program for said ordination, and left a voicemail with the rector on a couple of other concerns. Arranged for a modest contribution from my discretionary fund to the College for Bishops. Developed and made appropriate notes on a strategy for recruiting vocations to ordained diaconal ministry in the diocese. We have some great deacons, but not enough of them. Lunch at home ... after which I just stayed there, taking a rare afternoon off, and appeasing my puritan work ethic with the reminder that it will be a long weekend of work (Carbondale Saturday evening and Sunday morning).

Thursday (St John of Damascus)

Customary Thursday morning quality time with the Bowflex and the treadmill. Running slower than usual, so it was nearly 10 before I made it into the office. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Responded to a couple of late-arriving emails. Met with an aspiring postulant for Holy Orders, who has traverses an exotic and unlikely path to get to where he sat in my office today. I had to scrounge, but I finally located an electronic file for a diaconal ordination program that I promised to the office staff at Emmanuel, Champaign so they can get started on preparing for the ordination of Cameron Nations, now less than a month away. Shot off a couple of administrivial emails. Attended the midday Mass in the cathedral, just because John of Damascus is one of my faces. Lunch at home. Made a final tabulation of the amount we've collected toward helping with rebuilding expenses after the dormitory fire at St Peter's School in Tabora (Tanzania), then hoofed it down to Illinois Nation


Morning Prayer at home. Stayed home to take part in a 90-minute video conference call on some national church business. Drove in to the office. Prepared for my customary midday Mass duties. Took care of some Nashotah House business via email. Put some tasks in play pertaining to my commitment to lead the Ash Wednesday quiet day at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA next February. Presided and preached at the liturgy for Wednesday in the first week of Advent. Visions of the celestial banquet--a prize on which to keep our eyes during Advent. Lunch from La Bamba, eaten at home. Formatted, refined, and printed a working script of my sermon for this Sunday (St Andrew's, Carbondale). Reviewed recent credit card statements to categorize the charges for accounting purposes. Responded to an email inquiry from our UTO coordinator. Routine processing of hard copy items in my physical inbox. Evening Prayer in the office.

Tuesday (Channing Moore Williams)

I am neither a technophile nor am I obsessed with technology for its own sake. But I enjoy what technology can help me accomplish, and it is easy to grow dependent on it for the routine activities of daily living. That places one in a very vulnerable position, however, because technology will fail from time to time, and the more dependent one is on it, the more havoc its failure can wreak. There was some havoc in my day today. The first hint came when I looked at my email first thing in the morning, and there was a couple of posts to a listserv--both from other bishops, actually--about how an iOS app that made the daily office lectionary available was not operating. I didn't pay much attention until I sat down in the cathedral nave for the Psalm at Morning Prayer, clicked on my iPad lectionary app, and saw ... nothing. Quickly it was apparent that the original purveyor of the app wrote the code through the liturgical year that just ended a few days ago, then walked away from it