Showing posts from February, 2015


Up and out in time to open the Roundhouse for a 10am Standing Committee meeting, which I then attended. They interviewed a candidate for ordination to the transitional diaconate (and duly certified him for such), considered and approved two requests for consent to episcopal elections (West Texas and Southeast Florida), and then acted as my Council of Advice on sundry matters. Afterward, I had brief private meetings with two of its members. Spent the afternoon around the house on various small projects, which included worrying about how predicted snowfall would affect my planned visitation to St Bartholomew's, Granite City tomorrow. In the evening, as snow began to fall, we attended a theater production at the Hoogland Theater.

Friday (George Herbert)

Task planning and a little blog reading at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Left a text message with Bishop Godfrey (Peru) with a question about tentative travel plans this summer. Worked on electronically collating and organizing General Ordination Exam essays from our three candidates who took them so as to facilitate getting other eyes on them to the end of second-guessing the assessments of the official readers. (If that sounds turgid ... the whole enterprise is turgid). Took a phone call from a capital fundraising consultant trying to drum up business. It seems to be the season for such calls. Spent some quality time with commentaries, both ancient and modern, on Psalm 22, in preparation for preaching on Palm Sunday. Lunch from the Chinese section of the to-go kitchen at HyVee, eaten at home. Attended via email to a bit of business regarding somebody in the front end of the ordination process. Responded to an email from another capital fundraising consultant with wh


Woke up to the news of overnight snowfall, which meant I was soon thereafter behind a snowblower. Fortunately, with such equipment, clearing the driveway is not a very long job. While still at home, I processed (mostly into tasks) the usual pile of email that accumulates when I'm traveling. Upon arriving at the cathedral-office complex, there was a small but substantive list of administrative and pastoral items that invited themselves to be considered in consultation with the Archdeacon. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared to preside and preach at the midday Mass in the cathedral chapel. Took care of some minor hard-copy flotsam and jetsam that appeared on my desk while I was away (e.g. "Letters Dimissory" for a priest who is leaving the diocese, signing a consent form for the election of a bishop in another diocese, etc.). Attended, via email and phone, to an emerging pastoral/administrative matter (one of those I had earlier conferred with the Archdeacon ab


I was supposed to leave the Orlando area by air around noon, in time to land in St Louis late in the afternoon and be at the first Lenten teaching series event at St Michael's, O'Fallon. But word came via text from Delta in the pre-dawn hours that my flight from Orlando to Atlanta was canceled due to snow (of all things!) in Atlanta. They rerouted me through Cincinnati, but later in the day, which meant I missed the event at St Michael's. (Fr Wetmore and I worked out a Plan B by email.) The silver lining was that I got to spend more time at the meeting I was in Orlando for in the first place. It was valuable time, well spent.

St Matthias

Productive day at the Canterbury Retreat and Conference Center in Oviedo, Florida with the Communion Partners Group of bishops, along with our "Gracious Restraint" Canadian colleagues. We are honored to be joined as well by two distinguished primates of the Anglican Communion. In odd moments, I was also able to process a fair number of emails. It's good to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.


Each of the travel commitments I made several months ago seemed like a good idea at the time. But they have combined to make me feel like a visitor in my own home. Anyway ... I left the house at 6:30 AM in order to make a 9:50 AM departure from St. Louis. All went well, and I am now safely ensconced in the conference center of the diocese of Central Florida, near Orlando. I'm here to join a gathering of the Communion Partners group of bishops. some of our Canadian counterparts are with us, along with two primates from Africa and Asia.

First Sunday in Lent

We "beat down Satan under feet" with verve this morning at the Episcopal Parish of Alton (Trinity Chapel at 8:15 and St Paul's Church at 10:30), where they have apparently not prayed the Great Litany in living memory. It generally got rave reviews. Home mid-afternoon for some much-needed rest before going airborne again Monday morning.

Homily for Lent I

Episcopal Parish of Alton -- Mark 1:9-13, Genesis 9:8-17, I Peter 3:18-22 (Acknowledgements: Aidan Kavanagh,  A Rite of Passage , and Anne Field,  From Darkness to Light: How One Became a Christian in the Early Church ) Let’s take a trip—a trip not only to a different place, but to a different time. It’s the fourth century A.D., and you live in the Roman Empire. Three years ago, you came to a decision in your own heart that you wanted to become a Christian. When your parents were young, that decision could have meant imminent torture and death for you. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case, but, as you are about to find out, it will still “cost you your life,” in a very real sense. You made your decision because the family next door is Christian. You noticed a hard-to-describe quality about them—peace, authenticity, humility, consistent kindness—and when you told them how impressed you were by this quality, they told you about Jesus and what he meant to them. Eventually, you ac


Upon awakening, the wisdom of yesterday's decision to cancel this morning's scheduled Diocesan Council meeting was apparent, as there was nearly a foot of fresh snow on the ground. After allowing myself to just laze around for a while, I suited up appropriately and engaged the snow blower (first time this season). After a few hiccups, it started, and I was able to make short work of the very fine powdery snow that lay on the driveway. As the day progressed, the temperature rose enough to melt off even the detritus of the morning's efforts. That meant that, by 4 o'clock, when we rolled out for points south, it was completely clear. The same can be said for all the roads between Springfield and Alton, which was suffering from freezing rain only last night. We arrived at the (surprisingly now former) Holiday Inn in time to rest up a bit before enjoying dinner on the same site with the vestry, search committee, and assorted spouses of the Episcopal Parish of Alton (St Paul&


The second of only four "normal" weekdays in the office during the month of February. Task planning and substantive work on this Sunday's sermon (Alton Parish) while still at home. Brief devotions in the (extremely cold) cathedral; Morning Prayer in the office. Made the decision to cancel tomorrow's scheduled meeting of the Diocesan Council after examining the forecast for road conditions. Consulted with the Archdeacon and the Administrator over a range of issues. Finishing refining and printing Sunday's homily. Took a planned phone call from the (new) Dean of Nashotah House. Fleshed out and fine-tuned my working notes for the first session of my Lenten teaching series (beginning next Wednesday evening) at St Michael's, O'Fallon ("From Getting Wet to Getting Saved: Occupying Our Baptismal Vows"). Lunch from McD's (hot mustard is back!), eaten at home. Fleshed out, refined, and submitted the next post of my to the Covenant blog , wh


A day mostly devoted to travel, though I did spend some time in the morning reading and making notes on another ordinand's General Ordination Exam. On the airport shuttle a little after 11am, and on the ground in Springfield around 5:30pm. Lately, it's felt like I am as familiar with the B, C, and F concourses at O'Hare as a commuter is with his or her regular train station. Anyway, back home now for two nights in a row, and three of the next four.

Ash Wednesday

It was a joyful privilege to serve Trinity School for Ministry today. I was honored to preside and preach at the Eucharist, give two quiet day meditations, hear confessions, talk with faculty and students, and get a tour of the campus. For an introvert, though, it was a workout, so I'm grateful for the opportunity to rest in the evening. I did, however, process a few emails and read and make notes on the General Ordination Exam responses of one of our folks in the ordination process.

Sermon for Ash Wednesday

Trinity School for Ministry -- Isaiah 58:1-12   Ash Wednesday is about facing the fact that we are sinners, all living under a sentence of death. We're not sinners because of how we've lived our lives, although we have all said and done things which give ample testimony to that fact. Rather, it's a matter of simply having been born a human being, a condition inherited from our primeval forebears who opted to put themselves in the place of God. We will, in a few minutes, receive a black mark on our foreheads as a reminder of our sinfulness and our mortality. Then, the rest of Lent—the rest of our lives, actually—will be devoted to walking the road that God tells us leads out of our universal human predicament, the road that leads to redemption and immortality. Part of that road leads through a territory called repentance. Before we receive our black marks, we're going to do some public repenting. We're going to get down on our knees and tell God we're so

Shrove Tuesday (Janani Luwum)

After about ten hours at home, six of which were spent sleeping, I was back in the friendly skies at 6am, headed for Pittsburgh, where I look forward to giving the Ash Wednesday quiet day at Trinity School for Ministry. Arrived midday, grabbed some lunch, then attacked my task list via an internet connection. Lovely dinner in the evening with Dean Justyn Terry, along with some faculty and staff members.


Mostly a travel day, with some sermon prep, email processing, and task planning squeezed in here and there. Our departure itinerary from Charleston was at a humane hour (11:30), so we had time for a civilized morning of packing, breakfast, and a little work, before having to head to the airport. Gassed up the rental car, turned it in, checked our bags, and boarded, all in good order. The view of a frozen Lake Michigan on approach to O'Hare was stunning. Our four hour layover was productively spent, thanks to the wifi connection available in the United Club. I feel like my grip on things is a little more secure, which is a relief. The major angst of the day was when we found finding a taxi at SPI after claiming our luggage inordinately difficult. (The YFNBmobile was parked at the Amtrak station owing to our outbound flight being canceled last Friday morning.) All ended well, but it was frustrating in the moment. Home literally just for a few hours, because, airline gods willing, I&#

Last Sunday after the Epiphany

At Holy Communion in Charleston, SC, one of my two DEPO parishes. Peached at the 8am Low Mass; presided, preached, and confirmed (five adults) at the 10:30 Solemn High. Spoke at the adult forum between services. Outstanding music, glorious liturgy--a wonderful way to celebrate the splendor of our Lord's transfiguration as we look into the valley of Lent. Brenda and I are both uplifted by our interaction with this fine parish. We took the afternoon to rest, do a little work, and walk up King Street for a fine seafood dinner. More work done in the evening. Gotta love the internet. Heading home in the morning. (BTW, it was not warm here, by any definition. Only less cold.)

Sermon for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany

Holy Communion, Charleston (SC) -- Mark 9:2-9 Most people can testify, at one time or another, to an intermediate state of consciousness that is neither fully waking nor fully dreaming. In my own experience, it happens most frequently either in those groggy moments after I have awakened in the morning, but before I get out of bed, or during the day, when I sink into the chair at my desk and close my eyes for a few moments without allowing myself to actually take a nap. At those times, it seems like we can suddenly, though fleetingly, grasp complex realities in a single flash of intuitive insight. All sorts of visions and fantasies and intimations of wonder and beauty that are beyond words dance across the stage of our imagination, teasing us with possibilities that are both greater and clearer than either our aspirations when we are awake or our dreams when we are asleep. These are premonitions of glory, almost subliminal glimpses of reality as it should be and could be and—da

Saturday (Ss Cyril & Methodius)

Up and out of our Charleston (historic district) hotel in time to be at the Church of the Holy Communion for a 10am meeting with tomorrow's confirmands--five adults, aged 25 to 90. They were gracious enough to spend the better part of two hours with me, as we talked about the shape and contours of Christian discipleship, their commitment to which they will be bearing witness in the morning. Then back to the hotel, from which Brenda and I walked a few blocks to find some lunch (at a brew pub/BBQ place we had visited on each of our last two visits). More walking around with no particular purpose. Then some rest at the hotel, and time for a scheduled phone conversation with our senior seminarian. In the evening, Fr Sanderson and Fiona took us out to dinner. Ironically, we had to drive off the peninsula and into a Mt Pleasant strip mall, owing to the confluence of our visit with Valentine's Day and a wildlife festival in Charleston.

Friday (Absalom Jones)

Using a small-market airport is convenient but risky. As we were packing late last night an email came through that our 6am departing flight to Chicago was canceled. After considering several options, we booked ourselves on the 6:32 train and changed our reservation to a later flight from Chicago to Charleston. Took advantage of Amtrak's internet connection to get some work en route to Union Station, and had a substantive phone conversation with the Dean of Nashotah House. Once in Chitown, we elected to take a taxi to O'Hare rather than deal with the CTA Blue Line on a cold day. Once checked in and through security, we had time for a simple but leisurely meal, and some more productivity. We touched down in Charleston around 5pm local time, picked up our rental car, and made our way to the Doubletree in the historic district. After settling in, we walked over to King Street and got reacquainted with a wonderful BBQ joint that we discovered two years ago on our first visit. Look


The first of only three weekdays in the office during the month of February. Usual AM routine; MP in the cathedral. Conferred with the Archdeacon over an emerging situation in one of our parishes. Prepared to preside and preach at the midday Mass. Conferred with the interim Provost over an administrative matter. Refined and printed my homily for this Sunday, at the Church of the Holy Communion in Charleston, SC. Met with an individual in the ordination process to take counsel together over plans going forward. Dashed off an email to somebody else in the ordination process. Made arrangements to cancel a planned clergy day in June. This was in light of a conversation we had yesterday at the clergy retreat. Presided and preached at a votive Mass "Of the Holy Eucharist." Lunch at home; leftovers. Met with a delegation from the cathedral Chapter to iron out the last wrinkles in a Letter of Agreement for the Provost-elect. Rough prep for the first session of my Lenten t

Wednesday (Our Lady of Lourdes)

Began the day in Belleville as we wound up the clergy retreat: Morning Prayer ... breakfast ... a lively discussion of how we would like to order and configure clergy gatherings going forward ... an equally lively discussion of some presenting issues at this summer's General Convention ... Mass for the lesser feast of Our Lady of Lourdes ... lunch, which concluded the retreat. I then logged in to a conference call of a committee of the Living Church Foundation board, which I then took leave from a couple of times to clear out of my room and pack the car and begin to make my way out of Belleville and toward Carbondale, including a stop for gas. I was on the call when it concluded 90 minutes after beginning. Arrived in Carbondale in time for a 3:30 meeting with the rector and a couple of key lay leaders of St Andrew's to discuss some issues and opportunities in the life of that congregation that is enjoying a growth spurt these days. Then I swung by the hospital to look in on Fr


On retreat with the clergy of the diocese: Morning Prayer ... breakfast ... 2nd Address ("Christ is risen") ... Mass ... Lunch ... afternoon free time (six 30-minute private conferences for me) ... Evensong ... dinner ... 3rd Address ("Christ will come again") ... social time.


Usual early AM internet surfing and email processing ... Bowflex and treadmill workout ... did some logistical and homiletical prep for the clergy retreat --- ran a small errand ... packed in time to be on the road toward King's House in Belleville by 2:30 ... got settled in at the clergy pre-Lenten retreat, attended Evensong and dinner ... presented the first of my three retreat addresses.

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

I learned this morning that Abraham Lincoln won the freedom of a slave as an attorney participating in litigation that took place in St Paul's, Pekin--though it was in an earlier building, since the one currently in use wasn't erected until 1875. None of those attending this morning could personally remember the incident, however. In any case, the "new" St Paul's is one of the prettiest churches in the diocese.

Sermon for Epiphany V

St Paul's, Pekin -- Mark 1:29-39 , I Corinthians 9:16-23 I enjoy history. I enjoy reading about, and seeing movies about, famous and important events and people. It is sometimes tempting for me, as I suspect it has been for many of you, to fantasize about living in some other time in history. When I get grumpy about the state of the world, or society, or the church, it’s easy to entertain the notion that I would have been more appropriately born in some earlier era. What brings me out of that fantasy, however, is my knowledge of another side of history, which is concerned not with famous people and events, but with the ordinary details of people’s lives in times past. I’m aware that I would be very quickly unhappy with the basic amenities of life—sanitation, heating and cooling, clothing, communication, transportation, and food. But the one factor that would outweigh all others in my decision to not go back in time, if the opportunity presented itself to me, is the quality


Slept in ... Morning Prayer in my recliner ... worked through a slew of emails that accumulated during my trip to Florida; made tasks out of many of them ... ran an errand to the dry cleaners ... worked out on Bowflex, then took a long and vigorous walk on an unseasonably warm and beautiful day ... showered, lunched, napped (something that began as I was held hostage by a sleeping cat on my lap) ... refined and printed my sermon for tomorrow (St Paul's, Pekin) ... dealt with sundry administrative and pastoral matters via email ... dinner from Popeye's, which Brenda went and got ... more administrivia, developed sermon notes for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany (Holy Communion in Charleston, SC, one of my DEPO parishes) to certified "rough draft" form.


Reconvened with the Nashotah trustees at 9am and we finished our work around 11:15. I have high hope that we have charted a sound course as we try to negotiate the parameters of our work together. When dedicated people come together around the welfare of an institution they love, the moment can be fraught. Nashotah House is the only seminary available to Episcopalian candidates for ordination that will soak them in the Catholic and Benedictine inheritance of Anglicanism and send them out not only with the skills but with the sense of self that will enable them, more often than not, to be effective as priests and pastoral leaders. If you care about that end, then please support one of the major means toward that end, and give generously to Nashotah House. Having a small amount of extra time on my hands (we had expected to work until noon), I caught an early shuttle to the airport and deferred eating lunch until I was all checked in. The more I travel, the more grateful I am for TSA

Thursday (Martyrs of Japan)

More of the same. I wouldn't call it quite "grueling," but it was persistently demanding. Our facilitator led us through some very sensitive territory that touched on some quite raw nerves and had the potential to be explosive. It wasn't, though some very frank observations were shared. My sense is that we made believable progress as a seminary board both in our ability to be courageously truthful with one another and to add further to the developing framework of a new and much healthier way of working together for the good of Nashotah House, to the best interests of which all of us are committed.

Wednesday (St Cornelius)

Full day of sometimes intense and always demanding work with the Nashotah House board of trustees, meeting at the Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota. We have both internal and external challenges. The outcome we look for (a well-governed and well-led thriving seminary) makes the effort worthwhile. But it's not a walk in the park ... even in beautiful southwest Florida.

Tuesday (St Anskar)

If it's February, I must be traveling. Alarm set for 4:20am in order to be up, showered, dressed, and out for the 6am United flight to O'Hare. Cooled my jets there for a couple of hours, then boarded another flying tube pointed in the direction of Sarasota. (Getting on the plane was like walking into an Episcopal church on a Sunday morning; pretty sure, at 63, that I lowered the average age.) Got settled in my hotel, took a long walk to find some lunch, and began to prepare mentally for the next few days. I'm here until midday Friday for a special meeting of the Nashotah House board of trustees. We're wrangling with some challenging stuff. Our time together began with a gracious dinner at the home of Fr Fred and Linda Robinson. Fred is rector of the Church of the Redeemer, which is hosting the meeting. More anon.

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

As a matter of policy, I try to schedule my close-to-home parish visitations in the dead of winter, and today was an illustration of why. We got only about a half an inch of slush in Springfield, but it was much worse elsewhere in the diocese. So I was glad my trip to Christ Church was only about three miles. Preached and celebration 8 and 10:15. Attendance was affected somewhat by the weather, but the word of God was proclaimed and the sacrament celebrated. 

Sermon for Epiphany IV

Christ Church, Springfield -- Mark 1:21-28 , Deuteronomy 18:15-20 It’s amazing how comforting words can be. A distraught child brings a broken toy to a parent. The parent says, “Don’t worry, Daddy will fix it,” and the child’s eyes immediately dry up. We go to the doctor with a mysterious complaint. The doctor looks us over and tells us calmly, “It’s nothing serious. We can treat it, and you’ll feel fine in no time.” A great weight of anxiety immediately melts away, our breathing relaxes, our heart rate settles down, and color returns to our cheeks. A wife screws up her courage to confront her husband about something in his behavior that is really bothering her. He responds with complete lack of defensiveness. “Honey, I’m so sorry. I’ve really been a jerk. I promise, things are going to change, beginning right now.” Talk about relief! It is, indeed, amazing how comforting words can be. Yet, when we stop and think, it’s not the words themselves that are comforting, but the expe