Showing posts from April, 2015


Customary Thursday morning weights and treadmill workout.  Some residual technical issues with my car (getting to it play nice with my iPhone) delayed my departure. Morning Prayer fells through the cracks today.  Met with a couple of lay people from one of our Eucharistic Communities over an emerging administrative and pastoral issue.  Ran (well, I drove, actually) up to Isringhausen to inquire re my technical issues. As invariably happens, when their tech savant did the very same things I had tried, they worked for him. At least it got done.  Took a substantial phone call from a lay member of one of our communities bringing me up to speed on an urgent pastoral concern.  Got to work on fleshing out, editing, and printing a homily for tomorrow night's ordination of David Wells to the transitional diaconate.  Lunch from La Bamba, eaten at home.  Completed the sermon work I had begun before lunch.  Took a substantial phone call regarding some Nashotah business.  Attended to

Wednesday (St Catherine of Siena)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral (Brenda having driven me in, since I was still carless). Refined and printed my homily for Easter IV (this Sunday at St George's, Belleville). Responded to three disparate situations, relatively briefly, via email. Allowed myself to get sucked into an exchange on the venerable General Convention listserv that I've been a member of since 2002. My efforts were probably ineffective. Walked up to Isringhausen to retrieve my car. Lunch from KFC, eaten at home. Spoke by phone (at my request) with a fellow trustee, and committee chair, of Nashotah House. Refined and printed my homily for Easter VI (May 9 & 10 in Marion and Carbondale). Took a close look at the latest draft of revised charter and bylaws for Nashotah House. Made a few notes. Retrofitted and repurposed some homiletical material from many years ago for use as a sermon when I visit Redeemer, Cairo for Easter VII (May 17). Attended to some minor General Convention-related ch


Task planning for the week at home. (Way more in the queue than I can possibly accomplish. Must triage.)  Made a bank deposit on the way in, then dropped the YFNBmobile off at the dealership for a scheduled appointment. The "brain" that controls the display through which I access the navigation system, radio, and all bluetooth connections (including my phone) has a tendency to crash and reboot, so they're replacing the part. Walked the few blocks back down to the office.  Ran into the Provost, Fr Hook, and did a quick check-in on how things are going for him.  Devotions in the cathedral; Morning Prayer in the office.  Debriefed with the Archdeacon on some emerging issues.  Conceived and hatched a homily for this Friday's ordination of David Wells to the transitional diaconate.  Got to work producing a draft of the liturgy program for the institution of Fr Muriuki at Redeemer, Cairo on May 16. They're taking care of virtually all the details except this one

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Packed and out of the Hampton Inn in Yazoo City, MS by 9am. Down to Trinity Church for 9:15 prayers with the rector, a visiting priest, and a lay leader. Then I led an adult education session that covered mostly the same ground as my recent post on Covenant. It was then my joy to preside, preach, baptize (1), and confirm (3). Following the liturgy, there was a festive potluck lunch. What gracious hospitality we received. At 1pm straight up, we hit the road, thinking there would be no need to spend another away from home. We were correct, as we pulled into our driveway about nine and a half hours later, and that included a dinner stop at Ruby Tuesday (Brenda's favorite) in Collinsville. The temperature dropped about 40 degrees en route!

Sermon for Easter IV

Trinity Church, Yazoo City, MS -- John 10:11-18 Life is uncertain and unpredictable. No surprise there, right? The longer we live in this world, the more concretely we know that reality. So, as a way of coping, we instinctively learn to hedge our bets, to keep our options open for as long as we can. A big part of the economic crisis that we endured for several years beginning in the fall of 2008 came from people trying to do just that: hedge their bets and reserve their options. That’s where the expression “hedge fund” comes from, and it’s the principle that lies underneath those incomprehensible financial instruments known as “derivatives” that were the culprits in that financial crisis that led to an economic crisis. And it’s not at all hard to understand what makes people do this sort of thing. There is a cacophony of competing voices out there giving us advice, presuming to give us the straight facts on this or that, trying to make us trust them. If you have a Facebook account


We had the morning to ourselves (which I used for a combination of relaxation and email processing), and were picked up for lunch by Fr George and Jill Woodliff. After lunch, Brenda went shopping (lots of quaint curios in a town like Yazoo City) and I worked a bit on my Cuba travelogue. Between 2:30 and 4:00 I met with Fr Woodliff on a range of concerns, then met for an hour or so with tomorrow's three confirmands and the parents/godparents of the little girl being baptized. After yet another brief period of downtime at the hotel, we were picked up for dinner at the home of a parishioner who is also a talented chef and restaurant owner, so the fried catfish was delectable, and the company of vestry members and spouses delightful. Looking forward to worshiping with them tomorrow.


Completely a travel day. We were packed and out the door right at 10am, and covered most of the length of I-55 in a southerly direction. Now ensconced at the Hampton Inn in Yazoo City, Mississippi, where we look forward to spending some quality time with the good people of Trinity Church here. By the leave of the Bishop of Mississippi, I look after Trinity under the HOB's Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) protocols.

Thursday (St George)

Task planning at home for my one day in the office this week.  Dropped my car off at the dealer for service; walked the six blocks or so down Second Street to the office.  Consulted with the Archdeacon over some emerging pastoral/administrative issues in a couple of parishes.  Stopped by the cathedral office to welcome Fr Andy Hook, just taking up his duties as Provost.  Morning Prayer in the cathedral.  Talked with the rector of one of our parishes over an emerging pastoral issue.  Talked with Fr James Muriuki, Priest-in-Charge of Redeemer, Cairo over some of the details of his upcoming installation.  Refined and printed a working text for my homily this Sunday.  Walked back up to Isringhausen Imports, but my car wasn't quite ready, so I cooled my jets there for about 40 minutes.  Picked up an Italian beef sandwich from Chi-Town's Finest and took it home to eat.  Went for my semi-annual teeth cleaning and dental checkup.  Took care of a small bit of the large task


A day of travel, and a frustrating one at that. Everything went smoothly on the front end. I left my hotel just before 8am, drove uneventfully to DFW, fueled and turned in my rental car, checked in and boarded my flight to Chicago, all on time and without incident. I deplaned at O'Hare on schedule, grabbed some lunch, bought a pair of shoes (a planned expedition at Johnston & Murphy), and headed to the United Club for what I thought would be about 2.5 hours. There I processed several emails (always an available task) and got some reading done. After a while, however, the messages started to trickle in about delays to my flight to Springfield, beginning with 45 minutes, due to a delay of our aircraft getting in from it's previous trip (Traverse City, MI). By the time everything played out, that 45 minutes had stretched into 3.5 hours, and it was after 9:00 before I was in my car and headed home. United Airlines did not make me a happy customer today.

Tuesday (St Anselm)

Arrived at the Church of the Incarnation for 7:30 Morning Prayer, then on to the semi-annual meeting of the Living Church Foundation board of directors. We finished mid-afternoon, whereupon I repaired to my hotel for a much-needed nap, after which I processed a batch of emails and then joined a couple of my colleagues for an haute cuisine Mexican diner. Making my way home tomorrow.


I am happy to announce that I expect the second half of 2015 to involve considerably less travel than the first half has. And with that hopeful prognostication ... I am writing this from a hotel room in Dallas, where I am attending a semi-annual meeting of the board of directors of the Living Church Foundation. I flew in this afternoon. We gathered at a restaurant for dinner tonight and will convene for our working session tomorrow at the Church of the Incarnation. The Living Church, in its range of ministry, is one of the real points of light in the Episcopal Church (and beyond) today.

Third Sunday of Easter

Here's a group shot from this morning's luminous liturgy at the Chapel of St John the Divine in Champaign. Pictured with YFNB are those who were baptized, confirmed, and received--along with some parents and spouses, and, of course, Fr Sean Ferrell, the very able priest and pastor of that community. The chapel was comfortably full, the music was (as always) awesome, and it was wonderful to be in a parish with such a low average age. It was worth hitting the road right at 6am in order to get there for their early liturgy. Home around 3:00, after a lunch stop in Decatur.

Homily for Easter III

Chapel of St John the Divine, Champaign -- Luke 24:36b-48, Acts 3:12-19,  I John 3:1-7 Episcopalians are accustomed to throwing around in-house jargon like “high church” and “low church” and “broad church” and the like, and that’s a sport that I have myself participated in many times. Usually, what we’re referring to with these terms is liturgical style, and, by that standard, the Chapel of St John the Divine certainly stands in the “high church” lineage. Incense, chanting, icons, holy water, a music program in the English cathedral tradition—it all adds up. But this morning I’d like to offer you a different take on “high church,” one that doesn’t have anything to do with the  accouterments  of worship. Let me begin to unfold this for you by posing a simple question: Where did you first learn about Jesus? Now, maybe it was literally “in church”—it would surprise me if that were not the case for some among us here this morning. But, if it wasn’t precisely in a church building a


This was a first in my experience--the agenda for the Provincial Synod had us convening a business session at 8:30 and breaking .... for brunch, no less ... between 10:30 and 11:30. It worked fairly well, but, I have to confess, my stomach was rumbling about an hour before the meal, so I slipped out and got a granola bar. The subject matter covered a report on the Congregational Development Institute, revisions to the bylaws of the province, and the election of new officers. After brunch, the Presiding Bishop made an appearance, spoke for about thirty minutes, and then entertained questions. Her remarks are always well-prepared and carefully crafted, but the content often contains a zinger. Today's zinger (well, one of about four, actually, but the only one I'll write about here) was a clear and unambiguous--one might even say, passionate--call for the revision of the Book of Common Prayer. As one who is quite fond of the present Prayer Book, and who came into the Episcopal Chu


It was a leisurely start to the morning at the Sheraton Chicago O'Hare, since many of the attendees at the provincial synod I'm here for were just driving in from various quarters today. I was a joy to have breakfast with my friend the Bishop of Northern Indiana and two of my clergy colleagues from my time in that diocese. The synod was called to order at 10:00, and, after some opening remarks by our (outgoing) president, the rest of the morning was devoted to table groups (we were assigned to tables, and not allowed to cluster with others from the our own diocese). We each took turns talking about our respective dioceses--what's going on that's exciting and encouraging, and what's going on that's concerning and challenging. We were then allowed to proceed to more free-ranging discussion about whatever organically came up--mission, ministry, liturgy, whatever. I had made the decision during breakfast to absent myself from the afternoon session (racism and divers


Up and out in time to catch the 6:32am Lincoln Service Amtrak train north to Chicago. While en route I took advantage of the wi-fi to get some work done, plotting sermon preparation tasks for Sundays in June, July, and August. This involves looking over old material and discerning whether something can be recycled or whether I need to start from scratch. It broke about 50/50 this go-round. Between 10:30 and 1:00 I was an Northwestern Memorial Hospital for a routine follow-up visit since the hardware they put in my chest two years ago is part of a clinical trial. Two train rides later I was in Logan Square having a late lunch with my son. Believe it or not, we went to a Cuban place? Back on the CTA Blue Line train for the airport-adjacent suburb of Rosemont, where I am ensconced at the Sheraton. Tonight was a working dinner for Province V bishops. Tomorrow and Saturday are consumed by the triennial provincial synod. However, the Cubs are playing at home both days, so let's see how I


Task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Did a quick bit of pastoral care by email. Did some planning and made a phone call to advance the cause of a short clergy conference in November (3-4, if that affects you). Spent the rest of the morning taking my Easter IV homily (St George's, Belleville) from the stage of notes-toward-a-message to rough draft of text. Dropped a load off at the cleaners, grabbed some TG to go, and brought it home to eat. Attended to a task (drafting a letter) that I volunteered for when the Communion Partner bishops were together in late February. Took a couple of more small steps forward toward planning a visit to our companion diocese of Peru in July. Tackled the learning curve of WordPress in order to post the videos of this year's Lenten teaching series presentations at St Michael's, O'Fallon.  See it here.  Did another bit of pastoral care by email. Took a head-clearing walk west to Spring Street, south to South Gran


From the long list of way more things to do than I will have time for this week, I chose 15. By day's end, ten were done. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Debriefed a bit with the Archdeacon and the Administrator on my trip to Cuba. Refined, edited, and submitted my next post for the  Covenant  blog. Look for it to appear a couple of weeks from now. Prepared a draft agenda for the regular spring meeting of the Nashotah House Board of Trustees next month. Submitted it to the Secretary for his input. Attended to some administrative issues pertaining to setting the stage of our transitional deacon to the priesthood in a timely manner. Tweaked, refined, and printed my homily for this Sunday (St John the Divine, Champaign). Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Headed to the Prairie Heart Institute for a scheduled stress test. (I could have told them there's plenty of stress in my life, right?!) Somehow I didn't get the message that the procedure (actually, a complex of

Easter Day

Up and out to be back at St Paul's just past 7:30. After a few minutes of panic because someone had, with good intentions, "straightened up" my sermon manuscript from the pulpit last night, all ended well, and both the 8am and 10:30am liturgies went smoothly, with YFNB presiding and preaching. Between services, there was an Easter egg hunt for children, which was very well subscribed. We passed a very pleasant afternoon at the home of some parishioners, then home to watch the MLB season opener between the Cubs and the Cardinals. I'm going to be dark in this space for the next week. Tomorrow evening I fly to Miami. Then, on Tuesday morning, accompanied by ten of my Class of 2011 colleague bishops, I will catch a charter flight to Havana, Cuba. This is our annual week of collective continuing education, abetted by the fact that the Bishop of Cuba is an honorary member of our class, having gone through the Living Our Vows ("baby bishops school") training w

Easter Homily

Springfield Cathedral Forty-some odd days ago, on Ash Wednesday, Father Tucker solemnly invited you all, those who were here, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent. Well, our Lenten observance in now ended. Time has passed. Maybe quickly, maybe slowly, but it has passed.  Lent has passed, and Easter is here. Lent has passed. Words like "pass" and "passing" and "passage" are rich with meaning, because they refer to things that we do all the time. They talk about movement, progress (or regress, as the case may be), growth (or decay, as the case may be), but in any case, change. "Teacher, can i have a hall pass to go to the bathroom?"   "Psst! Kevin has cooties; pass in on." "Do you think you'll pass the test next week?"   "Hello? I'd like to book passage on your next Caribbean cruise." "Thank-you for offering, but I think I'll pass." "I w

Holy Saturday/Easter Eve

Up and out early for a Saturday, arriving at the office/cathedral complex around 8:30. By 9:00, most of the members of the Altar Guild and Flower Guild had arrived, and we were ready to start the morning's work. But first we gathered in the choir for the brief but arresting Proper Liturgy for Holy Saturday, with an ancient anonymous homily about the harrowing of hell in the place of the sermon. This is one of my very favorite things to do. I managed to putter, either in the church or in the office, until a little past noon, at which time I came home for lunch after ordering online from Smashburger. Back to the cathedral (via Walgreens to pick up some flashlights and batteries for tonight) in time for a 2pm appointment to prepare a very bright nine-year old girl for her first Holy Communion, then a 3pm rehearsal for the participants in the Easter Vigil liturgy. Around 4:15, I was able to come home, where I napped, watched a little TV, ate dinner and then headed back with Brenda for

Good Friday

At the cathedral/office complex at the usual hour, but I was alone among the usual denizens of the office today. We were officially "closed." Initial puttering in the cathedral nave and sacristy. Connie Lynn arrived shortly thereafter to begin preparations for tonight, so we did some consulting. Morning Prayer in my office. Aside from occasional trips to check on sacristy goings-on, I spent the rest of the morning, and part of the afternoon, working on a post for the covenant blog that is due soon.  I observed the prescribed fast today, so there was no lunch. But it still somehow seems right to go home and sip on a bottle of sparkling water while watching one of my recorded TV shows. Rituals are strong. Responded to a stack of emails that had built up over the last couple of days. Spent some time with my exegetical notes on the propers for the Fifth Sunday of Easter and charted a course toward a message and an outline of what will eventually become a homily at St Georg

Sermon for Good Friday

St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield Some years ago there was a word that—as they might say these days in social media—“trended” for a while. It was formerly heard only among ivory tower academics, but for a while there, anyone who wanted to sound profound while making small talk at a social gathering would try to work in the word is "paradigm", usually connected with the word "shift" to form the temporarily ubiquitous expression, "paradigm shift." A paradigm, is a set of "givens", a body of assumptions that are considered too obvious to mention. For instance, in the physical paradigm that we live in, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the days get longer until about the fourth week in June, then they start getting shorter until about the fourth week in December, wood floats, iron sinks, and when you drop a ball it falls to the ground. There are also social and moral and religious paradigms. From these come obvious assumptio

Maundy Thursday

Customary Thursday weights and treadmill workout. Devotions in the cathedral; Morning Prayer in the office. Got right to work on the Easter Vigil and Easter Day bulletins, with several trips across the alley to confer with Bonnie regarding editing, formatting, and printing issues. And when I wasn't in the cathedral office, I was in the sacristy working with Connie Lynn, who virtually *is* the Altar Guild, though she was ably assisted this morning by Warren Swaar. This is the sort of "puttering" into which I am easily drawn. Made some lodging arrangements in connection with a drive to Cincinnati next month for a Forward Movement board meeting. Communicated by email with the senior warden of one of our congregations. Lunch from KFC, eaten at home. More work on the Easter Vigil bulletin, eventually arriving at a printing solution. Took my homily for the Third Sunday of Easter (St John's Chapel, Champaign) from the stage of developed notes to a rough draft. Atten

Sermon for Maundy Thursday

St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield For me, one of the saddest, but also one of the most curiously fascinating, of human predicaments is that of amnesia. To find myself devoid of any memory of my personal past, even to the point of not even knowing who I am, yet, at the same time, completely able to speak and write and drive and shop for groceries and things like that, is an incredible prospect. Some time ago I watched a story on one of those tabloid television shows about a young woman with amnesia who was able to piece together enough clues to discover her actual identity. She travelled to what she had learned was her home town, and made contact with people she had gone to school with and others she had known, hoping to somehow jog her memory. In time, some memories began to return, not in waves, but in trickles. The story concluded with her expression of hope, even in the face of very limited progress. Part of the message of the gospel is that we all have amnesia—you a

Holy Wednesday

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared for the celebration of the midday Mass in the cathedral chapel. Took a rough draft of the Good Friday service bulletin to perfected form and sent it to the cathedral office for printing. Developed, refined, and printed my homily for Maundy Thursday. Stored the hard copy safely (I hope) in the cathedral sacristy. Presided and preached at the midday Mass. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Visited the Illinois National Bank branch on the west side that I was told has Canadian currency in its inventory. I already had some, but needed a bit more. This is for my trip to Cuba next week, where they're not so fond of greenbacks, but can play nicely with Canadian money. My U.S. credit cards will be useless there, I am told. While  en route  back to the office, had a substantive phone conversation with one of our rectors over some emerging matters. Took care of a small administrative details with, appropriately enough, the omni-competent Diocesan Adm