Showing posts from May, 2015

Trinity Sunday

For the first time ever, I cast aside the sermon I had prepared and extemporized something completely different this morning. I made this decision during the Gospel Procession. On Trinity Sunday, no less.  Click this link  to find out why.

Sermon for Trinity Sunday

Trinity, Mattoon Today is Trinity Sunday. It's something of an anniversary for me, because it was on Trinity Sunday 1979, 36 years ago, that I delivered my first official, public, Sunday sermon. Those of you who are familiar with my biography will realize that 1979 was about a decade before I put on a backward collar and was legitimately authorized to preach. Indeed, my first Sunday sermon was as a layperson. It all started one weekday afternoon in early May or late April of that year. At the time, I wore the hat of music director of St Timothy's Church in Salem, Oregon. I was sitting down with the rector in his office, as was our custom every few weeks, to pick hymns and otherwise plan the upcoming Sunday liturgies. My rector—my  boss , in that context—just casually mentioned—half in jest, perhaps; I really don't know to this day whether he was serious—he mentioned that he didn't think he would give a sermon on Trinity Sunday. After all, what can one say in th

Saturday (St Joan of Arc)

Spent the morning--until nearly 1:00, actually--with the four clergy and four lay deputies to General Convention, as we watched a video livestream orientation organized by Province V. We availed ourselves of the opportunity to turn the sound down and discuss things amongst ourselves from time to time. We also availed ourselves of the opportunity to ask some pointed questions about the proposed budget. Not sure we got equally pointed answers. General Convention begins in a little more than three weeks--June 23.  Spent the afternoon relaxing at home--watching a movie with Brenda, taking a long walk together, and going out to dinner.


Devotions and Morning Prayer in the cathedral.  Spent the entire morning preparing music for worship at the St Michael's Youth Conference the week after next. This involved some minor composing, and getting reacquainted with Finale and Adobe Acrobat Reader, plus doing some copying and scanning. Disappointed that it took so long, but reasonably pleased with the result.  Lunch at home. Leftovers.  Followed through with arranging for two conference calls that need to happen. They are now both on the calendar.  Did a final review of the draft revised charter for Nashotah House that was passed on first reading at least week's trustees meeting.  Spent some time with four different commentaries on the Gospel of Mark, in preparation for preaching on Proper 17 (August 30 at St Mary's, Robinson).  Facing a deadline, I wrote an article for the next issue of the Springfield Current --some high-altitude reflections on the upcoming General Convention. But, as is now the practice,

Thursday (Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest)

Customary Thursday morning weights and treadmill workout.  Morning Prayer in the car on the way in. Brief devotions in the cathedral.  Met with an ordinand and a team of four other clergy as a d hoc examiners in order to certify academic fitness. At about half past noon, the examining team and I adjourned to a nearby restaurant to multi-task by discussing the morning while we took necessary sustenance.  Met with the Administrator and the Archdeacon in--yes--the first step in preparing for October's annual diocesan synod. Some canonical offices are filled by bishop's appointment, and we made those decisions. For those that are elected, we endeavored to ensure that there is at least one candidate for each office. There is, of course, a regular nominating process as well, so there may be some contested elections.  Took care of one more outstanding item in the preparatory runup to the St Michael's Youth Conference.  Attended to some Renewal Works, Peru visit, and Nashota

Wednesday (First Book of Common Prayer)

Morning Prayer in the office. Devotions before the Blessed Sacrament in the cathedral.  Dealt with an administrative issue pertaining to General Convention.  Spoke at some length by phone with a potential candidate for a clergy vacancy in the diocese.  Reviewed and replied to an email pertaining to the details of one of my upcoming visitations.  Made preparations to preside and preach at the cathedral midday liturgy.   Took some small steps, via email, toward nailing down the details of our planned July visit to the Diocese of Peru.  Began working on turning some broad stroke notes for my next Covenant blog deadline to a postable product.  Celebrated and preached the 12:15 Mass, keeping the lesser commemoration of the First Book of Common Prayer. The appointed first reading ends with Acts 2:42: "And they continued steadfast in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers." Indeed, the Prayer Book provides a healthy context

Tuesday (St Augustine of Canterbury)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral.  Arranged for a disbursement from the Discretionary Fund to help seed a program initiative in one of our communities.  Passed on some information about a book I recommended to someone in the ordination discernment process.  Took some administrative steps toward ensuring there is a cohort of parishes doing the Renewal Works survey and follow-up workshops this fall.  Dashed off a brief email to one of our ordinands.  Took care of a detail of General Convention business. The pace of that sort of thing is about to quicken.  Responded to a request from a layperson in the diocese for help with a theological issue.  Began the work of refining this Sunday's homily (Trinity, Mattoon).  Attended a meeting with the priest, two lay leaders, and the daycare center director of St Thomas', Glen Carbon--along with the Archdeacon and the Treasurer--to take counsel together regarding the ongoing viability of the enterprise. While we all no doubt wish we


I'm writing this mid-afternoon, right before hitting the road north to Nashotah House. It will be a busy week, with the installation of the new dean, commencement, and trustees meetings. My time will not be my own, and there will be no wifi connection in my lodging, so I'm just going to say now that I won't be posting daily accounts of my doings. There may be occasionally something on Facebook, so follow me there, if you'd like. Then, next weekend, we're having some extended family time in Door County, WI. So I'll be back to regular posting here on Tuesday the 26th.

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Back home from Cairo--the town that's closer to New Orleans than it is to Chicago, and I'm not just talking about geography. Four years ago, the Church of the Redeemer was all but dead. Today's attendance was 44. We baptized a family of four, confirmed two and received two. Delicious potluck meal (best chicken and dumplings ever) in the parish hall afterward. Redeemer is now a growing, multi-ethnic community that is modeling the sort of racial reconciliation that Cairo has so sorely needed. Yes, Christ is risen. Cairo is, of course, the longest jaunt on my circuit. We pulled away just before 12:30 and arrived home just past 4:30.

Sermon for Easter VII

Redeemer, Cairo -- John 17:11b-19 , Acts 1:15-26 What a great day! We’re still basking in the afterglow of yesterday’s festivities. This is a time of new beginnings. Yesterday we celebrated the relationship between Father Muriuki and the people of this congregation. Today we celebrate new promises made, new vows taken, and new relationships established as we baptize and confirm an impressive group of people! And all of this happens within an environment among the Christian community of Cairo and the surrounding areas that has seen a lot of stress and a lot of change over the last several years. I am aware that there are those among us today who have, in effect, lost their church home, and while I rejoice that you are finding a new one here at Redeemer, I nonetheless also share your grief over what you have had to let go of. In an environment like this, where lots of difficult choices and decisions get made, one could be forgiven for assuming that the Church—any particular church,


The induction and installation of Fr James Muriuki as Priest-in-Charge of Redeemer, Cairo was a rip-roaring celebration. Over 90 people in the room, including a great turnout of diocesan clergy and laity from as far away as Bloomington and Champaign, a representative ecumenical sampling of local clergy, which included the mayor of Cairo. After the Spirit-filled liturgy, there was superb local BBQ under a tent in the churchyard, which was procured in anticipation of the need for shade but ended up being needed for shelter in the midst of ever-increasing rain. In due time, we made out way to our hosts for the night, parishioners Burt and Emma Gruchy, who live in the country near Anna and Dongola. A very pleasant place to unwind.

Sermon at the Institution of Fr James Muriuki at Redeemer, Cairo

John 15:9-16, Romans 12:1-18, Joshua 1:7-9 What a grand occasion this is! When I became the Bishop of Springfield in March of 2011, it was right before both the rivers that define the geography of this town were so swollen with spring rains upstream in both the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, that there was a great fear that Cairo would be flooded into oblivion. There was great fear that this lovely and historic church, the very place where we are at this moment, would be covered with several feet of water. Instead, as you may recall, the Corps of Engineers diverted that water to some Missouri farmland, sparing Cairo yet one further indignity. A couple of months later, in June of that year, I made my first visit to this area, and witnessed the high water mark on the levee wall, and saw the large sinkholes that had opened up in what were once busy downtown streets. I met the one remaining active Episcopalian who continued to worship faithfully at Redeemer, and it broke my heart to th


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Looked over the readings appointed for the liturgy for the purposes of conceiving and hatching a homily. Made some final logistical preparations for the Diocesan Council Mass. Downloaded and printed some materials that I would need to read later. Presided and preached at the Diocesan Council Mass. Presided over the regular quarterly meeting of the Diocesan Council. Met with Sandy Moore in her capacity as Chair of National and Global Mission, planning visit form Springfield to Peru, and from Tabora to Springfield. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Performed the exegetical phase (mostly spending time with commentaries) of preparing to preach on the readings for Proper 11 (July 19 at St Mark's, West Frankfort). Developed my message statement for a homily on Proper 17 (August 30 at St Mary's, Robinson) to the stage of "developed outline." Put all the furniture in the cathedral chancel back they way it needs to be for Sunday.  Left for


Customary Thursday morning workout--weights followed by a long while on the treadmill. Morning Prayer in the office (they were cleaning in the cathedral). Brief email responses to a couple of administrative concerns. Refined and printed my homily for this Sunday (Redeemer, Cairo). Met (along with Administrator Sue Spring) with a couple of office equipment sales reps. Our office copier is a workhorse, but it's 12 years old and will need soon be coming to the end of its serviceable life. I have visions of a network printer/copier/scanner with color capability. We'll see how it pencils out eventually. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Planned hymns and service music for all five celebrations of the Eucharist at next month's St Michael's Youth Conference. This sort of thing takes time, if it is to be done well. Left the building a little past 3:00pm, retrieved Brenda at home, and pointed the YFNBmobile in a southerly direction. Joined Fr Dale and Deacon Jody Coleman for di

Rogation Wednesday

Usual AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral.  Responded by email to some ever-developing activity in front of next week's Nashotah House board meeting.  Responded by email to some ever-developing activity in front of next month's triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church.  Took some steps toward bringing us closer to having a cohort of parishes involved in next Fall's "wave" of Renewal Works .  Worked on my homily for this Sunday (Redeemer, Cairo), bringing it to the stage of being ready for final refinement and printing.  Attended to some developments in the process of reconfiguring our financial administration procedures in preparation for the Treasurer's impending retirement.  Began to dig into the (electronic) pile of sheer reading and absorbing I need to do in preparation for General Convention.  Met with an individual in the early stages of discerning a call to the diaconate. I feel so blessed to be part of these liminal moments

Rogation Tuesday

The major work of the day was to produce a sermon for this Saturday's institution of Fr James Muriuki as priest-in-charge of Redeemer, Cairo. I laid down a few broad strokes last week, but about 90% of the effort had to happen today, so there wasn't much more of the to-do list that checked off. I did attend the regular quarterly meeting of the diocesan trustees, who are responsible for overseeing the Endowment and the Combined Account. I also dealt with some cathedral-related issues via email and telephone, and weighed in by email on emerging events ahead of next week's meeting of the Nashotah House board of trustees. Morning and Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

That moment when you look right at someone and tell them that they are sealed with with the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ's own forever. Priceless. Got to do it six times today at St Andrew's, Carbondale . Three babies, three toddlers. And one adult confirmand. A lawyer, even. Evident fruit-bearing ministry by Mother Kathryn Jeffrey  in that place. This makes four consecutive Sundays with baptisms, and next week will make five if all goes as planned. That's pretty sweet.

Sermon for Easter VI

St James' Chapel, Marion & St Andrew's, Carbondale -- John 15:9-17 Through a combination of circumstances that I tend to see largely as fortunate, I have never served in any branch of the armed services. I did explore becoming a reserve chaplain in the Navy when I graduated from seminary, but was told that, at age 37, I was just a year too old. Nonetheless, I have a profound respect and admiration for the military as an institution. In order to accomplish their mission, armies and navies and, more recently, air forces, have evolved over the centuries a culture that honors and prizes duly-constituted authority and chain-of-command. In an enterprise as vital as maintaining peace and, when necessary, waging war, you simply cannot have it any other way. There must be a cohesiveness in communication and execution that can be relied on absolutely. Lives depend on it. Yet, the practical reality of all this is that not everybody can know everything about what’s going on al

Saturday (St Gregory Nazianzen)

Usual Saturday morning routine, the highlight of which was a long walk on a perfect day for walking. At 1:30 I hit the road, solo, for points south. Arrived in Marion in time for the regular 5pm liturgy at St James'. Then on to St Andrew's, Carbondale for a nice evening of heavy hors d'oeuvres from a new Brazilian eatery in town, and an opportunity to do some teaching on baptism. Looking forward to Mass, with baptisms and confirmation, tomorrow at St Andrew's.

Friday (Julian of Norwich)

Attended to part of the process of renewing Brenda's passport, which will be necessary for her to come with me on a visit to our companion diocese of Peru this July.  Brief devotions in the cathedral; Morning Prayer (short form) in the car as I headed north toward Bloomington.  Made a hospital visit to a recent seminary graduate whom we have adopted in the diocese, but whose path toward ordination is overshadowed by very serious health issues.  Met with Fr Halt at St Matthew's for a bit. There's always something.  Headed back south right at noon, stopping in Lincoln to grab a burger. Dealt with torrential rain much of the way.  Kept a phone appointment with a retired priest in New Jersey who is involved with the ongoing revival of ancient catechumenal practices. This is the sort of thing that dovetails very nicely with our diocesan mission strategy. We may be in the process of working up some sort of event.  Grappled with the readings for Proper 5 (June 7 at Trinity


Task organization and some email processing at home.  Morning Prayer in the cathedral.  Conferred with the Provost on a couple of emerging matters.  Conferred with the Archdeacon on a couple of emerging matters.  Attended to some administrative (financial) business via email.  Spoke by phone with one of our rectors on two distinct concerns.  Focused on the long-delayed task of making transportation arrangements for getting to and from General Convention in Salt Lake City. Having cleared my calendar (see phone call in previous bullet point) on the Sunday following convention, the possibility of driving presented itself. Driving would certainly offer some advantages. But when I ran the numbers, adding in all the ancillary costs, it came out significantly more expensive. So Brenda and I now have airline reservations, but these were not obtained with considerable time spent on United's website, and then a 58 minute phone conversation trying to wrangle the use of my accumulated


This was a hybrid sort of day. I basically took the morning 'off'--sleeping in a bit, lifting some weights, taking a long walk. In the afternoon, I had a couple of substantive work-related phone conversations and dealt with a pile of email; it just kept pouring in. In the midst of all that, I took care of some long-delayed software updates and syncing between Macbooks and iPhones, both mine and Brenda's. It's amazing how that sort of thing can eat up time. Ready to tackle a "regular" day tomorrow.


The plan had been for the Forward Movement board to conclude its business this evening and for everyone to travel home tomorrow. But we were more efficient than anticipated and were finished at 5:00. I seized the moment, packed quickly, and hit the road. Pulled into my driveway right at 9:30. I plan on slightly easy tomorrow, working from home. Back in the office on Thursday.

Monday (St Monnica)

Up and out of the Hampton Inn in Shelbyville, IN at a decent hour. No problem getting to the Cincinnati suburb of Glendale in time for the midday beginning of the Forward Movement board meeting (at the retreat center operated by the Sisters of the Transfiguration). Our chairman had a sudden medical issue arise (nothing long-term serious), so I was asked to lead the meeting this time, which I was happy to do. I'm pretty good at following and agenda! Nice outing after dinner to one of the locations of the local ice cream empire--Graeter's. At it again all day tomorrow.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Up and out of our O'Fallon hotel in time to preside and preach at the 8am liturgy at St George's, Belleville. Between services I spoke at the adult forum. They were mostly curious about my trip to Cuba, but we also touched on the General Convention issues. At the 10:30 celebration there was one baptism and one confirmation, and it was al splendidly joyful. We had lunch at a downtown restaurant with the vestry after that, and we arrived home at about 4:30. It was a quick turnaround for me, though, as I unpacked, repacked, and hit the road eastward for Shelbyville, Indiana, where I am spending the night. On to Cincinnati in the morning, and the spring meeting of the Forward Movement Board of Directors.

Sermon for Easter V

St George's, Bellville -- John 15:1-8 Before moving to the midwest eight years ago, Brenda and I spent thirteen years in the central valley of California, where, for the past several decades, grapevines have dominated the landscape. In the southern part of the valley, the grapes mostly end up as raisins. In the northern part, they mostly end up as wine, and the border between wine country and raisin country seems to be moving steadily southward, as wine, for some inexplicable reason, seems to be a lot more popular than raisins. Of course, with the drought, that whole system is in jeopardy, so keep California in your prayers … and possibly also begin to develop a taste for southern Illinois wine, I guess! A longer time ago, between the mid-seventies and the mid-eighties of the last century, we lived in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. In the backyard of our home there, there was a large Concord grape arbor. It was—roughly speaking, and if I remember my high school geometry

Saturday (St Athanasius)

Allowed myself to sleep in a bit and spend a leisurely half-morning eating breakfast, perusing the interwebs, reading Morning Prayer, and answering a bit of email. Hit the Bowflex in the basement for my usual workout, then the streets of Leland Grove and Springfield on a gorgeous spring morning. I can no longer deny that a walking route that used to take me an hour now consumes about 15 or 20 extra minutes. My cruising speed just isn't what it used to be. For that matter, neither is my age.  After a shower and lunch, I went out for a haircut. Back home to look at General Convention travel plans. Not locked down yet, but almost. I then attended--just as a pew-sitter--the special 5:00pm Eucharist at the cathedral using the 1789 Prayer Book rite, in connection with this weekend's Lincoln funeral sesquicentennial observances. Brenda was in the choir for the occasion, and since I had no liturgical role in the service, it occurred to me about halfway through that I should have been

Ss Philip & James

Morning Prayer in the cathedral.  Dropped by the office of the cathedral provost, just to check in.  Prepared the ordination certificate for David Wells. This involved melting red wax, pouring a dollop on the certificate in just the right and amount and just the right place, and then applying the seal of the diocese. Since this is now "the fifth year of our consecration" (per the language of the certificate), I'm getting better at it, and nailed this one in one pass.  Attended to some Nashotah House business via email.  Got to work on spending quality time with a couple of commentaries on Mark's gospel in preparation for preaching at Trinity, Jacksonville on June 7.  Took a substantive an important phone call from a Nashotah trustee.  Lunch at home--leftovers.  Finished the exegetical work on the readings for Proper 5 that I had begun in the morning. Attended to a couple of additional Nashotah-related tasks.  Conceived, hatched, and laid out the broad stro

Homily for the Ordination of David Wells

St Luke's, Springfield -- II Corinthians 4:1-6 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God's word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. +  In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. We are celebrating a watershed event tonight—a seismic shift, a sea change, a paradigm shift, a milestone. Are there any other appropriate clich├ęs that I haven’t already mentioned? When we’re finished, David will be different, the Church will be different, and, in some unmeasurable way, the universe will be different. Oh, David will still be David. There will be continuity. We will still recognize him in the same ways we’ve always recognized him. But he will also have become a symbol, a living and walking and talking icon, something larger than himself. David will have become a person  for  others. It’s not that he isn’t already that, of co