Showing posts from September, 2015

Tuesday (St Jerome)

While still at home, finished a draft of my 2016 visitation calendar. Upon arrival in the office, Upon arrival in the office, I passed it on to the Administrator to see if I had missed anything. I had. Now fixed, and shortly to be published to the interested parties. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared to preside and preach at the midday Mass. Attended to some details pertaining to he visit of the Bishop of Tabora and his wife in mid-October. Worked on my sermon for Proper 27 (8 November at St Paul's, Carlinville), taking it from a message statement to a developed outline. Created a rough draft of the liturgy leaflet for the synod Mass, and sent in along electronically to the host parish for refinement and production. Celebrated and preached the Mass for the lesser feast of St Jerome. Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Headed to one of our churches some distance from Springfield for a very difficult but unfortunately necessary conversation. Arrived back home around

St Michael & All Angels

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Usual week-beginning informal debrief with the Archdeacon. Refined and printing the working text of my homily for this Sunday (All Saints, Morton). Handled a stack of relatively minor administrative issues. These things always end up more time-consuming than I anticipate. Took a phone call from one of our clergy. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Attended (by way of preparation) to a quite serious administrative/pastoral matter. Laid out the broad strokes of my address to next month's annual diocesan synod. Attended to some administrative details pertaining to getting ready for synod. Reviewed the second quarter financial reports from the mission congregations. Began the process of building by 2016 visitation calendar, which will be a challenge in view of the sabbatical I am planning. Swung by home to retrieve Brenda, and headed on down to St Thomas', Glen Carbon, where I took part in the Mass and potluck commemorating the fiftieth anniversa

The Lord's Day (XVIII Pentecost)

Out early--though perhaps not so bright--at 7am heading south. Arrived at St Michael's, O'Fallon a little after 8:30, ahead of their scheduled 9am liturgy. Celebrated, preached, confirmed, and presided at a baptism, as we observed the parish's feast of title, St Michael & All Angels. That was a pretty good day's work right there, but I then swung over to St Paul's in Alton, where I met briefly with whoever was still around after the post-liturgical coffee hour, and then for a while with at least a remnant of the search committee. Their transition has not been as smooth an timely as we all would have liked, so some extra pastoral attention was warranted. Home at about 2:30. Napped. Walked. Watched the Cubs beat the Pirates .

Sermon for St Michael & All Angels

St Michael's, O'Fallon -- Genesis 28:10-17 "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."  Those are the words of the patriarch Jacob when he wakes up from an astonishing dream in which he sees a stairway to heaven on which angels are continuously ascending and descending, and then hears the LORD tell him that he is indeed the heir of the promise made to his grandfather Abraham that his progeny would be a great nation, numerous, blessed, and chosen to be the vehicle by which God would bless all the peoples of the earth. So Jacob wakes up from that dream and he’s overcome by the experience. "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."  This passage from Genesis was chosen for the feast of St Michael and All Angels, no doubt, because of the reference to angels ascending and descending “Jacob’s ladder.” When we encounter angels in scriptu

Saturday (Lancelot Andrewes)

Out the driveway with Brenda at 8:15 headed for points south. Arrived at St Thomas' in Salem in plenty of time to prepare to preside and preach at the funeral for Father Tom Davis, who was raised up in that parish as what used to be called a "late vocation," and then served it for several years until advancing age and declining health made it prudent for him to step down about five years ago. It was a good crowd, and we gave him a proper sendoff. I mentioned in my homily that, if we do one thing right in the Episcopal Church, it's funerals. If you just follow the Prayer Book, it's hard to mess it up too much. After a reception in the parish hall of the nearby Methodist Church, we headed home, arriving around 4:00.

Friday (St Sergius)

My day was given over to the Annual Assembly of the Illinois Conference of Churches, which is always held either in Bloomington or Champaign; this year was Bloomington's turn. I have a principled and heartfelt commitment to ecumenism. (How can a thoughtful Christian not have such a commitment?) But I have to say that these ICC events are very difficult for me. They are dominated by (formerly) mainstream liberal Protestant leaders, with a smattering of Roman Catholic hangers-on. The worship is lowest-common-denominator of the sort that, from my perspective, seems to characterize the dominant groups. (How much more interesting it would be if we could simply worship according to the tradition of whatever the host church is.) Sometimes the program is interesting, but not this year. It centered on the Parliament of World Religions, and interfaith work in general. It would be virtually impossible to understate the level of my interest in such things. My lack of interest begins with wonde

Thursday (Our Lady of Walsingham)

Morning Prayer in the car on the way to a medical facility for some tests. Nothing urgent or emergent; just trying to chase down why I continue to have cardiac-like symptoms that have been pretty clearly determined to not be cardiac-related. I think I "passed" the tests, but they consumed more than half my morning. The rest of it was devoted to trying to rebook some air travel and lodging for a trip next month in light of an emergent need to lengthen my visit to Houston following the Living Church Foundation meeting, and then trying to schedule a conference call of the Communion Partner bishops, having heard from them about who can or cannot participate on several dates I had suggested. It's like herding cats. Lunch of Chinese food, picked up at HyVee and eaten at home. The bulk of the afternoon was devoted to completing, refining, and printing my homily for this Sunday, delivered at St Michael's, O'Fallon on the patronal feast day of St Michael and All Angels


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared for the midday Mass. Debriefed a bit with the Archdeacon on a couple of issues. Got to work on the homily I've been asked to give at the requiem this Saturday for Fr Tom Davis. Normally, I follow a pretty careful and somewhat elaborate process when preparing a sermon. But when I have to preach at a funeral, time is usually of the essence. So it's a much more "trust the Holy Spirit right now" sort of endeavor. I offer an earnest prayer, take a deep breath, and start writing. I have no master plan about where I want to end up, no simple message statement to unpack. I just write one sentence, then another one, and so on. Somehow, it comes together. This consumed the entire morning--save for time spent on a couple of incoming calls: one from a priest-friend outside the diocese, the other from someone who is a "player" on the scene of Anglican ecclesial politics. But I ended up with a printed manuscript in a file fold

Tuesday (Philander Chase)

Usual Tuesday AM routine: weekly task planning at home, MP and devotions in the cathedral. Debriefed with both the Treasurer and the Archdeacon on various concerns. Revised and repurposed the text of a sermon for Proper 22 for use at All Saints', Morton on October 4. Spoke by phone with Fr Wetmore at St Michael's, O'Fallon regarding some of the details of my visit there this Sunday. Took care of an administrative chore pertaining to the Putnam Trust, of which I am the principal trustee, and which benefits two of our parishes. Worked on the agenda for the upcoming clergy conference (November 3-4). Attended to some chores pertaining to the upcoming meeting of the Nashotah House Board of Trustees. Dealt with a small matter related to next months annual Synod. Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Yes, hot mustard sauce is back. Composed and sent a substantive email to my Communion Partner bishop colleagues. Made lodging reservations for the late-October meeting of th

The Lord's Day (XVII Pentecost)

Up and out of our Champaign hotel room room in time to arrive at Emmanuel by 7:30. Presided and preached the regular 8am Low Mass. Met with the four confirmands--three youths and an adult--for some contingency catechesis, probably unnecessary since that had been well-prepared. Celebrated, preached, and confirmed at the 10:15 celebration. Particularly blessed by the choir's performance of one of my favorite anthems. Delightful outdoor lunch with the Rector and her husband, followed by a tour of the John Paul Buzzard organ factory right there in downtown Champaign. Home in time to watch the Cubs lose a close one to the Cardinals.

Sermon for Proper 20

Emmanuel, Champaign -- Mark 9:30-37 , Wisdom 1:16-2:1, 12-22; James 3:16-4:6 Refrigerator door and bumper sticker slogans are usually good for a chuckle, and are often profound.  One of my favorites is also ironic and insightful: “I’ve given up my search for truth, and am now looking for a good fantasy.”    Anyone who would make a remark like this is probably expressing sarcastic frustration with real life, and does not intend to be taken literally.  It is, in the cold light of self-evident logic, ludicrous, to prefer any fantasy, no matter how appealing, to what is actually true.  Truth is, ultimately, inescapable.  It is what we are, in the end, accountable to.  But what is ludicrous to our minds is still often the choice of our passions.  Human beings do sometimes prefer an appealing fiction over an unpleasant truth.    The evil men that we hear about today in the Book of Wisdom do not want to face their own wickedness, and they shamelessly plot the murder of the righ

Saturday (St Theodore of Tarsus)

Up and out in time to retrieve Carrie Headington from the downtown Doubletree, stop by the office for a couple of items, then head down to the UIS campus, site of our Parish Mission Strategy workshop, for which Carrie was the leader. She is a dynamic witness to the gospel, with a heart overflowing with passion and love, and a fount of practical knowledge and experience. About seventy clergy and laity of the diocese were richly blessed by her ministry. After we wound up at 4:00, I drove her to the airport (where we were glad to learn the status of her flight was "on time"), stopped by home to pack for a night away, and departed with Brenda for points east--namely, Champaign-Urbana, where we were treated to a lovely dinner by Mike and Deacon Chris Hopkins of Emmanuel, which is where my gig is tomorrow.

Thursday (St Edward B. Pusey)

Task planning at home. Devotions and Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Spoke by phone at some length with one of our rectors over some substantive issues. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on a range of issues. Printed, copied, and collated the handout materials for tomorrow mission strategy workshop: Moving Into the Neighborhood, with  Carrie Boren Headington . Refined and printed the working text of this Sunday's homily (Emmanuel, Champaign). Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Checked in by phone with the widow of one of our retired clergy who recently passed away. Attended to some lodging and transportation details pertaining to a trip to Denver next month to appear as a guest panelist at the annual conference of the  Society of Catholic Priests . Worked on developing a homily for St Michael & All Angels, to be delivered on my visitation to St Michael's, O'Fallon on the 27th of this month. Met briefly with the cathedral Provost about an upcoming event. Lef

Thursday (Hildegard of Bingen)

Mostly a travel day, with many bits and pieces of work via email and text messaging scattered about in the cracks. Jackson (MS) to Atlanta and Atlanta to Bloomington (after an hour's delay) by air, Bloomington to Springfield by YFNBmobile. Back in the office tomorrow.


Began the day still at the Gray Center in the Diocese of Mississippi (about an hour north of Jackson). After breakfast, we gathered for a final plenary and feedback. The general sense was that our time together helped clergy leaders with sharply divergent views on the presently controverted issues around sexuality and marriage grow in trust that they actually do share a common faith in a common Lord despite those differences. We then repaired to the chapel, where it was my privilege to preside at a votive Mass for the Unity of the Church. After a walking tour of the adjacent summer camp facility, I was driven to the Jackson area for lunch, then to a downtown hotel for some downt ime  after checking in. At 5:15, I was picked up and driven to the nearby St Andrew's Cathedral, where I was the featured speaker at a public event which also happened to be the first of a Wednesday evening adult formation series for the cathedral parish. My remarks were (I hope, provocatively) titled,

Tuesday (St Cyprian)

Writing from the Gray Center near Canton, Mississippi. I'm hear assisting Bishop Brian Seage with a retreat for some selected clergy leaders as they wrestle with divergent viewpoints in their ranks around the issues of sexuality and marriage. It's going well, and it's fun for me to strengthen old connections and establish new ones.

The Lord's Day (XVI Pentecost)

Up and out in time (but just barely) for the regular 7:30 early Mass at St John's Decatur. (Do the math--it made for a very early morning.) Presided and preached. Met with a potential diaconal ordinand in the early stages of the discernment process. Presided, preached, and confirmed at the 10:00 liturgy. Good attendance. Happy people. Great music. Lovely church. It was a blessing all around. Drove back to Springfield and retrieved Brenda from the Amtrak station (back from a visit to the offspring and offspring's offspring in Chicago).

Sermon for Proper 19

St John's, Decatur -- Mark 8:27-38 Every year, when Holy Week rolls around, one of the things I look forward to is the opportunity to sing some of my favorite hymn texts. Many of these are about 1,500 years old. They were written by a sixth century Latin poet named Venatius Honorius Fortunatus. All of you, I would imagine, have sung at least one of the three feast day versions of the hymn  Hail thee, festival day —there’s one for Easter, you know, and also one for Ascension and one for Pentecost. That’s one of Venatius Honorius Fortunatus’ hymns. You may also know the Easter hymn  Welcome, happy morning , also one of his. But the ones that really tug at my heartstrings are typically used either on Palm Sunday or Good Friday. They speak of the cross, and Jesus hanging on the cross, in ways that are self-evidently profound. These lines are from #162 in our hymnal: Fulfilled is all that David told In true prophetic song of old; How God the nations’ King should be, For God is

Saturday (John Henry Hobart)

Up and out in time to arrive in Bloomington by 9am to lead a working mini-retreat for the vestries of St Matthew's and Christ the King. We talked about mission in general, the mission of the diocese in particular, and had a blue sky conversation about the needs existing in the geographic parish of McLean County, the assets of the Eucharistic Communities of St Matthew's and Christ the King, and the obstacles and challenges standing in the way of effective mission. Time well spent. In the afternoon, the focus was on giving an appropriate sendoff, by way of the the liturgy for the Burial of the Dead and the Holy Eucharist, to Walter Born, a recent seminary graduate whom we had "adopted" into the ordination process in this diocese until his cancer overwhelmed him. I got home around 5:00, pretty drained, if the truth be told.


Up and out early enough to get Brenda to the Amtrak station to catch the 6:32am northbound train. She's in Chicago for some Nana-duty. Back home to shower, dress, and plan the day's work, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Finally completed preparation of my two talks next week in Mississippi. They are entitled  Looking to the Rock from Which You Were Hewn: Soundings in Revelation and Authority , and  Please Don't Invite Your Friends to the Eucharist: Being Church in an Unchurchy World . Hard copy now ready to pack. Made air travel and car rental arrangements for a Living Church Foundation meeting in Houston in late October. Reviewed the broad strokes of the agenda for next month's annual synod. Took care of a piece of administrative detritus on behalf of one of our seminarians. Lunch from China 1, eaten at home. Took the time to pop in for a haircut, since I won't have another day off until the 21st. Consultated various Bible commentaries for insights on the


Out the door at 6:50 for a four-mile walk. May be the last day of summery weather to enjoy in this way. Task planning and Morning Prayer at home, which put me in the office right around 10am. Dealt with a raft of emails that appeared suddenly as a result of taking a look at my spam folder and finding a number of "good" messages sent there by mistake. (I began to use a new email client after my vacation, and the spam filters need some fine-tuning.) Got back to fleshing out and further editing my talks in Mississippi next week. Quite time-consuming, and not completed yet. Lunch at home--leftovers. Listened to voicemail and processed a bit more email. Presided over a 70-minute conference call of the Nashotah House Board of Trustees Executive Committee. Continued working on the Mississippi talks. Met with Fr Goldacker, the interim at Alton Parish, over some issues related to their transition process. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Wednesday (Martyrs of Memphis)

Morning Prayer and devotions in the cathedral. Made the necessary preparations to preside and preach at the midday Mass. Assembled the Word file for Walt Born's funeral liturgy and emailed it off to those who are going to run with it from here. Met with two lay leaders from one of our Eucharistic Communities over a substantive and sensitive matter. Took the necessary steps to repurpose a sermon used in a prior year to be redeployed on September 20 at Emmanuel, Champaign. Presided and preached at the midday Mass, keeping the lesser feast of Constance and Her Companions, the Martyrs of Memphis. Ran a banking errand, picked up an Italian beef sandwich at ChiTown's Finest, and brought it home to eat. While still eating (and watching the Cubs-Cardinals game with the sound muted), took a call from my colleague, the secretary of the Nashotah Board, as we lay plans for next month's board meeting. Kept a 2:45 appointment with my primary care physician, as we follow up on so

Tuesday (Nativity of the BVM)

Weekly master planning of tasks at home over breakfast. Morning Prayer and devotions in the cathedral. Refined and printed the working text of this Sunday's homily (St John's, Decatur), Met for 90 minutes with the priest-in-charge of one of our Eucharistic Communities, over a range of substantive issues. Hand-wrote a thank-you note to a large parish outside the diocese that made a generous contribution to my discretionary fund as an act of support for the positions I took at General Convention. Began work on liturgical planning for the scheduled requiem this Saturday for Walter Born, a recent seminary graduate who was preparing for ordination in this diocese, but whose way was detoured by cancer. Attended the regular midday Mass, keeping the feast of Our Lady's nativity. Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Continued working at home on the Born requiem program. Departed at 4pm with Brenda for points south. A parishioner at St George's, Belleville who has seaso

The Lord's Day (XV Pentecost)

St John's Church in Albion was constructed in 1842 (the parish having been founded some while before that). All these years later, there is still a faithful band of worshipers who gather to celebrate the Eucharist on the Lord's Day (none of them are charter members!). It was my joy to join them in Word and Sacrament this morning. But it's a long way from Springfield, so even though their liturgy is at an earlyish 9am, it was 2:40 before I pulled into my own driveway.

Sermon for Proper 18

St John's, Albion -- Mark 7:31-37 , Isaiah 35:4-7a, James 1:17-27 One of the “hats” that I used to wear before I acquired the fancy hats I wear now was that of “professor”—in the Diocese of San Joaquin one where I served as a priest for 13 years, I had a hand in the academic formation of future deacons and priests. So, from time to time, I used to grade papers, papers that I myself had assigned. Some students, of course, have an easier time with written communication than others, but reading their work was an important component in the process of evaluating how much they knew and what they had learned. It also served as a sort of mirror for me, because it gave me a clue as to what they thought I’d said in my lectures and what they thought the assigned reading meant. I have my own ideas about such things, of course, and they didn’t always match what I read in the papers my students submitted, which only serves to illustrate the complexity of the process of speaking and hearing


Good long morning walk ... caught up on a few domestic odds and ends ... practiced the french horn ... read ... napped ... watch the end of the Cubs defeat of the Diamondbacks ... packed ... drove to Effingham, where I now in the custody of the Hampton Inn. On to Albion in the morning.


Morning Prayer in the office (somebody was cleaning in the church). Brought my homily for Proper 19 (September 13 in Decatur) from "rough notes" to "rough draft" status. Dealt with a small administrative task pertaining to lay ministry licensing. Devoted the rest of the morning to producing  an article for the next issue of the  Current . Dealt with technological gremlins along the way; I was constantly getting the Mac revolving beachball of interminable delay (I think the Windows version is an hourglass that never empties, right?). Lunch from La Bamba, eaten at home. Back into tech hell. On advice of the Facebook hivemind, I closed out all applications I wasn't actually using at the moment, shut the machine completely off, and retired to the cathedral to pray the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary. (Ok, that last part didn't come from the hivemind.) When I returned and restarted, my Mac was in a much better mood. We'll see how long it lasts. Spent


Out the door at 6:40am for a four-mile walk on a gorgeous late summer morning, with the sunrise painting the clouds pink in the western sky, and hordes of children and youth walking to school or waiting for buses. The route took me about an hour and a quarter, during which time I multi-tasked by praying the morning office (from an app on my phone) and performing my other customary devotions and intercessions. After cleaning up, getting breakfast, and planning my work for the day, I was at the office around 9:15.  Continued a sort of serialized debriefing with the Archdeacon in the wake of both of our long absences this summer. Attended to a small chore related to the planning of the sabbatical I plan to take during a chunk of 2016. At the request of a friend, I read something he had written for publication and offered him my feedback. Attended to a small detail related to the Eucharist for next month's annual synod of the diocese. Took care of some Nashotah House board busin

Wednesday (Martyrs of New Guinea)

Usual AM routine.   Prepared to preside and preach at the regular midday Mass in the cathedral chapel.  Tied up some loose ends on a couple of administrative issues pertaining to clergy deployment.  Devoted the rest of the morning, and much of the afternoon, to first-pass rough preparation for a couple of talks I am scheduled to give in two weeks' time. I'm a presenter at a clergy gathering in the Diocese of Mississippi on the 15th, and then at a public event at the cathedral in Jackson on the 16th. My topics, respectively, are Looking to the Rock from Which You Were Hewn: Soundings and Revelation and Authority and Please Don't Invite Your Friends to the Eucharist: Being Church in an Unchurchy World . This is at the invitation of the Bishop of Mississippi, but it has grown out of the Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight relationship I have had with the parish of Trinity, Yazoo City.  Duly presided and preached at the scheduled Mass, keeping the lesser feast appoint

Tuesday (David Pendleton Oakerhater)

Back to the usual weekday routine: task planning with breakfast, driving in, Angelus, personal intercessions, and Morning Prayer in the cathedral.  Reviewed and winnowed the considerable stack of hard-copy mail that was waiting for me on my desk. This took most of the morning.  Spoke by phone with one of our priests over a personal issue.  Refined and printed my homily for this Sunday (St John's, Albion).  Lunch at home--chili leftovers.  Attended to a bit of Living Church Foundation business.  Substantive phone conversation with the Dean of Nashotah House, in anticipation of next week's Executive Committee conference call.  Processed a handful of emails, none of which required an inordinate amount of time, but all of which required more than a perfunctory few moments.  Substantive phone conversation with another of our priests over a prickly pastoral issue.  Yet another phone chat with a priest, this one less substantive.  Evening Prayer in the cathedral.