Showing posts from January, 2016

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Out the door solo just past 7:00am, headed east. Rolled into the parking lot at St Christopher's, Rantoul about two hours later, allowing some time to chat a bit with Fr Steve Thorp and Deacon Ann Alley before the regular 9:30am Eucharist. This community exemplifies all the textbook marks of the "family" church size category, and, among those marks are some very fine ones. God the worshiped, good news was proclaimed, and the Paschal Mystery was celebrated. I arrived back home around 1:00, and persuaded Brenda to accompany me on a brisk walk on this beautiful spring afternoon---on January 31!

Sermon for IV Epiphany

St Christopher's, Rantoul -- Luke 4:21-32 Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, I took water for granted. Every city or village had its own iconic water tower, and it never occurred to me to wonder very much how the water got there. All I knew was, I turned on a tap, and out came clean drinkable water. When I went out to southern California for college, and then, seven years later moving to Oregon in the middle of a drought, and encountering prayers for rain when I went to church on Sunday, my awareness was raised. Water is a precious commodity, and it’s not just automatically available. They’re having a wet winter in California so far this year, which is welcome, but even that won’t be enough to officially break the drought. Water, like fire, is absolutely essential to our lives, but has the potential to put our lives in danger as well. It has tremendous power, and often, it seems, a veritable will of its own that can triumph over the most ingenious of human devices.  I have


Morning Prayer in the office (workers in the church). Consulted with the Archdeacon on an administrative/pastoral matter, then followed up on it with an email. Spoke by phone with a representative of a church software firm. Still on the hunt for a database system. Spent the rest of the morning getting service leaflets ready for the clergy retreat. This involved copying, pasting, editing, printing, cutting, punching, making mistakes, correcting mistakes, and then some. But I think it's done. Presided at a sort of "sung Low Mass" in the cathedral chapel in anticipation of the feast (actually tomorrow) of Charles Stuart, King and Martyr. Lunch from La Bamba, eaten at home. Yes, there was still some detritus to take care of from the service leaflet prep. Made air travel and lodging arrangements for a short trip to NYC next month that has arisen rather suddenly. Rehabbed the text of an old homily for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany for use this year at Holy Trinity

Thursday (St Thomas Aquinas)

I chanced upon the Bishops of Northern Indiana and Missouri for breakfast in the Marriott O'Hare restaurant before the whole group of Province V bishops convened at 8:30. Discussion of a range of concerns (including the Primates' Meeting, goings-on at 815, sacramental practice, policies around confirmation, general church structure, and ecumenical relations) was substantive, but we completed our agenda in a little over two hours, and brought our meeting to a close. I retraced my steps from yesterday, catching the Blue Line train just a few yards from the hotel. Having a little time to kill, I scouted out one of my favorite Chicago eateries (a sort of pub called the Elephant & Castle, an iteration of an actual pub by that name in London), and enjoyed a "boar burger" for lunch. This was on Wabash just north of Lake, so it was a bit of a hike to Union Station, where I arrived in plenty of time for my 1:45 departure on Amtrak's "Texas Eagle," which goes

Wednesday (St John Chrysostom)

Up at 0-dark-thirty to catch the 6:32am Amtrak Lincoln Service Train 300 from Springfield to Chicago. It was on time. Until after Bloomington-Normal I was pretty zoned out, but eventually work up enough to pray the morning office and then connect to the internet for a bit of actual work (honing my Advent Quiet Day talks for a written medium, processing email). Upon arrival at Union Station, I walked the several blocks east, picked up the CTA Blue Line and rode it out nearly to O'Hare, exiting at the Cumberland stop, near the Marriott O'Hare. At noon, I joined by colleague bishops from Province V for lunch, and then spent the afternoon in our annual-ish meeting. We spent a good chunk of time just "checking in" about how things are going for each of us personally and professionally, which is, in my opinion, a wholesome, almost necessary, exercise. Most of the rest of our afternoon was spent in conversation with two executives from the Church Pension Group. They were sol

Tuesday (Ss Timothy & Titus)

Weekly task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Sent some emails and left some voicemails all in an effort to do what I can to see that as many of our communities as possible have a proper liturgy on Ash Wednesday. We currently have seven parishes without a permanent assigned priest, and two more whose priest is laid up. As a result, two that might have gone without are now covered, one of them by YFNB. Spoke by phone with a representative of a company that contracts with church management software vendors to help potential customers search the rather large field of options. We remain in the market for a reasonably-priced database system that can also handle online event registration and payment.  Produced rough drafts of the leaflets for the two evensongs that will be offered at the clergy retreat next week. Went to work on the draft of my homily for this Sunday (St Christopher's,Rantoul), eventually yielding a hard copy printout of my working script. As always

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

I intentionally put my closer-in visitation in the dead of winter, because ... you know ... who wants to get snowed in in Albion when you don't live in Albion, right? So it was Jacksonville today, which meant Lady Brenda and I had a humane leaving time of 9:00am. It was good being with the people of Trinity as they embrace the challenge of the first transition in clergy leadership in 18 years. Next Sunday is Fr Ashmore's last with them. So, after Mass, we had a plenary time in the parish hall talking about all that lies before them.

Sermon for III Epiphany

Trinity, Jacksonville -- Luke 4:14-21 Every year, toward the end of the year, the various news outlets publish lists of celebrities who died during that year. Whenever I read these lists, I come away wondering whether there are any famous people left alive! Seeing all the names in one place is staggering. I find myself particularly sobered when the cause of death is suicide. I don’t think there were any top-tier suicides in 2015, but 2014 had one that many people found shattering: Robin Williams—an immensely talented actor and comedian, with an astonishingly distinguished body of work, seemingly at the top of his game, with the wind at his back. I don’t know all the details, but when a man takes his own life, you have to assume that he was in some profound pain. He must have felt somehow so oppressed, so afflicted, so trapped by the circumstances and conditions of his life, and so blind to any source of hope, that the option of suicide seemed preferable to living one more day. The

Friday (St Vincent of Saragossa)

Usual weekday AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Read, analyzed, and responded to an email from the cathedral Provost about the rota for weekday Masses. I'm usually good for Wednesdays ... except when I'm not. Anyway, several Wednesdays between now and Holy Week are in my calendar. Arranged for a message to be sent to clergy (plus one lay person) in charge of Eucharistic Communities publicizing an upcoming conference on a subject that should be of interest to all in parish ministry. Performed a regularly-scheduled (quarterly) personal audit of the implementation of our diocesan mission strategy. There is a need to balance patience with proactivity. There are some bright spots, some signs of steady but slow progress, and some disappointments. We forge ahead. Scanned and otherwise disposed of the accumulated hard copy in my physical inbox. A necessary regular chore. Lunch from Hardee's, eaten at home. Processed a short stack of emails. Tackled a project that

Thursday (St Agnes)

Customary Thursday morning weights and treadmill workout. Morning Prayer at home. Processed a bevy of emails, took care of a small but important Nashotah-related task. At the office around 10. Consulted with the Archdeacon on an administrative matter and followed through with an email. Moved the clergy retreat liturgy planning ball several yards down the field. Caught up with some reading connected with my membership on the board of Forward Movement. Reviewed some documents in preparation for an afternoon conference call of the Nashotah House Board of Directors Took a phone call from Susan Park, who served with her husband for several years as a missionary in Peru, concerning some development there. (Springfield has a companion diocese relationship with Peru.) Lunch at home. Leftovers. Made final preparations for and then chaired a 75-minute conference-call meeting of the Nashotah House Board of Directors. Our task consisted of the annual review of the Dean's performance.

Wednesday (St Fabian)

Woke up to about five inches of snow on the driveway, so threw on some appropriate apparel and tried to start the long-dormant snow blower. It was uncooperative. So I resorted to a shovel while Brenda came behind me with a broo. But, as we were about halfway done, I tried the snowblower again and it worked. So the rest of the task was short work. Morning Prayer in the office. Prepared to celebrate and preach the midday liturgy--a process elongated by a series of interruptions for brief conversations with staff. Took an incoming phone call from one of our parish clergy. Performed major surgery on an old homily for Epiphany IV, rehabbing it for use on 31 January at St Christopher's, Rantoul. Presided and preached the noon liturgy in the cathedral chapel, keeping the lesser feast of St Fabian of Rome. Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Not a very efficient afternoon--lots of interruptions in the form of phone calls and urgent-ish emails. Reviewed materials from a Christian


Task planning at home; MP in the cathedral. Consulted with the Archdeacon and the Administrator on a couple of unrelated administrative/pastoral issues, moved toward decisions, and implemented the same via email. Attended to some fairly humdrum Nashotah House business. Edited, refined, and printed a working script of a homily for this Sunday--Epiphany III at Trinity, Jacksonville. Amid doing so, answer lots of questions from Sue as she booked air travel for me for the March meeting of the House of Bishops. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Devoted the bulk of the afternoon to liturgical prep for the Clergy Pre-Lenten retreat. This included writing a second verse for a generic hymn about saints, where the first and third verses are the same, and the second verse is about a particular saint--only the hymnal only covers the big ones (those found in the Bible). This one was for the lesser feast of St Anskar (Feb. 3). It's doggerel, but, with the help of an online rhyme dictionary, I got

Second Sunday after Epiphany

Out the door northward at a humane hour for a Sunday morning--8:30. Presided and preached at the regular 10:15am celebration of the Eucharist at Christ the King, Normal. As it happened, for the second year in a row, without planning to do so, I ended up there on the day of their annual parish meeting. So I stayed, of course, and, in due time, had some robust conversation about the mission of the diocese of McLean County, my recent pastoral letter on intinction at Holy Communion, and the recent gathering the Anglican Primates in Canterbury. Home around 3:30, where, after dinner, I banged out this statement to the diocese on the Primates' Meeting.

Sermon for II Epiphany

Christ the King, Normal -- John 2:1-11 I’m not what you would call a science fiction junkie, exactly, but I have enjoyed a great many science fiction movies and TV shows and the occasional novel. Science fiction writers don’t have to precisely and in great detail solve every technical issue that their stories raise—in other words, there’s room for “fiction” in “science fiction.” But they do have to at least appear to make an effort; they have to try and describe something that is at least remotely plausible to explain the “science” part of what’s happening in their story. I don’t think anybody knows how the warp drive on Star Trek vessels works, but I can at least conceptually understand the notion of “bending space” in order to make the shortest distance between two points something other than a straight line. One of my favorite science fiction concepts is from the  Star Trek: Voyager  TV series from the mid-1990s. Several of the episodes mentioned locations in space that were kn


Didn't leave the house all day, but, aside from a weights and treadmill workout, it was nose-to-the-grindstone as I cleared a pile of email detritus that I wasn't able to process on the fly during my two days of travel to Wisconsin. Also continued to mentally process the information flowing from this past week's meeting of the Anglican Primates in Canterbury. I suspect I will have a written response out within a couple of days.


Morning Prayer and Mass in St Mary's Chapel. Breakfast in the refectory. After some conversation, I hit the road around 9:45, headed east toward Milwaukee, and then south toward Chicago. My intermediate destination was the Chicago suburb of Hinsdale, where I had lunch with postulant Matthew Dallman at his CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) venue, Adventist Hospital. Back in the YFNBmobile at 1:30, pulling into my driveway right at 5:00. Always glad to be home.

Thursday (St Kentigern)

Up and out by 6:45, headed north. Pulled into campus at Nashotah House just before noon. Visiting Nashotah is always and intrinsically good thing, but this visit was for a funeral ... and, of course, it's January in Wisconsin. (Actually, it was kind of a lovely day--sunny, no wind, temperatures in the mid-30s. So we had another Requiem Mass for Bishop Parsons, then processed with his cremated remains up to the cemetery for the Committal, at which it was my honor to preside. We use the word "bury" so figuratively and euphemistically these days; there was something comfortingly wholesome about doing it literally--taking turns shoveling dirt into the whole in which the urn had been placed. This was followed by a reception in the refectory, which afforded some time to electronically catch up on the developments in Canterbury. Over the next few days, I will have something more to say officially about what the Primates accomplished, but this evening I am neither elated nor disa

Wednesday (St Hilary of Poitiers)

Once again, scoured the interwebs for news from the primates meeting. Woke up to an encouraging email from someone close to the scene, and as the day progressed, there was more reason to be optimistic. I am already conditioned to pray regularly in a disciplined manner. I do not as often pray spontaneously as I have these last few days, including as a awaken during the night. Arrived at the office and immediately tackled getting ready to preside and preach at the midday Mass. Then my electronic system reminded me of an appointment that I had thought was an hour later. Quick adjustment. Hence, Morning Prayer was the short memorized form once again as I walked through the cold over to Christ Church for an appointment with Fr Tournoux. Back to the office an hour or so later, where I arranged to get myself registered for the March House of Bishops meeting, dashed off a note of welcome to the rector-elect of Alton Parish, and firmed up arrangements for a Nashotah House Board of Directors

Tuesday (St Aelred)

I had to follow Brenda to the Hyundai dealer first thing in the morning so she could get her car serviced, then bring her back home. Hence--Morning Prayer in the car (short memorized form), followed by devotions (Angelus and intercessions) in the cathedral when I got there. Kept tabs actively throughout the day on Facebook and Twitter, looking for news from the gathering of Anglican primates in Canterbury. Edited, refined, and printed a working script of my homily for this Sunday (Christ the King, Normal). Met with the Provost and the cathedral Music Director to discuss some musical/liturgical planning issues, ranging from a look back to this past Christmas and ahead to the post-Easter season, with major attention to Holy Week. Lunch from La Bamba, eaten at home. Dealt with a couple of smallish administrative issues, one related to clergy deployment and one Nashotah-related. With breaking news from Canterbury, stepped across the alley into the cathedral for a time of prayer. Co

First Sunday after the Epiphany: Baptism of Christ

Lady Brenda and I about ready to leave Trinity, Lincoln this morning after being received with enormous hospitality and warmth, even though outside temperatures were in single digits. Celebrated and preached at 7:30 and 9:45. Took part in wide-ranging informal discussions after each service. Tasty Chinese cuisine with Fr Mark Evans and Sandy Moore, his wife. Sunday mornings are such fun.

Sermon for Epiphany I

Trinity, Lincoln -- Luke 3:21-22 , Acts 10:34-38 Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of Christ. All three of the synoptic gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—tell the story of this event, but each in a different way, from a unique perspective. In St Luke’s version, which we read in this Year C of the three-year lectionary cycle, there is great emphasis on two particular details: First, Luke wants us not to miss the fact that Jesus operated in the power of the Holy Spirit. As Jesus was praying after his baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. As we read Luke’s gospel, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’s ministry is an important theme. And as we read the book of Acts, also written by St Luke, the presence and power of that same Holy Spirit in the life of the early church is also an important theme. Second, Luke’s account of the baptism of Christ lays great emphasis on the voice of God the Father sounding from the heavens: “You are my bel


It was an honor to preside at the Requiem Mass this afternoon at St Paul's, Pekin for the Rt Revd Donald James Parsons, VI Bishop of Quincy. He was a retired bishop for longer than I've been in holy orders (nearly 27 years), and already a larger-than-life legendary figure before I even started seminary. And then, for the last five years of his life, I was *his* bishop. The turns our lives take are amazing. When we commit his remains to the earth next week at Nashotah House, we may be burying a saint. Of course, everything today was complicated a bit by the weather--the driving time from Springfield to Pekin was 50% longer than normal. Coming home, we swung over to catch I-155 instead of IL 29, and the road was clear and dry.


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Attended to a relatively small but substantive chore related to someone in the ordination pipeline. From 9:30 until about 1:30, I met with a group of invited clergy and lay leaders--about a dozen in all--to have a free-ranging discussion, not about the diocesan budget  per se , but about the budget development  process , with related concerns around the process by which the budget gets funded, and meta-concerns about how that process is perceived, as it were, "in the pews." I think it was a fruitful exchange. I didn't have a pre-scripted outcome in mind, so I shouldn't profess surprise. But I am surprised that one of the major takeaways is the need to double down on communication at every level: between the diocesan staff and the Eucharistic Communities, between the leaders of the ECs and their fellow-parishioners, and at a coordinated diocesan and parochial level. The kind of communication upgrade we need really requires at least a


Customary first-thing-in-the-morning Thursday weights and treadmill workout. Morning Prayer at home. Arrived at the office around 10. Attended to some ongoing emerging details pertaining to Bishop Parsons' funeral. Thought hard and made some notes in preparation for a gathering of invited clergy and laity at the diocesan office tomorrow to do some "50,000 foot" blue-sky brainstorming about the processes that lead to the formation and adoption of our diocesan annual budget. Conferred with (still newish) Treasurer Rod Matthews over a range of concerns. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Finished the meeting prep that I had begun before lunch. Did some editing of the draft service booklet for Bishop Parsons' funeral. Participated in a 50-minute Communion Partner Bishops conference call. The gathering of the 38 Anglican primates in Canterbury next week has the potential to shake things up quite considerably, so we had a good bit to discuss. Reviewed and tweaked the draft


Usual AM routine; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared to celebrate and preach the midday liturgy. Large chunks of time, spread out through the day, dealing with putting together the details of Bishop Parsons' funeral--phone calls and emails. Met with the cathedral Provost on a range of important but non-emergent matters. Straightened the credenza behind my desk--a semi-annual chore. While I was disappointed not to have access to a proper solemn Eucharist for this principal feast, I was delighted to see four people in the congregation for the 12:15 Mass, and more delighted that they were game to do some singing. So we used "As with gladness ..." in place of the Gloria, chanted an Alleluia for the gospel acclamation, sang "We three kings ..." at the Offertory, I chanted the Great Thanksgiving and we sand the Sanctus and Lord's Prayer. So it was a kind of "sung Low Mass," to coin a category. Great fun. Lunch from KFC, eaten at home. Scan


Back to the onslaught of normal: Weekly task organizing at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Got the news early in the morning via text message that Bishop Donald Parsons, retired Sixth Bishop of Quincy, and lately assisting in the Diocese of Springfield, succumbed to COPD last night after a very long and slow decline. He was a saintly man and a godly bishop, and those of us this side of eternity are the poorer for his passing. Since it had been pre-arranged that I would preside at his funeral, a good bit of my day was consumed by phone calls and emails as the planning and preparation process for his requiem unfolds. Attended to some planning details for a gathering that will take place at the diocesan office on Friday. Dealt, by phone call and email, with a handful of details pertaining to those in various stages of the ordination process. Refined and printed a working script of my homily for this Sunday, to be delivered at Trinity, Lincoln. Lunch from HyVee (pulled pork),

The Holy Name of Jesus

As you might have surmised, I've throttled back on the pace of my activity during the week after Christmas, and until next Tuesday, actually. (No visitation this weekend.) Yesterday, from home, I paid some attention to a small matter pertaining to our companion relationship with the proto-Diocese of Arequipa in Peru. Later, I read and replied to Ember Day letters from three of our postulants for Holy Orders. But ... drum roll please ... I did that from an Emergency Room bed at St John's Hospital, once again with symptoms that mimic a cardiac event but turn out to be Something Else. I'm glad it wasn't a heart problem, but I do wish I knew what the Something Else actually is. That quest continues. In the meantime, may the Holy Name of Jesus be adored by all everywhere, on this feast day thereof, and throughout the year. See you back in this venue Tuesday night.