Showing posts from February, 2016

Third Sunday in Lent

Up and on the road (solo) at 7am, enough time to make the regular 8:45am Eucharist at St Bartholomew's, Granite City--but not enough time to have technological navigational difficulties and still arrive with time to spare. So I arrived, but not with time to spare. It ended well, however, and it was a joyful visit with a small but spiritually vibrant Eucharistic Community. Back home right at noon. Took advantage of the spring-like weather and enjoyed a long walk with Brenda.

Sermon for Lent III

St Bartholomew's, Granite City -- Luke 13:1-9 , I Corinthians 10:1-13 For most of my adult life, I have been an avid student of human motivation.  What makes people do the things they do?  It's quite an industry.  People have gotten rich writing books about it, and some have gotten even richer giving seminars and providing consulting services.  But no matter how sophisticated it all gets, it's hard to top an old expression that comes, presumably, from those who have tried to train rabbits.  There are basically only two motivational tools: the carrot and the stick.  You can motivate people positively, by holding out something desirable and attractive in front of them, or you can motivate people negatively, by creating fear of pain or other unpleasantness.  The carrot …   and the stick. Jesus, arguably among the top “motivational speakers” of all time, was not above using both of these tried and true techniques. One of his great concerns during the days he walked thi


Devotions in the cathedral; Morning Prayer in the office. Got to work seriously planning the details of the Chrism Mass liturgy (readings, hymns, service music). Registered online for an April Communion Partners event in Orlando. Roughed out my Lenten teaching series presentation at Trinity, Lincoln next Thursday. Hand-wrote notes to clergy and spouses with March birthdays. Left the office at 11 to go home and pack for an overnight. Collected Brenda and hit the road north and east with a destination of South Bend, Indiana. We enjoyed a wonderful retirement farewell banquet for Bishop Ed Little, whom I met 21 years ago when we were both rectors in the Diocese of San Joaquin. He then became my bishop for 3+ years, and finally a colleague again, as he was one of my co-consecrators five years ago next month. Later we enjoyed drinks in the hotel bar with Bishops Russ Jacobus and Steve Miller and their wives. 


Customary Thursday morning date with the treadmill. Devotions in the cathedral; Morning Prayer in the office. Finished preparations for tonight's Lenten teaching series presentation at Trinity, Lincoln (a practicum on the Daily Office). Continued to process some of the action items that landed on my desk in the wake of last Saturday's Commission on Ministry meeting. Walked up to Illinois National Bank (much colder walking into the wind northbound than returning with the wind at my back) to arrange for a wire transfer of some funds that have been collected for our companion diocese of Tabora (Tanzania).  Responded by email, with some rather concrete specifications, to one more potential database system vendor. Processed some accumulated emails. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Said my prayers and got to work on a homily for the Chrism Mass. Serendipitously, the occasion this year coincides with the fifth anniversary of my consecration, the feast of St Joseph, so there were som

St Matthias

Usual weekday AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Made the necessary preparations to preside and preach at the midday Mass. Needing to write a relatively brief message to one of our clergy about a policy issue, I burned an inordinate amount of time searching for a previous iteration of it. I could have rewritten the whole thing in about 10 minutes, which is what I ended up doing, since my search was unsuccessful. Participated with the Administrator in another database software presentation via videoconference. We will probably do one more before we make a decision. Presided and preached at the cathedral chapel Mass, keeping the major holy day of St Matthias the Apostle. Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Stopped by Walgreen's  en route  back to the office to pick up a new prescription. Found out recently my blood is rather low in iron, which accounts for the way I've been feeling. Took care of a small administrative chore in connection with my trusteeship of

Tuesday (St Polycarp)

Weekly task planning at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on a small range of administrative and pastoral concerns.  Spoke by phone with a lay leader from one of our Eucharistic Communities over an issue of specific concern to him. After exchanging emails with the Rector's Warden of Trinity, Jacksonville, and consulting with the Archdeacon and the Cathedral Provost, I made the decision to excuse myself from Easter morning duties at St Paul's in order to cover Trinity, which is without a priest at the moment. Refined and printed a working copy of what I thought was going to be this Sunday's sermon at St Bartholomew's, Granite City. (See below for an explanation.) Took a substantive phone call from the Dean of Nashotah House. It was all positive. He's doing good work. Lunch from KFC, eaten at home. While reviewing the bulletin draft for this Sunday at St Bartholomew's, I noticed a discrepancy between the listed gospel an

Second Sunday in Lent

Up and out on a three-mile commute to Christ Church, Springfield in time for their regular 8am Eucharist. Presided and preached, then had a lively 45 minute conversation in the adult Christian Education hour, after which I presided, preached, and confirmed at the 10:15 liturgy. Two of the four confirmands were the rector's twin daughters--Brigid Kildare and Bernadette Lourdes. I mention their names only because I think they are so incredibly cool. Home a little past noon, after which ... let the Bishop's sabbath begin.

Sermon for Lent II

Christ Church, Springfield -- Genesis 15:12, 17-18 ; Philippians 3:17-4:1, Luke 13:31-35 Ten days ago, on Ash Wednesday, Christians gathered in churches all over the world and participated in a liturgy of public penitence. In many of these penitential rites, including those that took place in Episcopal churches, the congregation sang or recited the fifty-first Psalm: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness; in your great compassion blot out my offenses.”  This was King David’s lament upon being held accountable by the prophet Nathan for his adultery with Bathsheba, and his arrangement of her husband's death. David continues, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me."  My sin is ever before me.  For most of us, most of the time, our sins are ever before us. And not only our sins, but all of our inadequacies and fears, those that we are responsible for and those that we are victims of. We call ourselves “persons.”  The wor


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Tweaked, refined, and printed working notes for my sermon this Sunday, at Christ Church, Springfield. Laid down the broad rough strokes of next week's Lenten teaching series presentation at Trinity, Lincoln. Performed necessary surgery on some sermon material for Lent III used in a prior yet, in preparation for preaching at St Bartholomew's, Granite City on the 27th. Kept an 11am appointment with my primary care physician, following up on "Drama in Danville" the Sunday before last. Lunch from Qdoba, eaten at home. Packed for an overnight and processed a few emails. Hit the road northbound with Brenda just past 2:30, headed for a 6pm dinner engagement with one of our postulants and his family in the inner ring Chicago suburb of Riverside (actually, just a few feet from an apartment where I lived for a year nearly 60 years ago. I still have some rather vivid memories of that place. Bedded down in Schaumburg, ahead of tomorrow af


Some email processing and task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Responded to a Nashotah-related email. Last minute prep for the main work of the day: Intensive time of theoretical and practical formation in pastoral liturgy for two of our ordinands. This went roughly from 9:30-3:30, at St Luke's, with lunch across the street at Clay's Popeye's BBQ. Back to the office for about 30 minutes to get on top of the ever-accumulating emails. Home in time to take a scheduled phone call from a priest outside the diocese seeking pastoral counsel. Yes, this does happen from time to time. Brief period of rest before heading out the door northward to Trinity, Lincoln for my second Lenten teaching series engagement. Tonight's topic was corporate prayer. Home around 9:00, a full very full day.

Wednesday (Janani Luwum)

My main obligations of the day were simple, and they allowed for a leisurely morning, which was a good thing, given that hour that I had arrived at the Hampton Inn Times Square. So I prayed the morning office in my room and otherwise pulled myself together to be on the street by 10:30. Walked eastward several long crosstown blocks (about 25 minutes) to a taco joint call Tres Carnes at 817 Second Avenue. There I met my colleague from North Dakota, Michael Smith. We were supposed to be joined by Greg Brewer of Central Florida, but he got caught in traffic until about 11:40. By that time, and according to plan, my daughter Sarah, who lives and works in New York, arrived, and she and I had lunch together. Bishops Smith and Brewer retired next door to the Episcopal Church Center for a 12:15 Eucharist. After lunch with Sarah, I joined them for our 1pm meeting with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the purpose of the trip. We were representing the Communion Partners group of bishops (and associ

Tuesday (Martyrs of Libya)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Devoted the bulk of the morning to reworking and repurposing some homiletical material from a prior year for use as a sermon this Sunday at Christ Church, Springfield. Reviewed and responded to a short stack of emails. Passed on to a chair of the Commission on Ministry some materials related to their meeting this Saturday. Lunch from China 1, eaten at home. Did some last minute prep for a conference call of the Nashotah House Board of Directors. Presided over said conference call, which last around 90 minutes. Dashed home, packed quickly for an overnight trip, and headed to Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. Caught the 5:20 departure for Chicago O'Hare, then the 7:20 departure for New York La Guardia, only it didn't actually leave  until 8:50 ... which meant we didn't touch town in NYC until 12:15am and I didn't get to my midtown west hotel until after 1:00.

First Sunday in Lent

Knowing that it was predicted to snow during the night, I set my alarm for 0-dark-thirty. Happily, there was only about half an inch of snow on the driveway, and it was more efficiently handled by the push broom than by firing up the snow blower. We were showered, dressed, and wheels on the road by 6:20am, however, en route to the 7:30 early liturgy at St John's, Decatur. I-72 felt like a private road at that hour, with one lane nicely cleared the whole way there. We duly "beat down Satan under our feet" via the Great Litany opening both services, with some adult class time in between. At the principal Mass we confirmed a young wife and mother of two adorable children. St John's is a happy place under the fine pastoral leadership of Fr Dick Swan. Since snow began to fall again before 10 o'clock, getting home was more of a challenge. It took a little longer than usual, but we accomplished without incident.

Sermon for Lent I

St John's, Decatur -- Deuteronomy 6:5-11 , Romans 10:8b-13, Luke 4:1-13 When I was in school, and studied world geography, I learned that there was a country in eastern Europe—north of Greece and across the Adriatic Sea from Italy—called Yugoslavia. It was communist, and ruled by a dictator named Tito, and that was about all we needed to know. In 1984, Yugoslavia hosted the winter Olympics in the city of Sarajevo. There was the usual skiing and skating and sledding, and not much mention of politics. A decade later, Sarajevo was literally a war zone, virtually in shambles, as was the supposed “nation” of Yugoslavia. In its place were new countries we never learned about in school—Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. And inside Bosnia, as we later learned in a terrible way, is the region of Kosovo, with its own claim to distinctive identity. It’s as if a strong wind blew through Europe and swept away the fa├žade of Yugoslavia, and exposed the

Saturday (Absalom Jones)

Out of the house just past 9:00, headed for the cathedral/office complex. Took care of preparations for the Diocesan Council liturgy. At 10:00, presided and preached in observance of the lesser feast of Absalom Jones (first African-American priest of the Episcopal Church). Gaveled the regular February council meeting to order about an hour later. It was a lively meeting (at which we tweaked the 2016 budget approved by Synod last October, a regular anomaly necessitated by the fact that we operate in "real time" with respect to financial contributions to the diocese from the Eucharistic Communities). We finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 12:15. I then had a private meeting on a pastoral-administrative matter with a lay leader from one of our ECs. Then I met with a quorum of the Constitution & Canons working group, laying out the broad strokes of my hopes for canonical revisions that we will present to the Synod in October. It was, I think, a very productive time. Then


Task planning and some email processing at home. Substantive 25-minute phone conversation with the Dean of Nashotah House, in advance of a Board of Directors conference call next week. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Did the first stage "rough" planning of my second Lenten teaching series presentation at Trinity, Lincoln next week. Talking about the nature and importance of corporate worship. Prepared and electronically distributed a proposed agenda for the Nashotah Board of Directors meeting. Lunch at home. Brenda's homemade chicken rice soup. Mmmm good. Attended to a pastoral matter with one of our clergy. Friday prayer:  Lectio divina  on the OT daily office reading for tomorrow, from Ezekiel. Fruitful. I've been suffering from an allergic reaction on my chest and abdomen to the gel used in an echocardiogram procedure on Monday. Having despaired of what I've been doing to self-treat, I went to the walk-in clinic, obtained lots of sympathy, but, more i

Thursday (Our Lady of Lourdes)

Customary Thursday weights and treadmill workout. Morning Prayer at home. Joined a meeting of the Finance Committee at 10:00 for about 90 minutes. This was in preparation for Saturday's meeting of the Diocesan Council. Processed some accumulated emails. Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Spoke by phone with one of our communications wonks about getting us off the company we're using to host our website and email, and on to something friendlier. Invested a considerable amount of time, including some consultation with the Archdeacon, brainstorming in preparation for a meeting that's been set up for his Saturday with most of the members of the Constitution and Canons Task Force. We want canons that are simple, elegant, and organically accountable to our mission, not beholden to past patterns of behavior. Left the office at 4. Went home and spent some time with the french horn, relaxed a bit, read Evening Prayer, and ate dinner. Departed at 5:45 for points north, arri

Ash Wednesday

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. (Glad not to have to travel any further north on Second Street, since it was already blocked off in anticipation of POTUS's appearance before the legislature. Sat down, prayerfully focuses, and pulled thoughts together by way of preparing to preach tonight at Holy Trinity, Danville. Took a call from my cardiologist's office letting me know that my stress test on Monday came out within the range of normal. Comforting, yes. But the mystery of my symptoms remains. Completed an online survey of bishops at the request of Episcopal Relief & Development. Responded to a consent request from the Diocese of Los Angeles for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor. I consented. Wrote a substantive email to Bishop Alejandro Meco of the proto-Diocese of Arequipa, Peru.  I did this in Spanish, so it was a time-consuming task. (Yes, I used some online assistance, but you have to be careful with those tools, or you can end up sounding pretty silly.) Scanne

Shrove Tuesday

En route  to a routine weekday morning (after spending a brief while doing snow removal from my driveway), but then got to the office and discovered I'd left my keys at home. No one else there yet, so had to go back. As a result ... Morning Prayer while driving. Consulted with the Treasurer over an administrative/financial matter. Reviewed the draft service bulletin for this Sunday at St John's, Decatur, the site of my visitation. Reviewed, tweaked, refined, and printed a working script for this Sunday's homily. Conferred briefly with the cathedral Provost in his office. Processed a half-dozen or so emails that had stacked up, each one requiring only a brief response. Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Prepped a bit for a scheduled 2pm conference call. Participated in said call, along with Administrator Sue Spring. This was the second of three interviews for database software vendors. Registered for an April continuing education event with my Class of 2011 bis

Last Sunday after Epiphany

Drama in Danville (morbidly appropriate, I guess): As I got about halfway into my sermon, the complex of cardiac-like symptoms that turn out not to be what they seem, which has dogged me since my valve replacement surgery three years ago, kicked it up a notch, and I wondered whether I would be able to finish the homily. I did, but I sat for the Creed and the Prayers, and then told the good people of Holy Trinity that I thought it best to seek medical attention. After an ambulance ride and some time in the ER, I was released with a diagnosis of anemia. So now we have to chase that down. Happily, I'll get another chance to complete a Eucharist in Danville on Wednesday. I drove home without incident and will be following up with my local providers.

Sermon for Epiphany Last

Holy Trinity, Danville - Luke 9:28-36 I grew up, as you may know, in northeastern Illinois, in the Chicago suburbs. And so I grew up thinking that it was normal for land to be flat, and that hills and mountains are an exotic exception. I was 17 before I saw anything higher than the Ozarks or the Appalachians. The Alps, the Rockies, and the Sierras all came later, and I, in fact, lived a large portion of my adult life with mountain roads being a fairly regular part of my experience. Now, Brenda and I have grown to love the big sky beauty of the very flat corn and soybean country of central Illinois. Yet, there is certainly something deeply and intuitively attractive—to all people, I think—about being able to acquire some altitude and look out over a hundred square miles of fields or forests or residential subdivisions.  This magnetism that height and view have for us becomes even more intense, I believe, when we're travelling, when we're on the way somewhere. The highwa

Friday (Martyrs of Japan)

My day began with a 9am cardiology appointment. It was a routine annual post-surgical follow-up. In the office by around 10. Followed through via email with an individual in the ordination process. Spent some initial prayerful time with the readings appointed for the Second Sunday of Easter, in preparation for preaching at Trinity Church, Yazoo City, MS, which I take care of under the Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight arrangement. Substantive phone conversation with a sales representative of another church management software vendor. Still hunting for the best database solution for us. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Plotted the various individual tasks necessary to make sure the annual Chrism Mass happens appropriately on March 19. Spent a "holy hour" in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Not by intention, but some of it turned out to be in the spirit of Psalm 131. Rough-planned the first of my Lenten teaching series presentations at Trinity, Lincoln on Februar

Thursday (Cornelius the Centurion)

Customary Thursday weights and treadmill workout. Task organizing at home; Morning Prayer while driving to the office (yes, short memorized form). Processed a larger-than-usual load of hard copy items waiting for me after not being in the office since last Friday. Took a substantive phone call from a colleague member of the Nashotah House Board of Directors. Discussed an emerging administrative issue with the Archdeacon. Participated with the Administrator in a long (over an hour) conference call/"webinar" with a sales representative from a church software vendor. This is part of our now ramped-up effort to move beyond state-of-the-art 1998 in our database management. Lunch from HyVee, eaten at home. Refined, edited, and printed a working draft of this Sunday's homily (Holy Trinity, Danville). Executed a document signing off on a investment policies for the Putnam Trust, in my role as co-trustee. Responded to a short survey from the Province V Executive Committe

Wednesday (St Anskar)

8:00am, Morning Prayer, followed by breakfast. 9:30-11:00, plenary forum with bishop and clergy. We covered a number of topics, from the sublime to the mundane. 11:00am, Mass for the lesser feast of St Anskar, with our retreat conductor bringing the homily, which was, like his addresses, stirring. Then, lunch and departure. Brenda and I made it home a little past 3:00, whereupon I spent the remainder of the afternoon clearing my email inbox, the contents of which had swelled during the retreat.

The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple

8:00am Morning Prayer, followed by breakfast (now in silence, with sections from C.S. Lewis'  The Weight of Glory  being read to us during all meals. 9:30--second retreat address from Kevin Martin. 11:30--Sung Mass with incense for the Feast of the Presentation. What a lovely feast day this is; I enjoy it so much. So much mystical power. 12:30 lunch, with more reading. 1:30-5:00--Free time for most, scheduled private conference for YFNB, though I did have a one-hour break from 3:00 to 4:00, during which time I availed myself of the unseasonably warm day for a walk around the beautiful grounds. 5:30 Evensong, followed by dinner. Got a little rest and processed some email back in my room afterward. 7:30--third retreat address, followed by Compline, followed by social time.

Monday (St Brigid)

Spent the morning with a weight and treadmill workout, then processing emails and organizing tasks. We loaded up the car and Brenda and I hit the road southbound at 12:30. We arrived at Kings House Retreat Center in Belleville at 2:00, unloaded the car, got settled in our room, and began to get organized in the chapel to provide music for retreat worship. In due course, I drove to the airport in St Louis, about a thirty minute drive, to retrieve Fr Kevin Martin, our 2016 clergy retreat conductor. The retreat formally began with 5:30 Evensong, followed by dinner, and then, at 7:30, Kevin's first address. Then Compline and social time.