Showing posts from April, 2016


Somewhat leisurely morning at home, though perhaps somewhat less so than most Saturdays. In due course, I got to work refining and editing the text of my homily for tomorrow at Redeemer, Cairo. That endeavor was interrupted at 10:15 by my electronic calendar reminding me that I had a 10:30 appointment at the office with a candidate from out of the diocese for one of our vacant cures. With all the travel I've been doing, this one slipped under my mental radar, so I was grateful for the technology. I hastily threw on some appropriate attire and pulled into the office parking lot right on the nose at 10:30. (There's a lot to be said for a short commute.) That work completed about an hour later, I headed home, picking up some Chinese food for lunch from HyVee. Eventually I got back to completing my sermon, and by then it was time to pack for an overnight. We pulled out of the driveway at 2:50, about 20 minutes behind our intended schedule, and arrived at our destination at 6:10--a

Friday (St Catherine of Siena)

The weather forecast for Dallas being what it was, I had some plausible anxiety about getting home on schedule. But all went smoothly with my itinerary, and the flight from DFW landed at SPI on schedule around 1:30pm. While I was waiting for my checked luggage, however, I heard an announcement that the turnaround flight back to Dallas would be delayed by at least two hours, so we apparently got out while the gettin' was good. Got home, unpacked, then settled in to process a pile of emails and provide some detailed feedback to the group working on our canonical revisions. Before going out to dinner with Brenda, I had a good long walk, a habit that is usually unavailable to me when I travel.


Spent the day taking care of business with the Living Church Foundation board. What a dynamic and effective ministry this is. I am so proud and honored to be part of it. In the evening, we gathered at the home of one of our members for a "friendraiser"--a term-of-art in the fundraising world to denote to which potential donors are invited and the "case" is made, but there's no "ask." TLC is rolling out an endowment campaign, and this was part of the "soft" launch. My assessment is that it went very well.


Usual AM routine. MP in the cathedral. Attended to transport and lodging arrangements for a trip coming up in early June. Took care of a routine end-of-the-month personal organization chore. Took a substantive incoming phone call from one of our parish clergy. Spoke by phone at some length and with weighty content with one of our postulants in the ordination process. Left for home on the early side in deference to afternoon travel plans. Ate lunch, and packed for two nights away. Just past 1:00, headed up to SPI to catch the 2:11 departure for Dallas. Arrived DFW at 4:00, retrieved my luggage, picked up my rental car, used the Waze app on my phone to guide me my hotel. With rush hour traffic, it was 6:00 before I was at the check-in desk. Dropping my stuff on in my room, I headed to a nearby Mexican restaurant called Javier's, where I enjoyed good food, drink, and conversation with members of the Living Church Foundation board ahead of tomorrow's annual meeting.


Usual AM routine: task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took care of a couple administrative chores in connection with last Sunday's DEPO visitation in Yazoo City, MS., pivoting from that to an effort to move the ball down the field with respect to the Novena/Wave of Prayer that begins next week. Reviewed and acted on a marital judgment request from one of our parish clergy. Spent some quality time with the details of an ordination coming up late next month, putting some initial liturgical decisions in play with the relevant parties. Dealt via a group email with a programmatic-communication issue. Registered online for the events at Nashotah House during graduation week next month, Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Took the developed outline of my homily for this Sunday at Redeemer, Cairo to the "rough draft" stage. Spent some good time with an exegetical commentary on the readings for Proper 5, in preparation for preaching at Robinson, Albio

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Home safely and smoothly from Mississippi. 565 miles, about 9.5 hours, including stops. Brenda and I are becoming very fond of Yazoo County, Mississippi, and the people of Trinity Church, Yazoo City. We are treated with exemplary graciousness there. Presided, preached, and confirmed an adult. Two to my left in the photo is Tammy, the confirmand. Between us is Roberta, her best friend, who brought her to Trinity! On my right is Fr George Woodliff, Trinity's rector. On the other end is Jill, his wife.

Sermon for Easter V

Trinity Church, Yazoo City, MS --J ohn 13:31-35 , Acts 11:1-18, Revelation 21:1-6 The Church is certainly no stranger to conflict. Do I really need to back up such a statement? It is ridiculously true, even if painfully so. Heck, the very fact that a bishop from Illinois is preaching, celebrating, and confirming at a parish in Mississippi is itself evidence that there is conflict in the church, right?  Now, I am not intimately acquainted with all the details of life here at Trinity Church in Yazoo City, but I’ve been around the block enough times to plausibly speculate, at least, that there have from time to time been occasions of conflict right here within the Trinity family—if not at this very moment, then at various times in the past. It may have been over small things, like what kind of flowers to plant in the courtyard or out by the street, or the conflict could have been over something important, like balancing the budget or calling a new rector. And the Church, of cours

Saturday (St George)

Spent most of the day in the Yazoo City area with the rector of Trinity Church, Fr George Woodliff, and his wife Jill. They drove us a few miles north to the small town of Indianola, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch of local cuisine (in my case, catfish, gumbo, and two kinds of corn bread) before taking in the B.B. King museum (the late Blues artist was a native of the area). The evening was spent at the home of some Trinity parishioners, along with the Woodliffs and the parish wardens and their spouses. It was a glorious day--the intense summer heat and humidity have not arrived yet.


This was a travel day: 625 miles in 10 hours of driving, from Kansas City, MO to Yazoo City, MS. Everything went smoothly. We enjoyed traversing some unfamiliar territory, sampled BBQ in both northwestern Arkansas and central Mississippi, and listened to a Cubs victory on MLB Radio. Life is good.


The day's pattern was quite similar to yesterday's: with the morning dedicated to "critical incident report" sharing. For lunch, we visited a thriving and innovative feeding ministry in downtown Kansas City operated by Episcopal Community Services. It attempts to foster a "dining with dignity" ethos among its clientele of homeless, under-employed, and mentally-challenged guests. Instead of being handed a tray and directed to a line, they are seated by a maitre'd, and order from a simple menu from their tables. Many of those who wait tables and work in the kitchen are getting experience that will help them find employment in the restaurant industry. What an encouraging experience this was. The rest of the afternoon was more or less free, and most of us visited a nearby upscale shopping area. Our farewell dinner was back downtown--for a change of pace, in this red-meat section of the country, at a fine seafood restaurant. Not quite locally-sourced, but del


More "critical incident report" sharing among the bishops, which I always find valuable, whether I'm on the reporting end or the feedback-giving end. In the evening, we all (bishops and spouses) went to Kaufman Stadium to watch the local Kansas City Royals play the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers won, but it was an exciting game up to the last pitch.


In Kansas City with the bishops and (most of the) spouses of the Class or 2011 bishops (those elected any time during 2010). This is our annual voluntary Continuing Education gathering.


This was a nice, pleasant travel day for Brenda and me. We lift Springfield around noon and arrived in Kansas City around 4:45. Here until Friday morning for some Bishops Class of 2011 continuing ed. While the bishops are sharing "critical incident reports" the spouses have their own agenda, both serious and light. Enjoyed a festive dinner at a classic downtown KC steakhouse.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Up and out of my Champaign hotel room in time to show up at St John the Divine at 7:30, ahead of their regular 8am liturgy. Presided and preached--and also read the Gospel and set the table and other things because the rector is hobbling around on crutches, have broken his ankle about 10 days ago. Met between services with four young adult confirmands and one youthful one. The principal liturgy was, as always, musically spectacular; the Chapel drinks deeply from the well of the English cathedral choral and organ tradition. After coffee hour, I met for a while with the vestry to discuss some financial and long-range planning issues. Home a little past 2:30.

Sermon for Easter IV

Chapel of St John the Divine, Champaign -- John 10:22-30 , Revelation 7:9-17 Even the strongest and most faithful believers in God, as God is understood by traditional Christianity, have moments of doubt. None of us are immune. I hope that doesn’t come as a shock to anyone, and that it might even come as a relief to some. In my own experience, and as I have spoken with others, the seeds of doubt often come in the form of the passing thought, “What if we’re just making all this stuff up? What if all religions, Christianity included, are just various forms of wishful thinking, crutches we lean on because we’re unwilling to face the cold, hard, realities of life?” When we look at the history of human religious thought and behavior, we might be forgiven for entertaining such moments of doubt, such attitudes of skepticism. Our earliest ancestors had no reasonable explanation for such simple natural occurrences as sunrise and sunset and inclement weather and the change of seasons, s


Usual Saturday leisurely morning. Took about a 90 minute walk on a gorgeous morning. With a televised Cubs game as a backdrop, worked on four loads of laundry, and refined and printed my homily for  next  Sunday (not tomorrow), since I won't be back in the office before then. Took care of a couple of administrative chores via email. After dinner, packed and hit the road for Champaign, ahead of tomorrow's visitation to the Chapel of St John the Divine.


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Conferred with the Archdeacon on an item of mission strategy. Prepared to preside and preach at the midday Mass. Got distracted by and lost a bunch of time to a pretty serious attempt at email fraud--this time involving my diocesan account. This attempt was fairly sophisticated, but no sophisticated enough, and no real damage was done, though the attempt involved stealing real money. Dealt with an issue pertaining to clergy deployment in one of our parishes in transition. Celebrated and preached the noon Mass (ferial Friday in week of Easter III). Chinese lunch from HyVee, eaten at home. Back to the email fraud for a bit, then devoted the bulk of the afternoon to taking a developed outline for a sermon on Easter V to the rough draft stage. Worked some more on the teaching document on ministry that I referenced yesterday. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Conferred with the Archdeacon on some of the details of an upcoming ordination. Conferred with the administrator on some ... well,  administrative  issues. Hunted for some photos to send to the author of the "interview" article that I worked on yesterday. This was a dangerous endeavor, as it was easy to get distracted looking at pictures that were not germane to my mission. Developed my homiletical message statement for Easter VII (Harrisburg and West Frankfort) into an outline from which I can create a draft the next time I work on it. Lunch from TG, eaten at home. Processed a stack of emails. Took a prayerful first pass at the readings for Proper 5, in preparation for preaching on them at a weekend trifecta--Robinson, Albion, and Mt Carmel--on the first weekend in June. Continued working on a pastoral guide to ministry--lay and ordained. This started out as a policy statement on the diaconate, but in the process of vetting it, it ha


Out of an abundance of caution, in search of the root cause of my recently-diagnosed anemia, my morning was dedicated to letting the medical establishment have a good look at my entire G-I tract, upper and lower. I slept through it all, and they didn't offer me a DVD. The results are negative ... which is positive, if you know what I mean. I was home by noon, and spent the rest of the day in my recliner, gradually shaking off anesthesia, processing a few emails, and doing an "interview" with the editor of a para-church periodical. During the evening, between innings of a Cubs game, I actually developed a homiletical message statement into a rough outline (Easter VI at Redeemer, Cairo).


Devotions in the cathedral, Morning Prayer in the office. Sat down with Sue to review the proposed contract with our new database software provider in advance of a conference call. Attended to some logistical issues pertaining to an upcoming ordination. Got with Sue again, this time to look over the proposals she has gathered for the purchase of new office equipment: computers, wifi upgrade, and a network copier/printer/scanner. Participated in the conference call with our database provider. Resolved our questions and agreed on a plan going forward. Made some final tweaks, formatted, and printed my homily for this Sunday (Chapel of St John the Divine, Champaign). Went home as if for lunch, though I couldn't actually  have  lunch, owing to the need to fast in preparation for a medical screening procedure tomorrow morning. From a mental health standpoint, it just seemed good to break up the day in a familiar manner. Responded one by one to a fairly substantial stack of tasks

Third Sunday of Easter

Up and out of our Champaign hotel room in order to be back at Emmanuel in time to preside and preach at the regular 8am said Rite I Eucharist. All went smoothly. Between services, I met with the five adult confirmands for some last-minute catechesis on the vows they would be taking. There was also a baptism at the 10am Mass, and the whole thing was lovely. It's a treat for me to have the "big church" experience from time to time; the music at Emmanuel is ... awesome. Following coffee hour, Brenda and I walked about three blocks through downtown Champaign for lunch with the rector and deacon and their spouses. Home around 3:30.

Sermon for III Easter

Emmanuel, Champaign -- Acts 9:1-19a During these Sundays after Easter, the first reading is always from the Acts of the Apostles, taking the place of the Old Testament reading that usually goes in that spot. Last week, we encountered the incredible thick-headedness of Peter and the other apostles. They were thrown in jail for talking about Jesus and healing people in the name of Jesus and generally insisting that Jesus was risen from the dead and now ascended back into Heaven, from whence he had come. But in the middle of the night, the angel of the Lord let them out of jail. And what did they do then? They went right back to talking about Jesus—this time, right in the Temple, right under the noses of the authorities. And we saw in their behavior a model for a mission-driven church: A mission-driven church takes the battle right into the adversary’s home turf. A mission-driven church doesn’t react; it acts. Today, we have an equally dramatic and rich narrative from Acts to del

Saturday (Dietrich Bonheoffer)

Indulged myself with a leisurely morning. Gradually revved up to a treadmill workout and some email processing before lunch. Afterward, I attacked a couple of routine personal organization chores. Then it was time to get dressed and packed and on the road at 3:45, headed east. Arrived at Emmanuel, Champaign in time for a 5:30 supper--meat provided by Black Dog BBQ (the best around), the rest catered. It was a virtual capacity crowd in the parish hall, and wonderfully age-diverse. During dessert, I held forth on the Seven Habits of Well-Formed Christian Disciples. Looking forward to the full morning, with two liturgies, one baptism and a handful of confirmations.

Friday (William Augustus Muhlenberg)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Difficult getting traction on my to-do list because emails kept slipping in, of a sort that either  could  be dealt with relatively quickly or  needed  to be dealt with promptly (even if not relatively quickly). Dealt by email (one already in the queue) with ongoing issues pertaining to one of our parishes in transition. Sent via email an invitation to a retired priest of the diocese to preach at the institution of the new rector of Alton on 21 May. Once again sat prayerfully for a good while with a set of eucharistic propers--this time those of Easter VII--until a message statement emerged. This message statement will get developed and eventually preached at St Stephen's, Harrisburg and St Mark's, West Frankfort. Walked briskly on a brisk day to Incredibly Delicious, on the 900 block of South Seventh Street, to have lunch with Bishop John Roth, my ELCA counterpart, and a valued friend. Got back to an empty office (Sue had gone home sick

Thursday (St Tikhon)

Customary Thursday morning appointment with my basement treadmill. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Dealt with a couple of issues related to my May 1 visitation to Redeemer, Cairo. Faithfully read a resolution of the Episcopal Church's Executive Committee that the Secretary of General Convention was required to transmit to all diocesan bishops.  Sat with my exegetical notes on the propers for Easter VI until they yielded a message statement from which I can now construct a sermon. Processed a stack of emails--some in the queue as tasks from prior days, some fresh today (the stream is ever-flowing). Prepared for a brief presentation I'm set to give at Emmanuel, Champaign this Saturday evening. Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Attended to a couple of tasks related to my membership on the board of Forward Movement. Responded substantively to an email from a lay communicant of the diocese. Read and responded to an unsolicited, non-mandatory, but greatly appreciated a


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared to preside and preach at the midday liturgy. Dealt with an administrative issue pertaining to one of our Eucharistic Communities in transition. Attended to some details pertaining to my visitation to Emmanuel, Champaign this weekend. Spent the rest of the morning developing my homiletical message statement for Easter V into a detailed outline. Celebrated and preached the noon Mass in the cathedral chapel (Easter feria). Lunch at home. Leftovers. Processed a short stack of emails. Paid attention to developing the details of the liturgy at which we expect to ordain David Wells to the priesthood on May 14. Wrote a snail mail letter in response to one in the same genre from a lay communicant in the diocese. Mopped up some residual Nashotah business left in the wake of yesterday's Directors conference call. Evening Prayer in the office.


Back in harness after a much-needed and much-appreciated "down" weekend with Brenda in Florida. 58 action items on the radar for this week. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Conferred with the Administrator over some details of our impending adoption of database software, and impending purchase of a new network copier/printer.  Reviewed and proposed a tweak to the bulletin for my visit to Emmanuel, Champaign this Sunday. Took care of some administrative details pertaining to one of our seminarians. Refined and printed a working script for Sunday's sermon. Lunch from KFC, eaten at home. Got mentally and technologically organized for a Nashotah Board of Directors conference call. Presided over a two-hour conference call. It was productive and irenic, but, nonetheless, mentally and emotionally taxing. Processed a moderate stack of emails. Disassembled and reassembled a homily for Easter IV from a prior year, repurposing it for use at the Chapel of St John the Divi