Showing posts from 2017

First Sunday after Christmas Day

"Slept in" in my Glen Carbon hotel room until 7am (20 minutes later than I'm out of bed on a weekday) and was put together and in the parking lot at St Bartholomew's, Granite City by 8:15, ahead of their regular 8:45am Sunday liturgy. Presided and preached (alongside their Vicar, Bishop Tony Clavier), visited with the people for a bit afterward, and then headed home, arriving a bit before noon. Shoveled off a thin layer of snow on the driveway before heading out to lunch and shopping errands with Brenda. Back in this space on Tuesday, following the holiday.

Sermon for Christmas I

St Bartholomew's, Granite City -- John 1:1-18 Science was not my favorite subject in school. In a time when graduation requirements were different than they are today, and with different college entrance requirements, I got through high school with only one year of science—tenth grade biology. In college, I had to take a year of what they called Natural Science, which was essentially “Science for Dummies.” And my lab course in college was Astronomy, which met one evening per week for one trimester. It may be possible that I remember only one thing from that year of Natural Science, and it’s from the portion of the course dedicated to Physics. I’m talking about the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Law of Entropy. I think the principle of entropy impressed me then, and continues to impress me, because it’s so evidently true. Entropy acknowledges the fact that order will always tend to dissipate into chaos. I’m sure a physicist could cite more sophisticated examples, but on the lev


I may be too old for this. Left the house right before 5am, headed for the airport in St Louis. Boarded an 8am flight to Dallas, that left 20 minutes late. Got to my connecting gate at DFW just in time to board a 38-minute hop up to Oklahoma City. Got a taxi to All Souls' Church, arriving about an hour ahead of the 2pm scheduled funeral Mass for Bishop Bruce MacPherson, who was a saintly man, a strong shepherd-leader. Our most recent relationship was mutual service on the board of the Living Church Foundation, which he chaired until very recently. Bishop MacPherson died of an unusually acute iteration of leukemia, only about ten days after being diagnosed, and only a few months after "clean" blood work. We're all scratching our heads. We gave him a good sendoff. Shared an Uber ride with the Bishop of Dallas back to the airport, and, when we had both cleared security, we had dinner together. Back to Dallas (another very short layover), back to St Louis, back to Lot A,

Saturday (St Thomas Becket)

More Monopoly in the morning--a completion of the drubbing by my nine-year-old granddaughter that began last night. Fortunately for my ego, she and her sister and mother were the last of our holiday house guests, and they set a course back toward there Minnesota home around 2:15. Brenda and I then began the slow process of putting the house back into its just-the-two-of-us mode of being. I leave at 0-dark-thirty tomorrow morning for a day trip (believe it or not) to Oklahoma City for the funeral of a colleague bishop, Bruce MacPherson, with whom it was my honor to serve on the Living Church Foundation board, and as a Communion Partner. The plan is for me to arrive back at STL late Saturday night ahead of my Sunday visit to St Bartholomew's, Granite City.

Holy Innocents

More Monopoly, which is proving to be a great bonding experience with the granddaughter, so ... priceless. But I did make it onto the office for a bit: financial administrivia, conferring with the Archdeacon on various balls in play, refining and printing my homily for this Sunday (St Bartholomew's, Granite City), and putting vestments left in my office is disarray after the Christmas Eve liturgies back into some semblance of order. Also attended the midday Mass for the feast day. 

St John

Processed email at home. Engaged a vigorous treadmill workout. Accompanied our Minnesota daughter and her two daughters on a visit to the Lincoln Museum. I've been there so many times I feel like an unofficial docent!  Attended to a significant and yet unresolved administrative/pastoral matter with a substantive email. Sometimes it feels like pushing a glacier uphill. Located a sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas from a prior year and reworked it for use this Sunday at St Bartholomew's, Granite City. Now that we are down to just three houseguests, I was able to begin to restore some regular order to the house. Much more yet to do. The highlight of the day had to be playing Monopoly after dinner with the daughter and granddaughters. I'ts been decades since I've played, and it was great fun.

St Stephen

Starting to ease gently back into a working routine. With family still around, I didn't make it into the office today, but did attend to several issues by email. We'll ramp it up a bit more tomorrow.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Lazy morning. We have a houseful--three of our own offspring, two spouses, and three grandchildren. Brenda and I slipped out a 9:45 to head across town to St Luke's for their regular 10:30am liturgy We duly kept the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and confirmed one adult to add to everyone's joy. Wonderful post-liturgical repast of Corsican beef stew, Filipino egg rolls, and empanadas. Back to lazing around the house with the family through the afternoon before heading to the cathedral for the 5:30 Mass, where I preached. After some more family time at home, back to St Paul's for the "Midnight" Mass, where I preached and celebrated. Hodie Christus natus est.

Christmas Eve Sermon

Springfield Cathedral What do you want for Christmas?  Haven’t we heard that question a lot in the last few weeks? Haven’t we asked that question a lot? Sometimes, the answer is quick and definitive, and sometimes it’s slow and vague. I’ve often answered, when asked that question by my wife or children, “All I want is your love and respect,” and I haven’t been completely sarcastic in saying that. Then there’s the occasional politician or beauty pageant contestant who gives the obligatory “world peace” when asked what they want for Christmas. What do you want for Christmas? What do you really want for Christmas? Ah, well, if you ask it that way, if you want me to actually think seriously about my response, then some different answers begin to emerge. And they depend on how we’re already doing in life. If we’re usually hungry, and live from unplanned meal to unplanned meal, then food is what we want for Christmas. If we’re living on the street or under a bridge, secure shelter is wha

Sermon for !V Advent

St Luke's, Springfield -- Luke 1:26-38 These last few days, the last week before Christmas, is the peak period for the arrival of Christmas cards in each day’s mail. I enjoy them, but I don’t enjoy all of them equally. Even a trite, unattractive card containing a short hand-written note from someone I know personally is much more valuable to me than an elegant and beautiful card with a printed signature from someone who knows me only as a customer or potential donor. And as I think about my feelings around Christmas cards, I’m aware that I sort all the mail I get throughout the year, whether at home or in the office, by a quite subjective and emotional standard. A “good mail day” is when there’s an envelope with a hand-written address. These go immediately to the top of the stack and I feel kind of excited and eager as I open them. What’s actually inside the envelope may be good, bad, or indifferent, but at least I know that somebody has something to say to me, person to person


In the office at 9:00 for a meeting with the Archdeacon and the President of the Disciplinary Board. Spent the rest of the day at home, where, since it is an odd-numbered year, we are gradually acquiring a houseful of descendants. Engaged yet again the process of trying to cobble together an agreement to create the Geographic Parish of McLean County. Edited, refined, and printed my Christmas Eve homily. Lectio divina on the daily office OT reading for the day.

St Thomas (O Oriens)

90 minutes on the treadmill. MP while cooling down. Task planning and some email processing over breakfast. In the office around 10:15. Conferred briefly with the Dean. Conferred briefly with the Communicator on an ongoing project. Wrote and sent an email to a priest whose ordination anniversary this is. Worked on my homily for Epiphany I (January 7 at Trinity, Lincoln). Brought it from the "message statement" phase to the "developed outline" phase. Hand-wrote a note of condolence to a colleague bishop who has suffered the death of a close family member. Prepared the contents of a ceremonial binder with parts of the Christmas Eve liturgy that are proper to the Bishop--large print for aging eyes being the guiding rubric here. Attended the Mass for the feast day of St Thomas, which is the 28th anniversary of my own first Mass. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Cooperating with the Dean in a videography project in support of the cathedral's social media footprin

Wednesday (O Clavis David)

Usual weekday AM routine. MP in the cathedral. Dashed off an email note to a priest celebrating an ordination anniversary today. Got to work editing and refining the text of my homily this Sunday. Stepped out for a healthcare appointment. Spoke by phone with one of our clergy over an ongoing pastoral/administrative matter that continues to be vexing. Back to that Advent IV sermon work. Lunch from TG, eaten at home. Got back to the office and inadvertently got myself consumed in a personal organization project which was not at all urgent, but didn't require much mental or emotional energy, and was kind of fun in a nerdy sort of way. It would have eventually needed doing, but certainly not today. It took some time, though. That happens once in a while. Spoke by phone with my ELCA opppsite number, Bishop Roth. Wrote my notes to clergy with nodal events in January. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Tuesday (O Radix Jesse)

Task planning over breakfast. Took a little extra time at home to prepare staff Christmas gifts for delivery. Brief consultation with the Archdeacon on last week's "black swan" matter. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Attended to some administrative details of a matter related to a couple of our clergy. Stepped out for a meeting with my personal financial advisor (who is conveniently only a block away). Began deconstructing and old homily for Advent IV toward the end of reconstructing it for use this Sunday at St Luke's, Springfield. Pulled pork lunch from HyVee, eaten at home. Met with the Dean in preparation for our mutual participation in the two Christmas Eve Masses at the cathedral. Took a phone call from one of our clergy. Got back to that sermon prep task I'd started before lunch. Conferred with the Archdeacon again, this time on another matter. Conferred by email with the rector of a Eucharistic Community that I will be visiting in early Januar

Third Sunday of Advent

Because of the unexpected "black swan" event of the past week, my visitation schedule was altered slightly. Today I headed out at 6:45 to cover the 9:30 liturgy at St Thomas', Salem and the 11:30 at St John's, Centralia, along with some conversation with each congregation. Home a little past 4:00. Since my dance card was already open on Advent IV, I was able to push today's scheduled visitation to St Luke's, Springfield to next Sunday.

Sermon for III Advent

  St Luke’s, Springfield --John 1:6-8, 19-29 If you’re at all like me, you probably get most of your news these days from the internet. On my laptop, I have a browser tab open to what they call a “news aggregator.” I tell it what topics I’m interested in and it feeds me stories from dozens of different sources. One of the topics I’ve told my news aggregator to be interested in is Christianity in general and Anglicanism in particular. There’s a consistent theme to what shows up in my feed: Christianity in general and Anglican Christianity in particular are both in severe decline in the “developed” world—North America and Europe. Both are doing better in Africa and Asia, but, where we live, it’s one grim report after another. I actually hear a similar story as I visit the churches of the Diocese of Springfield. People are anxious about shrinking membership and advancing average age. If we were to put both of those statistical trends on a graph, it would be pretty clear where the line


Task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Proactive pastoral check-in by email. Began the process of gathering my thoughts, and making some notes, on my next-due Covenant blog post. This is going to be a substantial essay. It took the rest of the morning. Except that I did leave a bit on the early side in order to drop by McD's and be home at noon to meet an electrician. That also took a while. Back in the office at 2:15. Booked travel to Houston in January. I've been invited to preach at a Choral Evensong during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at the cathedral church of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter (a sort of non-geographic Roman Catholic diocese that worships using language from the Prayer Book tradition in particular and music from the Anglican tradition in general). Scanned and otherwise processed accumulated hard copy. Prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, followed by an earlyish Evening Prayer. Left the office at 4:15 to go ho


90 minutes on the treadmill. Morning Prayer while cooling off. Task planning over breakfast. Such things ebb and flow. While December tends to be a busy month for parish clergy, my experience as a bishop has been the opposite. Were it not for the urgent matter that consumed yesterday (and much of today), I would be down to that list of "when I can get around to it" tasks. In the office, brief consultations with the Communicator and the Archdeacon. Some light email processing. Left a voicemail with the Chancellor of another diocese who has some technical expertise in the clergy discipline canons. First get-to-know-you interview with a lay communicant who wishes to test a vocation to Holy Orders. Met with one of our clergy, who both does supply work around the diocese and has some pre-ordination technical expertise that is potentially helpful in an ongoing matter. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Signed and sealed ordination certificates for two transitional deacons who are se

Wednesday (St Lucy)

Some have teased me over my seeming passion for personal organization and non-procrastination. (For example, when I have to give a from-scratch Sunday sermon, it's a six-week process of incubation and development.) Well ... today is the reason I endure the teasing. A piece of certified mail arriving in the office late yesterday afternoon looped me into a situation that consumed my entire morning, and much of the afternoon. The fact that I'm basically on top of my routine work means that I can absorb black swans like this and not go into meltdown. And, no, I can't say anything about that certified mail. I did manage to get a little bit of other work done, though even some of that was focused on a different iteration of the same genre of issue that consumed most of the day. Sent a couple of emails acknowledging ordination anniversaries, and brought some clarity to my gestating homily for the Baptism of Christ (January 7). With gratitude, I was able to pray both the morning an


Daily and weekly task planning (and email processing) over breakfast, as well as some blog reading. Since we had an electrician scheduled to come by at 10, I got to work on my day at home. Morning Prayer in my recliner. Took care of a bit of personal healthcare business on Brenda's behalf. Via email and Doodle poll, attended to a piece of General Convention-related business. Took care of a bit of pastoral/administrative business via email. Met with the electrician. Problems solved or on the way thereto. Spoke by phone with a colleague bishop about an individual in the ordination process. Then headed to the office. Prepared to preside and preach at the midday liturgy. Consulted with the Administrator around a relatively minor technical issue that is not altogether clear. Presided and preached at the cathedral Mass, keeping the lesser (and less-than-official) feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Chinese lunch from HyVee, eaten at home. Edited, refined, and printed a working te

Second Sunday of Advent

Shared in Word and Sacrament with Fr Ian Wetmore and the good people of St Michael's, O'Fallon at their regular 9:30am liturgy. This was preceded by a teaching opportunity with attendees at their adult education class, wherein we discussed the morphology of Advent. (No worries, I didn't actually use that word until the end of the time.) After the Mass, there was a bake-sale-on-steroids, and I dutifully left with a pound of purchased cookies.

Sermon for Advent II

St Michael's, O'Fallon -- Mark 1:1-8 ; II Peter 3:8-15, 18 I and those of my generation are children of the space age. Many of you are of that same generation. When a manned space mission was launched, all three television networks interrupted their regular programming and showed it live. We grew up familiar with the voice of mission control saying “T-minus 47 minutes and counting” or “T-minus sixteen minutes and holding.” We got worried when the countdown was “holding,” because it meant there was a problem, and sometimes the hold lasted several hours or even a day. It was as if time stood still, and we ached for the gratification of hearing the final countdown—Ten-nine-eight-seven…and down to “We have liftoff.” But the idea of a “countdown” leading up to an eagerly-anticipated event is not something new with the space age. Many of you are probably familiar with the tradition of the Advent calendar. Every day during Advent a little door opens up, or a space is uncovered, re


Spent the morning moderating a conversation between two deacons, three priests, and a candidate for the vocational diaconate, the purpose of which was to assess the academic preparedness of the latter. The unanimous verdict was in the affirmative, and, pending the consent of the Commission on Ministry and Standing Committee, we look forward to ordaining Chris Gregory on the feast of the Conversion of St Paul next month. Putting around at home, subjected myself to a vigorous treadmill workout, and, after dinner, made tracks in the YFNBmobile for O'Fallon, where I am ensconced at the Hilton Garden Inn ahead of tomorrow's visitation to St Michael's.

Friday (Immaculate Conception)

Always angling for greater efficiency in the planning and execution of my life and work, I am habitually promiscuous when it comes to personal organization software. I've just decided to make another move, which consumed a chunk of time at home last night and another chunk this morning. This may be about deeper psychological issues, but it will take a shrink to sort that out. Anyway, I got a late start to the actual work day. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Consulted with the Administrator briefly. Continued to joust with technology. Prepared, sealed, and signed a certificate appointing Father Andy Hook as diocesan exorcist. He has background, interest, and training in this area, and I am grateful for his availability to embrace this ministry. Of course, like the members of the Disciplinary Board, Dean Hook, I'm sure, hopes he never has to act on these newly-conferred credentials. But it's wise to be ready. The "elemental spirits" of universe that revel agai

Thursday (St Ambrose)

Began the day with about 90 minutes on the treadmill. Morning Prayer while I was cooling off. Task planning over breakfast. At the offce around 9:45. Attended to some fairly low-level General Convention-related business. Cleaned up my computer desktop. Routine maintenance. Stepped out for a personal meeting. Took a phone call from one of our rectors about an ordination-process issue. Attended to a Gnosis issue (we *will* be victorious!). Lunch at home. Leftovers. More work with the Gnosis issue. Incremental success. Off to another personal meeting. Took my homily for Advent III from "developed outline" to "rough draft." Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Wednesday (St Nicholas)

Task planning at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Conferred with Paige briefly on a website issue. Hand-wrote a note of condolence to a colleague bishop whose wife suddenly died last week. Began a round of telephone tag with one of our clergy. Organized sermon preparation work for the Sundays after Epiphany. Spent a good chunk of quality time with two excellent commentaries on the Gospel of Mark in preparation for preaching at Trinity, Lincoln on the First Sunday after the Epiphany, January 7. I relish opportunities to do this sort of thing, not only for however it helps my preaching, but just to be able to get deep into the weeds on a particular biblical passage. Tonic for the soul. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Shopped for and ordered staff Christmas gifts. Reviewed a proposal from to digitize, at no cost to us, whatever nodal life event records we have in our archives, plus those of the cathedral. Discussed the proposal with the Dean. Read the latest newslet

Tuesday (St Clement of Alexandria)

Weekly and daily task planning at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Reviewed some items of administrivia with--appropriately enough--the Administrator (whose path, between travel, holidays, and illness, has not crossed mine it what feels like a very long time). Got into the weeds with the Archdeacon on an ongoing pastoral situation. Left a voicemail in consequence of that conversation. Got to work on further revision and editing of my homily for this Sunday. Left at 11:30 to take Brenda to a dental appointment. Afterward, we grabbed lunch from the *other* Taco Gringo in town and brought it home to eat. Returned to the sermon prep, concluding with a printed text in my car and e-versions scheduled to post online Sunday right when the liturgy begins at St Michael's, O'Fallon. Got through to the Bishop of New Jersey to ask him to act on my behalf with respect the two of our transitional deacons who are working in his diocese and who now have Standing Committee approval

First Sunday of Advent

Great start to Advent with the folks of St John’s, Centralia. Important discussion afterward with them and some of the Redeemer Lutheran congregation, who now use the facilities at St John's at an earlier hour but will soon lose the supply pastor, about a linked relationship in shared services, with Fr David Baumann as pastor and priest to both, but maintaining both individual and congregational identities in TEC and ELCA. Trying to live into the aspiration of the sign.

Sermon for Advent Sunday

St John's, Centralia -- Mark 13:24-37 When Brenda and I were first married, we lived in a small carriage house apartment in downtown Santa Barbara, California. In the house next door to us, at the beginning of our time there, was a couple whom we never got to know more than in passing. Yet, we actually knew them better than they wanted us to, perhaps, because they fought—they fought often and they fought loud. When they really got going, it was not uncommon to hear dishes being smashed. They eventually moved, presumably to separate locations. Maybe they just finally ran out of dishes! I would hope that, for most of us, dish-smashing fights have not been a part of our domestic experience. Yet, virtually all of us have behaved in ways that could be fairly described as destructive. Through things we have said or done—or left unsaid or undone—we have destroyed parts of the hearts and souls of other people, usually the very people whom we love, and who love us, the most. And when w

Friday (Nicholas Ferrar)

Got a little bit of a late start to the morning due to late arrival home last night. Task planning and Morning Prayer at home. Took some time with Brenda to work through a health-related planning issue. In the office just past 10. Consulted with Paige briefly over a Gnosis issue. Got to work on notes to clergy celebrating birthdays and anniversaries in December. Birthdays and wedding anniversaries done by hand-written note; ordination anniversaries, since there is such a plethora in December, scheduled to be done by email. Conferred briefly with the Dean on a couple of things. Dealt by email with a scheduling issue. Lunch from China 1, eaten at home. Quick email to the Church Pension Group over a technical issue. Attended to an unexpectedly emergent pastoral/administrative issue. Refined and printed my homily for this Sunday, to be delivered at St John's, Centralia. Via consultation with the Archdeacon, perusal of the canons, and email, moved the ball down the field wit