Showing posts from January, 2017


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a pile of hard-copy items: two episcopal election consents, a credit card statement (which required a bit a sleuthing in order to properly annotate one of the charges), some Nashotah House business. Reviewed and suggested a couple of tweaks on the draft of the bulletin for this Sunday at St Thomas', Glen Carbon. Spent some productive time and energy on the ongoing work of making our new database system workable. Since the app is Windows-based and I run a Mac, today's efforts were focused on some software that emulates a Windows environment on an Apple machine. In short, I can run Windows 10 and any programs that operate in that environment. Offered some pastoral care by telephone to a distraught layperson upset with some the goings-on in her Eucharistic Community. Attended to a couple of other relatively minor issues by email. Substantive phone conversation with the Dean of Nashotah House. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Corresponde

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Up and out of the Embassy Suites city center Philadephia in time to be picked up by some parishioners from Holy Comforter, Drexel Hill, a relatively close-in suburb. Preached at the 8:00 and 10:00 celebrations of the Eucharist, then sat in on rector Jonathan Mitchican's bible study after coffee hour. (If all Episcopalians got the kind of solid teaching those folks get, I would be very optimistic about the church's future.) After a brief time with the Mitchican family at their home, it was off to the airport (hoping not to be delayed by the protesters). All went well, I was pulling into my driveway at home by around 10:30.

Sermon for Epiphany IV

Holy Comforter, Drexel Hill, PA -- I Corinthians 1:18-31 , Matthew 5:1-12 Back when I was in high school, a program was instituted that was considered rather innovative at the time, but is pretty much taken for granted nowadays. It's the whole idea of special privileges for seniors—seniors in high school, that is! Seeing as how they've reached the point of crossing over the line from childhood into adulthood, it's appropriate that there be some outward and visible signs of such a status. So, as it was styled in my high school, the senior "Pride" program meant that, as long as we adhered to certain rules, we could leave campus in the afternoon an hour earlier than the other students, and there was a special room — with a TV and a coke machine —dedicated solely to the use of seniors with "Pride" privileges. I know all this might sound pretty tame by today's standards, but, back then, it was a sign of high status.  As well it should be. We expe

Saturday (St Thomas Aquinas)

The time demands of the morning were merciful, which allowed me to arrive at St Clement's Church, about two blocks from my hotel, well-rested at 10:15ish. Even though I had no actual role in the liturgy, I was graciously invited to "dress the part" and sit "in choir," donning some items that were my own and some that were provided by the parish, which has a quite idiosyncratic liturgical tradition and therefore accustomed to dressing visiting dignitaries that they consider appropriate in their milieu. The liturgy was splendid, with a choir and orchestra offering Mozart's Coronation Mass. The preacher was the sometime Bishop Suffragan of Long Island, Rodney Michel, who quoted a quite moving passage from a letter of the Royal Martyr to his son, written on the eve of the King's execution. Bishop Michel made that point that, were it not for the King's courageous and resolute witness in defence of the Church's Catholic order, even to the point of shed

Friday (St John Chrysostom)

Up, packed, and out of the house headed for Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport (SPI) at 9:15, ahead of a scheduled 11:30 departure that ended up getting pushed back to around 11:00. Layover in Chicago, then on to Philadelphia. The local transit system is not nearly as intuitive as many others I have successfully negotiated (like Rome and Madrid, recently), but I did get myself on a train headed downtown, and then found my way on foot to my hotel, at the very auspicious Philadelphia address of 1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. After quickly unpacking, I headed back out on foot for a dinner rendezvous with some friends--some old, some new--who were also in town for the annual Mass and luncheon of the Society of St Charles, King & Martyr.

Thursday (Ss Timothy & Titus)

Dropped the YFNBmobile at the BMW dealer for routine scheduled maintenance and hoofed it the eight blocks or so down Second Street to the office. Brisk. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Performed the necessary surgery on a sermon text for Epiphany V such that I can give it new life for use at St Thomas', Glen Carbon on February 5. Dealt via email with a sensitive and important administrative manner with potential pastoral implications. It's an ongoing issue but I believe we now have a sense of direction on it. Reviewed some financial information--both routine and special--from the treasurer of Forward Movement in preparation for a video-conference meeting of the board later in the day. Did a bit of work on a series of short teaching videos on the Habits of Discipleship. Walked up back to Isringhausen to get my car. Picked up lunch from ChiTown's finest and brought it home to eat, only to discover that they had given me somebody else's lunch. So I drove back up th

Conversion of St Paul

Usual weekday morning routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepped for the midday Mass. Perused the website of a professional photographer who shot one of our ordinations a few months ago, and inquired about purchasing the rights to a few of his images from that occasion. Liturgical action shots are always good for freshening up the website. Attended via email to several details pertaining to the planned visit from about five of us in the diocese to our companion diocese of Tabora (Tanzania) this summer. Sat for a good long while with the readings for Epiphany VII, along with the personal and exegetical notes I've made on those texts over the past couple of weeks, and emerged from the process with a simple declarative statement of "good news," which is the germ of what will, God willing, develop into a sermon to be given at St Thomas', Salem on February 19. Presided and preached the Mass for the feast of the Conversion of St Paul. Lunch from KFC, eaten at

Tuesday (St Francis de Sales)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Touched base with the Archdeacon on a couple of ongoing concerns. Spoke by phone with one of our rectors over a couple of emerging concerns. Arranged for publication of the news that Fr Jim Fackler died yesterday. Spoke with Fr Baumann in Salem, who was his immediate pastoral contact. Spoke with one of Fr Fackler's sons and conveyed my condolences to the family. (Travel plans this weekend prevent from presiding at the funeral.) And since Fr Jim still technically "belonged" to him and was "on loan" to us, I rang up Bishop John Roth, my ELCA opposite number, to bring him up to speed. Ad hoc  but substantive in-person conversation with Dean Andy Hook about a range of cathedral-related matters. Reviewed some papers in my capacity as one of the two co-trustees of the Putnam Trust, which benefits two of our parishes. The lawyers for the trust company are forever changing one thing or another, mostly for tax planning purposes. Out

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

I love the rhythm of my work. Sunday parish visitations are always energizing and joy-evoking. They make other stuff that happens during the week worth slogging through. Presided and preached 0730 and 0945 Masses at Trinity, Lincoln this morning, confirming three adults and a teen at the later liturgy. Then joined the congregation at the home of Fr Mark Evans and his wife for an open house. Trinity is a happy and healthy congregation.

Sermon for III Epiphany

Trinity, Lincoln -- Matthew 4:12-23 I have a rather enormous appetite for spy movies and suspense thrillers. Nowadays I mostly watch them when I need to be on the treadmill for an extended period of time. One of the frequent plot ingredients for such films involves a time bomb—sometimes even a nuclear time bomb. The hero, usually after several minutes of strenuous hand-to-hand combat, finally makes it to the bomb, which, invariably, is set to explode in just a few seconds. The hero is, of course, a hero. But he is not usually a bomb expert. Should he cut the red wire first, or the blue wire? Or the yellow wire? Or the green wire? If he guesses wrong, the device will explode in his face. If he hesitates too long, the device will explode in his face. He simply must decide and plunge ahead, without the benefit of sustained analysis or reflection. The authors of these fictional scenarios may well have taken their inspiration from the fourth chapter of St Matthew’s gospel. Jesus is

Saturday (St Agnes)

Aside from taking care of my own health with a weight and treadmill workout, my good deed for the day was providing lunch (tacos from La Bamba) for the crew helping Dean Andy Hook move into his new home.

Friday (St Fabian)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a short stack of emails. Processed the contents of my physical inbox, mostly by scanning, categorizing, and tagging electronically. Spent some quality time on the website of the Archives of the Episcopal Church toward the end of distilling some simple but robust standard practices going forward for identifying and preserving documents, including emails, generated in the course of my work that have the potential to be significant for archival purposes. We really haven't been doing much to make things easier for future historiographers. The considerate thing to do would be to remedy that so far as we can without compromising our actual mission and ministry. Took some preparatory technical steps toward recording a teaching video. And I may or may not have looked in, off and on, on the proceedings in Washington, DC.  Lunch from Subway, eaten at home. Battled video technology, with which I have had a tendentious relationship, most of the

Thursday (St Wulfstan)

My morning plans were upended by a difficult night, sleeping-wise. (I was awake for a long while with shortness-of-breath that now appears  may  be related to some version of sleep apnea; it's an evolving story.) So, once I settled down and was able to sleep, I allowed myself some extra time in the morning. It's a "pay me now or pay me later" scenario, right?  Then it was time for my regular Thursday AM weights and treadmill routine (the latter now "enhanced" to 90 minutes, rather than 45). So it was 11am before I made it into the office. Exchanged emails with Fr Evans over some of the details of Sunday's liturgies at Trinity, Lincoln. Read the request of the Bishop of Kansas for permission of the bishops-with-jurisdiction to resign his office in order to accept a call to become rector of a major parish in New York City. This is not a commonplace move for a diocesan bishop, but it does happen from time to time. I executed a form conveying my assent t

Confession of St Peter

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared to preside and preach at the midday Mass (a regular chore most Wednesdays). Processed a short stack of emails on the fly as they came in. (I'd rather it were a short stack of pancakes, but ... ) Got to work on a letter to a bishop I do not know personally in another Anglican province. It's about a sensitive pastoral matter, so I can't really say anything, but, even if I could, I'm not sure I could connect all the dots in a coherent and succinct narrative. At any rate, chasing down precise contact information, carefully drafting the letter; printing, signing, scanning, and emailing as an attachment all conspired to consume the rest of my morning. Celebrated and preached the Mass for the Confession of St Peter. Attended to some convoluted paperwork associated with the Bishops Class of 2011 annual continuing education get-together (with our wives) in April. It was more complicated than it needed to be, and involved a phone ca

Tuesday (St Antony)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took care of a quick bit of administrivia. Took care of a not-so-quick bit of administrivia, having to do with the ongoing project of making our database software accessible and effective. We are making slow but steady progress. Played email volleyball with the rector of Holy Comforter, Drexel Hill, PA, where I will be preaching the Sunday after next. The preaching gig is a secondary side benefit to the primary reason for my visit to Philadelphia (my first to that city) that weekend, which is connected to my leadership position in the Society of King Charles the Martyr. But I am never not excited about an opportunity to preach. Took some giant leaps toward actually having a sermon ready to deliver when I show up in Drexel Hill. Lunch from the McD's on MacArthur, which I learned yesterday is closing at the end of the month, after 60 years, eaten at home. It's not like Springfield has any shortage of McDonald's locations. But this is the

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

I had an arduous journey to my parish visitation today--all of about 2.5 miles to Christ Church, Springfield. Spoke at their adult forum at 9am. It's always lively conversation there. Today they were mostly curious about my sabbatical and what the Camino was like, which I was more than happy to talk about. Presided at preached at the regular 10:15 Eucharist, where we also confirmed three adults. It was a very enjoyable time.

Sermon for Epiphany II

Christ Church, Springfield -- John 1:21-42,  Isaiah 49:1-7 Several decades ago a psychologist named Abraham Maslow got famous—at least among those who read psychology textbooks! —for publishing his theory about the “hierarchy of needs.”  Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs says that human beings have certain universal needs which, if they are met at all, must be met in a particular order. The most basic human need is for oxygen, and a person who is deprived of oxygen, after a very few seconds, is unlikely to be concerned about anything else.  After the need for oxygen is met, the next level of the hierarchy is immediate personal safety. If you're being chased through the forest by a wild bear, you're not going to care awfully much about the relative humidity. And so on up the hierarchy through the levels of warmth, water, food, and so on. Once a lower need is satisfied, there is an immediate drive and desire to meet the next one on the scale. If you're freezing to deat

Saturday (St Kentigern)

I had a noon meeting at the diocesan office on my calendar today, but, in the wake of the freezing rain that began to coat paved surfaces with a micro-layer of ice during the night, I was dubious about it. However, when I confirmed that the other party involved was indeed en route from a significant distance away, I threw on my winter gear and strewed ice melt compound and sand all over my driveway. A few minutes later I was able to successfully walk up it. Once I got the YFNBmobile out to the street, the roads didn't seem inordinately slick. The meeting (with a layperson over a pastoral issue) happened between 11:30 and 1:00, and I went back home, stopping at Taco Gringo for takeout on my way. The feature attraction of the afternoon was a weight workout and a very long time on the treadmill.

Friday (St Hilary of Poitiers)

Usual devotions (Angelus, intercessions before the Blessed Sacrament) in the cathedral, whereupon I discovered that I had left my phone at home, so I headed back there, offering short form of Morning Prayer  en route . Quickly took care of a couple of bits of administrivia. Scanned and otherwise processed the contents of my hard-copy inbox. Met for the balance of the morning with the Archdeacon and the Treasurer to compare resources with opportunities and more toward preparing an amended budget to present to the February meeting of the Diocesan Council (which always amends the budget passed by Synod the previous fall anyway, so while what we were discussing is kind of not routine, it's also kind of routine). Kept a 12:30 appointment to have an ultrasound scan of my thyroid done. (There were some nodules discovered about five years ago, so this was just to see whether they're still the same size--and, I found out later, they are ... so, reassuring.) Given the freezing rain

Thursday (St Aelred)

Customary Thursday morning weights and treadmill, with the treadmill portion extended once again to about 90 minutes.  Left the house around 9:50. Morning Prayer (memorized short form) in the car on the way in. Brief devotions in the cathedral when I got there. Clarified a couple of small administrative matters ... with the Administrator. Spoke by phone with two of our priests--both over concerns that could be broadly described as "pastoral." Took a first prayerful pass at the readings for Epiphany VII in preparation for preaching at St Thomas', Salem on February 19. Made some notes. Now it percolates in my heart and mind, under the guidance, one hopes. of the Holy Spirit. Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Hand-wrote several notes of greeting to clergy and clergy spouses with February birthdays and anniversaries. I hope it's really true that "it's the thought that counts," because my handwriting is not going to win any awards for elegance of le


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared to preside and preach at the midday Mass. Attended to a sensitive and difficult pastoral/administrative matter, involving two phone conversations. Not my favorite thing, but it comes with the territory. Did some deconstructive and reconstructive surgery on the text of a previously-delivered homily for Epiphany III in preparation for repurposing it for use at Trinity, Lincoln on January 22. Sent an email invitation to one of our priests to deliver the homily at the annual Chrism Mass on April 8. Celebrated and preached the midday cathedral Mass (ferial Wednesday after Epiphany I). Drove out to my optometrist's office to have new lenses put into my glasses frame. I'm cautiously optimistic. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Most of my afternoon (what was left of it by this point) was given over to plotting sermon prep tasks from Ash Wednesday through Easter. As I've mentioned before, this is an inordinately time-consuming job, but I a

Tuesday (William Laud)

Usual weekday AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Responded by email to four messages that arrived yesterday. Three were fairly easily and effectively dispatched. One required an uncommon amount of care the verbal finesse. By the time I finished with those, it was time to leave for a 10:30 appointment with my primary care physician. This yielded a visit to the lab for a blood drawn and a chest X-ray. By the time I emerged from the clinic, it was nearly noon, so I swung by KFC for the lunch, which I brought home to eat. Attended to another piece of demanding--but important and, unfortunately, necessary--piece of verbal craftsmanship, having to do with a sensitive pastoral/administrative matter (which is a euphemism I use frequently, I realize, for things I really can't say anything about in detail). Revised, refined, proofed, and printed a homily for this Sunday (Christ Church, Springfield). Took another hard and long look at the major teaching piece on ministry that

First Sunday after the Epiphany

It was not an overly-demanding Sunday--just a 30-mile jaunt to Trinity, Jacksonville for a humane service time of 10am. Preached, celebrated the Eucharist, and presided over the Renewal of Baptismal Vows on this feast of the Baptism of the Lord. There's a good spirit at Trinity under the leadership of their still newish rector, Fr Zachary Brooks. Home for a long nap and a classic movie (Hitchcock's 1955 To Catch a Thief ).

Sermon for Epiphany I

Trinity, Jacksonville -- Matthew 3:13-17, Isaiah 42:1-9 Well . . . Christmas really is over, isn't it?  Some poinsettias linger here and there, just because they're still so pretty—the tradition is actually to leave some out until Candlemas on February 2—and a festival frontal still decorates the altar. But most of the Christmas decorations are put away, most significantly, perhaps, the crèche. Jesus is apparently no longer lying in an animal feeding trough set in a hillside cave outside a tiny village in an obscure province of the Roman Empire. Between Epiphany and the Sunday after—a mere 48 hours this year—we make a quantum leap in remembered time, a leap of about thirty years, from Jesus the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, to Jesus the grown-up, ready to embark on, as it were, his “career.” The object of our attention in the liturgy for the First Sunday after the Epiphany is the Baptism of our Lord, in the Jordan River, by none other than John the Baptist. We c


Mostly took today as a personal day, but I did do some substantial email processing in the evening.


Regular AM weekday routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. The day was given over to mundane administrative chores, all fairly important but not pressingly urgent, and most involving attempts to start the email negotiations for scheduling a meeting of some sort, which I suppose is a necessary evil but leaves me kind of drained. There was a substantive phone conversation with the Dean of Nashotah House to break things up a bit. And I do have a sense of accomplishment, as there were ten items checked of my task list. But I'm glad every day isn't ... like I said, this mundane. So it was with some joy that I pointed the YFNBmobile in a southerly direction at 4pm and joined (as celebrant and preacher) the good people of St Andrew's, Edwardsville for a sung Mass with lots of incense in celebration of the feast of the Epiphany. We sang five hymns, and none of them were We Three Kings. Not that there's anything wrong with it--I like it--but this may be the first Epiphany litu

Thursday (12th Day of Christmas)

Accompanied Brenda to an 8am doctor's appointment. Got back home around 9:30 and did my customary Thursday exercise routine: four sets of weight-lifting and about 90 minutes on the treadmill. (OK, this was double my usual treadmill time, but I'm feeling a need to raise the status of exercise among my priorities.) Wrestled with about 30 emails that had accumulated during the morning. Brenda brought me a sandwich from Chick-Fil-A for lunch, which I enjoyed in my recliner. At the office for the afternoon: more emails at first, then ... Consulted with the Archdeacon and the Administrator over various items of administrivia. The solid PM accomplishment was a long and careful look at the diocesan canons to see if there is a path toward making the mechanics of electing General Convention Deputies and Alternates at Synod every third year less cumbersome than it's been. Crafted a proposal and hit it over into the Chancellor's court for his comments. Evening Prayer in the

Wednesday (Eleventh Day of Christmas)

Task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Got right to work on refining, in light of requested feedback, some guidelines for use in readiness-for-ordination examination of candidates for the vocational diaconate. We're not quite inventing the wheel here, but it's been a good long while since this diocese ordained a vocational deacon, and the landscape has shifted significantly during that time. Broke off at 10:40 in order to keep an 11am appointment with my optometrist. It's no wonder I've been having vision problems. It turns out that the glasses I thought were a "redo" from a slightly errant prescription more than a year ago are in fact the prescription that was supposed to be redone. So they're fixing that for me. Lunch from Pizza Hut, eaten at home. Kept a phone date with my old friend the Bishop of Calgary. We try to talk regularly as a sort of micro-support group. Ran a Bishop's Discretionary Fund-driven errand on behalf of a

Tuesday (10th Day of Christmas)

Dropped off our eldest child, Sarah, at the Amtrak station on my way into the office this morning, after a wonderful 2+ day visit. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Revised, edited, refined, and printed my homily for this Sunday (Trinity, Jacksonville). Read and pondered an email from a layperson of the diocese over an emerging concern. Responded by email to another layperson over some personal concerns. Conferred with the Archdeacon for a bit on the status of one of our Eucharistic Communities. Spoke by phone with one of our rectors concerning a pastoral issue. Reviewed a proposed itinerary for a February visit to Peru and gave it a thumbs up. Took care of a fairly mundane (but ultimately important) administrative chore (appointing somebody to a position similar to the one they held under the previous canons but which was eliminated in the recent revision). Met with Dean Hook from across the alley to do a "post-mortem" on the Christmas liturgies and look ahead toward

Holy Name

Drove to Havana this morning. Didn't see any antique cars. Guess it wasn't that Havana. But I did celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus with the fine people of St Barnabas' Church, and had a very open and productive conversation with them afterward about the direction we might plot together for their future.