Showing posts from April, 2017

Third Sunday of Easter

I was originally scheduled to be at St Bartholomew's, Granite City today, but some exceptional circumstances in that Eucharistic Community dictated that the visit be postponed. So my fallback was, of course, St Paul's Cathedral. I preached at 8:00 and presided as well as preached at 10:30. The plan had also been for us to retrieve Brenda's sister from California at SPI mid-afternoon (actually, she was supposed to come in yesterday) and then I would head to southern Indiana for the night ahead of being in Cincinnati by midday for the spring board meeting of Forward Movement. But I'm hanging out in Springfield, as this is posted, hoping to still retrieve the sister-in-law sometime just prior to midnight, and just be late for the meeting tomorrow.

Sermon for Easter III

Springfield Cathedral -- Luke 24:13-35 Back in the late 1940s, there was a young man named Elson who was from overseas and worked in his country’s embassy in Washington, DC. There was also a young American woman named Elizabeth who had a job as a typist in the same embassy. Elizabeth shared an apartment with her sister Virginia, and Elson made friends with both of them. After work, he would often come by their apartment with his “little black book” and use their phone to call women for dates. Elson obviously saw Elizabeth and her sister as “friends” and not potential “girlfriends.” He saw them one-dimensionally, in a certain way. It didn’t occur to him that either Virginia or Elizabeth could be for him what was represented by the names in his little black book. Indeed, how often are we so consumed by our own anxiety over some adverse circumstances that we pay scant attention to what’s actually going on right in front of us? The year before I began college, the college I went t


Back home now after a renewing and reinvigorating week with my Class of 2011 bishop colleagues and spouses. We have an exceptionally strong bond as a group, and form an important network of support and accountability for one another. The expression "it's lonely at the top" may be a worn-out cliché, but it is not without truth. Our annual time together is like a deep draught of oxygen.

Sermon for II Easter

St John the Baptist, Mt Carmel -- John 20:19-31 “Holy and gracious Father, in your infinite love, you made us for yourself…”.  Those words are probably familiar to you. They are from the beginning of one of the prayers which we use to consecrate the bread and wine in the Eucharist. In it, we acknowledge to God that, not only has God made us, he has made us for a particular purpose—fe has made us  for himself . He has made us to be in relationship with him. The Presbyterians have a document called the Westminster Catechism. The first question in the catechism is, “What is the chief end of Man?” And the answer is, “The chief end of Man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” To be fully human, to be fully alive, is to know and glorify and enjoy God. God also made us to be in relationship with our fellow human beings. Yes, there are introverts and there are hermits and there are misanthropes—but the fact remains, people need people. Without human contact, we shrivel up insid

Saturday in Easter Week

Slow morning at home ... long treadmill workout ... packing and other preparations for being away for several days. Left home after supper, around 6:30, and headed for Effingham with Brenda. We're bedding down here tonight ahead of moving on in the morning to Mt Carmel and a visitation to St John the Baptist there. Then it's off to St Louis, from whence we will fly to our annual Continuing Education meeting (I believe I've previously described "critical incident reports") with my Class of 2011 bishop colleagues and most of their spouses. We'll be home Friday afternoon, and I'll probably be "dark" in this venue until then.

Friday in Easter Week

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Spent the rest of the morning working on a narrative as part of the process of the annual evaluation of the Dean of Nashotah House. It took longer than I expected, for multiple reasons.  Before heading out for lunch, spent 45 minutes on a conference call regarding some personal/family concerns. Chinese food from HyVee, eaten at home. Returned to the decanal evaluation task and brought to it completion. Refined and printed my homily for Easter III, which will now be given at the cathedral, since St Bart's, Granite City needed to delay my April 30 visitation. Revised a sermon text for Easter IV from several years ago for use this year at the Chapel of St John the Divine, Champaign. As a prayer practice, spent some time at the cathedral organ playing through hymns from the Hymnal 1940. There are usually good reasons why several items from that book didn't make it into the 1982 revision. But that doesn't mean I can't feel nostalgic a

Thursday in Easter Week

Extended treadmill workout to start the day. Morning Prayer in the cathedral, around 10am. Attended briefly to some business related to my latest round of formal portraits. Assembled and reviewed résumés and other expressions of interest in the Communications Coordinator position. Reached out by email to the applicants. Processed my physical inbox, a routine but somewhat time-consuming chore that mostly involves scanning. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Substantive pre-arranged phone conversation with the Senior Warden of one of our Eucharistic Communities. Substance phone conversation with the Rector of one of our Eucharistic Communities. Exchanged emails with the President of the diocesan ECW over a possible fundraising project. Spent the rest of the afternoon continuing and completing the work I began last week on an article for the  Covenant  blog. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Wednesday in Easter Week

Spent the morning and the first part of the afternoon pulling my weight as a member of the Board of Directors of the Living Church Foundation, meeting in Dallas. All went well. Got to visit a bit with folks after our business was concluded. Then it was back to DFW, dropped off the rental car, cleared security, and all else unfolded smoothly. Really nice to have a direct flight back to Springfield; layovers contribute a great deal to the stress and anxiety of traveling by air. Home around 9:15.

Tuesday in Easter Week

Up at 4:00am in order to get out in time for the 5:48 American Airlines departure from SPI to DFW. After flying, collecting my luggage, picking up my rental car, and driving to my hotel, I will still in time to catch breakfast at the Doubletree Campbell Centre restaurant. Very grateful that my room was ready at such an hour. I'm in Dallas for the spring meeting of the Living Church Foundation board, but my first obligation in that connection wasn't until 4:30, so I had time both for a nice long walk (in a not very pedestrian-friendly part of town) and to knock off a handful of fairly prosaic items on my to-do list, and, of course, process some emails. The bulk of the meeting is tomorrow, and I fly home late in the afternoon. Nonstop is nice.

Easter Day

Back to the cathedral to preside and preach at the 8am Mass. Then, thanks to the kindness of Dean Andy Hook, I was relieved of my commitment to do the same at 10:30. Not often do we make a day trip to the Chicago area (200 miles), but we're just back from one--a family gathering the centerpiece of whom was my 91-year old mother, who is under hospice care.

Easter Homily

Springfield Cathedral I've sometimes wondered what it would be like to celebrate Easter in the southern hemisphere: South America, Australia, Southern Africa. It would come right about the time summer turns into autumn. The days would be getting noticeably shorter. At really southern latitudes the leaves might be getting ready to turn, and there would be a chill in the air, a harbinger of the approaching winter. Wouldn't that be strange?! It would feel strange to us because of all the associations we make between Easter and springtime: new beginnings for caterpillars turned into butterflies, new life for baby chicks, the sheer reproductive fecundity of rabbits. All of these symbols that our culture associates with Easter speak loudly of the sheer persistence of birth and life in the face of death and decay. It leads us to an understanding of Easter that sees it as about death being survived—survived, but not particularly defeated, challenged but not necessarily conquered. T

Holy Saturday / Easter Eve

Gathered, according to one of my favorite customs, with the cathedral Altar Guild at 9am for the brief proper liturgy for Holy Saturday, which features the magnificent ancient homily on Christ's harrowing of hell. Then I joined the workforce in preparing the church for the Easter Vigil. I came home around 11, rested for a bit, had some lunch, and took a substantial walk on a beautiful day. Napped a bit, read a bit, and attended to a few emails. Had another modest bit to eat and headed back to the ranch to get ready for the Great Vigil. We baptized a young girl (neither an infant nor a toddler, but not yet a teen) and confirmed two adults. What wonderful work to be involved in!

Good Friday

Spent a tad bit of extra time at home catching up on some "internet reading" (i.e. articles and blog posts that people have sent links to saying, "This is worth a look"). Devotions and Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Caught up with the Archdeacon on a couple of things. Reviewed the draft Easter Vigil program and walked it back across the alley to offer some suggestions. Between the Dean and the Altar Guild Directress, I got sucked into a good bit of liturgical puttering. A quarterly (or so) task: Master sermon planning for a chunk of time, in this case, Propers 6 through 17 (basically, early June to early September). Much of that time I'm going to be either in Tanzania or on vacation, so there weren't actually eleven Sundays involved. So, what I do is look and see whether there's any old material than can be retreaded. Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't. Then I schedule the specific tasks associated with either crafting a sermon from s

Good Friday Homily

Springfield Cathedral There are a great many “good” things we can say about the cross of Christ on this “Good” Friday. What took place there was complex, multi-layered, and rich with a variety of meanings. One of these levels of meaning sees Christ on the cross as an example for us to emulate—the supreme example of servanthood and self-giving, sacrificing the narrow interests of one in order to bring great blessing to many. The eternal Word, the One who was with God at creation, and was himself God, in the words of St Paul, “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant…”. Taking the form of a servant. The notion of “servant leadership” is very much in fashion these days. I’m not only speaking of the church, where one might expect servant leadership to get at least a good bit of lip service. And I’m not speaking only of government positions—both elected and appointed—where the expression “public service” has a long his

Maundy Thursday

Extended treadmill workout first thing in the morning. In the office around 9:30. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Dealt via email with some detritus from yesterday's tutorial on our database system (Gnosis for Nonprofits). Refined, formatted, and printed my Easter homily (here at the cathedral, both for the Vigil and Easter Day). Began to attend to some Nashotah-related issues (reading and assessing texts pertaining to the annual evaluation of the Dean). When reminded by my electronic minions, headed out the door on foot a few blocks to Obed & Isaac's, where I had a lunch appointment with my United Methodist counterpart, Bishop Frank Beard. Consulted briefly with the Archdeacon on an ongoing matter, and reviewed some documents pertaining to that matter. Reviewed and developed comments on the draft program for the Good Friday liturgy at the cathedral. Blew through a sheaf of relatively "short and sharp" tasks: financial reports from organizations whose bo

Wednesday in Holy Week

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepped for the midday Mass. Updated and revised the text of an Easter homily from a earlier for use this weekend at the cathedral. Participated in a two-hour training/tutorial on our new database system given by our coach/consultant Pete Sherman. Celebrated and preached the liturgy for Holy Wednesday. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Processed a short stack of emails. Made my pre-Easter confession (to a retired priest whom I recruited for special duty). Read and made some notes on a substantial draft response from the Executive Council to a document on ecumenism from the "faith and order" section of the World Council of Churches. The draft has been circulated for comment by the Executive Council. Took note of a message from another diocese regarding a disciplined (or, in this case, restored) member of the clergy. Bishops get a pretty steady supply of such notices. Responded substantively via email to a pastoral issue raised by one of our

Tuesday in Holy Week

Daily and weekly task planning at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Consulted with the Archdeacon over a small array of emerging and ongoing concerns, administrative and pastoral. Followed through by email with some administrivia related to a couple of those concerns. Took a brisk walk down Second to South Grand, over to Spring, and back up. Read and made a few notes the ten-page document that sets out the terms of a proposed full-communion agreement between the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church. (I have a lunch appointment with the Methodist bishop on Thursday.) Operated on the text of a Good Friday homily from several years ago toward the end of re-deploying it this week at the cathedral. Attended Mass in the cathedral chapel for Tuesday in Holy Week. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Made some final decisions with respect to a new round of official portraits that will soon be made available (including a legacy B&W for the rogue's gallery in the conferen

Palm Sunday

It has been my custom since taking up my current ministry to spend all of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday through Easter, at my "home church," i.e. St Paul's Cathedral in Springfield. So I presided at the two liturgies this morning, while Dean Andy Hook did a fine job of preaching. Palms were blessed, the Passion was dramatically read, the Eucharist was celebrated. This is my 40th Holy Week using the full traditional rites of the 1979 Prayer Book. What a joyful privilege.

Saturday (Wm. Augustus Muhlenberg)

The main event of the day was the annual Chrism Mass at the cathedral. I arrived at the cathedral-office complex around 9:30 ahead of an 11am liturgy. Bishop Tony Clavier preached, using an image none of us who heard it will soon forget. The clergy renewed their ordination vows, we celebrated the Eucharist, and we consecrated the Oil of Chrism and the Oil of the Sick. It was all capped off by a luncheon for the clergy and spouses. A wonderful time of collegiality.

Friday (St Tikhon)

Apologies for being AWOL all week. Tuesday through Thursday I was occupied with a meeting of the Communion Partner bishops at the "interestingly" named Camp Week, about 90 miles west of Jacksonville, Florida. It was a gratifyingly focused and fruitful meeting. We heard a report on the work of the Marriage Task Force. (The expectation is that they will introduce legislation at the 2018 General Convention to revise the Book of Common Prayer piecemeal, beginning with making it completely "gender neutral," especially with respect to marriage, starting with a draft to be approved on first reading in 2018 and adopted for use in 2021.) We heard reports from the Lambeth Design Group (one of our number is a member), the situation among the Global South provinces (drifting toward a tighter connection with GAFCON), the situation in the Anglican Church of Canada (those who are communion-minded and hold a traditional biblical understanding of marriage make up nearly one-third o

Fifth Sunday in Lent

With our already being in Carbondale, and wth the regular liturgy at St Andrew's not until 10:00, it was a relatively leisurely morning, with time for Brenda and me to have a sit-down breakfast at the Golden Corral near the Hampton Inn. Then it was on the presiding, preaching, and confirming three adults. There was good energy all around and God was glorified. We were on the road just past noon, and with a stop for lunch in Nashville (IL, of course), we were home around 3:30.

Sermon for Lent V

St Andrew's, Carbondale -- John 11:1-44 , Ezekiel 37:1-14 These are tough times we live in, right? I suspect that nobody here this morning wants to disagree with that statement. But I also suspect that no two of us would understand it in quite the same way. We may disagree about exactly what makes the times tough, but we agree about the basic facts of the human condition: We are surrounded by uncertainty and anxiety in every dimension. We’re told that we’re nearing the end of a long stretch of economic recovery from the last recession, but I know plenty of people who would say, “What recovery?” Global political instability is threatening us at every turn: ISIS taking credit for a deadly attack in London week before last, North Korea testing ballistic missiles, Russia involved in all sorts of international skullduggery. We read doomsday scenarios of environmental degradation—unbreathable air in Chinese cities, misbehaving ocean currents creating havoc in Peru, drought causi

Saturday (F.D. Maurice)

Treated myself to a treadmill super-workout, cleaned up, packed, and hit the road with Brenda at noon for points south. Arrived at St Andrew's, Carbondale in time to keep a 3:15 appointment with the rector, which lasted about 90 minutes. Then we got settled in our Hampton Inn accommodations before heading out to a buffet dinner party at the home of longtime parish pillar Trish Guyon, which featured Chicago-style hotdogs and lots of Cubs bling.