Showing posts from June, 2017


Accounting for today is not a challenge: I spent it getting ready to leave with Brenda tomorrow for Tanzania, where we will be joined in our companion diocese of Tabora by Fr Dave Halt and three of his parishioners from St Matthew's, Bloomington. On Sunday, it will be my honor to preach at St Stephen's Cathedral in Tabora as the diocese gathers for its triennial synod. Then, leveraging our position in that part of the world, the five of us will spend a couple of days visiting a game reserve in the Serengeti, which lies just to the north of Tabora province. We return home on July 9 and I will resume entries in this space a couple of days later. In the meantime, look for fairly regular reports on Facebook.

The Lord's Day (III Pentecost)

Greeting the morning in the brand new Hampton Inn in Alton, it was a short drive to Trinity Chapel for their regular 0815am liturgy. Attendance was north of 30, which was very good by local standards. Then it was down the hill for the 1030am Mass at St Paul's. There was one adult confirmand, who promptly repaired to the choir loft and rendered a beautiful solo anthem at the offertory. Spirits seem to be good in the parish under the leadership of Mother Cindy Sever. After hanging around coffee hour for a bit, I hit the road south on I-55 back to Toddhall. (It's about a 45 minute drive at full interstate speeds.) I was a couple of hours early for the Cursillo closing Mass, so I found a comfortable seat and an internet connection and got some work done--principally, finishing my next post for the Covenant blog. I then presided and preached at a 0400pm votive Mass of the Holy Spirit. In many places, the Cursillo movement has run its course, but not yet, I'm pleased to say, in t

Sermon for III Pentecost (Proper 7)

Alton Parish --Matthew 10:24-34, Jeremiah 20:7-13 When I turned 18, the age of legal adulthood, our country was deeply involved in armed conflict in Vietnam. Now I’m 65, a point where I can no longer plausibly call myself middle-aged, and U.S. forces are regularly deployed overseas and placed in harm’s way. There has hardly been a time between my youth and my old age in which we have not been at war in some way or another. And it has always been controversial. Vietnam certainly was, and our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention Syria and Somalia and other places, has been a source of deep domestic conflict. We would have to look just a few years before I was born to find a war that virtually everybody could get behind as a just cause, unquestionably worthy of the spilt blood of our armed forces. Indeed, in retrospect, and having recently observed the 73 rd anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, the just-ness of our campaign against Adolf Hitler and Nazism seems to

Nativity of St John the Baptist

Out the door and on the road at 6:50am. Arrived at Toddhall a little over two hours later. Presented the Sacraments rollo at Diocese of Springfield Cursillo XXXV. Celebrated (and preached) Mass for the feast day with the Cursillo weekend community. After lunch at Toddhall, headed north on I-255 toward Alton, where I checked in at the Hampton Inn around 2:15.  Got some rest, worked on my next Covenant article, and continued to fiddle with technology in the wake of IQTell's announced shutdown. (For those who are interested, it looks like I'm on a glidepath toward a combination of the  Newton  email client and the task app Todoist. Met for dinner with the Rector and Mission Leadership Team of the Episcopal Parish of Alton. Had an after-meeting with the Rector and Wardens.


Struggled again with planning software. Maybe on a glide path to a solution. Trying it out. Substantive scheduled phone conversation with the Dean of Nashotah House. Reviewed and commented on bulletin drafts for my visitation to Alton Parish this weekend. Arranged for an onsite visit to the workplace (a faith-based nonprofit) at which one of our diaconal postulants is the Executive Director. Refined, edited, and printed my homily for July 2, which will be delivered, God willing, in St Stephen's Cathedral, Tabora, Tanzania, on the occasion of the Diocese of Tabora's triennial synod. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Caught up on my diary blogging from yesterday. Dealt with some more Nashotah-related business. Got started on developing the rough sketch of my next post on the Covenant blog. Made air travel arrangements to attend the September meeting of the House of Bishops in Fairbanks, Alaska. The American Airlines website was uncooperative, so I have to do this by phone. Not

Thursday (St Alban)

On the treadmill from 6:30 until 8:00. Began task planning after cleaning up, which was complicated immeasurably by the news the previous day that the web-based integrated personal organization software I've been using for email, task planning, and contacts is ceasing operation at the end of next month. So a lot of my time was devoted to researching potential replacements. Life is challenging enough without this sort of infrastructure snafu. Logged on 15 minutes late to an 8:30 conference call board meeting of the Society of King Charles the Martyr. Took myself off the call at 10:10, and it wasn't even finished yet! Met with Paige for a bit over some routine concerns about her workflow. Messed around looking for software. Signed and sealed the certificates for this evening's diaconal ordinations. Lunch at home. Leftovers. More software searching. Accompanied Brenda to a 2:30pm doctor's appointment. Got home just in time to leave again at 4:15, headed toward Ch


Back home, which seems pretty exotic after all the travel I've been doing. It will be short-lived, however, as a trip to Tanzania looms next week. Morning Prayer and task planning for what's left of the week at home. Learned the disconcerting news that my primary personal organization software (IQTell) is going out of business the end of next month. This is a significant blow, as there's nothing quite like it. Accompanied Brenda on a visit to her primary care physician. Back at home, sent a lay leader three of my sermons to use on Sunday's when his Eucharistic Community's priest will be on vacation. Met with a handyman over of a couple of projects we need taken care of at home. In at the office around 10:45, in time to get settled in and meet at 11:00 with Jason and Lisa Cerezo, who currently publish the  Current  and manage our website, along with Sue and Paige, to begin handing off their duties to Paige. It seems to have been a successful meeting. Ducked o

The Lord's Day (II Pentecost/Corpus Christi)

Up and out of the Hampton Inn in time to be at the Church of the Holy Communion at 9:30, an hour ahead of the day's single scheduled Mass. It was my honor to preach on the occasion of Fr Dow Sanderson concluding his 18-year tenure as rector of that historic parish. We then took part in the gala luncheon, at which Sanderson was lovingly "roasted." It was after 2:00pm by the time we left, and a nap was desperately needed. After napping, Brenda and I did a little walking around the area, a little more resting back in our room, and then joined Fr Andy and Nancy Mead for dinner at a nearby seafood restaurant. Fr Mead is a friend from mutual service on the Nashotah House board, and I've been eager to meet Nancy because of our mutual interest in walking, at which she has a much more impressive résumé than I do. Tomorrow we're going to take an "us" day and enjoy the area before flying home on Tuesday.


Arrived with Brenda back at St Michael's in time for Morning Prayer, and a last music rehearsal with the Michaelites. Taught them the Healy Willan Gloria, which is a bit challenging, but well-rewarding of the effort. They came through like champs. Celebrated a votive Mass "Of the Holy Angels" with the kids and some of their parents. Then we said goodbye. What a great week with everyone. I'm so excited about this ministry of the diocese.  Brenda and I enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Ruby Tuesday in Fairview Heights. Then, with time to kill, we spent an hour or so at the St Louis Zoo before heading to the airport. Our 5:49 departure to Atlanta was slightly delayed, but our scheduled 10:10 departure from Atlanta was delayed by about 45 minutes due to crew availability issues. This put us into Charleston at nearly midnight. By the time we got our luggage, into our rental car, and at the Hampton Inn in the historic part of the city, it was nearly 1:00 AM. Then we discovered

Sermon for Corpus Christi

Church of the Holy Communion, Charleston, SC I can’t not begin by saying what a joyful privilege it is to be back at the Church of the Holy Communion, and how utterly honored I am that Father Sanderson invited me to be the preacher for this momentous occasion. Liturgically, we’re keeping the feast of Corpus Christi today; Corpus Christi—Latin for “Body of Christ,” which is arguably the feast-of-title for this parish. It celebrates the gift of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist—more specifically, the Real Presence of Christ’s body and blood in Holy Communion. In the celebration of the Mass, the  Corpus Christi,  the Body of Christ, is re-membered. Vocal inflection is important here—we don’t just “remember” the Body of Christ, in the sense of conjuring up a certain mental image of a past event, we re-member it. That is, the various members of the Body of Christ, the community of the baptized, are brought together, called together, by God the Holy Spirit. So, we begin to re-memb


Same SMYC morning routine. After Mass, I drove home to Springfield, unpacked my suitcase, packed a different one, grabbed Brenda, and drove back down to O'Fallon. We got to St Michael's in time for the tail end of dinner and joined in an important debriefing time with the Michaelites.

Thursday (Corpus Christi)

Fourth full day at the St Michael's Youth Conference. This group of kids skews toward the young side of the age range (13-19), and we are making some pretty significant mental and emotional demands on them. I am quite proud of the way they are responding. This is a good thing we're doing. Tonight they got take to a baseball game at a venue I cannot bring myself to name. I stayed back to work on the sermon I have to give two weeks from this Sunday at the cathedral in Tabora, Tanzania, on the occasion of their triennial diocesan synod. Brought it from the "detailed outsline" to the "rough draft" stage.

Wednesday (St Basil)

Third full day of the St Michael's Youth Conference. See posts from last two days for basic pattern. The variation today was that, after dinner, we introduced the Michaelites to Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, in view of it being the eve of Corpus Christi.


Second full day of the St Michael's Youth Conference. Same pattern: Breakfast, Morning Prayer, four instruction modules, "choir practice," Mass, lunch, some free/down time, afternoon activity: karate again today, Evensong, an evening activity (today: some outdoor games, then a movie). I excused myself during the afternoon and post-dinner slots to attend to the continuing onslaught of email, plan tomorrow's presentation, take care of some personal errands, and read some Ember Day letters.

St Barnabas

First full day of the 2017 St Michael's Youth Conference in O'Fallon. I had breakfast at my hotel, but joined the group at 8am for Morning Prayer. The morning was packed with instruction: Bible 101, Christian Living (today's focus: Dating), Communion & Creed (my topic), and Prayer. I led a 30-minute fast-paced music rehearsal at noon, after which we celebrated a sung Mass for the Feast of St Barnabas. After lunch there was some down time. The kids had some karate instruction from Fr Baumann, but I went back to the Hilton Garden to work on my presentation for tomorrow and stay on top of my email avalanche. Evensong at 5:30, followed by dinner and a trip to a bowling alley. That was fun. This is a great group of youth, but I am nearly completely worn out just after one day.

Trinity Sunday

Led an adult education hour, presided and preached at the Eucharist, and mixed and mingled at a feast-of-title cookout at Trinity, Mt Vernon. Then I pointed the YFNBmobile west on I-64 to O'Fallon, where I checked into the Hilton Garden and enjoyed a bit of downtime before heading over to St Michael's for the start of the St Michael's Youth Conference, which I will be helping staff all week.

Sermon for Trinity Sunday

Trinity, Mt Vernon --Matthew 28:16-20, II Corinthians 13:5-14 We have five churches in the Diocese of Springfield whose feast of title is today. So far on my watch as bishop, I’ve always been in a Trinity Church somewhere on Trinity Sunday. I haven’t actually asked, but I think it’s a safe bet that the priests who serve those churches are always glad to see me on Trinity Sunday, because today is the least popular occasion for anyone who regularly preaches to prepare and deliver a sermon. Trinity Sunday is a hard homiletical nut to crack. Much of the time—rather foolishly, it might be argued—preachers try to teach doctrine, or sometimes engage in a slipshod form of amateur theology. They try to explain the Trinity by way of some sort of analogy—you know, electricity is light and heat and energy, or water can be liquid or solid or vapor. But this is dangerous, because the easiest way to say something  wrong  about the Trinity is to say anything  at all  about the Trinity. If you

Saturday (St Ephrem)

On the road at 7:30, headed for the Peoria Civic Center. I was invited by the bishop of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church (which covers the state south of I-80) to be the ecumenical guest at their annual conference, which included a baptism, ordinations of deacons and elders (presbyters), and a celebration of the Eucharist ... and several other interesting lesser things, like a literal altar call during the singing of a hymn for people to come forward and present themselves for discernment for ordained ministry. It was long, and I was home around 1:45. After a bit of rest and relaxation--too short--it was back on the road at 6:30, ending up in Mt Vernon, where I will be visiting Trinity Church tomorrow on their feast of title.

Friday (St Columba)

Task planning and Morning Prayer at home. Emailed staff to let them know of my absence from the office this morning. Emailed three clergy with impending ordination anniversaries. Took care of a couple of personal errands by phone. Began work on editing and refining my homily for Trinity Sunday, to be delivered day after tomorrow at Trinity, Mt Vernon. Since the handyman for whom I was staying home, and who was supposed to come at 9:30, didn't show, I just kept on working and finished short of actually printing, which I will do when I get to the office. Responded to a series of short emails from the Communications Coordinator. Responded via email to an Ember Day letter from one of our postulants. Kept an 11am appointment with my own primary care doctor. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Printed the Trinity Sunday sermon. Worked with Paige, the Communications Coordinator on some video projects. Not urgent, but she deserves to be kept busy while I'm out of the office for nearly


Early morning treadmill workout. New multi-tasking venture: Morning Prayer (from my iPad app) while on the treadmill. Task planning over breakfast. Saw to some liturgical details for next week's St Michael's Youth Conference. Met with the Communications Coordinator over a couple of projects that are on her plate. Dashed off an email to a priest whose ordination anniversary is today. Left a phone message with the office of Bishop Roth, my ELCA counterpart, returning a call of his. Worked on my homily for June 18, observing the feast of Corpus Christi, to be delivered at Holy Communion, Charleston, SC, on the occasion of the Rector's final Sunday there before retirement. Brought it to the "rough draft" stage. Walked up to Isringhausen to retrieve the YFNBmobile from being serviced, taking a returned phone call from Bishop Roth along the way. Stopped by KFC to pick up some lunch, eaten at home. Began working on the text of an old homily for Proper 7 toward t


Hotel breakfast with the Bishop of Missouri. Pack and checked out of the Sheraton Suites Elk Grove Village. Met with the Province V bishops from 9:00 until 11:00. Topics of discussion included the proposed full-communion agreement with the United Methodist Church, ways of organizing diocesan administration, and some other odds and ends.  Got a ride to O'Hare courtesy of the Bishop of Eau Claire and caught the CTA Blue Line train to Logan Square. Had lunch at a taqueria with my daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Hattie has got to be the most good-natured toddler in the hemisphere. Back at the condo, I got to read her three books as she drifted off into her afternoon nap. My son arrived at 3:00 and I hung out there for the next hour. Back to the Blue Line to the Jackson Blvd stop, then a brisk walk westward about a dozen blocks and across the river to Union Station. Caught Amtrak Train 305, which departed promptly at 5:15 and arrived in Springfield on schedule at 8:38. Had a

Tuesday (First BCP)

Caught the 6:32am Amtrak departure, arriving in Chicago at 10, having availed myself of the fairly reliable wifi connection on Amtrak's Lincoln Service to get some work done. Took a Blue Line CTA train to O'Hare. Intended to take a hotel shuttle from there, but, in view of the time, caught a cab to the Sheraton Suites in suburban Elk Grove Village. The is the site of the regular meeting of the Province V bishops, which is a noon-to-noon affair, so I'll be heading back home tomorrow afternoon.


Up and out of the Hampton Inn in Marion in plenty of time to traverse the 50 miles down to Cairo and arrive at the Church of the Redeemer about 45 minutes before the regular 10am Eucharist. We kept the feast--preaching the word and sharing the Holy Mysteries while confirming three adults. Splendid post-liturgical potluck, the highlight of which was homemade venison tamales. Yes, the cook had also been the hunter. Got home a little past 4:00, having driven from the south (with magnolias in full bloom to prove it) to the midwest via a torrential downpour on I-64 west of Mt Vernon.

Sermon for Pentecost

Redeemer, Cairo --John 20:19-23, Acts 2:1-11, I Corinthians 12:4-13 You may have noticed that it has become very common for groups of all sorts—companies, schools, government agencies, churches, and even families—to adopt mission statements. The idea is that, if you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re supposed to be doing, you’re probably not going to be doing it. You’ll probably feel busy, but you might be busy at the wrong thing. This can all be taken to a bit of an absurd extreme of course. It actually wouldn’t surprise me to hear about a pre-school play group working on a mission statement. And I suspect that, to some extent, it may have already run its course as a fad in our society. But in principle, I believe in mission statements. The whole Church has a mission statement. It could probably be expressed several different ways, but we may as well start with the version contained in our catechism, in the back of the Prayer Book: “The mission of the Church is to restore

Saturday (Martyrs of Uganda)

Arrived at the cathedral at 9:30 to prepare for a 10am Mass for the team of Cursillo #35. Kept the lesser feast of the Martyrs of Uganda and commissioned the team members in their various roles. Attended and participated in a meeting of the Standing Committee that followed the Cursillo Mass. This ended around 1pm. Lunch, some relaxation, and a brief nap at home. Long walk on a hot day. Began working on plotting my sermon prep for the weeks between mid-September and the beginning of Advent. Packed and hit the road southbound a little past 6:00. Arrived at the Hampton Inn in Marion around 9:20. Continued to work on the above-mentioned sermon planning project.

Friday (Martyrs of Lyons)

Task planning at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Conferred with the Administrator briefly over a couple of issues. Returned a call from my doctor's office; they needed to reschedule an appointment. Met for a while with Paige, our new Communications Coordinator, trying to figure out together the details of her job. We know the broad strokes, but the daily workflow is something we need to invent. Spoke by phone with a priest from another diocese concerning "national church" issues. Spoke by conference call with two lay leaders from one of our Eucharistic Communities. Refined and printed my homily for this Sunday (Redeemer, Cairo). Ran a personal errand before grabbing lunch at McD's and eating it at home. Put something up on the website about Paige starting with us, and linked to it on the diocesan Facebook page. From now on, that  her  job! Time for more multi-tasking: Took a walk (not a brisk one, given the heat) down Spring to South Grand, then back

Thursday (St Justin Martyr)

Home now after eight days in the Chicago area and at Nashotah House. There was supposed to have been a visit to St Paul, MN to see our daughter and her family. However, on the way north on Wednesday (the 24th), I was getting text messages from my sisters that my mother's health had taken a decidedly negative turn, and on the morning of Ascension Day, the phone call came with the news that she had died. She was 91, substantially into dementia, and had metastatic melanoma that we had decided not to treat, so we knew this wasn't terribly far away, and were glad that the end came as quickly for her as it did. Because of the impending holiday, and the difficulty in coordinating the lives of the six surviving siblings and their families, it turned out to be better to bury her sooner than later, so the funeral was Saturday, with three generations of her descendants present. We did indeed get to see our Minnesota daughter, but it was with them coming to us rather than us going to them.