Showing posts from October, 2017


Weekly and daily task planning (and some internet reading) at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on a range of issues. Met with Fr Newago in a regularly-scheduled monthly check-in about his mission strategy development work. Began refining and editing my homily for this Sunday (St Andrew's, Edwardsville). Lunch at home. Leftovers. Took a call from one of our rectors seeking counsel on a pastoral issue. Resumed and completed work on this Sunday's sermon. Took a call from a reporter for The Living Church . He wanted to talk about the leadership governance situation at Nashotah House. Attended to a bit of pastoral/administrative detritus. Devoted a substantial chunk of time and focused energy on gently breaking up another logjam in the effort to form a canonical Geographic Parish in McLean County. Plotted some actions toward integrating the the Gnosis database system more closely into our diocesan operations. Two bits of administrivia.

The Lord's Day (XXI Pentecost)

Crisp, cold, and sunny morning for a drive down IL4 to Carlinville. Presided, preached, and confirmed two young people. What a joy. Profound discussion with a college professor-parishioner after Mass about the current generation of students (Generation Z, who have never known a time without social media and smartphones) and their attitudes toward spirituality and religion.

Sermon for Proper 26

St Paul's, Carlinville -- Matthew 22:34-46 While I was in seminary, about thirty years ago, I was first exposed to the concept of “family systems,” and it has loomed large in my mind ever since. One of the characteristics of a family system—and I could be talking about a domestic family, a school, an office, or a parish church community—one of the characteristics of a family system is that the behavior of its individual members is, if not determined, then, at least, affected by the mere position that one occupies within the system, as much as it is by one's own unique personality or abilities or inclinations. When we occupy any particular niche within a system—whether it be parent, or youngest child, or teacher's pet, or treasurer, or chief executive officer—the way we act is already scripted for us to a large extent, and we often accept the script and read our lines without very much conscious awareness of, let alone sense of control over, what we're doing. Our freed

Ss Simon & Jude

The main work of the day was to unwind and get used to being home again after nearly a week and a half away. So ... two episodes of the new season of Stranger Things on Netflix, and some time on the treadmill in the evening to put me over 10K steps for the day. But I also refined and printed my homily for tomorrow at St Paul's, Carlinville, and performed reconstructive and plastic surgery on an All Saints homily from 1996 for use at St Andrew's, Edwardsville next week. Plus, three loads of laundry. And, of course, email.


Today took me back once again to the offices of the Diocese of Tennessee, but this time it was to gather with four other bishops and a like number of clergy leaders to talk about possible strategies in response to the proposals for Prayer Book revision that will come before next summer's General Convention. It was a fruitful meeting. I was on the road at 4:00 and home at 10:15. 

Thursday (Alfred the Great)

While yesterday was the meeting of the Living Church Foundation board, today was the meeting of the foundation itself, which is the larger group from which the Board of Directors is drawn. It was probably the most engaged and fruitful meeting of the foundation in all the years in which I have served. In a brief meeting of the board at the end of the afternoon, I was elected secretary of both the foundation and the board. I am honored to serve. After a break, we all gathered at St George's Church for a wine reception and a chance to mingle with some of the parishioners and some of the clergy of the diocese. It was a "friend raiser" for the benefit of TLC. Then, about a dozen of us went out to dinner at a nearby restaurant.


From 9:00 until 3:00 I was at the offices of the Diocese of Tennessee in Nashville, attending the regular fall meeting of the Board of Directors of the Living Church Foundation. I spent part of the remainder of my day shopping (and buying a couple of shirts) at a Dillard's a few yards from my hotel, and then came back for--you guessed it--email processing. (Heaven and earth shall pass away, but email is forever.) Dinner, for members of both the board and the foundation, was at the home of Bishop John and Caroline Bauerschmidt.


We got home last night from a wonderful weekend in the Twin Cities with our daughter and her family. This morning, I took time at home to process a stack of email and generally get organized, and then, at 11, pointed the YFNBmobile in a southeasterly direction. Arrived in Nashville, TN at 5:00. Dinner (bison pot roast, no less) with some members of the Living Church board ahead of tomorrow's semi-annual meeting.

Thursday (Henry Martyn)

Up and out at 7:30am, headed northward with Brenda toward Nashotah House, where we arrived at noon. There was a pall of surrealism over the place, as one of the faculty members, Fr Daniel Westberg, was sailing on Upper Nashotah Lake yesterday afternoon when his boat capsized. It was clear pretty quickly that he had perished, but his body was not recovered until mid-morning today. Sadly, some aspects of life cannot be put on hold even by tragedies such as this. The Members of the Corporation were already on campus for our annual meeting, so we came to order as scheduled at 2pm. All was fairly routine, save for the results of the election and reelection of members of the Board of Directors, of which I have been the chairman for five years. I was not reelected. This is a shock--to me and to many others. There are complicated political forces in play, which is probably all I should say in this venue. It will take me a while to process this, but I can say that *part* of what I will feel is

St Luke

Extended treadmill workout to begin the day. Short-form Morning Prayer in the car. In the office at 9:45. Prepped to preside and preach at the midday Mass. Got into the weeds of a draft-in-progress of an agreement between the Eucharistic Communities of McLean County to form a Geographic Parish under our diocesan canons. This involved some consultation with the Archdeacon. Got back to work, with some finer details now, on liturgical planning and preparation for next month's clergy conference. Celebrated and preached the Mass for St Luke's Day. Lunch from China 1, eaten at home. Took a phone call from the Acting Dean of Nashotah House about a developing tragic situation there. It will be made public soon, I'm sure. Spent some time in prayer about this in the cathedral. Tied up some loose ends re the conference liturgies. Attended in some substantive detail to a couple of Communion Partners-related projects. Short-form Evening Prayer in the car on the way home.

Tuesday (St Ignatius of Antioch)

Routine weekly and daily task organization at home over breakfast.  Logged on to an 8:30am conference call board meeting of the Society of King Charles the Martyr as I was backing out of my driveway. Continued on the call after I got to the office. Finished around 9:30. Conferred with the Archdeacon on a range of issues. Finalized email negotiations for the canonical examination of a candidate for the vocational diaconate. Scanned and otherwise process a thick stack of accumulated hard copy materials. Lunch from KFC, eaten at home. Attended to a bit of administrivia pertaining to General Convention. Attended to a significant chunk of business pertaining to the Communion Partners. Got to work on a small but important Nashotah-related project. Responding to an expected phone call at 4:15, I headed home to meet a tree service about a problematic dogwood and redbud in our yard. It turned out to be a long wait, but I was able to finish the project I was working on while sitting on

The Lord's Day (XIX Pentecost)

Celebrated and preached the regular 7:30 and 10:00 liturgies at St Matthew's, Bloomington. Home around 1:30. Relaxed.

Sermon for Proper 23

St Matthew's, Bloomington -- Matthew 22:1-14 , Isaiah 25:1-9 While in seminary, most future clergy take at least one class in something called homiletics, which is the craft of preparing and delivering sermons. In many of these classes, students are encouraged to think narratively when crafting their sermons, that is to make each sermon like a story—not simply to tell stories from the pulpit, but to arrange what they want to say according to the elements of a good plot, as most of us learned in high school English classes; namely, a situation, followed by complications in that situation, followed by a crisis of some sort, and, finally, a resolution. Of course, really good preachers manage to hide all this from their listeners, most of whom would simply say, “It held my interest.” Today’s gospel reading is a parable, told by Jesus. A parable, by definition, already is a story, and this one is particularly rich in the amount of detail it provides. So I’m not going to try and imp

Saturday (S. I. J. Schereschrewsky)

There was a little discussion around the budget, but since that was the only major item on the agenda, the final session of synod still only took about an hour. I sent Brenda home with some folks from the cathedral, killed some time with a lazy lunch at Portillo's, then got an early check-in at the Doubletree. With a laptop computer and a wifi connection I can be very productive, and I cleared my to-do list, along with watching parts of a couple of mediocre movies. At 5:00 I reported for duty at St Matthew's and dinner with Fr Halt and lay leaders from both of our McLean County Eucharistic Communities. We all seem to realize that it's time to move from conversation to action in St Matt's and Christ the King coming together for a common mission strategy in their geographic parish.


Out of the house with Brenda toward Bloomington around 9:30 (it was a long night in the baseball world). Arrived at the venue for the 140th annual synod of the diocese around 11:00. Checked in to our room, scouted out and got oriented to the meeting hall, had lunch, and gaveled the synod into session a little past 1:30. We got everything on the agenda done by 4:00, excepted for the 2018 proposed budget, which we will deal with tomorrow. Celebrated a votive Mass of Christ the King at St Matthew's. Back to the conference center for the usual banquet. The Bishop is tired!

Address to Synod, 2017

Bloomington, Illinois--13 October 2017 This is the seventh annual synod of the Diocese of Springfield over which I have presided as Bishop, and the eighth that I have attended. Serving you, serving our Lord Jesus with you, continues to be among the greatest joys of my life. Thank-you. I continue to be supported by a small but omnicompetent staff. I once told Archdeacon Denney that he is my factotum , and he knows enough lawyerly Latin to realize that was a compliment; a factotum is someone who simply gets everything done, and, in Shawn’s case, important stuff involving lots of details that I earnestly don’t want to do! Sue Spring is equally detail-oriented, and any of you who have worked with her around insurance or pensions can testify to her prowess in those areas. Most of you never get to interact with Molly Henderson, our part-time clerical assistant. Molly is assigned the really, intensely boring things that virtually nobody wants to do, and she tackles this work with enthus

Sermon at Synod Mass, 2017

St Matthew's, Bloomington --John 18:33-37, Daniel 7:9-14, Colossians 1:11-20 There’s no saint’s day on today’s calendar, so we’re celebrating a votive Mass of the Reign of Christ, which is to say, Christ the King. Right away, I think we need to acknowledge that this is a bit of an awkward notion for Americans. We are steeped in egalitarian democracy, the idea that no one is inherently better than anyone else. We may not actually live that way, but it’s the underlying ideology of our culture. So monarchy is a hard concept to get our heads around. We don’t have a king. We don’t have a queen. Our political ancestors fought a war to overturn the authority of a king. Rebellion is in our DNA. Monarchy is an abstraction for us, a thought experiment, a fantasy. But it’s not a concrete political reality. We’ve never had to work out the details of what it would be like to live under royal authority. Now, it may be some bit easier for our British cousins, but, even then, not completely. S


Usual AM routine. MP in the cathedral. Culled a stack of hard copy material I found waiting for me on my desk. Consulted briefly with Dean Hook on a dangling synod detail. Attended to some liturgical planning details for next month's clergy conference. Took longer than I anticipated. Conferred with the Archdeacon on sundry issues. Dealt by email with a pastoral issue in one of our Eucharistic Communities. Lunch from HyVee, eaten at home. Ran a brief personal errand. Took a long and prayerful pass at the readings for the Third Sunday of Advent, in preparation for preaching that day at St Luke's, Springfield. Made appropriate notes. Resumed and completed work on my next-due Covenant post and sent it on to the merciless editors (whom I love, of course).  Devotions and an attenuated Evening Prayer in the cathedral.


Had to take a personal day to accompany Brenda to a healthcare appointment in Chicago But we took the train, and, thanks to Amtrak's wifi connection, I got nearly as much work done as I would have spending the day in the office. Processed a ton of emails, worked on a sermon, continued to attend to synod details, took care of an important administrative issue. And in the process, we got to see two of our children and our Chicago granddaughter. Aside from the result of the Cubs-Nationals game, not much to complain about.


Task planning for the day and for the week at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Edited, refined, and printed the working script for my homily at the synod Mass on Friday. Assembled a large-print version of items that pertain to my role as the Celebrant of the synod Mass and placed them in an appropriate ceremonial binder. Began the task of a final revision of my State-of-the-Diocese address to synod. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Resumed working on my synod address. Printed out a hard copy for Paige so she can coordinate some PowerPoint slides. Printed another hard copy formatted for oral delivery and stuck it in my car. Presided over a telephone conference call meeting of the Nashotah House Board of Directors. Took a phone call from one of our rectors. Edited, refined, and printed the working script for my homily at St Matthew's, Bloomington on Sunday. Evening Prayer at the cathedral. At home, after dinner (since the NLDS game was rained out): Took care of a chunk of C

The Lord's Day (XVIII Pentecost)

Enjoyed a lively visitation, with three confirmations, at St Stephen's, Harrisburg. This is a group of joyful disciples, under the loving pastoral leadership of Fr Tim Goodman. Great local BBQ in the parish hall after Mass. Back home at 3:45.

Sermon for Proper 22

St Stephen's, Harrisburg -- Matthew 21:33-43 I am by no means what you would call “savvy” when it comes to big business. But I know just enough to find it kind of interesting when the high rollers and big wheels spread their wings and create drama in that section of the universe. The way it all works kind of fascinates me. If I had a few million dollars of spare cash, for example, and I saw a corporation that I thought I could make a profit on if I bought it and broke it up and sold it off piecemeal, or at least reorganized it in some way, I could start by quietly buying shares of stock through normal channels at the market price. Then I would begin to actively seek out other major shareholders and offer them an above-market price for their shares. If my strategy succeeds, I can vote out the board of directors at the next stockholders meeting, appoint their replacements, and then make whatever changes in the management and operation of the company that I care to. But ... you ca


Beyond just puttering around the house, the main accomplishment of the day was to plot my sermon preparation between Advent Sunday 2017 and the Last Sunday after the Epiphany 2018. This involves looking at each occasion and determining whether I have old material I can freshen up and repurpose, or whether I need to come up with something from scratch. It can break either way. I left home around 6:45 and headed south. Camped out now in Mt Vernon ahead of tomorrow's visitation to St Stephen's, Harrisburg.

Friday (William Tyndale)

A "normal" day in the office, which feels rather strange! Task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on a range of issues. Processed some late-arriving email. Refined and printed the working text of my homily for this Sunday at St Stephen's, Harrisburg. Reviewed and processed a request for a marital judgment. Responded by email to one of our clergy on a pastoral matter. Lunch from HyVee (Chinese), eaten at home. Created and sent another batch email using Gnosis. It gets easier each time. Discussed with the Administrator and the Archdeacon the usual annual request from the Treasurer of the DFMS for a financial commitment for 2018. Responsibility for responding has been delegated to our own Treasurer. Attended by email to a couple of diocesan ECW-related issues. Attended to some residual Forward Movement business. Conceived and hatched my next post for the Covenant blog. Spent the better part of an hour in contemplati

Wednesday (St Francis)

Met with the Forward Movement board in Cincinnati all day for a very lively and sometimes uncomfortable session. Drove home during the late afternoon/evening. Taking tomorrow off to visit with some out-of-town friends who are visiting. Back in this space on Friday.


From home in the morning: Organized tasks, processed a stack of emails, worked on some admin details regarding the November clery conference, attended to some Communion Partners business. Hit the road eastbound at noon. Arrived in Cincinnati at 6:30 (EDT) for dinner with the Forward Movement board ahead of tomorrow's meeting.

The Lord's Day (XVII Pentecost)

Celebrated and preached for and with the good people of St Mary's, Robinson. Their regular service time is 8am, so I was back on the road at 9:40. Got home 2:45 later, rested a bit, then headed to St Paul's Cathedral with Brenda. Blessed their new organ, then stayed around with a capacity crowd for a lovely dedicatory recital.

Sermon for Proper 21

St Mary's, Robinson --P hilippians 2:1-13 , Matthew 21:28-32 At the risk of stating the obvious—as Christians, one of the expectations we have of ourselves, and of our fellow Christians, is that we gradually come to think and act more and more like Jesus. That’s just a given, right? We believe that we are called to love God with all our heart, and to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that it is specifically through the experience of Christian faith and the practice of Christian religion—the indwelling Holy Spirit, the grace of the sacraments, the power of the Word of God operating in our lives—we believe it is through these means that we are supplied with the resources we need to become Christ-like. For the most part, this way of thinking is an effective map that gets us where we want to go. But, sooner or later, we run into a glitch—an anomaly, an exception—that seems to call the whole framework into question. I’m talking about the conundrum presented by what we might call