Showing posts from February, 2018


Another substantive and occasionally intense day with "Communion Partners & Friends." We discussed a number of aspects of the issues that will come before General Convention in July, along with ramifications for and perspectives from the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, and, via educated speculation, the Global South and GAFCON. We are motivated by a desire to speak gospel truth, uphold the received faith and order of the Church Catholic, and maintain the highest possible degree of communion with all who name Jesus Christ as Lord. Personally, I am a mixed bag of apprehension, fatigue, and hope. It has been a fruitful couple of days. If the weather and airline gods smile on me, I shall be home before sunset tomorrow.

Tuesday (George Herbert)

First of two full days with "Communion Partners & Friends" at Camp Weed (go ahead an laugh; it's funny *once*) in the Diocese of Florida (about 75 miles west of Jacksonville). There are about 20 of us here--mostly from TEC, with three Canadians and two Brits. Especially gratified to have three diocesan bishops from TEC's Province IX (Spanish-speaking dioceses). Conversation was rich. We continue tomorrow.


A day of travel. Out the door for SPI at 8:20. Caught the 9:35 hop on United to O'Hare, got some work done in the United Club during a longishn layover, boarded the 2:08 departure for Jacksonville, picked up my rental car and drove west on I-10 for 75 miles to Camp Weed, the conference center of the Diocese of Florida. Here for a two-day meeting of the Communion Partner bishops, joined by some Canadian and Church of England colleagues, and staffed by a couple of very intelligent and learned non-bishop allies.

Second Sunday in Lent

A merciful start to the day, as Sunday mornings go. Out the door with Brenda at 8:30, en route to the  aspirational target of arriving 30 minutes ahead of the regular 10:15 celebration of the Eucharist at Christ the King, Normal. We duly kept the feast of the Lord's Day, tempered by the Lenten season. After a potluck centered around ham and punctuated by homemade shortbread, we were home by around 1:30.

Sermon for Lent II

Christ the King, Normal -- Mark 8:31-38 Imagine that you’re the commander of an army. Your mission is to recapture a village that is currently occupied and controlled by your enemy. How are you going to go about accomplishing your mission? Will you simply mount a frontal assault and hope to overwhelm the defending troops? Should you call for airstrikes to soften up their positions? Should you send an emissary under a white flag and propose terms of surrender? Are the local townspeople inclined to view your army as attackers or liberators? How are the defending troops fixed for supplies—food, ammunition, medicine? The truth is, you can’t really make a good decision about some of these questions until you gather some more information, right? So, if you happen to be occupying high ground, and the village is in a valley, and you have a good pair of binoculars, that puts you at an advantage. If you can get satellite images, that’s even better. If you have a spy inside the town who can fin

Friday (St Polycarp)

Worked from home during the morning, either side of a 10am appointment at the lawyer's office for Brenda and me to sign revised end-of-life documents. I suppose there's something serendipitously appropriate about facing our mortality within nine days of Ash Wednesday. Read a substantive Ember Day letter from one of our seminarians, and replied with, I hope, some equal substance. Took a phone call from one of our clerics over an ongoing parish issue. Made some final tweaks to the music selections for the Chrism Mass and sent it off to the cathedral organist. Lunch, still at home. Leftovers. (In the office now.) Worked on my homily for Lent III (Springfield Cathedral), taking it from the "developed outline" to the "rough draft" stage. Sat with my notes, and commentary notes, on the Passion according to St Mark. In time, a homiletical message statement for Palm Sunday (at the cathedral) distilled from that process. It's not easy. Prayer the Sorrowfu


Customary robust (90 minute) Thursday treadmill workout to start the day. Morning Prayer (fashionably late, around 10) in the cathedral. Attended to some personal business (assembling electronic versions of my tax documents to email to my tax preparer). Reached out by phone for a pastoral check-in to one of our clergy who recently underwent a serious medical procedure. Sat down with Paige to re-record some sections of the catechetical video we're currently working on. Emailed the Interim Dean of Nashotah House on a small but important administrative matter. Lunch at home. Leftovers. My afternoon was consumed by the task of producing about 90% of a rough draft for my next-due post on the Covenant blog. At 4:00 I hit the road southbound for Belleville, arriving at St George's right at the target time of 6:00. Ate Lenten soup with the congregation and delivered a catechetical presentation on the *renunciations* in the baptismal liturgy: cosmic evil, social evil, personal


Usual weekday AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepped for a scheduled staff meeting. Began to work on rehabbing a prior-year sermon text for Lent V for use this year at St Christopher's, Rantoul. Received and spoke with a member of the larger Nashotah House constituency who arrived unannounced, being in Springfield in connection with his work. Spent the rest of the morning in the aforementioned staff meeting. It has not been our custom to have one, but, in the interest of fostering more effective communication, it seemed "meet and right so to do." I think it was productive. Lunched on leftovers are home. While there, stuck around for a 1:00 conference call about some personal matters. Back in the office, finished the task I had begun earlier with the Lent V sermon. Reviewed, tweaked, commented on, and sent back by email the draft liturgy program for the reception of a former Roman Catholic priest into the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church. (He


Managed to get a bit of an early start to the work day, so I got a leg up on editing and refining my homily for this Sunday (Christ the King, Normal) while waiting for breakfast to happen. Delayed printing it until in the office. (This is actually a sermon I prepared for use three years ago in Glen Carbon, but my visitation was snowed out that day, so all I had to do was pull it out of the freezer, let it thaw, and stick it in the microwave for a bit.) Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Printed the homily I had worked on at home. Spent the rest of my morning working on getting some planned $$ transferred to Bishop Elias in Tabora. Tried the Western Union route again, and ran into the same roadblocks I met last week. Frustrating and time-consuming. Ended up walking to Illinois National Bank and doing it the old-fashioned way, with a bank-to-bank international wire transfer. But that is time-consuming as well.  Lunch at home. Leftovers. Assisted Brenda in getting our dinner started (s

First Sunday in Lent

The worship at Holy Trinity, Danville seems truly "in spirit and truth," and I find it a joy to be with them. We duly "beat down Satan under our feet" in the Great Litany. And they are in the midst of some significant upgrades to their physical plant, but the church itself and in the ancillary spaces. The city of Danville has gone through more than its share of dislocations over the decades, and I am grateful for Holy Trinity's ongoing witness in that area.

Sermon for First Sunday in Lent

Holy Trinity, Danville -- Genesis 9:8-17 , I Peter 3:18-22 It’s Lent. Penitence is in the air. You came together four days ago and confessed your sinfulness and got doused with ashes as a sign of your contrition. We will continue to explore that theme explicitly today and Fr Richard will have the opportunity to keep on doing so over the next two Sundays, and implicitly for the rest of the Lenten season. Sin happens. Sin can be defined in a number of different ways:  Rebellion against God, putting ourselves in the place of God, deviation from God’s revealed will or the evident order of creation, or breaking one of God’s laws. Sin affects us; it affects is profoundly. We are the victims of sin. People lie to us, and we make important decisions based on false information, and we suffer as a result. People cheat us. They take advantage of our instinct to trust, to be generous, to give the benefit of the doubt, and we suffer as a result. People steal from us in numerous subtle and not

Saturday (Janani Luwum)

Up and out in time to get to the cathedral-office complex by 9am for prepare for the 10am Diocesan Council Mass and Meeting. Presided and preached in commemoration of the lesser feast of the Ugandan archbishop and martyr (under Idi Amin) Janani Luwum. Presided over a council meeting that was fairly routine. We had a good discussion of possible reconfigurations of the timeframe of our annual diocesan synod. Met afterward with the Chancellor, who is also the Senior Warden of St Andrew's, Edwardsville, so we talked about matters involving both his "hats." After tending to domestic matters in the afternoon, including a good treadmill workout, I hit the road in the evening for Champaign, ahead of tomorrow's visitation to Holy Trinity, Danville.

Friday (Martyrs of Libya)

Task planning and Morning Prayer at home, while I waited for a plumber. Spent the rest of the morning at home waiting for a mold abatement contractor who never showed. But I was not idle: Drafted a formal letter inviting the Bishop of Tabora, his wife, and one other from the diocese to visit us later this year. Sent it by email to Sue, who formatted and printed it on letterhead, affixed my scanned signature, scanned it, and sent it back to me by email. I downlaoded and sent it on the Bishop Elias by email. Isn't technology wonderful? Turned my attention to another large writing project--a pastoral teaching document on sex, sexual behavior, and marriage. Finished drafting a section on basic theological assumptions. Ate a lunch of leftovers. In the office now: Squandered a bunch of time in a technology fiasco (sometimes technology is not wonderful) in a vain attempt to wire money to Tabora using Western Union. We'll develop a Plan B next week. In an ongoing attempt to go

Thursday (Thomas Bray)

Out the door earlier than usual, right at 8:00, to run the YFNBmobile to the dealer for a scheduled maintenance appointment. (Short form MP on the way.) Checked it in and headed down Second Street on foot, arriving at the office around 8:30. Immediately logged in on a conference call meeting the the Society of King Charles the Martyr board. I can say that the devotional societies like SKCM do vital work, but they do good work, and I am pleased to be able help. My, oh my, are the meetings ever long! This one was two hours. Don't tell anyone else on the board, but I did get some multi-tasking done. to wit: Finished the reflection on an Advent hymn text that I began yesterday afternoon. Reserved a rental car for week after next when I fly to Florida for a Communion Partners meeting. Began to work on roughed-out notes for a Lenten soup supper teaching presentation I'm set to make at St George's, Belleville next week. The meeting adjourned, I took a bit of a decompressio

Ash Wednesday

Task planning and Morning Prayer at home. (I had to wait for a furnace service technician.) While the furnace was being worked on, I took care (by email) of an administrative chore pertaining to an ordination issue. In the office a bit before 10: Had a long and substantive phone conversation with one of our clergy about some parochial goings-on. Had a series of short meetings with Paige in pursuit of untangling a Gnosis (our database) issue. Worked on another financial/administrative Gordian knot, eventually punting it to somebody else to finish the job. I can do spreadsheets to a point, and then ... not so much. This being a fasting day, I went home for lunch*time,* but not actual lunch. The strength of routine is compelling. This seems to be the day for administrative chores that are not just slam dunks. Much of my earlier afternoon was consumed by stuff pertaining to the scheduled visit of the Bishop of Tabora to the diocese in June. Reviewed a rough cut of the latest catech

Ash Wednesday Homily

St Michael’s, O’Fallon The beginning of Lent, for most of us, triggers a series of associative responses from the past. This chain of associations is rarely the same for any two of us, since we each come with our own unique perspective. I was brought up in a Baptist household, so Lent was something other people did.  But I did live in the suburbs of Chicago, so I went to school with a lot of kids whose last names ended in s-k-i  or w-i-c-z, and whose Roman Catholicism was constantly, if quietly, evident. I remember them showing up at school on Ash Wednesday with curious black smudges on their foreheads and wondering just what that was about. I also distinctly recall looking at the food supplement of the Chicago Daily News and noticing a lead article on “creative ideas for Lenten meals,” and feeling rather out of the cultural mainstream. If you were raised Roman Catholic, you probably remember a noticeable change in the menu in the school cafeteria and at home, and a fair amount of

Shrove Tuesday (Absalom Jones)

Weekly and daily task organization at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Worked with Paige for a bit ironing out a couple of details in our latest video project. Bothered Sue about some details of my health insurance coverage. Dashed off an email over an administrative issue. Revised, edited, formatted, printed, and scheduled for posting my Ash Wednesday homily (St Michael's, O'Fallon). Stepped out at 11:30 to take my wife and myself to back-to-back dentist appointments. (Fortunately, we see the same dentist.) Lunch from Chick-Fil-A, eaten at home, Back at the office, did the same thing for my Lent 1 sermon (Holy Trinity, Danville) as I had done in the morning for Ash Wednesday. Ducked out early to fetch Brenda and head over to the Hyundai dealer to pick up her car, but it was done yet and they forgot to call. Hmm. Patience and forgiveness.  So ... stopped by HyVee for a couple of things and started on cooking a proper Mardi Gras dinner--fried catfish topped with

Last Sunday after the Epiphany

My visitation was to St Paul's, Pekin, where the regular Sunday liturgy at this time of year isn't until 11:00, so it was mercifully reasonable hour before we had to leave home. The roads were not in top condition, with lots of snow and slush mixed with the detritus of last night's freezing rain, but the further north we got, the better the condition of the road. We duly kept the Last Sunday after the Epiphany in all the glory of the transfigured Christ, enjoyed a post-liturgical repast in the parish hall, got to spend quality time with little Martin Dallman, Fr Matthew and Hannah's youngest, and were home a little after 3:00.

Sermon for Last Sunday after the Epiphany

St Paul's, Pekin -- Mark 9:2-9, Psalm 27:5-11 , II Peter 1:16-21 Some of you may have heard me relate the story of how I entered college in 1969 with the intention of majoring in Political Science, and then going on to law school, and perhaps a career in politics. Instead, as a result of a rather profound interior crisis during the first semester of my freshman year, I switched to music. I realized that music had a grip on my soul, and I may as well relax and go with the flow rather than try to fight it. That act of surrender enabled me to continue a series of encounters with particular composers and particular musical works, each of which touched me at their respective times in ways too deep to express in words. Later that freshmen year, I discovered the symphonies of Johannes Brahms—not just as superficially attractive, but as an experience of connecting with their profound beauty at the level of my innermost being. It was a truly spiritual connection. In time, over a period


Usual weekday AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Devoted most of the morning to my homily for Lent III, which is now going to be at the cathedral rather than St Andrew's, Carbondale. Took it from the "message statement" to "developed outline" stage. Issued a lay ministry license (preaching, in this case), in response to a request from one of our clergy. Provided some pastoral care via email to a priest from outside the diocese.  Lunch from La Bamba ("burritos as big as your head," except I usually order tacos), eaten at home. Kept a 1:15 physical therapy appointment. I "graduated." The pain issue for which I referred has resolved. I got a referral to a chiropractor for ongoing treatment of another issue that is *not* what I originally went in for. Worked with Paige to make the raw recording of my next catechetical video in the "Saven Marks" series. Now she's got some editing to do. Moved the ball a few yards do


From home: organized my work for the day, sent an email to a staff member, and began editing/refining my sermon for this Sunday (St Paul's, Pekin). Kept a 9:00 appointment with my psychotherapist. (Morning Prayer fell through the cracks today.) To the diocesan office for a meeting of the Finance Committee. Finished the sermon I'd begun working on, and printed my working script. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Met with Paige to make some preparations toward shooting the next catechetical video in the queue. Reached out by email to the Bishop of Maryland on a matter that concerns both of us. Picked up and dusted off an Ash Wednesday sermon text from a year long, long ago. Positioned it for major surgery and re-purposing for use next week at St Michael's, O'Fallon. While I was scrubbed in, loaded another pre-used homily text onto the operating table and did some cosmetic surgery in anticipation of using at on Lent I at Holy Trinity, Danville. Used the "Doodle poll


The main Wednesday event at the annual pre-Lenten clergy retreat is a plenary conversation with the Bishop. We talked about a range of issues, some more concrete and some more conceptual, some of which will bear short-term fruit and some that will have to yet simmer for a while. I always enjoy this conversation. There are some great clergy in this diocese, and it is my honor to serve with them. The event ended after Mass and lunch. I got home around 3:00, and spent the rest of the afternoon processing a stack of emails before taking Brenda out for a belated birthday dinner.


At the clergy retreat. Morning Prayer at 8, followed by breakfast, second retreat address at 9:30, Mass at 11:30, lunch, free afternoon (expect the Bishop, who had a nearly-full dance card of one-on-one conferences), Evensong at 5:30 followed by dinner, third retreat address at 7:30 followed by discussion, Compline, and social time.

Monday (Martyrs of Japan)

Spent most of the morning attacking various loose ends, both personal and professional. Kept an 11:15 physical therapy appointment. Stopped by the office to retrieve some items I needed for the clergy retreat. Drove down to St Michael's, O'Fallon to meet with the Standing Committee. Drove to Kings House in Belleville and got settled in for the retreat. Played piano and organ for evensong. Dinner, followed by first of three retreat addresses, followed by Compline and social time.

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

Up and out of my Decatur-area hotel room to be at St John's in time to preside and preach at their regular 7:30am liturgy, and then again at 10:00. It's one of the loveliest churches in the diocese, and is a happy community under the pastoral care of Fr Dick Swan. The post-liturgical coffee hour paid tribute to the ministry of Deacon Don Coventry, who, at age 80, and with the recent ordination of Deacon Chris Gregory, is scaling back the profile of his ministry. He understands that someone under the yoke of Holy Orders never *really* retires, but he has certainly earned some rest. 

Sermon for Epiphany V

St John's, Decatur -- Mark 1:29-39 , I Corinthians 9:16-23 As time goes by, as I get older, I find myself constantly revising my idea of what constitutes "old." Every time I visit a retirement community or a nursing home, I remind myself that the people I meet there, though they look "old" to me—and to themselves when they look in a mirror don't necessarily think of themselves as "old,” but simply as people who happen to be incarnate in old bodies. It probably doesn't seem all that long ago to them that they were middle-aged, or young adults. The fact is, life—even a long life—is short. And along the way, we get sick, and people we love get sick, and we begin to wonder, just how short is "short?" Those of us who believe in God, or who are inclined to believe in God, naturally raise the question, then: why? If God is the God of life and the living, why do people—young, old, and in between—get sick and die? God has the ability, it appe

Saturday (St Anskar)

The day's accomplishments include refining and printing my homily for tomorrow, revising and repurposing a text for the Last Sunday after Epiphany for use in Pekin next Sunday, processing a short stack of deferred emails, and cleaning off my computer desktop (basically: filing), with three loads of laundry and significant treadmill time thrown in. Departed mid-evening for a Decatur-area Hampton Inn. Like Lincoln, their earlier liturgy is at 7:30, so even though it's only a 45 minute drive, it's helpful not to have to make it at zero-dark-thirty.


Our brief sojourn in Belize was everything it needed to be in terms of rest and recreation. A warm beach is certainly my "happy place." We actually returned to North America yesterday afternoon, but the airline scheduling gods determined that we needed a gradual re-entry, so our layover in Dallas was actually an overnight. We enjoyed a superb Tex-Mex dinner there last night. This morning I caught up on some odds and ends of email-generated work in our hotel room. Then we boarded the 12:50 non-stop to Springfield, and were home before 3:30.