Showing posts from March, 2018

Good Friday

Morning Prayer at home. Took Brenda to yet another healthcare appointment. Sent greetings via email to one of our priests who has to live this year with the cognitive dissonance of having his birthday fall on Good Friday. Of course, in as many years, if falls on Easter, most likely. Spent an hour in prayer and reflection in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament on the Altar of Repose, and in the desolation of the nave and sanctuary of the cathedral. Came home at lunchtime. Habits are hard to break on a fast day. Worked from there the rest of the day. Opened a file on a sermon for Easter VI, April 29 at the Chapel of St John the Divine in Champaign. Took a first pass at the readings. Made some notes. Took care of some routine time-of-the-month chores related to my calendar. Responded to some late-arriving emails. Greeted our younger daughter and her family, in for the weekend from the Twin Cities. They arrived hungry, so we took them to Popeye's for some chicken. Headed of

Maundy Thursday

Customary Thursday early AM treadmill workout. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Polished, printed, and scheduled for posting my Easter homily. Met with an individual in the discernment process for holy orders. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Took Brenda to a scheduled healthcare appointment. Spent the balance of the afternoon on a pastoral/administrative matter that is inordinately complex, sensitive, and just plain difficult. Read, consulted, pondered, made notes. The issue is already bathed in prayer. Ran home to retrieve Brenda and grab a quick bite at Tacos Pepe on Chatham (where Smashburger, of blessed memory, used to be). Back to the cathedral to make last minute preparations for the beginning of the Triduum. The Dean presided and I preached at the Proper Liturgy for Maundy Thursday: Washing of Feet. Mass of the Lord's Supper, Stripping of the Altar.

Maundy Thursday Homily

Springfield Cathedral Human beings are prisoners of time. Speaking theologically, I’m not sure whether to attribute that to God’s intention in creation, or to our fall into sin. Whichever one it is, though, you and I cannot exist without reference to the past, the present, and the future. The mystery of time, this fundamental human experience, is something we can neither fully comprehend nor transcend. We don’t understand time, and we certainly can’t break free of it. Of course, this doesn’t keep us from fantasizing. Any new book that is well-written, any new movie that is well-made, and includes the theme of time-travel, is bound to be popular. We also process the mystery of time in more subtle ways. This decade is, of course, fifty years after the 1960s. Every week, it seems, there’s some big fiftieth anniversary milestone. Only six days from now is the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. In June, it will be the same thing for Bobby Kennedy. 1968 was a hu

Wednesday in Holy Week

Morning Prayer at home, since I needed to hang around for an electrician to arrive and take care of a list of long-deferred issues. (still from home) Worked on my sermon for Easter III (April 15 at St Thomas', Salem), taking it from "message statement" to "developed outline." (in the office now) Dealt by email with a matter pertaining to my membership on the board of the Society of King Charles the Martyr (and also with the fact that I am a bishop and therefore a member of General Convention and a member of the committee that will consider the inclusion of King Charles in the calendar of the Episcopal Church). Stepped out for lunch downtown with my Roman Catholic counterpart, Thomas John Paprocki. It's always good when this sort of thing can happen. Dealt with some technology issues. My email client started suddenly misbehaving. Reached out to tech support. Everything seems to be OK now. Kept up a chain of email volleys with a young man who sought my h

Tuesday in Holy Week

Weekly/daily task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Did just a little bit of desk-straightening; it's gotten rather out of hand. Reviewed the mockup of the next issue of the Springfield Current . Made a small tweak. Worked via email with the ad editor of The Living Church, coordinating some adjustments to the dioceses "sponor's column" in an upcoming issue. Wrote an email to a lay communicant who had written me a rather detailed letter that I read last week. Got to work on a long-term "archival" scanning project. (Not diocesan archives, per se , but personal papers related to my ministry.) Attended the midday Mass for Tuesday in Holy Week in the cathedral chapel. Lunch from HyVee (Chinese), eaten at hope. Continued with the scanning project, finishing the chunk I had bitten off. Performed major surgery on the text of an old Maundy Thursday homily. The illustrations from contemporary culture were no longer ... contemporary. Walked a

Palm Sunday

So begins my customary (and eighth) Holy Week at St Paul's Cathedral. I preached at 8:00 and 10:30, and presided as well at the later celebration. It was all done with elegance and grace, a good start to this most sacred of weeks.

Palm Sunday Homily

Springfield Cathedral -- St Mark's Passion When we read the Passion like this on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, it sometimes feel likes a sermon is superfluous, an anti-climax. Of course, it’s not, really; it’s not superfluous. It’s important that we break open and shine a light on what we’ve just done and set it in the larger context of everything that we’re going to be doing this week. Nonetheless, there is certainly a level at which the narrative of Jesus’ agony in the garden, his arrest, his two trials, his flogging, his crucifixion, and his death just speaks for itself. About fifteen years ago there was a controversial movie made by Mel Gibson called The Passion of the Christ . Many people found it revolting, because the graphic detail in which Jesus’ suffering was depicted was monstrously gruesome. Many critics asked, “What’s the point? Why subject the viewer to such gore?” One response to that criticism is surely that the film didn’t depict anything that, according to wh


The centerpiece of the day was the annual Chrism Mass at the cathedral. The Bishop is by definition the presider at this liturgy, and this year I preached as well. Inclement weather in parts of the diocese prevented some from attending, but it was a good occasion nonetheless. 

Chrism Mass Homily

Springfield Cathedral --  Luke 4:16–21 This gospel passage from Luke, and the Isaiah passage from which it quotes, are among the most familiar words in all of scripture. We hear them nearly every year on this occasion, and they are scattered around at various other spots in the lectionary. In its original context in Isaiah, it describes the prophet’s own sense of vocation, and his endowment toward that calling by God’s own spirit. We can only assume, then, that the purpose of including this material in the Chrism Mass, where the ordained renew the vows they took when they were ordained, is that the lives of deacons, presbyters, and bishops are inherently ordered, configured, to some aspect of the ministry of Christ, that we are indeed anointed, that the Spirit of the Lord is actually upon us. The question naturally arises, then: How should the baptized faithful whom we lead, and, in turn, the world in which the baptized faithful are missionaries—how should those who look to us, dir

Friday (St Gregory the Illuminator)

A travel day, long but hitch-free. Breakfast with Fr Shranz and his brother (in from Albuquerque for last night's occasion), then to the airport in Baltimore for an 11:30 departure to Atlanta. Fairly brief layover there before catching another Delta flight to Peoria, where my car was. I pulled into my driveway at home at around 5:30.

Thursday (James DeKoven)

Out the door and on the road just a few minutes before the entirely ungodly hour of 4am. Drove north to Peoria "International" (really?) airport or a 6:20 departure for Minneapolis, and after a short layover, caught the 8:55 to Baltimore, arriving at 12:20. I was picked up by the rector of St Mary's, Abingdon, who was kind enough to take me through the drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A before depositing me at the church. I was met there by Don Shranz, who was the reason for my trip. We talked/walked through the choreography of this evening's liturgy, after which he drove me to a nearby Hampton Inn (my home away from home) for some much-needed downtime, a bit of which was spent on the phone with Delta straightening out an itinerary wrinkle. Don retrieved me at 5:00, ahead of the scheduled 5:30 liturgy rehearsal, some refreshments, and a 7:00 service. That was the occasion for formally receiving Don, who was once ordained by the Roman Catholics, as a priest in the Episcopal Chu

Homily at the Reception of Fr Donald Schranz

St Mary's, Abingdon, MD --F east of James DeKoven My friends, I bring you greetings from the clergy and people of the Diocese of Springfield. Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. I am delighted to be here, on what I believe is my fourth visit to the state of Maryland in my more than 66 years on this planet, and I am grateful for the warm hospitality I have already received from St Mary’s Church, and, in advance of the occasion, from Bishops Sutton and Knudsen. It is truly good to be here. This is a happy occasion. It’s happy because it is a celebration of wholeness . It is certainly a celebration of wholeness for Don. Many years ago, Don answered a call from God, a call to serve as a priest, a priest who serves as a living and walking icon of Jesus the Good Shepherd leading his flock to green pastures and still waters, proclaiming good news in their midst, and breaking the eucharistic bread for them, the gift of God that regularly reconstitut

Wednesday (Thomas Ken)

Usual weekday AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took care of some administrative details pertaining to one of our Eucharistic Communities that is presently in a regular relationship with a supply priest. Played with hot wax: Signed and sealed the certificate by which I will, tomorrow evening, receive Donald Schranz into presbyteral orders in the Episcopal Church. Saw to some details regarding Saturday's Chrism Mass--mostly, creating a large-print ceremonial binder for my own use. Substantive visit with Dean Hook on a range of issues. Worked on refining and editing my Palm Sunday homily. (I'll be at the cathedral for all of Holy Week, through Easter morning.) Broke for lunch from McD's eaten at home. Completed the homiletical work I began before lunch. Sat with (and walked with, and wrestled with) my exegetical notes on the gospel for Easter III, on which I will be preaching at St Thomas', Salem, trying to listen for a message statement from which to

Tuesday (St Cuthbert)

Regular weekday AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Discussed an ongoing administrative situation with the Archdeacon. Did some final edits, formatted, and printed the working text of my homily for Thursday evening, when I will receive a former Roman Catholic priest into the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church, this taking place at St Mary's in Abingdon, Maryland. Attended a bit to the ongoing task of overseeing travel arrangements for Bishop Elias and Lucy to visit us from Tabora this June. Got to work on my homily for this Saturday's Chrism Mass, taking it from "developed notes" toward "working script," which was a long leap. Broke from this to head home for lunch. Leftovers. Stopped by my polling place to vote. It's barely more than a stone's throw from my home, but in another congressional district! Finished the homiletical work I had begun before lunch. Attended by email to some liturgical details pertaining to the Chrism

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Up and out with Brenda at a humane hour--8:30--in order to be at St Thomas', Glen Carbon in time to preside and preach at their regular 10:30 liturgy. Sunday Mass is virtually always the highlight of my week. After the coffee hour, Kassi Lattina, director of the daycare and preschool operated by St Thomas', took us on a tour of the facility. Under Kassi's leadership, it's gone from serious red ink to serious black ink, with increased enrollment and a great reputation in the community. Since the Diocese of Springfield has financial skin in this game, this is a very welcome development.

Sermon for Lent V

St Thomas', Glen Carbon -- Hebrews 5:1-10 One does not need to monitor the news media for very long before hearing about death and destruction on a massive scale: volcanoes erupting now in Indonesia, the season for tornadoes and floods in the midwest shortly upon us, a potential earthquake at any moment in many parts of the world. The succession of violent attacks on groups of innocent people boggle the mind. Within the living memory of many, some 20 million people perished under the death machine of the Nazis. And if it weren’t for Hitler, the names of Josef Stalin and Pol Pot would by competing for top honors in the genocide category. And all this just within the last seventy years! But if you’d rather study history than journalism, there’s plenty there as well. Names like Attila the Hun and Ivan the Terrible and the Vikings come to mind. And, of course, the bubonic plague wiped out fully ten percent of the population of Europe in its successive attacks during the late Middl


Usual weekday AM routine, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Today's task list was long on short items--i.e. a long list of things, most of which involved answering emails about pastoral and administrative matters, responding to requests for appointments, and the like. That's what I got started with. The balance of the morning was devoted to spending quality time with commentaries on St Luke's gospel, in preparation for preaching on Easter III at St Thomas', Salem. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Spoke by phone with a longtime good friend who is now a retired bishop. We are a support to one another. Another stack of email-driven pastoral/administrative/consultative engagements. Made lodging arrangements to attend the meeting of the Nashotah House corporation (of which I remain a member) in May. Canceled my registration (and hotel reservation) to attend the scheduled triennial synod of Province V nest month. #cutbackonunnecessarytravel Processed my physical inbox: scann


Customary Thursday morning treadmill workout. At the office around 0930. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Fleshed out the rough draft of my next-due post on the Covenant blog. Did some editing and refining. Sent it on by email to the editor (who will no doubt do some more refining!). This took most of the morning. Dealt briefly by email with a smidgen of General Convention business. Read and commented on the draft minutes from the February meeting of Diocesan Council. Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Dealt briefly with a small administrative matter. Booked air travel, hotel, and car rental for next month's meeting of the Living Church Foundation board in Oklahoma City. When I was a rookie bishop, this was a seriously time-consuming endeavor. With experience, I'm much savvier about my options, so it's just somewhat time-consuming. Got to work on my Palm Sunday homily, taking it from the "developed notes" to the "rough draft" stage. (I'


Task planning at home over breakfast. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Consulted briefly with one of our clergy over an ongoing pastoral/administrative matter. Left a voicemail message with Bishop Roth, my ELCA counterpart in central and southern Illinois. Added a couple of editorial flourishes to the draft Chrism Mass program. Got to work on fleshing out the rough notes/draft of my sermon next week when I receive a former Roman Catholic priest into the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church. Stepped out for an appointment with my own psychotherapist. Not too proud to acknowledge that I sometimes need help with the curveballs life throws my way. Back in the office--connected by phone with Bishop Roth. Resumed working on the above-referenced homily. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Took Brenda to a doctor's appointment. Back in the office--resumed work on that sermon yet again, and this time finished the task. Emmanuel, Champaign is having a big celebration of the centennial

Tuesday (James T. Holley)

Task planning at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Edited, refined, printed, and scheduled for posting the rough draft of this Sunday's homily (St Thomas', Glen Carbon). Consulted briefly with the Archdeacon on an administrative issue. Took a phone call from a retired bishop seeking deeper insight into something I had posted on my blot about last week's House of Bishops meeting. Attended to some details of a trip I'm taking next week to Maryland to receive a former Roman Catholic priest into the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church? (Why am I doing this in Maryland? Long and complicated story.) Took an impromptu meeting with the cathedral Altar Guild head, wherein we discussed the Chrism Mass and Holy Week. Attended to making sure a couple of people got paid from my discretionary fund who needed to get pain from my discretionary fund. Took an online survey expressing my opinions about last week's House of Bishops meeting. Connected with the church

Sermon for Lent IV

St Christopher's, Rantoul- - John 3:14-21 , Numbers 21:4-9 I grew up in a tea-totaling environment, so I was never conditioned to hang out it bars. But when Brenda and I were living in California about 20 years ago and the state banned smoking in all restaurants and bars, we discovered that we often preferred to have dinner in the bar or lounge rather than the main dining area of a restaurant. A cocktail lounge is a very … what shall we say? … a very fluid place, is it not? It can be a place of relaxation and enjoyment and camaraderie with friends. And it can also be a place of mystery and … perhaps, mischief. After spending time in a bar, people often end up saying and doing things they later come to regret. And the consistent thing about such places is that the lights are always dim, sometimes so dim that you can barely see what you’re drinking or eating. I don’t know that we can exactly say why, but I don’t know of anybody, myself included, who would enjoy being in a lounge wi


Travel: Time at Camp Allen to pack in a leisurely fashion. I was on the 11am shuttle to the airport in Houston. Enjoyed seat conversation with the most recently retired bishop of Maryland, who now assists in Virginia. I was there in plenty of time to enjoy a burger at a sit-down restaurant before boarding the 2:20 to Dallas, where my layover was nearly three hours. It was a little early for dinner, but it was then or never, so I had some barbecue. The 6:30 departure to Springfield put us on the ground right on time at 8:30. Unpacked, set all the clocks in the house ahead one hour, and otherwise got ready for a fairly early departure to my visitation to St Christopher's, Rantoul tomorrow.

Spring 2018 House of Bishops, Day 4

... and another one is in the books. Here I am with my table mates. We've been together since the meeting right here at Camp Allen two years ago, and will remain together through General Convention, after which we will get shuffled and re-dealt. This meeting is a day shorter than has been the case for several years--four full days instead of five. The compressed schedule is more demanding, to be sure, with less down time for rest or recreation. But, on balance, I prefer it. I am especially grateful not to be here over a Sunday. The Eucharist this morning (straight Rite II, Prayer C) was celebrated by the Presiding Bishop. The preacher was Jeff Fisher, Bishop Suffragan of Texas. He did a fine job. I always enjoy hearing other bishops preach to bishops. They invariably bring their lives and ministries to the task in ways that their hearers can readily identify with. The morning's work was a continuation of yesterday's conversation around the proposal to make the Presi

Spring 2018 House of Bishops, Day 3

We have new stricter social media rules now in the HOB--no photos taken during a session without the permission of those in it. So ... I'm having to be more creative about finding pics for the blog, because I'm not going to take a panoramic group shot and then contact everyone whose balding head shows in the photo! Once again, the day began with Eucharist. This time, though, I took a pass, and opted for a vigorous walk on a brisk morning. Having looked at the liturgy sheet in advance, there were enough triggers that I knew the net spiritual effect for me would be negative. #selfcare  I will say, however, that HOB worship has gotten incrementally less problematic during the tenure of the current Presiding Bishop, and I give props for that. When we convened at 10:15, there were the usual announcements, then a whirlwind set of summary reports from bishop members of the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) and the Task Force on the Study of Marriage. The full report

Spring 2018 House of Bishops, Day 2

It's gloriously springtime in the piney woods of east Texas, as this shot of a blooming redbud show. Is it also springtime for evangelism in the Episcopal Church? The House of Bishops spent most of another day examining the subject.  Once again, we began with a celebration of the Eucharist, at which the Bishop of the Dominican Republic presided (in Spanish) and the Bishop of Indianapolis preached (about "relational courage"). We then spent some time in table groups with another set of starter questions, this time derived from some of the vows bishops take at their consecration, and intended to elicit personal narrative about speaking the gospel into both ordinary and demanding situations.  The final hour or so was given over to more consideration of the ministry of Renewal Works, with its head, the Revd Jay Sidebotham, leading the discussion. There was a particular emphasis on how Renewal Works attempts to translate the process from the pan-evangelical milieu which