Showing posts from April, 2018

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Up and out the door with Brenda at 0715. Pointed the YFNBmobile in a southerly and easterly direction, arriving at Trinity, Mt Vernon right in time for the 0930 Christian education hour. At the invitation of the rector, I presided over a discussion of the fourth promise from the Baptismal Covenant, which is to "seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself." It was a rich and lively conversation. At the 1030 Mass it was my joy to confirm Abby Bruce, granddaughter of one of the late pillars of the parish. Following coffee hour, I met for a but with the Mission Leadership Team to talk about how they're coming with the Mission Strategy Report that is due (from all the Eucharistic Communities) in June. We were back on the road at 1325 and home at 1545 (aka 3:45).

Sermon for V Easter

Trinity, Mt Vernon -- I John 3:14-24 , John 14:15-21 In my nearly thirty years of ordained ministry, I have found that presiding at a funeral—although always a solemn occasion and often accompanied by great sadness—is, among all the varied duties and responsibilities of a priest or bishop, the most personally fulfilling and spiritually rewarding. There is something about a funeral that cuts to the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A person has died. Someone who was part of a network of love and esteem and shared experience is now, by all appearances, unplugged from that network. The whole purpose of the burial rites of the Church, then, is to call appearances into question, to cast doubt on what seems to be undeniably real, to shout “Wait just a minute! This isn’t really the end. Those who have been united with Christ in a death like his will also share with him in a resurrection like his. The gift of God through Christ Jesus our Lord is eternal life.” And so we read scriptur


Usual weekday AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Spent the first big chunk of the morning hand-writing greetings to clergy and spouses with nodal events (birthdays, anniversaries) in May. Put a couple of them in the mail right away because they're coming up soon. Substantive phone conversation with one of our parish clergy over a couple of practical matters. Spent the rest of the morning in a deep dive in commentaries on Mark's gospel, chapter four, as part of preparing to preach on June 17 at St John the Baptist, Mt Carmel. Lunch at home. Leftovers. While still at home, took part in a video conference call meeting of the Forward Movement board. Back at the office, Paige and I worked on recording the next segment of my catechetical video series on the marks of discipleship. Got back to, and completed, my exegetical work on the passage from Mark 6. Conferred with the Archdeacon on a small range of issues in advance of his departure next week for six weeks in S


Robust treadmill workout to start the day. At the office around 0915. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took care of a brief bit of Communion Partners business. Left a voicemail with a potential resource for parish conflict situations. Sat down with Paige one last time for some final editing notes on the video/photo montage on the Triduum at the cathedral. It's now on the website and on Facebook. Got to work taking my developed outline for a homily on Easter VI (May 6 at St John the Divine, Champaign) to the "rough draft" stage. Broke for lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Back in the office and back to sermon writing, which I finished in due course. Attended to some Forward Movement business ahead of a conference call meeting of the board tomorrow. Solidified the makeup of a Clergy Compensation Task Force and gave marching orders to its members via email. Performed some routine monthly calendar maintenance chores. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

St Mark

Ordinary weekday AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Reviewed the annotated the credit card statement I found on my desk when I arrived. Sent a condolence note by email to a lay leader who has suffered a recent death in the family. Tied up some administrative loose ends. Sat with my personal and exegetical notes on the readings for Pentecost toward the end of arriving at a homiletical message statement for what I will say when I step into the pulpit at Emmanuel, Champaign on May 20. I had to interrupt that work to keep an 11am appointment with two representatives of the Church Pension Group, in town to explain a new business group within CPG dedicated to leveraging their robust database on clergy training, ordination, deployment, compensation,and insurance usage, as well as trends in parishes and geographic areas toward the end of resourcing bishops and diocesan leaders and administrators for working more effectively. Overall, I was impressed. Attended Mass for St Mark&

Tuesday (Melanesian Martyrs)

Usual weekday AM routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Began to work on editing and formatting my sermon for this Sunday (Trinity, Mt Vernon). Noticed that I was feeling vaguely out of sorts. Within about 30 minutes it became clear that I was having a kidney stone attack. Not my first rodeo. I held out until I could not longer really concentrate on my work and then told the staff that I was heading to the ER. (St John's Hospital is only about a mile away.) It wasn't horribly crowded, and they got me diagnosed, hooked up with a pain killer, and discharged in a little over two hours. I was home with KFC for lunch only a little later than I otherwise would have been. One of the more satisfactory ER experiences. Back in the office, I completed the sermon work I had begun in the morning, before heading out for a couple of personal errands (one of which was fill a pain-killer prescription, the need for which had reasserted itself). Sat down with Paige to watch the rough cut o

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Once in a while I don't have a Sunday visitation on my calendar, and today was one of those occasions. So I arranged with the Dean to be the celebrant at the 1030 cathedral liturgy. With such a relaxed time frame, I was able to knock off task planning for two significant projects at home before I had to head down to St Paul's. The afternoon and evening were devoted to more domestic pursuits: A long walk through Washington Park and a lot of scanning of old photos. There was also a Cubs game involved.

Saturday (St Anselm)

What does it say about me that I consider it a "good day" when I don't even leave the house? Didn't even put on a pair of proper shoes, or start the car. That doesn't mean I was idle, though. The accomplishment of the morning was a long and vigorous treadmill workout. The afternoon saw progress on planning for the Bishop of Tabora's visit, the November clergy conference, preparation for committee work at General Convention, and a major email communication to diocesan clergy.


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Took a first long prayerful pass at the readings for Proper 4, in anticipation of preaching at Alton Parish on June 3. Further developed and refined the script for my next "Seven Marks" catechetical video. Got to work scanning, categorizing, and tagging a formidable pule of hard copy items.  Reinforced in the conviction that the staple is the primary enemy of the digital revolution. Had a 90 minute meeting in connection with the "ongoing pastoral-administrative matter" that I've been mentioning so much lately. Happily--and may it please God, permanently--this meeting represents, at last, the resolution of the issue. Somewhat late lunch of leftovers at home. Dug back in on the scanning project, taking time away sporadically to send some emails pertaining to the subject of the pre-lunch meeting. Opened the homiletical file (prayer, slow reading of the propers, initial note-taking) on Proper 6 (June 10 at St Michael's, O

Thursday (St Alphege)

Vigorous treadmill workout to start the day. Task planning and Morning Prayer at home. The only planned-task-checked-off "accomplishment" for the day was a deep dive into three exegetical commentaries on the Acts of the Apostles. This was in preparation for preaching at Emmanuel, Champaign on Pentecost. While in the process of doing this, I kept an appointment with my psychotherapist, met by phone with two individuals in connection with an ongoing pastoral/administrative matter, and had a substantive phone conversation laying plans for the visit to the diocese in June of the Bishop of Tabora and his wife. Short-form Evening Prayer on the way home. (It was late.)


Task planning and home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Spent a chunk of time getting up to speed on recent developments in an ongoing pastoral/administrative matter. Gathered at 0945 with the Administrator and the Archdeacon for our annual "elections and appointments" meeting. This is part of the runup to the 2018 Synod (which is, yes, still five months away, but ... you know ... time flies). This is make sure that, if it's my duty to appoint someone to an office at Synod, I'm ready to do so, and that, for offices that are elected, we have at least one person willing to run. Responded to a short stack of emails. Began reading and digesting a report from someone whom I asked to develop a plan for online registration and payment for diocesan events. This has been an ongoing tough nut to crack.  Broke for lunch at home. Leftovers. While still at home, responded in detail to the report I had begun reading in the morning. Took Brenda to an dental appointment. Sp


My smart phone woke up dead ... well, you know ... at least in a coma. So, Morning Prayer at home, and first in line at the AT&T store right when it opened. Some guy several decades younger than I am had it up and running in a couple of minutes. I think the technical term was "frozen." When I got to the office, it seemed like there was just one minor distraction after another--little emergencies that kept popping up. Finally, a good while after 10, I was able to focus on my homily for Easter V (April 29 at Trinity, Mt Vernon). I reconditioned a text from a prior year and will refine it further next week. Took further steps toward convening a task force to study clergy compensation and help develop some coherent guidelines. Started a game of email tag with one of our clergy over an issue of mutual interest. (And, in this context, got into the technology weeds with my email client, which was misbehaving.) With Paige's help, dusted off my very old Spotify account, a

Third Sunday of Easter

Out the door with Brenda at 7am, headed south and east. Arrived two hours later at St Thomas', Salem, for my regular annual visitation. Presided and preached at their 0930 celebration fo the Eucharist. Enjoyed their usual culinary hospitality afterward. Back on the road at 12:3o and home two hours later. 

Sermon for III Easter

St Thomas', Sale m-- Luke 24:36b-48 Let’s look at ourselves. Let’s look at ourselves—who we are and what we’re doing, right now in this moment, and every Sunday at this time. Each one of us has a particular and personal reason for being here. And I suspect that if we were to distribute colored markers to everyone and write these reasons down on newsprint and tack all the sheets along the wall, we would discover that we have a great deal in common about why we’re here. We would see themes like a desire to worship God, a search for some measure of comfort and solace in the ups and downs of life, or an urge to express our faith. And if we’re brutally honest, some of us would say that we’re here just out of habit, or because we’re superstitiously afraid that God will “smite” us if we stay home, and perhaps some are here just out of curiosity about one thing or another. And, from one Sunday to the next, the reasons might vary. But who are we as we’re gathered here, doing somethin


Uneventful day of travel. Everything went as it should, despite some jitters last night about Chicago weather today. Arrived home around 5:45, glad to be back from wind-swept Oklahoma.


Attended the morning and afternoon session of the Board of Directors of the Living Church Foundation, in my new role meeting as Secretary. I have a somewhat minimalist approach to the job, which makes it not very onerous. This took place at All Souls Church, Oklahoma City. After a bit of down time back at the Hilton Garden, I attended a reception for local "friends" of (and, we hope, potential donors to) TLC, held in the parish hall of All Souls. Then it was off to dinner with board members at a lovely local restaurant.

Wednesday (George Selwyn)

Mostly a day of travel. Caught the 9:23 United departure to O'Hare, then, after some time with emails and phone calls in the United Club, the 12:52 departure to Oklahoma City. I'm here for a semi-annual meeting of the Board of Directors of the Living Church Foundation. Picked up my rental car and found my way to my hotel without a hitch. Enjoyed dinner in the home of one of our board members and his wife; a lovely and gracious time.

Tuesday (William Law)

Morning Prayer at home (waiting for a window blind installer). Pastoral care by email: Responded to some questions from a layperson about the issues General Convention is facing. Spent some time on the phone with Illinois National Bank (home of both personal and diocesan accounts) trying to straighten out some technology glitches. While the blinds installer words, I refined, edited, posted, and printed my homily for this Sunday (St Thomas's, Salem). Lunch at home. Leftovers. Traded emails with a priest about an upcoming visitation to his parish. Traded emails with the Bishop of Tabora regarding his upcoming visit to the diocese. Sat attentively with my exegetical notes on the readings for Easter VI (when I will be at the Chapel of St John the Divine in Champaign) and emerged with a homiletical message statement from which a sermon will hopefully be developed. Took a phone call from a priest. Followed up with a conversation with the Archdeacon. Caught up with a couple emai

Easter Friday

After Morning Prayer in the cathedral, the rest of the time before lunch got consumed by my homily for Easter III, which I brought from "developed outline" to "rough draft." Since Paige and I were the only ones in the office, we gave one another the afternoon off  (she reminding me, "You're the boss"). I did, however, work from home until about 4:00, attending to some Forward Movement business and moved the ball down the road toward assembling a team to examine clergy compensation in the diocese. Brenda and I then packed for two nights and pointed the YFNBmobile north toward Chicago. I don't have a visitation this weekend, and Brenda has a doctor's appointment there (*here* as I write) tomorrow, so we're taking the opportunity for some family time.

Easter Thursday

Another day of time-consuming projects. The morning and the first part of the afternoon was devoted to plotting my sermon prep work for the summer (June through the first two Sundays in September). This involved a spreadsheet, and a dive into sermon archives to see what could be repurposed and what needs to be prepared from scratch. The "from scratch" determination turned out to be a majority this time. Then I assigned the steps of my OCD six-step sermon development process to appropriate dates, navigating around vacation and travel commitments. I know I have colleagues who start thinking about their sermon on Saturday afternoon. I can't live that way.  The rest of the afternoon was largely dedicated to drafting the script of next installment in my "marks of discipleship" catechetical video series. This one is about the development of spiritual practices. Interspersed throughout the day were emails concerning a family real estate transaction in Chicago--a new

Easter Wednesday

Yesterday was a day of getting a large number of relatively small items checked off, not requiring much brain power. Today was the opposite: Only two items accomplished, both required lots of mental energy. The morning was largely devoted to hanging out with commentaries on the First Epistle of John, focusing on the first few verses of Chapter 5. This was in preparation for preaching (at the Chapel of St John the Divine, Champaign) on Easter VI. It actually felt like a guilty pleasure. I enjoy deep dives into biblical texts, and when the task of sermon preparation forces me to do that, it's a happy thing. Johannine material in general, and the epistles in particular, generally drive me a bit nuts, so this was especially good. The afternoon was mostly devoted to reading and annotating the revision of the Book of Occasional Services that will be presented fo General Convention in July. I'm on the committee that will be dealing with it (and probably amending it), so this was by wa

Easter Tuesday

Still just a bit still in Holy Week recovery mode. Slept in an extra 20 minutes or so. Robust treadmill workout. Weekly and daily task planning. As it was already 10:30, short form Morning Prayer in the car on the way in to the office. Two substantial phone conversation pertaining to an ongoing pastoral/administrative issue. Took steps toward the rescheduling of a meeting in July. Evolving vacation travel plans have caused me to move the whole thing up by a day. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Dealt by email with about a dozen items that needed my attention, no one of which was particularly onerous, but in the aggregate consumed most of the afternoon. I kind of intentionally didn't schedule many mentally-intense tasks today, in the spirit of "easing back in." Evening Prayer in the cathedral, about 30 minutes on the early side.


Yesterday's post kind of fell through the cracks. Maintaining a custom that is now nearly three decades old, I gathered with the cathedral Altar Guild at 0900 for the proper liturgy (of the word) for Holy Saturday. Spent most of the morning there preparing for the Vigil. Passed the afternoon with our visiting daughter and her family.  Back to St Paul's around 7pm to get ready for the 8:00 Easter Vigil. We duly celebrated the resurrection, getting home a bit after 11. Unwound a bit and became unconscious around midnight. Back to the cathedral to preach at 0800, watch probably the coldest Easter egg hunt on record, then preside and preach at 1030. Lunch out with the fam, them home to collapse into a long-deferred nap.

Easter Homily

Springfield Cathedral Apple unveils a new version of the iPhone, several different versions over the years, and each time the marketplace says, “Life as we know it will never be the same.” Physicians and scientists announce the discovery of HIV/AIDS back in the late ‘70s; journalists and social commentators intone the same refrain, “Life as we know it will never be the same.” A real estate tycoon and reality TV host gets elected President, and both his supporters and detractors say—“Life as we know it will never be the same.” The City of Springfield announces plans to change some one-way streets downtown back to two-way, and what do we say? “Life as we know it will never be the same.” As you can see, this figure of speech can have a wide range of meanings, from the trivial to the profound, from the planned to the accidental. But what about “life as we know it?” Behind the hype and beyond the humor, what are the defining characteristics of human existence? Should we be afraid if