Showing posts from December, 2018

First Sunday after Christmas Day

Up and out of my Glen Carbon hotel room in time to celebrate the Holy Mysteries with the folks at St Bartholomew's, Granite City. Granite City is kind of gritty, blue-collar steel mill town that has seen its ups and downs. St Bartholomew's has a long and rich history there, but the regular congregation now consists of only about 10 or 12 people, and at least half of them rely on canes or walkers! That said, they are an immensely gracious and lovely group, and it is always my honor and joy to worship with them. My soul was fed by the experience, and Christ was glorified. I was back on the road at 1030, and home just before 3:30.

Sermon for Christmas I

St Bartholomew’s, Granite City-- John 1:1-14 (This are my working notes. There was no developed text for this homily.) Happy Sixth Day of Christmas. I hope you are continuing to celebrate! Christmas Eve … familiar story/familiar words … Caesar Augustus … long journey to Bethlehem … “days were accomplished” … “no room in the inn” … angels and shepherds We have (appropriately) sweetly sentimentalized this narrative … Prime example: In the Bleak Midwinter … “breast full of milk and a manger full of hay” … and are moved to respond, “What can I give him, poor as I am? … my heart”) … This is the public Christian face of Christmas By contrast: Christmas morning, and the First Sunday … John: no baby Jesus, but the pre-incarnate Logos: “In the beginning was the Word … light shines in the darkness … Word was made flesh,” and moved into the neighborhood. This is no story with a plot we can follow (drama, conflict, crisis, resolution), or characters we can empathize with. It appeals t

Saturday (St Thomas Becket)

Took leave of our gathered offspring and their offspring, after a wonderful family Christmas celebration over the last three days, packed for an overnight, and his the road southbound a little past 3pm. Made a brief stop in Springfield, and continued on down to an 8:30 arrival in Glen Carbon, where I'm I'm bedded down for the night ahead of tomorrow's visitation to St Bartholomew's, Granite City.


After feting our eldest daughter over breakfast for her birthday, Brenda and I left our Chicago apartment midday yesterday and headed south to Springfield. I preached at the 5:30 Christmas Eve liturgy at the cathedral, and both presided and preached at the 11pm Mass. Between services, Brenda and I grabbed dinner at Cooper's Hawk. Both liturgies were lovely, and well-attended (noticeably up from recent years, and I've heard similar reports from around the diocese and beyond). We "camped out" in our former home, the house we still own but is vacant, which is still for sale or rent, whichever comes first. It was a little surreal to have an air bed be the only furniture in the place,, but it worked.  This morning we were up and back out by around 0900 and drove back to Chicago, arriving at 1245. We fixed dinner with our daughter, and generally had a low-key day. Tomorrow afternoon, more family arrive, so that is probably where I will be focusing until the weekend. I'l

Christmas Eve Sermon

Springfield Cathedral There is certainly no more emotional time of  year than Christmas. Holiday feelings present themselves, as if on cue, by such cultural symbols as red and green sweaters or table decorations, fake snow in store windows, toy soldiers and nutcrackers, George Bailey fighting to save his Building & Loan in Bedford Falls, Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchitt and Tiny Tim, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye trying to arrange one more tribute to General Waverly at the ski lodge, or any number of tunes which we’re likely to hear in virtually any public place beginning the day after Thanksgiving. Intense feelings are aroused by Christmas traditions unique to particular families, even if the meaning has long since been forgotten. I once heard about a family for whom Christmas doesn’t happen until a blob of peanut butter is spread on somebody’s nose—nobody can say why anymore. For another family, it was a solemn Christmas ritual to slice of an inch from the top of the ham befor

Fourth Sunday of Advent (O Emmanuel)

I had a bye on my visitation calendar today, so Brenda and I worshiped as part of the congregation at the 9am liturgy at the Church of the Ascension, Chicago (where the music, even at the "non-solemn" celebration, is to die for). While I am still in love with my current ministry, after nearly eight years as a bishop, I must confess that I miss the regularity of parish life. A parish community is a precious thing.

Saturday (O Rex Gentium)

I had planned on this being a low-key "putter around the apartment and maybe run a couple of errands" day. Two things intervened to keep it from being that. First was the news, by phone from the Bishop of Upper South Carolina, that my predecessor once-removed, Bishop Donald Hultstrand, died last night at 92. He was a truly holy man. So there were phone calls and emails trying to sort out the arrangements, and the extent to which I will be able to participate, letting the diocese know, etc. The second intervenor was the discovery that my diocesan email account has been disconnected from the email client that I actually use for the past 2-3 days. This seems to happen from time to time, and it's annoying, and I don't know who's at fault. The fix is pretty easy, though a little time consuming. But it meant there was a pile of emails that I hadn't known about, some of which required immediate action, and some of that action time-consuming. So, while I put out all t

St Thomas (O Oriens)

In these days immediately leading up to and following Christmas, much of the working world throttles way back, and even though I may not personally feel an urge to do so (one might plausibly argue that I should, given a somewhat obsessive penchant for productivity and checking items off task lists), I find that many of my dance partners become unavailable, and I'm forced to scale back. I did get an important writing project done today (drafting the script for the next "Seven Marks of Discipleship" video series), dealt with some companion diocese business, skimmed the Master's thesis (in theology) of one of our extremely bright seminarians, had a substantive conversation with the new rector of Edwardsville, prayed both offices, and took a hearty walk. Tomorrow I won't even make a pretense, and shift attention to my domestic task list, which is growing and eminently available.

Thursday (O Clavis David)

This was one of those days where it felt difficult to get much traction on anything, probably owing mostly to the time devoted to accompanying Brenda on two longish doctor's appointments. In the midst of it all, I did manage to edit, refine, print, and schedule for posting my homily for Christmas Eve, deal with a bit of companion diocese business, and move the ball a couple of yards downfield in preparing for the clergy pre-Lenten retreat. I also managed to gratefully take mental note that it was the 29th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood.

Wednesday (O Radix Jesse)

Morning Prayer and task planning per the current routine. Got started developing the homiletical message statement for Epiphany into an actual outlined and plotted sermon. Broke off from that work to keep an appointment to make my regular pre-Christmas confession at a (relatively) nearby parish. Stayed for the Mass that followed shortly thereafter. Returned home and processed a stack of accumulated emails. Cobbled together various sorts of leftovers to provide lunch for Brenda and me. Got back to working on that Epiphany sermon, and finished with something that I can further develop into a rough draft text next week. Returned to the project of adapting the Roman Catholic rite for exorcism for use in an Anglican context. Made major strides toward that goal.  Took my daily walk, enjoying the multiplicity of route possibilities in a developed urban context. Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Tuesday (O Adonai)

Morning Prayer in the home oratory/chapel. Task planning over breakfast. Sent out a sheaf of substantive emails over an array of matters--some pastoral, some administrative. Took today's walk in the morning (sunny and relatively mild), stopping at a toy stone en route for a small bit of Christmas shopping, and arriving back home with Chinese carry-out for lunch. Knocked off another big chunk on the exorcism liturgy project. Made air travel and lodging arrangements in Toronto for a meeting next month of the Canadian iteration of the Communion Partner bishops. I will attend as a guest, representing their U.S. colleagues. Attended to a bit of administrative work pertaining to one of our geographic parishes. Performed some routine scheduled personal organization maintenance--cleaning up the "desktop" on my computer. Reviewed and edited the draft bulletin for my (re-scheduled) visitation to St Bartholomew's, Granite City on the 30th. Evening Prayer in the oratory

Third Sunday of Advent

All's well that ends well. but there was rather more drama than I care for en route to getting there. I was awake and up and 0-dark-thirty, and aware that I didn't need to set out for Centralia until 0900, so I decided to grab a walk after offering Morning Prayer in the dark cathedral. But, first, it seemed prudent to move the YFNBmobile out of the diocesan garage, lest some inattentive cathedral parishioner decide to park in front of it. I entered the code on the keypad, and ... nothing. Did it again, lots of times. Still nothing. Got hold of a locksmith, and after I described what I was looking at on the garage doors, he informed that that he would be of no help, and that I needed to call a garage door company. Called several garage door companies, and left passionate voicemail messages. While waiting for a response, I cleaned up, got my "working" clothes on, and got packed, ready to load the yet inaccessible vehicle. Tried the code a few more times, to no avail. Pr

Homily for III Advent

St John’s, Centralia -- Luke 3:7–17,  Philippians 4:4–9                                                                              If you pay close attention to what’s going on in church at this time of year, you’ll eventually notice that the season of Advent has a very peculiar shape. Next Sunday we’ll be able to sing, “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!” because we’ll be hearing about the angel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary and telling her … well, you know how that one goes. Two weeks ago, it was all doom and gloom. We heard Jesus talk about some really scary stuff—wars, natural disasters, violent social unrest—that would be signs of the end of the world as we know it. So the beginning of Advent is apocalyptic, the end of Advent is Christmas-y, and the middle of Advent, where we are now, last Sunday and today, is … well, kind of awkward. The star of the show is John the Baptist, who—let’s face it—is just not a fun guy. He’s rude and crude. You would never invit


Got up and walked down toe Charlie Parker's. Ate breakfast. Walked back. Reached and exceeded my 10,000 step daily goal. Cleaned up. Read MP in the cathedral. Processed a handful of emails that were leftover from yesterday, Kept and appointment with an Eastern Illinois University professor who is interested in organizing and helping lead an Anglican history tour to France and England for folks from the diocese. Perhaps this idea will grow some legs. Ran some personal errands at Sam's Club and Target, grabbing lunch from Wendy's. Got the YFNBmobile washed. Relaxed in my office in front of a Netflix TV show. Scanned, categorized, and tagged the stack of items in my physical inbox. Did some internet research on the Fresh Expressions movement, upon the recommendation of one of my colleague bishops. Created and named a Dropbox folder on the diocesan account that is designated for archives--both scanned old items and electronic versions of new items. Archive management i

Friday (St John of the Cross)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Drove down to McDonald's for a breakfast sandwich. Organized my work for the day. Signed a raft of episcopal election consent requests, and one retirement consent request. Approved all save for one of the elections (but I'm quite certain the consecration will go forward nonetheless). Reviewed a draft of the next issue of the Springfield Current. Noticed several items that needed attention and shared this with Paige just about the time she walked into the office. Took the opportunity to consult with her on another subject. Reviewed a spreadsheet from Sue regarding needed hotel reservations for my 2019 visitation schedule. Filled in blanks as appropriate. (There are 19 overnights on Saturdays slated for the year.) Edited, refined, printed, and scheduled for posting my homily for this Sunday (St John's, Centralia). Used a 10-minute winder of opportunity to take a brisk walk around 2-3 blocks. Kept an 11am appointment with someone in th

Thursday (St Lucy)

Morning Prayer before dawn in our domestic oratory. Fixed tea and "paleo" pancakes while conversing with Brenda. Took my daily walk on the early side today, leaving at 0815 and returning at 0930. Got cleaned up, began to pack, replied to an email, organized some things I needed to bring with me to Springfield, finished packing, and left the apartment a little past 1100.  Headed south, with a fast-food lunch stop past the Des Plaines River, and pulled into the diocesan center at 2:50, ten minutes ahead of a 3:00 appointment. Met with diocesan treasurer Rod Matthews for about an hour. Processed accumulated hard-copy items on my desk  Got started on a *very* thick stack of emails, all of which required a fairly prompt response. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Dinner at Freddy's Steakburgers on West Wabash, then back to the office for more email processing.

Wednesday (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Morning Prayer in the home oratory. Task planning and internet skimming over breakfast. Mixed it up with my notes on the readings for Epiphany (Sunday, Jan. 6 at Trinity, Jacksonville) and came out of the fray with a homiletical message statement, to be further developed. Responded to a couple of emails from the Bishop of Tabora. Conceived and hatched a homily for Christmas Eve (at the cathedral). Made arrangements to make my pre-Christmas confession next week. Lunched on leftovers. Took Brenda to see her primary-care physician, following up on her episode on Saturday. More tests ordered. While in the waiting room, processed some newly-arrived emails. Took the 75-minute walk that has become a fixture of my days. I'm committed to keeping the pedal to the medal on exercise. I want to stay healthy and energetic as long as I can. Mored the ball several yards down the field toward adapting and "Anglicizing" the Roman Catholic rite for exorcism, for use, if and when ne


The main accomplishment of the day was to closely proofread the thirty daily office lectionary reflections I agreed to write for appearance on Forward Day by Day next November. I also took Brenda to an eye doctor appointment, had lunch with the rector of the Church of the Ascension, trying to muster such pastoral wisdom as I have within me toward some of the complex issues he faces in a complex parish, took a phone call from the president of the Standing Committee, and dealt substantively by email with three separate emerging pastoral/administrative concerns. Prayed both Morning and Evening Prayer, the latter with Brenda.

Second Sunday of Advent

With original plans scuttled by yesterday's medical drama, we found ourselves unexpectedly in Chicago on a Sunday. We elected to worship with the congregation at St Paul's-by-the-Lake, where I know handful of folks. St Paul's is robustly Angl0-Catholic, in a quite conservative style. Yet, attendance was good, with a beautiful demographic diversity, both in age and ethnicity. Lots of young families. Quite a lively and lovely spirit. Later in the day, after a long walk, I read and responded to an Ember Day letter (sent early) from one of our seminarians, and attended to some routine personal organization chores. Dinner with Brenda at a nearby Argentine steak house (it was excellent).

Sermon for II Advent

St Bartholomew's, Granite City --L uke 3:1-6, Baruch 5:1-9 , Psalm 126, Philippians 1:111 Most of you probably don’t know that there was a period in my life—actually, it seems like a different lifetime—when I was a salesman. I was not, by any reckoning, a very good salesman, but whenever I point that out, someone invariably comes back with the quip, “But what do you call what you’re doing now?!”—the implication being that, even though I’m not paid on commission, what my ministry is about, is, in effect, selling the gospel, or Christ, or the Church, or something along those lines. Well…whatever. This much I know: Making a sale involves the buyer coming to the conclusion that there is some advantage to him or her in making the purchase. The first essential question that must be answered in any sales process is “What’s in it for me?” Now, if I’m going to have to listen to anyone call me a salesman for what I do, I’m just going to hold up a mirror and remind everyone that, if I’m a

Saturday (Immaculate Conception)

There are plans and there is life. Today, life won. It was supposed to be a leisurely morning ahead of a 1:00-2:00 departure to the Hampton Inn Edwardsville/Glen Carbon and a visitation tomorrow to St Bartholomew's, Granite City. It ended up with a canceled visitation after several hours of quality time in the ER at Swedish Covenant Hospital. In our living room, seated on a couch (for which we are grateful), Brenda passed out and started to convulse. After about five seconds, she was fine. But we couldn't not have it checked out, since it was the second fainting episode within a month. The prevailing theory is what they call orthostasis due to insufficient hydration. Tests for other things (cardiac, electrolytes) all came back negative. We'll be following up with her primary doctor ASAP. In the meantime, I need to stick close to her, and I'm sure the good people of St Bartholomew's are understanding about this, although it is wrenchingly uncomfortable for me to not

Friday (St Ambrose)

Out of retreat now, and back in the saddle. My personal circumstances may dictate a rather unorthodox style, but the formula is pretty classic: pray ... read ... reflect ... write ... repeat. And, perhaps, sleep a tad more than usual. As such things go, I would say that is "worked." As for today: Task planning over breakfast. Morning Prayer with Brenda. Edited, refined, printed (placing the hard copy in my car), and scheduled for posting this Sunday's homily (St Bartholomew's, Granite City). Reached out by email to a priest whose parish I am visiting soon. Wrote an email (in Spanish) to the Bishop of Peru, letting him know he'll shortly be receiving a modest financial contribution from the Diocese of Springfield. Lunch from Pizza Hut, eaten at home. Reached out by phone and email regarding a pastoral matter. Wrote and posted (on the website) my article for the next edition of the Springfield Current . Took a brisk 75-minute walk. (With temps in the mid-

First Sunday of Advent

Up and out of my improvised Springfield accommodations in time to report to St Paul's, Carlinville 30 minutes ahead of the regular 0915 liturgy. It was, for them, a good turnout, just north of 30 souls. The musical artistry of their organist, Diane Aikin, was Advent balm for my Advent-loving spirit. I was particularly pleased to see them singing the Psalm at the Eucharist, responsorially ... because that's what one does with Psalms. Spirited time visiting with folks over food following the service. Fr John Henry presides over a community whose members enjoy one another's company.  Following my customary day off tomorrow, I will be on personal retreat through Thursday. So my next post in this space will be one Friday.

Sermon for Advent Sunday

St Paul's, Centralia -- Luke 21:25-31 When we watch a scary or suspenseful movie for the first time, it’s easy for us to forget that what we’re watching on the screen is not actually happening, but that actors are delivering lines written by an author, and moving according to the wishes of a director, and that there are banks of cameras and audio equipment just beyond our field of view. Our emotions correspond to what we’re watching, as if it were real. But if we watch the same film a second or third time, our emotional responses become less intense. We know how it ends. There’s no longer any reason to be frightened or anxious on behalf of the characters in the drama. We watch the action as if through different eyes. As Christians, as the people of God and the Body of Christ, we have a similar advantage as we watch the compelling drama called real life play out in our experience. It’s not like we have a script that feeds us every line and blocks every move, so there is still an

Saturday (Nicholas Ferrar)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Walked to Charlie Parker's for breakfast  (2.2 miles). Walked from Charlie Parker's to the blood bank to make a scheduled donation (2.6 miles). Walked to the home that I still make payments on but remains vacant, to generally inspect it and turn down the thermostats (2.4 miles). Walked back to the office (2.5 miles). Took off my shoes and rested a good long while, lunching on leftovers from yesterday. Hand-wrote greetings to clergy and spouses with birthdays and wedding anniversaries in December,. Wrote emails to those with ordination anniversaries (for which December is a banner month). Responded to accumulated emails and various other small administrative items. Did a year's worth of *master* sermon planning plotting. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Went out to find some steak for dinner, given that I had left a slew of red cells at the blood bank. Responded substantively to a substantive email I found waiting for me when I go