Showing posts from February, 2019


Usual weekday AM routine. Worked to do my part to assist with a UTO grant application from Redeemer, Cairo. Technological glitches and quandaries resulted in this taking *way* longer than it should have, but, with some timely assistance from the Diocesan Administrator and the Diocesan UTO Coordinator, I believe we got done what needed to get done. Moved the ball downfield on setting up conversations with two individuals who want to talk about discerning a call to the diaconate. Took Brenda to see her primary care physician to follow up on her recent low-sodium incident. That particular crisis is behind us, but, until we know what caused it, there will be a concern. More tests. Lunch from a nearby taqueria, eaten at home. Dealt via a chain of substantive emails with the nitty-gritty details of a hoped-for ordination of transitional deacons toward the end of March. Synergized an errant to buy a printer ink cartridge into a *very* long walk, which I consider a very good thing. Mad

Wednesday (George Herbert)

Every year I look forward to Wednesday morning of the clergy pre-Lenten retreat, It's the only opportunity I have to meet in a plenary conversation with the clergy of the diocese, and I always leave the time feeling "strangely warmed" (Methodists have been on my mind!) by the collegiality and common dedication to our mission that I find among the group. What a joy. We went from there to a Mass for the lesser feast George Herbert, which was also luminous and integrating. After lunch I met for a debrief with the three priests who helped facilitate the retreat. Then Brenda and I packed up the YFNBmobile and hit the road northbound at 1:20. We pulled into our Chicago garage five hours and ten minutes later.


At King's House retreat center in Belleville for the regularly-scheduled clergy pre-Lenten retreat. Full round of corporate worship: Morning Prayer, Mass, Evensong, Compline, punctuated by deep dives into the texts of that very worship in a mystagogical (yeah, look it up) manner. This afternoon, as always, I was available for one-on-one conferences, and my dance card was pretty full.

St Matthias

It was a somewhat leisurely morning for Brenda and me as we enjoyed breakfast at the Hilton Garden in O'Fallon before packing up and heading out. We had some time to kill before showing up at King's House in Belleville for the clergy retreat, so we stopped by the big mall in Fairview Heights to get some steps in on a rather cold morning. The intent was to walk, not shop, but ... you know how things go. I walked out with a pair of shoes. We at lunch at a nearby Smoky Bones, after which I took Brenda to the J. Jill store up the street. She walked out with a new pair of pants and two new tops. Both were needed, IMO. Then the coast was clear to head to King's House. We got settled, I made some last minute preparations for the retreat, and had substantive visits with some of the clergy. Brenda and I shared musical duties at Evensong. Dinner followed. I made a few opening remarks at the plenary, then we divided into breakout groups for our work of mystagogical catechesis.

Seventh Sunday after Epiphany

Up and out of the Hilton Garden O'Fallon, into cold gale force winds, and over to St George's in time preside and preach at their 0800 and 1030 liturgies, and engage in a lively adult forum between services. Then lunch with the rector. The whole thing rather wore me out, so the afternoon was spent pretty much "vegging" in our hotel room. We even had dinner in the hotel restaurant, after which I did check a string of smallish items off my to-do list.

Sermon for Epiphany VII

St George’s, Belleville -- Luke 6:27–38                                                                        Many of us were taught the Sunday School song “Jesus Loves Me” when we were children. Even in this post-Christian culture of ours, that little children’s song remains, even among non-Christians, one of the most widely-known examples of the sort of thing that Christians sing. And it certainly expresses a wholesome truth—“Yes, Jesus loves me”—a truth that is appropriately repeated routinely by teachers and preachers toward people of all ages, not just children, and repeated toward the world. Yet, we too often don’t feel in our gut what we sing with our lips. Ten days from now, on Ash Wednesday, we will all collectively pray, with the Psalmist, “I know my transgressions only too well, and my sin is ever before me.” On other occasions—again, with the Psalmist—we confess that “my wounds stink and fester by reason of my foolishness.” Where, then, is that “due sense of all thy me

Saturday (St Polycarp)

Attended to household matters in the morning. Loaded up the YFNBmobile and headed south with Brenda at 2:15. Stopped in the office in Springfield to print tomorrow's homily and grab some items for the clergy retreat. Hit the road again and stopped for dinner at Ariston's Café in Litchfield. Pulled into the parking lot of the Hilton Garden O'Fallon at 9:00. Tomorrow: St George's, Belleville.


Usual weekday early AM routine. Spent the morning creating a rough draft of a sermon text for the Last Sunday after Epiphany, March 3 at St Paul's, Pekin).  Lunched on leftovers. Walked Brenda to the Swedish Covenant Healthcare mothership to have some blood drawn for lab work (which, we learned later, yielded a normal sodium reading), then leveraged the situation to complete an extended walk on a beginning-t0-be-mild February afternoon. Did the exegetical work, consulting commentaries, on the readings for Lent V (April 7 at Redeemer, Cairo). Friday prayer: Ignatian medication on the day's office gospel reading from Mark. Evening Prayer with Brenda. After dinner: Chose music for the Chrism Mass (April 13) and sent the selections off to the cathedral organist. Tied the bow on the draft official exorcism rite and sent it to the diocesan exorcist for his review. Sent a script for my next catechetical video to the Communications Coordinator, with some comments.


Usual weekday early AM routine. Did some online prep for a scheduled teleconference later in the morning. Responded by email to a handful of emerging pastoral/administrative issues. Began a substantial project of preparing some handout material for next week's clergy retreat. Kept an 1130 teleconference appointment with a member of the Presiding Bishop's staff who is trying to gather and collate resources around "best practices" for congregational redevelopment. I had a few stories to tell about developments in the Diocese of Springfield. He seemed particularly interested in our Mission Strategy Report canon. Lunched on leftovers. Since I had a doctor's appointment that was two miles away, and it was a fairly mild afternoon, I decided to leverage the situation and get some steps in. So I walked, both directions. It was not particularly onerous, except I should have left about ten more minutes on the front end, as I had to maintain a mach schnell pace the e


Usual weekday AM routine: prayer, tea, breakfast, some internet reading, task planning. Spoke by phone with the rector of Belleville about this Sunday's visitation to St George's. Responded, in substantive detail, to an email inquiry from one of our parish clergy on a range of distinct but cognate issues. Read and partially responded to reports from the Commission on Ministry and the Standing Committee on various actions they took last Saturday. Inspected and commented on the draft of the clergy retreat liturgy sheets as provided by Fr Hankinson. Reviewed a résumé and OTM portfolio of a priest who is interested in possible deployment in the diocese. Forwarded his materials to the leadership of a Eucharistic Community that is in search. Lunched on leftovers.  Carefully read the discharge instructions from Brenda's hospital stay and plotted appropriate followup tasks. Spoke by phone (for about an hour) with one of our parish clergy over an emerging concern. Did the


Today was an exceptionally long day. It actually began Sunday morning, as Brenda began to show uncharacteristic signs of mental confusion as we were on our visitation in Glen Carbon, signs that became steadily more pronounced as we drove home to Chicago, and throughout the day yesterday. By early evening, it was clear that she needed urgent attention. I took her to the ER at Swedish Covenant, the hospital just three blocks from our building, and, by around midnight, tests revealed that she had an electrolyte imbalance and a dangerously low level of sodium. A one-liter bag of IV saline solution turned things right around amazingly quickly. but they kept her overnight for observation and to chase down the underlying cause. I stayed at her bedside until just past 0300am, and was back there before 0800, so I got a little less than three hours of sleep. She was finally discharged mid-afternoon, and I've since been trying to sort through the rubble of delayed and triaged tasks, and find

Sermon for Epiphany VI

St Thomas’, Glen Carbon -- Luke 6:17–26 I once saw a signboard in front of a church that read, “If you feel far from God … guess who moved.” That’s cute and clever, of course, but it also speaks some truth, at least inasmuch as, at any given moment, any given person is probably more likely to feel far away from God than close to God. Sometimes we’re conscious of this distance from God, and might even be able to say why we feel distant. More often, perhaps, its subliminal, operating in the background, like an app that slows down your computer or smart phone just enough to be annoying but not enough to make you want to investigate the reason. Either way, however, it results in something theologians have called “soul-sorrow.” Soul-sorrow is a deep-seated intuitive sense that something is wrong, not just at a personal level, not even just on the level of society, but cosmically. Something is cosmically wrong. It’s not dramatic. It’s not flashy. It’s just persistent, like the experience t


Up and out of our Springfield office encampment right at 0800. Then down to Charlie Parker's, so I could introduce Brenda to my Saturday morning haunt. Then down to Edwardsville, where we arrived at St Andrew's the targeted 60 minutes ahead of the Celebration of New Ministry inducting Fr Joel Morsch as 33rd rector of the parish. Following the fine post-liturgical repast, I had a scheduled conference with a cleric of the diocese. By the time that meeting concluded, it was 2:00pm. Brenda and I headed to our reserved hotel room in Glen Carbon, whereupon I immediately collapsed from exhaustion; I was *really* tired. Only left the room long enough to grab dinner at Ruby Tuesday in Collinsville. Whatever aspirations to afternoon productivity I may have had were laid aside.

Sermon for the Installation of Fr Joel Morsch as Rector of St Andrew's, Edwardsville

Joshua 1:7-9--Psalm 43--Ephesians 4:7, 11-16--John 14:11-15 St Andrew’s Church in Edwardsville, Illinois has a story—a rather long story, but American standards, at any rate. (Our friends from across the Atlantic might not be overly impressed.) 178 years is long enough to have seen a Civil War, which I cannot help but think affected the parish profoundly, two World Wars, and a Great Depression. Rectors have come and gone. The location has changed. Buildings have been erected, and added onto. Hundreds upon hundreds of souls have been reborn in Christ at the font of baptism in this church. Children have been instructed in the faith and presented for confirmation. These very hands have laid on a few of them. Dozens and dozens of couples have stood at this altar and made vows to one another “in the presence of God and this company.” And some of those who were baptized, confirmed, and married at St Andrew’s were buried from this parish, having attained a ripe, old age. The Eucharist has b

Friday (Thomas Bray)

Usual early AM routine. Processed a short-stack of late-arriving emails. Attended to some routine personal finance chores. Packed and loaded the car, with Brenda in tow, and headed south, departing our garage at 1145. Arrived at the office in Springfield around 3:30. Briefly conferred with the Communicator and the Archdeacon, then headed out to get a haircut and a carwash. (Yes, I'm still more comfortable accomplishing some of the mundane chores of life in Springfield than in Chicago.) Returned to the office and did the finish work on my homily for Epiphany VI, this Sunday at St Thomas', Glen Carbon. Other than ending up with output from a printer that I can put in my car, "finish work" includes carefully reviewing the text for "orality," A sermon is an oral event; it is spoken and heart, primarily, and only secondarily something that might be read. The spoken word has both more constraints (simple sentence structure, accessible vocabulary) and more op

Thursday (Ss Cyril & Methodius)

Usual weekday AM pattern, made longer and more complicated now by all the exercises my physical therapist has assigned. Tweaked (not insignificantly), edited, formatted, printed, and scheduled for posting my homily for Saturday's Celebration of a New Ministry at St Andrew's, Edwardsville. Most importantly, perhaps, I placed the working script in my car--this after dealing with some technology issues related to the printer. Took a call from the Bishop of Northern Michigan on a matter of mutual concern. Lunched on leftovers. Did some substantial, and time-consuming, work on a portion of the clergy retreat that I am directly responsible for. Took a first homiletical drive-by of the readings for Lent V (Redeemer, Cairo). Brenda and I went on a long walk on what felt like a balmy afternoon, trying to keep our footing on the sections of slush and avoid stepping too deeply in standing water. I am really ready for spring. Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Wednesday (Evening Prayer)

The day began somewhat "violently," as Brenda was scheduled for an 0830 test (an EEG, still chasing down her fainting spells late last year) that required her to arrive "as sleep-deprived as possible." So I got us both up just before 0500, and we watched silent films from the 1920s on Turner Classic Movies. I had a bit of granola (she wasn't allowed anything) and re Morning Prayer in the usual fashion. We walked the three blocks to Swedish Covenant Hospital in 15-degree cold, the test went smoothly, and we walked back in 20-degree temps. I then got to work on my task list: processed a reply to my Lambeth Conference registration and plotted some appropriate followup tasks, reviewed draft minutes from last Saturday's Diocesan Council meeting and returned them to the secretary with some notes, made some concrete plans and arrangements around April's annual Mass of Chrism. Carryout lunch from the Chinese place around the corner. Spent most of the afternoon c


Morning Prayer and tea in the usual weekday manner, but then out of the building at 0740 en route to a 0800 physical therapy appointment--a three block walk through slushy sidewalks. After the appointment, and checking my weather app to learn that walking conditions were not going to get any better as the day progressed, I leveraged the distance I already was from home into a proper walk. Upon returning, and spending a bit of time with Hattie, who was down for a visit, I organized my week's worth of tasks and picked out targets for getting done today, Officially created an account with Breeze, our new database provider, and got Paige set up to begin the process of data import. Took care of a handful of smallish administrative matters via email. Lunched on leftovers. Attended to some routine personal finance chores. Devoted the bulk of the afternoon to fleshing out into a rough draft the (somewhat) detailed notes I had made last week toward a homily this Saturday on the occa

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

Up and out of my Urbana hotel room a little before 0800, grateful that it hadn't started snowing yet. Made it to Holy Trinity, Danville about 30 minutes later, ahead of their regular 0900 liturgy. Presided and preached, always energized by the spiritual intensity of worship in this community. Enjoyed a fine post-liturgical repast, visited with folks, and loaded up for home at 1045. To my dismay, it was by that time snowing pretty hard, which made the trip home a long one; it was the better part of four hours up IL49 to Kankakee, then into Chicago on I-57. Made it home safe and sound, though, which is the important thing.

Sermon for Epiphany V

Holy Trinity, Danville -- Luke 5:1-11 , Isaiah 6:1-13 In the mid-1960s, there was a country song that won several awards and was eventually recorded by none other than Elvis Presley. Most everyone in this church today probably remembers the first line from the chorus: “There goes my reason for living.” The songwriter, of course, is referring to a woman with whom he is in love, and, although one hopes that it might be an exaggeration that she is literally his reason for living, it’s an understandable emotion. Now, I could argue that devotion to one single human being is not by itself a worthy “reason for living.” But, at least he had that. As I look around at our society today, I wonder what percentage of people would hem and haw and stammer and stutter if they were asked to respond, off the cuff, to the question, What is your reason for living? I suspect it would be a substantial majority who would have a difficult time with that. It is indeed quite common and easy for someone in our


Up around 0630. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Charlie Parker's for breakfast. Back at the office around 0900. (The morning routine now involves a not-small amount of time devoted to the stretching exercises my physical therapist has prescribed.) Got ready for the Diocesan Council meeting and the Mass that precedes is. Presided and preached at a Votive Mass "For the Sick." Presided over the regular quarterly meeting of the Diocesan Council. This included a robust discussion of mission strategy concerns. Lunch at Boone's with two clerics and two laity from council. Met with the President and another member of the Standing Committee for a planned "review" of the effects of my residential relocation to Chicago. Refined, edited, formatted, printed, and scheduled for posting the text of tomorrow's homily at Holy Trinity, Danville. Noticing that I already had 6500 steps on my Fitbit pedometer, I took a slightly abbreviated brisk walk, up Second to Ad


Usual morning routine for a Friday when I'm doing an office encampment: up and prepped, Morning Prayer in the cathedral, McD's drive-through (too cold for any walking today), and back at the office by 0820 or so. A stray comment by the Administrator alerted me to the possibility that my email client was once again having issues, as it seems to do periodically, with my diocesan email account, and, sure enough, while I have been able to send *from* it, I haven't been getting any inbound messages for about a week. When I logged on directly to the Microsoft 365 portal, there they were--about 12 or 15, all overdue for a response from me. So, instead of patting myself on the back for a relatively modest task list for the day, it instantly expanded to the familiar "more than I can do." 10am regular meeting of the Department of Finance. There were some necessary chores ahead of tomorrow's Diocesan Council meeting. Got back to those emails. Lunch from TG, eaten in


Morning Prayer as dawn broke ... followed by tea, breakfast, crossword, email culling, Facebook scanning, task planning, shower. Greeted a radiator/boiler repair guy and reviewed the issues we have in our building, and in each unit. Steam heat is endearing, but exotic. Made serious progress developing a homily for the institution of Fr Morsch in Edwardsville on the 16th. Walked the three blocks to the Swedish Covenant Health complex for a physical therapy appointment. Lunched on leftovers. Churned out another section of my in-progress pastoral teaching document on marriage and sexuality. Took a long, brisk walk with Brenda as temps began to plummet. Evening Prayer with Brenda. Fixed a chicken fajita-ish dish for dinner. Packed and his the road southbound at 7:10. Strong, gust wind the whole way slowed progress, so I didn't make record time. Pulled into the diocesan garage right at 11:00.


From time to time, a day will just feel like it never gets traction, and today was one of those days for me. The main culprit, I think, was a healthcare appointment for Brenda that took the better part of three hours, way longer than we anticipated. On either side of that, I did manage to flesh out a homiletical message statement for the Last Sunday after Epiphany (St Paul's, Pekin) into a developed outline, and make significant progress on the exorcism liturgy project. Processed a few emails. That one's coming in for a landing soon. It was Brenda's birthday, so we ordered carry-out gourmet hamburgers for dinner (since little Hattie is not available to be out at adult dinnertime). 

Tuesday (Martyrs of Japan)

Usual early weekday AM routine. Spent an hour attending a conference call meeting of the trustees of the Society of King Charles the Martyr. Spent the rest of the morning (and part of the afternoon) taking my developed outline for an Epiphany VI sermon at St Thomas', Glen Carbon and turning it into a rough draft text. Took a call from an Episcopal News Service reporter wanting to talk about--what else?--B012. Grabbed lunch from the nearby Subway. Got to work laying a foundation for a homily at the institution of Fr Joel Morsch as rector of St Andrew's, Edwardsville on the 16th.  Walked the three blocks to the Swedish Covenant medical complex for an initial assessment from a physical therapist. I have some back issues. She pronounced me "very tight and inflexible." I resisted the temptation to tell her there are plenty of people who would have been willing to volunteer that information without her having to examine me! After the appointment, I took an unnecessaril

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Morning Prayer in my office encampment. Hit the road northbound at 0815, arriving at Christ the King, Normal at the targeted 0945, ahead of their regular 1015 Sunday liturgy. I was greeted with the proverbial beehive of activity, as rapid snow melt on the flat roof section of their building found the weak spots in said roof, causing steadily dripping water in the chapel and sacristy. If anybody from Church Insurance follows this blog, please stand by. Presided and preached (and had to read my own gospel, as there is no resident priest at CtK). Visited with the folks during a pot-luck luncheon, spoke a bit about the 2020 Lambeth Conference and the prospects for liturgical change in TEC, then headed home to Chicago, arriving around 3:00. Took a nice long walk with Brenda in weather that feels balmy compared to last week, dodging standing water much of the time. Chinese carry-out for dinner, since we weren't invited to any Super Bowl party.

Sermon for Epiphany IV

Christ the King, Normal -- Luke 4:-21-30 Jesus, the Nazareth boy who’s turning into a bit of a celebrity in the region of Galilee, checks the serving schedule at his familiar hometown synagogue on the Sabbath, and discovers that he’s down to do one of the readings. So he shows up for the service on time, and, at the right moment, gets up and goes to the lectern and reads the appointed lesson, which is from the 61 st chapter of Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, and has anointed me to bring good news to the poor …”—you know how it goes … we heard it last Sunday: recovery of sight to the blind, healing for the brokenhearted, release of prisoners, and so forth. Then, instead of just saying “The Word of the Lord” and sitting down, Jesus ad libs an inflammatory tag line: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” As we heard in the gospel reading a minute ago, the situation went rapidly downhill from there, and the crowd was soon ready to throw Jesus off a cliff.

The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple

Morning Prayer in the cathedra, breakfast a Charlie Parker's, a bit of shopping at Target (didn't find what I was looking for, but bought something else), went by the old homestead (still vacant) to make sure thermostats were correctly set (they weren't, which has been costing me money). Refined, printed, and scheduled for posting my homily for tomorrow (Christ the King, Normal). Responded by email to an administrative query from one of our parish clergy. Wrote a note of condolence to a colleague bishop who's had a death in the family. Registered online for the July 2020 Lambeth Conference. It was a rather involved process, and involved me taking a selfie. Via email, dealt with a string of pastoral and administrative issues, each of them small in its own right, but none of them unimportant. Stepped out for a late lunch from Chick-Fil-A, and a dash into Macy's, to once again not find what I was looking for. Took a long and vigorous walk on a rather lovely (fo

Friday (St Brigid)

"Slept in," by recent standards. Woke at 7am in the downtown Doubletree. Arrived in the office around 0830, after having stopped by McD's for a bite. Long debrief with the Archdeacon over a wide range of concerns. Since we no longer see each other daily, what used to be spread out now gets concentrated under the new order of things. Morning Prayer in the cathedral chapel (in deference to the vacuuming that was going on). Longish pastoral consultation with the Dean, over yet another "range of concerns." Brief consultation with the Communicator over our database issue. Processed the hard-copy items on my desk, and some late-arriving emails. Consulted with the Administrator about available resources, and formulated a plan for seminarian financial aid for 2019. Emailed the affected seminarians. Lunch from Pie's the Limit (a pizza place), eaten in the office. Took the YFNBmobile in for a scheduled service appointment at the Mazda dealer. Synergized by do