Showing posts from March, 2019

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Up and out of the Hilton Garden, Champaign in time to preside and preach at Emmanuel's regular 0800 liturgy, meet with confirmands between services; preside, preach, and confirm at 1000, kibbutz at coffee hour, and enjoy lunch with the rector and her husband. We were back home around 4:00. Still feeling puny, but I managed to power through it all, for which I am grateful, because ... what a joy this ministry is. It energizes and sustains me. But I can't say anything about being productive once we got home. Pretty much vegged with Amazon TV.

Sermon for Lent IV

Emmanuel, Champaign -- II Corinthians 5:17-21, Luke 15:11-32 This parable of Jesus that we have just heard is one of the most familiar and beloved passages in all of scripture. It touches us on so many different levels, and is like a bottomless well from which we can draw an endless supply of living water to slake our spiritual thirst. Every time I come to it, I find something new. This time around, my attention was arrested by a detail that is casually passed over as Jesus tells the story in Luke’s gospel. The younger of two sons asks his father for a premature distribution of his share of the father’s estate; in other words, he wants his inheritance while Dad is still 98.6 and vertical, rather than room temperature and pushing up daisies. This is really an outlandish and incredibly selfish request. Not only is it offensive on a mere personal level—talk about breaking a parent’s heart—but it was also a considerable financial imposition. Imagine what it would take


I've tried never to brag about hardly ever getting sick, but I must have at some point, because ... well, I've gotten sick. Pretty mild respiratory symptoms, but definitely feeling seriously underpowered. So I didn't force myself into very much productivity today, and no walk. Processed a short stack of emails and did some personal finance chores. At 3pm Brenda and I were packed up and backing out of the garage, then headed south to Champaign. Met with the Mission Leadership Team of Emmanuel for a bit, prayed the Stations of the Cross, then headed around the corner to the home of one of the MLT members, who, in deference to my Brazilian origins, prepared the Brazilian national comfort food, feijoada (and did a darn good job of it). Looking forward to tomorrow's visitation to Emmanuel.

Friday (John Keble)

Usual weekday AM routine. Devoted most of the morning to taking my homily for Lent V (Redeemer, Cairo) from "developed notes" to "rough draft." Lunched on leftover chili (even better the third time around). Stepped out to get a haircut (which, serendipitously, involved riding the 'L' train, something I enjoy doing just for its own sake). Took a call from the president of the Standing Committee while en route . Leveraged the endeavor into most of my 10K step daily goal, so I didn't have to "take a walk." Devoted most of the afternoon to an ongoing project--a substantial pastoral teaching document on sexuality and marriage. Evening Prayer with Brenda.


Usual early AM weekday routine, Dealt via a couple of emails with a situation in our companion diocese of Tabora (Tanzania). Took Brenda to a healthcare appointment. Replied by email to a gracious handwritten note from a former colleague. Performed some routine month-end maintenance on my (electronic) calendar. Took some steps in preparation for the Chrism Mass on April 13. Lunched on leftovers. Took a long walk with Brenda on a beautiful spring day. Took a break mid-afternoon to watch the Cubs' season opener. Cleaned a refrigerator between innings. Evening Prayer with Brenda. After dinner, did penance for watching baseball by poring over commentaries on the readings for Easter II in preparation for preaching on that occasion at St Andrew's, Edwardsville.

Wednesday (Charles Henry Brent)

Usual weekday early AM routine. Spoke by phone with a psychotherapist over an ongoing pastoral issue (with the permission, of course, of the one for whom I am trying to care). Addressed a substantial stack of deferred email replies. This raises my endorphin level because of the number of individual to-do items I'm able to check off in somewhat rapid succession. But it's still time-consuming. Did some long-delayed scheduled maintenance--cleaning up  my computer desktop. Items that are in play just get parked there, but not always filed somewhere else in a timely fashion. It feels good. Did the finish work (refine, edit, format [14 pt typeface, serifed font, 1.5 spaces, every sentence a hanging indent], print, schedule for posting, put hard copy in my car) on the text of homily for Lent IV (this Sunday at Emmanuel, Champaign). This also involved trouble-shooting a printer issue. It's always something. Grabbed some carry-out lunch from the Chinese place around the corner


Customary weekday working-from-home routine. Participated in a conference call meeting of the diocesan trustees. Attended by email to some details pertaining to the Chrism Mass on April 13. Reviewed and commented on a draft service leaflet for this Sunday's visitation to Emmanuel, Champaign. Attended to a pastoral/administrative issue involving one of our clergy and one of our Eucharistic Communities. Answered a pastoral/administration question from one of our parish priests. Walked down to the Swedish Covenant Hospital complex for a physical therapy appointment. Lunched on leftovers. Did the household grocery shopping for the week, since circumstances conspired against that chore being gotten done yesterday. Dealt (partially successfully) with a vexing tech/software issue (the app that's supposed to keep track of my passwords). Took about a 2.5 mile walk in a mostly easterly direction, and back, with Brenda. Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Third Sunday in Lent

A long day. Up and out of my Mt Vernon hotel room around 0820. McD's drive-thru for breakfast, then on up I-57 about 25 minutes to Salem, where I presided and preached at the regular 0930 celebration of the Eucharist at St Thomas'. There was the usual tasty repast following the service. I visited with folks until around 11030, when I headed to Springfield, arriving a couple of hours later. I was pleased that there was time for a walk, so I changed into appropriate attire and walked west on Lawrence to MacArthur, south fo South Grand, and west to Second, and back up. There was just enough time to clean up, get changed, and show up in the cathedral for the liturgy rehearsal at 3:30. It went smoothly, under the guidance of Dean Andy Hook. At 4:30 we reconvened for the ordination of Shane Spellmeyer and Jonathan Totty to the transitional diaconate, It was a splendid occasion, and I'm really happy about the gifts these two young men will bring to ordained ministry. Spend some qu

Homily for the Diaconal Ordination of Shane Spellmeyer and Jonathan Torry

Eve of the Annunciation, Springfield Cathedral There are a number of metaphors, a number of ways of accounting for what we’re doing this afternoon, what this liturgy, this “work,” is about. The one I’d like to place before you is that of an unveiling ceremony for a work of art, the sort of occasion where family, friends, and other interested parties gather to literally see the wraps taken off a work of art that they’ve known has been in progress for some time, but has not been available for public viewing. This liturgy is the unveiling of a work of divine art that has been “in progress” for a very long time, since before either Jonathan or Shane were born. (Now, for purposes of full disclosure, I should warn you, lest you be disappointed, that, in the case of these two, the artwork will remain partially veiled still, even when we’re finished with what we’re doing. That last bit of veil will come off in about six months when they’re made priests.)   “A body you have prepared for me

Sermon for Lent III

St Thomas’, Salem -- Luke 13:1-9 “Wait ‘til next year!” That was the perennial rallying cry of Brooklyn Dodgers’ fans in the 1940s and ‘50s as they watched their team come “Oh so close” many times during those years, but only once come home with a World Series victory. Of course, as the devoted follower of a baseball team that has only even appeared in the World Series once during my lifetime, and that only recently, I have uttered those words a few times myself—Wait ‘til next year! It’s comforting—is it not?—to think that there will always be a “next year,” that there will still be time for obligations to be met, for hatchets to be buried, for apologies to be made, for long-delayed projects to be completed—and, most of all, time to get on solid ground in our relationship with God. We think and act as though there will always be a “next year,” there will always be “one more chance” to say, “Lord, I’m sorry, please forgive me, this time I’m serious about turning things around.” To

Saturday (St Gregory the Illuminator)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Walked down to Charlie Parker's for breakfast, which is 2.5 miles each way, so I got my daily quota of steps in, and then some. Returned to the office around 1015 and took a bit of down time surfing through Facebook and giving in to the urge to comment on something controversial, which hardly ever ends well. Did the clergy "nodal event" (birthdays, anniversaries of marriage and ordination) for clergy and spouses for April. Packed up, did a bit of personal shopping, grabbed a burger from Wendy's, and headed south toward Salem. Attended a dinner gathering at the home of Fr David and Elizabeth Baumann, during the course of which I interviewed two potential aspirants to the diaconate. Drove down to Mt Vernon and ensconced myself at the Doubletree, ahead of tomorrow's visit to St Thomas' in Salem.

Friday (James DeKoven)

Route early morning for an "office" day--dressed an across the alley for Morning Prayer in the cathedral around 0745, then a fast-food breakfast (chicken biscuit at Hardee's this time). Substantive debrief with the Archdeacon on several issues. Played with hot wax: Signed and sealed the certificates for Sunday's ordination of transitional deacons. G0t to work drafting a paragraph of feedback to each of the Eucharistic Communities that submitted canonical Mission Strategy Reports, based on notes I made with the Department of Mission met and reviewed them last month. The comments are not being vetted with the members of the department before being sent out.  Broke off from this a little before noon to grab some lunch from Chick-Fil-A. While on route, had a serious pastoral conversation by phone with a lay person whose spouse has received a life-threatening diagnosis. Rather heartbreaking. Ran a short personal errand. Back to the MSR responses. Friday prayer: Lec

Thursday (Thomas Ken)

Up at the usual hour. Morning Prayer. Tea. Left on foot at 0810 to keep an 0830 breakfast appointment with Fr Patrick Raymond, rector of Ascension, Chicago, who has become a valued friend. Leveraged the fact that I had walked a mile to breakfast by walking three more, getting my full ration of steps for the day, and then some. Paid more attention to the remedial work I began last night for my Forward Day by Day lectionary reflections (which will appear in November). Responded substantively to an email about a serious pastoral issue in the diocese. Lunched on leftovers. Fleshed out, refined, edited, formatted, printed, and scheduled for posting my homily for Sunday afternoons diaconal ordinations. Did some reconstructive surgery on a previously-used sermon text for Lent IV, repurposing it for use this year at Emmanuel, Champaign. Attended to a pastoral/administrative issue with respect to one of our clergy. Evening Prayer with Brenda. Prepared some leftovers for dinner. Then

Wednesday (St Cuthbert)

Usual non-office weekday routine. Responded by email to a couple of substantive requests for pastoral care. Dealt with several logistical details pertaining to Sunday evening's ordination liturgy in Springfield. Got back to work on producing a draft of the liturgy booklet for the ordinations. Broke off for a lunch of leftovers. Back again to working on the liturgy booklet. There was one glitch, but it was relatively minor. Still, it's just a time-consuming process.  Began to deal by email with the news that our Communications Coordinator has accepted another position, and will be leaving the team shortly. Walked Brenda down to a healthcare appointment--relatively minor followup on a semi-surgical procedure she had last week. It's fortunate that we live so close to where much of her "doctoring" takes place. Worked on my homily for Lent V (Redeemer, Cairo), taking it all the way from exegetical notes to a message statement and on to a developed outline. Di

St Joseph

Morning Prayer in the waning darkness, grateful to be celebrating the feast of St Joseph, the patron of my episcopate. I was consecrated eight years ago today. Made breakfast, skimmed the news, did the crossword, prioritized ("triaged" might be a better word) my tasks for the day, showered and dressed. Attended to a brief chore related to Brenda's healthcare.  Took care of some concrete details pertaining to this Sunday evening's liturgy for the ordination of two transitional deacons. Began working on conceiving and hatching a homily for the ordination. Broke off from that to go to a physical therapy appointment. Picked up some Chinese carryout for lunch on the way home. Back to the ordination sermon, which eventually yielded something resembling a developed outline. Took a brisk walk with Brenda on a lovely mild and sunny afternoon. Made significant progress (though I didn't finish) toward a draft of the ordination liturgy program. Evening Prayer with B

Second Sunday in Lent

No visitation today. Brenda and I journeyed a few miles north to suburban Highland Park, where we attended the 10am Mass at Trinity Church. The rector there is an old friend of some 40 years. We were in the same parish together when he was a teenager and we were in our twenties. The afternoon was spent napping, walking, processing some emails, and doing household chores.


It was a smooth day of travel. I left Kanuga for the airport in Asheville at 0830 (eastern) and walked into the door of my Chicago apartment at 1:45 (central). There was time to unpack, rest a bit, have a late lunch, take a phone call from a lay leader, triage emails, get a vigorous walk on a sunny afternoon, visit with extended family, and order barbecue from Grubbhub.


The same morning routine pertained--we gathered for a plenary session, following breakfast and Eucharist, at 1015. After announcements, it was given over entirely to table discussion, with some broadly-framed leading questions that were intended to provoke reflection, synthesis, and resolve with respect to the overarching theme of the meeting, the Way of Love, which is the newest dimension to the Presiding Bishop's leadership initiative. This builds on the Jesus Movement, which dominated the first triennium of his term. (If anything can be said of Michael Curry with certainty, it is that he is relentlessly on message; I've never seen a leader quite so disciplined about that.) So ... who can argue with anything called the Way of Love, right? But, what is it, exactly? As nearly as I can tell, from the way it was presented to us, it's a set of spiritual practices (see my post from this past Tuesday ) that are not at all novel, but pretty classic "rule of life" stuf


This was a lower-key day (Day 3 of the 2019 House of Bishops meeting). As per the pattern, we convened at 1015. After announcements, there was a passionate and emotional presentation from Mary Glasspool, assisting bishop in the Diocese of New York. It was a response to the recently-released news that the same-sex spouses of LGBT bishops are not invited to register and participate in the bishop spouse program at the Lambeth Conference in July 2020. (Bishop Glasspool is herself a partnered lesbian.) This prohibition currently affects one bishop and one bishop-elect in the Episcopal Church, and one bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada. However, there are episcopal elections in the next few months where some of the candidates are partnered gay or lesbian, so the number could  grow. We then went into executive session, about which I cannot say anything substantive. I think I can say, however, that there was both table group discussion and plenary conversation, and you can use your im

Wednesday (James Theodore Holley)

Day 2 of the spring 2019 meeting of the House of Bishops. We had two principal speakers today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon,. The morning speaker was Vashti McKenzie, a bishop for the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It wasn't a sermon, strictly speaking, as it wasn't in the context of public worship and wasn't grounded in a scriptural text or set of lections. But it had all the hallmarks of a sermon, particularly a sermon in the great African American tradition of preaching, which can be quite compelling. As rhetorically awesome as it was, however, I found it difficult to discern where she was tried to go with it. Eventually, things coalesced somewhat: She was trying to get us to examine whether, as Episcopalians, we are disposed to be more attached to the church qua institution than to the church's Lord, more devoted to the infrastructure of our ecclesial life than to its mission and purpose. I can certainly give an "Amen" to this. As on

Tuesday (St Gregory the Great)

Day 1 of the 2019 Spring meeting of the House of Bishops. As always, we began (after breakfast and the Eucharist) with a "check-in" time at our table groups (shuffled and re-dealt for this first meeting after a General Convention). This consumed the remainder of the morning, but it's kind of a necessary exercise in a setting like this where so much of what we do gets processed in table groups.  It was in the afternoon, following lunch, that we got down to actual meeting content. The Presiding Bishop spoke at some length introducing the theme of the meeting: the Way of Love. He hit on many of the themes that I bring up as I move around the diocese: the fact that Christianity is not only no longer the dominant underlying cultural narrative, but that it is widely and profoundly misunderstood. Surveys show that many people, particularly young adults, associate it with "narrow-mindedness," "bigotry," and a "right-wing political agenda." The Way