Showing posts from June, 2019

The Lord's Day (III Pentecost)

Up and out of the Doubletree in Mt Vernon to catch a quick breakfast at Bob Evans and then head east on I-64. Arrived at St John the Baptist, Mt Vernon at the targeted 30 minutes before before the regular 1030 celebration of the Eucharist. It was a joy to proclaim the word of God, preside at the Mass, and baptize an adult, which was an unanticipated bonus. I was back in the YFNBmobile at 12:30 and home in Chicago right at 6:00.

Sermon for Proper 8

St John the Baptist, Mt Carmel-- 1 Kings 19:15-16,19-21, Galatians 5:13-25 There’s a story about a mother who pounded on her son’s bedroom door one Sunday morning: “Wake up, son. It’s Sunday morning and we need to get ready to go to church.” “Aw, Mom, let me sleep,” the son replied. “I don’t want to go to church today.” “I don’t really care whether you want to—you are going to church. So get up!” “I said I don’t want to go to church. Give me one good reason why I have to go to church.” “Well, I can give you several good reasons,” said the mother calmly. “But the most important one is that you’re the Rector and they’re paying you to be there.” Now, what makes us laugh at this story, of course, is that we might expect such an exchange between a mother and a juvenile child, but not with an adult son. Yet, there are a great many adults who can empathize. Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said on one occasion, “If you took all the people who fall asleep in church on Sunday mor

Ss Peter & Paul

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Walked the 2.2 miles down to Charlie Parker's for breakfast, then walked back to the office. By the time I got back and did my delayed morning ablutions, it was the better part of 11am. Exercised my monthly privilege of writing personal greetings to clergy and spouses with birthdays and anniversaries during the coming calendar month (so, July in this case). Did this via a combination of handwriting and scheduled email. Stepped out, around 1pm, for lunch at Chick-Fil-A and some personal shopping at Meijer and Food Fantasies. Routine periodic personal maintenance: Cleaning up my computer desktop (the digital equivalent of filing accumulated items on a physical desktop). Read another in the catechetical pamphlet series from the Living Church Foundation. Processed my physical inbox and other items on my physical desktop, mostly by scanning and tossing. Got packed up and ready to go. Read Evening Prayer in the office, then hit the road southbound

Saturday (St Iranaeus)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Breakfast from Hardee's. Dealt with two requests for consent for the consecration of bishops-elect. One was a quick and easy decision. The other invited me to do some due-diligence internet sleuthing. I ended up consenting to one and not consenting to the other. Did the finish work on my homily for this Sunday, at St John the Baptist, Mt Carmel. Started in on a handful of smallish administrative/pastoral items.  Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten in the office. Wrapped up some of the loose ends of what I was working on before lunch. Met for two-plus hours with a group of clergy for another session of mystagogy, using the propers for this Sunday as the basis for our reflections. It was another rich time. I am holding in prayer how this practice might be more deeply embedded in the diocese. Met privately on some other matters with one of these priests--a "ten-minute" conversation stretching to nearly an hour. You know how it goes. Eveni

Thursday (Our Lady of Perpetual Help)

Usual early AM routine, except I got waylaid longer than usual by a Facebook comment thread and an ensuing private message exchange. One of these days I will learn. Got laundry started, and came back to it as need throughout the day. Got waylaid again, this time by an unexpected domestic project (detritus from my basement organizing efforts). Sometimes my home situation requires me to be flexible and strike while an iron is hot. Anyway, it took most of the rest of the morning. Lunched on leftovers. Prepared for a conference call with U.S. Trust about the Putnam Trust by reading their emailed handout. Took care of an array of business with our Communications Coordinator, via several emails. Joined the above-mentioned conference call. (The Putnam Trust significantly benefits two of our Eucharistic Communities, and the Bishop of Springfield is co-trustee, along with the Bank of America. The conversation was with U.S. Trust, a B of A subsidiary, which handles the investments.) The r


Usual early AM routine. Attended via email to a brief administrative chore. Looked over and filed away for later review a Mission Strategy Report from one of our Eucharistic Communities. Looked over the readings and mentally roughed out a homily for the Mass I agreed to preside at and preach for midday at the Church of the Ascension. Moved the ball several years down the field in preparing to preach on the Sunday of Proper 16 (August 17, a Saturday evening, at St Mary's, Robinson). Headed down to Ascension with Brenda. Celebrated and preached for a congregation of thirteen. Took Brenda to lunch at a nearby barbecue restaurant. Except for a phone conversation with one of our parish clergy, devoted the rest of the afternoon to the marriage and sexuality teaching document. I aim to get this one as close to right as possible. Evening Prayer alone, as Nana was upstairs with Hattie.


Usual weekday early AM routine. Carefully read another in the series of catechetical pamphlets published by the Living Church Foundation. So far, so good. About five more to go. Spent the rest of the morning roughing out (in considerable detail, though my next post for the Covenant blog, due next week. Lunched on leftovers. Plotted a course toward preaching at a "side gig" at the Church of the Ascension in Chicago on August 11, when I don't have a visitation in the diocese. Attended via a email to a couple of pastoral-administrative matters. Took advantage of the sunshine and warmth to empty a bottle of herbicide on the volunteer greenery where only concrete should be around our building. Spent the rest of the afternoon working on my sexuality and marriage teaching document. I continue to be pleased with how it's coming. But it's a long slog. Evening Prayer with Brenda.


Once in a great while, probably due to inept planning on my part, I finish all the ministry-related actions I had planned for the week. That happened this morning after I knocked out a couple of emails. So I turned my attention to a looming domestic to-do list, and made a few inroads. The same will apply tomorrow, and since this Sunday is a "bye" on my visitation calendar, I take a break from this space in the blogsphere until Tuesday.

Corpus Christi

Usual working weekday early morning routine. Dialed into a video conference of the board of the Society of King Charles the Martyr, and devoted most of my attention to that for the next 90 minutes. Worked the rest of the morning on my pastoral teaching document on sexuality and marriage. Lunched on leftovers. Prepared a homily for Proper 11 (July 22), when I will be on vacation, but preaching in my "home parish" of St Timothy's in Salem, OR, which sent me and my family off to Nashotah House 33 years ago--that is, I reworked one from several years ago, but saw it all the way through the refining and printing stage. Carefully read another in the Living Church catechetical series. Throughout the day, whatever I was doing was frequently punctuated by email volleys over a couple of administrative issues. Evening Prayer with Brenda.


A rather normal work-from-home weekday at both ends, and much of the middle, but with an unusually high degree of unanticipated emails and phone calls that had to be handled on the fly and were never part of my planned to-do list. I did deal with some deployment issues, respond to a late Ember Day letter, do some routine calendar maintenance, install some straggling software (the music publisher Finale) that failed to migrate from the old laptop, and finish catching up on deferred blog reading. Brenda and I also got a nice walk in before the weather went south. 

Tuesday (Bernard Mizeki)

Usual early AM weekday routine. Caught up on a handful of administrative chores by email (personnel, companion diocese, mystagogy project, inter alia ). None were particularly huge but none were particularly small, either. It consumed most of the morning. Lunched on leftovers. Began to study a new set of catechetical resources now available through the Living Church Foundation, toward the end of being able to recommend them knowledgeably to the clergy of the diocese. Read the Mission Strategy Report from one of our Eucharistic Communities. Attended to another administrative issue. Dashed off a note to the Chancellor. Began to catch up on some backlogged blog reading.  Left around 5pm with Brenda for Wrigley Field, where we took in a Cubs game with a group of alumni of Westmont College, our alma mater . We were sure we would be the oldest ones there, but there turned out to be one older, and he was my Resident Assistant in the dorm I lived in my freshman and sophomore years!

Trinity Sunday

It felt like a leisurely morning, since we didn't have any significant driving to do, and things didn't get started at Trinity, Mt Vernon until 0930. So, after clearing out of the Doubletree and enjoying the breakfast buffet, we headed over to the church,. It was my joy to lead the final adult class of the program year, then preside and preach at the Mass for the parish's feast of title, followed by a hamburger-and-hot dog cookout on a warm and sultry day. Brenda and I were back on the road northbound right at 1pm, arriving home at 5:45, having covered 275 miles and a 30-degree drop in temperature. Summer has so far been elusive in Chicagoland.

Sermon for Trinity Sundaty

Trinity, Mt Vernon -- Revelation 4:1-11, Isaiah 6:1-8,  Psalm 29, John 16: 5-15 It comes as no news flash, I’m sure, that there are people in the society around us who are skeptical about some of the claims that Christianity makes, about the beliefs that Christians share. In response to this, Christians have developed certain counter-arguments that attempt to refute those objections, and show how they are inconsistent or incoherent. This activity is known as apologetics . Books have been written about apologetics; you can take classes in it. Of all the challenges that a Christian apologist must face, by far the most daunting is the problem of pain, the problem of evil: How can a good God let such horrible things happen to innocent people? But I would strongly suspect that the second most challenging issue in Christian apologetics is the theology of the Trinity. For Jews and Muslims—that is, for about a third of the world’s population—it’s sheer blasphemy. To them, it sounds like Ch

Saturday (Evelyn Underhill)

Indulged in a leisurely morning. Interacted with a handful of ministry-related emails, but otherwise just puttered around the apartment attending to domestic chores. It was too rainy to walk. Mid-afternoon, we packed up and headed down I-57 to Mt Vernon, arriving around 9pm. The weather is much nicer in downstate Illinois.

Friday (St Basil)

Devotions, Morning Prayer, tea, breakfast, internet cruising, rough email processing, and task planning on the back patio, not because the weather was particularly nice (it was actually quite chilly), but because I wanted to be there right when the recycling haulers arrived so I could immediately retrieve the cans into the garage and prevent unknown malefactors from depositing their own recycling into *our* cans. Yes, that is a thing, and, yes, I have become "that guy." My mission, by the way, was accomplished. #urbanlife Had a substantive phone conversation with one of our clerics over an administrative-pastoral issue. Responded to a couple of late-arriving emails. Did the finish work on my homily for this Sunday (Trinity, Mt Vernon). Responded by email to a request for a phone appointment with one of our canonically-resident military chaplains. Lunch slightly on the early side from the Chinese takeout place around the corner. Stepped out for a 1:00pm appointment with


Usual weekday AM routine, Took care of some preliminary details pertaining to a planned trip to Cuba next spring with my Class of 2011 bishop colleagues. Read and responded to more Ember Day letters. I'm pretty impressed with our present group of postulants and candidates. Stepped out for a while to get a haircut, Lunch of leftovers, on the late side. Spent the afternoon doing master sermon planning for the fall (Propers 17-29). This is laborious and time-consuming (including reviewing a bunch of old material to determine whether it can be successfully freshened; this time around, the answer was No about 60% of the time, which means I'll have to develop new material for those occasions). Evening Prayer in our domestic chapel.


Usual weekday AM routine. More work via email on the Corpus Christi liturgy. Read and responded to a stack of Ember Day letters from postulants and candidates for Holy Orders (as is their canonical obligation to write them). Took and initial prayerful-close-reading pass at the readings for Proper 16, in preparation for preaching on them on the third weekend of August at St Mary's, Robinson. Lunched on leftovers. Attended to an administrative issue with respect to one of our parishes that shares its facilities with a congregation of another brand name. Reviewed and commented on a draft Mission Statement and 2019 goals for the team that is presently doing the work of the diocesan archivist. We have some rather amazing challenges and opportunities in our archives. Attended by email to some administrative concerns over a human resources issues. Continued a dialogue volley over the ongoing "mystagogy" project. Attended to a brief bit of business pertaining to my boar

St Barnabas

Fairly efficient post-day off back-in-the-saddle day: Lots of administrative details by email and some deep-in-the-weeds liturgy planning for the celebration of Corpus Christi at the cathedral on the 20th. Sadly, too much of the afternoon was frustratingly consumed by waiting to get my wrist X-rayed (toward the end of treating an 18-month old injury). Somehow I got lost in the bureaucratic system and, had I not nagged somebody behind a desk, I might still be waiting there.


Having driven to O'Fallon yesterday, it was just a short drive from the Hilton Garden to St Michael's for their regular 0930 celebration of the Eucharist. Presided, preached,  confirmed three adults, and partook of a delicious post-liturgical repast in the parish hall. Grateful for the pastoral leadership of Fr Ian Wetmore in that place. We drove straight home to Chicago afterward, arriving at 4:30pm.

Homily for Pentecost

St Michael’s, O’Fallon -- Romans 8:14–17 If you’re on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, you probably know what a “meme” is. In social media, a meme is a graphic image with a pithy saying or quotation overlaid on top of it. I would be willing to bet that, if we were to open the Facebook timeline of anybody in this church today, we wouldn’t have to scroll more than about ten minutes before finding a meme that uses the expression “child of God” or “children of God.” And I can virtually guarantee you that the assumption of that meme is that the label “child of God” applies to every single human being, because … of course all people are children of God, right? I mean, we just intuitively know that, don’t we? Everyone is a child of God … especially actual children. To say otherwise would feel almost … well, heretical … wouldn’t it? Well, I’m standing before you today ready to be a heretic, ready to challenge that assumption. Not every person is a child of God. I say this with some confi


Did some followup on Brenda's medical needs in the morning, and otherwise attended to domestic concerns. Then, around 2:3opm, we loaded up the YFNBmobile and headed south to O'Fallon, with a dinner stop in Champaign, arriving at 8:30. Ready for tomorrow's visitation to St Michael's.


With my weekend now suddenly reconfigured, the main event of the day was to get Brenda some medical attention. That took all of the morning and most of the afternoon. Long story short: Another low-sodium episode. It's a mystery what causes it, because she literally eats salt by the spoonful. So there's still a lot of following up to do. As for any actual productivity on my part, I did manage to do the finish work on my Pentecost homily (day after tomorrow at St Michael's, O'Fallon, and process a handful of emails. Not the way I would have chosen to spend the day, but we have to take these things as they come. God is good.


I packed and hit the road southbound at 0930--earlier than usual because I had made a 2:30pm commitment to an ecumenical guest appearance to bring greetings to the Annual Assembly of the Central and Southern Illinois Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It was a joy to do so, as I enjoy a warm collegial friendship with Bishop John Roth. I then had an interview with a candidate for the Communications Coordinator position, which resulted in a mutual Yes on the matter, so we have made a hire. Stay tuned! We then sat with Sue for a while to take care of some of the administrative details.  Through the day, however, a situation was brewing with Brenda's health than resulted in several texts and phone calls with our children, and then a phone conversation with our family doctor, and finally a decision on my part to head back to Chicago, so I can take her in for some tests in the morning. As it happens, I had nothing on my calendar for tomorrow or Saturday anyway, so the

Wednesday (St Boniface)

The day began normally, but was soon hijacked by a domestic plumbing emergency (leaky kitchen faucet) the necessitated a trip to Home Depot and the creation of an account with Task Rabbit. When back and able to get my day organized, I returned a phone call from a colleague bishop, answered an email question from a person in the ordination process, and worked on my ongoing mystagogy project--an effort to embed a certain mindset and approach to catechesis and formation into the culture of the diocese. Lunched on leftovers. Synergized the need to get a walk in with the need to run a health-related shopping errand. Got back and devoted attention to my Trinity Sunday homily (to be delivered at Trinity, Mt Vernon), emerging with a draft that I can refine next week. By then it was time to greet and be available to the "task rabbit" (a nice guy names Brian)  who successfully installed a new kitchen faucet. Evening Prayer with Brenda. Grilled tri-tip on the patio with the extended fam


The big rocks on the days schedule were four pre-existing healthcare appointments: three for me (physical therapy [the course of treatment now concluded], occupational therapy [for an old wrist injury], and my primary doctor) and one for Brenda (cardiology followup). Around those commitments, I managed to do significant reconstructive surgery on an old homily for Proper 8 (June 30 at St John the Baptist, Mt Carmel), interact via several text messages with one of our clerics, and trade emails, with substantive comments, with the rectors of two parishes with June visitations.

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Up and out of my Effingham hotel room right at 0700, headed for an eventual arrival in Albion in time for the regular 0900 celebration of the Eucharist at St John's, which still takes place in the historic church building constructed in 1842,, only 24 years after Illinois statehood. The community is ably cared for by Fr Bill Howard. After visiting with folks following the liturgy, I was on the road northbound at 1045 and arrived home in Chicago at 4pm.

Sermon for Easter VII

St Johns, Albion -- John 17:20-26 Imagine, if you will, a United States Army as it might exist in the wishful fantasy of an infantry soldier. In this army, enlistees would be permitted to “shop” for a convenient basic training location, and for a compatible drill sergeant. They would then be allowed to pick which unit they wanted to serve in. If things don’t work out the way they expect, if there is bad personal chemistry with their commanding officer, they can look around for more suitable arrangements, and approve their own transfer. There is a broad consensus that this is the Army, and it’s supposed to be about defending our national interests, but beyond such generalities, there is little concrete agreement about what the mission and objective of the army is. Orders are given—sometimes they’re obeyed and sometimes not, depending on the disposition of the one receiving them. While this might be a wonderful daydream in the mind of Beetle Bailey peeling a mountain of potatoes, sub

Saturday (St Justin Martyr)

Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Breakfast at Charlie Parker's. Began working on notes to clergy with "nodal events" in June. Met with the head of the Search Committee from St Andrew's, Carbondale to discuss the territory ahead during their pastoral transition. Grabbed a lunch of fried fish from Carter's Fish Market on South Grand Avenue East and brought it back to the office to eat while I watched a show on Netflix. Got back to writing the notes to clergy. It was quite a stack: on the light side with birthdays, but a TON of June ordination anniversaries (five on the 29th alone). Dealt by email with a small administrative issue. Straightened up my desk and credenza. Responded to an application for the Communicator position. Did a bit of routine personal organization. Took a brisk long walk up Second Street to North Grand Avenue, over the Sixth, and back down. Packed up and headed to Effingham for the night. Dinner at Friday's.