Showing posts from September, 2019

St Michael & All Angels

Out the door at 0800 to catch a 1010 flight from O’Hare to Dallas, touching down at 1245. Picked up my rental care and made my way to the Hilton Garden Inn in suburban Lewisville. Had some lunch at a nearby restaurant, got settled, and took a bit of down time. Eventually drove the five miles or so to the Church of the Annunciation, getting there around 6 pm. An hour later, the ordination liturgy began, and we made Jonathan Totty a priest. For Jonathan is serving as curate at Annunciation, but he’s a product of the ordination process in Springfield. It was a complete joy, and he is, by all accounts, doing a splendid job in the parish.

The Lord's Day (XVI Pentecost)

Up and out of my hotel room in Marion in time to arrive at St Stephen's, Harrisburg at 0930, half and hour before their regular 1000 Eucharist. I was flying solo because their priest-in-charge, Fr Tim Goodman, is in hospital recovering from surgery. I spoke with Carol, his wife, while en route so as to be able to give the people a fresh report. Hung out a good while at the post-liturgical luncheon, hitting the road north around 12:30. Got home a little past 6pm.

Sermon for Proper 20

St Stephen’s, Harrisburg--   Luke 16:19–31 I’m probably not the only one in the room this morning who can say this, but I have from time to time indulged in fantasies about what I would do if I won the lottery in a big way. I would, of course, ensure the financial security of my family, but most of my fantasies involve giving money away—being able to support institutions and causes that mean a great deal to me. Of course, I’ve been predictably unlucky in playing the lottery, owing in part to the fact that I don’t actually buy lottery tickets but maybe once a decade, and, as they say, if you don’t play, you can’t win. But, given what the scriptures have to say about the spiritual hazards of wealth, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I’ve been lucky by not ever winning. Just to cite a few of many possible sources, there’s the rather stunning language about reversal of fortune that we find in the text from Luke’s gospel that Anglicans use at Evening Prayer—the Magnificat:

Saturday (St Wenceslas)

Out of my office encampment and in the cathedral reading Morning Prayer by 0730. Down to McD's for a quick breakfast, then back to prepare cathedral chancel area for the Cursillo Ultreya Mass, mentally prepare a homily, and otherwise get ready. Took a few minutes to process the collection hard copy items on my desk. Celebrated and preached the Ultreya Mass, anticipating the feast of St Michael & All Angels. Attended a nearly three-hour Standing Committee meeting. We had a lot to talk about. Most of the time was devoted to the first "annual review" of the bishop's ministry. Yes, it was actually my idea, and my mantra at this moment is "There is no such thing as bad feedback; all information is useful." Walked to lunch at nearby Boone's with four members of the committee. Came back and decompressed with an episode of the show "Britannia" on Amazon Prime video. Signed and sealed certificates for two transitional deacons who are about to

Friday (St Vincent de Paul)

Out the door and headed southbound at 0530. Kept an 0800 breakfast appointment with Fr Halt in Bloomington. We discussed a broad range of issues. At the (otherwise empty) office around 1030. Spotted Fr Wells' vehicle and went into the cathedral office to have a few words with him. Got my computer plugged in, cleaned off my desk a bit, and otherwise got myself organized, task-wise. Stepped out at 1115 to keep an 1130 lunch appoint in-lieu-0f-an-Ember-Day-letter with one of our postulants. This included a quite rich theological discussion of Origen of Alexandria, one of the early church fathers. Headed down the street from there to the blood bank, where I had an appointment to donate red cells. It actually happened this time, as my hemoglobin level was not compromised, as it was the last time I tried. Drove the YFNBmobile down to Green Mazda for some scheduled maintenance. Caught an Uber back to the office. Met with another of our postulants for nearly two hours in one of a s

Thursday (Lancelot Andrewes)

Up and out for an 0800 chiropractor appoint. At my "work station" about 1030. Began responding to a short stack of late-arriving emails that were not yet in the task system, some of them minor but urgent. Had an extensive conversation with one of our parish clergy who phoned me. Dealt with some lingering details regarding the text of my synod address, how it should be processed for publication by the Communications Coordinator. Lunched on leftovers. Opened a sermon file on Proper 27, which will find me at St Matthew's, Bloomington on November 10. Broke off from this work to take Brenda to an acupuncture appointment, where I leveraged the opportunity to get some reading done. Returned to the sermon task, make some initial notes on the readings. Took a brisk 35-minute walk. Evening Prayer with Brenda. After dinner: Attended to some routine calendar maintenance chores. Got packed and loaded for an 0-dark-thirty departure for Springfield in the morning (with a brea

Wednesday (St Sergius)

Intercessions and MP in our domestic chapel. Tea, breakfast, crossword, email scanning, task planning--i.e. the usual morning routine. Did some final proofreading edits on my synod address and sent the text off to the Communicator so she can begin to prepare some PowerPoint slides. Made and communicated a difficult decision about a mission travel opportunity next spring. Regretfully having to decline. Reviewed some materials pertaining to the Lambeth Conference. Reviewed an appeal from the Diocese of Southeast Florida for contributions in relief of hurricane damage in the Bahamas. Arranged for a discretionary fund gift. Forwarded to parish clergy some materials related to congregational development from one of the presentations at last week's House of Bishops meeting that was actually worthwhile. Scheduled a service appointment for the YFNBmobile for when I'm in Springfield this Friday. Took a walklet with Brenda, the route of which I leveraged to be able to stop by Piz

Tuesday (Our Lady of Walsingham)

Usual start to a weekday workday morning. Wrestled heavily with my homiletical message statement for Proper 24 (October 13 in Rantoul), ending up with a developed outline that will provide the basis for a rough draft next week. Took a brief walk, about six blocks, just to decompress (much as I might have were I in the office). Dealt with a lingering financial-administrative diocesan issue. Lunch from a nearby taqueria, eaten at home. Digested an unanticipated email about a serious pastoral-administrative issue. Plotted further actions. Substantive phone conversation with a priest who is interested in exploring deployment in the diocese. Read and replied to a stack of Ember Day letters from our postulants and candidates for Holy Orders. Took the developed outline of my address to synod next month and turned it into a rough draft. It will need some refinement, but it's essentially finished. Evening Prayer in our domestic chapel.

The Lord's Day (XV Pentecost)

We drove back home from Minneapolis yesterday without incident. But the whole experience of being at the House of Bishops, on top of the rail journey to Mississippi the previous weekend left me feeling pretty drained, so I'm allowing myself time to recover. That didn't stop me, of course, from fulfilling the commitment I have made to the rector of Ascension here in Chicago to cover for him while he's in California burying his mother. So I presided and preached at the 0900 and 1100 liturgies there. It's always a joy.

Friday (John Coleridge Patteson)

Day Four of the regular 2019 fall meeting of the House of Bishops. The available morning time was devoted to a presentation from, and interaction with, members of the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church. Although this committee has been in existence since 1821, we were told, the President of the House of Deputies intentionally constituted this particular iteration solely with members of Generation X and Millennials. The oldest member is 51. After introducing themselves, they spread themselves out amongst the tables of bishops to ask a series of open-ended questions and invite responses. What excites us in our ministries? What discourages or challenges us? What is our most ambitious aspiration for TEC? What's holding us back from fulfilling that aspiration? You get the idea. My contributions included what I said the other day about the perils of using the Eucharist as a tool for evangelism, and an observation that the biggest obstacles holding us back are shee

Thursday (St Theodore of Tarsus)

Day Three of the regular 2019 fall meeting of the House of Bishops. From the standpoint of subject matter considered, the day can be understood in three sections: morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon. The morning was devoted to a report from the House of Bishops Theology Committee, which includes mostly bishops, but also some professional theologians, both lay and ordained. The report focused on white supremacy--its historical roots, its enduring effects, and what some name as a recent resurgence. We were given via email yesterday an executive summary of a much longer document that have produced, and then, today, we were sent the document itself. The report calls out any notion of white supremacy as a sin--a collective sin of which not only the larger society is guilty, but the Episcopal Church is guilty as well.  I don't think there's anyone in the church who would disagree that the notion of white supremacy is a pernicious evil. It contradicts and undermines th

Wednesday (E.B. Pusey)

Day Two of the 2019 regular fall meeting of the House of Bishops. The Eucharist was celebrated, keeping the lesser feast of Edward Bouverie Pusey, with the Bishop of Puerto Rico presiding and the Bishop of West Tennessee preaching. Both morning and afternoon sessions featured Adam Hamilton, founding and senior pastor of the Church of the Resurrection, the largest United Methodist congregation in the world (average Sunday attendance over 12,000), located in Kansas City. He is the author of several books and a highly sought-after speaker on the areas of leadership development and evangelism. Without any doubt, this was the best and most worthwhile outside presentation in all my eight-and-a-half years in House of Bishops. He is a remarkably gifted leader, pastor, evangelist, and teacher. By his own admission, he didn't tell us anything we didn't already know, but articulated it in freshly compelling ways that were inspiring. The planning team got it right this time. Even thoug

Tuesday (Hildegard of Bingen)

Day One of the regular 2019 fall meeting of the House of Bishops. We began with Eucharist, at which the Presiding Bishop preached. As is his wont, he preached the gospel with some degree of fullness, so by the time he was finished, it was the departure hour for spouses who were signed up for a Mississippi River boat cruise. Brenda and I parted company at that point. The rest of the morning was devoted to table groups for "check in" time. This may sound like fluff, but it's not. Bishops have no peers in their daily lives, so it's important to have time to share with peers on those rare occasions when we are together what's going on in our lives. The afternoon was devoted to presentations about (and brief plenary discussion of) next year's Lambeth Conference. Many in the house remain annoyed at the Archbishop of Canterbury's decision not to invite the spouses of bishops in same-sex relationships. Some are planning on attending in order to "make a witn

Monday (St Ninian)

Our City of New Orleans Amtrak train arrived at Union Station in Chicago about 20 minutes early, around 8:45. We caught an Uber home and attended to various necessary tasks, repacked our suitcases, and were back on the road just after 1:30, arriving in downtown Minneapolis at 9:15. The meeting of the House of Bishops starts in the morning.

The Lord's Day (Proper 19)

We enjoyed another lovely visitation with the gracious people of Trinity, Yazoo City, MS. It is a joy to serve them as the bishop under DEPO. After the liturgy and potluck, we were able to work out an extended stay at the Hampton Inn, and appreciated the down time (during which I achieved that elusive "Inbox Zero") before being picked up by the Woodliffs at 6:15 for transportation to the Amtrak station. The train arrived on time and we are once again spending the night on the rails, looking forward to arrival in Chicago in the neighborhood of 0900.

Sermon for Proper 19

(This homily was delivered at my DEPO parish, Trinity Church in Yazoo City, MS, which I oversee on behalf of the Bishop of Mississippi.) Exodus 32:7-14, I Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-10 If this were a classroom, instead of a church, there’s a certain game I would like to play with you. I would divide this congregation into two groups. I would ask Group One to read the following passage of scripture, from the prophet Joel: Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations. Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but after them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them.  I would also ask Group One to read a passage from the b

Holy Cross

Our train to Yazoo City, MS arrived at 10:00, just twenty minutes behind schedule, which, for Amtrak, at that distance from point-of-origin, is pretty good. Fr Woodliff, rector of Trinity, had seen to it that we were cleared for early arrival at the Hampton Inn, so we got settled in. An hour or so later, Fr George picked us up and we journeyed about an hour south and west to the historical community of Vicksburg. We enjoyed lunch at a rooftop restaurant with a spectacular view looking north and west, then toured the museum in the old courthouse (built just before the Civil War) and then the marked driving tour through the battleground and cemetery area. I was reminded how prominent Illinois troops were fighting for the Union in that conflict. Back to Yazoo and some down time at the hotel. Fr George and Jill picked us up for a 7:00 dinner at a place out on the Delta.

Friday (St Cyprian)

I'm writing this from the City of New Orleans Amtrak run that left Union Station in Chicago at 8:05pm. Our destination is Yazoo City, MS. Trinity Church there is under my oversight, per a request from the Bishop of Mississippi. We've had a happy relationship for six years now. Scheduled arrival is mod-morning on Saturday. Brenda and I have a sleeping compartment, so it's actually kind of fun. While much of the day was spent getting ready to be away for ten days (since, as soon as we arrive back in Chicago on Monday, we need to repack and hit the road by car to Minneapolis for a House of Bishops meeting), I did do the finish work on two homilies (for this Sunday and next), and stay on top of several administrative and pastoral situations.


Per recent Thursday pattern, 8:00-9:00 at the chiropractor's office (massage, exercise rehab therapy, chiropractor's table). Home, cleaned up, and organized by around 10:30. Worked on some clergy deployment and mission strategy issues ('tis the season, apparently). Lunched on leftovers. Took Brenda to her acupuncture appointment. Managed to process some email from my phone while she was essentially napping while needled up! Another opportunity to spend quality time with biblical commentaries, this time in connection with preaching on Proper 24 (October 20 at St Paul's, Carlinville). Roughed out the broad strokes of my address to synod. Evening Prayer in our chapel. After dinner (with a Bond movie running in the background): Made some final edits and revisions to my pastoral teaching document on sexuality and marriage, in light feedback from my vetting group. Ready for formatting now. Hope to promulgate in at the end of the month, on the feast of St Michael &


Usual start to a working weekday. But meat on the bones of my developed outline of a homily for Proper 21, turning it into a rough draft that can yet be perfected for use at St Stephen's, Harrisburg on the 29th. Devoted the rest of the morning to working with my daughter and son and daughter-in-law in a project none of us anticipated or enjoyed: moving stuff out of the basement and stowing in temporarily in the garage so the rat exterminators we have engaged will have access to the space for cleaning and disinfecting. A rat infestation pretty much constitutes a near-emergency, I guess, Lunched quickly on leftovers. Headed to an appointment with my primary care doctor, following-up on the seven hours I spent in the ER Sunday nights into Monday morning with a kidney stone attack. I'm grateful to have been out of pain since I was released. Dealt with issues pertaining to next month's annual synod, the Department of Mission, and clergy deployment (which is generally on th


Customary early AM routine Worked my way through a thick stack of messages and situations needing a response--none were inordinately time-consuming, but there was a lot of them. It took the whole morning. Stepped out to grab some KFC for lunch, which we ate at home. Ran a healthcare-related personal errand. Wrestled aggressively with my exegetical notes for Proper 23 and extracted from them a homiletical message statement for my visitation to St Christopher's, Rantoul on October 13. Relived the stress created by such labor by taking an equally aggressive and longish walk on a sultry and warm afternoon.  Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Sermon for Proper 18

St George’s, Belleville-- Philemon 1-21 It hardly ever happens that we get to read nearly an entire book of the bible all in one sitting. But today we do that with St Paul’s letter to Philemon; only a couple of lines at the end dealing with incidental details are omitted from the reading. So let’s set the stage. Paul is in prison as he writes this. It’s a pretty humane imprisonment as that sort of thing goes; his friends and other visitors apparently have generous access to him, and he’s allowed to have a secretary to write down what he dictates. One of these visitors is a fellow named Onesimus, which, in Greek, means “useful;” that’s an important fact to know because Paul plays a little word game with that name at a really key point in the letter. Paul is instrumental in leading Onesimus to Christ, and becomes the young man’s mentor and spiritual father. They are very close. But there’s a problem. Onesimus, it turns out, is a runaway slave. And, to make matters worse, the master

The Lord's Day (XIII Pentecost)

Yesterday until mid-afternoon was spent getting a haircut and dealing with rat drama. Apparently we have a "major infestation" in our basement and it will cost us $$$ to eradicate the critters But it will be nice to have done. Brenda and I headed south around 2:30 and pulled in at the Hilton Garden, O'Fallon five hours later. We grabbed a nice dinner at Bella Milano across the street and then hit the hay. Up early this morning, in time to preside and preach (as "supply priest") both liturgies at St George's, Belleville, and then meet with their Mission Leadership Team to discuss both the near and mid-term future, as they are in the early stages of a pastoral interregnum. On the road northward at 1pm, arrived home at 8:00, after a stop for lunch in Litchfield and in Springfield for some shopping (believe it or not, there are items we got accustomed to in Springfield that we haven't been able to find in Chicago yet).


Customary early-AM routine, Traded emails with the rector of the host parish for next month's annual synod, mostly pertaining to worship details. Edited, refined, printed, and scheduled for posting my homily for this Sunday (St George's, Belleville). The "printed" part of that sequence turned into a black hole, however, as I got sucked into technology hell trying to work out a relatively small kink. I failed, and had to eventually settle for the output I had. 'Twill serve. Then, as I was returning to the apartment after placing the sermon text in the back seat of my car, as is my habit, I noticed a non-domestic mammal scurrying across the kitchen floor. We've had escalating rat sighting in the basement and the back stairwell of late, and were taking appropriate measures, but having one in our living space is another matter entirely. It consumed our attention for quite some time. We made some calls and arranged for an exterminator to come by "sometime


Save for some task-organizing time, the morning was consumed by healthcare appointments--first me, then Brenda. We grabbed a slightly early lunch from Subway and ate it at home. Spent intensive quality time with commentaries on Luke's gospel in preparation for preaching on October 13 at St Christopher's, Rantoul. I very much enjoy an excuse to engage in this sort of close study of scripture. Took a small but significant step in a difficult pastoral-administrative situation that is on the home stretch toward resolution. Sat down to choose hymns and service music for the Mass and annual synod next month, This kind of thing invariably ends up consuming more time than it feels like it ought to. Polished the draft of my review of Chris Arnade's Dignity and sent it off to the editor of The Living Church . Wrote my column for the next issue of the Springfield Current , posted it to the website, and sent a link to the Communications Coordinator, Evening Prayer with Brenda


Customary early AM routine. Took care of a couple of small administrative matters via email with the Administrator. Did the hard work of developing a homiletical message statement for Proper 21 (September 29 at St Stephen's, Harrisburg) into a developed sermon outline. Watched a set of videos about baptism being purveyed by the communications office of the Episcopal Church. I'm happy to say that the production values are great and they're a pleasure to watch, and I'm sorry to say that they are utterly vapid and devoid of meaningful theological, spiritual, or pastoral content. What a wasted opportunity. Lunched on leftovers. Participated in one more volley of pastoral care emails with a lay person of the diocese. Took Brenda to an acupuncture appointment. Drafted my review of the book Dignity (by Chris Arnade) for the Living Church. I will refine it and send it off to the editor by week's end. Did a quick bit of synod-related work. Evening Prayer with Bren


Customary early AM routine. Conferred with the Archdeacon by email over a couple of different issues. Spent a not insignificant chunk of time drafting a memo to the Chancellor seeking his counsel on an administrative matter that feels like something from the old Terminator movies. Did appropriate cosmetic surgery on a "pre-preached" sermon text on Proper 19 in anticipation of giving it a reprise when In visit my DEPO parish in Yazoo City, MS on the 15th. Lunched on leftovers. "Ran" a personal healthcare-related errand by phone. Did some more homiletical cosmetic surgery, this time on a text for Proper 20, when I have no visitation but have accepted a guest gig at Ascension, Chicago. Developed and polished an already-existing rough draft of my next-due post for the Covenant blog and sent it off to the editor. A few minutes later, at his urging, I performed a minor tweak. Took an initial prayerful pass at the readings for Proper 24 and opened a sermon file fo

The Lord's Day (XII Pentecost)

No visitation this weekend (I had kept it clear to be able to attend my 50th high school class reunion events), so Brenda and I sat in the pews at the regular 1030 Mass at St Paul's-by-the-Lake. Ran into a former ordinand and curate of the Diocese of Springfield and her priest husband, both now serving parishes in the Diocese of Oklahoma, who grew up at St Paul's. Small world. Spent some significant time in the afternoon polishing my pastoral teaching on marriage in light of feedback I've gotten from a vetting group. Then it was off to DuPage County for the main reunion event. The whole weekend has been an emotionally complex experience for me, but nearly completely positive. Therapeutic, even.