Thursday, October 31, 2019


  • Intercessions, Morning Prayer, tea, breakfast, crossword, task organizing.
  • On foot 1.3 miles through blowing snow to an 0830 chiropractor appointment (which includes exercise rehab and massage sessions).
  • Cleaned up and in the saddle at 1045.
  • Took care of a small administrative chore.
  • Began working on a cluster of tasks pertaining to the canonical Mission Strategy Reports from the Eucharistic Communities of the diocese.
  • Scrounged lunch from leftovers.
  • Took Brenda to her acupuncture appointment. Finished that issue of The Living Church that I had begin yesterday while she was needled up.
  • Returned to the MSR project. Brought it to a conclusion right at 6pm, then prayed the Evening office.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


  • As usual: intercessions, Morning Prayer, tea, breakfast, crossword, some internet reading.
  • Substantive phone conversation with a colleague bishop. I was seeking feedback and advice on some pastoral-administrative issues.
  • Reviewed a draft conflict-of-interest policy for the Living Church Foundations, and offered comments.
  • Forwarded to the Communicator a change-of-phone-number notification from one of our clergy.
  • Responded in moderate detail to an email inquiry from a priest from outside the diocese who is open to exploring deployment opportunities with us.
  • Attended to a small bit of business pertaining to my membership on the Nashotah House corporation.
  • Began cleaning up my computer desktop. It had become quite a mess.
  • Took Brenda to a noon appointment with a new doctor, an Alzheimer's specialist. In the spirit of leaving no stone unturned. It was extraordinarily lengthy, so ... outside the normal experience of healthcare these days. Much to do by way of followup.
  • Very late carryout lunch from a nearby Chinese place.
  • Continued and finished the desktop cleanup project.
  • Read half an issue of The Living Church. I'm several months behind.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tuesday (James Hannington & Companions)

  • Usual weekday workday stuff.
  • Exchanged emails with the Communicator over a variety of issues.
  • Reached out by email to a potential candidate for one of the two parishes currently looking for an interim rector.
  • Did a small bit of administrative work pertaining to next week's clergy conference.
  • Responded to an email from one of our seminarians.
  • Carefully read today's post on the Covenant blog, which is a sobering analysis of recent TEC attendance and membership data.
  • Did another small bit of clergy conference-related work.
  • Began working on producing a rough draft of a Proper 27 homily (St Matthew's, Bloomington), starting with the developed outline I created week before last.
  • Grabbed lunch from Subway, eaten at home.
  • Accompanied Brenda on an appointment at a nearby hair salon.
  • Returned to the sermon work I had begun in the morning and brought it to completion.
  • Took a first homiletical pass at the readings for Advent III (St Luke's, Springfield).
  • Walked about 5,000 (getting me to my 10K daily goal). Next week it will be dark at that hour.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Lord's Day (XX Pentecost)

On the road southbound from Mt Vernon at 8am, arriving at St Mark's, West Frankfort half an hour later. Presided and preached at their regular 0900 liturgy. It was great to see about a half dozen children in the congregation of 23. After enjoying a post-liturgical potluck, we were back in the YFNBmobile a little past 11. With a bit of time to kill before an afternoon engagement in Decatur, we stuck to secondary roads: U.S. 37 north to Salem, U.S. 50 west (with a stop at Wal*Mart) to Sandoval, U.S. 51 north to Vandalia, then a split-second decision to divert to Springfield and a brief errand at the office. But ... when we actually got close to Springfield, I realized, regretfully, that there wasn't time to go by the office and still be on time for a 3pm meeting with the MLT of St John's in Decatur, so I drove on by our exit and proceeded east on I-72. So we got an unexpected extra bit of central Illinois tourism done. The meeting with the St John's MLT took an hour-and-forty minutes. It was an initial vacancy consultation (the fourth I've done with as many vestries in the last two months), anticipating the retirement of Fr Swan at the end of November. With a stop in Kankakee for dinner, we got back to our Chicago abode around 8:15.

Sermon for Proper 25

St Mark’s, West Frankfort--Luke 18:9-14

In a few minutes, we’re all going to confess our sins—no, not our specific individual sins, but the fact of our sinfulness, the fact that we are a community of sinners. Both corporately and individually, we have rebelled against God and done what He doesn’t want us to do and failed to do what He does want us to do. In our words and in our actions, we consistently fall short of the glory of God. We make a collective confession of this sort routinely, more or less at every celebration of the Eucharist outside of festival seasons. Of course, there are also occasions, both formal and informal, for private confession of specific sins. This is a spiritual discipline that enables us to face our lives with a clear conscience, over and over again, on an as-needed basis.

Now, when we think of “sins,” we understandably think of bad things. We think of entering an intersection a split second after a yellow light has turned red. We think of losing our temper with a co-worker, or gossiping about a neighbor. We think about lying to our spouse about why we were home late from work, about not being quite straight with the IRS when we fill out our income tax forms, about downloading pirated music and movies from the internet. We think about insider trading and acts of race-based hatred and extortion and murder-for-hire. We think about the Seven Deadly Sins of pride, anger, lust, envy, gluttony, greed, and sloth.

The first of these—Pride—deserves some special attention. There’s a reason it’s at the head of the list. Pride is, in fact, the root and source, not only of the other six “deadly” sins, but, through them, pride is the root and source of all sin. What makes the whole thing particularly confusing is that sinful pride is not an altogether different thing from what we might call “good” pride—as in taking pride in a job well done, being proud of your children for their accomplishments, having enough pride to bathe and wear clean clothes and mow the lawn in front of your house. Sinful pride flows from the same source, but becomes lethally corrupted—distorted and disfigured—along the way. The sin of pride is grounded not in our desire for evil, but in our desire for good. The incubator of pride is virtue itself—virtue that is undisciplined by humility. Sinful pride stems from the good things we do, even our practice of Christian religion.

Today, Jesus tells us a very compelling parable to dissuade us from trusting in ourselves and despising others. There are two characters—a Pharisee and a tax collector. Now, as Christians who have read the gospels and heard them talked about countless times, you and I are conditioned to regard Pharisees as pretty suspect characters—judgmental and full of arrogance. And tax collectors are in the class of people that Jesus preferred to hang out with; he had a reputation for that. So, with our Christian eyes and ears, we’re likely to label the tax collector in this parable as the “good guy” and the Pharisee as the “bad guy.”

But if we’re going to understand it as Jesus’ original hearers did, we’ve got to put on different glasses. To an ordinary Jew in first century Palestine, a Pharisee would have been presumed to be a model of virtuous and godly living. It would have been simply assumed that the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable was upright in his relationship with God and with his fellow human beings. And it would have been likewise simply assumed that the tax collector was a scoundrel—dishonest, conniving, and a traitor to his people. Only when we look at these characters in the light of their native surroundings, then, can we grasp the full power of what Jesus is doing in this brief vignette.

Jesus is standing contemporary Jewish social morality on its head, because, by the end of the parable, it is clearly the Pharisee who fails in his effort to be in a right relation with God, and the tax collector who succeeds. All the religious observances that the Pharisee enumerates in his prayer are good and worthwhile, not vain and empty. Moreover, there is no reason to suspect that he was lying. There is, on the other hand, every reason to believe that he was speaking the truth, that he was, in fact, scrupulous in his prayer and fasting and almsgiving, and that he engaged in those activities with pure intentions. So it is a rather stunning reversal of roles that Jesus is laying on us here.

So where does the Pharisee go wrong? Apparently, he was highly advantaged to begin with. One commentator has remarked that “The Pharisee had enough religion to be virtuous, but not enough to be humble. As a result, his religion drove him away from the tax-collector rather than toward him.” The Pharisee’s major mistake—in other words, the principal component of his own sinful pride—was to compare his health to the tax-collector’s sickness. That was, of course, unfair. He was ignoring both the tax collector’s virtues, such as they might have been, and his own shortcomings. From our perspective, of course, this is pretty easy to see. It becomes more difficult, however, the closer we get to our own situation. It becomes tempting—and, let’s face it, a great deal more fun, at times!—to confess other people’s sins instead of our own, to talk to the doctor about our neighbors’ symptoms, rather than focusing on what’s ailing us. Of course, when we do this, we are indulging in the sin of gossip, at the very least. And, more importantly, we are falling into the trap that the Pharisee fell into.

The example that Jesus commends, of course, is that of the tax collector. In our culture, the social equivalent might be a drug dealer or a hedge fund manager or the worst example of an ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyer or an internet spammer or somebody who calls you every day about your car’s extended warranty. Did any of those ring your bell? That’s the one who Jesus says left the temple right with God. And what was his prayer? “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” No attempt at spin control or any other form of self-justification. “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” This man simply humbled himself before God. His humility was transparent, and his humility was unpresumptuous. And in that state, he was the furthest a person can get from the sin of pride. Transparent humility before God protects us from the deadly sin of pride. If we are humble, we cannot be proud. And if we are not proud, it is all the more difficult to be angry or lustful or envious or gluttonous or greedy or lazy. Humility is like a vaccine that offers us immunity from the grip of the deadly sins.

So, let us continue to abound in good works, but have that mind, as we saw in a parable three weeks ago, that we are only doing our duty, and are unworthy servants. Let us continue to abound in good works, but at the same time see ourselves not as the righteous Pharisee, but as the sinful tax collector. Our Eastern Orthodox friends have an element of their spirituality that we could do worse than to adapt and adopt. It’s called the Jesus Prayer, and you will recognize the gist of it: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  This prayer is usually said as a sort of Christian mantra, over and over, repeatedly—much in the way that the Hail Mary is used in the western tradition. How our lives might change if enough of us made this prayer part of our daily converse with God. Amen.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Saturday (Alfred the Great)

Domestic concerns until 2:30pm, when we packed up for one night and headed south through thick traffic and driving rain. With stops for gas and dinner, we arrived in Mt Vernon just a tick past 9:00pm. Tomorrow: St Mark's. West Frankfort.

Friday, October 25, 2019


  • Usual weekday workday routine.
  • Traded emails with the Administrator over a handful of items, mostly 2020 calendar planning.
  • Reviewed and approved the Archdeacon's recommendations for the disbursement of diocesan outreach funds.
  • Responded in some detail to an email from the senior warden of one of our communities in transition.
  • Responded to a query from one of our postulants regarding possible timelines for future events.
  • Began the task of planning worship details for the clergy conference week after next.
  • Broke for lunch, which involved raiding our freezer.
  • Ran a couple of nearby (walking distance) errands with Brenda.
  • Took a long enough walk to get my step count from 3500 to just over 10,000.
  • Finish the earlier-begin worship planning project.
  • Edited, refined, printed, and scheduled for posting my homily for this Sunday (St Mark's, West Frankfort).
  • Went out to dinner at a nearby Indian-Himalayan restaurant with the entire Fort Farragut (our pet name for our building) community: daughter, son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter). Even though we share a building, we aren't able to get together like this very often.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


While yesterday was the semi-annual meeting of the Board of Directors of the Living Church Foundation, today was the annual meeting of the foundation itself. (The members of the foundation are, in effect, collectively, the "owners" of The Living Church, and the board is accountable to them. Directors are elected from among the members of the foundation.) It was a lively and productive meeting of some very talented and engaged people who care deeply for the mission of TLC. We finished around 4:00pm, and I called an Uber to take me to the airport. I was there in plenty of time for a leisurely dinner, and eventually walked into my Chicago apartment a little before 10:00.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

St James of Jerusalem

Began the day with 0800 Morning Prayer in an oratory with about a dozen other people, then attended the 0830 Eucharist for the feast day in the VTS chapel. (FWIW, I rather like the liturgical space of this still relatively new chapel, the music, the preaching, and most of the liturgical ceremonial--cleanly catholic. The rite itself I was rather less fond of--mostly EOW.) Then the directors of the Living Church Foundation met until around 2:20, with a brief break for lunch in situ. I then got in a brisk walk around the campus on a lovely fall afternoon before returning to the deanery for some Anglican Communion-related conversation with a small group that included the Bishop of Coventry. Dinner for directors and foundation members was at a nearby hotel restaurant.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Spent the morning tying various loose ends together--mostly responding to emails that had arrived during the run-up to and during synod. Then I was packed and in an Uber to the Jefferson Park Blue Line station at 1145, arriving at O'Hare by 1250. Grabbed lunch at a pizza place in the K-Concourse food court, and caught the 1:58 departure on American for Washington Reagan in D.C. Called another Uber, which got me to the restaurant in Alexandria where members of the Living Church board were gathering for dinner, which was lovely. Tomorrow we have our semi-annual meeting. I am the secretary of this outfit.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Lord's Day (XIX Pentecost)

Up and out of our Litchfield hotel room in plenty of time to get to St Pauls', Carlinville for their regular 0915 liturgy. Today there was a confirmation and three receptions to add to the joy of celebrating the Eucharist. The coffee hour included an interesting exchange with one of the confirmands, an eighth grader at a Missouri Synod Lutheran school, where they tend to take religious instruction quite seriously. So her was full of incisive questions for me. On the way home, we stopped in Springfield to do some shopping, and ended our journey around 5:00pm.

Sermon for Proper 24

St Paul’s, Carlinville--Luke 18:1–8

Over the last few years, I have made several trips by train between Springfield and Chicago. One of the nearly invariable features of that experience is the presence of one or more of what are often referred to as “panhandlers” right outside the door of Union Station. This is always an uncomfortable moment for me, full of complex emotions, even as it is when I’m stopped at a traffic signal and see a bedraggled-looking person holding a sign announcing that they’re homeless, or hungry, or both, and soliciting donations. It’s a horribly uneasy moment for me. I usually try to avoid eye contact, and breathe a sigh of relief that I can truthfully say, as I don’t even break my stride, that I don’t have any cash on me, because I usually don’t. I rationalize my behavior with the notion that they’re probably operating a scam, or they’re just going to use the money on drugs or alcohol, or that there are plenty of places they could go to get the help they need—all of which are very plausibly true. Once in a while, I do reach into my pocket and hope I have something smaller than a $20 bill. Mostly, though, I just wish they would not be there, that they would just have the courtesy and decency to not intrude on my life uninvited, and my subconscious often usually a very good job making them invisible and inaudible to me.

My uneasiness—about encountering the panhandlers and about my response to the pan handlers—is rooted in the question: What do my feelings and attitudes say about me? What does the fact that I’ve gotten really good at just looking past them, not seeing them—what does this say about who I am? About my progress in becoming more like Jesus? Becoming fit to live in Heaven? Am I on an arc toward becoming like the rich man in the Lazarus parable from three weeks ago? That’s a truly scary thought!

Perhaps you can identify in some way with my experience. I’m sure you’ve met your share of panhandlers. The state of my mind and the state of my heart—and yours, to the extent that your experience enables you to identify with me—might be attributable to the assumptions we bring to gospel parables like this morning’s—the persistent widow and the lazy judge. In the story, there’s a judge, perhaps something akin to what we might call an administrative law judge, or a civil magistrate. This judge is kind of a scoundrel, self-absorbed, uncaring about what anybody thinks of him, including God. He works at his own pace, and decides the cases he feels like deciding. And there’s this woman, a widow, who is the plaintiff in one of his cases. She keeps pestering him, over and over again, to make a decision in her favor, to give her the justice she believes she deserves. Eventually, he breaks down and gives her what she wants, not out of any sense of duty or commitment to justice, but just to get this wretched woman off his back. He wanted her to disappear. He didn’t want her intruding uninvited in his life.

Understanding a parable, of course, is all about which character in the story you choose to identify with. Whose eyes are you seeing through? At first blush, it’s awfully tempting and easy for us to identify with the widow when we read this material. She’s a sympathetic character. She has been wronged, and she’s seeking to have that wrong righted, to have her grievance redressed. You and I are certainly acutely aware of our own sense of unfilled need, the things we need or deserve but haven’t gotten, or things we don’t deserve and have been afflicted with anyway, and we want to take comfort from the promise that God will reward persistent petition. Indeed, the gospel evangelist himself labels the parable in advance as having to do with the need to pray persistently, and not lose heart. We’ve heard preachers and teachers talk about how this parable is an example of the benefits of persistent prayer, nagging God. Yet, that focus on my needs, I’m afraid, can lead to a place where we really don’t want to go.

What happens, though, when we let ourselves identify with the lazy judge? I mean, on its face, it’s a pretty unappealing prospect. He’s a nasty character, right? But, let’s just try it on—you know, as a thought experiment. What does it look like?  Well, when we see the events of the story through the eyes of the lazy unjust judge, I believe we will find a window into the very heart of God. We are able to touch the boundlessness of God’s mercy. You see, both God and the lazy judge are seeing the same thing. They’re seeing a widow who has been wronged and is crying out for justice. And both God and the lazy judge do the same thing—they grant justice. The judge, of course, just wants to be rid of a nuisance. God, as Jesus goes on to tell us, acts out of infinite love. So, if we start out identifying with the lazy unjust judge in this parable, there is the potential for us to end up looking at it all through the eyes of God. Through the impatient judge’s eyes—which, I have to admit, and probably you along with me, are not so different than the eyes through which I look at the panhandlers I meet—we can be trained to see through God’s eyes. By humbling ourselves to identify with a scoundrel, we acquire the heart of God.

And this is completely transformative. When we see the world through God’s eyes and feel the world through God’s heart, we are drawn to attend to the “prayers” of the “widows” with whom our lives intersect. We hear them, as God hears them—we hear them pray, “Thy kingdom come,” and we become aware of opportunities for us to be used by God to grant those requests, to put ourselves in a relationship with those whom we want very much to look past and pretend like they’re not even there. You know, perhaps even more important than the five dollars that we might or might not give a panhandler is the opportunity to simply see them. Even when I have to tell somebody, “Sorry, I’m not carrying any cash,” the least I can do is stop, and look them straight in the eye, with the compassionate heart of Jesus beating in my chest, as I speak the words. This is what we call respecting the dignity of every human being. And I have no doubt that a great many of the people we meet under such circumstances will treasure that more than any cash they might get.

My friends, being like Jesus is something we have to grow into. Being like the lazy unjust judge, though, is a good start in that direction, and it’s something we can do even this afternoon.

Praised be Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Saturday (Henry Martyn)

Wrapped up the 142nd annual synod of the diocese around 1030, which is about what I had expected, but not without a little election drama, with discrepancies between the number of delegates registered and the number attempting to cast ballots. We eventually got it straightened out. I gave my address announcing my retirement, we did the usual housekeeping stuff, and adjourned. I met with the Standing Committee for a few minutes, then proceeded with Brenda to Fairview Heights, where we had lunch, did some apparel shopping, and saw a movie. Then up to Litchfield for the night, ahead of tomorrow's visitation to St Paul's, Carlinville.

Friday, October 18, 2019

St Luke

Stopped by the office to print a couple of items and retrieve a couple of others. Went by the carwash on our way out of Springfield (the bugs on the windshield were sapping my morale), and arrived at the Best Western in Alton at 1130. Got checked in at the hotel and registered at the synod desk. Surveyed the environs and made some final prep. Grabbed lunch in the only restaurant in the hotel, which was slammed, so service was glacial, and the beginning of synod was delayed by 30 minutes. Once we got going, we plowed through our agenda at a good clip. We should finish in good form at a reasonable hour tomorrow. We adjourned at 4:00 and celebrated the Eucharist at St Paul's at 5:00, which was splendid. Banquet followed back at the Best Western.

Sermon for Synod Mass (St Luke)

Diocesan Synod Eucharist, 2019 --II Timothy 4:5-13, Luke 4:14-21

One of the parishes of our diocese—and I use that term “parish” both in its commonly-understood generic sense, and in the more technical sense it has recently acquired in our canons—this particular parish, which is trying to find the best way to live out the ideal of one geographic parish with multiple Eucharistic Communities—this parish has adopted as its focus of mission: outreach to the lonely. I find this a rather compelling vision because … well … loneliness is ubiquitous. It’s all around us, and there are probably people gathered in this very congregation this afternoon who are experiencing loneliness on a very profound level. We are more connected than ever, through the various social media that have evolved. Yet we are at the same time more alone than ever, more deprived of regular, meaningful, and sustained human contact than ever before. St Paul himself, the greatest evangelist, theologian, and teacher in the history of Christianity, was not immune to loneliness. When he gets down to mundane practicalities at the end of his second letter to Timothy, his tone is veritably poignant.
Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me.
Loneliness is literally deadly. It expresses itself in violence, depression, and suicide. It manifests itself in family dysfunction and domestic abuse. And all of this is rooted, of course, in our constant mortal enemy, the power of sin and death. We are each one of us for sure created in the very image and likeness of God. Yet, that image and likeness is marred, distorted, by sin, by our propensity to enthrone ourselves, to put ourselves where only God should be. We have erred and strayed from God’s ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, and, as we used to say in earlier versions of the Prayer Book, there is no health in us.

It is not part of God’s plan, though, that we should be lonely. It is not part of God’s plan that we should be depressed or suicidal or self-destructive. So the gospel story is one of redemption from these things. It’s about God’s determination to not let his creation fall victim permanently to the power of sin and death. In the words of Jesus, quoting Isaiah, in this afternoon’s gospel, it’s about release from captivity, recovery of sight to the blind, and the year of the Lord’s favor. It’s about Jesus, who is the ultimate sign and sacrament of God coming to his people and setting them free.

One of the significant ways in which Jesus comes to us and sets us free is to offer us companionship—companionship, which is, of course, the antidote to loneliness. Various Christian traditions have different expressions of piety that speak of this companionship. The song What a Friend We Have in Jesus was popular among American evangelicals for many decades, along with the ubiquitous In the Garden, where Jesus “walks with me and talks with me and tells me I am his own.” Blessedly, these texts have never made deep inroads among Episcopalians, though, judging from some of the requests I’ve gotten while planning funerals, they’re not completely unknown!

But, aside from expressions of piety such as these, there’s a much more profound way in which Jesus becomes our companion. A companion, literally, is one with whom we share a meal. In the middle of “companion” is pan—the Latin root for “bread.” So a companion is someone who breaks bread with us. Eating together is not the most intimate thing that people do with others, but it’s a good way down the road in that direction. You’ve surely noticed how people will do everything they can not to sit down at the same table with a stranger in a crowded cafeteria or food court environment. We like to be choosy about who we eat with. Most of us are inclined to respect other people’s privacy on those occasions, and we hope they respect ours.

But the best, and most mystically wonderful, part of all this is that Jesus doesn’t just become our companion by sitting down and eating with us. He is himself the pan in “companion.” He is the bread. He gives us himself, his own life. We call this the Eucharist—the “good gift,” literally—and it’s what we’re in the middle of at this moment.

It is precisely, then, the companionship we experience at the altar, in the celebration of the Eucharist, that resources our relief from loneliness. Here we dine on the panis angelicus, the bread of angels, the very body to which we have been joined in baptism. In Holy Communion, we experience the depth of both vertical and horizontal intimacy—vertically with God, horizontally with those who gather at the table with us. And as a result of this intimacy, we are enabled to fulfill Paul’s admonition to Timothy to “endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill [our] ministry.” It is not for no reason that our canons now describe the congregations of this diocese as Eucharistic Communities. There are, of course, anomalies. In our present circumstances, it’s not always possible to have a priest at every altar of the diocese on every Lord’s Day, and people have an opportunity to discover that God can still be worshiped in spirit and truth without the Eucharist. The Episcopal Church in this diocese expanded as it did in the century before last because of lay readers leading Morning Prayer on Sundays. But our goal is always to be able to celebrate the Eucharist, because this is the covenanted channel of God’s grace by which we are strengthened and empowered for the mission to which God has called us. A missional community—and we all need to become missional communities—a missional community is, indeed, a eucharistic community, a community that is formed by the rhythm and the discipline of the eucharistic liturgy, and fed regularly by the Body and Blood of our companion, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Thursday (St Ignatius of Antioch)

Chiropractic appointment first thing in the morning. Then attention to odds and ends of synod liturgy, clergy deployment, and various late-arriving emails. Eventually, it was time to get Brenda and myself packed for three nights away, and load the car, taking care of various domestic details in the process. We began our southward journey around 2:15pm, and arrived at the Doubletree in downtown Springfield about four hours later (various highway construction projects delayed us substantially. We got settled in our room, then walked over to one of our old haunts, Obed & Isaac's, for some dinner.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Wednesday (Oxford Martyrs)

  • The usual: Intercessions, Morning Prayer, tea, breakfast, internet reading, crossword.
  • Dealt with some issues pertaining to the service bulletin for the synod Mass.
  • Did the necessary surgery on a "vintage" homily for Proper 25 such that it can be prepared for repurposing at St Mark's, West Frankfort on the 27th of this month.
  • Did the same sort of work on a text for All Saints, in preparation for visiting All Saints, Morton on November 3.
  • Stepped out to grab a gyros lunch for Brenda and me and eat it with her at home.
  • Took Brenda to her acupuncture appointment.
  • Allowed by homiletical message statement for Proper 27 (November 10 in Bloomington) to explain to me how it wanted to be developed into a sermon outline. I tried to be cooperative.
  • Consulted commentaries and did the exegetical work on the readings for Christ the King, when I will be visiting St Andrew's, Carbondale.
  • Took a first pass at the readings for Advent II (St Barnabas', Havana). Prayed over them. Made some notes.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tuesday (St Teresa of Àvila)

  • Usual early morning stuff. Dealt with a couple of pastoral-administrative matters via a email exchanges.
  • Until mid-afternoon, with an interlude to take Brenda to a cardiology appointment, my attention was devoted to the finish work on three oral presentations in my near future: a sermon at the synod Eucharist on Friday, a "state-of-the-diocese" address to synod on Saturday, and a sermon at St Paul's, Carlinville on Sunday.
  • Took a substantial brisk walk.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.
  • After dinner: Burned through a half dozen or so disparate ministry-related items, either through reading something or writing something, or both.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Lord's Day (XVIII Pentecost)

Out the door and on the road with Brenda right at 0700 ahead of a nice and relatively easy drive down I-57 to Rantoul. We arrived at St Christopher's about 0905, and joined their regular 0930 liturgy. There was an excellent turnout for that small congregation, with attendance of 26, a good percentage of whom were youngsters, including a couple of babies. It's always great to see signs of new life in a community like this one. After a good time of post-liturgical visiting, we were bank on the road northbound at 1130, and home around 3:00, with a lunch stop in Kankakee.

Sermon for Proper 23

St Christopher’s, Rantoul--Luke 17:11–19

We’re in the section of Luke’s gospel now, from sometime this past summer up until the beginning of Advent, that is sometimes referred to as the “travelogue.” Today’s reading is from Chapter 17, but back in Chapter 9 is the incident at Caesarea Philippi—which is way in the extreme north of the territory that Jesus walked around in with his followers—an incident that you’re probably familiar with, when Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” and Simon Peter finally gives the correct answer: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Shortly after that, the text tells us that Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem,” which is way in the south, and where he would, of course, suffer and die. So Jesus and his disciples are on a long and slow journey toward Jerusalem. Today his route takes him through an unnamed village. Just like any other traveler, Jesus and company are subject to the random events that travelers are subject to; you never know in advance the details of what’s going to happen on any given day of travel. As I drive through the diocese, I have no certain knowledge concerning the details of traffic or weather or construction or reckless drivers or … whatever.

In Jesus’ case, one of these random events is an encounter with ten lepers, who hailed him from a distance. Now leprosy is surely the single disease most frequently mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments. In any given instance, it may or may not be what we now know as Hansen’s Disease, which is where flesh gets gradually eaten away, causing some awful disfigurements. It may, sometimes, be something more like eczema or a really bad skin rash; we just don’t know. What we do know is that, under Jewish law, anyone who had what might look like leprosy was commanded to self-exile, to stay away from normal society, and hang out only with other lepers. So these ten lepers were a sort of roving band of outcasts, on a rather more aimless journey than Jesus, and their random event on a day of travel was to run into Jesus, which they probably thought was a huge stroke of good luck because, by that time, Jesus had a widespread reputation as a healer

If we pause to reflect, we can recognize brief, or sometimes not so brief, encounters with God—with the Father, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit—in the midst of the randomness of our lives: from the beauty of a sunset to a hoped-for outcome from surgery to circumstances just lining up the right way—you know, those moments when we say, “It’s got to be a God thing”—particularly when there’s a clear answer to prayer. We approach God in prayer just as the ten lepers called out to Jesus, because we know he is able to deliver us from our afflictions, and to give us the strength to endure them with grace.

Jesus heals the lepers, as is his custom whenever anybody asks for healing, but, in this case, he does so rather indirectly. Instead of some dramatic gesture, like spitting on the ground or crying out with a loud voice, he simply assumes the outcome of his action without saying anything about it. He tells the lepers: Go and show yourself to the priest—that is, the legally authorized judge of whether they are, in fact, lepers. In the course of obeying Jesus, the lepers notice that they are healed.

There are two lessons to be drawn here, I think—one lesser and one greater. The lesser lesson is that bit about “in the course of obeying Jesus”: the lepers didn’t just stand there and get healed; they had to start moving, in obedience, before they experienced healing. Just as the proverbial “watched pot never boils,” it behooves us to attend to whether we are so fixated on our faithful petitions to God that we fail to see his presence and activity already among us and within us, and forget to act in his name. We can get so caught up in our awareness of our own needs that we miss seeing how God is already beginning to act to meet those needs.

The greater lesson is visible to us in the behavior of the one leper who, when he notices that his skin has cleared up, turns around and comes back to Jesus, falling at his feet in gratitude. I cannot help but imagine a subtle grin on Jesus’ face as he asks, in mock sarcasm, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Indeed, the one grateful leper was a Samaritan, an ethnic group that were considered “half-breeds” by the Jews, and were very much looked down-upon. Yet, this half-breed, this foreigner, was the one whose eyes were open to what he had experienced. He had been healed from leprosy, his defining condition, and his new defining condition was the result of his interaction with Jesus, the Anointed One of God.

When you and I were baptized, we had an encounter with that same Jesus, the Anointed One of God. We were brought to him as lepers, under the power of sin and death, marked as not worthy of existing in the community of the Kingdom of God. Then, we were given a new defining condition, that of being “in Christ,” sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever. The appropriate response, just as it was for the leper, is thanksgiving. For this reason, we come together on the first day of every week, the Lord’s Day, the day of resurrection, to offer eucharist, to offer thanks, to offer ourselves, our souls and bodies, as a living sacrifice to the God who has healed and forgiven and redeemed us. It is not for no reason that the part of the Mass to which we will come in a few minutes is called the Great Thanksgiving.

One of the commentaries that I consulted in preparing this homily said that “Gratitude may be the purest measure of one’s character and spiritual condition. The absence of the ability to be grateful reveals self-centeredness or the attitude that ‘I deserve more than I ever get, so I do not need to be grateful.’” Indeed, gratitude is the fundamental disposition of a disciple. Gratitude begins when we truly see that God is present and active with us and in the world, just as the healed Samaritan did in the course of obeying Jesus and going to show himself to the priest. And gratitude is expressed as we begin to recognize how much God’s mercy has touched our lives, when we cultivate the habit of seeing and acting on the needs of those whose lives intersect with ours. We follow the example of the grateful Samaritan leper as we get out of ourselves and our own needs and open our eyes to Jesus. Amen.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday (St Philip the Deacon)

  • Usual early AM weekday routine, save that I elected to move my walk (which slipped through the cracks yesterday) to the front of the day, thus leveraging the mild temperatures, which will have dropped by some twenty degrees by late afternoon. All was brilliant until the last ten minutes of the walk, when the heavens opened and I arrived home drenched. Got cleaned up, then accompanied Brenda on her cat care chore.
  • Processed some late-arriving emails. Reviewed the PowerPoint slides the Communicator has prepared for my synod address next week.
  • Attended to another communications-related item.
  • Reached out to the priest-in-charge of one of the Eucharistic Communities I'm scheduled to visit soon just to confirm I'm still expected.
  • Had a fulsome conversation Bishop John Roth, my ELCA opposite number. I called him about a relatively small matter, but the conversation took off in several directions, which was quite enjoyable.
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Wrestled with my notes on the readings for Proper 27 and wrung from them a homiletical message statement for my visitation to St Matthew's, Bloomington on November 10.
  • Attended to some travel details pertaining to my trip to Virginia Theology Seminary week after next for the meeting of the Living Church Foundation.
  • Took the barest sketch of a homily for the synod Eucharist next week all the way to a full rough draft.
  • Did an Ignatian meditation on the daily office gospel reading.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday (St Paulinus of York)

  • Customary weekday routine.
  • First deep dive into liturgy planning for the clergy conference.
  • Processed a multi-faceted email from the Senior Warden of one of our communities in transition, which resulted in my taking a "supply" gig in the parish (the fifth I will have done in the last four months of the calendar year), which occasioned some remedial homiletical task planning.
  • Dashed off a note of condolence to one of our clergy who has suffered a death in the family.
  • Pushed an email message out to the diocesan clergy giving some details about the clergy conference. (They had received the registration materials from the Administrator yesterday.)
  • Picked up lunch from the Chinese place around the corner.
  • Worked on my sermon for Proper 24 (November 20 at St Paul's, Carlinville), bringing it from "developed outline" to "rough draft."
  • Continued an email dialogue with the presenter for next month's clergy conference.
  • Took care of some loose ends regarding lodging for Brenda and me either side of synod.
  • More email dialogue with a potential candidate for one of our vacant cures.
  • Spent the last hour before Evening Prayer on the never-ending project of basement organization. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Wednesday (Robert Grosseteste)

  • Customary weekday AM routine (augmented for a few days by the chore of going up to our daughter's apartment on the third floor and feeding her cat--formerly Brenda's--while she's vacationing in New York).
  • Did the finish work on this Sunday's homily (edit, refine, print, place output in car, schedule for posting on both blog iterations).
  • Continued email correspondence with a priest from outside the diocese who is interested in one of our openings.
  • Followed up on a handful of relatively small administrative tasks.
  • Turned my attention to (another relatively small) matter pertaining to next week's annual synod of the diocese.
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Drafted a publicity blurb for next month's annual clergy conference. Vetted it via email with the presenter. Traded emails with the Administrator about the registration process.
  • Took another look at the synod Mass booklet and sent it off to the host parish for printing.
  • Burned through another handful of small administrative items--some requiring an outgoing email, some not.
  • Took a robust walk with Brenda on a quintessential October afternoon in the midwest--bright sunshine, cool enough to be clearly no longer summer, yet not at all unpleasantly cold. Our route took us through a lovely nearby nature preserve area.
  • Made a first drive-by of the propers for the Last Sunday after Pentecost, in preparation for preaching at St Andrew's, Carbondale on November 24.
  • Evening Prayer in our domestic chapel.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019


  • Did my early morning stuff on the back patio after lighting the grill and otherwise preparing to smoke a brisket.
  • Took a phone call from a reporter seeking a comment on Bishop Beckwith's death.
  • Worked through a short stack of relatively small administrative items. 
  • Made a pastoral care phone call.
  • Circled back to check in with a priest from outside the diocese who has expressed an interest in working in Springfield.
  • Throughout all of this, checked periodically on the brisket.
  • Had an early-ish lunch of leftovers.
  • Out the door at 1230 to take Brenda to her acupuncture appointment. Back a little before 2:00.
  • Put together a draft of the liturgy booklet for the synod Eucharist. It all went smoothly (I had a document from a prior year to use as a template), but it was nonetheless time-consuming because it involved going online to purchase graphics file of service music from Church Publishing.
  • "Knocked off," as it were, around 3:30, in partial deference to catching up on the effects of being "in the job" for fourteen straight days. Took care of a handful of relatively minor domestic chores ... and continued to pay attention to the brisket.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.
  • I guess I don't have to mention what we had for dinner! It turned out very well.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Lord's Day (XVII Pentecost)

Out the door of the Hilton Garden O'Fallon at 7:50 en route to a 0900 arrival 57 miles away at St Thomas', Salem. Presided and preached at their regular 0930 liturgy, not as a visitation, but as "supply priest" in the absence of Fr Baumann this weekend. Then, after a cameo appearance at coffee hour, it was on to St John's, Centralia, which Fr Baumann also takes care of, for their 1130 service. St John's worships jointly with the congregation of Redeemer Lutheran these days, under Fr Baumann's leadership, and today it was the ELCA liturgy and the Episcopal hymnal on the rota, so I tried to gamely adapt from my familiar routine with the BCP, and it seemed to go well. By around 1:45 I was back on the road northward, arriving home at 6:15. 

Sermon for Proper 21

St Thomas' Salem & St John's Centralia--Luke 17:5-10
A good many years ago, I, along with many thousands of others, was a dedicated listener to a talk show host who was quite popular at the time and more than a little bit controversial. I found out recently she’s still on the air, on satellite radio. I’m talking about Dr Laura Schlesinger, who is a dispenser of moral advice. I don’t always agree with her analysis of the issues and problems that her callers present to her, but I like her general philosophy, her underlying attitude. Dr Laura is very much about doing the right thing, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it’s embarrassing, even when it hurts. And, judging from the popularity of her program and books, there are apparently a good many people who are concerned about how they conduct themselves, concerned about “doing the right thing” in their interpersonal and public relationships.

There are, of course, of variety a reasons for wanting to “do the right thing”, some more or less worthy than others, some more or less appropriate than others. These range from wanting to move with the right crowd socially, to climbing the next rung in the corporate ladder, to looking for a source of self-esteem. One motivation that many have for being concerned with “doing the right thing” is the desire—although they might not always phrase it this way—the desire to please God. Now, even the motivation to please God itself has a whole range of sub-motivations. Some, in the movies at any rate, try to placate an angry deity by throwing a virgin into a volcano. Others try to manipulate an uncooperative God by performing just the right ritual or ceremony.
In our own cultural and religious tradition, a popular motivation for pleasing God has been the attempt to build up a sufficient number of “points”, enough “good deeds,” to secure admission to Heaven after passing from this mortal life.

Any way you look at it, though, the matter of pleasing God, the matter of “doing the right thing” with respect to our creator, is one of the fundamental religious questions that everyone has to some time come to terms with, in one way or another. And this is a question that even someone like Dr Laura cannot always help us with. As we search for the answer to this question, our hope is that by finding the key to pleasing God, God will then bless us, direct his favor onto our lives.

Sometimes this hoped-for blessing is quite temporal and material. When I lived in southern California in the ‘70s, there was a popular TV preacher who went by “Reverend Ike.” Reverend Ike taught that if you get your act together with respect to God, you'll be wearing mink and driving a Cadillac. (Those were the status symbols then; today it would be more like driving a Mercedes and owning a condo on Maui.) And if you were not financially prosperous, that was a sign that you weren't trying to please God in the right way, and if you wanted to get back on track, the place to start was by sending Reverend Ike a substantial check!

At other times, the blessing that we desire is spiritual and eternal. We want the assurance that, on the other side of the grave, we will not suffer the fate of the rich man in last Sunday's gospel parable, but will join Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham.

Doing the right thing.  Pleasing God.

Having send three children through college, and being married to someone who worked in university admissions office, I’m aware that the first early-decision acceptance letters for those who will start college in the fall of 2020 will begin arriving about three months from now. A few of the brightest and best and luckiest of this year's crop of high school seniors will be accepted everywhere they apply, and will even have colleges offering to pay them to attend.  It will be tempting for these fortunate young people with multiple acceptances and multiple scholarships to become just a little bit cocky. It will be tempting for them to adopt an attitude like, “Hey! Look at all I've done. They owe it to me.”

They owe it to me.  This is a crucial shift, a crucial move, from humility ... to arrogance.

It is equally possible, and equally tempting, for someone who is accomplished at “doing the right thing,” to make the same move with respect to God. “Hey, God, look at all I've done. You owe me your blessing. You owe me a Mercedes and a condo on Maui, you owe me admission to Heaven.” We take our cue from our own litigious society, where justice—what one person owes another—where justice is defined by the law, and interpreted and enforced by the court.

But, believe me, making such a move, trying to tell God what he owes us, is a bad idea!  We can't sue God, we can't hold God accountable to the civil code. We cannot place God in our debt by “doing the right thing.” The parable from Luke's gospel that we read today makes this precise point. Jesus describes a scenario that was presumably common among those who were listening to him on this occasion: Suppose you had an employee whose normal job it is to both work around the property—out in the fields tilling crops or taking care of animals—and also to do domestic chores such as cooking and serving meals. You would expect that person to do his job, and to neither complain nor expect a bonus or a special commendation just because he comes in from the field and serves your dinner before he gets his own.

Now, to our own modern egalitarian ears, that all sounds rather harsh. We would find it ethically difficult to treat an employee in such a way. We'd be more likely to help cook the meal and then invite him to sit down and eat with us. But it would be a mistake to allow such a cultural difference to keep us from seeing the point Jesus is trying to make. At the very end of the parable, Jesus does a flip-flop. He suddenly turns the tables, and instead of inviting us to identify with the employer who is waited on by his faithful and tired servant, Jesus calls us to identify with the servant!  “So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’“

We are unworthy servants. God does not owe us any special praise or commendation or thanks for our efforts to be kind or fair or ethical or law-abiding or generous or even for being religious—for coming to the Eucharist every Sunday, for giving our money to support the church, for saying our prayers. None of this places God in our debt.  “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.”

Think of the saintliest, holiest, most upright person you know or know about. Now realize this: God is no more indebted to that person than he is to Attila the Hun or Osama bin Laden!  That's the truth—the tough-to-take truth.

But there's also good news in all this, marvelously good news. That which God is under no obligation to give us on account of justice, because he owes it to us, God wants to freely give us out of mercy, because he loves us. What we cannot earn ... is ours as a gift! In the words of St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, “You are saved by grace, through faith, not by works, to keep anyone from boasting.”  To keep anyone from saying, “I got here by doing the right thing.”

Those of us who are parents know that if we were able to give our children whatever we wanted, it would be much much more than either the law or common standards of decency would require of us. In most cases, it would also be more than our children would even ask. Our God wants to treat us at least that well. This knowledge of God's grace, unearned, unowed, but freely given, enables us to do the right thing, not as a way of earning God's favor or placing him in our debt, but as a response of gratitude and devotion. The knowledge of God's free grace enables us to do our duty—to worship, to pray, to give of our time and talent and treasure—but not because it's our duty. Jesus invites us to get in touch with the Father's love for us, to accept the grace of God shed so generously on our lives, and then, motivated by gratitude, to do the right thing. Amen.

Saturday, October 5, 2019


  • Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Breakfast at Charlie Parker's.
  • Participated in the development of a formal email announcement to the diocese of Bishop Beckwith's death.
  • Did the finish work on my homily for tomorrow, when I will be "supplying" at St Thomas', Salem and St John's, Centralia.
  • Responded to a short stack of emails that had been lingering for a couple of days.
  • Wrote a promised discretionary fund check to be hand-delivered in the afternoon.
  • Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten in the office.
  • Ran a personal errand--out to Scheel's for a pair of hiking boots that can stand up to winter conditions.
  • Moved my sermon prep for Proper 24 (October 20 in Carlinville) from "message statement" to "developed outline."
  • Scanned, categorized, and tagged the accumulated hard copy items on my desk.
  • Packed up my office encampment, loaded the YFNBmobile, and headed down to O'Fallon for a 4pm meeting with the Mission Leadership Team of St Michael's, as they come to grips with the concrete realities of a pastoral hiatus.
  • Checked in at the Hilton Garden, walked a lap around their lagoon, caught dinner at a pizza place across the street, walked two more lagoon laps.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Friday (St Francis)

  • Up at 0500, out of the garage at 0534. In the office at 0900.
  • Conferred with the Archdeacon briefly on a couple of things, organized my tasks, then conferred with the Archdeacon again on some additional matters, these more weighty than the previous ones.
  • Took my developed outline of a sermon for Proper 23 (October 13 at St Christopher's, Rantoul) and brought it to the rough draft text stage.
  • Lunch from Chick-Fil-A, eaten in the mall parking lot, listening to the radio.
  • We have accumulated a substantial sum of money to assist with clergy healthcare insurance in the Diocese of Tabora, and it had been my intent to actually wire the funds. With the Archdeacon's help, I found the record of the last such transaction, which contained all the necessary information, and hoofed it down to Illinois National Bank. To my surprise, they've changed their policy, and will no longer work off of such forms. They require fresh information. Now, if I had just copied down the information in my own handwriting and brought *that,* it would have been acceptable. Frustrating. So I emailed Bishop Elias and let him know the lay of the land.
  • Returned a voicemail from a lay person in the southern part of the diocese with a technical question about a baptism.
  • Had a substantive telephone conversation with one of the clergy of the diocese over a pastoral issue that I only became aware of a couple of days ago. Followed it up with a text and an email to a couple of other interested parties.
  • Learned via Facebook message of the death this afternoon of Bishop Peter Beckwith, my immediate predecessor. It was a surprise, as we were not aware of the illness that took his life.
  • Attended to some straggling communication issues.
  • In the cathedral, did a lectio divina on today's Old Testament reading from the daily office lectionary. Followed up with Evening Prayer.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Thursday (Therese of Lisieaux)

  • Intercessions, Morning Prayer, tea, breakfast, crossword, task planing.
  • Hoofed it the 1.2 miles to my chiropractic appointment, then back.
  • Spent the balance of the morning with commentaries on Luke's gospel, in preparation for preaching the readings for Proper 27 (November 10 at St Matthew's, Bloomington).
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Attended to a handful of smallish matters pertaining to synod, communication, and clergy deployment.
  • Did master sermon planning for the period between Advent I and Epiphany Last. This is a pretty major project that happens three times a year, and involves looking over previously-used material to see whether it can be repurposed (most of the time, these days, it can't), and plotting tasks accordingly. It also involved roughing out my 2020 visitation calendar, though it's not ready to share yet.
  • Conceived and hatched a homily for the synod Mass.
  • Took a brisk walk on a blustery day.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Wednesday (Holy Guardian Angels)

After eight consecutive days without a day off, the last five of them having been packed with meetings, public worship, and travel, I made a prudential decision and canceled a planned day trip to Nashotah House for a meeting of the corporation members, hoping to make some headway into an extraordinarily long to-do list (78 actions items in play at the morning's count), as well as address some quotidian domestic issues, like grocery shopping and laundry. Actual personal down time will have to wait.
  • Allowed myself to "sleep in" by about 30 minutes. Intercessions, Morning Prayer, tea, breakfast, crossword, task organizing (which took a while, because it involved clearing out my email inbox, which was stuffed).
  • Walked Shane Spellmeyer's ordination certificate down to the post office and sent it "express priority" to Marquette, MI where it will hopefully arrive in time for his scheduled ordination (I had to outsource the deed itself to the Bishop of Northern Michigan) on Saturday.
  • Responded to a handful of late-arriving emails. 
  • Lunched on leftovers.
  • Took a phone call from a lay communicant in one of our parishes regarding an emerging, and serious, pastoral issue.
  • Attended to another request for some detailed information from my tax advisor.
  • Did some necessary grocery shopping.
  • Reviewed a draft service bulletin for October 20 in Carlinville and made some suggested tweaks.
  • Took a phone call from another member of the Eucharistic Community referenced above about the same pastoral issue.
  • Carefully drafted a message to the diocese about some developments at the Chapel of St John the Divine in Champaign and posted it to the website.
  • Worked with the Communicator to put the finishing touches on that major pastoral teaching document on sexuality and marriage that I've mentioned several times in this diary. It's now live on the website.
  • Evening Prayer in our little chapel.
  • Worked most of the evening responding to emails that accumulated during the time I was jammed with meetings and travel.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tuesday (St Remigius)

Early breakfast at the Hilton Garden, Lewisville, TX with the Bishop of Dallas and his Canon to the Ordinary. Lively conversation among good friends. Returned to my room, said my prayers, packed, and headed to DFW, which was not a long drive. Returned my rental car (from Sixt, which is a British company new on the scene here, and with which I have now had two quite positive experiences), checked my bag, cleared security, and had time for lunch at a tapas place before having to be ready to board at noon for a 12:30 departure. Everything went smoothly, and was back home at 4:00. Cleared a bunch of unprocessed emails from my inbox (creating about fifteen new tasks as a result) and got all my work back where I can see it. Read Evening Prayer. Took Brenda out for an al fresco dinner, on what is probably the last night when such will be possible this year.