Showing posts from December, 2019

Fourth Sunday of Advent (O Rex Gentium)

It was a humanely-paced morning, as Brenda and I had driven as far as Effingham last night, only an hour away from our Centralia destination, and the regular Sunday liturgy at St John's doesn't begin until 1130. So we enjoyed breakfast a Cracker Barrel before heading south. I presided and preached for a lively congregation, with good attendance. St John's worships with the congregation of Redeemer Lutheran (ELCA), and Fr David Baumann is their common pastor. They either use the BCP rite with Lutheran hymns, or the Lutheran liturgy with Episcopal hymns. Today it was the former. Visited with folks over a potluck lunch, and met for a bit with Fr Baumann and his wife. We were on the road right at 2:00, and arrived home at 6:30.  With Christmas coming up, things everywhere kind of go into low gear. I'm going to take a blogging break for a few days. I'll continue to work on stuff, but will be spending a lot of time with family, as I hope you will be as well. Catch you i

Sermon for IV Advent

St John’s, Centralia -- Matthew 1:18-25, Isaiah 7:10-17, Romans 1:1-7 This is the fourth and final Sunday of the Advent season. Christmas is three days away. For 22 days, now, we’ve been keeping a lid on our own exuberance—but, as always, we’ve been doing a lousy job of it. Advent just doesn’t “work” very well, I’m beginning to think. It leaks. Christmas keeps banging on the door, saying, “Hey, let me in!” Advent bars the door, saying, “No, you’re early!” But Christmas is relentless, and Advent grows weaker and weaker with every extra candle we light on the wreath. This doesn’t mean Advent is a failure, or that we who try to keep it are failures. Letting Christmas leak in—even while protesting loudly—is part of Advent’s vocation. It’s like John the Baptist giving way to Jesus. Advent must decrease, and Christmas must increase. So now we’re on the verge of lifting the lid, of removing the bar from the door. We are about to joyfully welcome of the birth of our Savior and Lord. All du

Saturday (O Oriens)

Read and responded to a sheaf of Ember Day letters from our postulants and candidates, as well as a couple of other ministry-related odds and ends. Took a nice long walk with Brenda on an unseasonably mild afternoon. Did some work on the ongoing basement project. Packed for an overnight and headed south with Brenda at 4:45, arriving in Effingham at 9:00 (with a stop for dinner in Gilman). St John's, Centralia in the morning.

Friday (O Clavis David)

Worked on various administrative and pastoral chores, mostly generated by emails, did some routine personal organization maintenance, got a haircut, enjoyed a rich time of personal devotion via a compilation of Advent hymns I found on YouTube. Carry-in Chinese for dinner with our daughter and our son and his family. Watched The Two Popes on Netflix. I recommend it.

Thursday (O Radix Jesse)

After starting the daily with an early visit to my chiropractor, and keeping current with some emails, devoted the rest of the morning to the finish work (refine, edit, print (dealing with some technological issues) on my homily for this Sunday (St John's, Centralia). The afternoon got taken up by domestic concerns, as my "Work" to-do list is running temporarily light.

Wednesday (O Adonai)

I spent yesterday morning clearing a stack of items off my radar that involve anyone waiting for a response from me. Then, focused on domestic concerns in the afternoon, all the while dealing with the reality that whatever bug is floating around at the moment has laid me pretty low, so, whatever I'm doing, I'm doing slowly. Today, I devoted the entire morning, after the usual opening routine, to walking through commentaries on John's gospel in preparation for preaching at Christ Church, Springfield on January 19. It felt like a luxury, but I'm, for the time being, relatively "caught up" in my ministry-related work. Once again, worked around the apartment in the afternoon. Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Third Sunday of Advent

The morning unfolded at a humane tempo, as I didn't need to be anywhere until 10am, thirty minutes ahead of the principal liturgy at St Luke's, Springfield. For the first time in a string of years, it didn't snow on the day of my visitation to St Luke's, which was noteworthy. We duly kept the feast in word and sacrament, enjoyed some conviviality, then I was on my way northward, hoping to beat the predicted snow, which I was able to do.  As the present load of "work"-related tasks on my radar is at the ebb point of its cycle (something that tends to happen in December, it seems), and the list of domestic chores looms large, I'm going to take an extra personal day or two this week. So you can check in again at this location in cyberspace on Wednesday.

Sermon for III Advent

St Luke’s, Springfield -- Matthew 11:2–11 Last week, John the Baptist was on center stage in our readings, and was in the “prime” of his ministry. He was like a good barbecue sauce—bold and sassy. This week, we once again hear about John. Today, however, he’s in jail, a political prisoner of King Herod. But his incarceration is not the main reason John is glum. He’s glum because of an existential crisis, a moment of questioning the entire trajectory of his life. John the Baptist had paved the way, he thought, for a Messiah who would “kick behinds and take names,” and he thought Jesus was going to be that Messiah. But what is Jesus doing? Talking kindly to people, teaching them, and healing those who are sick. Not much laying the axe to the roots of trees there, not much separating grain from chaff, not much burning the chaff in the fire. Did he get it all wrong? Did he miss some key information? So, John sends a couple of his own disciples to go and find Jesus and get right to the po

Saturday (St John of the Cross)

Morning Prayer in my hotel room. Made do with the breakfast offerings downstairs.  Drove to the starting point of one of my old Springfield walking routes, one that exploits parts of abandoned interurban rail beds. It's a long-ish route, so I got my full 10K steps in, and then some.  Back to the room to clean up and change. Picked up and early lunch from the drive-thru at Taco Gringo, and brought it up to the office to eat in front of an episode of the TV show Britannia, which is about the Roman invasion of Britain in the first century. Tackled a substantial list of action items--from Mission Strategy Reports to Ember Day letters to anxious emails from wardens of parishes in transition to restoring a decorative fountain in my office to working order. That last item should give a clue that I got down to the dregs of my task list--things I've been putting off for months because there was always something more important. I actually finished everything on my list, not just for

St Lucy

Out of my garage right at 0530. At the office by 0845. An audio book certainly eats of the miles. Organized tasks. Conferred a bit with the Archdeacon. On behalf of one of our Eucharistic Communities that is concerned about the issue, did some research (including conversations with the Archdeacon and the Dean, in addition to the interwebs) on security protocols for churches. Sad to have to even expend any energy on something like this. Got to work refining and editing my homily for this Sunday (St Luke's, Springfield). Broke off from this at 10:40 to meet with my 11:00 appointment, who arrived early. It was with a deacon who is ordained and canonically resident in another diocese who has relocated in retirement to the Champaign-Urbana area. It was a get-to-know-you meeting prior to licensing and possible eventual transfer of canonical residence. Back to the sermon work. Finished it up. Out to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. Then downtown for a quick errand. Began to scan, categorize

Thursday (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

The morning was effectively consumed by producing my regular "column" for the next issue of the Springfield Current , which will appear shortly after Epiphany. The early afternoon was devoted to a healthcare errand, after which I focused on an Ad Clerum --a letter to the clergy, mostly on matters liturgical. Managed to turn a chuck roast into a bunch of beef barbacoa, thanks, once again, to the Instant Pot (cooked to perfection in one hour under pressure). Then it was time to pack for my weekend in the diocese.


Regular weekday AM routine. Substantive email exchange regarding an ongoing administrative concern. Took a call from a "head hunter" retained by a large parish in another diocese that is searching for a rector. (He wasn't head-hunting me, but looking for suggestions. Being the bishop of a backwater diocese with no large congregations, and not having any clergy at the moment who I'm eager to get rid of, I wasn't of much help.) Said my prayers and took an initial pass at the readings for II Epiphany (January 19 at Christ Church, Springfield). Lunched (on the late side) on leftovers. More emails regarding another administrative issue. Spent a chunk of time on the Lambeth Conference web portal going through "Stage Two" of the registration process. This is a complex and finely-oiled machine. Plowed through about a half a dozen tasks that involve responding to an email, none of which were particularly urgent, and most of which have been sitting in my l


Regular weekday AM routine, supplemented by the need to welcome a mold remediation team to our apartment for the day, and they'll be back tomorrow. I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that the main bathroom ceiling is rather thoroughly deconstructed at this point. Answered a brief query from the Communicator. Provided a letter attesting to the "in good standing" status of a priest who has retired and moved to another diocese. Corresponded with a deacon who has moved to the diocese in retirement and wishes to pursue being licensed. Continued correspondence with a priest (Anglican-ish? I'm not sure) for whom I can do nothing formal, but who wishes to stay in contact informally. Wrote a substantive email to a lay communicant of the diocese who has kindly taken me to task for a position I have enunciated. Did some surgery on a "vintage" sermon text for Advent IV in anticipation of reshaping it for use this year at St John's, Centralia.

Second Sunday of Advent

Away from the office around 0830 en route to Havana, with a drive-through stop at McD's for some breakfast. Arrived at St Barnabas' the targeted 30 minutes prior to their regular 10am liturgy. There were 51 in attendance, which, in light of the recent history of that community, was remarkable. Fr Mike Newago has been an inspiring and effective pastor and leader. We baptized two teens, confirmed two adults and received one, all in the context of duly celebrating the Second Sunday of Advent. After some good visiting time over lunch, I was on the road at 12:15 and home at 3:45.

Sermon for II Advent

St Barnabas’, Havana-- Matthew 3:1–12 We’re into the mid-section of Advent now, where John the Baptist is the lead actor, and the prophet Isaiah is the principal supporting actor. The gospel writers give us only a handful of details about John, but there are enough of them to paint a rather compelling picture. I mean … what a sight! He’s dressed in camel hide, lives in the desert, eats insects, and is on a constant rant about sin and the need for people to repent. And, still, he was wildly popular, mostly, I would guess, because he was so weird, and such a spectacle. But it’s not like people were ignoring the nugget of his message, which was, in a word, Repent! People were making a rather demanding journey down to where the Jordan River runs through the Judean desert—it wasn’t a casual stroll from where people lived—they were making their way to John, and listening to his message of repentance, and confessing their sins, and getting baptized. It was a really big deal, and we shouldn’

Saturday (St Ambrose)

Morning Prayer in my office, then off on foot to Charlie Parker's for breakfast, and back. Between the walking about 45 minutes each way and the eating, it was a little past eleven by the time I was cleaned up and ready take on the work day. Responded by email, as gently and pastorally as I could, to a lay communicant of the diocese who is upset with me for a stand I have taken. Responded to a request for a donation from my Discretionary Fund for a contribution to the project of establishing an Anglican center in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It would greet pilgrims as they complete the Camino and be able to offer the sort of Eucharistic hospitality that the Roman Catholic church is presently unable to extend to those who are not of their own fold. Caught up on a bit of Covenant blog reading. Out to Chick-Fil-A for some lunch, then a bit of shopping at Macy's, Scheel's, and HyVee. Plotted the plotting (yes, that sounds weird) of sermon preparation tasks for the next

Friday (St Nicholas)

On the road southbound at 0527. A John Grisham audio book made the time slide right by. Arrived at Green Mazda in Springfield around 0835. Left the YFNBmobile there for a service appointment and called an Uber to take me to the office. Processed emails that arrived overnight. Organized tasks. Began doing finish work on this Sunday's homily. Kept at 10am appointment with the wardens of one of our Eucharistic Communities, along with the Archdeacon, to discuss some financial concerns. Returned to, and completed, the sermon work I had begun. Since I was carless, I walked into downtown and had pizza for lunch. Began processing accumulated hard-copy items on my desk. Took care of a small administrative chore. Met was three members of the Standing Committee, at their request, to discuss a pastoral issue. Called another Uber to take me back to the Mazda dealer and retrieve my vehicle. Dealt with a couple of emails that have taken longer that I would have liked to rise to the top

Thursday (St Clement of Alexandria)

The day mostly got consumed by domestic concerns as I prepare to be in the diocese for the next three days--mostly making sure Brenda has enough to eat while I'm gone, which, today, meant embracing the learning curve of a new Instant Pot, and then cooking a pork shoulder that turned out splendidly. Apart from that, I exchanged emails with staff members over various concerns, had a substantive pastoral conversation with a lay communicant of the diocese, and corresponded in Spanish with a priest from Argentina who approached me with a request I cannot fulfill. Prepping now to be on the road at 0-dark-thirty.

Wednesday (St John of Damascus)

Again, the morning was devoted to various administrative and pastoral chores, both by email and telephone. A chunk of the afternoon involved taking Brenda to the doctor to follow up on her most recent low-sodium episode, each of which has affected her quite seriously. Upon returning, I drafted a homily text for Advent III (St Luke's, Springfield), and read a couple of late-arriving Mission Strategy Reports, then making some notes on each and sharing them with the members of the Department of Mission.


Spent most of the day clearing a very thick stack of administrative and pastoral items--mostly by email, a couple by phone. Most were matters of some substance; a few were relatively minor. One, at least, took the better part of an hour. A couple were dispatched in two minutes. It's gratifying to see fifteen items no longer in my pile.

Advent Sunday

Presided and preached--this time in the capacity of "supply"--at the regular 0930 celebration at St Michael's, O'Fallon. (This is a Eucharistic Community in pastoral transition.) Met briefly with the Mission Leadership Team. After some potluck nutritional fortification, there was an open congregational meeting, at which I presided, fielding questions from parishioners. Most of the anxiety in the room had to do with finances, and with the process for finding them a new vicar. (The two issues are connected.) I then met with a small group of parishioners about a specific pastoral situation. After couple of more informal confabs on my way out, I was back in my car at 1pm, and home a bit past 7:00 (there was an inexplicable delay of about an hour around Pontiac).

Sermon for Advent Sunday

St Michael’s, O’Fallon -- Matthew 24:37-44, Romans 13:8-14 Can you imagine what it must have been like for the lucky passengers who were able to book space on the Titanic for her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City in April of 1912? It was a virtual floating city. Even Babe Ruth wouldn’t have been able to hit a batting practice pitch from one end of the boat to the other. It was huge and it was beautiful and it provided a feeling of stability and security to the officers, the crew, and all the passengers—whether they were in a luxury stateroom or third-class steerage. So, on that fateful night four days later when the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic, the passengers and the junior crew members who were not in the immediate area of impact may not even have felt anything, and if they did notice that the ship’s engine had stopped running, they probably assumed it was just a matter of “technical difficulties” that would be overcome quickly and they wo