Showing posts from June, 2020


The big rock today was a nearly two-hour meeting with the Standing Committee and our mediator, which generated odds and ends of other communications. The good news is that we have reached a substantive agreement in principle, with only the proverbial fine print remaining to be settled. An announcement might realistically be expected by the middle of next week. It will be good to have this energy-sapping experience in the rear view mirror. Apart from this sad enterprise, it was a typical Tuesday, which means I got caught up on administrative and pastoral tasks generated over the weekend. 

The Lord's Day (IV Pentecost)

Showed up at St Michael's, O'Fallon well ahead of their regular 0930 Sunday liturgy--except it hasn't been so regular lately: this was the first time they have offered in-person worship since the lockdown has eased. There were 20 in attendance, all having indicated their presence in advance. The leadership did an excellent job taping off access to pews so as to ensure appropriate physical distancing. It was a joy to be with them for the occasion, and I could tell they were quite happy to be moving back in the direction toward normal. Still a long way to go, though.

Sermon for Proper 8

St Michael’s, O’Fallon -- Matthew 10:40–42   Jesus is very popular these days in church circles. That may seem like a ridiculous thing to say, but it hasn’t always been the case in recent decades. Oh, it’s generally been OK to talk about God. But, among Episcopalians at any rate, to mention the name of Jesus, except when reading from or preaching on a passage from the gospels, was, for a good long while, a little ... awkward. The dominant emphasis has been on social concerns: issues of peace and justice—you know, almost as if it were one word, peaceandjustice. Most Episcopal Church sermons were shot through, at least implicitly, with the word “should.” We should be getting out there and making the world a better place, a more peaceful place, a more just place. Jesus just didn’t get mentioned very much. Then, maybe twenty years ago or so, there were those WWJD bracelets: “What would Jesus do?” When Michael Curry became the Presiding Bishop five years ago, even Episcopalians joined the

Saturday (Our Lady of Perpetual Help)

Packed for an overnight and his the road southbound at 0930. While en route , had a substantive phone conversation with the senior warden of a Eucharistic Community that will soon be in pastoral transition. Arrived in Springfield right on time for my 1pm red cell donation appointment at the blood bank. That took about an hour. Grabbed a burger at Freddy's, then headed to the office. Did all the finish work on my homily for tomorrow. Attended by email to a handful of smaller tasks that have been piling up for a few days. Prayed the evening office in the cathedral. Got back in the YFNBmobile, and, with a stop for a chicken sandwich in Litchfield, arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn in O'Fallon around 7:45. Dismayed to see large numbers of children and adults (part of a traveling sports league, evidently) milling about enthusiastically, neither wearing masks nor keeping a physical distance. I would hate to see the lovely recent infection curve in Illinois head back in the wrong direc


The bigs stuff: Attended the regular summer meeting of the Department of Finance, the task of which is to draft a proposed operating budget for the coming calendar year. We didn't quite meet that goal, for various reasons, so we're going to get together again in early August. Developed a rough draft of a homily for Proper 9 (July 5 at St John's, Decatur). Smaller stuff: Witnessed the signing of the Declaration of Conformity to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church on the part of a priest who was last canonically resident in Springfield before serving one of the African provinces. He is now called to serve in the Diocese of Central Florida. Made some decisions about committee assignments at the next diocesan synod. Responded to sundry emails and text messages.


Devotions, intercessions, and Morning Prayer in the cathedral around 0715. Finished breaking camp in my office and headed to the Hardee's drive-through for a pork-and-gravy biscuit. (Yes, that's a thing.) Stopped for gas right before getting on I-55 and took the opportunity to dial in to the 0845 board meeting of the Society of King Charles the Martyr. That kept me occupied for about an hour and got me most of the way to Bloomington. Then it was back to an action-adventure audio book, which always does a brilliant job making the miles fly by. Home right at noon, when it was then time to join (via Zoom) a meeting of the House of Bishops. This lasted right around an hour. Needed some time to decompress. Hung out a bit with family in the back yard. Then took a long walk through the neighborhood with Brenda on a gorgeous afternoon. I had a task list looking at me, but I never actually got to it. There was just a thick pile of little things--too little to late-arriving to have even

Nativity of St John the Baptist

Got my day organized and otherwise situated. Then, packed for one night away and headed out the door at 10am. While en route , I connected to an extended meeting of the Province V bishops (via audio only, of course). With a gas stop and a lunch stop, I arrived on the west side of Springfield about four hours later, and was overjoyed to be able to get a haircut for the first time since late February! Then back to the office to change clothes and sign/seal an ordinations certificate. Took a phone call from a Senior Warden. At 3:45 I headed south to Carlinville, where, at a 5pm liturgy with a very small guest list and everyone in masks, I ordained Professor Carter Aikin to the transitional diaconate. Despite the restrictions (not being able to sing being the most onerous), it was an utterly joyful occasion. After a bit of outdoor and distanced visiting, it was back to Springfield for me, with dinner from the drive-through at Chick-Fil-A. Camped out at the residence I maintain here (aka my

Sermon for Carter Aikin Ordination

Nativity of St John the Baptist, 2020                                                              Psalm 85:7-13, Isaiah 40:1-11   This is, by any standard, a memorable occasion. It would be even under “normal” circumstances. I still retain and cherish some very powerful memories of my own ordination to the transitional diaconate, now slightly more than 31 years ago. But to have an ordination in this time of the virus—with a very elite guest list, masks, and no singing—escalates the memorability of the event to an entirely new level. The liturgy of the word a few minutes ago put us in touch with this snippet from the 85 th Psalm: “I will listen to what the Lord God is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people, and to those who turn their hearts to him.” We’re doing what we’re doing here tonight as a result of a listening process: Carter has for years been listening to the soft voice of the Holy Spirit, the voice of Jesus himself saying, “Carter, follow me. Follow me ove


Big rocks: Prepped for and met with the Standing Committee in another mediation session.  Met with my legal advisor to take stock and plan future strategy. (May I just say that I hate it that I have to be dealing with such things?) Refined, edited, and printed my homily for tomorrow's ordination of Carter Aikin to the transitional diaconate. Took a first pass at the readings for Proper 13, when I hope to be preaching somewhere, but the precise details remain unclear. Smaller stuff:  Made a condolence phone call to a diocesan lay leader who's had a a death in the family. Spoke by phone with Canon Evans on a range of issues. This is not really a small thing, but it didn't overcrowd my plate: St Paul's in Alton had a serious fire, so I spoke with the rector a couple of times and otherwise kept tabs.

The Lord's Day (III Pentecost)

The Eucharistic Community of my scheduled visitation is not quite ready to resume in-person worship, so I stayed home and kept the feast with Brenda in our domestic oratory. Most of the afternoon was focused on a pastoral theological reflection on responding to racism, which now appears on the diocesan website.


Two major units of productivity: In the morning, taking my developed homiletical outline for Proper 8 (next Sunday, hopefully at St Michael's O'Fallon) and building it out into a rough draft text. In the afternoon, I wrote my "column" for the next issue of the Springfield Current, a theological reflection on being the Church in the context of an evolving pandemic. Betwixt and amongst the large items was the usual array of smaller ones--emails, phone calls, and such.


The major accomplishment was refining, editing, recording, and uploading my homily for this Sunday. The scheduled visitation was to St John the Baptist, Mt Carmel, but they're not quite ready for in-person worship, so I'll be staying home. The lesser, but still significant, accomplishment was the drafting of a document in preparation for my next mediation session with the Standing Committee, and then sending it out to some advisors for vetting. There will not doubt be revisions before the meeting on Tuesday. In the late afternoon, I spent some time in attempted contemplative prayer, but it was pretty difficult to "still my soul and make it quiet" (per Psalm 131), given everything that's going on. Elsewise, there were the usual email conversations and phone calls, covering various and sundry things.

Thursday (Martyrs of Uganda)

Since it is now a matter of media attention, I can be less cryptic than I have tried to be before now about the fact that the diocesan Standing Committee and I are in a bit of a contretemps . It concerns the timing of my departure from office. They would like it to be sooner than I have planned. At present, we are in a process of facilitated mediation. For that reason, I think it best that I not go into any more detail than this. There will undoubtedly be an occasion for doing so--relatively soon, I should think. At any rate, much of my day was consumed by emails and phone calls pertaining to this unfortunate turn of events. Please hold the members of the Standing Committee and me in your prayers as we seek a way past this "stuck" moment. In other news, I paid some substantial attention to details surrounding next week's ordination of Carter Aikin to the transitional diaconate. I also built out my homiletical message statement for Proper 9 (July 5 at St John's, Decatu


The highlights: Attended and participated in the regular weekly meeting of the bishops of Province V. Met via Zoom with the Standing Committee for an hour plus ... preceded by very long walk for the purpose of getting my head straight about the very difficult and sensitive material we would be covering in the meeting. Did some cosmetic surgery on a "vintage" sermon text for Proper 7, which, after further refinement, I will record on video such that it's available on Saturday afternoon. My scheduled visitation is to St John the Baptist, Mt Carmel, but they're not ready to resume in-person worship just yet. Other stuff: The usual flurry of emails, texts, and phone calls over the whole gamut of concerns. I lead a varied life.

Tuesday (Joseph Butler)

The Big rocks: Hosted a one-hour Zoom meeting of the diocesan clericus. It was a free-ranging discussion. Developed the broad strokes of an ordination homily into a rough-draft text for next week when we make Carter Aikin a deacon. Smaller stuff: Substantive phone conversations with Canon Evans, two clergy, and a lay leader. Attended to some clergy deployment work. Took care of some Communion Partners business. Processed several emails and texts as they came in.

The Lord's Day (II Pentecost)

Up and out right at 0600 so as to arrive at St Barnabas' Havana half an hour ahead of their regular 1000 Eucharist. Only ... it hasn't been "regular" since early March. This was the first Sunday of that community coming back together, and it was my special joy to be with them for it. As a gesture in the direction of safety, we had "Mass on the grass," with appropriate spacing and masks. I was deeply moved by a gift from the parish of a drawing of their lovely church, with an eloquent expression of gratitude for my ministry inscribed on the back. It made my day. After some "distanced mingling" over pre-packaged refreshments, I was back in the YFNBmobile and home at 3:45.

Sermon for St Barnabas' Day

My visitation today is to St Barnabas' Church in Havana, IL, on the occasion of that congregation observing its patronal feast day. Instead of using a fully-prepared text, I gave an "expository" homily on the appointed second reading, from the Acts of the Apostles. Posted here is the working outline that I used. [19] Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen [recap what that was about] traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, [place on mental map] speaking the word to no one except Jews. i.e. their own people—the whole business of Jewish-Gentile relations was fraught, and evolving  [20] But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists [i.e. Greeks = non-Jews] also, preaching the Lord Jesus. [21] And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. What a matter-of-fact account of a phenomenal experience—a “great number” of people


Pulled the throttle way back today. Processed some emails, attended to some clergy deployment issues and to an ongoing pastoral-administrative concern. Otherwise, puttered domestically, took a long walk with Brenda, and did a Bowflex workout.

Friday (Enmegahboh)

The big stuff: Attended (via Facebook Live) the Title IV hearing in which the respondent was my friend and colleague, the Bishop of Albany. He is on trial for his refusal to either implement same-sex marriage in his diocese or make provision by assigning a DEPO bishop to parishes that want to implement same-sex marriage. He is making a courageous witness, potentially at great personal cost. After hearing just last evening that St Barnabas', Havana does want to see me this Sunday, I "whipped up" a homily for their patronal feast from start to finish. As you might imagine, this consumed a big chunk of time. Smaller stuff: Routine but substantive phone conversation with Canon Evans. Signed off on more "percentage of capacity" plans, dealt with vacancy issues and search processes.

St Barnabas

Big stuff: Attended (online) the annual meeting of the Nashotah House corporation. Developed my homiletical message statement for Proper 8 (June 28 either at or for St Michael's, O'Fallon) into an outline from which a draft text can be written. Made significant progress prepping appointments to diocesan offices that I will need to make at synod, as well as making. sure we have at least one person. to. run for each of the elected offices. Puzzled through logistics or receiving a priest into TEC from the ACNA. Smaller stuff: More regathering implementation conversations Three substantive phone conversations with clergy. Throughout the day--attended to the smoking of a brisket on the Big Green Egg that turned our extremely well. All three households in the building were well-fed at dinnertime.

Wednesday (St Ephrem of Edessa)

Big rocks: Regular weekly (Xoom) meeting of Province V bishops. 70-minute Zoom meeting with a colleague bishop over an emerging matter of mutual concern. Conceived and hatched the broad strokes of a homily for the ordination of Carter Aikin to the transitional diaconate later this month. Planned, set up for, recorded, edited, and uploaded a midweek greeting to the diocese. Less-big rocks: Dealt with ongoing. details of the regathering protocols (reviewing data about building capacity and green-lighting a 25% figure). Read and replied to an Ember Day letter. Reviewed and commented on some financial data supplied by the Treasurer. Substantive phone conversation. with Canon Evans.

Tuesday (St Columba)

Tuesdays have become sort of a "mop up" day, with lots of relatively small email-generated tasks to attend to. Today was true-to-form in that regard, with actions pertaining to ecumenical relations, ordination planning, Communion Partners, evolving regathering guidelines, vacant cures, and such like. Substantive phone conversation with a priest of the diocese. Finished the book review I've been working on. Squeezed a homiletical message statement for Proper 9 (July 5 at St John's, Decatur) from my exegetical notes. 

Trinity Sunday

After devotions, intercessions, and Morning Prayer in the cathedral, I broke camp in my office in time to be on the road at 0745, and after a stop at Hardee's for a chicken biscuit, headed east to Mattoon, arriving at Trinity Church on Trinity Sunday about 25 minutes ahead of their regular 10:00 celebration of the Eucharist. We were about seven over the ten-person rule but well under the 25% of capacity standard--masked and not singing (though the organ did play at times,  so there was a bit of the feel of "real church." After a few minutes with their Mission Leadership Team's regular meeting--members spread throughout the nave, masked--I headed. up I-57 and arrived home at 2:45, well in time to clean out my email inbox and enjoy a long walk with Brenda before "dining" on popcorn.

Sermon forn. Trinity Sunday

Trinity, Mattoon Those who preach sometimes have to strike a delicate balance between paying attention to the eternal gospel message that needs to be proclaimed in season and out of season, and at least not ignoring significant public events that are likely to be on the minds of their listeners. We are still, of course, in the midst of a global pandemic that has upended and devastated communities of faith and people of faith. And now, as if that weren’t enough, circumstances have shined a light on the societal cancer of systemic racism, demanding focused attention and fundamental change that will be very uncomfortable for a great many people. Today is Trinity Sunday, and I’m going to talk about Trinity Sunday, and I’m not going to make a pretense of cleverly linking Trinity Sunday with either the coronavirus or the aftermath of the homicide of George Floyd. I’m not under-estimating the massive importance of those things. I’m giving due regard to the mystery of the Holy and Undivided Tr


Spent the morning on domestic chores. Got packed toward a 1pm departure southward, but a couple of late-emerging issues among the family residents of our building delayed me until 3:30. Arrived at the diocesan center in Springfield around 6:45. Prayed the evening office in the cathedral. Drove out to the west side for a burger from Culver's, and got gas. Did the finish work on tomorrow's homily, scanned and discarded some accumulated hard-copy items, and processed a stack of Ember Day letters from postulants and candidates.

Thursday. (St Boniface)

90-minute Zoom meeting with six other bishops, spanning both sides of the Atlantic ...  final podiatry appointment in connection with my foot injury from three months ago ... drafted a book review that I owe The Living Church ... dealt with administrative detritus pertaining to the regathering protocols. ... conferred by phone with Canon Evans ... dealt with some communication and financial issues ... prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary.


The big chunk of the day was devoted to a deep dive into the portion of St Matthew's gospel appointed to be read at celebrations of the Eucharist on July 5, when I hope to be preaching at St John's, Decatur. The study of scripture is a key part of my ordination vows anyway, plus I very much enjoy it, so it's just a bonus that I can leverage such a think toward the ministry of preaching. This was a rich time. I also reached out by phone to four clergy, just as a pastoral check-in. Took care of  a significant amount of administrative business via email, with an assist from my desktop scanner. Tried to stay on top of the continuing conversation about systemic racism in our society. 

Wednesday (Martyrs of Uganda)

All the usual stuff: Two hours of Zoom meetings (Province V bishops, then a private meeting with one of them), scheduled and publicized another virtual gathering of diocesan clergy, made minor tweaks to the regathering protocols and notified the clergy, made some notes and laid out the broad strokes of a book review I've promised to produce, dealt in various ways with a steady stream of emails and phone calls, tried to keep abreast of the evolving situation in the wake of George Floyd's death and even dipped by toe in the conversation for the second time this week.  The first time brought me wrath from the left. Today brought me wrath from the right. There seems to be no shortage of wrath.

Tuesday (Martyrs of Lyons)

Tuesdays are turning into "mop up" days--that is, taking care of tasks generated by emails that have arrived during the previous few days. There was a pretty big docket of such items today, and I burned through most of them. Also sat with my notes on the readings for Proper 8, when, as things stand at the moment, I'll probably be preaching to a camera yet again. Phone conversations with Canon Evans and another priest of the diocese. Made a couple of tweaks to the regathering protocols I issued last week and sent them out to those in charge of Eucharistic Communities. Prayed both offices. Generally felt productive.