Showing posts from July, 2020

Friday (St Ignatius Loyola)

Spent most of the day preparing in one way or another for tomorrow's second seminar in pastoral liturgy, held on Zoom. I've taught this material several times before, but not to this many people in a many, many years. So there was some polishing to do. Reached out to a colleague bishop about a priest of his. Had a substantive phone conversation with Canon Evans. Did some routine calendar maintenance. As a spiritual practice, spent some quality time at the piano with the Hymnal 1940. Caught up on some reading.

Thursday (William Wilberforce)

Beyond just keeping up with the usual flotsam and jetsam (emails, texts, phone calls), the day's major accomplishment was a deep dive into commentaries on Matthew 22, in preparation for preaching at St Stephen's, Harrisburg (one must always add "hopefully" these days, given the volatility of Illinois with respect to the pandemic) on October 4 (head start on prep steps because four+ weeks of vacation loom). I also had a substantive nearly-hour-long Zoom interview with a potential candidate for one or more of our Eucharistic Communities in transition.

Wednesday (Ss Mary & Martha)

Another three-hour House of Bishops meeting, which, once again, required preparatory reading. In both plenary and "table group" conversation, we discussed the advisability of creating broad leeway for liturgical experimentation in response to the pandemic. Read: "virtual communion," which, IMHO, is a complete non-starter. The notion did not get a warm reception. A majority also approved a statement on the involvement of federal law enforcement personnel in local disturbances in Portland and other places. Had a substantive phone conversation with Canon Evans. Attended to straggling loose ends pertaining to my agreement with the Standing Committee (now released), clergy deployment issues, "elections & appointments" issues, and the still-in-formation racism study task force.


The big rock: A three-hour House of Bishops meeting via Zoom, which required some reading in advance of the meeting. Smaller rocks: Refurbished a "vintage" sermon text for use in Tazewell Parish on August 9. Nailed down the last open spot (that can be presently filled--still looking for a historiographer) in the Elections & Appointments universe. Attended to sundry texts and emails as they arrived throughout the day. Toward the end of the day, had a tele-medicine appointment with one of Brenda's providers.

The Lord's Day (VIII Pentecost)

A long day. Out of the Hilton Garden O'Fallon in time to preside and preach a combined 0930 liturgy at St George's, Belleville. Met (spread out all over the nave) afterward with the MLT and the head of the search team, as they are now at the "getting serious" stage of their transition. Hit the road northbound around 1145, headed for Trinity Chapel in Alton, where I met Mother Cindy Sever and retrieved my alb bag and its contents, which I had left there on Pentecost, and then they suffered smoke damage from the fire at St Paul's and had to be cleaned. The handoff happened at 1230 and continued in a northerly direction for a 3pm meeting with the MLT of St Matthew's, Bloomington (in their parish hall, with everyone literally having an entire round table to themselves, so we were well-distanced), followed by a 4:30 special Eucharist with one adult confirmation,. I presided, but Fr Halt preached, as it was the occasion of his leave-taking from a ten-and-a-half year

Sermon for Proper 12

St George’s, Belleville -- Romans 8:26-34, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-49a   As you may know, I was raised in a Christian tradition that placed a high value on memorizing scripture, and being able to cite book, chapter, and verse, and all of this beginning at a very young age. One of the verses that I committed to memory, and was of some encouragement and comfort to me as I grew up, is Romans 8:28, which includes the words, “All things work together for good…”. These words often helped me take a long view of things, when the short view wasn’t very appealing. Of course, I remember my mother pointing out to me that this phrase isn’t the whole verse; it’s not a blank-check promise that everything will automatically turn out OK for everybody. There’s some qualifying language: “For we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” (This is, of course, the language of the King James Version, which is how I memorized my scriptur

St James the Apostle

Household puttering. Then packing. Southbound at noon. Got to the office in Springfield at 4:00. Did the finish work on tomorrow's homily. Processed a few things that had accumulated on my desk. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Took a long walk around the perimeter of downtown. Cleaned up and headed south, stopping at Wendy's on Toronto Road. Got to thee Hilton Garden, O'Fallon at 9:00 ahead of a visitation tomorrow to St George's, Belleville.

Friday (Thomas á Kempis)

Once in a while, there's a day when you feel like you're pretty busy all day, but when it comes time to tally up what got done, it doesn't seem to amount to much. This was one of those days for me. Once again, I made a pretty fair amount of progress on "elections and appointments," requiring multiple email chains and phone conversations--to the point where I think it can finally get put to bed early next week. There were also other administrative and pastoral odds and ends. This doesn't happen often, but today I was uncharacteristically active on the Covenant authors listserv, as there were a couple of particularly rich conversation threads. I did a lectio divina on tomorrow's OT office reading in the afternoon, as a Friday prayer discipline.


The big lift today was producing a sermon rough draft for Proper 13 from my developed outline, hopefully for use at St Andrew's, Edwardsville (we're keeping an eye on increasing COVID numbers in the Metro East). Responded to a very penetrating question from someone in the ordination process. Traded emails with the communicator over the draft of a press release on my agreement with the Standing Committee. Caught up on some reading, which I neglect all too easily (surrendering to the tyranny of the urgent).

St Mary Magdalene

Highlights and lowlights: Attended the regular weekly meeting of the Province V bishops. Made yet more progress on "elections and appointments." With a series of email exchanges, got a little closer to the goal of forming a task-force to look into any patterns of racism in the life of the diocese. Responded at length to some questions from an individual in the ordination process. Arranged a meeting next week with a potential candidate for one or more of our communities in transition. Did some loose-end tying in the nearly-ready-for-publication agreement between the Standing Committee and me in resolution of our long-standing dispute. Attended to sundry administrative details. Took a long and aggressive walk.


The main things: Opened a homiletical file on Proper 22 (prayer, identifying the propers and pasting them into a document, making initial notes after a careful reading. Met for an hour with Fr John Thorpe, new interim Vicar of St Michael's, O'Fallon--just a routine introductory talk-through between bishop and pastor. Initial get-to-know-you meeting with someone at the very beginning of the ordination discernment process. Moved the ball a few more yards downfield in lining up "elections and appointments."

The Lord's Day (VII Pentecost)

It's always a joy to visit Redeemer, Cairo, but it was especially so today. Confirmed two adults, parents of four young children, who came to Redeemer via the parish's martial arts outreach ministry. Celebrated the Eucharist with the largest congregation yet since the resumption of public worship (37, with plenty or room to spread out in a large nave). Then we blessed the building that has recently been renovated specifically as an outreach center. Apart from the church itself, this may be the handsomest interior space in all of Cairo at the moment. What an uplift the whole thing was.

Sermon for Proper 11

Redeemer, Cairo -- Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 , Romans 8:1-25,, Psalm 86   I grew up in Illinois—nearly as far away from Cairo as you can get and still be in the same state—in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Then I moved away fifty years ago to go to college and graduate school in California. Then I lived in Oregon for ten years, Wisconsin for three, Louisiana for five, back a different part of California for thirteen, and Indiana for three, before finally coming back to Illinois when I was elected Bishop of Springfield. There were a lot of nice things about returning to the state I grew up in, of course. But I was shocked and disappointed by one, at least, and that is how thoroughly corrupt Illinois politics and way too many Illinois politicians are. Corruption is hard-wired into the political culture of this state. It’s so much part of the environment that it goes largely unnoticed. But after being away for five decades, I noticed. It hit me like a brick wall. This gives a lot of us

Saturday (Jane Austen)

In the morning, did the finish work on my homily for tomorrow, amid sundry domestic chores. Packed up and headed south around 12:30, pulling into the Hampton Inn, Marion 5.25 hours later. Treated myself to Pizza Hut (yes, I'm afraid it's my favorite instantiation of pizza), and did a long bit of walking to and around the other end of the large mall that's in the area of the hotel. Filled out the balance of 10,000 steps for the day. Did a small bit of personal shopping at Wal*Mart.

Friday (William White)

Juggled several ongoing email threads--pastoral and administrative, laity and clergy. Selected and invited five persons to join an ad hoc anti-racism study task force. One has accepted. Awaiting the other responses. Spoke at some length by phone with a colleague bishop, by way of personal check-in. Made progress toward re-jiggering a formation plan for a diaconal ordinand. This sort of thing has been made significantly more complicated by the coronavirus. Spend a "holy hour" in front of the Blessed Sacrament in our domestic oratory.

Thursday (Our Lady of Mt Carmel)

Fleshed out a homiletical message statement for Proper 13 (August 2 at St Andrew's, Edwardsville) into a developed sermon outline. Interviewed a soon-to-graduate seminarian about possible deployment in the Diocese of Springfield. Beyond that, and keeping on top of a handful of email and text message threads, I surrendered to the reality that my "work" to-do list is presently well under control and is dwarfed by domestic to-do list, and accomplished a goodly number of household chores and errands.

Wednesday (St Swithun, St Bonaventure)

The big rocks: Regular one-hour meeting of the Province V bishops. One-hour interview of a priest from outside the diocese who is interested in joining us. I would like to have him. Cosmetic surgery on a previously-used homily for Proper 12, preparing it for use on July 26th at St George's, Belleville. Smaller ones: Ran out to Staples for a printer cartridge. Got to have the office necessities. Quick Zoom meeting to take care of a bit of administrative business pertaining to receiving a priest back into the Episcopal Church. Drafted an amendment to the diocesan canons that I believe is salutary, and sent it to some potential proposers.


The big rocks: 65 minute meeting with the Standing Committee. Now we have not only an agreement in concept but an agreement on language. We still await a "clean" version of the agreement from our mediator, however. There will be a press release when it's all said and done. 60 minute meeting with Canon Evans. We talked about diocesan assessments and parishes in transition, with brief attention to an emerging potential discipline issue. The smaller rocks: Prepping for the two meetings referenced above. Responding to a thick stack of email messages that built up over the weekend and on my day off. Many of them required only a short response--but there were a lot. More tangible progress on the "elections and appointments" front.

The Lord's Day (VI Pentecost)

Rolled out of the parking lot at the Diocesan Center at 0645 and rolled into the parking lot at St Thomas', Salem a little more than two hours later. Presided and preached at their regular 0930 Eucharist. Had a *very* physically-distanced conversation with about eight parishioners after the liturgy over a range of issues, mostly centered on what the future looks like for them now that they are without a priest following six years of ministry from Fr David Baumann. Around 1145 I pointed the YFNBmobile northbound on I-57 and, with a stop for lunch in Effingham, arrived home in Chicago about four hours later.

Sermon for Proper 10

S t Thomas’, Salem -- Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, Romans 8:9-17, Psalm 65:9-14, Isaiah 55:1-5, 10-13                      One of the petitions that we sometimes use in our liturgy during the Prayers of the People is offered on behalf of “those who do not yet believe, and those who have lost their faith.” There is, to be sure, a certain note of faith and optimism in this petition, because we say “those who do not yet believe.” But if you’ve ever prayed that prayer intentionally on behalf of a specific person, then you know that it’s often more an act of the will than an act of faith. The classic example of this in Christian history is St Monnica, who prayed constantly for her son Augustine over some twenty years before he finally came to faith. Others have prayed longer, and gone to their graves without ever knowing the joy of seeing their prayers answered. Such heartfelt and extended prayer can easily seem . . . well, wasteful—wasteful of the time and spiritual energy of the person doing t

Saturday (St Benedict)

Taught a two-hour seminar on Pastoral Liturgy to around fifteen participants. Then, after some domestic puttering around, packed for an overnight and headed down to Springfield. Leveraged the evening daylight for a vigorous sixty minute walk around the perimeter of downtown. Did the finish work on tomorrow's homily. Made a late-night run to Taco Bell. Heading for Salem in the morning.


Between all the usual distractions (emails, texts, phone calls), and the added one of needing to camp out in our daughter's apartment in order to make ours available to cleaners, the day's big accomplishment was preparing for a two-hour seminar I'm giving tomorrow (the first of four) on pastoral liturgy. It was conceived as a tutorial for two individuals in the ordination process, but I decided to open it up to others, and it looks like we're going to have a group (via Zoom) of around fifteen. I'm excited.


The highlights: Wrestled with my exegetical notes for Proper 13 (St Andrew's, Edwardsville) until they yielded a homiletical message statement. Hosted a Zoom meeting of clergy who ar assigned to parishes. We had a discussion about how to think of mission during Coronatide as an opportunity and not only a challenge. We plotted a future course of action. Stay tuned for details. Based on feedback from the editor of the Covenant blog, made some alterations to the draft post I submitted only a couple of days ago. I knew it needed some work, and was grateful to have some specifics pointed out. Handled the usual spate of emails, text messages, and phone calls throughout the day.


The highlights: Attended the weekly Province V bishops meeting It was kind of a dark time, in solidarity with the Bishop of Indianapolis, who is black, and within the territory of whose diocese an attempted lynching occurred in a state park over the weekend. She is understandably traumatized. Had a smattering of phone conversations with various diocesan clergy. Made some solid progress in the "elections and appointments" front.  Caught up on a substantial amount of deferred reading (articles, blog posts, the book I'm working through). Attended to a small administrative chore. Tried to process as many emails as possible as they came in, so as not to let them pile up.


Usual AM routine, begun in the back yard, just because it was so nice out in the early morning. Began to deal with a newly-reappearing clergy discipline issue. Never a pleasant thing. Reviewed and tentatively responded to a revised proposal from the representative of a para-church organization that was going to conduct the fall clergy conference that has now been hijacked by other pressing issues. Trying to re-set how they might still help us. Attended to a small but of Communion Partners business. Attended to some tedious administrative details around reinstating a priest who left the Episcopal Church several years ago while canonically resident in the diocese and who now wishes to return to TEC and serve in another diocese. It's necessary to please those who are the stewards of fine details. Usually when I rework an old homily it's mostly cosmetic surgery. The one from 1996 that I'm planning on using the Sunday after next needed to be torn down to the studs and completely

The Lord's Day (V Pentecost)

Up and out of my Decatur hotel room early--in time to preside and preach at the regular 0730 celebration at St John's. Grabbed a fast food breakfast between services, and then did the same thing at 10:00. St John's is possibly the largest church building in the diocese, so it was no challenge to maintain the proper distance between members of the congregation. Dealing with masks and other precautions while celebrating the Eucharist is becoming more and more a practiced habit. This is as it must be, I suppose. It will be a good while before I take for granted the privilege of being the with Lord's people on the Lord's Day.

Sermon for Proper 9

St John’s, Decatur Matthew 11:16–19, 25—30, Romans 7:15–25                                                                                        Before the end of March, the name “Coronatide” became a bit of widely-used slang among liturgical Christians to refer to this “season of the virus.” When Illinois entered Phase III of the governor’s re-opening schema (we’re now in Phase IV), I started talking about us being in “Stage 2” of the season of Coronatide. We still have to keep our distance from each other, we still have to wear masks most of the time that we’re indoors, and—most sadly, in my opinion—we still can’t assume that it’s safe to sing together when we’re in church, but ... at least we’re here! And what a blessing that is! This is now the fifth Sunday in the last six that I have made a parish visitation, and even under these straitened circumstances, it has been a source of deep joy to once again be with the people of God on the Lord’s Day. Over the last nearly four months,

Independence Day

Took care of some home front items before packing and heading south at 11:00. Had a scheduled conversation with a priest of the diocese along the way. With a stop for lunch and gas in Dwight, I arrived at the Diocesan Center at 2:30. My main job in the office was to do the finish work on this weekend's homily and get it printed. Mission accomplished. Changed out of my comfy traveling clothes and into my less comfy working clothes. Drove the 30 miles to the Decatur area and checked in at the Hampton Inn in Forsythe, a Decatur suburb. Got somewhat settled in the room, then drove the 3.5 miles to St John's, arriving 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled 5:00 Eucharist. Visited a bit with Interim Rector Gene Stormer. Presided and preached the Mass. Visited, at an appropriate distance, and wearing masks, with a handful of parishioners. Back up to Forsythe for my first indoor restaurant dinner since March 7. Other diners were 15 or 20 feet away from, and servers were masked. Macon County


Conceived and partially developed my next post for the Covenant blog (something on how Christians might engage issues of justice without adopting the vocabulary and categories of our polarized secular politics). Took a deep dive into the latest literature about the safety of singing in church. There are lots of conflicting opinions from seemingly competent and reputable scientists out there. Still deferring to an abundance of caution, but felt secure in lifting the ban on outdoor singing. Crafted what I hope is a careful and well-intentioned response to a petition I received earlier in the week from some of the clergy of the diocese politely demanding that I take certain actions about the recently heightened national awareness of systemic racism. It can be found here . Prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary. Put some finishing touches on a plan for seminarian financial aid for the 2020-21 academic year.


Made significant progress in several areas, including lining up candidates for elections and appointments that need to be made at synod in October, broad-stroke planning for some version of a clergy conference in November, finding ways of engaging mission during this transitional phase when the pandemic is no longer an emergency that requires daily innovation, but still a significant and unpredictable long number of months before it's "resolved." I don't like the expression "new normal," but there is at least an "interim normal" that we need to get our arms around. Also did exegetical work on the readings for Proper 13, spoke by phone with clergy from both inside and outside the diocese, and took care of a substantive piece of pastoral-administrative business. And through it all, I managed to smoke a pork shoulder, which yielded a pretty taste pulled pork dinner.

Wednesday (Precious Blood)

A morning full of Zoom meetings--8:00-9:45 (a group of bishops from the U.S, Canada, the Church of England, and two African provinces, discussing a reconciliation initiative that will remain on the "down low" for a while) and 10:00-11:00 (the usual Province V meeting). Since my brain was pretty well fried at the point, I set out with Brenda on an extra-long (1 hour, 45 minutes) walk. Late lunch from leftovers. Did cosmetic surgery on a "vintage" homily for Proper 10 toward the end of making it usable on July 12 at St Thomas', Salem. Did a detailed analysis of the Eucharistic Communities that are or will soon be in transition, as well as a catalog of potential candidates in play that might fill those vacancies. Shared this with Canon Evans by email. There are more vacancies than candidates at this point. We have our work cut out for us. Cleaned up my computer desktop, a routine regular maintenance chore. Attended to some small administrative and pastoral matters.