Friday, March 10, 2017

2nd Friday in Lent 2017

Haven't posted in a while. Here's an update...
  • Morning Sermon Writing / Afternoon Visitations
  • Woke up and read Proverbs with Mancub. Have been praying Proverbs 3:5-6 much this week. Wise Christians read Proverbs regularly. I'm trying to follow their example. 
  •  Discovered this amazing new software for "mind mapping" called "Mindstein" which let's me map out my sermons on my computer the same way I used to fill chalkboards & dry-erase boards with words & lines & arrows.
  • Used "Mindstein" to write majority of Sunday's Sermon until after lunch. I love this! 
  • Ran a couple of tech errands. 
  • Presented one of our lifelong Members with a Certificate of Recognition and their alb for their decades of service as an Altar Server.  
  • Went to Lake Geneva to visit a member of their Parish in hospital at their request.
  • Visited Tony Valenti at the new home of Avant Bicycle Cafe. Amazing to see what he's already done to promote our Diocesan partnership  with Haiti through Singing Rooster Coffee.
  • Stopped at Willowfield Nursing Home to visit Parishioners. 
  • Stopped at bodyshop to pickup a few things out of our car which we were hit in on Tuesday. That's a whole other story!
  •  Pastoral visit with a family at their home. 
  •  Pickup at dry-cleaners. 
  •  Visit to Church Member for quick healing prayer & anointing. 
  • Home for Sabbath movie night with Mancub while Mom attends a  Ladies' Purim Party.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Is The Book of Common Prayer Such A Big Deal?

Has anyone ever asked you “What’s Episcopal?” What exactly makes us Episcopalians anyways? Like other Christians we Baptize and have liturgy and the Sacraments and the Bible. So what’s the one thing that Episcopalians (a.k.a. Anglicans) have that no other Tradition has which makes us unique? Our Book of Common Prayer. The red book with the gold Cross in our pew racks. Our Book of Common Prayer may be a bigger deal than we realize. Have you ever heard the words, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here…” or “To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse…” or “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Familiar words, no? They’re said at nearly every English-speaking Wedding and Funeral. Know where they come from? Our Book of Common Prayer. Our book has literally shaped the English language.

So where did it come from? Imagine going to Church on Sunday and the priest is upfront with his back to you. And he’s either praying under his breath so you can’t hear him or he turns around and says things like “Hoc est corpus meum!” Huh? Either you can’t hear him or when you do it’s in a language you don’t understand. Sunday worship was something worshippers couldn’t understand or participate in. Not the prayers. Not the hymns. Not the Bible. Many just prayed the Rosary while the priest did his thing until the Acolyte rang the bell so everyone knew to look up when the Host (bread) was raised. Imagine never. Hearing. The Bible. In. Your. Heart language. Never praying at Church in your heart language. That was worship in Western Europe before the Reformation.

The Book of Common Prayer first appeared in England in 1549. It was written by the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer. Why? Cranmer wanted to help every citizen understand and participate fully in worship. And most importantly: hear the Bible in their heart language and go through the entire Bible every year. So he created The Book of Common Prayer. Every congregation followed the same order of worship, or liturgy, (hence “Common” Prayer) and every day in the morning and in the evening the priest would ring the Church bells so people in every village knew they could come hear the Bible read out loud in a language they understood. If they came to Church for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer every day for one year, they’d hear the entire Bible read in their heart language. Whether they could read or not didn’t matter. Whether they owned a Bible or not didn’t matter. Every. Single. Citizen. Could hear the entire Bible, morning and evening over one year. And they could fully participate in worship on Sundays. 

So what’s in our current Book of Common Prayer? Here’s a quick overview…
  • The Holy Eucharist
  • Our Catechism (What We Believe)
  • The Church Calendar
  • Everything we do during Holy Week
  • Baptism, Confirmation, Weddings and Funerals
  • Our “Collects” (thematic prayers at the beginning or worship)
  • Morning and Evening Prayer a.k.a. The Daily Office

The Book of Common Prayer changed history and has shaped it. It was created to help men and women worship God in their heart language. This book is our unique feature as Episcopalians. It is one of the greatest tools for making disciples in the history of the world. Come check it out at Adult Ed starting Dec. 4th at 9am to learn more about it how you can use it in your own walk with Jesus.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Darkness & Light

Sometimes the suffering people encounter in this broken world seems crushing...

[ Haven't journaled since before Christmas. Quick overview: Preached and Celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Eucharists and 3rd and 10th Days of Christmas. Tammy's family with us for Christmas Weekend, a few days off,  went to IL for Christmas with my family, drank good beer, ate homemade cookies. Lots of joy, merriment, feasting and little rest. ]

The last 24 hours have been heartbreaking. Earlier last week our Church Musician & Sexton Ron Nelson's twin brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

8 and 10am Eucharists with Anointing with Oil for Healing.
9am Adult Ed on Persecution + Prophets + Salt + Light from the Sermon on the Mount.

Laras came over for lunch so we could watch the first session of Paz Financiera which they'll be leading starting January 17th. Very exciting.  I introduced Pedro to Gulden Draak (an amazing Belgian beer, the best in my opinion). That was fun.

Spoke to one of our families who advised of a hellish issue they're dealing with with their house. Devastating. Very tough news to hear.

Went up to Madision to visit parishioner Jo Schulten who was moved there a couple weeks ago for breathing complications. When I arrived she was intubated and sedated and had been unconscious for a few days. She's in very bad shape. She has no family she's in contact with so it's a very sad situation.

Came home from Madision feeling wrecked.

Into the Office to catch up from the Office being closed last week.

On and off throughout the day I spent time trying to track down Jo's family by phone, e-mail,  Facebook, etc.

Weekly check-in with Parish Admin Roberta. Four days into the new year and we already have tons to do on the docket.

Got a phone call that one of our Parishioner's elderly Mother's passed away:  Dolores Poplar.  Saddened by this news. Her son, Dr. Clifford Poplar is one of the most servant-hearted, sacrifical-with-his-time men I've ever met. Such a great example of Christ-likeness.

Worked on worship during Epiphany-tide (now through Ash Wednesday):  liturgics and music.

Checked in with my guy Vito, who will become a Member of Christ Church this Sunday. Very excited for him and honored.

Had a very interesting woman stop by today who said she is an Evangelist for the "Chicago to Rockford / Madison to Milwaukee area." She's been living in her car and came by because she was looking for Human Concerns for financial assistance. I believe 90% of the words she spoke to me were direct quotations from the Bible. She hung out at Church and read from her big Bible for about an hour after we talked.

Human Concerns / 14th Apostle is a local group that provides Financial Assistance to residents of Delavan & Darien. They meet at our Church on Monday nights. Numerous local Churches, businesses and people of good will provide funds and then Human Concerns helps people according to a strict series of guidelines. They do excellent work.

In addition to the Evangelist, numerous phone calls and people stopping by the Office asking for Financial Assistance because they were told this is where to get it. This is locationally correct but not financially correct. Had to tell a lot of people, "Please come back at 6pm."

Dozens with financial need. Life-threatening illenes. Dear souls dying. Families in crises not of their making. A lot of suffering. A lot of darkness.

Thank God for this season of the Light of Israel's Messiah which "shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it." (John 1:5).

The ironic thing about all of this is I'm fine. But standing by watching all these folks suffer makes the heart weary.

The following words from the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey ring very true today...
"No one will be nearer both to the darkness and to the light than the Christian priest today."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday & Tuesday


  • Woke up around 5am unable to sleep  (I normally rise around 7am) so did Sunday's diary entry. 
  • Then read the second half of the Rule of St. Benedict in the bath. 
  • Out the door a little after 7am to go visit a friend dealing with a recent tragedy.
  • Into the Office. 
  • Spent some working on research for the diocesan Commission on Mission & Development I serve on. 
  • Worked on the bulletins for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day then sent them off to our local printer: Swift Print. I normally don't do the bulletins as that's the realm of our Parish Admin. Roberta but during a short, hectic week I'm glad to pick up some tasks to lighten our Staff's load.  We typically print in-house but, for weeks with four services, farming it out is way easier. And again, it allows our staff to truly have time off and not just double their workload before the days off. 
  • Pastoral Care Updates:  each Monday I check-in with our Pastoral Care Team to get updates on folks and then coordinate visitations for the week. Our Pastoral Care Team consists of me, our Deacon Bill Pelnar, our two "Deacons Emeritus" Marlyne Seymour and Mary Misner, my wife Tammy, Pat Leverick, Terry Cummings and Pat Benson. These are our folks who always know how our flock is doing and often make visitations of our sick and shut-ins. So thankful for each of these dear souls and the ways they are the heart and hands of Jesus. 
  • Check-in with St. John's in the Wilderness, Elkhorn's Vestry (Leadership Team). This Fall I was appointed Vicar of St. John's by Bishop Miller. While I don't lead services there on Sundays (due to my responsibilities at Christ Church) I give them oversight by meeting with their Senior Warden and Vestry, provide pastoral care and respond to emergencies, and am working towards offering non-Sunday worship when I can. 
  • This congregation does amazing outreach: for Christmas they provide Christmas packages (which include gifts and clothing) for about two-hundred families and do similar outreach at Back-to-School; just to name a few things. I'm very eager to work with them to expand the great ministry they currently do and discern with the Lord together what their future holds. 
  • Worked on customaries for Sunday Dec. 29th & Jan. 3rd (little "cheat sheets" with the page numbers in the Hymnal, Bible and Prayer Book for Sunday morning). Why? Because one of the new policies I instituted when I arrived is closing the Office so our Staff can have off the week after Christmas and Easter. They work so hard and regularly go above and beyond the call of duty that after are two busiest weeks of the year I want them to have some well-deserved time off. And one of the Office Staff's major tasks are our Sunday morning bulletins. Creating, printing, collating, stapling, etc. Labor intensive. So... for two Sundays we're doing it "old school" from the Hymnals, Bibles and Prayer Books.'s not really time off if you have to double your workload just to be gone. And I want to make sure they truly have time off. 

  • Home for major house-prep for Tammy's family to come stay here for Christmas + 3. I can't wait. Looking forward to lounging in pajamas with my in-laws and playing board games whilst munching on Christmas cookies and being zany with my nieces and nephews. 
  • Into the Office. Needed to make last minute revisions to all the aforementioned bulletins.
  • Various administrivia in preparation for Christmas Eve & Day. 
  • Off to Elkhorn to drop-off copies of The Purpose Driven Church for my Vestry in Elkhorn at the lovely framing shop of Mike and Sue Bell: Bell's Under Glass.
  • Pastoral Visitations. Over to Walworth to see Deacon Mary and Dan Misner. Mary shattered her ankle in September and has been immobile since. We had a great visit and I got to show her and Dan the new website. 
  • Over to north Delavan to visit Mariann Stewart and bring her Communion. She is 98 and is one of the most prolific crochet-ers I've ever met. There was an article this week in the Shopper (local paper) about the history her families farm, that her daughter / parishioner Mary Stewart still lives in. Their family arrived in Delavan and bought that farm in 1837 and a member of the family has lived their every since: four generations for 178 years. Awesome.
  • Over to visit Dorothy Brown and her daughter and son-in-law Vito & Liz Episcopo. Dorothy turned 100 (one hundred) last month. She is such a beautiful lady, gushing with kindness, joy and trust in God's goodness and care. And Vito and Liz always make me feel so welcome and loved when I visit (Vito makes the best martinis!). I'm always so encouraged by them. 
  • The Missus was sick today (boo!) so we had eclectic fast food dinner and watched Home Alone. And now I am going to eat some peanut buttercup custard from Culver's (one of the many hallmarks of the great State of Wisconsin:  frozen custard) and watch the Office with my Love. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sunday Advent 4


  • 8am Eucharist - hard to believe it's the last Sunday before Christmas. Preached on Mary the Mother of Jesus "When God Draws Near...The Lowly Are Lifted Up." How she was one of the "lowliest" in society and when found in an impossible situation and said one of the most faith-filled Yes's to God ever:  "Here am I, the servant of the Lord. May it be just as you have said."
  • 9am Adult Ed Hour - nice big group today. Looked at the Prayer of St. Benedict as one example of the Sermon on the Mount in miniature. Created book-marks for my folks of it. Great discussion. Our Music Team Leader Susanne shared how we may see God's commandments as restrictive "rules" but in actually it's in keeping them that we find freedom. Amen. Amen. Amen.
  • 10am Eucharist - Third Sunday. Our kids all serve on Third Sundays and it's a blast! They have such great pride and a sense of ownership of their ministries. And it's fun liturgically because with so many servers we have the full menu of "smells and bells".  We're starting to have such a big group I think we need to go to two Sundays a month.
  • 11:15am - Red Door Coffee Meet n' Greet. Fair Trade, organic, Wisconsin-roasted, Haitian coffee and the people of God in fellowship. Love it.
  • Greening of the Church - "all hands on deck" to help prepare our Sanctuary for Christmastide. It looks beautiful.
  • During said Greening I rehearsed Silent Night with our Music Team as we need a guitar and Ron, our usual guitarist, just had rotator-cuff surgery.
  • Up to Whitewater with the Missus and the Mancub for our Convocation's first-ever joint Advent Lessons and Carols. Such a beautiful worship service. The choir sounded wonderful:  nothing like a robust choir singing live. The bell choir was hauntingly beautiful. Great time of fellowship afterwards among Episcopalians from across our tri-county area. 
  • Up to Madison to visit parishioner Jo Schulten in-hospital. Prayers for her are appreciated. She's having great difficulty breathing and longing to be home for Christmas.
  • Late night dinner with the family at Ella's Deli in Madison.  Great food (pastrami reuben sizzler...just trust me) and incredibly eclectic decor such as games built into the tables, animated displays from floor-to-ceiling ranging from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to Popeye to Spiderman. They also have full-sized Carousel outside.
    • We recalled my second trip home of three when we lived in Texas from 2009 to 2014. We loved and missed Wisconsin deeply and being in Texas on a Church-planting salary & schedule, Wisconsin felt like a million miles away, simply because it was so difficult to make the trip. On that trip we were sitting in Ella's Deli, such an other-worldly place, which felt like a pilgrimage...and wondering out-loud as a family if we'd ever move back...then back to Texas where that moment felt like a dream for three years. So to be sitting there last night on what was a normal trip, one hour from home, simply felt like the Lord's generosity in granting the desires of our hearts.
  • It was a long day. Drove home. Watched The Office with the Missus and konked out.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Tue, Wed + Thu



  • Convocation Meeting in Lake Geneva. (Convocation = group of 9 Churches in our tri-county area of the Diocese)
    • Met the Rev'd Helen Tester who just arrived this month. We have great camaraderie among this group and lots of fun together. We're excited to be doing more together in 2016.
  • Back to the Church for our monthly Outreach Team Meeting. Christ Church tithes 10% of our income every year. $5,400 goes annually to underwrite a room at Twin Oaks Homeless Shelter. 1% of our budget goes to Theological Education, this year for our two seminarians at Nashotah House:  Pedro Lara and my wife Tammy. The remainder is then distributed on monthly basis to organizations we have a history of supporting (missionaries, local relief agencies & the like)  as well as in response to requests for help. 
  • Spent the majority afternoon working hard on our website with our web designed Allan Aguirre from Planet Blue Media.
  • Had a conference call mid-afternoon in my role as Secretart of the Nashotah House Alumni Association.
  • Monthly Vestry Meeting. "Vestry" is Episcopal-speak for Lay Leadership Team who serve as the legal and fiduciary agents of the congregation. This meeting's focus was on approving our 2016 Budget and felt great:  pledges are up and the budget's balanced. Pledges being up isn't encouraging because of money, but because it indicates an increased confidence and committment to the mission of the Church, and most especiallydeeper discipleship.  
  • Home for more Yahtzee with the Mancub then Netflix with the Missus.

  • Early meeting @ Church with Lukas Janaky, owner of the newly opened LSJ Music Co. downtown to help us trouble-shoot our P.A. System. He's 23 and opened his own, excellent business. In the last year and a half he's become a dear friend and someone who is always ready to lend a hand. I have so much respect for Lukas.
  • Inaugural Men's Bible Study on 1st John. So excited to be spending time with these guys and studying God's Word. 
  • Coffee with parishioner Ken Oliak. Ken is a retired Superintendent of Schools who has great leadership savvy. He's one of those great souls who loves you enough to the tough stuff and is a source of incredible wisdom and experience. So grateful for him.
  • Monthly Pastor's Lunch at Kunes Ford. Greg Kunes, the owner, is a modern day Boaz. He uses his prosperity to be blessing to those in need. One of the many things he does is host lunch for local pastor's so we can meet to encourage one another, connect and consider how to work in-concert. Love this group of folks. 
  • Off to Willowfield Nursing & Rehabilitation Center to lead the worship service, which I do the 3rd Wednesday of each month. The fire alarm went off the entire time I was there. It was crazy. The residents couldn't leave the room we were in so we continued on with the service with my screaming my sermon over the WONK! WONK! WONK! WONK! of the fire alarm. Preached on the Magnificat, one of my favorite sermon themes. We also sang Christmas Carols. I love getting to worship with these dear ones.
  • Chief O'Niell was outside with the Fire Dept and so got to visit for minute. He's such a sweet guy. We' conspired to have a Blessing of the Fire, Police & EMS Crews this Spring. I can't wait!
  • Back to the Office for administrivia, work on the website and a final look at weekly e-News before it went out.
  • Long day, headed home to spend the evening prepping our house for Tamm'y family coming for Christmas!

  • Into the Office. Check-ins with staff then off to...
  • Vintage on the Ponds Nursing home to lead worship service which I do the  3rd Thursdays. Sang Christmas Carols and then preached on the Magnificat (again) but this time didn't have to scream over a fire alarm. This is such a sweet group of folks who are so engaged in the sermons. And boy do they sing! 
  • Back into the Office to communicate with our speakers for A School For the Lord's Service. I'm getting very excited about this class we're presenting on the Sundays in Lent. We have an amazing line-up of speakers. 
  • Phone call with my dear friend Fr. Jim Fosdick, he is the priest of St. Mary of the Snows in Eagle River, WI. He's so passionately committed to our Lord Jesus and is an amazing balance of truly evangelical and truly catholic; and thoroughly missional. So in an amazing god-incidence he mentioned a book he thought I'd be interested in:  The Benedictine Parish from Akenside Press. Would you believe I was reading that very book the last two nights?! This launched a great discussion about The Benedict Option, a Benedictine endeavor he's discerning in Eagle River and then I told him about A School For the Lord's Service. One of those amazing, synergistic moments.
  • Took the Mancub to basketball practice and "office" from courtside...
  • Worked on finding transcription software to turn audio files into text documents. Hoping to publish some teachings from Bishop Godfrey I have an mp3.
  • Created some publicity materials for A School For the Lord's Service.
  • Buddy Jon and I took Mancub and his kids to the Archery Range.  Becoming a Thursday night staple during this Winter.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sunday Advent 3 & Monday 12.14.15



  • 8am Eucharist:  "Rose" or Gaudete Sunday. One of my favorite days to preach all year. The major theme is "John the Baptist is the Apostle of Joy". Yes, he is. 
    • Deacon Dave Radzik, a recent Nashotah House grad and transitional deacon, served as Deacon at both services. He's a great guy, big-hearted Bostonian. It's been a joy geting to know him this past year.
  • 9am - Adult Ed:  Continuing our discussion of the Sermon on the Mount. I'm beginning to think these may be the most important 3 chapters in the entire New Testament.
  • 10am Eucharist:  our Seminarian Pedro Lara preached. It was fine sermon. One of my joys in this season is mentoring new clergy-in-formation like Pedro and Deacon Dave. 
  • 11:15am - Red Door Coffee Meet 'n' Greet, a.k.a. "Coffee Hour". I am so proud of the fact that we serve Singing Rooster Coffee. Fair-trade, organic, roasted-in-Wisconsin and grown by our brother and sisters in the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti.
  • Had the Laras over. I love their friendship and our Sunday afternoons of planning and mentoring. They prompted a great discussion about what a uniquely Latino Anglican culture should be and how it can address cultural issues such as Marian idolatry, machismo, godly masculinity and femininity and discipleship within Latino family culture. Pedro and Gloria are going to change the world. Look out!
  • Pedro and I then made a hospital visit together to one of our parishioners whom I got a phone call about after Church. Please pray for Jo.
  • Back to the house and got Pedro's feedback on our soon-to-lauch website. 
  • Sundays cook me. By earyly afternoon every last introverted ounce I have is wrung out of me. 
  • Mancub and I made choc. chip. cookies then watched the Battle of Five Armies while we played Yatzhee.

  • Breakfast with a new friend and colleague Fr. Larry Glenn. He's from Bushnell, IL the home of the legendary Cornerstone Music Festival. Tammy and I were "corner-stoners" for many years.
  • Back into Office. Wrote some Thank You's and then administrivia. 
  • Celebratory Lunch for my Secretary Linda Lemmon's last day of the season. She goes to Texas for the Winter and her "alternate" is Jean Reszka. Our entire staff are so dedicated and I'm so humbled by their Christ-like, sacrificial service to our congregation. Linda picked the local sushi joint for lunch. Yum!
  • One hour drive to Gaspard's, Inc a Wisconsin owned and operated,  Made In The USA, vestment company. Went their to pick up our new frontal. I've been the one dealing with them and so wanted to inspect it onsite before it came to Delavan. It's gorgeous. Love the folks at Gaspard's.
  • Used the drive time to listen to a short and long lecture by Rod Dreher on The Benedict Option. I'm fascinated by this idea. And I think it has real merit.
  • 2016 Budget Committee met to finalize our Budget for next year. Pledges are up. Some expenses are down. And it's balanced. Huge thanks to this excellent Team, to our parishioners who give generously and sacrificially and above all to God Almighty, Jehovah Jireh.
  • Home for Yatzhee and Lord of the Rings with the Mancub then watching the final episodes of the West Wing with the Missus.