Lessons I Have Learned About Christmas Caroling

The last few years, a small group of folks at St. Benedict sign up to go caroling to our elder members, who are some of the most fun and winsome people in my congregation. Some are homebound and some are not. Some sing along with us and some just listen. It’s a fun Advent tradition. Here are some practical and humorous […]

How to read my posts this fall…

Dear Readers: I’m leaving on sabbatical this Sunday afternoon! If you want to come along for my adventures via  “Stranger, Guest, Pilgrim,” my sabbatical blog (I plan to post every Sunday) you can get updates if you: 1. keep following me on Facebook (you can follow me even without being “Friends”) 2. use the brown button on the left column […]

The Silo of Poetic Despair

I took these photos a few days ago, meaning to write about a silo down the street from our church. It’s surrounded on four sides: by warehouses, a Lutheran church, an empty lot, and a busy street. The property used to be a nursery (started by the family that used to farm the land?) but the property is now […]

The Suburban Life For Me

I’m going on sabbatical in two weeks (two weeks?!?). We’ll be visiting places like Rome, Jerusalem, and Seattle. It’s hard to promise that we won’t just stay in one of those places, right? Like, isn’t there an Episcopal Church in Rome? Do they have any openings? (Asking for a friend.) And the reason I feel […]

Two Sisters From Belarus

I met two Beguines last week. Beguines were lay sisters – they chose a life set apart for service and religious devotion but didn’t live in convents and didn’t make life vows. They were common in Europe in the Middle Ages, although the last one died just in 2013, in Belgium. Sister Elena and Sister […]

A Prayer Map

We have a prayer board in our church that hangs in the hallway near the bathrooms, where people can write the names of people they love and are concerned about. Then we put the names in the Sunday bulletin for a few weeks and we have a special prayer group that prays over the names […]

The Sabbatical

In mid-August, I’m going on sabbatical. St. Benedict, Adam, and I have been preparing for almost two years for this time. A team of lay leaders and I wrote and won a grant from the wonderful Lilly Foundation to pay for some exciting opportunities for me, Adam, and the congregation, including a priest who will lead worship […]

Living By The Word (article link)

Friends – I just realized that most of you won’t be able to read these, since they’re behind a paywall – my apologies!  I published two lectionary reflections in The Christian Century‘s last issue (June 25, 2014) for their series “Living By the Word.” Below you’ll find a few opening sentence/s and links! Sunday, July 6, 2014,  Romans […]

The Lonely Old Sugar Maple

In 1820, before any Europeans had settled down in Barbers’ Corners or anywhere around here, Illinois was about two thirds prairie land – no trees, just miles and miles of waving grasses. Trees could be found in small groves around rivers, streams, lakes, and isolated places here and there. But by 1900, the prairie had almost entirely been plowed […]

12 Steps for Clergy Recovery

Clergy have one of those fuzzy, slippery jobs – a job where nothing and everything is in the job description. Also, because being a pastor is essentially relational, there’s an emotional subtext to almost everything we do: from presiding at a funeral, to the look on our face while shaking someone’s hand or giving them communion, to what we put in the newsletter and […]