The Festival of Homiletics (Preaching) kicked off with a beautiful start on Monday; I’ve been volunteering at the Festival and so I got to greet most folks as they registered on Monday. I was and am exhausted from a nonstop graduation weekend, but I absolutely enjoyed welcoming clergy and lay folk from multiple traditions. I heard stories, I shook hands, and I smiled. It was the most extroverted thing I’ve done in a while, but very rewarding. I’d like to recap a few things I’ve heard from the inspired and spirit-filled teaching which has been going on nonstop since Monday. Forgive me for being rather succinct, I have little energy for elaboration but wanted to write nonetheless.
I believe in writing about beauty. So here we go.
Worship Monday night was conducted by First Baptist Nashville, a congregation which has graciously hosted the festival. The worship had a distinctly Baptist flair until the first preacher of the Festival, Dr. Walter Brueggemann (Professor emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary and distinguished author) incorporated “shit” into his very theologically sound and meaningful sermon.
Following Bruggemann, Barbara Brown Taylor (Priest in the Episcopalian Diocese of Atlanta, Professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, and NY Times best selling author) preached a sermon like I’ve never heard one before; she is a gifted writer and pastor. What a privilege to learn from her. Taylor hypothesized that perhaps living in the spiritual dark is not a bad thing, though it is often associated with evil or godlessness. She suggested that perhaps it is time to leave a faith which is maintained in a full solar tradition because God does some of God’s best work in the dark. Day and night do not contradict each other, but rather, they complement each other; so walking in times of darkness and disillusionment are essential to one’s faith, for this is where one learns to walk by faith, when one cannot see the way.
Today (Tuesday) I was in and out of another commitment (a panel I was on discussing Millennials in the church), but I did get to hear a couple of speakers. Lillian Daniel (Senior Minister at First Congregational Church in Glen Elynn, IL) spoke on the idea that sometimes there is a power at work within us that enables us to accomplish infinitely more than we could imagine.
Then I heard Dr. Barbara Lundblad (Lutheran Pastor and Professor of Preaching at Union Theological Seminary), for which I will always be grateful. She is an aging woman with more wisdom than I could ever hope to attain and yet a humility which enables her to drives her points home in a relatable way. She spoke on the four Sundays of Advent (2013), which all come from the book of Isaiah. Specifically, she drove home the point timw after time that to do our preaching is to make hope as tangible as despair, and if we cannot help people see a tangible sign of hope, we will all give into despair.
Well, that’s all folks. I’m signing off. Looking forward to a wonderful continued week of homiletics!