Having been several times, I know the Festival is always filled with so many good speakers and workshops and opportunities. I also know that sometimes the ones I choose may not be all I hoped. The words of the priest from Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark go through my head, “Choose Wisely” and then the next line, “he choose poorly.” I don’t think, really, there are poor choices at the Festival, but that doesn’t mean I am not sometimes disappointed. Yet, I probably won’t change my way of choosing. If I have heard someone before, even if they are spectacular, I will often opt to listen to a newer speaker, someone I am not familiar with. Sometimes it hits, sometimes it doesn’t, but I suspect those who as “so good” may not have been that good the first time. Like one speaker said yesterday a preacher should be in the same category as “artist.”
Having said that, other than one speaker, I was absolutely moved yesterday by the preaching and the workshops. Some of my notes from yesterday with an acknowledgement they are as close to direct quotes as possible! If you want to get some other highlights, you can tracke the festival on Twitter: #festivalofhomiletics2017
Raquel St. Clair Lettsome is an amazing preacher, powerful, articulate and brought me to tears. That is saying something, I don’t cry often. As she began her sermon she said something I really resonated with, perhaps most preachers do:
I am not a marathon runner or long distance runner, but I get in a couple of miles everyday. I swear the longest. Walk I ever take is from my chair to the pulpit!
Her take on the Good Samaritan story was powerful and is beyond my ability to recount. However she noted:
In the Good Samaritan story, while the others walked by the Samaritan came close, that didn’t mean he was safe, he just felt safe in that moment. He might have scars from his own encounters on the Jericho road, but broken hurting people are not exempted from carrying other broken bodies. We need more Samaritans to come close to help one another especially when it is risky, we need them close enough to hear, to help and to heal.
Micah Jackson is a preaching professor also dedicated to the wellness of clergy. He noted that if preachers believe it is good for their folk to hear the word broken up and preached regularly, the same applies to the preacher! He said:
“If this week feels like a cool drink of Walter on a hot Texas day, that’s how it is supposed to be for your soul.”
His presentation was on conversational preaching.
“It is not enough to say something, maybe the congregation has. A role: people need to hear and have their lives transformed.”
“It is the cooperative principles: everyone in the conversation understand that they are cooperating the in process. There are several conversation partners: the scripture, the news, what is happening in your community and in the world, the Spirit.”
“In worship everyone gets a turn to speak: prayers, the liturgy, the choir, the soloist and musicians, the sermon and if done right even the congregation.”
Lisa Thompson preached on Ezekiel 37 and the dry bones.
“How do you know what you know? You don’t until you do.”
“God invites us to come and play, come and make life with God. God will not let us back off, once the Spirit breathes into us, we can’t back up,, we are called to proclaim life, to Speak Life, Pursue Life, Let the life giving Spirit in.”
Otis Moss III used my favorite modern mythology “Star Wars” to lecture on the call of the preachers. So many quotable sentences, some of my favorites:
“Both the Sith and the Jedi draw from the same power, the difference is perspective, most of us want to be Jedi, but we tend to be chaplains for the Empire, not prophets of the Rebellion.”
“Preachers all struggle with the dark side want to be liked and are afraid that people will leave. Ever preacher will have some one leave sooner or later and if no one has left, you are no preacher.”
“At best we plant seeds and we may not every see the tree that grows or eat the fruit, but we have eaten the fruit that others have planted and the least we can do is plant for those who follow.”
“We are Sith and Jedi, dark and light we have Jedi potential and Sith tendencies. We need a amaster to teach us, the good news is that Jesus doesn’t mind teaching people with Sith tendencies.”
“Preachers should be artists, poets and painters. Every sermon should be a work of art.”
I bought some books and a couple of stoles which is the other wonderful reason to be here, the resources available.