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Festival of Homiletics, Day 3

Oh my, what a day it has been and I haven’t even been to worship! I know tonight will be amazing with Rev. William Lamar IV preaching and a gospel choir. Today I have heard 2 sermons, gone to 2 workshops, listened to the amazing organ at Central Lutheran Church and walked, had a picnic and visited Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church.

Early this morning a little after six a..m. I took a lovely reflective two mile walk.

And then it was time for a morning filled with Spirit and content. Just a few quotes:

Reverend Cynthia Hale:

Her title and questions said it all: “Have you got good religion or is your religion any good?” Based on James she reminded us that good religion is based on character and conduct. God shows no partiality and neither should we.

Bishop Rob Wright:

Preaching on Exodus 1: 15-21, the midwives Shiphrah and Puah who resisted the Pharoah’s order to kill all the Hebrew baby boys noted:

“Insurmountable odds give rise to unbelievable moral courage.”

“There is a proportional relationship between the side of the God we imagine and the size of the Pharoah’s we defy.”

Then I attended Reverend William Lamar IV‘s workshop where he asked us to reflect personally on Luke 4: 18-19. After reflecting I wrote down: What is good news for the poor in downtown Wichita? What does it mean to preach good news, release, recovery and the year of Lord’s favor in downtown Wichita?

Didn’t answer those questions, but they are good ones for me to ponder and prayer over. Moral imagination according to Reverend Lamar is shaped by the Spirit and tradition, tradition being Jaroslav Pelikan’s definition, “tradition is the living faith fo the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”

Then Pastor Rebecca Goltry-Mohr and I had a beautiful walk to the park for lunch

Then we walked to Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church where we visited the sanctuary with these beautiful windows (the pictures are dark because they were refinishing the floors and there were no lights on

Then a beautiful art gallery were the religious art of T.B. Walker and his wife Harriet were donated. Their other art work was donated to the art museum. These are priceless works of art and when the church was built in 1914, they created a room just for them. This room is used today for worship each Sunday and for weddings and other events and is open to the public.

We stopped into the chapel where I took this other dark photo of the organ pipes and windows. It is a beautiful space for worship.

We finished the afternoon with Reverend David Lose who I always appreciate. His reflections on his website never fail to make me think. He began today by saying that every person is hit with 30,000 words a day whether by listening and talking or by reading or by social media. Finding words and using words as a preacher sometimes has us wondering if our words have value or meaning. He encouraged us that indeed they do!

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Festival of Homiletics 2019, Day 1 and 2

This is my fourth time to attend the Festival of Homiletics. I am excited to be attending with Rebecca Goltry-Mohr as part of our Transition in Ministry grant. The experience has never failed to energize, encourage, inspire and fill my spirit with hope and faith. So far, this time has been no different. If I somehow missed the rest of the week (which I won’t), the price of admission has already been worth it.

Two beautiful sanctuaries are hosting the event. I was here six years ago and had forgotten the beauty of these spaces. Central Lutheran Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church sanctuaries and facilities connect historical buildings with twenty first century ministries. What a gift it is to be present in these places of sacred community.

The Festival is “an annual event that averages over 1500 attendees; fifty nine percent are women, twenty two percent under the age of 40, twenty six percent Lutheran, twenty one percent United Methodist, sixteen percent Presbyterian,” to name a few of the statistics. The speakers come from local churches, seminaries, colleges and bring inspiration and focus to this years topic: “Preaching as Moral Imagination.”

While I deeply appreciated last night, today for me has been what has triggered my own imagination and filled my soul. This morning, the first preacher, was not yet here. I didn’t catch why, but when we got to our seats we were singing and they were explaining that we were waiting. We went ahead and did the liturgy when the leader said, you know it is good for us to be in silence. Everyone laughed. He said, really it is. And then…..silence. In a sanctuary that seats 3000 people, with stone floors, in that moment, there was silence. And we waited.

Often that room is filled with music, with preaching and shouting and clapping, but for a few moments the space was still with expectation. Then Dr. William Barber II arrived to preach the morning service. And did he preach! He called out the need for a Moral Pentecost. He had so many quotes about the millions in poverty and the need for the church for Christians to no longer be satisfied to be silent in the face of the dehumanizing effects of poverty in our country and world. On Pentecost the afraid become empowered and get together and redeem the nation and the world.

That word would have been enough, but then I heard Otis Moss III preach twice. Oh my! I had forgotten how powerful and profound this preacher is! His first sermon was on Luke 24, the resurrection of Jesus. While others thought everything was said and done, “It’s too early to give up or give in.”

A few quotes:

It’s too early to give up on the church

It’s too early to throw in the towel

It’s too early to give a premature autopsy on the church and its ministry

It’s too early to put period where God has put a comma

It’s too early because God is bringing Life into the places of death and decay.

Then this afternoon, preaching on Luke 5:17-26 he proclaimed that God can speak through any one God chooses and by any means necessary. That sometimes religious folk block the door but God is moving on the margins and bring healing, hope, faith, love and grace by any means necessary.

It is well with my soul today. Tonight is an evening of music. First a concert with Brendan Mayer and Peter Mayer. Peter has been touring with Jimmy Buffet for over three decades as the lead guitarist. Later is the annual Beer and Hymn event with the Fleshpots of Egypt. This blue grass group takes over a pub and we do a lot of hymn singing.

Tomorrow, will be another day filled with experiences.

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