Festival of Homiletics

Last week I attended the Festival of Homiletics, an annual continuing education event for those who preach. It was hosted by a Lutheran seminary, but spanned across several denominations that include strong progressive voices. There were Episcopalians, Presbyterians, United Methodists, Disciples of Christ, American Baptists, and UCC, as well as Lutherans. We were there to hear some of the current “Rock-star” preachers, like Barbara Brown Taylor, Walter Brueggemann, Nadia Boltz Weber, Brian McLaren, and Rob Bell, and some sharp professors and authors. I especially enjoyed Karoline Lewis, a scholar of the gospel of John, and of women in ministry. The conference was refreshing and energizing. 

A few thoughts that I will share with you here: Brian McLaren, in a sermon called “Why People Hate Organized Religion” reminded us that pastors are people who try to explain the unexplainable and defend the indefensible, commenting on the similarities to being a press secretary. He went on to comment that the problem is not that religion is organized, but that it is super-well organized for the wrong purpose. Institutional maintenance is not the purpose of religion. However, as he pointed out, Jesus did not give up organized religion, even though he often spoke out against what it was spending time doing. 

Many more good thoughts were spurred by people at this conference. You all would have enjoyed hearing much of it. I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend, and I hope that St Stephen's will benefit from it! 

Grace be with you,