Thursday, May 21, 2009

Festival of Homiletics - Day 3:

Began this morning with breakfast at a joint called the Flying Biscuit. I am afraid to ask how it got its name...

Fred Craddock preached this morning. He is known as one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century. He must be in his 80s now. His delivery was masterful and his content thought-provoking. What are we as preachers to do with the gift of preaching?

Following Craddock (not an enviable place) was Brian Blount, president of the Union-PSCE, newly renamed Union Presbyterian Seminary (so new its not even on the website yet.) Having gone to Union(2000-2003) his presentation reminded my very much of the many lectures from my classes: over my head enough to keep me interested yet two steps behind, but no so over my head that I couldn't eventually catch up after the talk was over.

I spent the rest of the morning looking for young UM clergy folks to spread the word about the 40 Days o' Prayer. I had some really engaging conversations.

Then I shared lunch with some old & new presbyterian friends to share a bit with them about the movement(s) going on among young clergy in the UM. We had a great conversation!

Now I am in my office away from the office (Starbucks) working on sermon stuff and trying to do e-mail. (this is the last time I stay in a hotel where you have to pay for internet...grrrr.)

Hoping to have my sermon at 80% completion before dinner!

Sometimes you are just so tired... colloapse in the middle of swinging.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Festival of Homiletics - Day 2:

Great day of speakers!

First off was Victor Pentz. He preached about how Christians need to go outside the church. That reaching out to others is no longer about being attracting people to come to us, but that we must go to the people. He did so much more elegantly than my synopsis might suggest. I really appreciated his style and passion.

Next up, Craig Barnes talked about the need for pastors to engage the text of the scripture we are preaching in constant dialog with the context we are serving. The metaphor he uses is the pastor as minor poet. He expands more on this concept that he gets from TS Eliot in his book, The Pastor as Minor Poet. I really appreciated his style and dry sense of humor.

Will Willimon was the last speaker before lunch. He challenged us as preachers not to try and uphold a false unity that ignores obvious differences between people or groups. Rather, he suggested that if the Gospel is preached this will create division.

After a fantastic barbecue lunch, Adam Hamilton took the floor for the afternoon.

He talked about structuring a preaching plan based on the congregation's mission, vision, and plan to achieve them. He offered several fantastic ideas for sermon series ideas. His books Leading Beyond the Walls and Unleashing the Word contain many of the concepts he shared today, however his talk was peppered with fantastic and inspiring illustrations. Towards the end of his talk he took some Q & As. One of the things I really appreciate about Hamilton, having heard him speak several times before, is his transparency and authenticity.

So, a great day of engaging speakers. Lots to think about. All this creative energy is great! Maybe I can channel it into writing Sunday's sermon tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Festival of Homiletics - Day 1:

Last night caught the tail end of Barbara Brown-Taylor's talk. She really has an excellent way with words. She was speaking about understanding how we read the Bible and how that affects our interpretation and preaching.

Bishop Desmond Tutu preached at last night's worship. He has such a joyful presence. Its pretty amazing when you consider all he has seen and accomplished that he has such child-like joy! Spoke about seeing God in the other. They are (I am) lovable because God loves us. Thus when I participate in injustice or oppression against another person its like spitting on God.

This morning we enjoyed a session (both worship and lecture) with Brian Mclaren. What a treat! The worship/lecture was combined, so we enjoyed music (by Troy Brosnick) interspersed with three brief talks/sermons by Mclaren. Great stuff! The main topic was about preaching in the context of the economy. He suggested that when we the good news for the poor is also good news for the rich. He also argued that when we talk in terms of economic recovery it needs to be in terms of a recovery from addiction, not a return to where we were 18-14 months ago.

Supposed to hear Jim Wallis speak this afternoon. He missed his flight, thus missing the conference. So my buddy Mike and I got to enjoy an engaging conversation about his ministry context.

Lots of food for thought! Now its time to process it all!

Festival of Homiletics - This week...

This week I'm traveling with a good buddy of mine to Atlanta, GA for the Festival of Homiletics, sponsored by Lectionary Homiletics (See below for the definition of those words.)

The lectionary is a three-year cycle of Scripture passages for designated for specific days. It can be helpful in that it is a guide for preaching and it helps the preacher to preach texts that he or she would may not normally preach.

Homiletics is the study of how one composes/constructs a sermon on a biblical text.

So, one might say the conference is about preaching and how one might prepare sermons using the lectionary (an incredibly simple overview of the conference.)

I have used the lectionary and I have preached apart from the lectionary, using topical sermon series or preaching through a book of the Bible. I don't know that one "right" way exists in terms of choosing Scriptures on which to preach. I believe a lot of it is driven by the context in which one preaches. (In conjunction with the movement of the Spirit in that context!)

All that said, this week I am hoping to:
- hear some engaging speakers
- be challenged on how and what I preach
- enjoy the opportunity to be with colleagues in a learning setting

I can't wait to hear some of the speakers/preachers. I plan on posting a synopsis each day as a way of organizing my thoughts.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

40 Days of Prayer for the UMC

Dear friends,

I invite you to join with me and others around the country (and world) to be in prayer for the United Methodist Church. On May 18th a grass-roots movement to pray for the church will begin. Young adults (clergy and lay-persons) from across the denomination have written prayers as a part of this movement. Each day the UM Young Clergy website will post a new prayer.

I invite you to join us in this prayer movement by subscribing to the prayer feed, or going here to pray the prayer for the day.

Thank you in advance for praying, may you experience the life-giving movement of God in your life, and together may we be open to God's life-giving movement for all of Creation, and how we are called to be a faithful part of that movement and witness in the world.