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Festival of Homiletics: Otis Moss, III and Ginger Gaines-Cirelli

Still catching up on Festival of Homiletics reflections. Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III gave an excellent lecture titled "A Handbook for A New Nation: Living Justly and Loving Powerfully in a Fractured America," although I took few notes. Moss said, "The pulpit is not meant to just be a place where we are cheerleaders. We have to be coaches. We want not just to encourage, but help people be better players." He said that the truth is that the church is now in conflict with Christ.

 Otis Moss III
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
Too often, he said we (in the church) are tools of the Empire. When so, we are always in conflict with Christ. When are we choosing to be the taillight instead of the headlight as the church? He said we have to "cast out the sanitized Jesus, the cute Jesus. [Sanitized Jesus] never shows up in Selma." Preachers need to leave some blood on the pulpit, he said. 


Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli

Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, lead pastor at Foundry United Methodist Church preached a sermon titled “Stop Speaking Smooth Things," based on Isaiah 30:8-18. Again, I didn't take a lot of notes, but her sermon was compelling. The people don’t want to hear the truth in Isaiah, she said. "Don’t tell us the truth," they plead. "Speak to us smooth things!!" Pastors get this same demand in churches – and it wields great power. Gaines-Cirelli quoted Otis Moss – “The church is nothing more than capitalism in drag.” It is time to stop, Gaines-Cirelli exclaimed. Time to stop speaking smooth things in light of war – stop preaching to appease the big pledgers, stop failing to name the pain and ask the real questions, stop speaking smooth things. 

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