Nearly done, really, with my Festival of Homiletics notes. Second to last set. Some brief notes from two more speakers: William H. Lamar IV, and Yvette Flunder.
William H. Lamar IV is the pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in DC, host church for the Festival. (The church was wonderfully hospitable to us, by the way. They went out of their way to welcome a huge crowd to their space all week.)
Lamar preached a sermon titled “Seers,” based on Leviticus 25:8-12, 18-24 and Revelation 21:1-5, 21-22.
He said, "Preachers are here because we’re thirsty, hungry, and thirsty, hungry people keep showing up at our churches." His grandfather told him, "Before you preach, I pray that you have heard something and seen something. If you ain't heard nothing and you ain’t seen nothing, you got nothing. Then say nothing. Get someone else to preach. But if you’ve seen and heard, God will give you power." The scriptures tell us that God is not about "all new things, but all things new."
Too often instead of reflecting God’s glory, he said, "we have refracted God’s glory." We’ve taken and bent it and sent it in a different direction than God wants. We're meant, called to reflect God's glory.
Bishop Yvette Flunder, Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, and pastor at City of Refuge United Church of Christ gave a lecture titled, “The Second Book of Acts.”
She said, "I believe we are writing the Second Book of Acts right now with our lives. It’s probably time for us to gather in is a few more epistles. An extended canon."
She spoke about her struggle with Paul's imagery that we are "grafted on" to God's covenant: “I have a real problem with the idea of being a contingency plan. I am not an afterthought. I am the apple of God’s eye.”
"What are the acts of the apostles currently?" she asked. "The future needs to hear from our present. What is cultural and what is theological? When do we abdicate theology/God to remain culturally comfortable?"
She made me laugh when talking about Paul - we're of the same mind perhaps. She said, “Bless his heart. I released Paul, and allowed him to be a human being,” and talked about whether we can give him room to grow in his theology throughout his writing.
Speaking on Acts 21:17-36:
"What do we do, like Paul, for the aroma, for the cultures, for the smells we like, the practices, etc.? To what degree are we defending things by custom/tradition that we no longer believe? So what do we now believe?"
"We sanctify bad stuff with time," Flunder said, when it really started out bad and stayed bad."
She said we have a habit of writing our books of order when something negative happens, and then we are so burdened down that we can’t do the will of God.
She said that our institutions don’t know how to sway like trees in an earthquake. They’re like the buildings – they crack. Their facades, the unneeded and unnecessary things fall off. We need to "stop building monuments on the will of God – our facades are in danger. Sometimes we go wrong way because we are told it is the only way. But God has a better way."
Flunder concluded, "Let’s start gathering (new) Epistles!"