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Showing posts from May, 2007

Festival of Homiletics Reflections: Joseph Lowery, Yvette Flunder

Wednesday at the Festival wrapped up with Joseph Lowery , of Civil Rights Movement fame, and Yvette Flunder . I’ve heard Lowery at workshops and events before. He’s an intriguing person. I had to listen from the lobby because my laptop was out of battery, so my notes are more sparse. Joe said, “No matter what you call me, I know who I am.” He said that if his generation was about “We Shall Overcome,” that administration of this generation seems to be, “We Shall Overturn.” Lowery will be 86 this year, and he’s spent many many years working for justice. *** I’d not heard of Yvette Flunder before. She preached about Sarah and Hagar, asking if we have to think God can only bless one or the other. She said we have a ‘both/and’ God and not an ‘either/or’ God. She talked about how much we always want to know “what side” people are on, like around issues of sexuality. “Choose your side. Choose your folks. Pick your folks and agree with them. Choose which you are.” She has a backg

Festival of Homiletics Reflections: Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis also preached at the Festival of Homiletics on the day focused on 'Prophetic Preaching.' I am of course familiar with Jim Wallis, but haven't really read much from him other than his blog posts . I own God's Politics , but it is on the shelf with the 100 other books I've purchased but not yet read. I enjoyed Wallis - I think he certainly has a clear sense of the converging political/spiritual climate we're in. Wallis said, "People don’t know what we mean by our words about religion." He talked about people constantly coming to him and saying, "I didn ’t know you could be a Christian and care about (fill in the blank social issue)." He said that people hunger for spirituality and social justice – and people are looking for the connection between the two. He said that people of faith need to clarify what we are against and what we are for . "When someone steals your faith, you have to take it back. Prophetic preaching can’t ju

Festival of Homiletics Reflections: James Forbes

Wednesday morning following Fred Craddock , Rev. James Forbes from The Riverside Church in Manhattan preached. Rev. Forbes is retiring on June 1st, and has been at Riverside since 1989, serving as the fifth senior pastor there (the church was built in 1927.) Forbes, like Craddock, was preaching on the day focused on "Prophetic Preaching." Forbes talked about the phrase 'Priesthood of all believers' and challenged us to think also about a 'prophet-hood of all believers.' He talked about writing a paper in school about the NAACP and Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 that declared "separated but equal" unconstitutional. He talked about predicting in his paper that decision on May 17th, handing in his paper the day the decision was reached in Supreme Court, and thinking, (and joking about his young ego) for the first time, that he could be a prophet. But, he asked, whether one is a prophet or not is answered more in this question: what were

Festival of Homiletics Reflections - Fred Craddock

Wednesday morning at the Festival began with Fred Craddock (a rock star in the preaching world). Wednesday's events were all at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center , and the facility is fabulous. Great acoustics, great sound system, lots of space, just very comfortable. I really liked being there. Craddock was fabulous, of course. He preached on John 21:24-25, “The Gospel as Hyperbole.” He preached on this short text from John, which reads: "But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." Craddock talked about the language of ‘sacred excess,' and how hyperbolic the language of faith is, and the language of the gospels. Did Jesus really do so many things that they couldn't actually be written down do to lack of space? That's hyperbole. Exaggeration. He gave several examples from the scriptures and even from our hymnody : "O

Festival of Homiletics Reflections: The Music, Tuesday Night

As I mentioned, I arrived a bit late and frazzled to the Festival of Homiletics because of the arrival of my nephew Sam on Monday. (Not that I'm complaining - and here's another fabulous picture of him, by the way.) I missed both Barbara Brown Taylor and Walter Brueggemann , among others, which was too bad - I've heard Barbara Brown Taylor - back in 2001 at a gathering of ministry fellows through The Fund for Theological Education (where I also heard Fred Craddock ). I've only read Brueggemann . Oh well. The first thing I was in time to hear? A concert given by four singer/songwriters. I hadn't heard of any of them, and that's because they are primarily successful as songwriters - those who crafted the tunes that we know and love for other artists. We heard Marcus Hummon , Allen Shamblin , Kyle Matthews , and Beth Nielsen Chapman . Hummon , for example, wrote "God Bless the Broken Road," also "Ready to Run" for the Dixie Chicks, and Shambl

I'm an Aunt!

I'm an aunt! My brother, jockeystreet , is a father. My nephew, Samuel Allen Thompson, was born at 5:24pm on Monday, May 21st. He weighs 8lbs, 14oz. And, of course, he is perfect and gorgeous. Monday was a long day, and he gave his mom a hard time, but everybody is in good shape and safe and sound. We're already a very close family, and this has been an awesome event for all of us. My mother, a new grandmother, is just ecstatic, and looks at pictures of Sam constantly (if she can't actually be with Sam.) I'm currently in Nashville at the Festival of Homiletics , having a fantastic time, which I will blog about eventually. I've seen Jay and Gavin , and hopefully I will eventually get my act together to find some RevGals - I came in a day late because of Sam's birth, and have been playing catch up since, but everything here has been wonderfully worth it too.


Alas, my computer has died. The hard drive was making terrible noises this week, always a bad sign, and it seems nothing can be done to save it. Having previously had an issue with my laptop, I've been better about backing up files, but I still lost about the last 15 files I had worked on, and about 25 emails or so that I had downloaded but not yet responded to. Ugh!

A Global Church?

Methobloggers who keep up with United Methodist New Service ( UMNS ) articles probably at least glanced at this article : "Plan would pave way for U.S. regional conference." The article highlights a proposal discussed at the Council of Bishops meeting last month which would allow the United States to become a regional conference like the other non-US conferences in the United Methodist Church. (The proposal also would change "central conferences," the current language, to "regional conferences," which is both more specific and has less historically negative connotations in the denomination.) Some excerpts from the article - "'We believe God needs a church that is more fully ready for worldwide mission and ministry,' [Bishop Ann] Sherer said. The proposed changes would equip the church 'to do the mission in ministry to which God calls us,' she said. . . . Legislation being forwarded to the 2008 General Conference requests the task f

Was Jesus a Pastor?

Was Jesus a pastor ? (Pastoral identity is on my mind these days.) Yes? No? How? How not? If not, what was Jesus' primary function/modus operandi? (Besides, say, Messiah...) Teacher? Rabble-rouser?

The Hardest Thing in Ministry

There are many things that are hard about being a pastor. Meetings, funerals, conflicts, whatever. But I think I know the hardest, at least what has been the hardest for me so far: telling your congregation, who you love, that you've received a new appointment. On September 1st, I will become the pastor of Franklin Lakes United Methodist Church in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference , a cross-conference appointment (as opposed to a change of membership). My appointment was announced today both here at St. Paul's and in Franklin Lakes, and announcing this change was one of the harder things I've had to do in ministry (life!) so far. St. Paul's has been such a warm congregation in these last four years, and the people have been so extremely supportive during my probationary period, and so ready to share in celebration with me when I was ordained. I couldn't imagine loving a congregation like I loved the congregation I grew up in , but the people at St. Paul'

Review: Liz Lerman Dance Project - Ferocious Beauty: Genome

As I mentioned in my last post , I had the chance on a free evening during my GBCS meeting to attend a dance performance. I love dance. And every time I'm in DC, I try to see the Washington Ballet , but they are always between shows. This time around, the situation was the same, but I did discover that it was "Dance is the Answer" week in DC, which meant that there were several options related to dance. I went to see a production from the Liz Lerman Dance Project called Ferocious Beauty: Genome . I thought it was pretty cool, and certainly one of the most unique dance productions I've been to. I have been having a hard time summarizing the performance, so here's an excerpt from the company website: "Genetic research raises prospects that previous generations may scarcely have imagined: of prolonging life and maintaining youth indefinitely, of replicating an individual, of choosing the bodies and brains of our children, and of creating new species to feed a

General Board of Church and Society Spring Meeting - Reflections, Part 2

More thoughts/reflections from my Spring General Board of Church and Society Meeting: One of the highlights of my time at GBCS meetings is time spent in my work area, Environmental and Economic Justice. Environmental justice has been a love of my since childhood (even though I am usually a better studier of such issues than practitioner), and economic justice has really become a passion in the last few years. This meeting, we got to hear some excellent speakers talk with us about worker justice. Methodism has had an emphasis on worker rights for a long time - Methodists were leaders in the workers' rights movement in the early 1900s. This is reflected in the 1908 Social Creed of the Methodist Episcopal Church : The Methodist Episcopal Church stands: For equal rights and complete justice for all men in all stations of life. For the principles of conciliation and arbitration in industrial dissensions. For the protection of the worker from dangerous machinery, occupational diseases,

General Board of Church and Society Spring Meeting - Reflections, Part 1

I'm back from DC. As usual, I had a great time at my General Board of Church and Society meeting. I always enjoy my trips - I usually get to spend time with my college roommate, who lives in Annapolis, and her husband (who lived across the hall from us at OWU ), I get to enjoy DC and walk around the city, and enjoy the weather (the leaves are out in DC - not quite there yet in Central New York!), I try to take in a show/performance if I have time free, and I just thoroughly enjoy being involved in the work of GBCS and the social justice advocacy that GBCS engages in. Worship is always a highlight of these meetings. I enjoy getting to know other board members better, and hearing them preach and watching them lead worship always tells me something more about who they are. Margie Briggs , a lay woman from from the Missouri Annual Conference, preached at our opening worship, and she was just excellent. Preaching on James 2:5-26, she talked about her grandmother's theology, which s