Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2009

Festival of Homiletics: Anna Carter Florence

One of my favorite preachers/lecturers at the Festival of Homiletics was Anna Carter Florence , who has been at the Festival before, but who I missed last time I attended. She was really excellent, inspiring, and encouraging. Notes: Preaching in a Recession: Rick Warren, Charlemagne, Survivor-man & you" - I found this session particularly thought-provoking, because I recently have been struggling with the knowledge that one of my colleagues has been 'borrowing' a great deal from other sources in theological reflections. I've struggled to understand this, and her lecture really helped me think about the spiritual implications, and the spiritual consequences we put on ourselves when, as she put it, we cease to "strive." Following are my mostly unedited notes - Plagiarism – Rick Warren makes his sermons available online. Should we use them? Issues. Emperor Charlemagne’s project was to get everyone preaching the same at the same time, so he could control wha

Festival of Homiletics: Desmond Tutu

We were blessed to have Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu preach on the opening night of the Festival of Homiletics . My notes don't really do his message justice, which was wonderful, but there was also just a spirit about him that was wonderful, a presence and a preciousness that is rare. Really great to hear him. Psalm 85:-13, 2 Cor. 5:16-20 “Under this cassock, we’re all the same.” Apartheid – asked for support/prayers, and you gave it. Humor to poke fun at system in midst of oppression. Joke about God and an oven for creation – over and under done cookies, creating black and white people. Or: “This university is reserved for people with large noses only . . .” Or, “apply to minister of persons with small noses affairs.” To say to people who are treated like rubbish – “You are a God-carrier, you stand-in for God.” If we believed each one was a God-carrier, we would bow, as Buddhists do, “The God in me greets the God in you,” like genuflecting in the presence of the reserved host. Thi

Festival of Homiletics: Barbara Brown Taylor

Now that I'm at Annual Conference , I finally have time to write up my reflections from the Festival of Homiletics which I attended in Atlanta last week - it was fabulous. First up: Barbara Brown Taylor , who lectured on Day 1, preached Day 2. Mostly unedited notes: Lecture: Quoting: People in the South conceive of humanity in theological terms. Not Christ-centered, but “Christ-haunted.” Quoting: “To live in the South is to be marinated in religion” Quoting, “evil is less a problem to be solved than a mystery to be endured, especially when the evil is in you.” The Bible, for Southerners, is not just a book for sinners, but a book for losers. Not only proclaim what we read in the Bible, but how we read it. The scriptures we turn to most often are usually the verses that describe our own situations the best. (As individuals, as groups.) Remembering there are many pages in the bible that do not have your fingerprints on them. Can’t really read the Bible until you can read your own l

Sermon for Sixth Sunday of Easter

(Sermon 5/21/06, John 15:9-16, 1 John 5:1-6) Commanded This past week, I travelled to Atlanta for a conference called The Festival of Homiletics, which is a preaching conference. As unappealing as it mind sound to many lay-folks, about 1600 clergy gathered to hear several days of back-to-back sermons and lectures. It’s one of my favorite events to attend – the preaching is excellent, given by some of the best, most well-known preachers in the Church. One preacher who was new to me, Julie Pennington-Russell, preached a sermon called “Picking Us Out in a Crowd,” that focused on texts similar to the ones we read today, focusing on Jesus’ teachings about us loving God and loving neighbor. Pennington-Russell said that according to Jesus, love is how you “pick Christians out in a crowd.” The authenticating mark of who belongs to Jesus is love. She said that there are no substitutions for love of course, and yet, we try to make them all the time. She imagined three well-known scri

Sermon for Fifth Sunday of Easter

(Sermon 5/10/09, 1 John 4:7-21, John 15:1-8) Love According to John: True Vine I’ve mentioned to you before that I’m a planner. I’ve generally had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do in my life and when I wanted to do it by. I like having plans and schedules, and completing what I’ve set out to do. If you’re a college student, or the parent of a college student, and lamented to me about not knowing what you or your child will major in in school, searching for direction, trying to choose a course of study, I will tell you that tons of my friends in college changed their majors many times with no problems, and went on to have wonderful careers in fields they’d never imagined that they’d fall in love with. But I can’t really tell you that about myself, because, after a little initial confusion over what to study when I was thinking about college as a senior in high-school, by the time I actually enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan, I knew that I wanted to be a pastor, knew exactly

Revgals Friday Five: Friends

I decided to play the Friday Five this week - Jan writes: As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "The way to have a friend is to be a friend." So today let's write about the different kinds of friends we have, like childhood friends, lost friends, tennis friends, work friends, and the list goes on. List 5 different types of friends you have had in your life and what they were/are like. *** 1. Long lost friends - I've written before about the struggle I have with what I'd call "long lost friends," those relationships you have in life that were once so important, but for whatever reason, have disappeared. It's less common, now, to completely lose touch, I guess, or lose awareness of what someone else is up to, thanks to thinks like facebook (see #2), which I truly treasure, even as these mediums drive others crazy. I love that something like facebook at least lets me answer the "what ever happened to..." question, even if we don't remain

Review: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with Sweet Honey in the Rock

Tonight I went to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform at NJPAC with special guests Sweet Honey in the Rock . It was fabulous . One of the best things I've seen in a long time. I love watching dance - ever since I started going to see The Nutcracker when I was little, I've loved dance, and when I saw JCSuperstar at NJPAC last month, and saw the ads for Alvin Ailey, a company I've wanted to see, and saw that they were combining with Sweet Honey in the Rock, already a group I love , I knew I had to go. The evening started with a film about Alvin Ailey and the company, which is celebrating its 50th year. Then the first dance was "Go in Grace," a story of a family - parents, son, and daughter, through the years. This was the piece accompanied by Sweet Honey in the Rock. I loved how the music, the singers, intertwined with the dancing and dancers. The singers mirrored choreography from the dancers, moved artistically on stage, and weren't simply the

Sermon for Fourth Sunday of Easter

(Sermon 5/3/09, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18) Love Letters from John: The Good Shepherd When I first started preaching here and there when I was in college, I would take a look at the texts from the lectionary, the schedule of scripture readings for the Christian year, and try to find the common thread between the texts, try to find a way to make them go together. Each week there are four suggested scriptures – An Old Testament reading, or a reading from the Acts of the Apostles, a Psalm, a New Testament reading, and a reading from the Gospels. But eventually, as I gained more experience in preaching, I realized that it was certainly easier, and often more effective and meaningful, to focus in on a single text. After all, there is certainly enough in most individual passages to make an entire sermon or two. But occasionally, still, the texts for the day go so perfectly together that I feel like we’re missing out if we don’t look at how the texts play off of one another, how