I am writing this week from Maui, my retreat location as I participate virtually in the Festival of Homiletics hosted by Luther Seminary. Yep, Maui. The cost analysis of attending in person vs. coming out here was hysterically lopsided. Airfare to Minneapolis was twice the cost. Housing, meals, etc. would have made the trip out of budget for my CE expense account. Hence, a trip to Maui, and the gift of a friend’s car, ohana (ADU), and some quiet to absorb the preaching.
I am blessed to have made some wonderful friends while I was here from 2019-2020. It is truly a delight to see them again after two and a half years. And while I am grateful to have had the experience of pastoring and living on this island for a brief while, I am so blessed to know that Oregon is where I am called to be! The truth is, had I not come to Maui I would never have been called to FCCUCC! But that’s another story.
The Festival is in the Central Time Zone and requires an early start to my day. I get up to the glow of the sun below the horizon, make my coffee and log in to hear some amazing preachers sharing their thoughts on “Preaching Hope for a Weary World.” Each lecture or sermon, packed with brilliance, compassion, and challenge. Each preacher, gifted with the power of the Holy Spirit. Each offering is as different as the lush landscape around me. Each unfolding of scripture, a kaleidoscope of sermons placed before me like a banquet of daily manna awaiting my notebook and pen. What a blessing!
As I log into the festival before dawn each day, I find myself longing to share these prophetic words, the Word, with you.
It has been a while since I have had the opportunity to engage in something as educationally and theologically rich as the Festival. Deans of Divinity schools, denominational leaders, preaching professors, biblical scholars, theologians, and prophetic preachers offering up a year’s worth of content in a few short days. I have thought about attending for a long time but never gave myself permission, partly because of the cost, and partly because of the time. But now I know that the part of me which desires to enroll in a Doctor of Ministry program can get a yearly fix that will slake that desire for a fraction of the cost.
I can’t wait to share the learning with you!
In each session I have had a moment when I thought, “OOO! I want to show this sermon to my people at FCCUCC!” I want to find a way to offer these sessions so we can talk about the ideas, the interpretations, the stories being shared by the speakers. I want to share this with you. I want you to feel filled, and inspired, challenged, and graced by the Church that is visible in the Festival. I want you to know the hope that I get to experience as I listen to BIPOC and Queer preachers, Jewish scholars, justice warriors, angels of God who attend to the weary preacher’s soul.
However, until I return and create a way to begin sharing this with you all, I want to offer a blessing from yesterday’s preaching.
Beloveds, be blessed, knowing that we are a New Creation living in-between. Know we are living as both a kaleidoscope of unfurled and flying butterflies, and caterpillars still eating leaves. Know that we are a New Creation, standing amidst the storms of life because we know that “lament is the spine of Hope.” Know that we are a New Creation, trusting the angels who attend to our weariness, even as we stand at the threshold of a new day, praying that mercy and justice shall lie side by side in love.
Thank you for the gift of this time and the resources to attend the Festival. Thank you for being a beautiful butterfly in the kaleidoscope of the Beloved Community.
With deep gratitude and love,