Festival of Homiletics, Day 4

Post a Comment » Written on May 20th, 2010     
Filed under: homiletics
Today was the last full day of the Festival.

In the morning worship we heard a sermon by Michael Curry, Anglican Bishop of North Carolina. He delivered a lively sermon steeped in the traditions of African American preaching, reminding us that our primary message to the world is that “There Is Another Way”.

He was followed by a lecture from Lillian Daniel, a well known author and teacher of homiletics and current senior minister of the First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn. She talked about her highly acclaimed efforts to get mainline Christians to become for comfortable with the notion of talking to others about their personal faith; a practice that has largely fallen by the wayside in mainline and liberal churches. As a Covenanter I sort of felt like the proverbial choir to whom the preacher was preaching, but it was a good reminder of just how important our long held emphasis on personal testimony really is.

In the afternoon pastor Hirano and I had the privilege of interviewing William Willimon, a Methodist Bishop and very well known writer of numerous volumes about preaching. In particular his notion of resident aliens speaks powerfully to the Japanese church. He contends that as the myth of a Christian nation is quickly eroding in the U.S., it is essential for Christians to recognize that following Christ in any culture essentially renders us as resident aliens, following a path that puts us in sharp distinction with society at large. Pastor Hirano has already translated at least two of his books into Japanese and is currently working on another one. Look for the interview in print in the Japanese magazine Ministry in the coming months.

The evening program was entitled “Songwriters and Theologians in the Round” and featured musical performances by four outstanding musicians (Ashley Cleveland, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Marcus Hummon and Mike Reid) and comments from four theologians (Margaret Aymer, Anthony Bailey, Claudio Carvalhaes and Amy Jill Levine) about the lyrics. It is a somewhat novel format, and yet makes all the sense in the world given the numerous commonalities between musicians and preachers. They are both public communicators, they both are poetic in their use of words, and they both seek to speak to the hearts of their listeners. Oh, and by the way, the music was profoundly moving.

Tomorrow morning we will hopefully catch the morning worship featuring William Willimon as preacher and then head for the airport and the long journey back to Tokyo.

By the way, photos of the festival can be seen at the following link.

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