Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Attending Festival of Homiletics

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Festival of Homiletics in downtown Minneapolis. This is a national preaching conference that takes place in difference cities every May. This is the third time I’ve attended the conference. Over 3,000 people from all fifty states and many countries attended the conference.

Some people wonder how preachers put together sermons every week. One way is we go to conferences like the Festival of Homiletics. The purpose of Festival of Homiletics is to have preachers preach and lecture. Over thirty sermons and lectures were presented by an array of nationally known preachers and teachers. For some listening to so many sermons and lectures about sermons would be boring. I told my daughter, Hannah, that I heard 12 sermons and lectures last week; she told me she would have no interest in that. However for pastors the Festival of Homiletics is like entering a candy shop.

The best presentation I heard was shared by Krista Tippet, creator and host of the radio program, “On Being.” This program started as "Speaking of Faith.”

Tippet sees her radio program as an opportunity to offer voices of wisdom; it’s an opportunity to listen and ask questions of a noted thinker. She said that listening is needed in our world—and Christians aren’t known for listening.

She encouraged us to take our words seriously. She said that people are starved for fresh language to approach each other. She encouraged us to use words that undergird truth, imagination and spirit, words that shimmer, enliven for the common good

She also encouraged us to rediscover the art of asking questions. She shared that the media often asks the wrong questions and because of that the responses really don’t lead anywhere. Often the media puts two answers against each other; the answers are on the extremes.

She quoted the work of Frances Kisling to encourage us to spend time developing human relationships with people of different views. Kisling was President of Catholics for Free Choice and engaged in many conversations with people who had a different view of abortion than her. Kisling said that when talking to people of different views that we should ask ourselves, “What can I see that is good in the position of others?” and “What troubles me in my own position?”

Hearing Krista Tippet speak inspired me to spend more time listening to her weekly show.

I loved listening to sermons last week at the Festival of Homiletics. I wish that the Festival of Homiletics would set up small groups who could interact with the speakers. I would have enjoyed asking questions about preaching of every person whom I heard. For me only listening to sermons and lectures is not enough. I missed the opportunity for interaction.

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