Thursday, September 13, 2007

Revive my soul

Ministry is a weird and wonderful vocation. It can, at times be very draining. I was in need of a revival for my soul and I believe I have found it. My friend in ministry, Dee and I (yeah, even though she's on sabbatical) are in Tulsa, OK attending the Stacey Pastor's Workshop put on by Phillips Theological Seminary. The event is being held at First Christian Church, Tulsa- which is a beautiful space.

We are hearing the good news about "preaching your heart out" from Rev. Dr. Fred Craddock and Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor- and so far we are wowed. The worship service this evening was incredible! An amazing organist played and filled the space with music. Then 600 or so voices sang together- it was very moving. And then we got to hear a sermon from Fred Craddock that left everyone silent and stunned. He walked out of the pulpit and back across the stage and you could have heard a pin drop. His text was the prodigal son story and he talked about how being lost is worse than being dead, and being found is better than life- and the response must be a party. Dee and I floated back to the hotel having truly felt like we were on holy ground during the worship.

A few Fred Craddock nuggets from today's first lecture:

  • A sermon is "linguistic incarnation of the Word." (he is such a word-smith)
  • Don't beat yourself up when you think a sermon was a flop- it probably connected with someone. Fred said, "you know those sermons that you preach and then you think, well that went over the pulpit like a wingless dove."
  • "Release the Word of God into the room and then leave it" (in other words, don't be so critical of your own preaching
  • Preach with a sense of reverence, a "sense of God-ness"
  • "Ministry is an exercise in intimate distance" from your congregation (healthy balance)
  • Sometimes a book of the bible just doesn't have anything to say to you- I was reading the book of Jude the other day and Jude said, "Fred, I don't have anything to say to you."
  • Stay in the text long enough for things to happen to you, don't hurry, be formed by it
I believe that hearing a good sermon is truly a gift from God- and we were blessed tonight.

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