I marvel at the preaching of Grace Imathiu. She weaves a message that moves fluidly from humour to profundity to critique to inspiration. Today she was wearing a tall golden crown of a hat. She joked that they keep inviting her because she has the best clothes.
No, because her preaching is a marvel.
This year’s sermon was an exploration of the story of the Samaritan woman at the well from her perspective and was full of insight. I did not come away with as many quotes and illustrations as I did last year, but I will remember this one.
“Of course Black Lives Matter, but are we that behind, seriously, that we have to say it? We should be saying Trans Lives Matter, but we are stuck on something more basic.”
Luke Powery lectured on “Preaching on the Spiritual Borders.” The spirituals teach us four notes to sound. First, they sound the note of the reality of human suffering. He declared that we must “remember a deadly, bloody, tear-filled past.” And this—“The blood of the martyrs fertilizes the soil of our preaching.”
Second, they sound the note of a theology of divine suffering. He said, “Death keeps Christianity real.”
Third, they sound the note of an ecology of community. “The spirituals are an exorcism of spiritual narcissism.”
Fourth, they sound the note of the viability of singing as a homiletical strategy. “When life is hard and tough, there is always a song.” “You can’t sing and not change your condition.” “The spirituals are a sign of the slave’s refusal to be stopped.”
The afternoon wrapped up with David Lose’s lecture on how to preach in an age of alternative facts. He admitted he did not yet know. He gave an earnest attempt to grapple with the problem, but I found his lecture quite disappointing. He needs to have listened to Amy Butler, Alyce McKenzie, Brian McLaren, and Will Willimon. They all had good approaches to the problem.
Near the end he acknowledged that he was worried that his approach might simply be cowardice.