Reflections from the Minister

One of the unexpected upsides of life in the Covid-19 lockdown is that I’m getting to experience and participate in things I haven’t had the opportunity to before. My favourite music festival is going online, which means I’ll get to take part even though it happens at a time of year when I’m not generally able to take time off. I’ll have to wait until October for that festival but I’m got to take part in a completely different kind of festival this week.

Every year Luther Seminary put on a massive conference called the Festival of Homiletics. It is a week long gathering on preaching that brings people together to worship together, hear some of the world’s best preachers and to learn more about the art of preaching in workshops and lectures. I’ve never been before for a number of reasons but many of my colleagues have and they always come back raving about it.

This year, due to Covid-19, the Festival has moved online.

Since it was all happening via live stream the sessions are being recorded, allowing me to watch some live and watch those that I miss later. Thus far it has been inspiring.

On Wednesday I watched a lecture titled “Leading with Preaching: How to Craft a Faithful Sermon.” It was a great talk that inspired me and there’s one piece of it in particular that I wanted to share with you.

The speaker, Karoline Lewis, talked about how a faithful sermon is a theological one. That is it contained good, solid theology but that it also helped the listeners with their own theological thinking.

What is theology?

It is often described as faith seeking understanding. I tend to think of it as bringing my faith and my experience of the world into conversation with each other. That is, I take what I know about God from prayer, reading the Bible and the learning I have done and I ask questions about how it applies to the world around me and the things I see there. Theological thinking is something I think we’re all doing a lot of right now even if we don’t realise it. Times like these can make us rethink what we know, what we know about God, how God acts in the world, and how God demands we act in the world.

This is normal.

When what know about the world is upended, we have to bring our faith into conversation with the new reality. And in doing so we can learn new things about God, our faith and our role as disciples. I recognize that this kind of grappling can be hard. We don’t want to have to question what we know about our faith along with everything else. But I think it is a good thing. Our faith should be something that is growing. Our faith should be something that challenges us even as it comforts us.

I want to encourage you as you grapple with what faith, God, and a faithful life looks like in these times.

If want to have a conversation about it, please reach out to me. I’m always happy to talk. These are tough times but I’m encouraged by the thought that good things can grow in the midst of it.