The Festival of Homiletics is like a trip to Disney for preachers. This year between 1700 and 1800 people have registered – most of us people whose job it is to preach every Sunday. I think of these experiences the way a chef must feel about going out to dinner: those who usually prepare the menu, go to the grocery store for ingredients, cook and serve the meal take a turn being served this week. We will be able to taste the offerings of dozens of preachers this week, and we will be able to worship ourselves. We have come to be fed, and we’re offered a feast.
Tonight we gathered in the Bellco Theater of the Denver Convention Center. The preacher was Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran pastor of a mission church in Denver. She is also heavily tattooed, proudly foul-mouthed, and passionate about Jesus.
The liturgy was an interesting mix: traditional words (including the creed and lots more standing than we do in the UCC) but with very fast and loud bluegrass music. I especially loved watching 1800 people receive communion by intinction, during which time the band jammed to “As I Went Down to the River to Pray”, “Softly and Tenderly”, “I’ll Fly Away” and other gospel songs. 1800 preachers can fill a room with singing.
After worship, Sara Miles spoke about evangelism, by which she means looking for the connections between the gospel story and our own stories. She spoke poetically about how we can find meaning in our own stories.
A good first day – it was fun getting lost in downtown Denver with my Chicago classmate Denise as we took a walk this afternoon, running into our other classmates, and seeing the mountains in the distance.