Preaching Conference in Washington

One of the nice things about Washington is having access to so many resources. One is within walking distance of the church, and should be better known.

The Festival of Homiletics will be held at First Baptist Church — I’m terribly fond of FBC — at the corner of 16th and O Streets, NW from May 17 to 21, and I’m signing up. (Discounted registration before January 15.)

Yes, Fred Craddock will be there. And James Forbes and Thomas Long and Thomas Troeger and Will Willimon and a dozen other really amazing people I’m less familiar with.

It should be really, really good.

Two from PBS for preaching

No, I’m not one of those UU wonks who can’t watch television unless it is filtered through the Public Broadcasting Service, but there were two documentary programs I’ve seen recently that can nicely to preaching.

The first is a Nova episode about the Neanderthal. (Note: the Neander Thal, that is, the Neander Valley, is where the first of these persons’ remains were found. The valley was named for Joachim Neander, who wrote some hauntingly lovely hymns, including “All My Hope on God is Founded.”) It is easy to look into the motives and cultural cues that come from the two sides of the Neaderthal debate are they or are they not human as we understand it and see an attitude that upholds or denies human unity. Indeed, that was the theme of my sermon on September 14. (Not online.)

Show site: Nova: Neanderthals on Trial

The other show is good if you need resources for a sermon on Abraham’s decendents, the Old Testament, or anything relating to the Jewish nation. Sometimes it is nice to get a refresher on the timeline, extra-Biblical witnesses, and the like.

But The Kingdom of David has no real website as far as I can tell!

Big Sermon II: Posting it online

Following up on “comment” requests:

Fear not, the Sunday sermon will be online, but not here. It will be at the church website — www.Universalist.org — which as I already mentioned now uses Movable Type. Look for it Sunday night or before.

I appreciate your interest.

Big Sermon I: What is Christian?

I really didn’t get online to make the previous much-too-long statement, but to try and throw out a few ideas as I think about my next sermon, on August 24, the big annual “What is Universalism?” event for newcomers to church.

The Christian cohort within the UUA, while producing some good minds, devoted laypersons, and godly pastors, hasn’t exactly been the hot-place-to-be these forty-plus years since 1961. We’re certainly guilty of our own kind of sectarianism, and always worried when one of our beloved got ecumenically active: if a minister, this person often transferred to a Christian denomination with its greener pastures.

But the one question we should have asked, needed to ask, but rarely if ever did was “What is a Christian?” What charisms within Unitarian and Universalist life inform the life of Christian? What then, do we mean by “Christian”?

For far too long, we played the “what is Unitarian Universalism?” game inside the family to make sure we weren’t written out of it. The journals of the UUCF before the 1985 General Assembly, when the Principles and Purposes were adopted, make for a harrowing read.

In generations before, at least on the Universalist side, the operating question was “What is a Universalist?” since this was the point of controversy and departure, and since Christianity was pretty much a given.

Now it isn’t, and with a low level of religious literacy, increasing secularism, and the church being at such a low level of reputation, I think those-that-are need to examine “What is a Christian?” before going to more particular subjects.