I offer my gratitude that you have given me the time and space to be away at a conference that is both challenging and uplifting. The Festival of Homiletics (in other words, a preaching conference for those who preach a progressive understanding of the Good News) is a conference I have wanted to attend for years. But, as it is geared for those who preach on a regular basis – it was not until I became your pastor that I was able to attend. I knew that it would be a transformative experience – but I could not have begun to imagine how it would change me.
The truth is, however, I am still not able to begin to understand how it will change me. I simply know that I am changed and will continue to change as I reflect on what I have heard and experienced here.
Try to imagine this – I am hearing 5-7 sermons or lectures a day. Each given by a prophetic voice whom I have tremendous respect for. Each sermon and lecture fills my soul and convicts me to find my own prophetic voice. There are moments when I am in deep lament about the state of our world today and wondering what one voice can do to begin to turn the tide. Then, I hear a word of hope. A word of awe. A word of mystery. A word of Good News. And I know that it is when each voice is added to another that a symphony of voices speaking with moral imagination will fill the air.
I am thinking of all of you at First Congregational moment to moment. You are the reason I am here learning and striving to better myself. You are the inspiration I am drawing on. It is the pulpit at First Congo and the public square of Winona that I am called to preach in, of that I am sure.
I don’t know how I will be changed, just that I will be. I am eager to explore what I am learning and praying about with all of you when I return. Until then, God’s love and grace to you all.