Thank you to everyone who tapped characters on a phone or computer to wish me a happy birthday yesterday! It was great fun to read through greetings and recall folks from all corners of my life: my hometown, college, seminary, internship, Holy Nativity, Oak Grove, and from places like the Festival of Homiletics.
It is worth noticing what brings us all together once in a while.
On Facebook, the people who shared a birthday greeting with me were brought together by one common denominator: me. Not that I’m anything special. Throughout the years, at one time or another, or over and over again, I’ve made a connection with each of the birthday greeters. And suddenly there we were, all appearing on the same Facebook page.
Today was the fifth and final day of the Festival of Homiletics.
Each day has been rich with words and song.
It is worth noticing only one thing, really, brought all 1,000 of us together in one place.
We all love to preach this Christian faith.
We preach in several corners of North America. Some proclaim from a Methodist pulpit, or UCC, Presbyterian, American Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopal. We cover our human bodies in different ways, with or without a robe, in adorned or unadorned spaces. Some are women, some men, some white, some black. All yearning, as you can feel in a gathering of preachers, yearning to be faithful proclaimers of God’s Word.
And I realized, not for the first time, I am so sick of faithless fighting among church bodies.
I am so very sick of clergy who work, sometimes quite shamelessly, to divide the faith Jesus died to re-member, that is, to put together as one.
To quote Yvette Flunder, one of our speakers who is a UCC pastor: “How do we come to hate people and serve a loving God?”
How do come to regard or disregard one another by sexuality, denomination, or even, I have found, which translation of the Bible we use.
Let us always stop to notice what it is that brings us together. Let us remember what the church could look like, putting aside what it is that dismembers us. I will remember the church is capable of looking like and even acting like one community, like the variety of denominations that have lived as one community of faith in Christ at this Festival of Homiletics. I will remember.
A tweet from Pope Francis last week: “To communicate with mercy means to help create a healthy, free and fraternal closeness among the children of God.”