I am at the airport, waiting for my ride home from the Festival of Homiletics, and what shall I say? I have been broken and I have been stitched up. I have been blown away, and I have been blown away like a dandelion seed. I feel my lightness, my whiteness, my weediness, and my potential to wreak havoc.
Dr Forbes wanted to recruit us all (all?) to God’s Dream Team, and as my spirit protested and continues to protest, “In your dreams,” he countered, “And when did you last find a mountain in your way and order it to up and move?” His encouragement was kind and unrelenting; and the Rev Otis Moss III told us to hold on; that it was too early to say that it is too late for God to make a way. God works by any means necessary, making use of any person or voice that God chooses.
We cannot stop preaching, Dr Melva Sampson told us, because we do not have the right to remain silent in the face of cruel church and secular politics; because resurrection (she quoted a Facebook post by Dr Anne Joh, which will haunt me);
Resurrection is the collective realignment of the living with the dead and those already consigned to death. The transformative power of resurrection must not be in celebration of any kind of transcendnec but rather grounded in this defiant realignment of the living against powers and principalities of the death machine. Resurrection is our commitment to realign ourselves with the dead and those prematurely dying amidst us.
That will preach.
We need to preach, Professor David Lose told us, to counter the abuse of language in a world which tells us we are nothing, when God tells us we are everything. We need to keep preaching, because the gospel is so unbelievable that we need to be assured of it over and over.
We need to preach, the Rev William Lamar IV told us, because we can skew scripture, manipulate tradition, use reason to explain away inconvenient truths, but when we let the Holy Spirit loose, there is no controlling her.
We need to preach, said Bishop Yvette Flunder, amongst many things, because the Word of God is alive. We need to preach not only in the pulpit but in the public square; “If the only time you preach is in the pulpit,” the Rev William Barber II declaimed, “our are not much of a preacher.”
I have been blown away, and I feel blown away like a dandelion seed, one among a million, at once inconsequential and capable of wreaking havoc.
The Rt Rev Robert Wright diagnosed a minor imagination of God as the cause of little courage to defy the forces of empire and evil and to trust the power which God has invested in us: “Defiance is a part of the imago dei,” he preached, remembering the midwives of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt and marvelling at their faithful defiance of Pharaoh’s murderous will. Non-cooperation with evil is by definition the stuff of God, he said; love is active rebellion against anything that is not love.
There is so much more to say, so many words, so many. I am broken by the weight of them. The call of God to preach has stitched me up. I am ready to fly.