Linguistic Lessons and Preaching Pyrotechnics: 25th Festival of Homiletics Opening Night
Welcome to the 25th Annual Festival of Homiletics in San Antonio, Texas!
With just over 1,800 registrants, this year's Festival is one of the largest yet. The first evening of the Festival began at the Lila Cockrell Theater at the beautiful Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center with a helpful session on Tips for First Time Attendees followed by a welcome to all from David Howell and Dawn Alitz.
Twenty-five years ago, the Festival of Homiletics began as Howell's vision to bring some of the best preachers together to educate and inspire ministers. This year will be Howell's last year serving as Acting Director. The audience shared their deep gratitude for his work with a standing ovation.
Worship began at 6:30 pm in the Theater with a sermon by Walter Brueggemann, music by William McConnell and liturgy led by David Gambrell and Dawn Hand. The full theater joined in worship together and Brueggemann left the audience pondering the church's specific dialect, in reference to the Scripture readings (Judges 12:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 1:10-31). How does our sibilant welcome or exclude?
The evening concluded with a rousing lecture from Rob Bell, who in spite of some technical difficulties kept the audience laughing and thinking about what writing a sermon can look like. With images and stories, Bell helped preachers think how to move from "having to say something to having something to say." He concluded that it all comes down to how you see the world. "Begin to see a world that is not a cold, dead place ... capture it -- with your edit button off." Writing a sermon does not have to be starting from a blank screen, but a synthesis of all you have and are constantly observing in the world.