I have nearly 30 pages of bullet points written from those five days. And there is one word that comes up on nearly every single page. The theme for the week as I mentioned before was “Preaching and Politics”, but there was something else too. Jesus was a big theme (of course), discipleship and ministry were present themes too. Of course, I already talked about the themes of anxiety and discomfort and issues of justice. But a theme that surprised me, that permeated throughout the Spirit-filled week? Faithfulness.
God’s faithfulness, the faithfulness of God’s people (that’s us!), and a calling for us to stay faithful.
A Reconciling Faithfulness
The reminder rang out in the lecture from United Methodist Reverend Grace Imathiew as she reminded us that all the way back to the beginning, to the book of Genesis, God shows God’s faithfulness. That nothing stops God, not even our own attempts to cause harm. When Joseph’s brothers go to hurt him, God protects Joseph and uses their harm for good, and for the good of even the brothers. God’s faithfulness brings people together, creates relationships, even when those relationships seem impossible to reconcile.
Dr. Brueggemann retold us the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8, reminding us that part of our own faithfulness as people of God is to nag God, to badger God with our prayers, to call to God when we are in need, to call out to God as the world is in need. Our faithful persistence calls us to pray for miracles. Because, as Dr. Brueggemann tells us, when God is in play, when God is called upon, God’s people are called upon too.
Together we are called to serve God, to participate in God’s kingdom, and as faithful servants, produce abundance in the love and grace we share with our neighbors.
In the midst of heartbreak, of sorrow, of apathy, or even of anxiety and discomfort, staying faithful is a tough calling to us as people of God. It’s crazy to think that words from a politician would have spoken so well to the calling God makes to us. One of the senators who spoke at the Festival told a story of heartbreak from his own life, and the two words that saved him:
Those words sang throughout my week. In the midst of anxiety, division, prejudice, hatred. In the midst of our broken lives, we are reminded, “Stay faithful”. Stay true to your faith in the One who is faithful. Stand steadfast in your calling as a child of God. Trust in our Lord, Jesus Christ, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
This post is the fifth in a seven-part series on experiences at the Festival of Homiletics 2018. Stay tuned for upcoming parts to this series!