The preaching festival last week was not only about the preaching but also about fellowship, worshipping with hundreds of others who also feel called to share the love of Christ through preaching, meeting new people and experiencing different theological backgrounds and worship styles.
My favorite “different people” I got to spend a good bit of time with were: a Russian Orthodox Priest and his three friends, one of whom (Anna), preached a beautiful sermon on one of the Psalms. It was actually her first sermon ever! And let me tell you what, she nailed it.
I also met a young lady who goes to The Lutheran Seminary at Chicago (I think that’s it, or something like that). She shared a lot with me about her tradition at the closing dinner on Friday night. She is passionate about homelessness and was a great storyteller. Her sermon was on Zacchaeus, the same text I chose.
I learned that in the Lutheran tradition, there is a ceremony of sorts, of remembering your baptism that involves congregational sprinkling. I also learned that the person who is in charge of worship services in the Orthodox tradition is called an ecclesiarch. I met one such ecclesiarch, and he was very cool. He’s going for a PhD in Music, an apparently highly competitive field.
I saw a lot of different preaching styles, and a fun common theme throughout the three days was one of super encouragement. Each preacher would be swarmed after their session, with people wanting to shake their hands, or tell them some part of the sermon that touched the listener.
I mostly learned, or rather, saw reinforced, the idea that though we come from all these different backgrounds, our purpose as followers of Jesus Christ is the same – to share the love, hope and gospel of Christ with our lives –
our devotional lives
I’m convinced that preaching has a bright future, and I’m enriched by having learned from two very different traditions than my own. I’m also convinced that through the preaching, and through the fellowship, God was glorified and this is GOOD news!