Here are three reflections on the Preach at the Beach event held October 23, 2018 in Galveston, TX
From Bishop Mike Rinehart:
Dr. David Lose challenged us in many ways last month at Preach at the Beach. He reminded us how many people are unchurched now. “Life only makes sense in story (and we don’t know our story any more).” We are actually growing in a sea of stories now. Brands try to give us our story. Sunday morning has shifted. (How many options did you have on Sunday morning as a child?) Scripture has lost its capacity to give us stories of references run this increasingly secularized society. What we do in worship makes less sense to people. How many Bible stories do you have to know for the Agnus Dei/Lamb of God hymn to make sense?
This impacts our preaching, or it should. We can’t reference Bible stories in a passing way and expect people to understand what we have said. We must recommit to telling the whole story.
Lose made a pitch for the Narrative Lectionary. We jump around the Bible so much, how can people make sense of anything? Consider Advent. We begin by going apocalyptic and talking about the end of time. Then we move to the adult John the Baptist, then backwards 30 years to Mary.
He then challenged us to go beyond sharing information. What did it look like when God became more a part of my life? Where is this passage seen in my world? What would it look like lived out?
He encouraged us to shift from meaning to meaningful. What difference does this make? It reminded me of my preaching professor’s (Paul Harms’) question about our sermons: So what?
Lose pushes us to participatory preaching. If preaching about prayer, have people do it, in worship, in the sermon even. Invite them to practice things at home. Like the Suzuki violin method, give people a chance to practice.
After lunch we dove into the Advent texts. He gave us food for thought, and asked us to brainstorm the texts with the above imperatives in mind.
In Advent 1 we talked about countering millennial dispensationalist theology that seems to be in the air. We talked about fear. Truth. Beginning with the end in mind.
In Advent 2 and 3 we talked about John. When the people ask John, what should we do? the answer is very basic. Share. If you have two coats, share with someone who has none. Don’t cheat people. These things don’t require us leaving our work. They call us to live out our faith in our work. We could invite people to bring coats and shoes to share. Let them practice countering materialism. Talk about all our spending as sacred, not just our tithes. Invite people to write a cross on their credit cards and cash in worship. Every expense is a faithful decision. Don’t let your possessions possess you. This is not just law, it is also gospel. Be freed from slavery to stuff.
In Advent 4 we talked about Mary’s commitment to submit to God’s will. Let it be. Let it be done to me according to your Word. Lose connected Mary’s song to the Peaceful Revolution at St. Nicolai Church in Leipzig that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall without a shot being fired. Why didn’t the Stasi police crack down on the growing group of people gathering at the church to pray and sing? One officer responded: “We had no contingency plans for songs and prayers. We didn’t know what to do. If they had come with clubs, we knew what to do.”
I have no doubt our preaching will be more rich because of our time together at Zion Retreat Center on Galveston Island with David Lose. Attached is a graph from the post-event survey. Thank you David!
From Pastor Anthony J. Chatman, Hosanna Lutheran Church
Years ago, I worked in radio and one of the ways we would determine who was listening was to do shout-outs. A shout out was when someone called in and gave a happy birthday wish, congratulations of an accomplishment or by expressing their love for someone. Kids would send shout-outs to their parents and parents to the kids. If I were on that radio station this morning, I would send a shout out to David Lose, Senior Pastor of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN). David was the presenter for Preach at the Breach. He spoke about “The Season of Gifts,” Preaching Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany in a Post-Christian World. He touched on how “we no longer have the support of the culture.” The question, “What happens to Church when we don’t know the story and the conversation of shifting from meaning to meaningful?” was relevant enough for me to say “I needed this retreat?”
Another shout out for opening worship which helped set the atmosphere. I waited until the morning of to drive to Galveston, an hour and twenty-minute drive from my home ended up taking two hours. The pastor (not someone I knew) said in the homily “Get over it.” This was a great time for me. I found it insightful and interesting, as expected.
Thanks to Jen for a fabulous workshop and a great lunch. I came away feeling prepared and inspired to get creative for the coming season.
Pastor Anthony J. Chatman
From Stephanie Stark, Director of Faith Formation for Youth and Family, Peace Lutheran Church, Pasadena, TX
“We are drowning in a sea of stories and God is no longer a primary actor in the story of society’s life”- David Lose
This quote hit me like a ton of bricks. Not that I wasn’t already painstakingly aware of the weight of this statement, but because it brought to life the complexity of who is sitting in our pews. Preach at the Beach with Dr. David Lose created space for me to wonder how I will share God’s story with a society that is bombarded with stories that appear to be more compelling. Gathered with other preaching colleagues we delved into how we look at Holy Scripture. What impact does this passage have on me? What claim is this passage making of God? Where do I see God active?
Preach at the Beach with Dr. David Lose inspired me to be a better storyteller and how to ignite biblical imagination in others. For, we are God’s storytellers and we have the most beautiful love story to tell.