Lessons from The Gathering
The Gathering is an annual event offered to all TAC clergy to use as a time of retreat, learning, reflection and fellowship with peers.
This year, Rev. Dr. Luke Powery was the guest speaker. Dr. Powery encouraged clergy to glean insight from the ministry of groaning, weeping and singing at the September event at Lakeview. He is Dean of Duke University Chapel and Associate Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School. He is currently co-authoring an introductory textbook on preaching, “Ways of the Word: Learning to Preach for Your Time and Place.”
Groaning leads to Glory
During his session focused on The Ministry of Groaning, he told pastors, “You don’t have to watch ABC World News Tonight to find out what’s happening in the world. Just read Paul. ‘The whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.’ …. Paul says that the sufferings are ‘not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed’ but some want to get ‘glory’ without realizing that God’s glory is also gory. Groaning is a precursor to glory. One goes through the groans to get to the glory: as Good Friday crucifixion comes before an Easter resurrection. Does your gospel groan? Paul is a truth-telling gospel preacher at this point.”
During the session addressing The Ministry of Weeping, Dr. Powery asked attendees, “Why does Jesus weep? He weeps as an act of solidarity with those who grieve. It is a weeping solidarity that reveals a God who enters the fragility and suffering of human life. This is a communal holy sorrow. Jesus wept to demonstrate that you and I are not alone in the midst of hurt and tragedy and brokenness. God is there even, as the Apostle’s Creed notes, descending into hell. Jesus is God with us, even in our weeping.”
Perhaps the most popular topic of the event was hearing Dr. Powery’s thoughts on The Ministry of Singing. He shares, “The spirituals teach us that human tragedy, death, pain, and suffering are a part of human life, thus a critical component of preaching. No one escapes ‘de troubles of de world.’”
The event allowed clergy to enjoy face time with Bishop Scott Jones and each other, and good food and fellowship in a beautiful setting. Attendee Melvin Amerson with the Methodist Foundation felt refreshed as he left this getaway event. Notes Melvin, “Dr. Powery’s excellent intellectual, spiritual, engaging lectures, along with excellent worship music, fellowship and messages from Bishop Jones made for an all-round great time at The Gathering.” Rev. Jack Womack adds "I learned to remember the power of lament!"