I've been twice before. This year, I return to Nashville. A place important to my journey.
FoH is a gathering of the some of the masters at the craft of preaching. There'll be workshops and such.
But I go for the worship. I'm not there so much to take notes or steal ideas, although I'm always open to new ideas. I go to soak in the worship experience in which I'm not in charge. I participate as a congregant. It speaks to me.
I've written before about who is pastor to the pastor? It's a tough question to answer.
Who preaches to the preacher is equally difficult.
Very often I'm found quoting from some of the folks who serve on the faculty of what I call the Johnny Jeffords Spiritual Academy. Nouwen & Buechner. If they wrote it I've read it. And then there are names like Coffin, Brueggemann, Forbes, Taylor & Craddock - with whom I had the honor of sharing the pulpit. What they say speaks to me. They aren't the only ones --but they most certainly do.
Like any person who goes to Church seeking a word--of truth, of hope, of challenge, of love and of grace, we who pastor and preach need that, too. So I'm going--gladly and earnestly.
The events of recent days in Nashville impacts the trip only to the degree that the reality of damage sits in front of us as we gather. Alterations in the agenda allow the 1,500 of us who are gathering to offer assistance in the damaged areas. So, a spontaneous mission trip sits out there, too.
One further benchmark of note: I'll be part of a mini-Vandy class reunion. This month, 20 years ago, I graduated from The Divinity School at Vanderbilt. A few of my classmates will be at FoH, and others still live and serve in Nashville. It will be good to reconnect with folks with whom I apprenticed long ago--to see where they are, what they're doing.
I suspect a post or two while there will bubble up.
But what am I up to next week? I'm going to Church!