When he delivers the last sermon of the 2015 season, the Rev. Robert Franklin wants the Chautauqua congregation to join his call for healing, and remember that they are never limited by the past.
Franklin, the director of the Chautauqua Institution Department of Religion, will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning worship service in the Amphitheater. His text is Philippians 3:12-16, and his sermon title is “The Past is Forgettable, the Present is Forgivable, and the Future is Livable.”
It’s a sermon with timely purpose.
“As an extraordinary season closes, my intent will be to provide a pastoral perspective on a very difficult season for the Chautauqua community,” Franklin said. “Deliberations about the future of the Amphitheater have left us, in some cases, emotionally raw.”
Everyone, Franklin said, wants what is best for the Amp, a “national and emotional icon and symbol of Chautauqua.”
In his preaching, Franklin said he will try to emphasize three points: the simultaneous importance and limitations of the past, the need for forgiveness and reconciliation, and promise of the future.
“It is important to cherish and remember the past but never to be limited by it,” he said. “Forgetting the past is in the paradox, both a danger and an opportunity.”
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul calls for “straining toward what is ahead.”
“We are planning to be sustainable well into the next century. We have a great future,” Franklin said. “We have a livable future. If we renovate the current property, we will love it. If we build a replica with many innovative features we will love that, too.”
The life and times of Paul “opens windows of insight” into each of the “emotionally complicated zones” Franklin wants to discuss — especially in a call for reconciliation with one another.
“Some things have been said, thought, and done that may warrant forgiveness and reconciliation,” Franklin said. “I hope and pray that Chautauquans, no matter their position on the issue, will rise to this high calling of practicing restorative respect and kindness. The present should be a time for forgiveness and healing.”
Joining Franklin will be the final Sunday liturgist, the Rev. James Hubbard, a 21-year Chautauquan. Hubbard is involved in the Motet Choir, and has served on the board of the Episcopal Cottage and the Chautauqua UCC Association. He and his wife Mary Jane were hosts at the UCC House for five years, and Hubbard has served as a liturgist for the Department of Religion for about five years.