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Rev. Barbara Lundblad Returns to Preach for 6th Time at Institution, Serving as Week 7 chaplain

Asking a preacher to talk about grace should be an easy assignment, but as the Rev. Barbara K. Lundblad said, “grace is a squishy word.”

“We use it a lot, but its meaning is very vague,” Lundblad said. “We say things like, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ ‘Amazing Grace’ is one of our most popular hymns.”

Lundblad, the Joe R. Engle Professor of Preaching emerita at Union Theological Seminary, will serve as chaplain for Week Seven at Chautauqua.

Her sermon at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday Ecumenical Service of Worship and Sermon in the Amphitheater — also the baccalaureate service for the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle Class of 2019 — will be “Talking to Yourself Is Not Enough.” She said the story from Luke 12:13-21 does not have a lot about grace in it.

“The challenge will be finding what grace has to do with it,” she said.

She will also talk about her faith journey at the 5 p.m. Sunday Vespers in the Hall of Philosophy.

Her sermons at the 9:15 a.m. weekday Ecumenical Services in the Amp will follow the Christian liturgical year: Monday (Advent), “Grace: A Word Out of Place”; Tuesday (Christmas), “Grace: A Surprise in Bethlehem”; Wednesday (Lent), “Grace: An Ending We Didn’t Expect”; Thursday (Easter), “Grace: And Still I Rise”; and Friday (Pentecost), “Grace: Is It for Everyone? That’s Scary.”

This will be Lundblad’s sixth chaplaincy at Chautauqua. Director of Religion Maureen Rovegno said this is a record number for chaplains in Chautauqua’s modern era.

“We are delighted to welcome back the Rev. Barbara Lundblad to Chautauqua’s international pulpit as chaplain for the week; this is her sixth visit to bless us in this capacity,” Rovegno said. “In a week lifting up grace as a ‘Celebration of Extraordinary Gifts,’ who but our beloved Lutheran preacher would we invite to shine a light upon and within this hallowed reality?”

Lundblad noted that grace is a word used more by Paul than by Jesus.

“Grace is huge for Lutherans because it was for Luther; it involves forgiveness, love, mercy,” Lundblad said. “And we are going to look at some hard edges because within grace is race, and it does not feel like we have a lot of grace in this country.”

Lundblad received a Bachelor of Arts from Augustana College and a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and several honorary doctorates, including from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. An ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, she served for 16 years as pastor of Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church in New York City. While teaching at Union, she also served as pastoral associate at Advent Lutheran Church in Manhattan.

A preacher on “The Protestant Hour” radio program (now “Day 1”) since 1983, Lundblad has appeared on the Chicago Evening Club television series “30 Good Minutes,” and has given the Beecher Lectures at Yale Divinity School. She is the author of Transforming the Stone: Preaching through Resistance to Change and Marking Time: Preaching Biblical Stories in Present Tense. In addition, she has written articles for Christianity and Crisis, The Christian Century, Journal for Preachers, The Living Pulpit, Word and World and Currents in Theology and Mission. In 2014, the Academy of Homiletics honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award. She is currently the editor of “Preaching Helps,” a regular feature of the journal Currents in Theology and Mission.

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The author Mary Lee Talbot

Mary Lee Talbot writes the morning worship column. This past winter she made her acting debut as Miss Maudy in To Kill A Mockingbird at the Lucille Ball Little Theater in Jamestown. She edited the forthcoming history of the Jewish presence at Chautauqua and wrote the history of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd for its 125th anniversary this summer. She is a member of the Chautauqua Lake Central School Board and lives year-round in Chautauqua with her dog, Max.