Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hearing William Willimon Preach

Waco is full of unexpected blessings. We tend to forget that Truett Seminary is here. Although it is an officially "Baptist" seminary, I have found the people at Truett to be very open to Episcopalians and to liturgy, especially of the Episcopal variety.

For their Fall Preaching Conference, Truett Seminary invited Dr. William Willimon to campus to speak and to teach. For the past 2 days, I took the opportunity to hear Willimon, who gained renown as a preacher when he was at Duke and who is now a Methodist bishop in Alabama. Everytime that Willimon writes in The Christian Century magazine, I have resonated with his earthy style and straight-forward faith.

And I learned a few things from hearing Willimon preach yesterday and today -things that I gleaned from hearing a master preach:

* Preaching, according to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is about letting the resurrected Jesus walk around in the room.

* God tears the heavens open so that Jesus can get to us freely; now no one is safe.

* It is okay -and actually quite effective - to say "umm" during a sermon, collecting your thoughts before making your next point.

* As I have always suspected, the most powerful parts of the sermon are the stories and illustrations, not the theological discourses.

* Not everyone needs to be "born again/from above." Only Nicodemus, the "church elite/leadership," need to be ripped apart and turned upside down by a birthing from above.

* Do not apologize for the things that Jesus said, things that you repeat/expound upon from the pulpit. Jesus does not need us to protect him.

It was good to be fed and watered at Truett Seminary these past 2 days.

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