Dr. William H. Willimon has been recognized as one of the top preachers in the English-speaking world and is author of over 50 books. Willimon is bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Each week, more than 8000 pastors around the globe rely on Dr. Willimon for guidance and inspiration as they prepare their sermons. He mixes biblical scholarship with an edgy quality that catches you by surprise. According to Willimon “The greatest sin Christians can commit is boredom.”
Well, one thing is certain – you won’t be bored reading his sermons and your parishoners will notice your excitement. Willimon’s biblical preaching insights are challenging, startling, and even confrontational, yet at the same time they are healing, encouraging, and renewing. During a sermon, he said: “When I consider how demanding the gospel is, I can’t believe how many of you got dressed this morning and came down to hear about it.”
Willimon has also said, “A sermon is a journey from one place to another. Listeners expect a sermon to take them somewhere…They long to be moved by the sermon…The gospel never asks for mere intellectual agreement. The gospel is for conversion, detoxification, rebirth…So in a sense, we don’t discover the gospel, it discovers us…”
Here is an excerpt from Willimon’s sermon for Trinity Sunday, “We Know,” based on John 3:1-17.
Proclaiming the Text Our God is large, living, uncontainable. Life with this God is an adventure, a journey, a leap into the unknown.
How often have you come here, fairly confident that you are on the right path in your discipleship, rather firm in your faith, only to be surprised by something you heard in the scripture, some word that challenged you in the sermon, some challenge that was offered to you in the comments of some fellow Christian?
That’s our God at God’s best. That night as Nicodemus talked with Jesus, he arrived fairly confident that he had a good grasp of who Jesus was; he left having been encountered by the mysterious, majestic, God in the flesh.
So maybe the point of our encounters with Christ – like the encounter we have here on Sunday morning in worship – is not so much to know as to be known, not so much always to understand, but to stand under this truth, this way, this life we name as Trinity.
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•Meditating on the Text: biblical introductions, a prayer, and background material that can be reproduced in bulletins or shared in worship
•Proclaiming the Text: the preaching perspective offered in sermon form to inspire and encourage preachers
•Relating the Text: theme-related quotes and preaching illustrations
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