Undone by Easter

Undone by Easter

William H. Willimon, Abingdon Press

Time, its passing, and how God interacts with it. Willimon’s take on time, and how preaching should deal with it, did shake my perceptions of the message of Jesus and how I listen to sermons and compose homilies in the quiet of my mind.

Willimon is a well-respected bishop of the US’s United Methodist Church, based inNorth Alabama. He is best known as a theologian, writer of more than 50 books, former Dean of the Chapel (long associated with UM) at Duke University, North Carolina, and is said to be one of America’s best known preachers, having been named in a 1996 survey along with Billy Graham as one of the 12 best preachers in the English-speaking world. So expectations are high.

I soon had to ponder whether I did want amaretto in my latte. You have to read the book to work out why this is instructive. (Actually, I’d prefer a chai latte.)

Okay, so I’ll let you into it. Willimon uses a wide range of references, showing his being “well read” and well informed, to link the familiar to the disconcerting; the point is that we should be challenged to consider different angles when being challenged to think about God and that Jesus used this technique in telling parables.

Several chapters deal directly with time, how Jesus discussed it and how the Bible talks about God dealing with it.

Then, we get a chapter on repetition, saying that the repeating of ideas is okay in preaching when done correctly. (Think about breakfasts versus lunch and dinner; and, preaching should be a “staple” rather than a banquet.)

So, in preaching about Easter, there should be a feeling of repetition, but with new perspectives.

The last chapter returns to time, but disrupted, and he offers the thought that interpreting the Bible for today can lead to the conceit that our superior position can deliver the meaning of the text “even better than its author”.

This is around 100 pages, plus good notes behind. Enjoy, be enriched and emboldened. I am.

Peter Ellis

 

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