Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"Joyful subservience to the Word"

Faithful preachers exist in an ambiguous, potentially contentious relationship to our congregations. The congregation is the Body of Christ, that gathering whom God has convened to hear the royal proclamation, but the congregation is full of the same incomprehension, cowardice, disbelief, and rebellion that is found in any human gathering when it is assaulted by the Word. We preachers meet no resistance to the Word that was not first encountered in our own hearts, and in the hearts of our most regular listeners. . . . Though the church may say it wants to hear the Word of God--to be addressed by its Lord and Savior--the church lies. Perhaps resistance to the Word is even more pronounced in the church because the church knows firsthand that God's word is always a summons, an address, a vocation and an obligation; and that God has great work in mind for the church, and therefore the church is justified in feeling some fear and consternation in the face of that vocation and therefore is full of resistance to that Word. Church thus tends to be not only training in discipleship but also in various techniques of avoiding the transforming Word of God. . . .

Preaching is the peculiar speech of the church, but it is not authorized or dependent upon the church and therefore may often be experienced as against the church, in order to be for the church. The words of the sermon are not a congregationally derived Word; that Word comes from God to the church. Preaching is what God says to the church, not what the church musters on its own behalf. Therefore, preachers must be willing to risk conflict, resistance, and rejection by the church in order to be faithful to the church's peculiar vocation: joyful subservience to the Word. Preachers are to serve the Word, not to be acquiescent to the congregation.
-- William H. Willimon, Journal for Preachers


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just got to say, well, wow! Thank you for this quote, it is wonderful and oh how true. This made my day.

I am not exactly sure why I was so taken with this but what is written here so resonates within me as to be a joy in its reading.

Again thank you!

Blessings in Christ Jesus!

6:19 AM, December 14, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

You're quite welcome, Phil. I'm glad, that it awakened joy in your heart. I found it very encouraging, too.

11:05 AM, December 15, 2006  

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