Archives For Will Willimon


An excerpt from Will Willimon’s new novel (yes, a novel!)

Incorporation: A Novel

Will Willimon.

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2012
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As he jogged the familiar though risky route from the church office—cheerfully dodging the ever demanding faithful—down the hall to the sanctuary, hymnal in hand, not five minutes before the beginning of the service (he could already hear hints of the portentous prelude), Ste­phen instinctively gave his cincture a final, reassuring jerk and tugged the button on the neck of his alb. Behind him flapped the ends of his purple stole. Having vested so often for sacred service, he could make such ad­justments even while moving hastily, having no need of a mirror.

He smiled as parishioners passed.

“Stephen, please, please don’t forget to remind them about the Youth Car Wash for Haiti,” an aqua-pantsuited parishioner said. “Remember, you forgot last Sunday. Next Saturday. It’s important. OK?”

“Sure,” he said, suppressing his resentment with a subtlety gained through years of practice.

“Pastor Steve,” a high-pitched, tiny voice peeped from his back. He stopped and turned to find a little girl just behind him. “Can I ask a ques­tion?” she said, her plain face brightening into a smile.

“Sure you can.” He mused at the inopportuneness of questions, even when asked by “the least of these,” to someone in his line of work at this hour, in this place. He knelt down next to her.

“When did you choose to be a preacher?” she asked. “Like in the ministry.”

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A Brief Review of The Word in This World:
Two Sermons by Karl Barth
Kurt Johanson, ed.
Paperback: Regent College, 2007.
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Reviewed by Chris Smith.

There was once a phase in my life where I was reading anything I could get my hands on by Karl Barth.  However, that phase has sorted of waned over the last decade and it has been quite awhile since I’ve read anything by Barth.  Thus, I was delighted to have the opportunity to immerse myself again in some of Barth’s work, when Kurt Johanson invited me to review his new little book The Word in the World: Two Sermons by Karl Barth.   Although Barth’s sermons are an essential part of this volume, they are almost equaled in significance by the supporting materials that Johanson has assembled alongside the sermons here, particularly Will Willimon’s introduction “Preaching with Karl Barth,” in which he examines these two sermons as exemplars within the larger context of Barth’s homiletic work.

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A Brief Review of

The Early Preaching of Karl Barth:
Fourteen Sermons with Commentary by William H. Willimon
Paperback: WJK Books, 2009.

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Reviewed by Bob Cornwall.

This review originally appeared on Bob’s blog:
It is reprinted here with the reviewer’s permission.

Preaching has changed over the years, whether for the good or ill is difficult to say. In an earlier day, at least as seen from reading sermons by the young Karl Barth, preachers demanded more of the listeners than is normally expected of someone sitting in the pews today. There is less emphasis on the “practical” and more on the “theological.”

This book contains fourteen sermons preached by Karl Barth to the people of the small Swiss village of Safenwil between 1917 and 1920. They have been carefully selected by William Willimon, and translated by John E. Wilson. Barth began his pastorate in 1911, but the sermons come from the end of Barth’s tenure in the pastorate – just before he left for a teaching post at Gottingen. They also come from an interesting period of European history – from the closing years of World War I through the immediate aftermath. It is a period of transition, marked by the Revolution in Russia – an event that is very much present in Barth’s mind and preaching. Both the war and the revolution seem to represent the movement into a new age, where old paradigms no longer hold true.

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