Before moving to Portland, I lived in Spokane, Washington for a brief season, and it was when I was living there that my brother joined our family and I spent many hours in my little Honda Civic driving across the state on weekends to hang out with him and my folks (and to catch as many of his football games and track events as I could). I had a handful of cassette tapes I would listen to while driving, and one of them was a recording of a sermon preached by William Willimon at the annual pastor’s conference for the Covenant Church. I was just coming into my own as a preacher at the time, and listening to him preach was utterly inspiring.
There was one point in particular during the sermon (the text was Sarah’s encounter with God where she laughed at the news that she would bear a son) that brought me to tears at every hearing and the more times I listened to that tape, the more I would choke up at that point (my husband likes to call this my pre-emptive or anticipatory crying–I do the same thing with movies I have seen over and over again). It is a brilliant sermon, and it has always reminded me of the kind of preacher I would like to be.
This morning I drove in with Doug and found a seat in the back of one of the DMin classrooms at Fuller and listened, captivated, while Will Willimon spoke to a group of students about what it means to take seriously the idea that we are called as preachers to invite an encounter with the living God. When I slipped out an hour later and made my way upstairs to Doug’s office, he turned to me with a grin: “Was it all you expected it would be?”
In a word, yes.