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Assuming They Are Christians

Too much of our homiletical energy is spent reducing the gospel to a bumper sticker or acting as if it's easy to understand.
— William Willimon

In January of 1991, as the country was in the throes of the Gulf crisis with Iraq, I attended a large church for Sunday worship. During the service, the preacher gave a children's sermon.

"Boys and girls," the preacher said after the kids had scrambled to the front of the sanctuary, "what is today?"

Silence. Finally some freshly scrubbed ruffian blurted, "Sunday, January 6."

"Goooood," replied the preacher. "But today is more than that. In the church calendar, today is Epiphany. Can you say the word Epiphany?"

A noisy chorus of "Epiphany" reverberated throughout the sanctuary in thirty-part disharmony.

"The word means 'manifestation' or 'revelation,'" the preacher continued. "And even though you may never have heard of Epiphany, I bet everybody has heard of a favorite Epiphany story, the story of the wise men. How many of you know that story?"

Again, ...

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