Posts By Timothy Merrill

TIMOTHY MERRILL is an ordained minister and has served churches in Oregon, Minnesota and Colorado. His doctoral work at Princeton Theological Seminary focused on the apocalyptic nature of the preaching of the First Crusade in 1096 A.D. His work has been published in the academic press including the Patristica and Byzantine Review and the Westminster Theological Journal. His book, Learning to Fall: A Guide for the Spiritually Clumsy (Chalice Press) appeared in 1998.

Summer Reading | Homiletics Blog

Summer Reading

By Timothy Merrill / June 10, 2022

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.—Groucho Marx Summer is the time when many preachers get to read books. Congregational life slows down just a bit. Accrued vacation time is often taken during these months. A good book is always…

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Banyan Tree

Sermons from Trees

By Timothy Merrill / April 25, 2022

Faithful readers of Homiletics will recall that I’ve waxed modestly about trees on several occasions. The archetype of the tree is an important device in both Scripture and literature. Indeed, the Bible begins with “the tree of life” (Genesis 2:9) and ends with the “tree of life” (Revelation 22:19). Adam and Eve were not to…

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Homiletics Online In Praise Of Switchbacks

In Praise of Switchbacks

By Timothy Merrill / March 18, 2022

Several of our longtime writing contributors are avid enthusiasts of different athletic activities. One is a seasoned cyclist who’s ridden back and forth across the entire country and probably pedaled every back road in the state of Ohio. Another is a marathon runner who’s completed both the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon.…

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Outdoor Christmas lighting display

Let the Christmas … or “Holiday” … Celebrations Begin

By Timothy Merrill / December 10, 2021

Tell me we live in a post-Christian era or a post-Christian culture and I will agree with you with one proviso: Let’s not talk about the weeks between Thanksgiving and December 25. During these roughly four weeks, the United States is anything but a post-Christian culture. It’s a decidedly Christian one. How do I know…

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The Why And The What Of Sermon Writing 940x705

The Why and the What of Sermon Writing

By Timothy Merrill / July 29, 2021

How to Help Your Congregation Chew Their Food  By Timothy Merrill  Everyone except the preacher seems to agree that a good sermon’s most appealing attribute is brevity. Hands down. The late comedian George Burns once said, cigar in hand, that “the secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good…

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Wood sign hanging off of a door knob that says "welcome, we are open"

Willing to Be Disturbed

By Timothy Merrill / May 14, 2021

I ran across a handout that was distributed to participants in a weekend seminar dealing with issues of conflict resolution, group communication dynamics and the like. The two-page handout was an excerpt from a book written by Margaret J. Wheatley called Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future (San Francisco:…

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HomeTouch - Elderly woman looking out the window.

Homebound people often struggle with how to pass the time.

By Timothy Merrill / February 12, 2021

We first published this blog during the summer of 2020 as we saw communities struggling to deal with the isolation and boredom of a lengthy quarantine. If you are a card-carrying member of the “sandwich generation,” boredom is the least of your worries. The S-Geners are people who have caregiving responsibilities for their parents and…

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The Waiting Preacher

The Waiting Preacher

By Timothy Merrill / August 14, 2020

I was waiting. At the Intercontinental airport in Houston, Texas. I was flying standby and had missed three flights so far. My waiting began at 7 a.m., and at 4 p.m. it showed no sign of abating. So as I waited, I thought about waiting. You can wait for things, like a package to arrive,…

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Bridge the Gap Image

A Pastor’s Note of Support from Homiletics Online

By Timothy Merrill / March 19, 2020

Dear colleagues in ministry, Just a note to express our support and understanding of the particular challenges we face as pastors during this time of national – global – upheaval. Many of our churches – if not most – are now shuttered because of the possibility of contagion, practicing “social distancing” to minimize the possibility…

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The Transliterate God

The Transliterate God

By Timothy Merrill / December 16, 2019

I was in a taxi yesterday stuck in slowly moving traffic and happened to glance at the car in the adjacent lane. The driver was thumb-twitching like crazy on his iPhone while his vehicle continued to move forward. I know we have laws against intoxicated drivers, but we should — if we don’t already —…

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