the text? Mark 10, where Jesus tells the rich man to sell everything he has and give the money to the poor, and to "come, follow me." When the man went away saddened by this call, Jesus famously told his disciples that it was "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
I don't think that's very fair for a first sermon for a new pastor, do you?
I didn't either.
I preached it anyway (not well, but that's another story), partly because I am committed to the lectionary even when I hate it and partly because Richard basically told me to and partly because it was stewardship season and mainly because I think it holds words we need to hear.
In the three years since Mark's version of this story last appeared in the lectionary, I've preached somewhere in the realm of 60 other sermons--a lot, for an associate. Some are better and some are worse than that first one here. Most are shorter, since I've finally figured out that sometimes less is more when it comes to preaching (and because our worship schedule just Does.Not.Allow. for 2000 word sermons!).
Also in those three years I have prayed, celebrated communion in the sanctuary/fellowship hall/retreat center/home/park, baptised a bunch of babies, a couple of kids, and an adult. I've participated in the confirmation process of 25 youth. I've organized and led 3 retreats, 2 Thirty Hour Famines, 2 mission trips and 1 Montreat youth conference, and more lock-ins than I care to think about. I've listened to people (and given more advice than I should have), planned about 200 youth group meetings, had a dozen margaritas with the youth leaders, taught adult classes, searched for tons of new music for worship, welcomed 50-ish new members, said goodbye to dear friends who've moved on from this life, listened in about 50 choir rehearsals, sat in hospitals, sung silly songs with children, danced to energizers, played musical chairs, hoped for the best and prepared for the worst, sat in a distressing number of meetings, filled out a zillion building surveys, sent thousands of emails, set up a church facebook page, eaten hundreds upon hundreds of meals (and millions of calories, I'm sure!), dreamed big dreams and cried big tears.
And that doesn't even begin to get into it.
Many associate pastors stay only 3 years. Many first call pastors leave the ministry entirely during that same period of time. The latter is not me, and I hope and pray that the former isn't either. I love this place, I know I'm called to be here, and I look forward to the amazing work still to be done with amazing people.
I seem to have recovered well from that first (bad) sermon. May there be many more cycles of the lectionary still to come. And may the next three years include a slightly cleaner office than the past three...