Sometimes the lectionary is a real bear. For the second week in a row, I'm having a hell of a time with my sermon. I meant to say hell. Because I'm feeling a devilish desire to duck out from underneath the gospel lesson (Mark 10:17-31--the story of the man called to "sell everything...give the money to the poor, and come and follow" Jesus). It is really tempting to just preach about something else.
I mean, come on! We just did divorce, and "traditional marriage" (arguable, absolutely, but it's a tricky lesson anyway). And now it's the call to give all we have.
The average Bible tries to help us, by telling us that this is a story about a "rich man," which could mean that this lesson is really about the call for rich people to give all that they have. Talk about the temptation in the wilderness. This really does feel like the preaching wilderness.
Yeah, I'm being dramatic. But it is truly a challenge to preach sermons which touch people, which call people into discipleship, and to be pastoral about it.
And like most preachers, I'm a little shell-shocked. I actually did have someone leave the church after I preached a stewardship sermon a few years back which invited people to eschew the call to "give until it hurts" and simply "give until it feels good." As many times as I looked at that sermon, I couldn't figure out what was offensive about it. But money is just so tricky. Our stuff is just such a potent intoxicant. That's why this lesson is in the lectionary, isn't it? Because we need to be reminded that discipleship is a call to give up and give in and give away. And take on the joy of walking with Jesus.
That might work. If I can get through the middle part.