Today Was the Day

I was filling out a deposit slip this morning, November 30, 2012. The date struck me and it took me a minute to remember why. It was a Sunday night, November 30, 1975. We called it "Youth Night," a worship service led entirely by the teenagers. After a few songs, prayers and testimonies, a nervous fifteen year old boy got up, opened his Bible and tried his best to preach a sermon. Afterwards, the home folks were kind and encouraging, though the most notable thing about that sermon was its brevity, only eleven minutes long, start to finish. Nobody complained about that. And yes, that young man was me, thirty-seven years ago today, preaching my first sermon.

Since that first fearful and yet affirming experience I have stepped to the pulpit nearly 3,000 times, give or take a Sunday or two. Add in over 500 funerals and around 200 weddings. Throw in a few odds and ends, retreats and revivals, some odder than others. That's a lot of talk, isn't it? Can't help but think I should be better at this by now.

I made a personal pledge early in my ministry to always make my next sermon my best sermon, always trying to improve. I made the mistake of sharing my pledge with a friend in the church I served who then would shake my hand leaving church each week saying, "Well, you shouldn't have any trouble beating that one next week!"

Thirty-seven years of preaching the best news in the world. What a sacred task and high privilege. I thank God for those first listeners who endured my teenage ramblings, patted me on the head, and pointed me down the path God desired for me. Had they been harsh or critical or unkind, I wonder what I would have done and what I might have missed. So, today, November 30, I say thank you, God, for that first moment, those first words, and those first good and godly people who blessed a boy and sent him on his way.


Unknown said…
Glad for that day! You have done good work ever since that day. Recall the day you preached in our church and the lights went out?

I will always appreciate you for being you, for your faithful service and for your kindness, respect and support.

And you were smart enought to marry a wonderful Liberty girl!

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