I do not often get the chance to sit and listen to someone else preach a sermon on Sabbath. When I do the temptation as a fellow preacher is to listen and critique. The following questions go through my mind: Was the introduction appropriate and engaging? Was the Bible passage/s well explained? Were there enough illustrations? Were the illustrations just personal ones? Was the message too short or long? Was the conclusion and call to action clear?
Recently, as I have discussed life with other professional people close to me, they have challenged me to reflect more on my life. To sense the meaning, value and purpose of an occasion or personal interaction, instead of just going quickly on to the next event, committee or action on the “to do” list.
Most weeks now, I have been setting aside time for reflection. It gives me time to feel—frustration, joy, empathy, annoyance, peace . . . Often as I work through my emotions and thoughts, I end up being thankful. A month ago I had a birthday and all my close family were present (parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, in-laws, many uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces). As an introvert I was overwhelmed at my wife and children’s idea—but felt very loved. It was good to reflect on the value of family.
I have also tried the reflection discipline myself when listening to sermons and now I ask different questions: What is God trying to tell me? What can I learn from this message? What belief or behaviour needs adjusting? As I have done this, I leave worship sermons more blessed and challenged.
Every Sabbath hundreds of thousands in the South Pacific sit in the pews or view a message online. Those in the pew can’t change the preacher by going to another website. They receive what I, other pastors and lay preachers present despite their life situation. As we learn to reflect on the messages the Holy Spirit can open our heart and enable us to receive the truths that will bless and challenge our life (John 14:26, 16:13-15). Reflection is a worthy spiritual disciple for every disciple of Jesus.