I remember we were at recess at Sallie Zetterower Elementary School, in November, 1963, when our sixth grade teacher called us into the classroom and told us President Kennedy had been shot. Strangely enough, I also remember a few months later, in early 1964, when a fellow student, Lee Driggers, told us during Civics news-sharing time that the beetles were coming. That’s the way most of us heard it and thought it, at least.
We all laughed and it took a little explaining that the bugs weren’t coming. Lee said a rock and roll band was coming from England to visit the US, and they spelled their name: The Beatles. We laughed again at someone misspelling a word on purpose.
I’m sure I could remember more events from elementary school if I concentrated, but overall, the other things I remember are the teachers, and the smell and taste of the cinnamon rolls in the lunchroom.
Yet, I know I was there and apparently paid attention to the teachers at times. I can read and write and do arithmetic (although, I do still have to think about it to remember that 7 times 9 is 63.) So, someone was doing things correctly, and I’m sure it wasn’t me most of the time.
Makes me think about Sunday preaching. I can usually remember some topics and points of the last few sermons I’ve heard (at least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) But, I couldn’t list out the sermon topics and points for the last three months. And, certainly not for the last six years – relating that length of time to the six years I spent in elementary school.
But, I can think back on the last six years and say that I have learned from and been affected by many sermons. Someone was doing things correctly, and I’m sure it wasn’t me most of the time.
I (and we) do need to pay attention and think about what is being said in order for a sermon to affect us. And, in my opinion, the preacher needs to spend time in prayer and study in preparation for the preaching. However, while those actions are doing things correctly, they’re pretty much useless unless the One Who does all things correctly is involved.
In the praying and studying. In the hearing and thinking. In the preaching. Without the presence and power of God, it is all foolishness. Yet, with God’s power and presence, our hearts are opened up to Him, and His Word is opened up to us and, yes, we grow spiritually.
We can look back over a sermon, and a month of sermons and six years of sermons, and remember specifics of only a few. But, we also find it has become more common that a verse of Scripture or something said about a verse of Scripture comes to mind at just the right time. We realize we have grown stronger in our faith and knowledge through God’s power and presence.
The Beatles did come and did have an effect on the country, but, my memory of Lee making that announcement isn’t much more than a bit of personal trivia. Some elementary school classes (and news sharing times) may stick with us through time, but it’s the overall process that’s critical. If we have good teachers leading us, it makes for good results – and we learn reading, writing and arithmetic, along with other life skills.
Specific sermons may stick with us through time, but, it’s the overall process that’s critical. If we have our Lord and Savior leading us, that’s fantastic, and we learn and follow His ways and His paths through life – and those are the most critical life skills.
“Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.” Psalms 25:4