On Reflection

September 5, 2012

Dear Linwood Friends and Friends of Linwood,

It’s done!  Finished.  Over.  Completed.  Ended.  Concluded.

The lights are out.  The party’s over.  The season has ended.

Sunday marked the end of another season at Linwood.  It was a wonderful day.  We had a great time of worship Sunday morning (isn’t the Linwood Tabernacle Choir something else?!).  And, the Pioneer Service in the evening was as special as it always is.  It was a great day and a great season.  But… it is now history.

Now what?

Many of us – myself often included – are off to the next thing.  One thing ends and the next begins.  The summer is gone and the off season is in full motion.  Don’t look back.  Charge ahead to the next challenge or the next adventure.  Linwood 2012 is gone, so let’s start getting ready for Linwood 2013!

Wait a minute! (or two)

Through the years I learned many lessons from my dear friend and spiritual advisor, Father Nelson Callahan.  We have met every Wednesday afternoon now for 27 years.  One of the things that Nelson tells me over and over again is this:  No moment, no experience, no activity is complete without reflection and co-reflection.  What in the world does this mean?  It means that when we go racing from one moment to another, we are short changing ourselves.

One of the gifts that God has given uniquely to human beings (as opposed to the other marvelous creatures of creation) is the ability to reflect – not only to think about what has happened, but what it means.  That reflection can often shape and direct our lives as powerfully as the events themselves.

For instance, I would share with Nelson how I would go through a Sunday morning and a worship service and a message that I had prepared, and as soon as it was done, I would be thinking and planning about what would happen the next Sunday.  It only seemed natural – and efficient!  Nelson asked me, “What would happen if you took some time – Sunday afternoon or evening or even Monday – to stop and think “How was God at work in what took place?  What surprised me?  What did I mess up and now offer to Him for His grace?  What was the mood and spirit of the people?  Where did I see worry or pain on their faces?  What happened that brought me joy?  What did someone share with me that I want to lift in prayer?”  Interesting, isn’t it?  Whenever I did this, I always found that there were things I would have missed or ignored or forgotten, if I had not taken a few moments to reflect.

Linwood 2012 is done.  But before we go charging off in other directions in other places, we might want to think – “Where did I see God at work at Linwood this past summer?  Is there a way that the Lord spoke to me, or challenged me, or brought me comfort?  Who is someone from Linwood that I would like to lift in prayer through the winter?  Where did I disappoint the Lord and need to seek His grace?

No event or experience is complete without reflection.  Do you see what my friend means?

Then, there is co-reflection.  What in the world is that?  It is the next step.  Co-reflection is when I share my reflections with someone else and they reflect back to me.  What good does that do?  Two things – 1) Sometimes the things that sound so good in my head, sound very different when they are spoken to another.  And, commitments I have made internally seem to have much more significance when spoken out loud.  2)  Sometimes when someone reflects back with me, I hear something very different and discover things I had not seen before.

Is there someone with whom you would be comfortable saying, “I want to share with you my thoughts from the last summer, and see if they make any sense to you?”  I suspect there is someone who would count that as a real privilege.

So, I guess it is not done quite yet – the summer season that is.

Event/experience                           Reflection                           Co-reflection

Now it is done!

The Lord’s blessings on all of you.

Yours in Christ,

Hu Auburn, Linwood Park Pastor

p.s. – I am planning to continue the mid-week e-mails during the off season – whenever I think that I might have something to share!

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