It's not often that I hold the entire congregation's attention through an entire message. People usually go in and out as I preach, which is normal for a 1/2 plus of a talk. Sunday however, was one of the rare days in which I seemed to almost hold the congregation in the palm of my hand as the message unfolded. Now that I think about it though, the times I am able to connect on a deeper-than-usual level is when I'm talking about a difficult topic and sharing a powerful story, both of which happened on Sunday.
Sunday I preached on Matthew 5:43-48, where Jesus commands us to love our enemies. In a country that was founded through violence, perpetuates it's standard of living through violence and participates in a society that glorifies violence, loving your enemies goes totally against the common sense of the culture. Which is why I was very nervous about Sunday's message. Maybe I'm just overly sensitive, but when I know there's a really good chance I'll be stepping on some toes, I tend to get quite nervous. That nervousness however, causes me to over prepare, over analyze and "over pray" (if that's possible). Maybe it was all the extra prayer that contributed to the congregation's level of engagement.
We responded to the message with a time of prayer and worship. I could sense the Holy Spirit moving in people's lives and speaking through Scott Sidusky as he lead the response. With their face basically glowing, a new family told me how incredible the worship experience was. By the way, that family came because a doorhanger was hung on their door. God moved in a powerful way on Sunday.
My sweet wife agreed that I seemed to hold the congregation's attention in an above average way. She did mention that she could hear crickets chirping while I was preaching. Now, in the talk radio world, the sound of crickets means a caller or topic is especially boring. While that might've been the case for Sunday message, I guess it's simply the result of the cricket infestation that seems to be happening at Pioneer Ridge Middle School.
You can listen to myself (and try to hear the crickets) here.