When my grandmother was little, they ate hard-boiled eggs and cold, day-old sweet potatoes on Sundays. Nothing else to eat; anything else would require work. They fed the horses at the farm, but no other work at all. Period. My mom says after church, the parents took a long nap while the kids played "pretend church" for most of the afternoon, singing songs out of the old hymnal.
Recently I read "Little House In the Big Woods" to my kids, and their Sunday routine was equally shocking to me.
Laura Ingalls and her family spent all day Saturday preparing for Sundays. (And I start feeling convicted.) Saturdays they took baths, ironed their clothes, and made all the food for the next day. Then Sunday morning, they got all dressed up in their finest clothes, did their best hair, to have church, at home. No one else saw. No one else came. They did their (long, boring, even?) worship, and then sat quietly for the remainder of the day, until sundown.
My, how things have changed. And they've changed slowly, without ceremony, without explanation. Western Christians seem to have many different practices for Sundays now. Some Christians work on Sundays, some by necessity, some by choice. Some go out to eat; some don't. Some worship on Sundays; some the night before.
Some of us have lists of things we "don't" do on Sundays - like shopping or movies. Many of us kind of do whatever we feel like.
Honestly, it's confusing to me. It has been for years. I usually like to have a good, solid handle on an issue before writing a post about it. But this is one - it still feels vague. What should Christians do on Sundays? What, if anything, is required of us? What, if anything, is "wrong"? It's been years of grappling (or silencing...or feeling guilty about...) these questions.
While I still do not have a clear directive in my heart over this issue, a few things have surfaced in my thinking regarding Sundays over the last few years.
- Sundays are more a GIFT than a commandment. It's a blessing to us to take a day to meet with other believers. It's a blessing to meet with God. It's a blessing not to work. It's a blessing to rest. God asks us to rest, to focus on Him because He knows we need it.
- Resting on Sundays requires work on Saturdays. My science teacher used to say, there's no such thing as a free lunch. I don't really remember the application, but it strikes me as true here. We can't just skip the preparing and think we can magically, viola, relax on Sundays. Far from it! Just like my great-grandmother boiled the eggs and baked the potatoes, there is work for us, too. I recently shared 10 things I do on Saturdays to make Sundays more restful. It may vary from family to family, stage to stage, but the principle remains: we not only rest on Sundays, we prepare to rest on Saturdays.
- You cannot address the Sunday issue without addressing the technology issue. I feel strongly about this. You can eat yesterday's cold eggs and potatoes all you want, but if you're still attached to your iPhone the whole live-long Sunday, you're not resting. Ask me how I know.
- Celebrating the Sabbath requires trust. If it does for us, it did for them back then more so. To not reap the fields. To let the work sit. We, too, trust that in our resting, God will work. It takes trust to believe that we can accomplish more in six days of work than seven. But "unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it."
- It is an issue of Lordship. That is a fancy way of saying, when I start thinking of the Sabbath, I start realizing how deeply, how fully, how horribly my life is 100% about M.E. My wants, my needs, my schedule. If for no other reason, I need a Sabbath for this one. A day to stifle and surrender ME, and have a day for Him.
The most shocking thing to me? How much I am blessed in the process.
I really want to hear from you. What do YOU do on Sundays? What do you wish you did on Sundays? Do you think it matters?
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