Sunday, August 09, 2015

Slowing it Down on Sunday Mornings

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Back in June of this year, our church changed facilities. We went from meeting at a local elementary school in the morning, to meeting at another church facility in the afternoons.

And I am loving the new routine!

Sunday mornings now mean for me, slow-waking-up-mornings, leisurely lingering over a cup of coffee. The house is absolutely quiet until about 9am while we all are still in bed sleeping, reading, etc. I get our room to myself, as Earl is up and in his office enjoying his own quiet morning (which is no different from his M-F routine). I am not having to fight to keep my eyes open during my Bible reading or prayer time (like most weekday mornings when I’m up at 5:30 am). I now have quality as well as a quantify of time to spend working on Bible memory. It’s not a rushed morning.

And breakfast is at 9 am. Together. This is something that is also unique about Sundays. During the week, breakfast time is “every man for himself”. The kids usually eat together, after fixing their meal, as Earl and I have already eaten much earlier. But now, I fix a “special breakfast” that we don’t normally have. One week, it may be a crock pot breakfast casserole that I’ve put in the night before. Or we may fix crepes (One of our favorites!).

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It may be good old-fashioned pancakes. Or we may look up and try something new one of these days, because we have the time to do it now. (Saturdays are usually up and on to the day’s chores and activities.) At first, some of the younger kids would wake early and help me in the kitchen. But now that we are all settling comfortably into a new routine and the excitement of change is wearing off, they are enjoying staying in bed until called for breakfast. I enjoyed the company, but I equally enjoy the quiet morning time in the kitchen all to myself, listening quietly to some worship music and continuing my meditation of all that the Lord is trying to say to me when I take the time to slow down.

What is my heart and mind thinking on? Lots of things. I think back over the week and about those things that frustrated me. I talk with the Lord about what I was trying to hold onto; about what I was afraid of losing; about what I was afraid wouldn’t happen if I didn’t make it. I confess my fears about the coming week (Are you sensing a theme here?). I remind myself, again, of all of the promises He has made to me, His beloved child, about who He is, and what He has done, and what He will do. I seek to get in a position where I can see my life and days and circumstances from His vantage point. I strive to quiet my heart before Him. And I prepare myself to worship with the Body of Christ at Coast. I face my inability to love like He loves. I talk about my excuses and He gently reminds me of the Truth. I pray hard that He would grow me to love those around me as He would love them if He were here again in the flesh. I pray for open ears during the teaching time. I want to grow in my ability to live pleasing to Him. I ask for grace to not shrink away from His gentle rebuke, but to humbly submit to His chastening where needed.

And when my heart is quiet, I thank Him. I thank Him for this life He has allowed me to live. I thank Him for the people around me and for how He is using them in my life to love me and grow me. I thank Him for His presence and His help. I thank Him for His patience and gentleness. And the list could go on and on. That’s one of the things I love most about Sundays. Not every week, but many weeks I get to come into our time of worship after having already primed my heart. I didn’t always get a good chance to do that when we had to rush out the door at 8:45 am.

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Sundays have always been about church for me and Earl, and is true for our kids now as well. About 10 years ago, an older woman in our church gave me a copy of a book that has really resonated with me in how I feel about Sundays. I don’t agree with all that is suggested, but I certainly concur with the spirit and longing of the author. Listen to this excerpt:

“As a couple, David and I vowed to work together to restore our observance of the Lord’s Day, to seek to make Sunday the best day of the week, the high point, to struggle to establish this rhythm of the sacred in our lives as individuals and in our lives as a family. We wanted Sunday to become the joyful focal point of our weekly lives.

“Now it’s important to underline the word joyful. We did not want to slip back into an old legalism, that grim old joyless observance of the Lord’s Day with its killing can’ts and don’ts and won’ts and shall nots. That attitude has done as much to create a dread of worship as anything I know. It was against this kind of legalism Christ had to continually speak. In three of the Gospels his words of reminder and rebuke are recorded, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’ I wanted the kind of celebration in our family hearts that I read about in Isaiah and Deuteronomy: ‘If you . . . call the Sabbath a delight . . . if you honor it, not going your own ways . . . then you shall take delight in the Lord . . .”(Isaiah 58:13-14). ‘You shall rejoice in your feasts, you and your son and your daughter’ (Deuteronomy 16:14).

“So David and I moved slowly but determinedly into recapturing Sunday meaningfulness . . . We refused to schedule meetings on Saturday evenings. If we were traveling, we attempted to return home in time for church on Sunday. We curtailed our social activities; we reminded our teens, ‘Tomorrow is Sunday; be home early tonight,’ and we began to establish new family traditions to create activities that would encourage Lord’s Day appreciation. Not only were we going absolutely counter to the secular culture of society in which the weekend was viewed hedonistically and narcissistically, but we soon discovered that we were going counter to the secularized culture of the church where a full calendar was viewed as sacred.”           (Making Sunday Special by Karen Burton Mains)

It has been wonderful, I have realized, to get to slow down on Sundays. Really slow down. And I am finding that we are ALL appreciating the rest.

And in that slowing down, we’ve actually found the strength and energy to open our home more. We have a slow and restful morning, and then we are rested enough to host a family or two after the service in the evening for dinner. Dinner is easily prepared ahead of time and is just waiting for us. Sunday evenings have been sweet as we have shared it with other brothers and sisters. (Before, we would leave the house at 8:45 and not return home until about 3pm. Earl might be even later. We were wiped out by Sunday evenings.) Yes, it has taken some extra thought and planning to make these changes happen (breakfast, hosting for dinner), but I have found abundant grace and even on most days a joy in the doing. It’s still a work in progress.

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So, we are enjoying this new season, and the newfound energy to change things up a bit and hopefully grow a whole lot!

May He be honored and may we be filled up with more of Him and with fullness of joy!

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