Sunday, June 1, 2014
“Do not let Sunday be taken from you. If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan.” — Albert Schweitzer (a famous missionary)
I lived for many, many years when Sunday was just another day. In Los Angeles there were no businesses closed and many had special sales. Sunday was a day for professional sports, horse races, trips to the beach, trips to the mountains, or trips to the desert. Of course, there were churches and people worshiping, we just never saw any of them and for the population in general—it was a free day to be used for recreation and family activities. When we moved to Arkansas, we discovered that Sundays were indeed special. Most of the stores were closed or didn’t open until noon and one or two of the favorite fast-food places made it a point to stay closed all Sunday, like Chik-Fil-A. The churches were many and crowded, although all of them made it a special thing to be through by noon for tee times at the golf courses and kick-off times for professional football on television. There was a huge rush to be the first denomination to get to the best restaurants, but the main thing was that Sunday was special—the whole week rotated around it. It was a mooring point in a busy harbor, and it became special for us as well. Later, as a pastor doing two and sometimes three services every Sunday, it became even more important to my life. It was also not uncommon for a wife to be in attendance Sunday after Sunday, but we would never see her husband except for special occasions like Christmas and Easter. I was discussing this with some of my clergy friends, and a good friend and fellow pastor, Sara Bainbridge, told me this story. A pastor went to call on a farm couple whose pattern was as I mentioned—the wife went, the husband stayed at home. After dinner they were sitting in the living room near the fireplace as it was a cold Arkansas night, and the husband told the pastor that you could be a Christian and not go to church. The pastor didn’t say anything. He got up and took the fireplace poker and pulled a glowing coal away from the fire. In no time, it lost its flame and became cold and dark. Then the pastor took the poker and shoved the dead ember back into the fire. It immediately burst into flame and became part of the fire once more. As the pastor replaced the poker in the stand, the husband said in a low voice, “I’ll see you Sunday, preacher.” We need the warmth that we get from each other. The world of darkness is cold and we need the warmth of our common gatherings for each other and for the world. Worship is a place to get back in touch with God, with your fellow Christians, and to remind yourself of your mission and calling. Cell phones are wonderful things, but if you don’t recharge their batteries, they are worthless. We need recharging at least as often as a cell phone. God asked us to make Sundays special, and so we should, for we are the beneficiaries of the worship of the Living God.