Get Me to the Church on Time — Or, Not

There is this pervasive, and perverse, belief in Christian communities that one of the hallmarks of a true believer is the tendency to get up early– really early, say 5 a.m. or 4:30.

Some people enjoy sunrise, and others celebrate sunset. Spirit of the Canyon by Steve Henderson, available as an original and a signed limited edition print.

Otherwise, you’re a sluggard, the Proverbs one.

This verse (Proverbs 6:9 if you promise not to slap someone with it) is enough to quash those mutinous insurrectionists who mildly observe that weekly church services start a little early, especially for families with kids who need to get up, rouse the offspring, feed the nestlings, dress everyone to the nines, stuff them in the vehicle and arrive, on time, and in a state of worshipful adoration.

After all, if you got up at 5, you’d have hours enough and more for a leisurely breakfast and “quiet time,” which, incidentally, sounds like something we impose on pre-schoolers.

Years ago, when the progeny was young and we did the Sunday morning rush, I commented to an older woman on how stressful this was.

“I never had a problem with it,” she stared me down. “I just prepared everything the night before and got up early. God is important to me.”

I got the message: her God is not important to me. True, actually. I’m looking for the real one.

As the years went by, we became accustomed to being the appostates who always arrived late, didn’t stay for Sunday School, and never participated in communal evening groups, simply because we were determined to not only observe, but to enjoy, the Sabbath day of rest. And yes, I know we’re not Jewish and we observed the day on Sunday not Saturday, but the day’s made for us and not us for the day, and what mattered to us was the “rest” part.

ronically, once you’re past the age of 6, it takes work to relax. Dandelions by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

Interestingly, as you read through the Old Testament and what it says about the Sabbath, “worship service” and everything associated with it does not come into factor. Rather, the emphasis was on God’s gift to a people who  worked, and worked hard, six days a week, with the Sabbath being a welcome, and literal, day of rest.

You didn’t cook. You didn’t milk the animals, plow the fields, answer e-mail messages from the office or get a few hours in on the project that should take three weeks to complete but was allotted eight days. You also did not feel obliged to spend your morning preparing your household to a state of perfection and rushing out the door in time to catch the first two songs preceding the morning announcements (which are a verbal repetition of the information printed in the bulletin you were handed as you whooshed through the portals).

Judaism101 describes the Sabbath as “a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits.”

This is hardly how we felt, coming home after the weekly rush; coming down from an artificial environment of happy faces masking tired, discouraged people; sensing that, somehow, we just weren’t “Christian” enough. We certainly slept in past 4:30 a.m. on a regular, chronic basis.

Whatever joy we were supposed to have found in the event it took so much time and stress to prepare for, we never did.

We now spend our days of rest focusing on deeper, higher things. Bold Innocence by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Eventually, we freed ourselves from the tyranny, one by one releasing the ropes mooring us to the dock, setting out on an unexpected and unsought for journey as independent Christians who no longer attend church — not because we’re dissident provacateurs, but because we’re patient people who gave, and gave in, and compromised to the demands of the institution to the point that, like Popeye, we stood all we could and we couldn’t stoods no more.

And now, on the Sabbath, we rest, set aside our weekday concerns, and devote ourselves to the pursuit of higher things.

Finally, it is a day of joy.

The images in this blog are paintings by Steve Henderson, the Norwegian Artist. Steve sells his work in both original and signed limited edition print form, both on the website, and on The Norwegian Artist,  a newly opened Etsy store.

Because Steve believes in getting real art in the homes of real people, he and his manager wife, Carolyn (Middle Aged Plague) set up customized, interest-free payment plans for interested buyers. If you see something that you like, but don’t know how to go about paying for it, Contact Steve and Carolyn and they will work with you.

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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5 Responses to Get Me to the Church on Time — Or, Not

  1. Dianne says:

    You’re right, if they check the Bible, they will find that God did not set the time for the church services. Men set the time, and not mothers. That’s why there is nothing wrong with evening services. Isn’t the Jewish Sabbath Friday evening?
    Only, if you have animals to milk, you really need to milk them, poor dears.

    • We have often thought that an evening option — not just an “extra” at the end of the day after the “real” service in the morning — would be pleasing, perhaps with a potluck winding around it so that people can chat in a relaxed, informal atmosphere.

      Interestingly, regarding the animals, an animal husbandry friend of mine reports that, in some cultures, animals are not milked on the Sabbath (whichever day it is in that culture) and are given a “rest” as well as their owners. She reports that studies done show that there are no adverse effects (increased incidences of mastitis, infections, etc.) in the Sabbath animals from the control group. Food (or milk?) for thought . . .

  2. oldswimmer says:

    Yes, I worried a bit about those cows, the poor dears, too.. I’ll have to remember to ask about that when I get to heaven.

    The pot luck is another function that I personally did not get enthusiastic about back in my proper church-going years. It added yet another fillip to the preparation of three wigigly children who might actually be whiny and tired out by end of the day on Sunday. I wonder if any of the men prepared the food for those functions? Give me a pot luck on a lazy day, when no one notices who’s on time. My late offering is hot for the late-comers. We eat hearty and communicate with joy and care… no rules and regs.

    I will say that the many years of family church regularity did stoke the furnaces with a wonderfully useful bunch of memorized Word, old type hymns that buck me up automatically amazingly often by playing in my head and bringing me to humming and singing, and the kindly fetters of the ties that bind. I am grateful for the beauty of those years, however many arguments and how much strife we had on the way to church. Everything costs something. We are glad when we are not feellng obliged to continue what has begun to cost too much to warrant continuing.

    Just telling the truth here.

    • I like your style of potluck. I had forgotten the pressurized aspect of potlucks, but was thinking along the lines of how we generally “entertain” guests in our home — everyone we know wants, and expects, to bring something, and we all jumble it together and eat what’s there. Never have had just desserts yet, or crackers with no cheese.

      Truth is good, my friend. Too often people hold in their real thoughts and nod along with the group, then later, when they get home, vent to the people they’re comfortable with about how they’ve been walked over.

      • oldswimmer says:

        Sounds like our family gatherings, with people bringing things they know we all like…or me bringing “stinky fish” delicacies that I don’t like, but some of he Norwegian types do, including my five year old granddaughter! My 34 year old grandson brings his juicing machine and makes orange juice for us all, fresh! We never know for sure who’s coming when and bringing what, but it’s (almost)ALWAYS fun and good.

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