I grew up in the church. Not always happy about it, but I was always there. I’ve attended small churches and big churches, churches that were alive and churches that were dead. In my thirty three years, I’ve spent the majority of my Sundays at church.
And it wasn’t until about two years ago, when we stopped going to church on Sunday that I really began to celebrate the day.
Now before you get your underpants in a jumble, we didn’t stop going to church. Our church, because of growth and lack of space, went from three Sunday morning services to two Saturday night and two Sunday morning ones. Our church leaders asked members to, if possible, make the switch from Sunday to Saturday, to free up space in the pews on Sunday morning for visitors and new attendees. And because we’re good listeners, we started going on Saturday.
At first, it felt weird and dirty to not be in church on Sunday mornings. If I went some place during the time we should have been in church, I felt compelled to tell strangers around me that I went to church on Saturday night. Like they cared. Like they were truly wondering why a saint like me wasn’t in church taking dubious sermon notes and singing with my angelic voice. It was ridiculous, but I’ve come to accept that I’m probably more ridiculous than most.
After a while, when we got into the rhythm of Saturday night church, I came to appreciate the switch. Saturdays are never relaxing or restful in our house. There are always errands to run, birthday parties to attend, swimming lessons to get to. We go to the gym to work out, Chris sometimes works, and all the things on my to-do list that were pushed off during the week finally come due on Saturday. So getting to church on Saturday never felt like a chore or an impossibility, it was just one constant in our busy Saturday.
And because of our busy Saturdays and then church that night, Sunday became this quiet, restful, family day. We didn’t have to rush breakfast and scream at kids to move faster as we hurried to the car (eh, not that I’ve ever done that before…). We didn’t try to cram in just a few more shopping stops on the way home from church and then grab lunch because we were still home in our pajamas at noon. Slowly, Sunday morphed to this sacred day where no one made plans, we watched too much TV, took random naps, and ordered pizza for dinner. We avoided scheduling things, tried not to make commitments, and fought wearing real clothes if at all possible.
I’m going to tell you that Sunday has become my favorite day of the week. We’re intentionally together, preparing for our week, resting from the past one. I get meals planned, clothes ready, and, if I’m feeling adventurous, I even sweep the floor. There is no rushing, no demands, no reason to move at anything but a lazy, easy pace. I feel like this is the closest I’ve ever come to keeping the Sabbath holy. It’s one of the ten commandments–to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy–and I always read that as don’t forget to get your butt in church. But this new routine we’re in, this new way of doing Sunday, is opening my eyes to what the Sabbath could be.
I think you can have the Sabbath any day of the week. Maybe for you, Monday is your rest and reconnect day. Maybe Friday nights at your house are sacred and guarded and it’s your holy time, the time you feel the most at peace. I’m sure there’s all kinds of Biblical and historical things I could quote right now about God’s plan for the Sabbath to make this post feel all church-y and official. But that’s not my style and looking things up just sounds like a lot of work right now.
But here’s what I know: you need to figure out when your Sabbath will be every week and then hold tight to it. Guard it fiercely and like your life depends on it. Whether it’s with friends, your family, or all by yourself, make the Sabbath a priority and it will flip your week and your world upside down. Because He knew what he was doing when he said rest. He knew what he was doing when he said slow down. He knew. And He still knows.