I love scenes from the Andy Griffith Show that make me wax nostalgic for the slow pace of the small town lifestyle. I especially like the scene in which Andy, Opie, Aunt Bee, and Barney are sitting out on the front porch after Sunday lunch. They’re talking about what a fine sermon the reverend preached that morning at church and what they might do later in the day. Barney says he thinks he’ll go down to the fillin’ station and get a pop. Boy, that takes me back. My childhood years were a little like that scene from Andy Griffith. I sometimes think how I miss those simpler times.
Things have sure changed in attitudes about Sunday, haven’t they? For too many pastors and church staff, Sundays are the most tiring day of the week with all the preaching, teaching, mingling, meeting, etc. It can be just as tough on the families, too, with rehearsals, classes, volunteering, serving, kids’ choir, committee meetings, and the like. We have allowed what should be a day for rest and celebration of God to turn into a stressful slate of activity that only dulls our senses toward God. Then this cycle of busy-ness comes to be expected as the norm of church life. It’s like the whole goal of Sunday is to meet and go through our routine. Is that what Sunday is really for?
The common Sunday paradigm is the expectation that you will attend church at the appointed time, the preacher will inspire you to be a better Christian, you will take part in prayer and singing, then you will go home to rest a few hours before coming back just to do it all again. Then you start your week and live your life until it’s time to meet again at church. And that’s pretty much it. A lady once told me all she wanted from church was preachin’, prayin’, and singin’. That statement sticks in my mind, because it really sums up the whole package of what it means to be a Christian in the minds of so many “church” people. Sunday is all about meeting at a designated place and time to engage in spiritual activity. That is the total of their walk with God.
The Sunday gathering has been so ingrained into our psyche that we have no clue what we are to be doing the rest of the week. It is not all about Sunday! It IS about Sunday through Saturday! We worry so much about the gathering–taking roll, collecting offerings, counting heads–that we give no attention to the everday scattering. It’s what goes on all week that matters most. That’s where God is at work! He’s present in the struggle of your relationship; He’s doing something in the heart of your restaurant server; He’s active in your school and workplace. We just don’t see Him, because we’re waiting for Sunday to see if He’ll show up and do something there! We’ve got it wrong–Sunday is for celebrating what God has been doing around us all week! God can change a life on Tuesday afternoon. He can answer a prayer on Friday morning. He can provide courage at the Wednesday board meeting. He doesn’t wait for the Sunday meeting.
Church is not just about Sunday. It is the people of God, under His authority, joining Him on His mission…every day. Some people view their Sunday meeting attendance as the sum of obedience. I’ve even heard old saints say it in their public prayers: something about the fact that we showed up for church is a sacrificial act on our part. We do a fine job training saints to be good Sunday church members. What kind of job are we doing in training them to be everyday kingdom citizens?
If we concentrate on doing the work of the kingdom during the week and reserve Sunday for worship and celebration of God and His work, I think we could recapture a little of that Andy Griffith feel…and maybe go down to the fillin’ station for a pop on Sunday afternoon.