The first day of the week is the Lord's Day, Sunday. Before Christianity, we worked six days and rested on the seventh. Ever since Christ came in the first century, we rest on the first day and work the next six days. Jesus turned that work-rest pattern upside down, and now we rest in Jesus' finished work, and then work out of gratitude for what he has done. Sunday is a day that starts our week by receiving Christ in both Word and Sacrament, and we come out of that rest into our Monday through Saturday in loving service to our neighbors.
I hesitate to write about this because it's something I struggle with weekly and I don't think I am very fit to address...but here goes.
Sunday in any house filled with needy sinners, like my own, is always going to be chaotic at times. Prior to having two kids Nick and I had pretty relaxing Sundays. We would attend morning service, go to Sunday School, have lunch with some friends, take a nap, go on a walk, attend evening Service, make dinner and go to bed. We were always able to listen to the whole sermon both morning and evening, and had unobstructed time for fellowship. It was at this time in my life where my faith had grown the most and that I felt like I truly had a day of rest and nourishment for the week to come.
Now, with kids it is different. Everything is precisely planned out, like I said I am OCD. The day and night before Sunday/church we reload the diaper bag, set aside snacks, pick out our clothes, bathe the boys, fill up the gas tank and try to mentally and spiritually prepare for the day ahead of us. Even our best efforts of trying to make Sunday go smoothly are somehow ruined with an unexpected surprise. We never expected that Sunday would turn into so much work and more importantly that we would never attend church the same way again. At least for the next few years.
What has worked best for us is tag teaming between the two kids ,and obviously this only works if you have only two kids. Otherwise you're on "Zone" (so we hear), Nick handles Calvin, which I actually think might be the most work since he is so verbal, has to go potty a lot, and is always hungry. Max and I bounce around between the cry room, nursing room, and diaper changes. I am thankful for cry rooms and nursing rooms because in the midst of taking care of Max I am able to hear snippets of the service and try to keep track with the liturgy as much as possible. We try to make it a goal to always be together as a family for the Call to Worship, Lord's Supper, and Benediction. Calvin, having been raised in the church and catechized in the home knows the liturgy well and for the most part understands what is coming next and looks forward to praying and giving praise with the congregation. Nick has also encouraged me to ask for help when needed.
I think a lot of times we let the weight of motherhood fall on our shoulders and we don't know how to get it off. The times when I have asked someone next to me to help hold my baby or turn the faucet on for Calvin to wash his hands or to hold my hymnal for me, I have experienced nothing but cheerful giving. We are called to bear one another's burdens and we should not fear reaching out to our brothers and sisters in Christ for a helping hand when needed.
My husband works for White Horse Inn, Inc. and they produce an excellent Reformed magazine called Modern Reformation. In the most recent issue, May/June, Anna Mussmann has a great article, My Child, My Neighbor, and the Church addressing children in the church. Here are some quotes that have stuck out to me.
"...motherhood has given me the opportunity to serve my neighbor, in and out of the church, in new ways. The more obvious benefit is the instant connection to other mothers. I am able to go on playdates, chit-chat, form friendships, and offer an example of Christian living to women with whom I might not otherwise have as much in common."
"Children are not an overly absorbing hobby. They are people. They are the church. They are our neighbors. They are among those whose God-given role is to give us opportunities to serve the weak and the poor, the ugly and tired, the temper-tantrum-throwing, poppy-diapered little fiends who take and take without a word of thanks. In doing so, we are brought face-to-face with own weakness, poverty, ugliness, and weary inadequacy."
This article is so encouraging and mind-opening. Anna has helped me to realize how God has given me opportunity to serve his church through the mundane things of motherhood, although this new journey looks nothing like I envisioned. I am thankful that serving the church does not only have to be on Sunday. We are able to have fellowship at our house Monday through Saturday. I am able to help by neighbor by bringing a new mom a meal or encouraging a mom in the nursing room. I can learn wisdom from the older women in my church, and the best thing I can do is raise my children by God's grace in the love, reverence, discipline, and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you are like me, and feel like sometimes you are trying to survive Sunday and feel like you don't get much out of church because you cannot focus 100%, I have three words for you: Don't lose heart.