As a Children's Minister, I am normally in church every Sunday, but Sunday is rarely my Sabbath day. Sundays are work days. I come in and out of worship services delivering a Children's Message, then heading back to the hallways to support the directors and teachers, answer parent questions, observe in classrooms and greet families coming and going.
Until recently, I was always able to carve out time to actually attend a worship service on Sunday mornings. As a member of the chancel choir, I not only got to worship God through song, but no one disturbed me or paged me during that scared hour. I sat beside good friends whose voices blended with mine and I truly felt the Holy Spirit through God's Word and our music offerings.
And for three years, I was blessed to worship with my husband almost every Sunday. It was heavenly! You see my precious husband claims he can't carry a tune in a bucket, so all those years I was in the choir loft he was either in a sound booth or ushering. Yep, I had to give up chancel choir to worship with him, but it was worth it. We sat side by side, experiencing God together and as a result people actually knew who my husband was!
Yep, for a decade or two, when church members would see my husband and I holding hands, they'd say, "I had no idea you were married!" or the uncomfortable and confusing, "I had no idea you were married to him!" I always wanted to mess with them and say something back like... "We're not married." Or "Please don't mention you saw us together." or worse "Whom did you THINK I was married to?" But I didn't because they had a reason to ask. We were rarely seen together. Such is the life of a Children's Minister.
But even getting to actually worship for an hour, still wasn't a day of Sabbath rest. I was clearly at work and on call. And for the past several months, needs in our growing Sunday School departments pulled both my husband and myself out of our precious hour of worship. He became the darling of the directors by serving as the standing substitute for the Preschool and Nursery Department while I put out fires and recruited substitutes to rock babies and fill in for sick teachers or simply assist in the growing classes. It was the same for the rest of my team, so I didn't complain. I knew it was only temporary.
Don't get me wrong. It is a HUGE privilege to work for God as a church staff member in a growing Children's Ministry. It's just we had to intentionally create a Sabbath day other than Sunday. My Sabbath day was usually Friday. While my husband was working, I would lounge around in my PJ's and spend time with God for a few hours. I'd read scripture or scholarly books on scripture, meditate and sometimes write.
Sometimes, I used a portion of my Sabbath time to plan my Children's Message. I'd meditate on the pastor's scripture, study a few commentaries and pray about what God wanted me to share Sunday morning. Some would say it wasn't a true Sabbath, but it worked for me. I felt the Holy Spirit with me and I praised God by recounting the blessings of my week.
Today, I find myself in a rare situation. I'm celebrating the Sabbath on Sunday! Having resigned my Children's Ministry position last Sunday, my husband and I decided to take this Sunday off - from church that is. Really, this was my husband's idea.
If I'd had MY way, we'd be visiting one of the umpteen churches I've been dreaming of visiting. I'd be sitting in a new sanctuary - whether Gothic, Jeffersonian or early warehouse style as an anonymous worshipper. Either that or I'd create my own little homecoming Sunday by attending worship at one of the other churches I served in the past.
My husband rarely demands ANYTHING. He suggested sleeping in for a Sunday or two or three. When I countered with my adventures in church hopping idea, he simply told me he was "done" with church for a while. Knowing his "done with church" attitude was born out of the spiritual stress of being "married to a Children's Minister", I caved. I love and adore this guy! How could I say no?
So today we are savoring a day of real Sabbath rest on Sunday.
I'm not going to lie to you and tell you we sang hymns on the deck and then read scripture to each other. Far from it! Today, we slept late, then enjoyed a leisurely brunch of fresh fruit and waffles with a few cups of strong coffee. Now the afternoon awaits us and we're trying to figure out what normal people, those that aren't on church staff, do on Sunday afternoons.
I don't have a CLUE what to do. We could go to the gym for a workout and sauna. We may take a nap or venture out to Costco or the mall. Scratch the mall idea... I HATE the mall. (Frankly, I imagine Malls were Satan's idea, so no Malls on MY Sabbath.) We could take a ride in the country and enjoy the fall foliage - a true marvel of God's creation! For $18 each, we could see the Rembrandt exhibit at the Art Gallery. The choices are endless.
I CAN tell you what we're NOT going to do. We're NOT going to do any housework other than make the bed! I'm NOT going to return emails or plan for any meetings or classes while Frank takes a nap. We're not rushing back to church for Bible Study and Youth Group and returning home late for an even later dinner.
Whatever we do today, I promise it will be restful and will rejuvenate us spiritually and physically.... and I will SAVOR every moment of this unique Sunday Sabbath rest with my husband until we're ready to return to a new church setting and corporate worship. I will sing "This is the day that the Lord has made." in my head and I whatever we do, I will rejoice in doing it!
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