Last Sunday afternoon, we were setting down plates and moving serving dishes from the kitchen to the table. My 8-year-old said, “Mom, why do we only have lunch together on Sundays?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean, like, we don’t eat lunch together on Saturdays or any other day…we just come in and make a sandwich when we’re hungry.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said, as I lifted a gallon of milk out of the fridge, “That’s because on Sunday lunch is the bigger meal that we eat together as a family instead of supper.” We had already changed out of our church clothes into our play clothes and had no plans for the rest of the day.
He set down the forks. “But…why?”
Why. There are certain things my family and Jamie’s family always did growing up that our small family still does: like eating lunch together on Sundays. And there are things that both of our families always did that we don’t do, like going to church twice every Sunday. Is our Sunday meal a case of tradition for tradition’s sake? What makes certain practices endure, and others not?
Simply put, I think the things that matter to us, that affect us positively, are the things we keep doing. What actually matters to you about Sundays?
Isaiah’s question about Sunday lunch made me reflect on this. What matters to me about Sundays?
One of the things that matters to me about Sunday is simply having a weekly rest; a “release valve” to let off the pressure of the week. I need it. We were created to need it: right from the start of Genesis, God said, “Enough.” It is good. Rest. We can work as hard as we need to during the week, knowing that a day of rest is always coming. God designed it that way. And we can take that gift or leave it.
The month of June was rough. I woke up one morning after a full night of sleep, feeling like I was swimming up from the bottom of deep water and couldn’t get to the top. I’d had a heavy load at work due to some short-term resource issues on my team, then I got COVID, and then had an unusual problem with my eyes that had to be resolved. And although July and the start of August has been mercifully more relaxed at work, our family has had some other medical issues that drained us of time and energy. The word that kept coming to mind for me was depleted.
Do you feel depleted?
Here’s what has helped to refill my tank: intentionally working towards letting my Sundays be about rest, worship and play.
Sundays changed for us a few years ago, when I read two books that talked about the importance of building in and practicing rest. This is something I was raised with but got away from in adulthood
I typically avoided Steelcase work on Sundays (my paying job), but I did use Sundays to catch up on household chores. I would fold all the laundry on Sunday and catch up on any errands that didn’t get done during the week. (Do the boys need haircuts? Sunday!) There was always some sort of agenda–seven days a week.
One of the books that changed my thoughts about work and rest was “Garden City” by John Mark Comer. Also, Andy Crouch talks about Sabbath in his book “The Tech-wise Family.” I decided to try it for several months back in 2019 – not do any chores or errands on Sundays, and really leave the day open for rest, worship and play.
Now I look forward to Sundays even more, and it’s been a great resource for my mental health and my overall productivity in life (although not as many to-dos get done). We don’t usually lay around all day, but sometimes we do, depending on the week. It gives each of us a long stretch of hours for rest and play, with no big meal to cook and clean up late in the day. It frees up the entire afternoon and evening for longer chunks of rest and play. We could nap or hike or swim or golf or whatever sounds good.
It feels luxurious to have a stretch of several free hours from lunch until bedtime to do something fun. I can say yes to a longer board game in the winter or a longer bike ride in the summer. Last Sunday we played 18 holes of frisbee golf and went to Pinkies for ice cream.
Are you a to-do list person like I am? If we have an agenda to accomplish seven days per week, then there is too much focus on vacations to be the pressure release valve for the whole year.
When I’m 90 (if I get that far), I want to look back on my life and say that I’ve worked hard and rested well the whole way through. At the halfway mark to 90, I’d say that resting on Sunday benefits my life every week, and honors God.
I would tell Isaiah that traditions like a big family lunch don’t really matter. This was a hold-over from both of his parents growing up in Dutch-Reformed communities that ate a big meal in the middle of the day on Sunday, because that is when family was all together after church. We still do it in our house because we like it. (And it’s not always a big meal….just a meal all together).:
So having big family meal at lunch instead of suppertime on Sundays is not what matters most to us. I think we’ll keep doing it, because it fits in with what DOES matter most to us on Sundays; worship, rest and play.
The Sabbath was made for the sake of people, not people for the Sabbath.”– Mark 2:27