My blogging journey from the beginning for those who are interested. Each week I will include one of those original blogs from Martin Scott’s Perspective site. February 4th 2010 and the blogging began. Never did this before, but what therapy, what a joy, what a chronicling of a journey that never ends. In many ways things have developed, but it is good to see where we come from to appreciate where we are. All in the healing. Enjoy or endure…
Day of rest?
Been thinking alot this week about what our Sunday used to be like. When I think back it is almost laughable to think what we put ourselves through. Was reminded of this when we decided to attend an Easter service at a church where my brother-in-law is ‘pastor’. From the off I found this hard because going to ‘church’ is not my favorite past-time, but especially when it is Easter. Too many links to paganism and goddess Ishtar for my liking but that is another story. I went because of family. Family is important. Nearly all of my in-laws (or is that out-laws) were going to be there. Time to catch up and enjoy their company. I was also aware that they would probably be having as hard a time over what I do (or don’t do now) than I would with what they do, church, church and more church. Be in the meetings or backslide type of church. A church the Puritans would have been proud of. The we will make you feel guilty if you are not there, you must sit under the Word, you must see the centrality of the sermon type of church. Talk about two worlds colliding!!! But they are my family and I love them to bits and would not swap them for anything.
Preparing for worship in a mad-house
As I said this reminded me of the time when religiously we would do our Sunday thing. Set the alarm nice and early on a Sunday morning. Get up and then I would prepare the food ready for a nice traditional British Sunday roast. Then it would be time for breakfast and getting the crew up and ready. We must leave the house at 10:15am at the latest. The serene peace of peeling potatoes was then broken by four boys and a wife all rushing to have breakfast and get ready. Bathing, washing, dressing, shouting, fighting, sweating, looking at the clock about a hundred times. Every weekend I would note a minor miracle, however long my wife had (and I am not being sexist here, just making a note) she would always take five minutes longer. An hour before we need to leave, she would take an hour and five, an hour and a half before we were due to leave, she would take an hour and thirty five minutes. This is not very good for someone who needs to be on time to lead a service looking in total control of his life and his family!!! Stress levels would rise, more shouting, more sweating, more kids fighting and arguing. Then it is rounding up time. All good shepherding skills. Pile everybody into the car. At last we are on our way, counting the heads to make sure everybody is there. This is the part I was reminded of when we went to the Easter service.
Time to celebrate the Sabbath?
After catching our breath on the ten minute car journey we would walk in as the perfect smiling family. If only. Kids would go crashing in. Congregants would look at their watch as if to say ‘are they late this week?’ Someone with an issue would aim in my direction, i would disappear quickly to the office to pray a really spiritual prayer of preparation. Make the big entrance and the meeting begins. After an intro would hand over to the ‘worship team’ then enjoy a good sing. Would normally lead what was going on, keep an eye on it anyway. Interject with a prayer, a prophecy, a reading, do the Communion thing. Then it was time to preach the sermon. A good 45 minute preach and then a rousing prayer and be open for a response. Pray for people, words of knowledge, wisdom etc. An amazing hour and a half-ish later it was all over, well that bit was. Then came the conversations, complaints, prayer requests, looking interested at the most boring conversations I had ever heard. Elders wanting a word about what the mysterious ‘someone’ had said who wasn’t happy. By 1 o’clock my wife would give me that evil eye, the kids would have broken something with all that running around, and I was ready for food. Thank God for the Sabbath, the day of rest. (We are so Biblical we never seem to realise that Sabbath was never ever a Sunday in Scripture, not even in the New Testament. The Sabbath always has been and always will be Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. Where do we get all this stuff from that we get so defensive about? You can keep your Keep Sunday Special campaign. No thank you!!!).
Home, cook dinner. Sit down to eat it about 2:30pm, enjoy. Talk about what people were talking about. Everyone else has the Pastor for dinner and roasts him, we roast the congregation instead. She said this, he did that, that song was rubbish and boring, that prayer was too long etc, etc. Finish eating, wash dishes, look at clock. Only three hours and we do it all again (Good old Penties always have two Sunday services!!! Makes us really holy. Sunday morning breaking of bread was for the very seriously committed Christians, Sunday night was Gospel service. The one where the unsaved knew they could hear relevant teaching and lively music, if only they turned up.) At 5 o’clock bath kids and the cycle starts all over again. For what happens here please read above. We just do the same again only different until the end of the meeting at 7:30pm, more chat this time with cuppa and cake, then home by 9ish if we are lucky. Supper, kids to bed, crash out!!! The Lord’s Day, the wonderful day of rest, the Sabbath special day is over until next Sunday when we do it all again.
Do I miss this?
You are having a laugh!!! At first it was culture shock. To go from this to where we are now was a major shift. At first we even felt we maybe had to attend somewhere else every now and again. The ‘i must be in church today’ was so ingrained. We visited all sorts of places. Some made a fuss of us others left us alone. We were always asked about where we were going, almost embarrassed to say nowhere yet, sometimes apologised and said we were still looking. But the journey on the seeming road to nowhere was on. Realising that even the nowhere was somewhere to God. Over time the relief and the joy and the fun of having space and freedom was there. Now it is a family day. Joel our oldest son made a decision to go with a friend to a new church meeting in a hotel. At seventeen I know he too is on a journey and am so thankful that God is a part of that journey. I am not preaching at him about the evils of church etc, etc, because he needs to find his own way. Allison my wife goes to help at her brother-in-laws church with the kids on a Sunday night. She loves kids and inputs amazingly into their lives. She is training her young niece to do the same and when we want to be somewhere else she does the job. Again Allison is on her own journey and needs space to be what she is in God. I just love it that the church (the same I mentioned at the beginning concerning the Easter service) are looking at her only going to that for the purpose of the kids and not going to anything else. This in itself is challenging mindsets. But Sundays have been redeemed. They are days that are a breath of fresh air. I love it,as I love every day.
I feel sorry for my eldest son. The first for any family is always the one you practice and experiment on. Joel was born in the throes of our lives of manic Sundays. As a baby and toddler that is great you just get carried along, but growing up it was tough and unfair. He loves football. Football for young kids takes place on Sunday mornings. Sunday morning is church time. We must be in church, you have no-one to take you, therefore you cannot go. Terrible or what? I have apologised scores of times for this. Joel missed out on so much because he was the scapegoat of a religious ‘pastor’s’ family trying to play the game of being perfect and not upsetting anybody. Thank goodness by the time Daniel and John were older we chilled out a bit. We let them play and Allison would go and watch them if they could not get a lift while I did my pastoral bit. Then came the day of freedom!!!! I always remember the day, it is etched into my memory. Had finished pastoring, John had a game on a Sunday morning and I was going to take him. On the way to the pitch I passed the local Salvation Army hall and I knew the Captain there really well. He was on the doorstep with that ‘church is about to start’ look on his face. We talked briefly and at that moment I smiled and felt so liberated. I knew where I would rather be. I would rather be a father watching his sons play football in the sun, rain, ice, you name it I have watched them.
Now if we want to go to the beach, we go. If we want to chill out at home, we chill. If we want to raid pizza hut, we raid. But now the family lives as a family. We talk around the dinner table with all the time in the world, we laugh, we love, we worship. Through it all I am so thankful that our boys are still so eager to know God and have not been put off Him by any of our shenanigans or what the church has/hasn’t done. They are great kids, and now I am around to appreciate that.
Met a guy named Steve Double for the first time this week. Great to connect with someone else on a journey. He told me something that I will repeat here because I love it. For people who cannot comprehend what living outside the whole concept of church is like. He said that on a lovely sunny day down in Cornwall he will go to the beach. And there he said ‘ I can sit on the beach and think about church, but all you can do is sit in church and think about the beach.’ Nuff said!!!