|This is what I look like when I grumble. Not pretty.|
I have to admit that this week, while I was getting ready for one of those particularly busy days, my heart was full of little grumblies. All I wanted was to have a simple Sunday filled with sincere worship. Wouldn't that be nice? Well it ain't gonna happen!
That said, there are lots of things we can do to help minimize those Sunday distractions that all too often pull out attention away from worship. Some of these things my family does well. Others we still need to work on. Hey, it's a process!
Ten Ways to Simplify Sundays
1. Get Up! I know there is something oh-so-wonderful about those few extra minutes snuggled up under the covers, but those few extra minutes will make you late for church every time. The best way to avoid the rush, rush of getting ready for church is to give yourself plenty of time. I love starting my Sundays with upbeat worship music. Nothing knocks the sleepy out of your eyes like the Gaither Vocal Band (Don't judge. I usually let me husband pick the music...). So crank up the volume and get out of bed!
2. Start the Day with a Good Breakfast. There is nothing more distracting than a growling stomach halfway through the Sunday morning sermon. For many of us, Sunday lunch often comes quite a bit later than we are used to, so getting a good breakfast is essential to keeping those hunger pains at bay. This doesn't mean breakfast has to be complicated, just filling and nutritious (can anyone say, Honey Nut Cheerios?)
3. Plan ahead. Pick out the clothes you are going to wear on Saturday evening. I don't just mean look in your closet and make a tentative plan. I mean try on the outfit (or several) from head a toe and prance around your living room for a while making sure it's what you want to wear (maybe only I do this). Also, pack the diaper bag, write the tithe check, and gather materials for Sunday School. All of these things can be easily forgotten in the rush, rush of getting ready for church.
4. Shoot for Comfort, but Not Casual. I know each church is different, but I'm a big believer in dress clothes. I don't think it's right for us to put more time and effort into our wardrobe for a Saturday night on the town than we do for a Sunday morning worship service. That said, dress clothes don't have to be uncomfortable! Sacrificing comfort for the sake of fashion isn't the type of worship God is interested in.
5. Be modest. Let's face it, we all make poor clothing choices at times, and we often don't know it before it's too late. For instance, it wasn't until I was at church today that I realized my dress flapped every time the wind blew or that my split skirt showed a bit too much leg when I was sitting down. Let's just say I was much more concerned about keeping my legs covered than I was worshiping. Lesson learned! Making modest clothing choices can free our minds to think about God during worship rather than clothing malfunctions.
6. Examine Your Heart. Most of my time on Sunday mornings is spent making sure everyone around here is dressed and ready to go; however, sometimes I have to stop and remember that God doesn't look on the outward appearance. A beautifully dressed family doesn't bring as much glory to God as beautifully cultivated hearts. It's important that we take time to focus our hearts and minds on Jesus before we get caught up in the busyness of our day of worship.
7. Keep Lunch Simple. I'll admit, I've been guilty of using the invitation time to make mental lunch plans rather than focusing on my response to the sermon. Keeping lunch plans simple ensures that we can focus on thoughts on God during the service. Where is it written that you can't have sandwiches and leftovers on Sunday?
8. Remember the Sabbath. We don't keep the strict rules of the Sabbath day like the Jews in the Old Testament, but I still think we can learn a thing or two from the practice. Around our house you will rarely find us working on Sunday afternoon. This means no laundry, no housework, and hopefully very little church work. I know for many of us (especially students) Sunday afternoon seems like the perfect time to catch up on homework or housework to get ready for Monday, but I think our time would be better spent resting, reading our Bibles, and enjoying our families! We all need down time and the Lord's day is a perfect time to stop and reflect on his blessings.
9. Simplify Responsibilities. One of the wonderful parts of being a member of a local church is the opportunity to serve others on Sunday. This may mean teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir, being a door greeter, or keeping nursery. However, some of us have a tendency to become over involved in these ministries. If you've tried simplifying your Sunday routine and you still feel too busy, maybe it's because you are actually too busy. It's important to prayerfully consider where God wants you to serve, and allow Him to use other people in those other areas.
10. Keep Your Eyes on Jesus. The wonderful thing about worship is that it's not contingent upon everything else going smoothly. So if you have a terrible, no-good start to the morning, never fear! God can still be praised. So what if you have absolutely no plans for lunch and the kids' hair looks like they just rolled out of bed! God can still be glorified. He knows exactly how rough your morning was, and His grace is sufficient for even the worst of days. Our goal is to worship him by giving him honor and praise regardless of our circumstances. Just remember to look past those imperfections and keep your eyes on Jesus.