by Elizabeth Stewart
“Is it just my imagination, or are there more lost shoes, discouraging arguments, serious fashion failures, lost keys, and dawdling children on Sunday mornings than on any other day of the week?”
No, it’s probably not just your imagination.
My experience with the Sunday Scramble began long before my first child was old enough to care what her hair looked like. She was an infant when I began to notice that she only threw up on Sunday mornings. And usually not more than two minutes before it was time to leave for church.
Sunday mornings only got more interesting as subsequent children arrived and the possibilities for delays or frictions between people multiplied.
Eventually as children got older, I recognized it was time to back out of trying to manage it all, and pass over the responsibility for “being ready” for worship to the kids. My son quite recently reminded me – with a wider smile than I was comfortable with – about that transition:
“Hey Mum. Remember when you told us that we all had to be in the car on Sunday mornings by 9:00 with no reminders, dressed appropriately with a pleasant attitude, and that if we were late, there would be no reprimand, but we’d be fined a dollar for every minute we kept everyone waiting?”
“Why, yes,” I said, a little sheepishly, remembering the scheme I hoped would forever solve our Sunday Scramble issues, and anticipating what was coming next.
“And remember,” he continued fondly but with that rather annoying expression, “how the first time we tried it, we were all sitting in the car and you were five minutes late?”
Being ready does mean we need to get there. But does arriving on time with both shoes and everyone’s hair brushed mean we or our children are ready on the inside to receive what God holds out to us week by week at his Table?
I think the two are not unrelated. There are “outside” things we can do to get better at avoiding whatever contributes to arriving to worship God unprepared on the inside. We also do well to be mindful of the fact that “still our ancient Foe doth seek to work us woe” and acknowledge that it’s not just our imagination: we may very well experience opposition to coming at all, let alone arriving “in love and charity with our neighbor” and prepared to meet with God.
On the days we do arrive in a less than put-together state despite our best efforts, we remember that God is pleased we have come. We can breathe and be glad in his Presence.
Next, we can remember one of the greatest strengths of our liturgical tradition. We can fall into step with our brothers and sisters gathered (and all the communion of saints), and let the liturgy carry us. The liturgy prepares us through Worship and Word; Creed and Confession; Prayers and yes, The Peace, to come to the Lord’s Table.