My father was a rigorous logistician. Every trip, no matter how short, was meticulously planned and documented with copies of the itinerary sent to all reasonably close relatives — “just in case.” But when it came to getting our family ready for church on the Lord’s Day, he met with serious challenges. He would be up before dawn shaving and brewing the coffee, waking my mom to make the blueberry muffins, waking my sisters to start the glacial process of feminine adornment, and helping me get dressed complete with a thorough application of comb and Vitalis to direct my unruly coif. Saturday afternoons would find the men-folk polishing and shining white patent-leather shoes and Saturday evenings always included the study of Sunday School lessons. But even with my father’s careful planning and direction, we rarely left the house on Sunday mornings at the published departure time. I can still see him pacing in the driveway, puffing furiously on his pipe, trying to maintain his composure as the clock ticked.
Why is it so hard to get ready for church? Every other day of the week we manage to get dressed, find something to eat, collect all the important trappings of the day, and depart at some early hour for work, school or play with the logistical proficiency of Fed-Ex. But when we are preparing for church, it seems everything is harder. Hair just won’t work. Razors cut deeper. One of every pair of shoes is AWOL. The right clothes are rumpled or in the laundry. Every child has been switched into three-toed sloth mode. And we suddenly discover that our Bible and our keys are playing hide and seek. At last we trundle everyone in the car and arrive for worship, breathless and emotionally exhausted and totally unprepared to enter the presence of the Lord of All Creation.
How are we to account for this mysterious disturbance in the space-time continuum on the Lord’s Day? We cannot blame it on any astronomical or celestial phenomena since the seven-day cycle we call our “week” is the only measure of time not based on the rotation or revolution of stars, planets, or moons. Maybe, just maybe, the problem lies closer to home. Perhaps it is reflective of our values and priorities. We prepare well for what we value. What does our preparation for worship say about the value we place upon the communion of the saints in worship on the Lord’s Day? In the original language of the New Testament, the word used for Friday (the day before the Jewish Sabbath) was literally translated, “preparation day?” How much of the day or days before the Lord’s Day are devoted to getting ourselves ready for church?
This is not a new concern. In 1 Timothy 2, Paul writes to his friend, Timothy, to urge him to give needful instruction to the church concerning personal preparation for worship. In a passage that excites controversy in our modern world of gender confusion, because it dares to differentiate the roles of men and women in worship, Paul’s real focus is on how men and women are to prepare their bodies, their minds, and their hearts for church.
Join us this Lord’s Day, September 9, as we examine 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and consider the practical aspects of our physical, emotional and spiritual preparation for worship. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.