I have spoken with several who experienced
in churches of years gone by,
the church schedule of my parents’ growing-up in the south.
This schedule included Sunday School before Sunday Morning Worship,
and Training Union before Sunday Night Worship.
It included Wednesday with choir opportunities and mission activities
before and after prayer meeting.
There was a general WMU meeting on one evening at the church,
with WMU circles meeting on other evenings in homes.
RA’s, GA’s, Sunbeams all had their regular meetings
plus additional activities,
and on Saturday mornings, when no one had to go to work,
the Brotherhood met for breakfast.
Some churches regularly scheduled a Visitation Night,
and many also extended into and through athletic opportunities
with church softball leagues … and basketball and volleyball.
There were annual revivals and church socials:
church picnics, watermelon slicings, homecoming, ice cream socials
(ice cream socials with all those delicious flavors
of homemade ice cream were always a personal favorite!),
Vacation Bible School, summer camps, mission trips.
There was, of course, the irregularly regular cycle of marrying and burying
and baptizing with all the various associated activities to each
all happening at the church.
And while state and national conventions weren’t that big a deal
(only a certain number of delegates attended),
the local associational meetings were a huge deal—
to which everyone was invited,
at which you knew everyone else from the other local churches,
and for which it was always a point of pride
to have a big representation from your home church.
So the church schedule then
was what a family schedule would be today:
chock full of variety and opportunity
encompassing all aspects of a healthy life.
And so it was that the schedule everyone followed
extended church through the week
thereby extending God through the week—
implicitly probably more than explicitly,
So how do we do that?
How do we extend God through the week?
Because that’s important, isn’t it?
to have occasion to be reminded
of God’s presence with us—
God’s expectations of us—
God’s love for us.
Believe me, I’m not advocating any kind of return to a schedule of yore …
if I even thought that were possible!
But if the church schedule doesn’t (can’t) do it anymore,
it’s up to us—incumbent upon us as individuals
to still receive what church has to offer—
(Sunday worship and Wednesday nights are invaluable),
acknowledging that it’s just virtually impossible
for church to offer much more than that on a regular basis,
when we all tend to regard what others add to our calendars
with more suspicion and resentment than excitement.
We still receive what church has to offer,
but we take more responsibility and more initiative
to read more Scripture—on our own,
to find and avail ourselves of devotional resources we like,
and to pray—more intentionally and more regularly,
and to extend reminders of God through our weeks.
It is still the church’s job to ponder,
in times such as these,
how it can facilitate—how it can provide opportunities
for its individual members
to be reminded—to extend God through the week
without thereby, as in the past,
necessarily extending church through the week.
Much of this will involve social media and the internet.
It will involve sending out prayers and Scripture and meditations.
No one, of course, has to read what is sent.
People can opt out entirely.
It would certainly be our hope and prayer though,
that such messages might afford you the opportunity
to remember both the local community of faith of which you’re a part,
the wider Church with a capital “C”, of which you’re a part,
and, most importantly, the opportunity to remember
God extended through your every week.
three(!) daily devotional e-mail options for your consideration:
http://d365.org (through Passport)
http://wellforjourney.org/programs/daily-faith-e-mail-reflections (through Well for the Journey)
http://cacradicalgrace.org/get-connected/emailsubscriptions (daily meditations by Richard Rohr through the Center for Action and Contemplation)