When all hell breaks loose on Sunday morning

You are not the only one whose household can go haywire on Sunday morning before leaving church. I promise. There will be time that if it can go wrong it will go wrong on Sunday – either before you get to church or on the way to church. I’m not gloom and doom girl speaking I’m just the voice of reality.

So when you show up to church and the older lady in her perfectly pressed Sunday clothes hugs you and asks how you are doing it’s okay to tell her what just went down. Because she was most likely a Mother of mayhem on Sunday mornings as well. Not that every Sunday is like that but for the ones that do come our way don’t think you’re the only one.

Knocked over cereal bowls, lost shoes, holes in panthose, church clothes getting dirty right before leaving, siblings yelling – heck, Mom yelling – over the K-Love station in the background of course. And then showing up to teach Sunday School. Double sigh.

I’ll never forget showing up to a morning prayer time after such a morning. I had responded extremely impatiently and was in the wrong towards one of my kids. And just ten minutes later was leading our time of praise with a group of prayer warriors. And then we got to the silent confession time. I would have been so relieved it was SILENT confession except for the fact that the Holy Spirit trumped that part and put it on my heart to move me into public confession during that time. I confessed my stinky attitude and need for forgiveness. And this is when I found out I wasn’t the only one who needed forgiveness for such things on such a morning. The rest of the group – the entire group in fact – one by one confessed their faults to the Lord audibly and something broke loose that morning in our group. It was different from all other times.

So frazzled Mom, when you show up to church after having a rough morning it’s okay to say so. Say it to God and feel free to say it to your bros and sisters. Chances are that person had a doozie of a Sunday last week or will the next. We’re all in this thing together and we need to be real with each other. When life hurts let’s not be afraid to say it out loud. Because thats then we can actually do life together. Pray for each other. Care for one another the way God designed the church to do.

Happy Sunday morning and may your frosted flakes be in their rightful place, your babies diaper clean and your boys britches not ripped. But hey, if they are…….it’s okay. Just go with it. We’ve all been there.

 

Youth helping lead worship – I love it

We had a most special Christmas service at church Sunday. Randy always purposefully crafts a quiet and somber atmosphere with low lights, asking people to quietly enter the auditorium and communicating that the way Jesus came into this world was not with bombast and fare. Rather it was most likely quiet and simple. And so we would this morning read through the Christmas story with a quiet heart. Students read select passages from scripture and then lit a candle on the advent wreath. We saw after each reading how more light, because of the Light, was brought into the world. I was so proud of all the kids for reading. They did such a good job. I hate that all my pictures didn’t turn out.

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We also had the opportunity to receive communion and then give our gifts back to God. There was a wooden manger set up and we could come and receive communion and then give our offerings to God. This was the first time our church has ever participated in an offering of this manner – going forward to give. There were some hesitations about it and concerns but oh my goodness it was such a sweet time. I think in the end everyone loved having this opportunity. I’ve learned from our black churches in town that going forward to give is just a normal thing. And it’s an exciting thing. They have a huge celebration going on with people clapping and music blaring as gifts are brought forth the King. It’s not a time of looking to see who is giving and who is not. That’s just sick. But instead it’s a privilege to bring forth a portion of what God has given to us.

Of course we can’t have a Sunday without a little bit of drama and it came during communion. A certain somebody, who has been on prednisone for 5 days with no taper, refused to partake of the cup. So she is holding her grape juice and not drinking it in the pew. When I ask about it she had no reason as to why she didn’t want to take it. I’m baffled at this. She has always taken communion since she got saved and looks forward to it. In my confusion I’m asking a million questions making it more all about her than she was already making it. So we’re fighting over communion. Lovely. To top it off, at some point she spills the grape juice all over me, my Bible, the pew and her dress. She quickly gulps down the tiny drop that’s left and starts crying.  And that’s how our Sunday morning church service ended.

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The Christmas open house was so much fun. Many people were sick with the flu this year and so we had about half as many people as we normally do. But it was fun with those who came. Sophie loves helping  make the punch. I noticed this year she added some artwork to the outside of the frosted punch bowl with her finger. Oh well, at least it wasn’t in the dust on the end tables.

When Church Hurts

I read in an article once, “Church is not the place for infertiles, on Mother’s Day.” The author went on to explain how painfully difficult Mother’s Day at church can be for the one sitting in the pew who remains barren. Roses are given out in honor of all the Mother’s at church. Some Mother’s are awarded pies and cakes for having the most children, the youngest child or like our church did last year,”the mother who has the most toys in the back yard.”  And then there’s a sermon to follow on how to be a godly Mom. The infertile woman is sitting there thinking she just wants to be a Mom. She might even settle for being a freak-Mom let alone a godly one.This sermon is hard to hear.

I’m not ready to say,”church isn’t the place for an infertile on Mother’s Day” but I can attest to how painful it can be. From experience. It’s nobody’s fault. Just the way it is. It doesn’t mean the infertile woman shouldn’t show up to church that day and it doesn’t mean a church shouldn’t celebrate and focus on Mothers that day. It just means there might be some women that sit in their pew chairs heavy hearted that day because they’re just trying to survive. And this particular Sunday, church hurts.

We could say this about so many different issues. What about the sermon series on biblical marriage and there sits a recent divorcee who feels like this is just one more reminder of what he/she once had. Maybe a sermon issues a call for husbands to remain faithful to their wives and wives to be faithful to their husbands and there sits a man or woman whose spouse is having an affair. They both know it but haven’t shared it with anyone else. The pain and the agony that only they know. That’s when church hurts but it’s still one of the healthiest, best places to be.

In a different vein, what about the family with a disabled child that comes to church and they quickly realize there are no accommodations for their child. It’s hard enough to get their family to church and then feeling like they aren’t well prepared for can be an added stress. If they are the only family with a special needs child in a church it can quickly feel lonely. And that hurts.

What about the gay couple that you invite to church and the pastor references what scripture says about homosexuality. You might be tempted to squirm in your pew even even though you agree with scripture and what your pastor is preaching. Still awkward. You know the truth could be making that person sad or mad.

So what’s a church to do?

Stop celebrating Mother’s Day? Never preach on Biblical marriage and relationships? Stay away from passages that deal with homosexuality? Avoid families with disabilities because you’re not equipped or don’t know what to say?

No, a church that is committed to preaching God’s Word will remain faithful to that mission even when it has the potential of hurting and making us feel uncomfortable. Because when truth, spoken in grace and love, hits a raw nerve it has the potential to hurt but it’s all part of a process of growth and maturing. Some Sundays it might be a really hard truth for us personally. But scripture is meant to change us. It’s alive and active. Preaching the truth in love, with hope offered, is your pastor’s responsibility even when he knows it will cause some pain.

But I do believe there’s something we as church members can do on these “church hurts” days to show our love and concern for one another. As a Body of Believers we need to be sensitive to those around us and bear one another’s burdens.

So Mother’s Day rolls around at church. What if we stopped to think about the landscape of the people in our church family and asked God to be near those who might be really struggling on this day. Pray during the service for them.

Your Pastor is preaching on the beauty of marriage or painting a very descriptive picture of how important a Christian Father is in the home and you realize this could be painful for the single Mom whose heart is aching on the back row. Pray. Pray for her right then. And hug her a little tighter after the service? Maybe send her a note that week letting her know you are praying for her. Pity is not what we’re talking about. But caring for one another is.

Because sometimes church and the truth can hurt.

And this is when we need each other to come together in community. Don’t walk away when the truth starts hurting. We prayerfully submit ourselves to a church that is committed to teaching God’s word and when it gets tough we have those around us who are lifting us up, praying for us, praying with us and encouraging us to stay the course. That’s what church is, even when it hurts.

Have you ever been to church when it hurts? Without dogging your church, what did it look like? Were you able to be encouraged through the members of your church? If not, how did God reveal himself to you and meet you where you were?

I realize there have been many people who have been hurt by church because of just flat out stupid things that have been said or done to them. This is not what I’m talking about today. Stories of people being abused by church leadership or being looked down on in church because of what they wore or how they looked is sickening to me. There’s no place for that. But I’m reminded that church is made up of very broken people – even the pastor and his wife and kids are broken. Trust me people, we’re all broken. (This would be the perfect place for me to insert a story about how a certain pastor’s kid repeated something in PE that he read at home that included a cuss word and how that got him in deep doo doo. But I’m not ready to share that part of brokenness yet. No, not yet.)

So if you’ve been hurt by church I want to say that there’s still a place for you. Don’t give up. I’m sorry if it hurts right now. But keep your heart open and trust God to work inside you something so beautiful you can’t even imagine. The church was God’s idea and it’s brilliant. Don’t miss out just because it hurts sometimes.

 

 

What you fear your kids say about you in Sunday School.

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I had one of those cringe moments Sunday morning as I was teaching the 4 & 5’s class during church. We were talking about sin and how we all do it. The kids were talking about how they kick, get angry and lie, etc. I said, “Mrs. Melody sins too.” Of course I wasn’t exactly ready to start listing them so freely and childlike but one of the girls said, “Like what! What do you do?”

I wasn’t prepared for this and I was suddenly thinking of the most sanitized sins I wanted to share with my class. So I said, “Well, sometimes I …..” and right at that moment this sweet little boy interrupts and says, “Um, Mrs. Melody, in Sunday School this morning Sophie (my daughter) told Mrs. Amy (Sophie’s Sunday School teacher) that her Mom, um, her Mom, um…..”

At this point I’m sweating bullets and wonder  what my daughter might have felt compelled to tell her entire Sunday School class regarding my sin. I’m mentally backtracking through the morning. Did I yell at anyone, kick the dog, say a bad word or honk at someone on the way to church? Not that I could remember. Not to say it hasn’t ever happened.

Finally this sweet little boy finishes his statement. “Sophie said that her Mom’s Mom was sick and in the hospital but she came home but we still need to pray for her.”

Relieved that a list of my personal sins were not rattled off in Sunday School I said, “Oh yes, you are so right and thank you for bringing that up. She would love your prayers.” The little boy then says, “Mrs. Melody, we should do it right now. We should pray for her now. I’ll do it.”

So we stopped in the middle of our lesson about sin and took a divine rabbit trail and prayed for my Mama who is feeling much better but still was prayed over by a sweet group of 4 &5’s. I looked at this little boy and said, “You just  led our entire class in prayer and I’m so proud of you and I’m thankful you did that. I will call my Mom today and tell her you prayed for her.That was a special gift you gave to me.” He smiled the biggest grin and I almost cried in class.

And then we went back to discussing my sin. Oh fun. I said something about my sin of complaining and not obeying God and my kids would say, “Oh yeah, I do that too.One time I ……” They were so open with their mistakes and sin. There was no condemnation but a sweet childlike simplicity of admitting their own sin and being okay that I’m a sinner too. It was refreshing and so unlike adults in church. We squirm, don’t we, when personal sin is brought up. If we must, we choose to talk about the respectable sins like complaining, not being thankful, worrying, etc. which are all sinful but seem more acceptable to us for some reason. Sometimes we are slow to identify with other people when they discuss their sin. We’d rather be the ones to offer prayer for them than to admit we get tripped up by the same sin. So my 4&5’s taught me a lot this Sunday morning. I want to be as unreserved and open as they are. I’m pretty sure this has to do with the child like faith Jesus references in his talks with people in the Bible.

I was describing to my kids how God says he forgives as far as the east is to the west and how he forgets our sin when we confess our sin to him. And how comforting that is. This same little boy says, “Yeah, and it’s so cool. He’s the only one that can do that.”

It was a great day in Junior church. I think I’ll go back next week to see what else they teach me.

 

 

Sunday Morning Drama

Some Sunday mornings just don’t get off to a good start – like today for instance. I’m was getting ready for church after changing my clothes ten million times because we decided to go all GA bulldog colors at the last second. We aren’t normally the color-coordinating clothes family but today we were in honor of last night’s GA/Clemson game. Hey – we are not fair weather fans. We dress the part even in rare instances we lose.

I had fifteen minutes to blow dry my hair and get out the door but a few minutes into it my hairdryer did this sparking fire thing and then started smoking violently in my hand. It smelled horrible and scared me to death. I threw it in the sink. I know, stupid! Wet sink + Burning up hairdryer = fried mama. I’m just glad God is gracious and he protects his blonder-than-normal children with great care.

I threw my wet hair up in a clip and checked on the kids. Dressed and ready to go – Mitchell in his black shorts & red varsity tshirt and Sophie in her cute little denim skirt & red cowgirl boots.

We got to church and I was excited about meeting a new friend for the first time. Her daughter and Sophie had a playdate together this weekend and they were going to visit our church this morning. I met my friend at the church office and then showed her where the kids would go. We were running a little late so I was hurrying out of the nursery and that’s when my ankle gave way and I went spilling all over the floor. Like bottom on the floor and legs sprawled out. I sat there to think about the whole thing for a second. Did Satan just try to wipe me out again? Probably not but let’s take a second to name the people observing the incident: our youth pastor, new visiting friend, nursery workers. Lovely.

I got back up and was totally fine thankfully.

I met up with my visiting friend who had a full on view of my hallway spill. She had the exact same smile I would be wearing if I witnessed that whole falling out episode. She said with compassion, “Are you okay?” And then we busted out laughing. She had  squeaky shoes on and I had the potential of doing the same thing all over again (I have a bum ankle) while we walked down the church aisle late. But we found a seat middle way and I just prayed I would make it through church with no further complications.

Hey, at least I can say for the first time ever that I ‘fell out’ in church.