Keeping the Sabbath Day

For fundamentalists, their “day of rest” begins promptly at 6:00 a.m. with mom and dad rousting the five children out of bed, feeding them breakfast, and hunting all over the house for various articles of children’s clothing that they could have sworn were hanging in the closet just last night. Then with everyone bathed, fed, and dressed, it’s off to the bus ministry and an hour and a half of driving around town picking up children and getting them to church.

Then it’s time to get the babies to the nursery, the children deposited at Sunday school, and making sure that there are coffee and doughnuts for the adult Sunday school class. After that it’s time for the main service where Dad watches the older kids while mom volunteers in the nursery since the youngest kid is teething and she’ll probably end up in there for half the service anyway.

Sometime later, the service concludes and it’s time to get the bus kids back to their respective homes just in time to rush to the monthly nursing home ministry which Dad happens to be speaking at this week and it turns out that the normal pianist is sick so mom fills in for that as well. After that it’s a quick lunch at a drive-through, then back to the church for children’s choir practice and Men’s meeting before the evening service. Evening service this week is followed by a lengthy business meeting which mom and dad take part in while the older kids play freeze tag in the parking lot. Finally, long after darkness has fallen, it’s time go home.

On the drive home, the eight-year-old looks out of the car window and exclaims “look, there’s a fair going on! People are riding the rides and playing games!”

“Those people should know better than that!”, says Dad piously “Sunday is a day for rest.” But in his heart he’s rather relieved that tomorrow is Monday when all he has to do is go to work. This much resting could be deadly in large doses.

14 thoughts on “Keeping the Sabbath Day”

  1. I’ve read all the posts since you started and perhaps this is the one that I’ve related to the most. I guess that’s why we fundies invented the Sunday afternoon nap (if nothing else is scheduled)!

    A couple of others I loved (and are also my pet peeves): 1) honorary doctorates, and 2) missionaries claiming the church they are going to plant in that foreign city of 10 billion will be the only one within 800 miles that preaches the gospel.

  2. I’m obviously reading this long after it was first posted, but I still have to comment. Were you following our family around in the 70s or what?! This is such a spot-on description of what our family did on Sundays, right down to the bus ministry and the afternoon nursing home gig. None of that frenetic Sunday busyness ever struck me as odd until I was an adult. Now, every part of my fundie upbringing seems sad and odd to me. We were the most peculiar of people, and insanely busy too.

  3. My husband’s parents would give him a quarter if he’d stay in his suit jacket all day long on Sunday (early 1980s). You can’t really rest in a suit jacket, but at least he was “setting the day apart from other days.”

  4. “Older kids play freeze-tag in the parking lot”

    We would do that for HOURS. And come up with interesting variations.

    1. My most memorable moment playing in the parking lot during a business meeting was two of my friends car-surfing down the street with a not-so-smart older sibling driving. I guess freeze tag just got too boring.

  5. I posted this story before, to another discussion, but it’s worth repeating here. I know a couple, Joe and Evelyn, now in their 80’s, who are Christians of a particularly pious type. Many years ago their daughter, Elizabeth, used to work part-time in my mother’s shop. One monday morning she came in looking vary upset. It happened that her fiance like to go sailing with his friends, and had gone out the day before, which was Sunday. The boat had got into difficulties, and sunk. Elizabeth’s fiance had survived but had to be hospitalized- his three friends drowned. Joe’s response – “Well, they shouldn’t have been out sailing on the Sabbath!”. For some strange reason, Elizabeth rebelled against Church….

  6. In addition to the hectic Sunday schedule, don’t forget Tuesday ladies fellowship,Wednesday services, Thursday soulwinning, Friday youth night, Saturday men’s breakfast, bus visitation and church work day. (Juggled in with a 40hr work week)
    Did I forget Monday? Sorry, that’s preacher’s golf day.

  7. At my peak of church involvement, our kids were small. We were up by 630 to get everyone cleaned up and out the door for 930 sunday school. LONG morning until 12:30 when all the visiting wound down at church.
    One of my co-workers who rarely if ever went to church talked about sleeping in, watching football, and making big breakfasts. Boy did I wish that were the case in my house.
    Eventually the kids got older and more responsible to get to sunday school on their own. We came for 10.30 church and stayed until the service was over but I quit doing all the extra stuff. Maybe that was the beginning of the “slippery slope!” 😆
    Today, we have a one hour church at 9:30. The rest of the day is here for recharging. So happy.

  8. Ah, yes. My fundy U was the same way about Sundays. We got up early and rushed to the already-overcrowded dining hall for a rushed breakfast. They would then kick us out of the dining hall and we would all be herded to the mass “Sunday school” (really just preaching service #1) class, were told where to sit by the ushers, and then we were preached at by a faculty or staff member for the next hour. Then we were all herded to the main sanctuary, to once again be told where to sit, to be preached at by the pastor (if they had a pastor at the time) or college vice president for another hour.

    After the service we would all rush to get to the dining hall, rushed to finish lunch (still overcrowded) and get out as soon as possible. Then came Christian service, and though it was not “required”, they made sure to preach often on how selfish and ungodly you were if you didn’t go. Once a month they had vespers (no, not Catholic at all…) which they claimed to be a time of refreshment but we just tried not to snore too loud. Then they also had optional sign language classes in the afternoon. Choir and orchestra had their practice in the afternoon. Then we would once again be herded into the sanctuary to be preached at again. Immediately after, we once again made a mad dash to the dining hall to eat a very harried dinner.

    Of course, we weren’t allowed to go shopping for any reason, we were given a strict two hour time limit for those who wanted to eat off campus, and the tennis courts, workout equipment, or anything even vaguely recreational was closed and off limits. After all, this was “a day of rest.”

    I can’t remember how many times a preacher stood up and talked about how godly the school was because they honored the “Sabbath” as a day of rest. All because they didn’t allow the students to go to Walmart on Sunday. I always got the urge to run screaming to the front and start banging the preacher’s head on the pulpit.

    As a side note, I’ve also noticed that fundies like to ignore the fact that its not actually the Sabbath, we aren’t Israel, and those pesky Romans 14:5-6 verses.

    1. Your story pisses me off. PCC was/is one f**d up school. Glad I’m not a fundy anymore.

      the Admiral

  9. When I was growing up in Northern Ireland, we had a park nearby. It had a children’s playground area which was closed up and locked on “”The Lord’s Day” there was a lot of opposition to allowing it to open on Sundays, but it happened, and to this day there are those who would cite this as one of many ways we had abandoned God’s Standards.
    Sunday was a horrible way to spend one seventh of your life.

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