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Sunday Scaries

This morning I read this article from Mashable on the "Sunday Scaries." I had no idea what the Sunday Scaries were and I was curious. (If you'd like to read the whole article the link is at the end of this blog). As I read what they described I felt a sense of relief because I’d found something to explain how I felt many Sunday nights. I had never connected it to Sunday but always associated it with my mood on Monday morning.

When I was in high school, many Mondays found me wearing a red striped shirt that had Winnie the Pooh tapping his temple saying, “Oh Bother.” It summed up Mondays well for me. Things always seemed to take longer, people were more annoying and Mondays were something to be survived, nothing else. Mondays have become synonymous blah at the least and terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days at the most. This morning in our home, one of us didn't hear anything else that was going on around us, another was yelling and a third just could not seem to get ready to leave on time. It was such a Monday. As I drank my coffee and pondered what to do, I began to try and set some goals that would make later in the week less stressful. In the midst of that plan, I read the article and instantly flashed to God.

Sure, I'm a preacher and my thoughts are supposed to go there but that is not always my go to point. In fact, yesterday during our Outdoor Family Service, a child told me that they knew what I loved most and said it was God. I smiled and told them that I wish that was my answer but I love my family more than I do God most times. They continued to look deep in my eyes as I spoke and nodded as I then made the mental leap, "but God gave me my family so maybe I do love God most." The child smiled content on the truth that had been shared with the pastor.

The first tip in the article was to make a Sunday a self-care day and that is when the lightbulb went on - God knew all about the Sunday Scaries, that Mondays are hard and gave us the first 4 commandments:

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.

  2. You shall make no idols.

  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

  4. Remember the sabbath and keep it holy.

When we give God the center of who we are (commandments 1-3) we see the gift of the 4th commandment, remember the sabbath. God created the world in 6 days and on the 7th rested. How many of us turn Sundays into the day where we have to get it all done, organized, prepped, etc.? I know that I often do. I remind my kids of all that we have going on and therefore, laundry, picking up rooms, etc, etc, etc. 9 years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel and experience that holy land. We found ourselves in Jerusalem Friday night and got to experience an entirely different Sabbath. In our hotel, many devout orthodox Jewish people can to spend the Sabbath. They would not work. They did not open doors, push buttons, prepare food, they simply were fully present from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday to God and each other.

As a pastor, I talk a lot about sabbath with other pastors. We ask each other, when & how they are taking sabbath because Sundays (the day Christians recognize as the Sabbath) is a work day. We encourage each other to take care of themselves so we can, in turn, teach/help others to do the same. God knew the chaos of the world from the very beginning. Genesis 1:1 begins "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters." Our translation of the Hebrew word תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ or ṯōhū wā-ḇōhū (toe-who, woe-who) is translated as formless void. In the original Hebrew it is a special rhyme that even in our English pronunciation implies chaotic movement - the abyss.

It feels very much like the תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ (toe-who, woe-who). God, creator of the universe put order in the chaos, as much as may want to, we are not God. So what do we do? First, we rest before we try and tackle anything. It is only in our recognition that we were created to live in a rhythm that we've lost. One that works and rests. One that recognizes that we are not alone. Once that calls us to live together. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference. How can we live into this prayer as a response to the Sunday Scaries?

Serenity, the state of being calm or peaceful. For many of us, we define peace as a state of not being in conflict. But when we define peace in this way, we miss God's fuller understanding. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, wholeness or completeness. We are called by God to center ourselves in God to be wholly who God made us to be. And who did God call us to be? As a Christian, God calls us to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul & strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. When we love God first, it becomes easier to love our neighbor, yes, even the obnoxious ones. Because when we love God first, we remember that God loves our neighbor just as much as we are loved. God created each of us, knows all of us and still loves us.

"Love you and like you" is how my mom signed every birthday card she would give to us as children. When things were not going well, she would say I love you but I do not like you in this moment, or did not like our actions or choices. I think this is how God loves us, even the parts, actions or choices that we sometimes make. God doesn't cast us out when we mess up or choose to do things that are contrary to loving God and neighbor. But God does call us to summon our courage to change the things we can. God's love for us wants us to accept the gracious offer for the forgiveness of our sins and our lifelong work to use our salvation to grow in the knowledge and love of God.

The wisdom to know the difference. It seems counterintuitive to put our mask on before we put the oxygen mask on those around us. If you've ever flown on an airplane you know what I'm talking about. Flight attendance even go to each person traveling with those who made need assistance (children & elderly especially) to make sure that we know that the only way we can help those in our care, is to put our masks on first. We need oxygen, not just to survive, but to think, to plan, to decide. There are times that we need to change and there are times when we need to stay where we are and we need wisdom to know what to do in each situation.

Today, February 1, I am going to less on the chaos and more towards the peace. I invite you to join me. I have no idea where it will lead me but I hope that as I center on loving God and each other that I will have less "scaries" and more serenity.

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