Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hustle and Bustle Sabbath

What is up with all the kids activities on Sunday? Has anyone else noticed a huge uptick in the volume of games, tournaments, performances, practices, and birthday parties scheduled for the day of the week that is meant to give us all a break?

Of the ten commandments, the command to "keep the Sabbath" is not a rule to be followed as much as it is a gift to us. We need one day a week to take it easy, break from work, relax with family and friends, and worship together if we so choose. The same God who created the universe chose to take a day of rest as an example to us, because he knows we need it--mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

In reading the Old Testament, I am struck by how much the Israelites had on their plates--growing their own food, caring for flocks of animals, cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry without any of our modern conveniences, raising very large families, building their own homes, often travelling a great distance on foot or horseback for food and supplies, and protecting themselves from marauding invaders. Yet on the Sabbath (which for them, was Saturday), everyone put everything down, took a deep breath, and rested so they would be rejuvenated for the coming weeks' work.

However, in the 21st century, most Americans have decided we're too busy to stop being busy. The break neck pace of modern life makes a regular time to slow down and rest more necessary than ever, yet some families' Sunday schedules are beginning to rival their ultra-packed Saturday schedules.

Children are suffering more from stress and anxiety than previous generations, and their has even been a term coined for over scheduled children that are pressured to do more and more: Hurried Child Syndrome. Could part of the problem be not just the amount of homework, activities, social engagements, etc., but the fact that there is not even one day they can count on to slow down and recharge their batteries?

I am not a legalist; I am not suggesting that it is wrong to participate in any activities on Sunday. I just wish that it were more of exception, and not the rule. For example, if Mika and Macy had a tournament, play-off game, or performance a few times a year on a Sunday, that would not be a problem. I'm not real keen on Sunday birthday parties, but I would gladly let my girls attend a Sunday party if one of their good friends was celebrating her birthday.

A number of people I have talked to said that they, too, wish that there weren't so many activities scheduled on Sunday, but then they say with resignation, "but if my child wants to [play baseball, be in this musical production, compete at this level in dance, etc.] we have no choice than to show up when we're told, and that includes Sundays."

Which brings me to the question: when did we, as a society, decide that it was okey-dokey to schedule so many activities, as a matter of course, on Sunday? I grew up next door to my best friend Donna, who had three older brothers. All four were athletes, playing many different sports in community leagues and in school. Donna was also into cheer leading, choir, and piano. Her parents were very busy Monday through Saturday shuttling kids to practices, games, rehearsals, etc. However, on Sunday, with rare exceptions, the activities for their children ceased, and kids, their parents, coaches, and teachers took a much needed break.

My kids are still young and I'm sure in a few short years I'll probably have to eat my words because they may both be involved in activities that require regular Sunday participation. However, we will think long and hard before committing to an Sunday activity that is going to change what we really like to do on Sunday--relax, spend time together as a family, invite people into our home for a leisurely lunch, and worship together at church.

Why should we have to make a choice between allowing our kids be involved in the things that they want to do and having a day of rest? Does anyone else have concerns about how busy Sundays have become? Any ideas on how to keep Sundays sane would be appreciated!

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