Ray Dadswell: Should we keep Sunday special?

There was a time, wasn’t there, when Sunday, the first day of the week, was set aside as being different from all the other days. It was a family time, going to church, enjoying a few hours of rest and relaxation.

Not too far removed from the commandment given to Moses: ‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy ... the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God’ (Exodus 20, 8-11).

Now we think of ‘the Lord’s Day’, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus.

A handful of colleagues at the People Matter office gave me their memories of what they were allowed, and not allowed, to do on Sundays.

Some remembered that they had to clean their shoes, for example, ready for school; one talked about having a bath, hairwash and clipping nails.

More people recalled what was forbidden, however.

No playing in the street, no wearing jeans, no shopping, no TV or cinema, no visiting friends and no gardening.

Probably more banned activities would have come into their minds, had they been given longer to reminisce!

It was not so many years ago, really, and the attitude towards Sunday has completely changed. Anything goes, nothing is taboo.

One of the women in the group told a delightful story of attending church with her sister on Sunday mornings, the pair of them identically dressed, which was not a great joy to either of them.

On a particular Sunday, they were late for the service, and discovered the church door was shut. They could hear the organ music; should they go in?

No, they decided, they would rather sit on the wall outside, and at the conclusion of proceedings, would mingle with the crowd. No-one would know that they hadn’t been there all the time.

Each child had 10p, there was a sweet shop opposite, and they concluded that they could buy some chocolate from the machine on the wall.

In due course, they walked home, pretending that they had been at the service. “No Sunday School?’, asked Mum. “Cancelled!” was the response from the girls.

The following day, Spanish inquisition. And the lasting recollection? “My bottom still throbs when I think about it!”

My own sons remember that, when they were young, and we lived abroad, Sunday was different for them as they were each provided with a new book as we arrived home from church. The older one would have finished it in an hour, then would go out to play, which somehow defeated the object!

The approach to work, family life, leisure-time pursuits are all far removed from ten, twenty, fifty years ago. And especially how we used our Sundays. Does it matter?

Perhaps Hebrews 10, 25 has a bearing on this discussion. ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the bait of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day (of the Lord’s return) approaching.’

That’s probably the whole point.

Meeting together for worship is the priority, then ... Up to us?