Wearied (and Worth It!) on Wednesdays
I’m relentlessly committed to Wednesdays at our church—much like we all are to the commitments we have to carpool around town at all hours for sports and clubs and celebrations. I make Wednesday just as important, even more so, as the many other things that barter and bid for our time and soul. Wednesday night church has this feeling that’s different from Sunday best. Wednesday has an opportune, home-like rhythm waiting to be played out. You walk in the door at 3:00—there might be a mess, people are scattered about doing their thing, and you can relax, knowing you’re safe and loved in the state you came home in. Dinner is going to be ready by 5:00—hope you’re hungry.
We have a nice little Wednesday routine: I pick the kids up from school, swing through Chick-fil-A for a post-school milkshake that everyone shares, but not before a vicious game of “Rock-Paper-Scissors” for which flavor we get. Everyone sips milkshake and decompresses from school during the ride. Oftentimes one kid wants to talk and one kid wants complete and total silence (anyone raising both introverts and extroverts knows this struggle). The motley crew spills out of the minivan, literally—there was a kerfuffle over the milkshake, and it and they all went spilling. Rallying on, we head upstairs to the Parish Hall, where we sit, sprawl, spill out more on the floor to tackle homework. At 3:15, it’s time for piano lessons and some playtime outside. Children’s choir begins at 4:00. While the children are away making a joyful noise, I’m at the parent Bible study that flies by. At 5:15, we all have to be poked and prodded to pick up our kids, clearly wanting to squeeze every last drop from good parental fellowship. Then the bells ring. It’s time for church. I holler at my kids and round everyone up.
First encounter, “DO WE HAVE TO GO??!” Second encounter, “I DON’T WANT TO GO!” Third encounter, “I am NOT GOING!” Fourth encounter, “WHY DO WE ALWAYS GO?!” Fifth encounter, “I AM SO HUNGRY.” Sixth encounter, garbled groaning and exaggerated whining.
By now we’ve made it to the doors of the church, and I take out biscuits and hand them to each kid. We flop gracelessly down in a pew. Many times there’s a child who makes the scene of sprawling out on the pew and rebelliously closing their eyes.
With coaxing and patience, everyone seems to soften. Did I mention that it’s now about 5:35 in the evening and my kids, having left our house for the day at 7:00 in the morning, are looking quite disheveled and there are smells like sweaty shoes (among other things)? We really are the weary, trudging in for Wednesday worship.
But here’s where it gets good, my “why” for doing this every single week. There’s a college student who comes in and sits behind us. My 8-year-old daughter asks to sit with her. For selfish reasons, I’m happy to say yes—one less kid in the pew giving me the stink eye and writing notes in the bulletin about how miserable she is. But for the right reasons, yes—sit with your sister in Christ, hear her whispers in prayer, watch her and worship alongside her. I look back, and both the college student and my daughter are kneeling in prayer. The 8-year-old’s eyes peek up and over at this college student, their hands folded and praying. My daughter won’t always want to come and talk to me about ... things. I’m so humbled by and in awe of the seeds being planted and watered now for our children to seek and find those mentors in the church. We could have missed this if I had given in to the rebellion and waved my flag of exhausted parental surrender and waited for Sunday best.
Now, it’s time for communion, and my son, all of five years old, asks to stop at the prayer ministers afterwards. His little heart carries a need, and amidst all his wiggles each week, he’s somehow heard that there are prayer ministers located by the side doors as he leaves communion. I watch his eyes get watery as he quietly and hesitantly asks for prayer, and the prayer minister kneels down to his level and speaks the balm of Jesus over his concerns. She doesn’t miss a beat. She doesn’t defer to looking at me, the parent. She doesn’t discard the concerns of a five-year-old. She prays the truth, beauty, and goodness of our Heavenly Father to his need. We could have missed this too if my surrender flag had flown.
We go to supper after church in the Parish Hall. My kids can’t seem to sprint to food fast enough. There was a sign that recently got put on the buffet table, “Parents, please help your children serve their food,” probably prompted by my kids politely and not-so-sneakily returning the tomatoes from their plates back into the communal salad bowl. Besides a dinner that I don’t have to cook and a kitchen that I don’t have to clean, there’s more goodness to feast on—people come and sit WITH US. With three young kids hitting bedtime, law and order are dwindling at rapid rates, and I don’t know why anyone would want to sit in proximity to our mess of a table. One kid eats with her hands—it’s the baby, so she gets a pass for being adorable. One kid is really working on trying to remember not to talk with food in her mouth and forgetting a lot. One kid has already spilled water and will probably confuse your silverware with his. But my kids feel part of this big family. They even charismatically rope people in to sit at our table who have graciously complied many a time, bless their hearts. These people and this place, they are becoming our family and our home. The big picture, all of these nuanced Wednesday minutes and moments, are witnessing to my kids (and me) a glimpse of our true home and a family that awaits—one that will worship and feast with unending gladness. Our Sunday best is beautiful, and our Wednesday wearies are, too!