Ian Goodson tells us why Sundays are so special for him. As we hopefully head out of the pandemic restrictions, you might like to join us at Grace Church Wakefield on a Sunday. Please get in touch to book a space (until 21st June, after which we trust there will be no need to book a seat).
Sundays are my favourite day of the week.
Not because it’s a lie-in and a lazy breakfast kind of day. I think I’ve found something far more satisfying than that.
It’s the day our church family rests and delights together in God.
Early morning is busy (as pastor, you’d expect so!) getting ready for our church service. It’s great to see everyone coming together to be given spiritual nourishment by God. There’s the hub-bub of warm conversation, there’s the smell of hot buttered toast and coffee - all to come back after the pandemic!
Then we sing (oh, how we are missing that during the pandemic!) to encourage one another; we hear the Bible read publicly; we respond in heart-felt confession and repentance; we hear the Bible’s rich message about Jesus Christ worked into our lives.
We hear the Bible read publicly; we respond in heart-felt confession and repentance; we hear the Bible’s rich message about Jesus Christ worked into our lives.
The ‘service’ isn’t the end though. There’s coffee, tea, cans of pop and homemade cake as we find out what God has been doing in one another’s lives over conversation. The children are busy after their Sunday school time, running around, letting off steam. Often there is someone who is with us for the first time. We love to make them feel really welcome.
And even then it’s not done. There might be a church bring-and-share lunch, or someone might be hosting a BBQ, or a picnic in the park. Everyone is welcomed to join in. It really is like a big family of all kinds of people. It's the kind of 'community cohesion' the government can only dream of creating.
When I was little, Sundays were boring. The shops were shut, the roads quiet, the TV dull.
As I grew older - and as society changed - Sundays became just like any other day. “Great for me”, I thought. But there again, I did pretty much only ever think about myself. It probably wasn’t ‘great’ for all the poorly paid people who had to work in the shops and restaurants to make sure I could do what I wanted. For a while I was one of those poorly paid workers.
I became convinced about the claims of Jesus Christ when I was in my very late teens. After that, I knew that church was really important. And so I made sure I was there. I was always pleased for having done so.
However, on the way to the church gathering I often felt a tinge of envy as I watched others going about their business. A little bit of me thought, ‘I wish I could head off to the garden centre’ or ‘I wish I could wash my car’.
But that’s all gone now. I can’t imagine not having the spiritually rich experience of church every week. I can’t imagine that the highlight of the week might be washing the car or weeding the flower bed. Not now that I know something so very much richer.
I notice that people will still often see Sunday as a slower day. But I’d hate to have more time to reflect on my chosen belief that life was ultimately empty, meaningless, and fleeting. If I believed there was no God, I’d fill my Sunday with as much shopping, eating and watching as I could just to drown out the crushing sadness that life had no purpose!
If I believed there was no God, I’d fill my Sunday with as much shopping, eating and watching as I could just to drown out the crushing sadness that life had no purpose!
Thankfully, I think that view of life makes little sense and is ultimately unsustainable.
In Christianity’s view of things, we are ultimately created to rest. Jesus famously said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest for your souls’ (Matthew 11:28). Church is both the beautiful working-out-in-practise of Jesus’ promise of rest, and the place where we are helped to know it all again. Jesus gives us free forgiveness and peace with God through simple faith in him.
For us at Grace Church, Sunday is the regular one-day-in-seven when we draw aside from the activity of life to delight in the goodness and rescuing power of the God who has made us to know him and rest in him.
If you’re new to all this, not much will perhaps have made very much sense! It’s hard to write about it because it’s something you really need to experience. Why not get in touch with us at Grace Church and start finding out about this whole new side to life in Wakefield?
A GCW church picnic