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Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.

cathyb

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sunday Night Church (From A Deeper Story)

You know sometimes when you're thinking a particular thought, and you ask yourself "what in the world made me think of that?"  And then try to trace it back to the original thought that made you think that? (or am I the only dorky one who does that?)

Like:  Because I forgot to put some water in the fridge, I didn't have anything cold to drink. So I put a bottle in the freezer for a quick chill.  Knowing I would forget about it, I set the timer on the stove, because we know that liquid freezes and can sometimes break the container that it's in.  And then I thought about the cocker spaniel puppy we had when I was a kid that got locked up in the smokehouse and got drunk on some homemade wine my daddy made, because the jar froze and burst in the winter time.  Then I thought about the switches that my parents would cut (to stripe my legs!) from the bushes outside that smokehouse.  That lead to thinking of one time when we were kids and my brother told my parents he got bit by a kitten, and his finger was bleeding.  But the "kitten" was a tiny mouse that he found in a little nest underneath a bush out by the front of our house.  One thought just lead to another. 

So, when I found myself thinking about my brother's bleeding finger, I traced my thoughts back to my unchilled bottle of water.  Frozen things break containers.  Puppy dog got drunk from a burst container of homemade wine.  Bushes that grew outside the smokehouse had some awfully wicked switches.  Bushes in front of another house were home to a nest of mice.  My brother got bit by one of them.  Bloody finger. 

More often than not, these days, I can never make it back to the original thought that launched me to wherever I find myself.  Either I get distracted, or I stinkin' forget what the thought was that I was trying to trace.  Oh the joys of getting older!!!!

And now, I'm frustrated because I can't even remember why "retracing my thoughts" was an important introduction to this blog post.  ......sigh......

Maybe it will come to me before I push the "publish" button, but if it doesn't, well, there's just another glimpse inside the mind of Yours Truly.  

tick tock, tick tock.. minutes pass...

Oh, yes!  I remember now!!  Today I'm going to share a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Jen Hatmaker.  She is one of a group of people who post to a website called A Deeper Story.  I "discovered" Jen from someone on FB who posted a link to a story she had written about being a horrible mom by the end of the school year.  I loved the article, and her writing style, so I kept clicking links until I ended up at Jen's FB page, and ultimately The Deeper Story website.  (Incidentally, a Jen was recently a guest on The Today Show, after her horrible-mom article went viral on the Internet.  It was so fun to see her *in person*, after reading so many of her articles!)  

Her article is titled "Sunday Night Church."

It has been years since I was a regular Sunday-night church-goer, though I do have many fond memories of the days when our youth group was large and active, and we occupied the three or four benches in the back of the church.  We passed notes, secretly held hands with our sweethearts and sang the songs with gusto, at the top of our lungs.  Only occasionally did we get in trouble with our parents for giggling or talking, though I'm sure the pastor would probably have liked to call us down a time or two. Over time, I just got out of the habit of going.  When Whitney came along, we did family stuff on Sunday nights.  Then, for many years, I worked on Sunday evenings. 

We recently got ourselves a new preacher at SFBC, and that rascal occasionally does this thing where he does Part 1 of the message on Sunday mornings, and Part 2 on Sunday nights.  Now, I can't speak for the others, but I'd personally rather he just go on ahead and finish the message on Sunday morning, even if it means staying a little bit longer, because I really want to hear the conclusion. About noon-time you start hearing the muted beep-beep-beep of some folks' watches or cell phones, and no doubt he hears them too.  There's not many Baptists who are much interested in staying even one minute after 12:00. For the most part Pastor Mike has us out of there before, or shortly after, the alarms start beeping, especially on those days when he has a "to be continued...." sermon.  I'm sure I've missed some mighty fine Part 2 messages by not attending on Sunday nights.

But... there's this thing we do.  You all know that one of my most favorite places on the planet is DJ and David's deck.  Weather permitting, Saturday mornings usually find us outside drinking coffee (sometimes covered in blankets, our breath forming visible vapors when we talk)  This is our haven of peace, and the place where our souls connect with the universe, the place where we see rainbows and unicorns.  (Well, not so much on the rainbows and unicorns any more - maybe in the olden days when our cups contained something other than coffee...)  

For many years, DJ and David have had Family Night Dinner at their house on Sunday evening.  For those of you who do  not know, DJ and I are not actually blood related.  Yet we share the same families, by the scientific concept of osmosis.  I belong to her family, and she belongs to mine.  It's the most fabulous thing!!  And though I have been "family" for a very long time, it is only since I have been living in The Hood that I have been a regular attendee of Family Night Dinner on Sundays.  

Sadly, the passage of time has resulted in some empty chairs around the table, and we are missing loved ones.  DJ lost her dad, her mom, and her sister all within a short span of time.  Of course she has her husband, but two nieces, a great niece and nephew are her closest blood relatives.  To say family is important is to say we need oxygen to breathe.  There is no quantifying the level of "importance".  

So, we skip Sunday Night Church to maintain the tradition, and keep strong the ties that bind.  

Today Jen's post is titled Sunday Night Church.  When I read it, I felt an immediate kinship, and have a perfect understanding.  This is so us.  (Well, except for the part about the wine....)  And I wanted to share. 



Sunday Night Church

by Jen Hatmaker


If you didn’t grow up in Christian subculture, this will probably make zero sense. But for you who did, do you remember Sunday Night Church?
Listen, any yahoo could manage Sunday Morning Church, but SNC was for the die-hards. Having barely snuck in an afternoon nap, it was straight back to church at 6:00pm for the dyed-in-the-wool Baptists like us. We didn’t even play, man.
SNC was the canvas for looser programming, having already pledged allegiance to the choir, Sandi Patti-esque soloist, and senior pastor in the a.m. SNC was the space for traveling evangelists, missionary testimonies, Youth Group Camp Reporting Night, and my dad’s favorite…quartets. (To this day, I can pick out a bass line in a gospel ensemble in one bar.) You knew it was a whole ‘nother deal when the pastor wore his casual khakis and no tie. With those sorts of liberties, we were but one emotional outburst away from clapping.
But I’ll tell you why I loved SNC. As you might have surmised, it wasn’t the guest preachers or hand bell concerts. In fact, it had nothing to do with the programing at all. It was simply this: the youth group “went out” every Sunday night after church. We begged $5.00 off our parents and put one dollar of gas into willing drivers’ cars (<–true story) and unleashed a whole gaggle of young evangelicals onto the unsuspecting city of Wichita, Kansas. Mr. Gatti’s, sand volleyball, swimming, whatever. Once we rented a movie and one guy accidentally chose a horror flick with a little T&A, and as self-respecting True Love Waits graduates, we shamed him until he drove away in a huff.
These comprise some of my favorite memories.
I don’t even know if Sunday Night Church is still a thing, but let me tell you how we’ve carried the tradition forward. Our little hippie church doesn’t have a night service, but we get together with our two best couple friends virtually every weekend for “SNC” on one of our porches, which we’ve all named with inventive tropical irony. We know that after the big lunch has digested and the naps have been taken and the littles are put to bed, it’s time.
After sussing out the details over texts, we gather on someone’s patio with wine and cheese and leftover desserts, and we have us some churchWe’ve solved practically every problem on earth, or at least hashed it out real good. Usually SNC is for laughing and pure folly, such as watching funny YouTubes like a bunch of juveniles. Sometimes one of us is in the weeds, and we do a lot of listening. Occasionally we wade into theology and orthodoxy, as we’ve all stretched further than we ever thought these last few years. Or we watch football and pledge to finally break up with the Cowboys.
The same connective thread remains 20+ years after my youth group days: If Jesus is the heart of the church, people are the lifeblood. There is a reason He set us in community and told us to practice grace and love and camaraderie and presence. People soften the edges and fill in the gaps. While believers can wound each other beyond measure, they can also make up some of the best parts of the whole story.
We live in a strange, unprecedented time where face-to-face relationships in actual time and space are becoming optional. It’s tricky, this online connection, because it can be so meaningful and true, and I’ve personally experienced it give way to actual in-real-life friendships I treasure. But it can also steal from friends on porches, the ones who know your middle name, talking about real life over cheese and wine. I fear it is no substitute for practiced, physical presence, and it will certainly never take the place of someone looking you in the eye, padding around in your kitchen in their bare feet, making you take a blind taste test on variations of olives, walking in your front door unannounced, without knocking.
Maybe it’s time for you to start your own SNC. Perhaps it won’t start until 8:30pm like ours because of All The Kids. Maybe it will be a MNC or a WNC or a standing breakfast date on Thursday mornings where you become so regular you have “a table.” Whatever the opposite of fancy is, that’s what we’re talking about here. 90% of our SNC dates are in pajama pants.
Don’t imagine that because connecting doesn’t take place on a church campus it is any less sacred. Prioritizing each other and creating a space to belong is holy territory, whether a Sunday School class or a back porch. In a media world with a thousand accounts and profiles, life can still be crushingly lonely. When my online world has gone off the rails and folks misunderstand me and all the internet chatter is just too much, nothing fixes me right up like sitting on a porch with old friends, Texas country on the speakers, real life taking its rightful place again.
So here is my invitation to establish your own version of SNC…traveling evangelist optional, although I highly recommend the hand bells.
~Jen Hatmaker

2 comments:

  1. We solve the world's problems and a few other things with our SNC! Such fun and the food ain't half bad either (most of the time)!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love our SNC! (aka Huth Buffet) Food and People can't be beat! Just don't get us started on current politics! :)

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