One thing they don’t tell you when you go into the ministry [wait–there are about a THOUSAND things that “they” don’t tell you, but this is one] is that you should say good bye to Saturdays. They no longer exist. Well, at least not for you.
This is why many clergy take Fridays off–to have the whole day free, knowing the next morning does not press too closely in on your sabbath day. But even then, busy churches have life on Saturdays, at least on occasion.
I am a Monday-off person myself. That means Sunday night is my new Saturday–however, when much of Sunday involves preparing for worship, leading worship, maybe a meeting or visit…well, that’s not Saturday either. Saturday–by its essence–is the fun day before a sabbath day. And if Monday is my sabbath, then when is the fun?
That is what i have to figure out, carve out and navigate with intention if i want it to exist. I’ve found there are 2 key factors to preserving some element of Saturday for myself. The first is
1-discipline. Not my strongest gift. while i have come to accept that a sermon is never DONE until it has been spoken and is living in the hearts of the hearers, i have to reach a done-ish place by Friday evening…wherein there is at least a moderate framework prepared for the Holy Spirit, and i can trust that, with another hour or two of prayer and preparation on Sunday morning, the rest will emerge. [a note here, for those who care about the process; this is also why i’m a monday-off preacher. once i start a sermon, it does not leave me, nor can i leave it. So, the only way to “turn it off,” is to hit the reset button after worship on Sunday, and not touch it again until Tuesday morning.
And 2–the other thing that i must do in order to live in a saturday place is to not worry. Have you ever tried not to worry? it’s kind of like trying not to itch, or trying not to sneeze, or trying not to think about beer when you are pregnant and know you can’t have one. (or at least, knowing you can’t have very many 🙂 So here comes the discipline part again. Learning not to think about or stress over my sermon on Saturday, and yet still leaving some space for it shape itself within… well, it is a tenuous balance, but most times i manage to find it.
This is the rhythm of a good Saturday, if there is no church stuff or other stuff: wake up [i will have to save the effect of children on saturday morning sleep patterns for another blog post] lazy morning; late morning breakfast out at the Good Egg w/ the family. home for nap time (=reading time for me!). afternoon outside time, preferably a hike [when it’s not “you have landed on the sun” weather, that is] evening cooking dinner, drinking wine, and listening to A Prairie Home Companion or The Grand Ole Opry while my husband plays with the kids upstairs. Then dinner, a fairly brainless movie, or even better, SNL on the rare occasion when they have a great host (i’m looking at you, Justin Timberlake. many of my better sermons, i should credit to you!)
Eugene Petersen calls this the “unforced rhythms of Grace” [Matthew 11:28] and somewhere in the midst of it all, the sermon settles into the open spaces. When i wake up on Sunday morning, I find it’s there waiting for me.
Here it is Saturday morning, and I am so looking forward to the rhythm of this day. Who would have thought? And yet… in just a couple of weeks, i am beginning a journey with my church family that will take us to a new Saturday evening worship time and hopefully, additional programming. Because as it turns out, most of our neighbors have the same problem with pace, time and balance that I do. Most of our neighbors find getting up for church on Sunday morning an awkward pause in their week, a breaking of stride that throws them off for the rest of the day. We listen–and what we hear is, I need a whole day… I need an unforced rhythm of grace.
If what our neighbors need is worship and community that takes the shape and essence of Saturday, then we will pray and discern and yes, work, to deliver it. I am not certain that this new shape of things will transform the church, or our community… and yet, I have a feeling (a calling? a Spirit leaning? name it what we will…) that those who seek their rhythm in the holy will find it, each and every time. Even if it means finding another night for slow-simmering onions, cheap red wine, and a great sermon from Garrison Keillor or Justin Timberlake. From my mouth to God’s ears… may it be so.
Get about as oiled as a diesel train
Gonna set this dance alight
`Cause Saturday night’s the night I like
Saturday night’s alright alright alright…