As a little girl growing up in the south, Sunday’s were special days. I got to dress-up and put on my “Sunday clothes,” as they were called back then. I was raised by loving grandparents with a 4th and 7th grade education, respectively, while my young mother traveled north to make a life for the family. But, there was something palpable- something incredibly spiritual about Sunday mornings. Everyone dressed fancy with hats that were tall and broad and colorful and then there was a reverence beyond articulation. From the time your foot hit the floor, to the end of the day, there was eager anticipation in the air…everywhere! And, early mornings with my grandparents were the best at setting the atmosphere. Just before we left for church, my grandfather would start humming and getting ready.
He sang on the choir, traveled and prayed and prayed and prayed. He would bring-the -house-down with songs like , “This Train Is Bound for Glory”, a song recorded back in the 1920’s and ‘this May Be My Last Time”, a folk song enjoined by families of faith in fraternity with their father God. After church it was time for dinner (lunch was called dinner back then and dinner, supper).
Cakes and pies were ready and so was chicken and ham with other sides. Cornbread was a favorite either baked or fired. The fact of the matter was this, Sundays and family were synonymous. There were none alone in solitude places feeling abandoned and devalued. The laughter and fellowship with a game of baseball or tag or other play, captured the power and the memories of family and Sunday. There was a sense of gratitude that favored us. It caused us to be in deep reverence. We understood that no matter how crazy life gets, and no matter how challenging our foes, forgiveness and being forgiven were the best Sunday offerings of all.
The decision to practice gratitude is not just in celebration of one’s faith, but in a grateful appreciation of family as well. Sundays present all of the right ingredients to be thankful and prayerful. From hearts bowed in the middle of a service to the time of fellowship afterwards, it is understood, that family represents the heart of gratitude.
Roles and responsibilities inherent in families continue to shift and become more intense. There is less of a culture to practice thankfulness than before. From Gen Z and Gen I, – the Internet generation- as they encounter relationships in online communities, they are pretty much without decorums of behavior overseen by responsible adults. Sundays, then, are perfect days for them to experience a different perspective. It provides forums of opportunities for them to witness gratitude being modeled. Modeling gratitude and thankfulness is the best teacher.
From a much older generational perspective, gratitude was just something you were born valuing. Neighbor relied on neighbor for sugar and butter and keeping an eye on things, when family had to be away. The exchange for their generosity was gratitude. And then there is the deep appreciation for the things you cannot see. The gratitude for family health and overall happiness and wellness – sight and mobility; the ability to experience love and have it reciprocated.
Sundays are opportunities to shift from the routine of Monday through Saturday. Creating opportunities for the family to acknowledge their appreciation for one another, others and the larger world around them, makes it a giant step in a long journey of being grateful. And, it is the quietness of a Sunday to reflect and pray and prepare to rebuild for the week ahead, that makes Sundays some kind of a day.
Family favor is awesome to witness. Have you ever been surprised by an act of kindness toward you? When it caught you off guard, did you pause to consider what just happened? Life is funny that way; acts of kindness will always follow you. God has a way about rewarding acts of generosity with favor. It is a law that takes affect unannounced. Favor is not just a computation of how many “good” things have happened to you, but instead, a compilation of the many ways you can experience favor. Struggling with a bag of groceries and the door gets held for you. An item is located top shelf and someone gets if for you. At work you’re feeling anxious about an assignment and a coworker lends a hand. You’re at the checkout counter a $1.00 short and the associate takes care of it.
Favor is said not to be fair, and when it’s a family being favored, it really isn’t. It is a harvest from so many things done from a spirit of selflessness. The decision to exercise kindness and respect from a genuine place opens the door for a family to be favored. When God created us, he created favor. He created ways to encourage us through the day. These “bite sized acts” are a family reminder, that the nature of God is loving. And, the blessings of generosity sown by a family, is not unnoticed but opens the door for favor to be released exponentially, back into our lives.
Of all the blessings that a family can receive, it is the gift of forgiveness. It transforms everything. Nature, without interrupting its call to flow and water creation, so is the call of forgiveness. It exist within every fiber of our existence and ushers in peace and surrender if allowed to flow uninterrupted. To forgive and to be forgiven is truly God’s handiwork.
Who could have etched into the DNA of humankind, a pathway OUT OF an emotional dark place hemmed and dressed in despair, unrest and fear, other that God. His compassion is overwhelming. His acts are numerous. His grace sufficient but his will cannot override your will.
Imagine that. Families have a great big all knowing all powerful God yet, their free will exists above His. Our choices are not always God’s choice. The evil in this world is not because of God, but because the search for power and “love”, takes us to dark deep places that cause so much harm. Forgiveness stands ready. It is on call every zeptosecond, to respond in kind… you are forgiven.
Sundays are a great time for families to pause and be reminded that we are to forgive and we have been forgiven. Our entire being awaits. No more anxious moments. No more sleepless nights. They have all been accounted for in the words…forgiven.