Recently in our congregation we have had discussion about the evening worship service and the sad fact that attendance of it ebbs and flows. Pastor Lanning put out a few paragraphs on the importance of attending both services as well as seeing evening as important as morning worship.
The importance of evening worship opens the door for another, and in my opinion, bigger discussion. How are we as Christians to use the Lord's Day? It seems that in a busy world like ours, setting time "aside" for God is not as easy as it may have been in the past. If one is a "Sabbath keeper" as our Reformed and Presbyterian forefathers (because of biblical warrant) have prescribed, then what is to be the use of the Lord's Day, or Sabbath?
This discussion comes up in my home often because of the desire to use this time to the glory of God. My wife becomes easily discouraged at the lack of spiritual discussion, solemnity, and theological discussion that goes on in the Lord's Day. Even in the most conservative of Reformed circles the conversation can quickly slip into sports, entertainment, careers, hobbies, and what Hollywood is doing. It is much easier to discuss mindless topics; but we need to make an effort to keep our thoughts, words, and deeds on spiritual matters.
Here is what our Presbyterian forefathers wrote in the Westminster Directory of Worship:
Of the Sanctification of the Lord's Day
THE Lord's day ought to be so remembered before-hand, as that all worldly business of our ordinary callings may be so ordered, and so timely and seasonably laid aside, as they may not be impediments to the due sanctifying of the day when it comes.
The whole day is to be celebrated as holy to the Lord, both in publick and private, as being the Christian Sabbath. To which end, it is requisite, that there be a holy cessation or resting all that day from all unnecessary labours; and an abstaining, not only from all sports and pastimes, but also from all worldly words and thoughts.
That the diet on that day be so ordered, as that neither servants be unnecessarily detained from the publick worship of God, nor any other person hindered from the sanctifying that day. That there be private preparations of every person and family, by prayer for themselves, and for God's assistance of the minister, and for a blessing upon his ministry; and by such other holy exercises, as may further dispose them to a more comfortable communion with God in his public ordinances.
That all the people meet so timely for publick worship, that the whole congregation may be present at the beginning, and with one heart solemnly join together in all parts of the publick worship, and not depart till after the blessing.
That what time is vacant, between or after the solemn meetings of the congregation in publick, be spent in reading, meditation, repetition of sermons; especially by calling their families to an account of what they have heard, and catechising of them, holy conferences, prayer for a blessing upon the publick ordinances, singing of psalms, visiting the sick, relieving the poor, and such like duties of piety, charity, and mercy, accounting the sabbath a delight.
-How can we sanctify the Lord's day better?
-What practices in your home need to be changed to make this more of a reality?
-How can seeing the Sabbath as a delight aid in your Christian experience?