Sunday? Sabbath?

“Mom, can we take a break from church because I want to do something as a family for a day…like play outside?”

Elias apparently noticed that the sun is out this morning. My kids need some vitamin D after last week’s wave of clouds and rain. He wants to spend the day relaxing and resting…and even at his age he’s wrestling with something I’ve been wrestling with for years.

Sometimes our Sundays do not feel like a Sabbath. Sometimes going to church does not feel restful or restorative or even worshipful. Sometimes I just don’t feel like it. There. I said it. I’m struggling with identifying how big of a space “going to church” is supposed to take in my life. If going to church does not equal a Sabbath, what is the proper equation?

I grew up going to church. Even on family vacations my parents would try to find a local church to attend. During one of our week-long road-trips to see and appreciate the expanse of land known as AMERICA my father found a small countryside chapel. The pastor was the only one there, and my father explained in his choppy but not broken English that we were on vacation and couldn’t be at our home church. Could we pray and sing a hymn or two as a family here in these pews? I seem to remember the pastor joining us for the singing…

When Peter and I were in the painful process of leaving our home church of 10+ years, we did what we Christians call “church-shopping” which for me is a lot like bathing suit shopping – something I feel I must do but cringe at my self-loathing, over-critical, never-satisfied self. We church-shopped because we couldn’t imagine not going to church because that is what we were supposed to do, expected to do and wanted to do. We felt lost without that Sunday morning anchor, but somewhere along the line we gave ourselves permission to take a break and worship God together as a family by going to experience the Doctors Without Borders exhibit, by taking Sunday to prepare our vegetable garden, by meeting the neighbors and sharing a meal with them.

And then we “found” a church. And on this sunny Sunday, my youngest son is asking, “Can we take a break?”

So for those of you who are Christians, do you go to church? Why or why not? Do any of you practice the Sabbath? If so how?


  1. Kris September 27, 2009

    Great thoughts, Kathy. We have gone through this process after our kids left home which made it easier for me anyway. Since we travel frequently on weekends, we don’t often get to our “home church.” Scot is away on this Sunday, and I am home. I feel absolutely no guilt about not going to church this weekend. And there is the tension about how much church involvement because soon too much of that means little Sabbath rest. And I know, yes, we need community, etc. etc. But I am a person who doesn’t need a whole lot of that anyway (for better or for worse).
    But again, my choices that I make now on church attendance would probably be different 15 years ago with children at home. Oh yuk, there is no clear-cut resolution.

  2. Peggy E September 27, 2009

    I can’t remember the last time I considered going to church on Sunday “restful.” For one, I’m not a morning person. I attended a church for awhile that had an early Saturday evening service, and I really liked it.

    For my Sabbaths, I liked to go somewhere, preferably with friends, and eat good food, pray, sit, be, take a bath, and just be. I guess I’m saying that church on Sunday isn’t really a place for me to be.

  3. Kathy Khang September 28, 2009

    Peggy E! Good to “see” you. I’ve chatted with friends who rave about Saturday evening services. I like the idea, but that is not yet an option at the church we attend.

    So, we opted to go out of obligation and had the chance to meet a few new people and talk with a few people who are newer to us. Pastor D really PREACHED from things God is stirring deep in his heart – we even heard an “Amen!” or two!

    I’d like to think of it as God reminding me that He continues to redeem my inner-life – the one that thinks so much of what I must do is out of obligation alone. Obligation lead me to a healthier place Sunday morning, where I am always surprised by joy.

    And then later the Chicago Bears won, too!

  4. butiknowiam September 28, 2009

    Kathy! Love your blog.
    I’ve been wrestling with this same question for the past 2 weeks or so — what the role of Church should play in my life. I have no answers. Just tons of questions and discontentment. That’s for articulating what I’ve been feeling.

  5. andkim September 28, 2009

    because of campus stuff, I’ve been going to first pres the past few weeks and each sunday was super refreshing and restorative, probably because of the spiritual intensity of newcom and also because I really appreciated the liturgy, the traditional music, the children’s sermon and all the not-so flashing things that firstpres does, but has done for over a century. i still love my church, but there’s something really “sabbathy” about worshiping in a new context.

    I brought this up to a guy who’s a member at first pres and not suprisingly he said he feels refreshed and restored whenever he comes to newcom. So thankful it seems that this isn’t a question of which church or style is better or worse, but perhaps there’s something restful and restorative about changing things up once in a while?

  6. Lisa September 30, 2009

    I don’t treat Sunday and Sabbath as the same day. Maybe this isn’t good, but I just think that especially as people in ministry who are always talking to donors, networking, sometimes teaching on Sundays, it’s not a day of rest. It’s a day of worship set aside to be with God’s people, but not a day of rest.

    In Ann Arbor, almost all the staff took Monday off, just like pastors do (or Sunday night to Monday night so you could make it to those leadership team meetings). I like this idea better. Of course, things get so much more complicated with kids in school and husbands doing things that are not flexible enough for such a commitment.


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