My Sunday morning started with a cup of hot coffee, listening to the rain and the “Easy Like Sunday Morning” playlist on Spotify. There is no alarm clock on Sunday morning any more. I wake up when I want, lingering in bed so I can listen to the birds outside my window. The coffee is often enjoyed in the hot tub, followed by a hearty breakfast. No rushing out the door to get anywhere. It is peaceful and soothes my soul.
I remember being a little girl and waking up on Sunday mornings listening to Little Marcy on the record player singing The Wake Up Song.
Wake up, wake up you sleepy heads! It’s time for Sunday school. Wake up, wake up you sleepy heads. It’s time to learn the golden rule. When the church bell goes ding dong, it is time to be on our way. So wake up, wake you sleepy heads. It’s Sunday school today!
I would scurry out of bed, get the curlers out of my hair, try to find my shoes and slurp down a bowl of cereal. Off to Sunday School and church we would go. We learned all the Bible stories – Moses and the Ten Commandments, the loaves and the fishes, David and Goliath. I also remember learning that Jesus was coming back and that if I was saved, I would get to go with him.
Think like a small child for just a minute. Saved from what? or who? Where was Jesus coming back from? And where was he going if he just got back? When he came back – from wherever he had been -as I long as I was saved, I would just disappear and go with him to heaven. But if I didn’t just disappear, I must not have really been saved and that would be bad. That would mean I would be left behind on earth with all of the other people that weren’t saved. According to the movies we saw in Sunday school, earth would be a terrible place with earthquakes, swarms of bugs and frogs, and someone called the Antichrist who did terrible things and killed people and started wars.
Since we went to a Baptist church, I had an opportunity every service to make sure I was saved and ready. If you’ve been to a Baptist church, whether for Sunday service, a wedding or a funeral, this should sound familiar:
With every head bowed and every eye closed. Do you know Jesus? If Jesus came back today, would you be ready? The Bible says…
And down the Roman’s road to salvation he would go. Side note – always a he. A Baptist church would never dream of having a woman give an altar call.
If you’re a sinner and you want to be saved tonight, just slip up your hand. If you want to part of God’s family, step out into the aisle and come forward. Bow your head and repeat after me.
I put my hand up so many times.
I wanted to make sure! What if I wasn’t ready? What if I died before Jesus came back and I hadn’t said the right prayer? What if I wasn’t sincere? What if I sinned after I said the prayer last time? What if my friend who went to the other church – literally ANY other church – said a different prayer? Would he go to hell where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth, and where Satan and all the demons lived and tortured sinners? Maybe. Better make sure. Better pray that sinner’s prayer again – because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
One of the worst nightmares I have ever had was when I was 4 years old. I dreamed I was at church and the ground began to shake and the sky was full of dark, rolling clouds. The sky was booming and people were running out of the church into the parking lot. People were disappearing. I ran out of the church too but I couldn’t find my parents or my friends. I had been left behind. I was alone. I hadn’t prayed the right prayer. I plopped down on the curb outside the church doors and cried…until I woke myself up sobbing in my own bed.
Four. Years. Old.
I will never forget that dream.
A few years later, after my parents divorced, my sister and I would spend every other weekend with our dad and his new family. On Sunday mornings, they went to the Friends Church. I don’t remember much about Sunday school or church service at Friends. They didn’t talk about burning in hell or getting saved. We didn’t have to bow our heads and close our eyes at the end of every service to give the sinners a chance to come meet Jesus. I remember doing crafts and playing basketball and every year they had a pie social – and I love pie! But everyone was nice, like Friends should be – and it didn’t make me feel afraid.
The seeds had been planted though. I remember thinking the Friends might not be right with the Lord – what does that even mean?! They might have been Friends with each other and even friends with Jesus, but being friends with Jesus won’t get you into heaven. I was pretty sure you had to be a Baptist to get into heaven. You surely wouldn’t hear the right message at those other churches – Lutheran, Catholic, Friends.
In time, of course, I learned that Baptists do NOT have the exclusive rights to God, Jesus or heaven – and definitely not to Sunday mornings. Not a single church out there does. That took me some trial and error to figure out, and I’m still weeding out the remnants of anxiety and fear that were planted so long ago. I haven’t been to church in over 10 years, but me and God, or whatever his/her/their name is – have a lot of conversations. Sometimes we chat over coffee on Sunday mornings listening to the Commodores.