Sunday,July 26, 1896 from the journal of Lucy Maud Montgomeryauthor of "Anne of Green Gables" and wife of local parish pastor.
"I suppose I must go and get ready for evening service - somewhat against my inclination for I was out this morning and I honestly think once is enough to go to church on any Sunday.
Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest but in reality it is as hard worked a day as any in the week. We cook, eat, and wash dishes galore. We dress with weariness to the flesh and tramp to church in the heat, sit a long and mostly dull sermon out in a stuffy pew and come home again not a whit better than we went - not as good indeed for we have got a headache and feel very vicious for our pains.
I have an ideal Sunday in mind. Only, I am such a coward that I cannot translate it into the real, but must drift on with the current of conventionality.
But I would like to go away on Sunday morning to the heart of some great solemn wood and sit down among the ferns with only the companionship of the trees and the wood-winds echoing through the dim, moss-hung aisles like the strains of some vast cathedral anthem. And I would stay there for hours alone with nature and my own soul."
Steve and I began our pastoral work in a small church in Stony Plain, Alberta in l981. Aside from our two weeks of holidays a year we participated in an evening service every Sunday evening for the seven years we served there. I can tell you that this rhythm of evening services, while I attended them with grace, was daunting.
Think three kids. Sunday morning starts early. We leave the house before nine and come home around one. Dinner is ready to go because I set it to cooking before I left. I learned tricks. Did you know that if you put a big pot of potatoes on the stove and bring them to a boil, and then shut off the heat leaving the lid on, the potatoes will cook themselves? When you return four hours later they are ready to mash. And did you know that if you accidentally turn on the 'clean' program instead of the oven you can reduce a roast and bone to just, well, a bone?
We usually had company for dinner. It was the way of the community. Usually also, the company stayed all afternoon through the headache hour, and returned to church with us in the evening. That meant I would clean up a large meal and later root around for adequate snacks for a hungry mob before church - maybe grilled cheese sandwiches or home made pizzas. It was a day of much work.
The evening service was not always (usually) very good. And then we would haul the kids home and put them to bed. Having guests drop by after church was also common, and they would sit and wait while we got the kids to bed.
You can't have too much of God but I have to agree with Lucy that you sure can have too much of church. Creation is also a revelation of the divine, and time in nature heals my soul. I once had the cheek to say, publicly, that if I get to heaven and it is like church I am going to ask to go somewhere else. Maybe a finer tuned soul would think of it differently.
But I am only human.