Inside the Domestic Church Part 16: How to Keep the Lord's Day, Cont'd
In the Eastern Churches, we are encouraged to give the Lord more than a single hour on His Day, not to mention throughout the week. Private prayer, reading, fellowship groups, visiting the sick or infirm, all are appropriate ways of sanctifying the Lord’s Day. Saturday evening can be, and is intended to be, a time of anticipation and preparation. Attending Vespers and confession are two public ways of preparing, but you may also reflect on the Scriptures (especially the readings for that Sunday), or reciting prayers in anticipation of receiving the Eucharist, both of which can be done privately or with family.
Some families prepare for the Lord’s Day by lighting the lamps in their icon corners and incensing the whole house as part of the evening meal prayers. The lamps are left lit throughout the day. Practices such as these can help attune our spirits to the arrival of the King of All. Parents with children in Sunday school can also use some time to reviewing their workbooks or other assignments on Saturday night, which can not only help refresh their children’s memories but also make them more conscious of the importance of Sunday and its belonging to the Lord. Reading together, watching religious movies, or playing games can also help the family spend time together and reemphasize the importance of Sunday.
Where Sunday morning Orthros or one of the hours is served in a parish, attendance can help focus the day on the Lord, but where these services are unavailable they can be read in an abbreviated form privately, or alternatively one can listen to recorded talks or religious music (or even services) on the Internet. After Liturgy, many people enjoy eating together, prolonging the communion of the Holy Table in a gathering of love. Instead of watching TV for the rest of the day, it might be more enjoyable to spend the Sunday afternoon with a friend, advising a youth group, or engaging in some other type of Christian fellowship. Small gestures, like sharing a family outing with a lonely neighbor, can be a very effective (but simple) way of continuing Jesus’ practice of healing on the Sabbath. The possibilities are only limited by one’s imagination.
Yes, in some ways this emphasis on the holiness of the Lord’s Day will be acting contrary tro culture, fighting against the ordinary ways of society. St Paul tells us to “not be conformed to the Spirit of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:12).
A sincere observance of the Lord’s Day serves as a witness to our willingness to entrust our life to Him and “put on the new nature created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).