Have you noticed how the world of commerce has stolen Sundays?
What started as a slow erosion of the day set aside for Godly worship and family and rest is now a total blurring of any lines of division with the rest of the week. This insidious encroachment regularly puts many Christians in a place of conflict: church or the market? Church or work?
Where I live, farmers’ markets and other similar activities traditionally took place on a Saturday. No longer. Now they are held on Sundays, from 9am onwards – right at the time most Christians go to church. When I pointed this out to an artists’ group, of which I am a member, designating Sunday as the best day for their market, the answer was that Saturdays are awkward as it is the day most people do their shopping!
Do you see the illogicality of this disingenuous argument? What are you doing at a market if not shopping? Until now Saturday seemed to work just fine for the numbers that attended the various markets combining them easily with their weekly shop.
It would be interesting to compare figures of attendance.
My observation, for that it was rather than an objection, was countered with the suggestion that those of us who went to church should spend less time there in order to accommodate the organisers of the event.
I tire of the unchurched presuming to dictate to Christians how we should spend our Sundays, how we should behave, why we should not believe as we do, and then demanding that we choose between serving our God and pandering to their whims.
There are those for whom Christianity, Church, Faith is seemingly an inconvenient truth, but that does not give them the right to dictate to me how much time I should spend in the presence of my Lord each Sunday. That is His prerogative!
We had an incredible day in church yesterday. We are still on two services to accommodate Covid protocols, and as I was on service duty I attended both services, each vibrant with much Holy Ghost ministry taking place according to the needs of those present. The nearly six hours I spent there flew by: the worship was amazing, voices soaring and lifting us heavenwards; a powerful, pertinent word given by Ian Weeden that lines up closely with my diatribe today; hurting people ministered to in love; people given hope.
The smile of release on a face worn by worry, shoulders that relax as burdens are lifted, the sobs as a grain of truth liberates a person from years of dogged fear – I find it intoxicating! I cannot wait for Sundays to see what the Lord has planned for His people, to hear what He has to say, to know that I am a part of something so huge that the universe cannot contain it! These are the moments that impact eternity, that dictate where I go after my time on this ailing planet is over.
The sweet sense of union and unity, of love and compassion made us linger long after the service ended yesterday, the rain a symbol of the refreshing time we had spent in the presence of the Lord.
I find it hard to understand how everyone doesn’t want this wonder, this sense of security in their lives, this feeling of being totally and intimately loved by a God who was and is prepared to go to any length to have communion with us.
But what about your art, your need for income you may ask.
Would I like to sell my paintings? Do I long for a publishing contract for my books? Too right I do. Will this matter in the next life? What is the true gain if I achieve these goals, but don’t take care of my brother and sister in need in the process?
The words that resonate with me are found in Mathew 6 vv 25 – 33:
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life., what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;
And yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, o you of little faith?
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
I have seen God’s provision in my life, sometimes miraculously, sometimes so gently I don’t recognise His hand in events until later when I reflect on how something panned out compared to how it should have been. I have seen food stretch to feed far more mouths that it was made for, I have seen people healed, physically and emotionally. I have sensed His working in my life supernaturally more times than I can remember, times I was delivered from harm, healed from illness, given the tools to minister to others.
It is in the presence of God on a Sunday together with like-minded people that I find the strength, the under-girding, the release and the direction I need to fulfil His role and purposes in my life, which include my art in all its forms.
You want me to curtail that for desultory hours at a flea market hoping that someone will buy a painting or two? No way! There is no choice for me – watching God in action is way too exciting to miss one second for tawdry commerce – my God wins, hands down, every time!