In times past there were many customs that surrounded the Sunday observance. You might remember Sunday dinner at Grandmas house, or special outings on Sunday afternoons. Sunday meant family and food, and was a special part of the week if not its most important day.
My father told stories about Sundays. Sundays were the only day of the week that his father wasn’t working at the family hardware store. After church they would take a picnic to Marysville Park on Lake Huron, or stop at “Emil’s Restaurant” which was known for the buffalo on the sign and the one in the back pasture.
When I was a child we went to "Family Buggy," a restaurant that we occasioned only on Sundays after church. After lunch we took a nap, and later watched slides, ate popcorn, or took a family walk.
Traditions vary from family to family and from era to era, yet our family has its own Sunday customs. After church we eat eggs and I take a nap. A traditional Sunday dinner with all the fixings, special prayers, and a reading of a Psalm beforehand accompany our Sunday supper. It is my favorite time of the week. The highest worship that we give God is to receive and enjoy His benefits, which even include joyfully eating a Sunday roast and drinking a beer along with it.
It is not so much that these observances make Sunday special, but what our Lord did on Sunday that makes all the things that we do on Sunday special. Sunday is special because our Lord rose from the dead and we receive the fruits thereof as He gives them to us in His Divine Service, gifts of forgiveness, the preaching of His Word, and the reception of His life giving body and blood. Every Sunday is a celebration of the new life that He gives us in Jesus, and what our sin, death, Satan, and this wicked world can’t take away from us. Sundays are about the earthly and heavenly blessings that He gives us, and about the rest He gives us now, and the future rest that we look forward to. Christ forgives what is in the past. What lies ahead is in His care. The day He gives, thus, is new and can be enjoyed to the fullest extent.
A few weeks ago we went out for ice cream on Sunday evening. I asked Claire why we were having ice cream. I told her that it was because Jesus rose from the dead. That might seem like a strange reason to have ice cream on Sunday, and yet is the real reason to have an extra scoop on Sunday and to enjoy it all the more.
Times have changed, no doubt, and Sunday no longer has its special prominence in our society. The once time-honored practices have eroded, and there probably is no going back. And while for the world Sunday has become just another day, for us it does not have to be. I know that life isn’t as simple as it once was, and so maybe Sunday also involves heading off to a place of work after church. And yet the weekly rituals of the family are powerful. Making Sunday the best day of the week has a wonderful way of teaching our families about all the goodness that surrounds church in the morning. The rhythm of Sunday pictures what Christ has given us to enjoy: blessings of His Son Jesus, and blessings of family, rest, and food.
Maybe you can start thinking about adding something to your Sunday family ritual. It might involve a special mealtime prayer, a devotion at dinner, or just the setting aside of Sunday morning as holy time that nothing else can trump. In these simple ways you are giving your own expression to what God has done for us in Jesus, as well as passing along our faith and traditions to the next generation.