Sunday has become my favorite day of the week. We have a well-established routine that has become so important to me. It helps me to feel balanced, grounded, and connected to what truly matters in life.
We’re a bunch of early risers in the Bonilla household. Mateo typically comes barreling into our bedroom between 6:00 and 6:15 a.m. each morning, even on the weekend. So, what began a couple years ago as a “let’s go to church early so we can come home and watch football” decision to attend the 8:00 a.m. service, has now become routine.
Dennis and I tag team getting the kids and ourselves cleaned up, dressed, and out the door in time for the fifteen minute drive to church. With coffee in hand and the kids chomping away at breakfast in the backseat, we listen to music and enjoy the drive.
There are so many things I LOVE about our Divine Service! I’ll start at the beginning…
After Pastor greets the congregation and makes announcements, we sing an opening hymn. My voice takes a few verses to warm up, but then I sing with gusto. I don’t have a great voice (my mom and best friend from college are actual “singers” – so I have respect for the difference between carrying a tune and having an exceptional singing voice), but I can hold my own. At the earlier service there are fewer people and I enjoy hearing my voice mingle with those around me. Sienna has actually said she’s embarrassed when I sing too loud, which makes me giggle. It is poetic justice for all those years I ridiculed my mom for playing the tambourine in our church choir!
Then we come to the Rite of Holy Absolution. This is when I make sure Sienna puts her drawing down and participates along with us. Everyone kneels and we communally confess and ask forgiveness for our sins. We acknowledge that we fall short and need Christ to reconcile us to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then, our Pastor, standing in the stead of Christ, grants us absolution, forgiveness. As we rise to sing, I feel a little lighter. This is also a time to reflect on the fact that my kids, just like Dennis and me, are imperfect little creatures. When I fall into the trap of expecting my kids to have idealistic behavior and do things according to my timetable and expectations, this weekly reminder helps. I see them as God sees them, little people in need of His grace. It helps me to be more calm and patient, more loving and gentle.
After sitting through dozens of sermons while constantly shushing Teo, Dennis and I have recently realized that he stays very quiet if he sits on one of our laps and cuddles. Problem solved! I’ve come to view the 90 or so minutes that we spend in the pews together each Sunday morning as a long family cuddle session. We take turns with our arms around each child. During the gospel reading, Sienna always stands on the kneeler and I put my arms around her shoulders, clasping them in front of her chest. We fit perfectly and I hate to think that she’ll ever outgrow this routine!
Holy Communion is the high point of our Divine Service. Approaching the altar to commune with Christ is a perfect moment full of peace and love and hope. Standing hand-in-hand as a family, we receive Christ’s body and blood, his grace and salvation. We’re each equally in need of forgiveness and perfectly forgiven. Watching Sienna partake of Holy Communion has been the biggest joy. I love that Teo is eager to participate. He’s been asking with greater frequency about when he’ll get to take communion. Teo is really perceptive up at the altar rail. He’s asked me what all the Latin words on the crucifix and altar cloths mean. One week we approached Pastor after the service so Teo could ask him about the significance of one symbol. I love his curiosity about our faith!
Several months ago, Dennis and I started a lovely routine of walking down to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market while the kids are attending Sunday school. We’d get a coffee and stroll through the market, while getting some alone time. It felt like a date and we looked forward to it each week. Then, one week, we decided to vary the routine and visit the coffee stand across the street from our church. They have this cool back deck where you can sit and enjoy your coffee. We got a proper coffee date and got to connect and talk without the interruptions of two energetic children. It was blissful!
For the past couple months, these coffee dates with my husband and attending the Divine Service as a family have become the highlight of my week. I look forward to the peace, love, and joy that I experience when I’m cuddled up with Sienna in the pew, answering Teo’s questions about our faith, and connecting with Dennis about our plans and life together. This is my life. This is everything that’s most important – Christ. Family. Love.
(Last week I was bummed when I realized that Sunday school is going on hiatus for the next four months… there goes our beloved coffee date! I think we’ll head to Balboa Park after church during the summer months. The kids can run around while we fit in some “date” time.)
Do you have a weekly routine that brings you back to what’s most important to you? I’d love to hear other ideas!