Thursday, August 30, 2012
The Preacher’s Corner
Laundry – another reason to hate Mondays
Monday is laundry day for me. That is hardly earthshaking news, for most of the world, I think, chooses Monday for the wash. Grandmother Winter used to tell me about boiling laundry out in the backyard in a big wash pot with a roaring fire beneath. The clothes would be washed in lye soap that was also made in a big pot with a roaring fire underneath.
Aunt Effie told how she would sometimes hang out the clothes to dry and the wind would shift and blow smoke from the trains that ran behind her house. Uncle George was an engineer on this line and would send out a happy toot from the whistle as he ran by—oblivious to the fact that Aunt Effie might have to redo the wash from the coal smoke wafting from his locomotive.
I am glad I have machines to do this work, but I had to reflect on the fact that I almost always do this on Mondays, and my theme is -- old habits die hard. You see, my mother, following the example of her mother, always did wash on Monday. This was as much a ritual as church on Sunday. For me as a kid coming up, this meant Monday was all the more — well, Monday — because I had to roll out of bed extra early, not just because it was a school day, but because Mama had to get my sheets and blankets for the washing machine.
We had to get up earlier on Monday than on any other school day. No wonder I have never liked Mondays.
As a preacher my down-time comes on different days than most people—and, please — none of that about preachers working only one day a week. But as much as I grew up hating laundry on Mondays, you’d think I would choose some other day, but I don’t. See what I mean about old habits dying hard.
Habits are very powerful things. We probably could not function without them. If we did not have routines, if every aspect of life was spontaneous and unplanned, we would have to think too much. This is why people become upset and out of sorts when their daily routine is disrupted. A vacation is one thing, ongoing chaos is something else.
My best church members are the ones who come to church by habit. I heard a wise preacher say last Sunday that the most important thing you do for the church is to show up. People may have religious faith without assembling with others, but you cannot have the church.
I know a small church that dried up and died because the members were all blasť about their church. They had counted on others to keep the organization going, but those people went to heaven, and then the old church died. Now there is much sadness, but if the succeeding generation had done what the earlier generation did the church would still be there. We are going to see this happening with churches more often I think.
People need to think about their habits. There are good habits. There are bad habits. There are mindless habits. But our unexamined habits need to be looked at. If they run counter to the common good, they need to be challenged.
Is the best worshiper the one who attends the most services? Only God knows. But at least they are there, and those are the ones I can work with. Others may challenge the church’s hypocrisy and shortcomings, but I will give those who come an E for effort. It is easy to remain unsullied when one keeps oneself above the fray, but by the same token, we will never really know what such a person is capable of.
The churches need a few more people that are as regular in their churchgoing as my grandmother was in doing her laundry. Those old habits that die hard — they may just come in handy some day.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have some clothes to fold.
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