Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune week of September 28, 2015
After attending church one Wednesday evening I pondered all the changes that have taken place in the way people worship since I grew up.
In the “olden days” it wasn’t an option to not go to church on Sundays. As kids we didn’t miss anything because the community I grew up in did not schedule sports or other activities during church time. It didn’t matter what religion you were, respect was shown to the religious community.
During my high school days we had what was called “release time,” which was time during the week we were allowed out of school for an hour to go to our respective churches to learn more about God and our religion. We also had the option of staying in school and having a study hall. Most opted for the religion and I admit sometimes it was just to get out of school, and occasionally we headed for a different church than ours because they were doing something more interesting such as addressing the “sex” topic which wasn’t discussed much in those days — and our parents expected us to attend release time. In fact, I think you had to have a signed note to stay in school and in study hall, but I’m not sure about that because occasionally the memory is weak.
Wednesday evenings were set aside for churches, and there were no activities scheduled in school during these evenings so as to not interfere with the churches. This was called respect.
While raising my kids, church came first and activities came second on the days we had church plans. At that time the conflict was setting in with other activities, but most parents made the choice for their kids that church attendance came first.
I realized when reading a blog by a friend how easy we had it as parents in my day when deciding what was happening for our children on Sunday mornings. Did they always want to attend church or church activities, absolutely not, but they went because as parents that was our priority. Now there is so much pressure put on parents on what to prioritize in their life.
I share with permission this blog post by Kristin Lotthammer, CFM coordinator at Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo, Minnesota. She shares her personal story of the pull of other activities on her church and family life.
I would like to share my personal story with you.
Last fall, I had registered my son to play fall lacrosse. When I received the game schedule, I was crushed. Almost all the game times fell right during Sunday morning worship times. At that moment, I had to step back and think … priorities. What really matters to my family, my child? He loves playing lacrosse. How could I tell him he couldn’t play on the team because I was going to prioritize church first? Values, morals, values, morals … kept running through my mind and heart. So, I had a talk with my husband and son. We were all in agreement, God comes first!
I emailed the coach and the lacrosse organization and told them I needed to pull my son from the team. I gave the simple reason that church is still No. 1 in our home, and game times on Sunday mornings were not going to work for us. Guess what, I wasn’t the only parent out there with the concern that sports are creeping into our Sunday mornings way too often! Not long after my email was sent, there was a change. A lot of the game times had been changed to Sunday afternoons. Wow, I thought! What a great organization! They listened and cared!
All we have to do is kindly speak up and sometimes that will help.
I challenge you and your family this year to think about priorities and what really matters in your home. Our children are watching and learning from what we do.
Kirsten’s column moved me by her courage to stand up for what she believed in. I am not sure I would have been able to do that in today’s world. If kids miss a game or practice for church they are penalized, so of course parents don’t want their kids to feel the pressure of their choices.
We live in a diverse world, and I feel we should respect each other’s values and religious beliefs. I would imagine all religions have this problem when it comes to choices for their children.
Churches have changed the way they are teaching the younger generation because the priorities of parents have changed. Many churches now offer alternative times for worship to accommodate sports and school activities. I still wonder why it still shouldn’t be the other way around. And let’s be honest, extracurricular sports and activities are important, but how many kids actually will be the next famous athlete or star?
I don’t know the right answer. All I know is that things have changed and I am thankful I didn’t have to make the choices parents have to make today. I do know I am grateful my parents made the choices they did when it came to my faith, because when I struggle or am joyful it is where I turn through thick or thin. I don’t know where I would be if that would not have been my parents priority.