When you think of Sunday, what comes to mind? Is it primarily restrictions? Seriously, God commands us to take a day off and spend it with Him, and we turn it into a list of things we can't do? God has given us the Sabbath as a day for rest, for relaxation, for connection with God, with family, with Christian friends. No wonder God wants us to delight in the Sabbath.
But what do your children think of Sunday? It's easy for children to focus on the restrictions. Hopefully you've learned to see the blessing in Sunday, but how do you teach your children to see it?
I have some suggestions. Well, to be fair, these are definitely not all mine - a few are mine, several come from Phil Brown and others from my pastor Pat Davis.
I know we've heard this many times, but start Saturday night. Late nights = crabby kids. Shut it down early and have family time, or a time of prayer, stories, or music to prepare them for their day with God.
On Sunday itself, explain why we do what we do and don't do on Sunday. If you take a nap, explain to the kids that God rested on the Sabbath, and so do we. OK, it's unlikely to make them excited about taking a nap, but it does reinforce that Sunday is a day dedicated to God and that everything we do that day revolves around Him. Instead of just saying, "Jesus doesn't want us to buy or sell on Sunday," explain that if we go to the store, that forces someone to be there to serve us and so they have to miss church and their special day with God. If you have friends over for Sunday dinner, explain to the children that fellowship is part of being God's family. Make the whole day about God.
Whether or not you have a large Sunday dinner, make the meal special. I recall as a child asking my mother why, if we weren't supposed to work on Sunday, we always had a big meal that day that involved more work than usual. Her response was that just like God gave Israel feasts, so Sunday is a day of celebration for Christians. Great answer! So make Sunday a celebration - kid-style. Maybe let the kids make table decorations that focus on Jesus. Maybe have a "Thank You, God" cake (like a birthday cake). Use good china - or use paper plates with Christian decorations on them. Be inventive. Keep it fun, and keep it focused on God.
You can keep specific things just for Sunday. Have stories that the kids only listen to on Sunday. Some great resources for this include Lamplighter Theatre, Adventures in Odyssey, Moody Radio's Just for Kids section, Ranger Bill (an old-time Christian radio show), Jim Hodges audio books, and Kid Answers (Answers in Genesis' kids section). Keep certain music just for Sunday, such as Sunday School sing-along, Aanderud's Children, or Hymns for the Home. Kid Answers also has a large selection of Christian children's videos and other activities. The Visual Bible is a series of films that give a verbatim portrayal of the Gospels of Matthew and John and the Book of Acts.
Children learn of God from their interaction with their parents. Time spent with your children should be a part of your usual Sunday routine. I learned this in grad school, when time was at a premium. Feeling convicted at spending little time with my children and trying to find ways to make Sunday special to them, I decided to intentionally take some time with them after dinner each Sunday. We usually play a game, but sometimes we take a walk or do an impromptu object lesson. It's the time together that's important. Sunday needs to be a family day.
Bottom line: a day when we "just go to church and take a nap" is not very special to kids. As parents, we need to find ways of helping our children look forward to their weekly "day with God." What are some ways that you have found to make Sunday special to your children?