This picture is the oldest picture I have of my sister, brother and I all dressed up for church. Notice we are all sitting on the couch. You see, as far back as I can remember my parents’ routine on Sunday morning was to dress each of us one at a time from the oldest to the youngest. Once dressed, we would be placed on the couch in the living room and threatened with our lives if we got off the couch. Now, when I was a child, this all seemed rather harsh and unnecessary. It was not until years later when I began to hear all the Sunday morning stories that I understood the “don’t get off the couch” rule. You see, things just went wrong at our house on Sunday morning. The stories of our escapades were many and I have forgotten most of them but let me share with you a few I remember.
One Sunday morning while one of us was being dressed the other decided he was not quite finished with his bath and climbed back into the tub wearing his Sunday best. I’m not certain but I think I was the culprit.
On another occasion my mother had me all dressed for Church and ask my Dad to comb my hair. He combed my hair, all right, but then he proceeded to spray it in place, mistakenly using a can of Lysol disinfectant spray. This time it was my parents that put me back in the tub.
I actually remember the final episode in the tales of Sunday morning. It occurred about the time this picture was taken. In fact, I think it may have been the same day. My mom had gotten each of us dressed and positioned on the couch. She went off to get herself dressed leaving my Dad in charge. My Dad finished polishing his shoes and headed out for Church leaving me to watch my brother and sister. That is of course a pretty tall order for a five year old who is also trying to watch Bullwinkle. A few minutes later I realized Karen was gone. It only took a few seconds for me to track her down. You see, Karen had crawled over to where my father was polishing his shoes. With the lid in one hand and the can of polish in the other she had then crawl down the hall leaving a trail of black polish that even a five-year-old could follow. There were alternating black circles and black rings leading from where my father had polished his shoes to where she was now sitting. There she was in her pretty little dress digging the shoe polish out with her hands like it was play dough.
My father and mother took very seriously their responsibility to take all of us to church. You would think that would be an easy commitment to keep when you are the pastor of the church but somehow Sunday mornings were always the most chaotic days of the week.
My dad became convinced that Satan himself was working to create as much confusion as possible on Sunday morning. The satanic goal was to ensure that we were late for church and that he was distracted or outright angry by the time he got up to preach. It is all funny now and we enjoy sharing and helping each other remember these old stories but we are all profoundly grateful that in spite of all the chaos our parents made sure we got to church. We may have been late, a little damp, smelling of Lysol or shoe polish but we got there. Praise be to God, we got there.
6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)