When I was a child there were certain activities that went into preparing for church on Sunday. Most of the preparation happened on Saturday night. Step one was polishing my shoes. I was taught that we wanted to look our best for church. It was not about showing off to others, but about honoring God. We wanted to put our best foot forward (pun intended) on Sunday morning. Polished shoes, white shirt, clip-on tie, dark pants, and hair slicked down with Brylcreem were part of the preparation.
Step two was getting my offering envelope ready. As a boy when I received my weekly allowance on Saturday I was to set aside a portion for the church. A dime, a quarter or a dollar was put into the envelope and set with my Bible.
Step three was to read the Sunday School lesson. It was often rushed which meant I was not really prepared for Sunday morning. I could have read the lesson earlier in the week, but there was always other homework to do.
As I matured my Sunday preparations changed. I still tried to dress nicely, but I stopped the whole Brylcreem thing. I still prepared my offering and put it in the envelope; although now it was more likely to be a check than coins. What was most different was preparing myself mentally and spiritually for Sunday. Reading the lessons ahead of time helped me prepare myself for the sermon and hymns we would sing. Preparation helped open me up so that I might have a richer experience on Sunday morning.
At my previous parish I helped write a series of Weekly Bible Studies available to anyone who wanted to receive them. These Bible Studies offered a reflection on the gospel, and questions to ponder that would help the reader ponder how the reading was speaking to them in the moment. These studies are available here. You can also sign up to receive them via email each week. I strongly encourage you to give them a try. Even a quick reading of them will give you deeper insight into how the Gospels are alive and speaking to our lives today. The Gospels may be set in time, but their lessons are timeless and invite us into them anew each time we read them.
Give the Gospels a little time each week. Prepare for Sunday the way you would prepare for an important meeting or doctor’s appointment. For Sunday is an important day where we meet God in word and liturgy and music. It is also where we receive healing for our souls. Being Prepared for Sunday is a gift we give ourselves and those we love.