The year 2009. How many of you have been able to write it first every time you try so far?
Yeah. Me either. I am certain that this year, like all new years, will bring many changes that even the most astute among us will have not foreseen. Life goes on. Times go by. Things change.
I don't think anything has changed as much as Sunday - at least not for those of us who embrace the "Bible" part of the Bible Belt in which we live.
Take a trip with me, if you will, in my virtual time machine. Let's go back about 50 years and look at what a typical Sunday might have been like for many of us. OK. I will admit that I don't know what your Sundays were like, so I will just talk about my own.
There was no sleeping in. We were all up at first light at our house. We'd have pancakes and sausage for breakfast on Sunday (Daddy always called them "hotcakes") and they were a welcome change from the bacon, eggs and toast we had the rest of the week. (There was never a Pop-Tart in our house, and I had to beg for cereal. I preferred Tony the Tiger's Sugar Frosted Flakes. They were grrrrreat!)
I looked forward to the Sunday paper because of the extended comics section. Not only were there more panels, but they printed them in color, too. And during baseball season, they printed a full set of statistics, at least for the top 200 players on Sunday.
We still don't sleep in at our house on Sunday, but it has been a long time since we had pancakes and sausage on Sunday morning. We grab and go - and instead of spending a long time peering over the morning paper I usually give it a cursory glance and set it aside for later. Baseball statistics are so inflated that I don't bother looking at them anymore - and if I did, they are updated on the Internet with a swing of the bat, so the ones printed in the Sunday morning paper would be obsolete by mid-afternoon.
There was no question, back in my day, about where we would spend Sunday morning. We had Sunday school at 9:45 and church at 11. We were out by noon - you could set your watch by it - and we didn't seem to have any trouble getting everything in. Now we spend about three hours at church on Sunday morning, but I'm not sure the extra time is particularly restorative.
I don't know how it is at your church, but at mine they seem to think that they need a customized schedule for each individual parishioner. We have to decide whether to go to church at 8:15 or 11 or sometime in between and we can choose a "contemporary" service where casual dress is not only accepted, but is encouraged and the music is loud and repetitive or a more traditional worship in which the old folks - of which I am now one - still dress up. I go to that service because once in a while we'll still sing a hymn I know by heart.
Hymnals are just about obsolete. We generally follow the bouncing ball on those big screens at the front of the sanctuary.
Ecclesiastical differences aside, however, the big difference in Sunday, for those of us who still go to church, occurs after the last amen.
Back in the day, we would walk home after church and sit around and talk while Mama got dinner ready - and what a dinner it would be! Fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, corn, beans, mashed potatoes. Sunday dinner was special.
Nobody walks to church anymore, of course. At our house, in fact, we drive to church separately, most of the time, because we all have different time schedules. Now when church is over, unless we have been lucky enough to secure an invitation to Sunday dinner from my mother-in-law, we begin texting one another to decide at which restaurant we will meet for "lunch," which ain't nothing like dinner. Trust me.
And back in the day, nothing was open on Sunday except the church. No shopping. No movies. No soccer games. No nothing on Sunday afternoon, except visiting with friends or maybe watching a ball game on television.
Now, of course, it is hard to distinguish Sunday from any other day of the week. Everything is wide open, except Chick-Fil-a, and visiting, as I recently noted, is a thing of the past anyway. In fact, Sunday seems to be prime shopping time and youth sports activities typically abound - and this year there promises to be a strong lobby to have laws passed to sell packaged alcohol on Sunday, as a way of stimulating the economy.
Oh, well. I guess that's what we call progress, and if I really wanted to spend a Sunday like those of my youth, I could. And maybe, this year, I will. Maybe I will eat at home and stay away from all shopping and entertainment venues. And if the economy doesn't improve considerably, I might have a lot of company.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.