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“I can’t for the life of me understand what is so great about this Indianapolis 500 stuff,” said one housewife to another. “They make a big hero out of the driver who is the first one to travel 500 miles by driving continuously in circles.”
“If you ask me, all this Indianapolis 500 is, is a speeded-up version of what I do in the mini-van chauffeuring the kids around,” the other said. Memorial Day traditionally signifies a change of seasons as the long-anticipated summer arrives, with our hopes of relaxing vacations, slow weekends at pool side and more time to spend with the family. But like the women above, even the summer can seem like a race in circles unless we take time to plan for the slower times we hope will be ours. I offer a couple of suggestions that might help anyone who feels like they are caught on the eternal oval at 225 m.p.h. Designate one evening a week as Family Night to do something fun. Choose a night when yard work, softball games and other business do not interfere. Plan vacations with reduced mileage and more free time. Take your spouse on a bunch of dates to keep the flames of romance burning. Turn off the television and talk to a loved one in the evening. Whether you are traveling near or far for vacation, go to church. It can be refreshing to attend churches in other communities that have different styles of worship. I encourage you to bring creative bulletins or other programs from other churches back to your pastor. If your adventures take you to places where it will be hard to go to church, then make sure you have a Bible and a hymn book and plan your own worship. This is as simple as singing a favorite hymn, and then reading a scripture, like Psalm 100. The first two verses of the Psalm sing of God’s glory as it is written. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into His presence with singing.” Then let all present share what they think the words mean. This can be the sermon. Let all who want to contribute to a prayer. Talk about how the family can offer some kind of offering that day. This could be something like cleaning up trash somewhere or a contribution to a meaningful project seen on vacation. Then close with another favorite hymn. Some of my fondest childhood memories included Mom and Dad gathering the four Earley kids for a family worship service while on vacation. These were unique opportunities for parents and children to share the faith with one another, and they became important threads of the fabric of my life. How important is regular worship to you? Do you think God minds when we take a week off from worshipping Him with a congregation? How often do you think God has taken time off from caring for all your needs? Have you ever shared your faith in a meaningful way with your family? Do you think planning a simple family worship service would be a meaningful experience for your family? May God bless you this summer with life-changing adventures, family moments to cherish and traveling mercies on all your journeys. Al Earley is the pastor at La Grange Presbyterian Church. The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.