For most of my life, I’ve been resentful of the Wednesday evening service at church. When I was kid, I didn’t really understand why we had to go to church on Wednesday nights. Yes, I’d been given the typical reason of, “the elders set this meeting time for the congregation and we need to honor that”. I never really thought that was good reason. All it really did was fuel the fires of legalism and allowed for people to take notice of whether or not you deigned to grace the church building with your presence at the mid-week meeting. Then there was the, “it’s a good opportunity to refresh and renew your spiritual walk in between Sundays”. But I never really experienced anything like that.
When I hit youth group age, Wednesday nights were about seeing and being seen. (I guess some would call it fellowship.) In high school, I started working part-time jobs but was instructed by my father that I would not work on Wednesday nights. My presence at church was expected and was reflection on our family. Then came college. Finally, I could choose if and when I went to church. For the most part, I always went on Sunday mornings. I wanted to go to church, I wanted to be apart of a church family while I was in school but away from home, however, I finally got to have a say about whether or not Wednesday night would find me at church or not. And for the most part, it didn’t. Of course, homework and studying took up a lot of that time and it was an easy excuse not to go. But really, I just liked not “having” to go.
That pretty much continued on through early adulthood. After marrying and then leaving Blacksburg, DB and I just didn’t make it a priority to go to Wednesday night services. But after JBelle was born and she got a little older, we both wanted, ironically enough, to instill in our children the same commitments and responsibilities we had both been raised with.
But I still didn’t like going on Wednesdays because honestly there was never anything that interested me about Wednesday night classes and devotionals. I would fidget and yawn through classes. I would find myself daydreaming and thinking about what I would do the next day during devotionals. I would find just about any way to be at church on a Wednesday night without actually participating in anything. I was restless and tired and really just wanted to be at home. About the only positive part was having an entire hour childfree.
Then a few years ago, our church started something called Vespers on Wednesday evenings. And finally, I had a reason, a real, true reason to be at church on Wednesdays. Vespers was exactly what my heart, soul and mind needed in the middle of my week. Vespers was exactly what people had always said that Wednesday nights at church were supposed to be but that I had never found, “a chance to renew and refresh”, “a spiritual pick-me-up”. No longer do I show-up only for my kids sake. No longer do I think only about seeing and being seen. No longer do I dread sitting through yet another class or devotional. Now I come to meet God, to feel His presence, to experience His love. I come to take a few moments to quiet myself and my thoughts, to refresh my soul, to soothe my heart.
Vespers is a devotional service unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced in my fellowship of faith. The atmosphere is calming. The lights are off and there are candles all over the place. The service progresses in the same order each week but the experience is never exactly the same. A capella and instrumental music is used. There is a short period of complete silence (probably my favorite part since I have very talkative and inquisitive children!) There are stations that include all sorts of actions like reading and meditating over poetry, molding clay, partaking of communion, writing encouraging notes to others, praying, or just sitting quietly in the pews meditating over scriptures and listening to the music.
The Vespers service takes a break over the summer and tonight is first one since May. My soul has longed for it all summer (in a dry and weary land, there is no water). I’m really looking forward to tonight! A lifetime of Wednesdays has finally led me to place where doing church actually has spiritual benefit and a really good reason to be there.