(photo from LDS Media Library)
In my stake, we change schedules every fall, instead of in January like every other stake I’ve ever lived in. This means, my friends, that come September, we will have eleven o’clock church. Bleh.
I have long held that the Church is most true at 9 a.m., and gets progressively less true as the day goes on. One p.m. church is practically apostate (especially on Fast Sundays with a group of grouchy kids–and teachers–in third block), and if you are one of the poor souls who have to attend from from three p.m. on you might as well get rebaptized every week.
But eleven o’clock is the only schedule for which my kids miss an actual meal, and that has its own disadvantages. I can feed people breakfast and then scramble to do a pre-church snack as well. I can open up the kitchen after church and let everyone graze, but that will delay my preparation of Sunday dinner. Throw choir in there someplace (but when?) and the odd Sunday meeting, and the day feels packed.
Part of my preference for early church comes from an inherent lack of self-discipline. Give me a place to be and a time to be there, and I will do my darnedest to get my family there on time. We may not have ironed shirts on, or matching shoes (the day of my two-year-old’s blessing two of his brothers had on mismatched shoes. And socks. And we got there a tad late), but we’ll be there. With late church, though, I have the illusion of time–no place to be until eleven! wahoo!–without the substance thereof. It’s easier for me to get my family up and out the door at 9 than it is to gather everyone later on.
In a more serious way of putting it, I feel that I keep the Sabbath holy much, much better when church is the first thing I do in the day. It’s easier to set a reverent tone, easier to fill my afternoon with good things. When I have late church I find myself puttering about, squandering Sabbath time that I fill in much better ways when I have early church.
I suspect that you also have strong preferences for when church starts. So let me hear them! Tell me why, and how you make different schedules work for your family. (Especially those poor napless toddlers.) Right now my strategy is just power through and remember that in two years, I’ll be back on the celestial schedule again.