High in the Alps of Switzerland is a village called Champrey. It was there that Francis and Edith Schaeffer settled in the years when Europe was recovering from the devastation of WWII. Students traveled to Champrey from all over the world. They came to ski and hike in the beautiful mountains surrounding the village. The Schaeffers opened their home to travelers at no cost to offer shelter, meals, tea and conversation. Along with the hospitality they offered stimulating dialog about Christianity.
Shortly after they moved to the village the Schaefers noticed a curious custom. Every Saturday evening at six the bell of the village chapel would ring. The Schaeffers would watch from their chalet overlooking the village for people to come to the Church but no one ever did. Week after week they heard the bell ring in the village but they never saw any corresponding activity. They didn’t understand the purpose for the bell ringing every Saturday evening.
During a trip to the village one day they inquired about the Saturday night bell in a local shop. They were informed by an old man that it had been a village custom for years to ring the chapel bell at six in the evening every Saturday. The purpose of ringing the bell was to remind everyone in the village that it is time to begin to prepare for the Lord’s Day.
The people of the village were aware that really knowing God requires habits of devotion. You have to get serious about it. A. W. Tozer called it “The Pursuit of God.” David, in the Psalms painted a word picture of a deer that longs for cool, clean water. If you want to really know God you have to go after God regularly and passionately like a deer returns every day early and late in the day to the stream to drink. You need to schedule time for it. You need to be devoted to it. You need to prepare your soul and your mind for deep, spiritual thoughts. You need to join with others who are pursuing God. Pursuing God requires some choices and some sacrifices.
Growing up we had habits of devotion that began on Saturday night. Dad would have us line up all the dress shoes on Saturday night and polish them for Sunday. The cars were always washed on Saturday. Clothes were cleaned and laid out on Saturday night. Sunday School lessons were prepared. The effect of that was to demonstrate to me the priority of following God as a family.
My wife was raised in a mountain village in Kentucky. To prepare for church she and her three siblings had to take turns bathing in an old-fashioned wash tub. One Sunday morning on the way out the door her older brother ran into her and knocked her into the tub of dirty bath water.
Preparing for the Lord’s Day is a cherished custom I recommend to you and your family. There are forces at work to fragment the family and deprive it of spiritual life. Maybe you should set the alarm on your watch for Saturday night at six to remind you to prepare your family for the most important day of the week. The forth commandment contains ancient but timeless advice: “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.” Our Creator knew we were created as spiritual beings who need spiritual nourishment.
The deepest part of you is your spirit and your spirit requires cultivation and nurture. Your family needs spiritual direction. Your children need spiritual protection. Your marriage needs a spiritual foundation. It can be a cold, hard world out there. Do you hear the bell ringing? It’s time to get ready for church. Can we save you a seat?