July 30, 2020

“Happy the Home When God Is There”

As we witnessed the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 and the initial announcement of the lockdown, we were simply that — witnesses. Watching closely, we were seemingly unaffected. 

Then the first Sabbath arrived on March 15, 2020, when we would not be able to attend church services at our regular place of worship. We had not anticipated what Sabbath would mean without attending church. It was different and weird. We had never collectively planned to miss church before, but that’s what it felt like!

Our First Sabbath

We woke up early for Sabbath worship, but what exactly were we going to do? We sat down to sing and pray and then … what? While everyone was singing, I slipped away to print some activities we could do for the morning from the children’s lessons. We were able to discuss something for everyone and watched the time on the clock advance steadily toward lunch. Without saying much, as parents we both recognized the need for structure and a memorable Sabbath worship experience for our children that will be evoked whenever “corona” and COVID are referenced.

Sabbath worship had to be different from the daily morning and evening prayers. We needed much more than just a song or two and a prayer and a reading. And most important, it needed to engage. We needed a worship experience that would be evidence of our faith that we speak about concerning the “God who will take care of us” during this uncertain time.

Everyone Involved

We found it important for the children to recognize the meaning of the church as a family and not a structure only or a location they go to. We wanted them to own the worship service and look forward to participating in the service. We wanted them to recognize that the whole world can stop, but as long as we have breath, we continue to worship and praise because our God hasn’t stopped.

In turn, we found that preparing for the Sabbath worship opened avenues to allow us to expose them to what it means to be a presenter, deacon, and chorister; to appreciate the service behind the service, remember their preparations before sharing, and take nothing for granted. We even had an offering basket and envelope prepared for the “deacon on duty.” The time investment and attention that we deposited was a witness to each one of them that we were all preparing for the greatest audience of One. 

As a family, we wanted to encourage others to remember the most important church members who are looking up to us to show them the way to God. I will never forget their faces on the very first Sabbath as they looked expectantly to us. They were dressed and ready to sit at the feet of Jesus, and there was no pastor or elder or Sabbath school teacher. It was just us, good old Mom and Dad! We are truly stewards and shepherds of these little ones!

Intimate Worship Moments

All our children are very social beings. It has been particularly challenging these Sabbaths when they cannot have the privilege of worshiping together with their friends. However, we have seen the Lord moving in our midst as we have these moments with our children. We have encouraged each other because we cannot know what the Lord is preparing us for when He gives us these precious, intimate moments as a family. We have been able to see their personalities and appreciate their uniqueness. We have enjoyed hearing each one share little nuggets of inspiration that boost our week.

One of our favorite hymns is “Happy the Home,” which is number 655 in the
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal. It is not just about having God in our hearts. We need Him living in our homes — binding our hearts to His. Our family is not perfect, nor do we have everything together, but we always pray that God reigns in our home.

We can’t wait for all the restrictions to be lifted, and we’ll worship with the larger family. In the meantime, our greatest desire is to be in that happy family where God is our Father, and we shall see Him face to face!

The original version of this story was posted by the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division Echo. Renee Mwamakamba is originally from Zimbabwe and her husband Lukeselo is from Tanzania. The Mwamakambas are currently serving in the Philippines.