I spent the worst Christmas Eve of my life in an Arby’s in New Jersey. At least I think it was Arby’s. It might have been a “Big Boy,” that fast food restaurant with the little cartoon kid who has the wavy hair that looks like mine when I don’t get a haircut often enough.
It’s hard to remember which one I was in because I was crying so much over my plate of sad french fries.
And, no, these tears were not based off the Arby’s jingle “Good Mood Food.” That thing wouldn’t come out until years later and, much like Putty from Seinfeld, I’m not opposed to Arby’s. I was crying because I was in an Arby’s on Christmas Eve somewhere in New Jersey. Nobody was fist pumping. Nobody was four lokoing the night away. Very few people were wearing Ed Hardy denim jackets on which a tiger is inexplicably fighting a dragon. It was dead inside, just a smattering of road wary travelers battling the New Jersey Turnpike and slumber as they headed to their final Christmas destinations.
Our road ended in Charlotte, North Carolina. Being a pastor’s kid is like being Spiderman. With great power comes great responsibility. On the plus side, you have your own racy theme song, “Son of a Preacher Man.” On the negative side, your dad has to work Christmas Eve. Which means, instead of leaving early for your grandparent’s house in North Carolina, you can’t drive away from Massachusetts once the candlelight service is over.
That’s what we did that year. But one year church fell on a Sunday, which put us in a bit of a bind.
To cancel or not to cancel church on Christmas day? That is the question.
And it’s a question every pastor in the country is asking right now. As you are well aware, Christmas day falls on a Sunday this year.
A friend who is a pastor told me that his church decided not to have service that day. A woman asked, “No church on Sunday? You must not love the Lord.”
That’s a fairly broad jump for cancelling church, but it is a debatable topic. I am personally glad that our church is not having service on Sunday this year. Why?
1. It gives the staff a chance to celebrate Christmas at home. Working at a church can be an incredibly difficult job. I’m glad they get to celebrate with their families this year.
2. I want to be home celebrating with my family.
3. Now I don’t have to tell my pastor that I missed church because I was starting a home church that only meets on Christmas Sundays. Or once every seven years.
4. It’s easier to hide the Elf on the Shelf if I’m not worried about getting up early for church.
I’m kidding! My Elf on the Shelf skills are legendary. I don’t need the extra sleep.
And if you want to hold church on Christmas Sunday, that’s awesome. We did that when I was growing up and, although the second grade me couldn’t fathom why I was being pulled away from presents, the 35-year-old me is more understanding.
How about your church? Are you guys holding service or canceling this year?