We sent out a video a week or so ago to people who had given a gift to Key Life over the past year. I thanked them for the gifts and the prayers, and then mentioned this new website and some of the things we’re going to do with it. The response we received was overwhelmingly positive.
But there was one person who wrote: “Pastors don’t need your website. They need to be faithful with the truth and stop compromising!”
I’m already a Scrooge at Christmas and, frankly, that didn’t help.
Then I thought it could be worse.
I could be a pastor.
Then I thought it could be worse than that.
I could be a pastor and have that man as a member of my church.
Then I thought it could be even worse than that.
I could be a pastor and have to deal with that person and have to do it at Christmas.
Then I thought about you. I stopped and prayed for the pastors I know and for those I’m coming to know through this website.
I’m old…but I remember.
How do you deal with the self-righteousness of twits?
And then at Christmas…
How does one say something that’s been said and heard a million times without boring people out of their gourds? How does one preach and teach God’s people and, at the same time, try and be faithful to present the Gospel to unbelievers who come out of the woodwork at Christmas? How does one say “no” to all the parties without giving offense, “yes” to one’s family when you know there’s no time, and “leave me alone” to people who just want to stop by and chat? How does one meet the budget shortfall at Christmas and still be prophetic?
Then there are the concerts, the “Christmas Weddings,” the staff Christmas party, the officer Christmas dinner at the manse…and it goes on and on.
But the hardest part about being a pastor at Christmas is the pain…the pain of God’s people that no one sees but the pastor. At Christmas, my counseling load often doubled and sometimes more than that.
Loneliness, loss, depression and sometimes even anger (as with the man who wrote me) get magnified during the Christmas season. Christmas is so painful for so many because one’s darkness is even darker when everybody else seems to be living in the light, singing about it and rejoicing over it.
Only the pastor knows.
But there is always Christmas Eve.
That was always my favorite service of the year. By then it was too late to fix what one hadn’t fixed, to contact those one hadn’t contacted, to visit those one had forgotten to visit, and to buy the present or send the card one should have sent.
On Christmas Eve, even this old Scrooge was glad and celebrated the coming of the King. On Christmas Eve, I sang the ancient carols without faking it and felt the love that had come…
…even to me…a cynical, old preacher.
On Christmas Eve, I would pray, “Jesus, you know I wouldn’t do this for anybody but you, but I do thank you for letting me serve you in the hard places. I praise you for the forgiveness, the mercy, the grace, the meaning and the love you have given to me and I rejoice you have commissioned me to bring that to others the way you brought it to all of us at Christmas.”
So cuss and spit, and gut it out at Christmas.
Christmas Eve is coming!
And not only that, a spiritual giant is praying for you.
(And my prayers couldn’t hurt either.)