Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Christmas Like I've Never Had

I apologize for the length of time since my last post. There's been a lot going on here, but not that much to write about. The main thing that's been going on at our house is probably what's been happening at yours; setting up Christmas decorations. I made sure to have my outside lights up before Thanksgiving so our Thanksgiving guests would have the effect of the lights when they left. I'm very glad I did! If I hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to put them up till the snow melts.

By the way, the state of Colorado LOVES it when it snows during a nationally televised Broncos game. You can just hear people booking their fights here to go skiing.

We always put everything up on Thanksgiving weekend, because we usually have time then. If we let it go too far into December, our schedule takes over, and it becomes very hard to find time. I like to enjoy the decorations for a whole month. No sense waiting until a few days before Christmas, then having to take them down again a few days later. But this year, our schedule is considerably lighter, and we couldn't be happier about it.

In Denver, we have a tradition of leaving our outside lights on until after the National Western Stock Show in January. So I'm always the last guy on our block to take his lights down. But of all the aspects of Christmas, the only one I really miss after the season is over is the lights. Note the candy cane mailbox, my favorite part. I leave them up until it starts to get tacky, then I leave them up another week.

In one weekend, the season changed. From fall to winter, from Thanksgiving to Christmas. But this Christmas will be unlike any I've ever had before. And not just for the obvious reason.

I met a former pastor for coffee today. We're both in the same stage of life. Same age, both with major health problems, and neither of us has a job right now. We're both trying to navigate the treacherous waters of early retirement. We're both in that No Man's Land where we're too old to get hired, but too young to collect Social Security or Medicare. But even with all of our difficulties, we both expressed relief at not having to push another Christmas boulder up the mountain this year.

Here's what people who just go to church and are not involved in a major way in their church don't understand. For those who are on the platform, church is a gig. It may not be a paying gig, in fact most times it's not, but it's still a gig, meaning you have to show up. No choice. And we were always key players who would be sorely missed if we didn't show up. We would have let a lot of people down if we had decided to stay home on Christmas Eve. In our former church where my wife and I volunteered for many years, it was tradition for decades to put on huge, lavish Christmas productions that took weeks and weeks of rehearsal. There would be multiple performances over a whole weekend in December.

Once I was hired on at Hope Fellowship as a worship leader, then Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday became my responsibility, not just as a volunteer, but as the guy who put the whole thing together. In case you didn't know, it's not the pastor's job to keep the service running on time, and make sure there are no hiccups. That's the worship leader's job.

The night before the first Christmas Eve service that I was responsible for at Hope, I was telling a friend of mine that the whole thing was on me. He said that it wasn't really on me, it was on God. To which I replied, "That's true, but if there's a train wreck tomorrow, God won't get fired."

I say all of that to say this. After many years of carrying that responsibility, suddenly the load has been lifted. I know that those who have found my music ministry meaningful don't like to hear this, but I can't tell you what a relief it is not to be responsible for anything at church this December. We're actually discussing whether or not to even attend Christmas Eve service, since we're having company for Christmas Day. We've never had that choice before.

While some might feel a loss of purpose after so many years of ministry, I don't feel that way at all. The way I see it, we put in almost 40 years on the front lines, and now we are entitled to retire. We are thrilled to be able to experience Christmas like normal people for the first time. In a few weeks, if you attend a special program or Christmas Eve service, think about the people on the platform. Think about how much preparing for that event, whose purpose is to make your Christmas more meaningful, cost those people. Chances are, they haven't had a chance to put their decorations up yet. Thank them.

One last thing. In my last post, I said that friends had commented on my coloring being better. Others have said the same since. Here's my reply. Try finding out that thousands of people all over the world love you, are praying for you, and want to help you if they can. Try finding that out, and see what it does for your coloring.

Thanks again for being here! You all mean more to me than I can say.

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