On the twenty-fourth day of December my true love gave to me,
A church worship service on Christmas Eve.
My husband ministers three churches. On an average Sunday he is pooped by 2:oo pm, which is when he’s done preaching 3 sermons for the day and I have stuffed him full with a traditional Sunday meal. I only attend one church. It could be any one of the three, but still, only one on any given Sunday. I tend to stick with a certain church mostly because out of the three it was the one I choose to put my membership when we first moved to the island, and also because of the Children’s Ministry I am involved in there. A second church I attend often is the one across the street from our parsonage. It’s a beautiful church, and I tend to attend regularly during the summer because of the Children’s Sunday School program and VBS. It’s also the church I randomly go to when me and the boys are running too late to make it to the other one. The last church is my favorite. I call it the Little House on The Prairie Church. It is so picturesque and quaint. But services there are at 8:15 in the morning, and a morning person I am not. So consequently, I rarely attend that church.
On Christmas Eve, all three churches hold services, and all three services I and my boys attend. It’s a bit of a rat race. Once starts at 6, then the next at 7, and then back to the big one across the street from our house at 8. All three churches have a unique service of their own, and all three pack out with every person within the villages, whether they are members or regular attendees or not. The only bad thing about Christmas Eve is that by the time we get to the 8:00 pm service I don’t always have a spot in my own driveway. But we won’t get on that soapbox. Needless to say, as a minister’s wife, there are lots of things my family and I have to deal with, and overall keep our feelings to ourselves.
Christmas Eve dinner, once a cherished tradition, is no longer the event it once was. In days past I would create a wonderful meal in which I would lovingly serve on our fine china at the dinning room table, complete with a homemade pie of some type. The boys would pose for pictures as they hung up their stockings and put out milk and cookies for Santa. Later in the evening we would snuggle down for a family movie or a game night.
Now we eat pizza or some other non-monumental meal that I might have thrown together had I given it much time and thought. Like a casserole or something. There have been years that pictures of stockings and plates of cookies and carrots have been forgotten, much to my dismay. And though I enjoy the fellowship and church #1, the Children’s Christmas program at church #2, and the message and communion at church #3, I also sometimes resent the amount of time that is given to the church and our church families, and how little of that time is left for building and carrying on traditions in my own home. And then I am humbled and reminded that Christmas is not about me and it never was.
This year Christmas is on a Sunday. Could Jesus’ birthday have come on a more perfect day? What better way to celebrate the reason for the season than in church, which is why you’re going to church in the first place. Well, actually, the flesh in me says yes, there could have been a better day…like Monday. How about Monday? Or Saturday? Take your pick. But Sunday? Come on, it’s Christmas morning and now I have to share that, too!? Well, actually, yes, yes I do.
But as always on Sunday mornings, I will attend only one church, and seeing as it will be a crazy morning, I will most likely attend the closer church which starts the latest in the morning. And I will still make my Christmas breakfast and hope I can get it ready in time for Hubby to eat with us before he is out the door to church #1. No one said his job was easy either, and so I certainly don’t blame him for the life the Lord has called us to.
To me these are a little bigger than the “small stuff” but to sweat them anyway would not accomplish much. That doesn’t mean I never get angry or frustrated, scream into my pillow and throw a temper tantrum once in a while, but in the end you have to keep things in perspective. I suspect that I clung to the traditions of my own childhood for certain reasons, but my hope is that my own children will find the same solace in these newer ones. It’s not about the turkey dinner, the pictures, or the plate of cookies. It’s about us being a family and worshipping together. It’s about the four of us spending time together and truly enjoying each other’s company. Maybe my boys will grow up and look back fondly on our Christmas Eve pizzas. I hope so.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
~ John 3:16 NIV