Saturday, January 8, 2011
What is our policy on canceling church?
I have been a Pastor for more than 30 years and have never canceled a worship service. I have always been able to make it and some have also found a way to be there -- in ice and snow as well as other weather conditions. I was asked once why our congregation does NOT have a cancellation policy. Well, first of all, we are not in the snow belt so we seldom have real snowfall -- some dustings of snow are common and sleet and even ice somewhat common but hardly ever do we get a real full-fledged blizzard. Now you would not know this since the congregations of my community routinely close for almost any threat of bad weather. The school system closes when the weather report suggests the prospect of bad weather. But we do not close. We ask our folks to use their best judgment and we promise them that if they get to the Church, the worship of the congregation will be going on as scheduled.
The funny thing is that I have often found Wal-Mart packed, Kroger a buzz with people, and even a ton of cars in the parking lot of the Mall -- on those days when ice or snow has created a "weather advisory." Now, far be it from me to tell folks when to drive and when not to, but it does raise a question of why certain weather conditions automatically make you wonder about whether or not church should be held yet you would venture out in the same weather to go to work, head out shopping, or make it to the movie theater. BTW the movie theater never cancels or closes, either.
I know that what we do here is not always transportable to other parts of the country. Our weather conditions are not the same. It worked in the Catskill Mountains of New York, however. On one Christmas morning when I was sure that we had received enough snow to discourage folks from coming to church, I was sitting in the living room drinking my coffee in my bathrobe while our kids were playing with their toys and looked out the rectory window only to see a car full of church folks plow through the snow on their way to church. We rushed to get ready and make our way up the long lane to the church building and I think we had a dozen or two folks who felt that Christmas Day they should be in God's House. I laugh at myself for being a doubter on that occasion instead of a true believer.
We need more folks who are true believers in the priority of worship. Not every little sniffle, cough, or ache should be used as an excuse for NOT being together in the Lord's house. Neither should we look out the window in the morning for a weather related reason to justify our desire to stay at home. Now it is true that not everyone will make the same decision in circumstances of health or weather that is not optimal, but that is okay. As long as our hearts burn to be together in the Lord's House on the Lord's Day, around the :Lord's Word and the Lord's Table... for this is where we find the source and the summit of our Christian lives -- together as a congregation and individually as God's People.