Your World as I See it :”It’s Your Job!”

Editors Note: This is this is a continuation of a series within the impromptus section. I call it, Your World as I See it by Astor Clement. Similar to Doug Wilsons No Quarter November, I will, under the pseudonym, be offering my unvarnished opinions at will. As to that nome de plume, if you are a child of the 90’s the Jim Varney reference will be clear.

In his usual gentle, insightful, and humorous way Kevin DeYoung rocked the boat with his article on The Gospel Coalition, A Plea to Pastors: Don’t Cancel Church on Christmas. This it was not well received is no surprise. I haven’t seen a good rebuttal, but there was plenty of talk about legalistic thinking, impossible logistics, and accusations of heaping up burdens on congregations by their consciences feeling guilty for not coming or resenting the time it took away from their Christmas for coming. And while none of these rejoinders hold any water there is one point that DeYoung overlooked that I would like to make.

This point is not so much a plea to pastors as is it is a statement of fact that should prove the point. I would like to make it with a quote from the great Irish comedian Dara O’Briain: “It’s your job!” 

To be a pastor is to administer Word and sacrament. To not do that is a failure to achieve the base job description. The fact that once every seven years a pastor gets to preform those tasks on the day where the birth of our Lord and Savior is commemorated is more of a delightful novelty, not an excuse to cancel the entire enterprise. 

To meet some objections: It might be said that I am advocating for a pastor to make an idolatry out of ministry and that ruining his children’s Christmas will create bitterness towards Christ. I rejoin that 1. You should have known that once every seven years home Christmas traditions will be jostled a bit. This is not idolatry of ministry, it is frankly one of the easier faithfulnesses. And as for the kids, it is the job of their father to teach them not to be so greedy they can’t be patient an extra few hours for their gifts. But more importantly that since Jesus is the “reason for the season” it is a pleasure to worship him with his people gathered and once ever seven years we get an extra special opportunity to do so!

The logistics thing has some merit in that finding volunteers to fully staff everything on Christmas is harder than plucking a hair from the beard of The Great Cham’s. In response show me the chapter and verse that says we have to have a fully stocked praise team, children’s church team, coffee bar team, greater team, media team, etc. In fact show me the chapter and verse that any of these are required year round… There are two ways to approach this. 1. Christmas falls on a Sunday ONCE EVERY SEVEN YEARS that a a mighty good amount of time to recruit for this one special Sunday. But more importantly none of these are vital, this is a problem created by yesterdays solution to another problem. It is seeker sensitive nonsense to think that if these things are lacking people will leave. If they do, good, those people weren’t there to worship God. In my own church every vital roll (turning on lights, preaching, leading songs, sound board, turning off lights) are all staff positions. So again, it’s their job to be there and do those things, it is what they signed up for. There is only one job that a staff member does not do that a volunteer would be needed for. And that is my job, the slide clicker guy. So to channel my inner YA novel, “I volunteer as tribute!” 

Reader, you may have noticed that the phrase, “once every seven years” making a few appearances. And to me this really is key. It is on the calendar, it’s kind of like a freight train, it is always going to run in the same place, and it doesn’t exactly sneak up on you all stealth like. You know it will eventually be there, it will be running right on schedule, and it will be big and noisy. There really is no excuse outside of worldly pragmatics, laziness, or theological laziness. For the first time in the history of America non denominational churches out number denominational ones. And with that shift comes really bad ecclesiology. There really is no tradition in the Church that it does not meet on Christmas for theological reasons.* The idea of not meeting points more to an idolatry of family, traditions, worldliness, greed, all things that really should be addressed. If only we had a time and place to hear from God what he thinks of all this and what we should do. Or more importantly were we respond to what he has done. But it would appear that place is just not open. It should be somebody’s job to open it can’t think of who though…

*I suppose you could really twist the English Puritan approach of refusing to celebrate ChristMASS and say that revelers might show up so you are canceling. But I have yet to see anyone try and shimmy out on that particularly precarious limb. Though it would be fun to watch.

%d bloggers like this: