“Have you ever cancelled a Sunday service?” This question was posed after we cancelled our Saturday evening worship service on January 12, 2019, due to the snow. A prediction of 5-7 inches turned into 11+ inches. We didn’t hold that service, but there was still a Bradley University basketball game. In my mind I thought, “If someone can make it to the Saturday night basketball game, they can certainly make it to worship on Sunday.” And lo and behold, many of them did! Thankfully, everyone was safe and we were able to worship on Sunday, January 13, 2019, to observe the Baptism of our Lord.
Throughout the years I have served in places where we did have to cancel the latest service on a Christmas Eve, as well as the Christmas Day worship, because of a howling blizzard. (I believe that was the same year my mother-in-law cracked her pelvis as she slipped on the ice). A midweek Advent evening service in a different year was likewise cancelled for the same reason.
Other than that, I can remember only a few times when the worship was held but I couldn’t participate in it. One Sunday morning an abscess in my jaw finally put an end to my preaching before the 10:45 service – many thanks to Gary Gruber, an elder, for reading the sermon that day. And then there was an Ash Wednesday when I couldn’t begin to get to work. My associate was sick, too. Arnie Awe, an elder, filled in.
My general rule of thumb is that if I can make it to the church, I will. And we will have a worship service. But I would encourage everyone to be sensible. Don’t take risks on your life or well-being to be in worship. God-willing we’ll be open the next time a worship opportunity presents itself, so you’ll get another chance if you miss this one!
There are many things for which to be thankful in this past weekend’s experience: (1)I’m thankful that for most of my pastoral ministry the weather has been fine and I’ve been in good health. (2) I’m thankful for the technology we have in this age to alert members that services won’t be held. (3) I’m thankful for the workers who step up in these moments – Jamie who knows how to get the previously mentioned alerts sent, and Jeff for his work in clearing the sidewalks and making certain the lot gets cleared. (4) Finally, I’m thankful for the snow and the moisture it means for our land.
Some of you may have seen a few photos on Facebook regarding a Winter family tradition involving a barefoot dash in the snow. I’m thankful I got to do that, too!