Last December I mentioned in a sermon that I was hoping for a White Christmas. I had never experienced one before. Gary Lezak, my favorite TV meteorologist, had been hinting that the possibility of significant snow on Christmas Day was beginning to look good.
On Christmas Eve I saw Gary in line at a Chik-Fil-A ordering, like me, a late lunch. I said, “Hi Gary. I’m Glen Miles, Senior Minister at Country Club Christian Church.” I asked, “Is the snow coming?” With a huge smile he said, “It’s gonna be a blizzard! Cancel church! Go home now! Take no chances! No one but Santa should be out tonight!” I think Gary always talks with exclamation points at the end of every sentence!
His forecast was accurate. The blizzard of Christmas Eve 2009 hit with a vengeance. I think we had about 14 inches of snow at the church. We did not follow Gary’s advice and went ahead with our services. We saw around 500 worshippers at the 5:30 p.m. service, about 250 at 8:00 p.m. and exactly 198 at 11:00 p.m. The normal attendance total is around 2,000 for Christmas Eve but the snow forced many to stay away.
I took quite a bit of good natured blame for that snow storm. Many folks said things like, “Next year pray for a sweater,” or “You should have been praying for the Chiefs, not snow!” (There were several varieties of that request involving Jayhawks, Tigers, Royals, Longhorns, Cornhuskers and so on.)
I tried to point out that I had been hoping for a White Christmas but no one cut me any slack on that. I guess that means any time a preacher hopes or wishes or wants it is pretty much a prayer. I tried to argue that if my prayers really could control things like the weather or sports my beloved Golden Bears would be prepping to play in the Rose Bowl every year. But no one cut me any slack. My wish, my prayer, for snow on Christmas was on record and that was it!
This year for Christmas I am hoping for something that has nothing to do with the weather. I hope that our church will experience the presence of God in a new way. I am hoping, as Isaiah promised 500 years before Jesus’ birth, that there will be a new spirit at work in our hearts and minds and souls. I am hoping that the promise of God’s presence among us will bring us just a bit closer to the peace that the angels sang about on that cold Bethlehem night 2,000 years ago.
Those are my hopes for this year and in the life of the church we do indeed call these prayers. Amen.