Totally Blowing It On a Snow Day
God gave the sign of the rainbow to assure Noah that He would never flood the Earth again. I would like to ask God for another sign, one to assure me that He will never let it snow on Sunday again.
Early on in my ministry I gave the church a sign - Wal-Mart. If the planets ever aligned, pigs flew, Hades froze over and it snowed on Sunday I charged the church to call Wal-Mart. If Wal-Mart was open, we would be open. For the last 10 or so years of my ministry it has almost become another Bible verse to our congregation, “If Wal-Mart is open, we will be open.” On Sunday Wal-Mart was open, but I cancelled the worship services. I broke my own commandment. I ignored the sign. I blew it.
Here is how it happened.
It was the Sunday after Christmas. As all good pastors do I asked our youth pastor to preach. Youth pastors are heavily sought after preachers on Memorial Day, Labor Day, and post-Christmas day weekends. I had originally planned to preach on the 26th, but I felt bad for our youth pastor, Caleb, because I hadn’t asked him to preach in quite some time. So we had it planned, Caleb would preach both morning services, I would attend the first one, then the family and I would head to Georgia for Christmas Day #2. Christmas Day #1 was a memorable one in Alabama; for the first time in 4,589 years Alabama had a white Christmas. The problem is that Christmas was on Saturday and the white part continued on until Sunday. As I headed to church with my family on Sunday I was handed a glaring reminder of why God doesn’t give Alabama snow. Alabamians freak out in snow. Snow in Alabama does to its people what bug zappers are designed to do with bugs. It sucks them in to the light, it is a siren song of death. Snow says to Bamers, “Get in your big O’ truck and go somewhere, anywhere so you can see what your truck will do in snow.” Once out, the big O’ trucks end up in piles. In Alabama we do not have snow drifts, we have Chevy drifts - tangled piles of twisted metal; each one a testament to why God doesn’t give Alabama snow. On Sunday my problem was not that I could not get to church because of the snow; I couldn’t not get there because of the truck drifts, the rear wheel drive testimonies to the reasons we fish in the South and do not ski. We cannot function in snow.
So halfway to church I made a call. I called Caleb. At 8:45 a.m. he and Johnny, our music minister, were the only two people at the church. Other people had called in and reported that they too were having the truck drift problem - cars were in piles, no one was coming to church. Wal-Mart had been called. The report was that there were only a few lost souls there, helplessly trapped by the tangled mass of humanity outside; but Wal-Mart was open. At this point I should mention two factors I did not calculate into the Birmingham version of my Wal-Mart plan. When I first enacted the Wal-Mart plan Wal-Mart was not open 24 hours - now they are. The second critical component I did not factor in was that on December 26th, a nuclear bomb could go off in the parking lot and Wal-Mart will open. Black Friday is a busy day for Wal-Mart, Dec. 26 is its rival. So there I sat on Deerfoot Parkway, having just navigated a truck drift on Old Springville Road, watching another truck drift being created just ahead of me - and I blew it - I called off church.
Another interesting element about snow in Alabama is that it comes rarely and leaves quickly. I called off church at 8:45, by 11:00 a.m. the roads were clear, and all the truck drifts had also blown away. This is why I have the Wal-Mart policy, because as soon as you cancel church God will clear the roads and people will go shopping. So once the roads were clear, we went to Red Robin, got burgers, exchanged a sweater at Justice and headed for Georgia. This may seem like a happy afternoon, but if you ask my wife she will tell you that it was agony for me. If I ever cancel church on Sunday, I am miserable for the rest of the day. Women eat ice cream when they are depressed. I ate a Whiskey River BBQ spinach chicken wrap, a bag of M & M’s, 3 mini 3 Musketeer bars, a bowl of 15 bean soup, several tortillas, and some delicious desserts I cannot identify - all because I was miserable. When I cancel church I gain weight. I need worship to keep me fit.
For those of you who came to RBC yesterday and it was a dark lonely place, I am sorry. I know you saw the bright lights of Wal-Mart and just knew we too would be open. You observed the sign. I have trained you well, and so you came. And there you sat, your faces were branded on my conscience yesterday, scared, cold, and confused - Wal-Mart is open, but RBC is closed. I know it was a strange, twisted, alternate universe, sci-fi type of experience for you. I am sorry.
Yesterday, I blew it. May it never snow on Sunday again! Happy New Year!