(Editor's Note: This column was written by my dad. His column will appear in the Nebraska Family Times every month. Dad is a great teacher and I learn something from every article I read and sermon of his that I hear. I hope you enjoy this article and the ones that will follow!)
A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew
As a retired pastor I get a different view of things from the pew than the view I had from the pulpit. Christmas and Easter are two good examples.
Christmas and Easter are the two most important celebrations of the church year for most of those who practice the Christian faith. It could be debated, but they are probably two of the most important celebrations for those who don’t consider the church and worship a very important part of their lives. The secularization of those two holidays (the word “holiday” comes from the Old English "halig" holy + "daeg" day) has a lot to do with that. You don’t see many Transfiguration or Maundy Thursday cards on the shelves, but almost everybody knows they have to buy Christmas presents for their kids and take them to the town Easter egg hunt even if they don’t make the connection to the Savior.
And for some reason, many people who don’t think it’s important to be in church the rest of the year seem to think they should be there on Christmas and Easter. When you’re a preacher looking from the pulpit it’s a bittersweet feeling on Christmas and Easter to see the church packed with “members,” knowing that many of them won’t see the inside of the church again until the next year. Those are the days for the preacher to “speak the truth in love” and remind those they are to shepherd about the importance of corporate worship.
When you’re a retired preacher and member in the pew there are some unique problems you’ll have to deal with. Here are a few guidelines for Christmas and Easter:
1. Make sure you get to church early if you want to sit in your favorite pew or if your family wants to sit together.
2. Sit near the front to avoid the distraction of kids (and adults, too) who don’t know how to behave in church because they haven’t been there enough to learn how to behave in church.
3. Be careful in being nice to “guests“. Never ask them where they‘re from-they might be a member who only comes at Christmas and Easter. Instead, say, ”It was nice to see you today! We hope to see you here again soon.”
4. Try to have an answer ready for the people who complain , “I come to church twice a year and hear the same two stories year after year.” Reply, ”Come every week and you’ll hear a lot of different stories.”
Easter and Christmas give opportunities to witness to those who are less than faithful in their worship. The Scriptures remind us all: Hebrews 10:25 “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Allen Geil is a retired pastor/teacher/hog farmer who lived in Nebraska for 18 years and now lives in Missouri.