I really envy pastors that get excited about Christmas. In many respects I truly love Christmas. I think that Advent hymns are probably the strongest in the hymnal, and once you get past all the English carols, Lutheran hymnody on our Lord’s Incarnation are wonderful and as full of Gospel as any you will find.
But I must also admit that I have a really difficult time with the season.
There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, the period from Thanksgiving until about the end of January just has a lot of very difficult memories. The death of our unborn daughter. The death of my mother. There are others, but those are teh two biggies. So I kinda feel like this season is bookended for me with sadness on either side.
Secondly, it is just a lot of work. There are typically 6-7 extra services with sermons during the month of December, and that is a lot if you care about actually preparing.
Third, many of the parishes problems and challenges inevitably arrive during December. Budgets. Personal crises. Extra counseling. Christmas programs. It all happens this time of year.
Finally, there is the continued spectre for the preacher of coming up with something new on the most familiar of all biblical texts. It is hard work, and I’m not always successful at it.
The result of all this is that I find myself more stressed out than usual, behind, tired, crabby, and generally not very full of Christmas cheer. I am short and cross with my family. I don’t have patience to deal with all of the very real problems that arise in my congregation. At the very time when I need to be on my “A game” as a pastor, I feel like I am barely passing muster.
So what do you do when you are strung out as a pastor? Inquiring minds want to know.