Snow Day

In the years I’ve been at Old South, we’ve only had a handful of “snow days,” days when the weather is bad enough to cancel worship. We live in Maine, where winter weather can be a challenge. But, it takes a lot to cancel worship—usually an active “winter weather warning” that includes ice of some kind.

Today is one of those days. It’s a snow day. I don’t like snow days.

It’s bad enough to get up early and to try to figure out if things are bad enough out there to cancel worship, or to make some adjustments to the usual routine. Given the realities of travel for myself and the organist, both of us commuting some distance, we must make a decision—the church moderator and I—many hours in advance. Can we trust that “Accuweather” forecast? Will it really be as bad as they say?

But, there’s more. It’s not just that I’m in the difficult position to make a difficult decision. The context in which I make that decision makes it even worse. That context is the early morning newscasts that contribute to the information gathering. I hate that those early morning news people, on the television and on the radio, all acting as if it’s no big deal that the weather isn’t good on a Sunday morning. There’s nothing important happening on a Sunday morning . . . Sunday is the best day for a storm. There’s nothing important happening on a Sunday morning . . . .

I don’t like it. While I’ll admit there’s something attractive about the occasional snow day, reminding me of those delightful days of my childhood when my school was listed on that magical list of school closings, I mostly don’t like it at all. It’s not that I think a missed worship service is something catastrophic. What I don’t like is that what we do seems to mean so little to everyone “out there.”

Despite the long list of canceled worship services scrolling at the bottom of the screen, Sunday morning news anchors, as well as the rest of the news and weather teams, seem to have no appreciation at all that all of those listings mean something, that there are people looking through those listings with probably some mix of excitement and sadness. Sure, the rare snow day has its exciting elements, a feeling of permission to “play hooky.” But, I suspect there are plenty of people who are feeling sadness or emptiness—for their friends that they may not see for another week, for that opportunity to share a pressing prayer concern, for that moment of feeling completely in the presence of God, loved and renewed.

In a state where only a minority of the population is attached to a church community, it’s no surprise that news reports fail to capture what’s missing when so many churches cancel worship. But, the fact that I’m not surprised doesn’t make me less angry about the whole thing.

I don’t like snow days.

About smaxreisert

I'm a United Church of Christ pastor serving the small, faithful Old South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Hallowell, Maine. I was ordained in Massachusetts in 1995, moved to Maine in 1997 and have served the Hallowell church since 2005.
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