Tonight is our district gathering that I have often referred to as the Nazarene Prom (aka the District Annual Ministers and Mates Christmas Dinner). The over/under for Christmas ties worn is 14 (I’m taking the over) and Christmas socks is 24 (I’m taking the over on that too). The percentage of ladies wearing a red dress is approximately 94.3%.
Now that good Nazarene teens can go to the actual prom without causing a major breech in the manual, maybe future Ministers’ Christmas gatherings won’t seem prom-like. But for those who grew up in the Nazarenes-don’t-go-to-movies-or-dances era like me, the Christmas gathering is as close to a prom as some of us have ever been. Of course, I have no idea what the real prom is like since in my day Nazarene churches offered a prom alternative called “A Night to remember.” Our fake prom was held on Mackinac Island. I don’t remember “A Night to Remember” because I never went to it either. Like a real prom, our fake prom’s attendance was expensive (not the reason I didn’t attend) and required the asking of a girl to attend too (that might have played a role in my lack of attendance). In any event, I stayed home from both the real prom and the Nazarene fake prom.
But tonight I’m going. I won’t buy my wife a corsage like for a prom. She won’t be wearing a formal gown (although I have seen some who have). I won’t break curfew in getting home (I don’t have a curfew anymore). But I will eat chicken. I will laugh at the DS’s corny jokes. I will sing Joy to the World slightly off key while forgetting a few of the words. I will see my pastor colleagues that I haven’t seen since District Assembly in April. I will look around the room and wonder how everyone else is looking older. And I will be thankful for such a fine group of people who are serving Jesus just like me in places great and small.
One of the best things about the Church of the Nazarene (and I think why going to an every five year General Assembly is consistently voted down) is that we are family. Some of us wear Christmas ties, some in the family tell corny jokes, some of us can’t sing a lick, but we are family nonetheless. When we get together it’s like a reunion. Tonight’s Christmas gathering will include the things we Nazarenes like best: Eating and talking. It won’t be a Silent Night at Zehnder’s restaurant in Frankenmuth, but some Good Christian Men (and women) will rejoice