Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wedding at 40,000 Feet

This amazing true story comes from Pastor Janice Carlton of Kenai United Methodist Church.  I was in worship with them last Sunday when she used this story to illustrate her sermon about our need to share our story with others.  I use this with permission.  This portion is copied from their Facebook page.
Last week on a flight inbound for Anchorage, our pastor Janice heard the flight attendants asked a couple seated in her row what was taking them to Alaska. They were headed to our state to celebrate the man's birthday, because Alaska was on his bucket list and to get married.

Janice took the opportunity to speak up sharing that, "I'm a minister". One thing led to another and a wedding was performed on the flight. In order for this marriage to take place, the plane needed to be at 40,000 feet and over international airspace. The bride was decked out by the flight attendants in a veil made of toilet paper. Her bouquet was made of Alaska Airline napkins. She walked down the long aisle while a passenger sang "Fly Me to the Moon." The groom and the minister (Janice) stood against the cockpit door watching her approach. Janice was amazed she remembered the marriage ceremony words.

As the preacher came to "I now pronounce you husband and wife" the ceremony was turned over to the pilot who had to remain in the cockpit. As "captain of the ship" he did the actual pronouncing
over the intercom. The bride threw the bouquet, coached by the flight attendants, directly to an Alaska Airlines pilot who was deadheading in first class. He caught it. A legal marriage ceremony had been performed.

On Tuesday, the newlyweds arrived in Kenai and reconfirmed their vows in our church since they actually were planning some kind of church wedding.
Pastor Janice used this story to point out that we as disciples of Jesus need to be open to opportunities to engage others for the sake of the gospel.  Many times we try to avoid such encounters.  The flight attendant was willing to be an impromptu wedding coordinator.  The couple was willing to share their story of their first trip to Alaska.  Janice was willing to say that she was a pastor.  The captain was willing to allow this celebration on his plane.  A woman was willing to sing a song. 
All of this came together in one magical moment to create a spontaneous celebration of love.  There were smiles, laughter, and applause on that plane.  God was already very present on that plane, but several people were willing to open the door wider so that others could experience the light of God!
How will you be open to the promptings of the Spirit today so that others may sense God's joy?
Grace Always,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Motorcycle Wave

Have you noticed that motorcyclists wave at each other on the highways?  I am fascinated by the evolution and biker social rules of the road.  The wave used to be up high with the hand like anyone would wave at someone.  Nowadays bikers wave at each other with a lowered hand.  Always a need to be different!

I used to ride a motorcycle.  I gave it up last year to support Aaron, my son-in-law, who sold his when he and Jenny had their first child, Isabella.  And it made my wife happy which is one of my main missions in life. 

I admit that I enjoyed the camaraderie of the biker wave.  The only part of what others saw of me was my bike and my wave.  Nothing else was visible behind the helmet and gear.  Today I see a biker wave and I have an impulse to wave at him/her.  And then I remember.  People won't wave at me because I drive a truck now!

But then I remember when I had a scooter.  Other bikers did not view me as an equal with them and most did not give me the biker wave.  Maybe someone should invent a scooter wave!  There are other cliques in the motorcycle community.  I met many owners of a certain brand (I won't say which!) who would not wave at me because I owned a different brand of bike. 

All this makes me think about Christian community and how we act in the world.  Are there people we avoid because we don't see them as a part of our "in" group?  Do we look down on some because they are not as smart or as gifted as we are? 

It's interesting that as more people ride motorcycles they are not waving at other bikers as much.  This is because there are simply too many of them on the road.  All I am saying is that let's be in the world as if everyone is a part of our group.  Everyone deserves a wave, a smile, a kind word, a whispered prayer.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Taking Health for Granted

I remember a great definition of maturity.  Maturity is realizing that the most important lessons in life are the ones we thought we already knew.  Don't you love that?  Most of us know how to live rightly according to God's desires for us.  But we are a people who forget easily.  We need to relearn the same basic lessons over and over again.  Mature people are those who for the most part have learned those lessons and remember them.

I am at the end of a 10 day bout of severe sore throat and coughing spasms.  I am sure that before this spell I was not as aware of how good life can be without a sore throat and the wracking pain of deep coughing.  But during the past 10 days I have thought a lot about life without this pain.  It leads me to think about all the blessings of life without pain.  How I take them for granted. 

This is an important part of our prayer life:  simply being still in gratitude to God for simple things like a pain-free body, eyes to see, arms to hug loved ones, legs to hike trails, etc.  When something like our health is compromised or taken from us we immediately understand what we had.  The challenge of a life of faith today is to thank God for all the gifts of life and love.  They may not always be with us.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pastor Ignores Neighbors

Part of what it means to be missional is to be in relationship with the world without a hidden agenda other than to offer the grace of God in Christ.  I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to do this in my neighborhood.  Last spring I passed out fliers announcing a "Come and Ask Your God Question" Bible study at our house.  No one came.

For most of the 13 years we have lived in this neighborhood I have ignored my neighbors.  I was busy with an energetic and growing church, and a bustling household with four teenagers!  I had a good excuse, right?  What I realize now is that all of my energy was directed to growing the attractional church.  I did not leave any time to simply be the grace of God for my neighbors.  So how do I move from ignoring them to suddenly being interested in them?  The answer probably has something to do with confession!

When you are new to a neighborhood you have this window of being new where you can approach people and ask questions.  Even though I had hoped our log cabin in Willow would be a refuge where I would not be known as a pastor I have been "outed" there!  With PLUME director, Robert Hicks encouraging us, Kim and I hosted a picnic for our Willow neighborhood a few weeks ago.  We learned that it had never been done and guess what...people came, even in the rain!

So this dibble is a little poke for you to ask God how you can be present with the people in your neighborhood.  I'd love to hear stories.

Grace Always,