September 13, 2008

Flight From Chicago

The speakers at the conference were amazing. Sharon Watkins, our General Minister and President, didn't preach, but she did speak to us about the new Disciples of Christ identity statement, and the current mission alignment process. (Read about mission alignment at The other main speakers/preachers were Floyd Flake and Will Willimon, both of whom were outstanding.

On Tuesday evening, there was a dinner for "young clergy." "Young" was defined as "under 40," and even though I was skeptical as to how much of the conversation would pertain to me, I went. I've been a pastor for 11 years, have a kid in middle school, and am starting to realize that advertisements are no longer directed at me, as I'm no longer in their key age demographic ... although, now that I think about it, that's not entirely a bad thing. Anyway, I'm not sure my slightly older friends with whom I had dinner on Monday night appreciated me saying to them, "Sorry, can't join you tonight, I'm going to the young clergy dinner." But because I could still say that, I went.

In a similar vein, I'm not sure all those midwestern Disciples appreciated it when I got all excited by the rain on Monday, looking out the windows of the hotel conference center and dancing up and down the hallways singing, "Wow, I've not seen rain in four months!" Ah, to be from California.

The conference ended Wednesday afternoon. At the airport terminal, I watched a man got all worked up over the "ridiculous" boarding procedure. I thought they were going to haul him away, but he calmed himself down. All I could think was, "I feel sorry for whoever is seated next to him." Some time later, when I was finally able to walk down the aisle of the plane to my seat, I noticed that it was taken by a young woman. "You wouldn't want to sit by the window, would you?"

I had specifically requested this aisle seat, so I said to her, "Not really." I should of stopped there, but then I added, "Are you flying with the person next to you?" When she said yes, I gave in. "All right," I said.

She pointed me to my new seat, one row back and across the aisle--right next to the guy who threw the fit in the terminal.

I took my seat and turned on the reading light. It worked. The guy next to me, in the middle, ordered two cokes & rum, then spent half the flight complaining that he was overcharged. The guy next to him--the guy on the aisle--turned on his reading light. It flickered on and off, and continued to do so clear across the continent.

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