You get all sorts of thoughts when traveling...
Huw Williams | 09:34, Monday 26 May 2014 | Wisla, Poland
Rules apply in places like this. Everyone is waiting, save the staff who tap at computers at the gate and speak loudly on telephones. 

I write this in an airport lounge, one of those strangely familiar, foreign places. I've never been to this airport before and yet it could be one of many I have sat in, waiting for a flight. Rules apply in places like this. Everyone is waiting, save the staff who tap at computers at the gate and speak loudly on telephones. Efficient types (- we are in Germany, after all!) in suits have already grabbed the seats with nearby power supplies, plugged their laptops in, and are rapidly tapping out emails. Other people play idly with boarding cards, flick through magazines or examine their passports as though they have never really noticed them before. In a moment, the lady at the desk will begin speaking into the tannoy system (- they do still call them tannoy systems, don't they?) and those of us who are sitting close enough will hear that weird natural-voice and slightly-delayed-amplified-voice a split second later, as she announces instructions for boarding, most of which will be ignored as passengers with reserved seats still jockey for places in the queue as though the last few to turn up will be turned away...

... Yes, all that happened as predicted, and I now write this paragraph on the plane, at what is to me an incomprehensibly high altitude, having dutifully waited until the pilot had switched off the seat-belt signs before turning on my electronic device (already set to flight mode).

we keep the rules ... every day

We live out these patterns all the time, we keep the rules (and often for good reason when taking a flight) every day, in different situations, and when they become familiar enough to us, we slot into them almost without thinking about it. I am especially alert to this today because my traveling companion is Larry Crabb - not literally, but in the form of his book "Real Church" - and it is a challenging read.

He has encouraged me to ask myself why I go to church, and also why we do, what we do, when we get there. But this isn't an entirely new thought to me, it has been gnawing away at me for some months now, and it has emerged as a theme of recent sermons as I've been preaching through Luke's gospel.

I don't have any great answers yet, though I have a feeling I will have by the time I finish this book. But in the meantime, it's enough for us to consider, as people of God, our attitude when we meet together. Stand, sit, sing, listen, turn off electronic devices (- I wish!), fasten seatbelts (- if only we needed them!)... How about we all arrive at our familiar 'waiting rooms' this week with an expectation of a great adventure and a determination to enjoy the ride?

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