A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Taking Flight: 1,000 Acts of Kindness

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

Sometimes, it only takes a moment.
Sometimes, it only takes a spark,
and sometimes, it only takes an idiot.

The destination was Kansas City,
but I had a connecting flight through Chicago.
My return trip home would bring me back through windy city.

It was in Kansas City that I heard the news…..
someone had deliberately set fire to a building
near the air traffic control tower in Chicago,
virtually shutting down the second busiest airport in the US.

Having two days remaining in my trip,
I assumed that things would be cleared up by my return.

Not really.

I got back to my hotel fairly late
the night before my return.
I checked my flight status on line.

Connecting flight to Chicago…..


This is not news that anyone wants to hear in the wee hours of the night.
I frantically called the  800 number that was listed.

Amazingly, I was able to talk with a real human being right away.
I explained my flight plight to her.
She responded, “Thank you for flying our friendly skies.
The fire at the Chicago airport
has affected virtually every airport in the country.
Sir, I am happy to tell you that we have been able
to book you on a direct flight to Reagan National in Washington DC”

“But my car is sitting in Baltimore” I replied.

“Sir, I am happy to let you know that there is a shuttle service
between the two airports. You can reserve a space online.
And thank you once again for flying our friendly skies.”

At this time of night, I was feeling neither happy nor friendly.
The online booking site for the shuttle service was so overwhelmed
that I was not able to get on.
The site suggested that I call at 6am to make a reservation.

Decision time.
Do I wait until 6am and run the risk of the shuttle being full,
or I do I call back and find another way to get to Baltimore?

I call the airline back.
This time, the oh so happy agent was not available.
In fact, no happy agents were available for the next 3 hours.
But if I left my name and number, they would return my call.

The phone wakes me out of my deep slumber.
Thank you for flying our friendly skies.
How may I help you?”

I had several suggestions
starting with locking up the arsonist for life.

In a stupor reserved for those awakened out of a deep sleep,
I explained my dilemma.
“Sir, I am happy to tell you, that I can get you to
your destination via a connecting flight through Dallas.
You will however arrive in Baltimore 4 hours later than your original return time.”

Relieved that my agent was so happy,
I fell back to sleep for a couple of hours.

As I was waiting in line at the Kansas City airport,
I looked at the departing flights board.
Flight #1106 was nowhere to be found.

The ticketing agent happily told me that this flight was for tomorrow, not today.
I have my “about to cry” look that is very useful from time to time.
Moved to either compassion or disgust, the agent found another flight,
also going through Dallas, to get home.

The flight to Dallas has been put on delay……
something about a fire at the Chicago airport.

Two hours behind schedule, we board the plane.

The plane is still on the runway.
Something about a minor mechanical issue.
I’m not sure that anything is minor at 13,000 feet.

We take off.
Everyone is concerned about making connecting flights.
I did the math, I would make it just in time.

We land in Dallas.
The rush of passengers trying to get off the plane
resembles the running of the bulls in Pamplona.

Like OJ hurdling every airport obstacle,
I reach my boarding gate…..


Something about a fire at the Chicago airport. 

4pm…… delay    5pm……..delay    6pm…….delay

We are told we are ready to board the flight to Baltimore.

All buckled in in row 19 and my seat is in the upright position.
There are three infants located in rows 18, 19 and 20.

All buckled in and my seat is still in the upright position.
Something about a button on the pilot’s control panel not working
Baby # 1 is crying.   Baby #2 wants to cry.
And Baby #3 wants to play with my hair.

The button is now working.
All three babies are now crying at the news.

During the three hour flight,
I learned several things…….
1)     It is possible for a baby to cry non-stop for several hours.
2)     Always buy a sandwich before boarding, because airlines don’t serve meals anymore.
3)     Always bring ear plugs when flying.
4)     Wearing a cap during a flight can help keep baby food out of your hair.
5)    on any given day, one person can have a huge impact on many lives.

There were thousands across the country who were impacted by that idiot in Chicago.
That’s the power that each of us possesses, either for good or for bad.

During my conference,
I was challenged to do 1,000 acts of kindness during the next year.
I carry a coin in my pocket to remind me.
With each act, I switch the coin from pocket to pocket.
Three acts a day………Left pocket, right pocket, left pocket by the end of the day.

Some acts are easy….opening the door for someone.
Others take more …….offering a ride to someone when it’s not on the way.

I offer this challenge to you
1 year   1,000 acts of kindness.

If one person can bring such hardship
imagine what many can do for good.

We live in a most unkind world.
You might not be able to change the world,
but you can change the world for a few.
And most of all, it will likely change you.

It only takes a moment,
and a willing heart.

Now get started.
Act of kindness #1
Does anyone have some shampoo?

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world,
and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned,

For by it, the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one,
much more, those who receive the abundance of grace,
and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
                                                                                                         Romans 5: 12, 17

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