Skip to main content

the other side of the curtain

dearest readers (both of you): all i can say is i am sorry for the two month sabbatical and HAPPY NEW YEAR! it would be cliche to say my new year's resolution is to be more faithful to blogging, right?

i write from washington d.c., where i returned today for two weeks, resuming my doctoral work. my roommate, gerhardt, a pastor from maine, asked me if i flew in. i somehow resisted the urge to say, "yeah, and my arms sure are tired!"

but what an experience i had: i flew first class! thank you for the 1000th time, john and mary! this was my first time on the better side of "the curtain." i have to admit that i enjoyed the indulgences. when the flight attendant asked folk to please use the lavatory in their own section of the plane, i quietly smiled. when a guy in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops (excuse me, it was 35 degrees this morning!) came forward from the other section to use our bathroom i regarded him with suspicion. the steward let him use the first-class toilet. such arrogance! as my delicious lunch (no extra cost) was being served, an attendant announced to the rest of the plane that snacks were available for $3. i had to chuckle.

this being my first time with the important people, i was very cognizant of things to which i was not accustomed:

1. the steward asked to hang my jacket for me.
2. i was offered a drink before take-off (i had orange juice).
3. i was offered a drink after take-off (coke). served in a glass.
4. at snack time-- before lunch-- he came back with a ramikin made of china (that sure is a fancy word for 'little bowl') of mixed nuts. i was thrilled, because with miles' peanut allergy i never get to eat nuts. the bowl was hot. not warm-- hot. and the nuts inside were warm.
5. before lunch they brought us a warm towl.
6. the aforementioned lunch was small chicken strips, a pasta side, a small salad with greek vinagrette dressing, brie cheese and crackers.
7. we were offered red or white wine. i chose water. actually i only declined the wine-- still had the coke-- and the guy brought me water.
8. after lunch the attendant came through with cookies. i was full and declined. chocolate chip even. i'll need to remember that for my sermon on gluttony next month!

i'm sure there were other indulgences, but you get the idea. i lived it up. i sat in my wide leather chair, listened to my ipod, and read my new bill bryson book. aside from a few bumps, it was my best experience on a plane since our honeymoon. how i am going to survive 9 hours in coach on the way to england in march i do not know. and i was half-kidding about the attitude toward those on the other side of the curtain. believe me, i was mindful as to which side i really belong to.

and i was very thankful for three hours of feeling like i was important and respected. i don't mean to imply that i do not enjoy my life-- i do, and very much. and i am always mindful that my life and everything in it, family, church, home, finances, etc. come as a gift from God. if nothing else, flying first class for the first and probably only time in my life gave me some perspective. everything you want or need-- and even beyond that-- is offered to you, sometimes without even asking. but it comes at a steep price. God's grace, however, comes free of charge. not even a bag of peanuts or a blanket is free on a plane, but God's saving, life-giving grace is. for those of us who have never experienced it, there ought to be some sort of test drive. try grace for a weekend-- kick the tires, run it hard on the freeway. trust me, you'll fall in love with it. and there will be no dotted line on which to sign-- the price was already paid by Christ.

what about those of us who know grace but have become so accustomed to life with it that the thrill of expectation is gone? has our grace-filled life become mundane? should God withdraw grace for a weekend so we can see how truly good we have it? maybe so, but that's not the kind of God we worship. no matter which side of the curtain we find ourselves sitting in, the gift of grace is there for us. everything else is an unnecessary luxury.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Happy New Year, Frank! Thanks for filling my cup today. Glad to see you blogging again. I've missed reading your words.

-Anne
Anonymous said…
Happy New Year, Frank! Thanks for filling my cup today. It's great to read your words again. I've missed your blog.

-Anne
Anonymous said…
made me cry
dont know why
just did

Popular posts from this blog

Reflecting Upon Newtown

Note: I offered these words during the prayer section of worship Sunday, December 16.

Last Friday was a day full of surprising ministry. After I wrote my usual Friday email devotion to the church, I received a call from Byron Proutt, our missions coordinator. He and others had recently partnered with Park Cities Presbyterian on a project, and their missions director called Byron to say another ministry was unable to pick up several boxes of food for their pantry—could we use it? Of course we could! So Pastor Gregg, Mr Johnny, and I rolled out to the warehouse and hauled back 80 boxes of food. Praise God! After we unloaded it Gregg and I went to Kroger to give them a letter of appreciation for making our Thanksgiving baskets for hungry families a priority. After I dropped Gregg off at home, I turned on my radio for the first time that day and heard the reports of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. I could not believe what I heard, especially as a father of young children.

I came back to m…

The Famous Black Cat Band

This week my former high school band director, Mr Reinke, died. Mr Reinke is a legend in my hometown of Bay City. He was the leader of our Black Cat Band for many years. He was a fiery man, a perfectionist with extremely high standards. He was a gifted musician. He and I both played the trombone; one of us sounded like a goose being strangled. The other sounded like... well I can't think of a metaphor to properly describe Mr Reinke's horn. It was amazing. He would pull that thing out occasionally to show us how to properly play a part of a song and the sound was spellbinding. 
Mr Reinke was very innovative in his music selections. He had us playing the most random music, from popular stuff of the day by Michael Jackson to Also Sprach Zarathustra (popularly known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. This song in particular was a great choice-- it's amazing, complicated; however, this was the late 1980s. The song was originally released…

a response to gideons international

last sunday prosper united methodist church welcomed representatives of the gideons to share about their ministry. how many times have you stayed in a hotel or visited someone in the hospital and found a gideons Bible there? and while no one can argue that reading the Bible is a bad thing, or that distributing Bibles to others in native languages is inherently harmful, i would like to offer some thoughts on the practices of the gideons, as they were described at church.

1. bravo to the gideons for distributing 73 million Bibles last year. however, most of the Bibles they sent were tiny new testaments with psalms. i am a Christian, and i love the words of the new testament. but those words have their foundation in the old testament, and to remove thousands of years of traditions and stories of God's powerful love and acts of salvation diminishes the power of the whole Bible. we must never forget that the old testament (or "first" testament or "hebrew Bible"…