Hello again. This is Josh, your friendly neighborhood Office Administrator.
Tuesday morning, I hopped on a plane at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport bound for St. Louis. On Wednesday I’ll be joining the Presbytery of the Western Reserve’s staff, commissioners, and delegate at the 223rd General Assembly of the PC(USA).
Now I don’t travel all that often, and I travel by plane even less frequently than that. In fact it has only been since about 7 years ago, when my wife (fiancée at the time) was in seminary that I started flying with any sort of regularity. Until that point, it had been quite I while since I’d set foot on a plane.
I remember that first flight out to Princeton pretty vividly. Specifically, I spent most of the time thinking about what a miracle human flight really is. Think about it–you go and sit in what is effectively a crowded hallway full of strangers, and then that hallway is blasted into the sky, and sails through the air across the country, where it lands gently on a runway, and you exit the same hallway in a totally new place.
OK, OK–I get it. It’s science! And there’s lift and drag and Bernoulli’s Principle and all that. And these winged metal tubes were designed by people much smarter than me and blah-di-blah-di-blah. I know. But no matter what you tell me, I truly believe that every time a plane lands safely, the flight crew deserves a standing ovation.
But what’s almost as amazing is how casually we all regard this miracle. It’s just a plane. We’ve been doing this for over a hundred years. You need to go to Sydney? No problem–we can have you there day after tomorrow. Oh and you want to have some prime rib and a gin and tonic while you’re hurtling 7 miles in the air over the largest ocean in the world? Sure we’ve got that. What do you want to watch on TV?
When you live with a thing, it becomes mundane. Whether that thing is a series of committee meetings to determine the governance of a church, or a verifiable miracle that we perform on a large scale, every single day. Another example: most of you reading this right now are doing so on a magic piece of glass that you carry around in your pocket. It does everything from sending messages to your friends, to keeping track of your schedule, to suggesting what restaurant you should try for dinner.
OK, fine–it’s not magic. But the only reason you say that is because you live with it every day. Shift your perspective for a moment, mentally jump back in time fifteen years, it might as well be magic.
Tuesday morning, when I flew, I tasted a little bit of the mundanity that comes with familiarity. Engineering miracle? Sure, I guess. It’s just metal and hydraulics, though, right? It’s not that big a deal. That sound? That’s what the engines do when we’re accelerating for takeoff.
I had to do some work to recapture the wonder I felt when I flew to Princeton all those years ago. (Although I still think that every flight crew deserves a round of applause, at least).
Every two years, the PC(USA) throws what is analogous to the mother of all presbytery meetings. It is an opportunity to participate in the governance of the Presbyterian Church.
But the other thing GA gives us an opportunity to do is to shift our perspective for a moment and revel in the wonder that is connectionality. Think about it–this is a church that holds disagreement with one another as a fundamental principle–a church that believes those arguments constitute the movement of the Holy Spirit.
That might seem mundane to you Presbyterians, but it’s actually pretty remarkable. I know I harp on that a lot, and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon, because it is a verifiable miracle that you perform on a large scale, every single day.
You’re a bunch of amazing weirdos, and I love you. More of that is exactly the attitude that this world needs right now.
Thank you for reading. Have a great #GA223!