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Missed connections

Pastoral Messages | November 21, 2018

Flying can be an isolating experience, which is ironic because airports and airplanes are usually crammed full of other people. But when you fly, your own needs and wants take up a substantial amount of space in your mind. Do you feel that way, too?

I get anxious just thinking about trying to check my bags, get through security, make my way to the correct terminal, use the restroom, and overpay for a snack all before it is time to board the plane. If I am not totally self-absorbed, I might miss my flight. Strangers around me are only obstacles to my ultimate destination, which is the window seat in aisle 22.

It is a rather surreal social experiment, is it not? Airlines stuff a hundred strangers into a metal container like sardines, and then suspend it tens of thousands of feet in the air for a couple of hours. And passengers pay them for this experience!

At some point, though, you have to notice that you are not alone on this excursion. Not only to ask things like, “Why can’t those parents keep that baby quiet? Why won’t this man stop taking up the whole armrest? When is the flight attendant going to bring me the ginger ale I ordered?” But to realize that these are not just annoyances, but they are people with stories. And maybe their stories are not that different from yours and mine.

When I fly, and I find myself being bothered by the tiniest things, I often struggle to open up my mind to a bigger picture. What if I went through every day of my life like I went through an airport – eyes forward, elbows out, and only concerned with my own fate? I hope that is not the case. How lonely that would be.

Life is more fulfilling when we invest in relationships. It is more meaningful when we spend time with other people rather than merely making our way around them. It is less daunting when we understand that there are others who are also “along for the ride.” I usually come back to the idyllic image of community in Acts 2. The author describes people as being “together” and having “everything in common.” Livelihood is not only individual, but it is collective.

Simply noticing our shared our humanity makes a big difference in how we walk through an airport, and it makes a big difference in how we live our everyday lives. Thank you, Lord, that we are not alone. And be patient with us when we forget.

– Josh Kestner, pastor in residency

5 Comments on “Missed connections”

  • Liz Kuster

    November 26, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    I think sometimes we do start to live our lives like this – with tunnel vision, only focused on our end destination, our needs, our goals… this is a good reminder that we live in a world bigger than just us. A world full of people with experiences and dreams not unlike our own. Thank you, Josh!

  • Daniel Moeller

    November 24, 2018 at 7:34 am

    Thanks for a very well written take on a common issue while traveling. I find that I have that same issue while driving. I let little things like other drivers not following the (‘my’) rules of the road bother me and elevate my annoyance to a state of anger. They are just trying to get where they are going, just like me. We all need to be more tolerant and accepting, especially me.

  • Bonnie Fox

    November 23, 2018 at 4:26 am

    Thank you, Pastor Josh! So very easy to get self-absorbed in airports and on planes, especially when things aren’t the way we planned. Your words of wisdom will help me through my next flight, until there is turbulence, then it is “please, Lord, get me through this!” 😰🙏

  • Sarah Thomas

    November 22, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    Josh, I like to stay in my “space” on a plane. You’re right, sharing our humanity will can change everything! Thank you..

  • Heidi W

    November 22, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Well said, Josh.

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Deuteronomy 30:15-20

15“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity;16in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.17“But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them,18I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it.19“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,20by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

Psalm 1

1How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the path of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,

Which yields its fruit in its season

And its leaf does not wither;

And in whatever he does, he prospers.

4The wicked are not so,

But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,

But the way of the wicked will perish.

Philemon 1-21

Luke 14:25-33

25Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,26“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.27“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.28“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?29“Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’31“Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?32“Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.33“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Exodus 32:7-14

7Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.8“They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’”9The LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people.10“Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”

Moses’ Entreaty

11Then Moses entreated the LORD his God, and said, “O LORD, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?12“Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people.13“Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”14So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.

Psalm 51:1-10

1Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;

According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.

2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity

And cleanse me from my sin.

3For I know my transgressions,

And my sin is ever before me.

4Against You, You only, I have sinned

And done what is evil in Your sight,

So that You are justified when You speak

And blameless when You judge.

5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

And in sin my mother conceived me.

6Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,

And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

7Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8Make me to hear joy and gladness,

Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

9Hide Your face from my sins

And blot out all my iniquities.

10Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

1 Timothy 1:12-17

12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Luke 15:1-10

The Lost Sheep

1Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.2Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

3So He told them this parable, saying,4“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?5“When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.6“And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’7“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Lost Coin

8“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?9“When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’10“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Prodigal Son

Amos 8:4-7

4Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land,5saying,

“When will the new moon be over,

So that we may sell grain,

And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market,

To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger,

And to cheat with dishonest scales,

6So as to buy the helpless for money

And the needy for a pair of sandals,

And that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?”

7The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob,

“Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds.

Psalm 113

1Praise the LORD!

Praise, O servants of the LORD,

Praise the name of the LORD.

2Blessed be the name of the LORD

From this time forth and forever.

3From the rising of the sun to its setting

The name of the LORD is to be praised.

4The LORD is high above all nations;

His glory is above the heavens.

5Who is like the LORD our God,

Who is enthroned on high,

6Who humbles Himself to behold

The things that are in heaven and in the earth?

7He raises the poor from the dust

And lifts the needy from the ash heap,

8To make them sit with princes,

With the princes of His people.

9He makes the barren woman abide in the house

As a joyful mother of children.

Praise the LORD!

1 Timothy 2:1-7

A Call to Prayer

1First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,2for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.5For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.7For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Luke 16:1-3

The Unrighteous Steward

1Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions.2“And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’3“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg.

Amos 6:1-7

1Woe to those who are at ease in Zion

And to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria,

The distinguished men of the foremost of nations,

To whom the house of Israel comes.

2Go over to Calneh and look,

And go from there to Hamath the great,

Then go down to Gath of the Philistines.

Are they better than these kingdoms,

Or is their territory greater than yours?

3Do you put off the day of calamity,

And would you bring near the seat of violence?

4Those who recline on beds of ivory

And sprawl on their couches,

And eat lambs from the flock

And calves from the midst of the stall,

5Who improvise to the sound of the harp,

And like David have composed songs for themselves,

6Who drink wine from sacrificial bowls

While they anoint themselves with the finest of oils,

Yet they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph.

7Therefore, they will now go into exile at the head of the exiles,

And the sprawlers’ banqueting will pass away.

Psalm 146

1Praise the LORD!

Praise the LORD, O my soul!

2I will praise the LORD while I live;

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

3Do not trust in princes,

In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.

4His spirit departs, he returns to the earth;

In that very day his thoughts perish.

5How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,

Whose hope is in the LORD his God,

6Who made heaven and earth,

The sea and all that is in them;

Who keeps faith forever;

7Who executes justice for the oppressed;

Who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free.

8The LORD opens the eyes of the blind;

The LORD raises up those who are bowed down;

The LORD loves the righteous;

9The LORD protects the strangers;

He supports the fatherless and the widow,

But He thwarts the way of the wicked.

10The LORD will reign forever,

Your God, O Zion, to all generations.

Praise the LORD!

1 Timothy 6:6-19

6But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

11But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.12Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.13I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,14that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,15which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,16who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

17Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.18Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,19storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

Luke 16:19-31

19“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.20“And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,21and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.22“Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.23“In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.24“And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’25“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.26‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’27“And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house—28for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’29“But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’30“But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’31“But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”