Fishers UMC Blog

Airports & Homecomings

I love going to airports.  But not when I have to fly.  It’s not that I dislike flying.  The actual flying is fine.  It’s everything else one has to go through these days.  The “cattle-call” of the security checkpoint lines where you have to show ID 3 times; emptying all your pockets, your watch and cell phone, your belt, removing your laptop from your brief case; no nail clippers, no liquids over 3 ounces [I lost a wonderful gourmet horse radish sauce to that one]; the anxiety caused because you can’t remember – “do my socks have holes in them?” as you untie your shoes to put them into a bin to be scanned; and the list goes on; & then there is the occasional “privilege” of being invited to a table by the wall waiting while a TSA agent handles every item in your carry-on – it makes me feel “so special!”  Once past the checkpoint you experience the “joy” of shuffling single file onto these flying greyhound buses and being shoehorned into seats made for the average 5’0” 100lb contortionist.  There’s more but I think you get the idea…it’s not my favorite thing to do.

Still, I love going to airports – not to leave but to watch people coming home.  I was recently reminded of going to the airport a few years ago to pick Joyce up as she was coming home from getting her mother resettled in her home in Florida.  I got there early [one of my quirks].  As always I position myself near the security checkpoint leading to all gates.  I watch others gathered there and those walking toward them from the gates.  I watch the faces as people stand on tiptoe and scan every face in the crowd hoping for “that” face they have been waiting for.  Those coming from the planes are searching too.  Suddenly, eyes light up and grins transform faces, and people press closer, sometimes even running to meet the one they have longed to see.  There are hugs and kisses all around! 

For a moment everything else fades away.  Cell phones are shoved into pockets; brief cases and carry-ons are tossed aside and people gather their loved ones up into their arms.  From toddlers to great-grandparents to world weary business travelers and everyone in between - from what I have seen it is almost universal – everyone is looking for someone they recognize as they long to come home at the end of their flight.

But as I watch I have seen a few others in the crowd as well:  those waiting for loved ones to return scan the faces of every last passenger only to be left peering down the empty gateway after everyone has come through.  Their loved one didn’t come home.  And there are passengers who make their way from the gates searching the crowd only to find that everyone who waits, waits for someone else.  There is no one to welcome them home.  I watch as they sidestep people who have dropped everything for their hugs.  They wistfully watch reunions they had hoped to have.

There’s a story in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus tells that is all about airports and coming home.  At least it would be if there had been airports back then.  It’s about a man and his 2 sons; 1 who asks for his inheritance and leaves home and blows it ALL on things of no value; and 1 who stays home but fails to see the value of all he has.  The boy who spent it all finds himself, hungry and lonely and longs to come home.  In his hunger for home he finally overcomes his pride and makes the long journey home wondering if his father will accept him back after the way he has turned his back on him and his life and love.  The boy finally turns off the road, walks through the gate, and the whole airport scene takes place.  His dad has been waiting and watching – peering down the lane hoping to see a face he recognized – THE face he has been waiting so see ever since the boy left home.  His dad spots him and he runs.  He Runs!  He wraps his son in a bear hug, smothers him with kisses, and weeps for joy that his son has come home.  It didn’t matter where he had been or what he had done or who he had done it with – he was home!

That’s exactly what God does with us.  We want to do our own thing and we wander away.  But all the while God is searching for us, waiting and watching for us to come home.  It doesn’t matter where we have been or what we have done or with whom, when we finally turn our hearts toward “home” God Runs to meet us.  In His love for us God wraps us in His embrace, smothers us with kisses, and weeps for joy for His son, His daughter, has come home.

I got my reunion that day too.  The prettiest girl in the airport came up to me and we hugged and kissed and cried.  Finally, I took her suitcase and, with my arm around her, we went home.  Like I said, I love going to airports.  I think God does too.

For The Only Cause That Matters,
Kevin McKinney
Sr. Pastor
Posted by Kevin McKinney with

I’m Not Sharing my Gumballs

I blogged about my 300 gumballs last fall, but I think it’s important enough to revisit. I spent some time with a calculator and a calendar and all the figuring led me to the fact that there are approximately 300 Sundays from the time a student starts junior high until their high school graduation.

Three hundred is NOT very many!

As we plan, I have to consider our goals, our core values, & student needs. Goals take time to meet. Values take time to develop. Needs take time to identify and serve. As I pray about how to best serve junior high students and their families, I will often think about the gumballs. People will sometimes come into the student ministry office, my family included, and ask for a gumball. I just won’t share them. And by now, they’d likely chip a tooth after a year on the shelf.

I need the visual reminder. Seeing the gumballs from my desk chair is a consistent visual impression of the fleeting time that Fire & Water has with students. And of the fleeting time parents have with their students. As the needs of our ministry evolve, I have become aware of an increasing need to equip parents to disciple their student. A desire for increased intergenerational involvement came out of a series we did about the church last spring.

To help foster parental discipleship & break down some generational silos, junior high Bible study is changing this year. We will join the Who is Jesus? study on Wednesday evenings this fall. The study is open to anyone junior high age and up. I have been encouraging students to attend with or without their parents. I invite parents to be a part of the group as a joint study will foster spiritual discussions in the family. There is childcare available for anyone younger than junior high age.  I’ll be there to sit with junior high students who come alone or who don’t want to sit with their parent(s), but we’ll encourage intergenerational conversation and relationship building.

So, if you have a junior high or high school student I hope you’ll consider bringing the family on Wednesday evenings. If you don’t, I hope you will come too because we need what you have to offer the conversation. The study begins on September 6th. It is not cumulative, so you can come as much as you are able. Bring a Bible and meet us in the Narthex outside the Sanctuary at 7pm. Let me know if you need childcare.

I am excited about this way forward. A parent/child study was where God led me in early summer and the next day Troy shared that he was leading this study in the fall. Most certainly a God at Work moment! I pray you’ll consider being a part of this study and how you can impact the 300 Sundays for our Fire & Water students.

Liz Simmonds
Director of Jr. High Student Ministries

Because people like numbers…in the 300 Sundays we have approximately:
290 Sunday school lessons
175 Sunday evenings
180 Bible studies
6 mission trips
6 winter retreats
6 other retreats
Many serving opportunities including 24 Bingo times & approximately 192 Supermarket Sweeps Thursdays
Immeasurable conversations
And more
There's a certain weight to those numbers. And a hope. How may we use the time best? Asking for our church family will join me in prayer for  our students and that we may use our time wisely. 
Posted by Liz Simmonds with

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