Have you ever noticed that flying can feel like a really bad church service? I don’t mean that statement, or this post, as an indictment on all things and all people related to the airline industry (but probably some). My real concern is to help us see how the frequently miserable experience of flying may be what some people experience in our congregations.

It’s starts with a pervasive sense that everyone here would rather be somewhere else. Sure, you spot a few happy souls, but by and large this is a somber group just waiting for this experience to be over.

After waiting in a long line and getting herded through cramped quarters, you finally sit down, only to find that your seat has leg room enough for the Lollipop Guild and provides the kind of personal space only Richard Simmons could love. Straining against your entire personality and reason for being here, you feel obliged to make idle chit-chat with the complete stranger next to you.

In the seat in front of you are some old and odd looking materials. There’s a book or a magazine or something. Some information about this gathering too. The stuff is disheveled and disorganized, seemingly arranged by four year-olds and handled carefully by Rottweilers. You decided to leave it in the rack in front of you.

Further ahead you notice some kind of ritual going on. There’s a person holding some apparatus and talking on and on while no one pays attention. It’s clear they’ve all heard these instructions before. That’s not a problem in itself, but the person doing the ritual is clearly not passionate for the subject matter and they aren’t bothered by the utter lack of interest in the presentation. To make matters worse, while looking ahead you realize that the rich people at this event seem to get served sooner and better than everyone else.

Throughout the experience you encounter rules that make little sense and are never explained. Apparently this is the way things are just done around here. But it sure feels like the people meant to serve you are most interested in getting you to abide by their ticky-tack stipulations that probably don’t matter anyway.

The whole ordeal is an exercise in your patience. The temperature is never right. The bathrooms are always messy. The thing never starts on time. It always ends late. You’ll probably catch a cold just from being here.

And you never get to really meet the leader of this outfit. He keeps to himself, speaks sight unseen, and only appears at the end to wave goodbye.

Isn’t flying a pain?

Are we?