My wife Debra and I spent three nice days in Ft. Worth, Texas last week attending the General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
We stayed in the Ft. Worth Hilton, which once upon a time was known as the Hotel Texas. We learned that it was in that hotel that President and Mrs. Kennedy spent the night of November 21, 1963. The thought that we may have walked where President Kennedy walked as he headed out to live the last day of his life on the morning of November 22 was a bit overwhelming.
While waiting for our flight out of the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport on Saturday, we were told that the flight would be delayed because the plane had not yet arrived. That made sense, given that attempting to fly without an airplane is dangerous business.
Our final destination was Jacksonville but we had to make a connection in Atlanta. The comfortable hour-long layover that we anticipated felt less and less comfortable as we waited for the plane to arrive and then, once it did, to be boarded.
There was one entertaining moment during our wait at the gate, which came when one of the gate attendants announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, if any of you checked in from home for this flight and were assigned a seat in rows 42-45, please come to the check-in desk. Those rows do not exist on this aircraft.” We laughed, so obviously our seats were elsewhere.
The fellow sitting across from us in the gate area laughed with us. He’s Italian. Earlier, as he ended a phone call he said, “Buona. Ciao!” Later, Debra and I remarked on how we Southerners end phone calls. “Okay then. See you later!” “Well all right. ‘Bye now!” I like being a Southerner, but I think I’ll start saying “Ciao!” Of course, some folks will think I’m asking them to lunch.
We did finally board the plane (once it got there, sure enough without Rows 42-45) and it took off some 45 minutes later than scheduled. We disembarked in Atlanta at 4:00 p.m.; our connecting flight to Jacksonville was scheduled to depart at 4:20. We arrived at Gate A-5 and needed to get to Gate A-21 so we walked very fast, along the way knocking over assorted slow-moving pedestrians who didn’t have sense enough to walk on the right-hand side, only to learn upon arriving at Gate A-21 and finding a large mob gathered there that our flight was not yet boarding.
We then heard this announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, our flight will depart about 30 minutes later than scheduled because our flight crew has not yet arrived.”
This allowed us to worry less about our main concern, which was of course the question of whether, even if we did make the flight, our luggage would.
After a few minutes the flight crew arrived. As I watched them walk by, I said to Debra, “That’s one of our flight attendants. And there’s another one.”
Yep, we were waiting for the same crew that we had flown with from Dallas-Ft. Worth to Atlanta.
My first thought was, “Well, we didn’t need to hurry, after all.”
I felt bad about all those people we had bowled over, but they really should have been walking on the right side.
My second thought was, “What a coincidence! Out of all the Delta flights that come into and leave Atlanta, what are the odds that we’d have the same crew on both legs of our flight?”
It was, of course, just a coincidence.
The theme for the 2012 CBF General Assembly (which, you may recall, is the reason we went to Ft. Worth) was “Infinitely More” based on Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Dr. Daniel Vestal, retiring Executive Coordinator for CBF, preached a very challenging sermon from that text in his sermon on Friday night.
For several years I had used an Upper Room publication entitled A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants in my daily devotions. In recent months, though, I had switched over to Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours, a work made up of several thick volumes. For practical reasons, then, I took the smaller and thus easier to transport A Guide to Prayer with me to Ft. Worth.
On Thursday morning, our first morning in Ft. Worth, I opened the book to the prayer guide for the week and found this invocation: “Almighty God, through the power of your Holy Spirit you enable us to do and be more than we can think or imagine. Come now, dwell within us, and make us strong to do your work and will. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
On Saturday morning, our last morning in Ft. Worth, I opened the book again and found that the Scripture reading assigned for the day was Ephesians 3:14-21.
It was, of course, all just a coincidence…