his past Christmas my wife and I received the gift of a seven-hour flight delay at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on December 23 with our 1-month-old daughter. Amen. The airport bustled with frantic holiday travelers as we fumbled with car seat, diaper bag, carry-ons, and baby girl. The best part is that our gate was changed with each flight delay. There’s nothing more exhilarating than packing up all your things and moving clear across a huge airport.
During the third hour of our delay, O’Hare tried to spread a little holiday cheer by having one of the desk agents sing a Christmas carol, which would have been touching had the song not been “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” which ends with the lyrics “if only in my dreams.”
However, during our less-than-desirable airport odyssey I did witness something amazing. A strange unity began to develop among the travelers as the hours ticked by. As we all waited, hoping for our planes to make it through the wretched winter weather to deliver us out of our predicament, people began to form friendships and have conversations they would normally be too busy for, ourselves included.
My wife and I struck up a conversation with another young adult on the same flight. She was busy on her cell phone making calls to the Minneapolis airport—our destination—to see if the runways were closed or open. After a while she became our group’s informant—letting everyone know about upcoming delays and weather changes.
We met another set of young parents who lent us a few additional diapers when Madeline ran out. Other folk traveling with children lent their moral support as we all waited to go home.
People of a variety of different backgrounds, tastes, and economic levels conversed and shared stories of what they expected when they got home. Everybody had different ideas for getting home. Some, like us, waited; others booked flights for the next day and went to a hotel; and some used their phones to explore their options. But no one criticized each other; everyone wanted to go home. And because we knew everybody was trying to get home for the holiday, we all wanted everyone else to make it.
In the book of Acts we get a glimpse into the unity of the church and the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1 gives us a picture of the longing in the disciples’ hearts that unified them to receive the Holy Spirit.
“While they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11, KJV).
The disciples were motivated by a desire to go home. And when we Adventists desire to go home, we will unite. Like the travelers in the airport unified in their desire to travel home, we will unite with fellow believers of all walks of life, not just people with similar tastes and backgrounds as our own.
The Second Coming is not only a source of inspiration and motivation; when the church really wants to “go home,” it creates a profound unity.
And how do we get a desire to go home in the midst of relative luxury? Let’s fall in love with Jesus and spend time with Him. When we lose our desire to go home, it’s usually because we’ve neglected our relationship with Jesus and our desire to be with Him diminishes.
When we invest in our relationship with Jesus and desire nothing more than to be “home” with Him in heaven, then our petty arguments, barriers, and differences fade away and we will experience the power of the Holy Spirit that will allow us to witness to the world and take us home.
Seth Pierce completed his Master of Divinity degree in December and is now serving as a pastor, husband, and father in Omaha, Nebraska.