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Contemporary Worship: 11:15 a.m.

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Just a Thought or Two: The Little Girl on the Plane

THIS SUNDAY, NOV 27th, 2016

(traditional worship with a more intimate atmosphere, includes special music and sermon)

(traditional worship with special music and preaching, including a children’s moment)

(contemporary, informal worship with preaching and children’s moment)


The Little Girl on the Plane


It had been a long day. It had been good day… but long. For me, it had started shortly after five in the morning. Now, with thousands of others, I was in the Atlanta Airport at 9:20 on a Monday night. The whole country seemed to be on the way home for Thanksgiving.

Our flight’s departure had been delayed by over one hour. Another plane load of folks, who had been waiting for hours, were going to be waiting several more hours as another aircrew was flown in to then take them on their way.

People were balancing sandwiches on their laps. Students were slumped down in their seats, headphones in each ear. The ten or eleven year old boy next to me was playing some board game and sneezing with regularity. A few people glanced with disinterest at the terminal monitors where images of the Oakland Raiders’ pro football game flickered away.

The night was getting deep. People were restless and tired. And then there was the little girl.


In the middle of that weariness, in the middle of a room full of adults and teenagers where delight in heading home mixed with the dull awareness that we had all waiting like this in rooms like this too many times before, came this voice. It was a bright, clear, high-pitched voice that said, “I’m here! Isn’t it something we can all be together headed home tonight? And how exciting that we get to fly in that big airplane, floating up near the stars, moving so fast, with people all around us!”

She was about five years old, I think. Her smile reached from one side of the universe to the other. Her dress was just perfect. Her hair was braided, with each braid standing up away from her head, and in each braid was a brightly colored bead. The little girl was traveling with her mommy. She was carrying something –a stuffed animal?- in her arms. And the girl was talking to everyone!


The girl was talking to everyone. Big people and small people. White people and black people. Males and females. Employees of the airline and travelers.

I heard her say, to a big, tall cowboy, “I like your hair!” The man sounded a bit surprised, delighted, and responded, “I like your hair!”

As we all lined up in the jetway, waiting to board, the girl turned to another man and said, “You know, I think you could run very fast.” He burst out laughing and said, “Well, I need to run fast to keep up with you because I think you run fast!”

In that drafty jetway, at 9:40 at night, one little girl pulled us all in. She reached us. She helped make us human again. There was something about her delight in being alive, her delight in the people around her, her delight in the whole adventure of racing along up near the stars over the Georgia mountains and the Kentucky hills, that formed us into a community.


She was like that all the way home. The little girl was chattering all the way home. Even though the hour was late when we pulled up at the gate in Indianapolis, the girl was joyful all the way home. Even when we all had reasons to be grumpy. I don’t know her name, but she lit up the night.


You may be headed somewhere as you read this email. Or you may be staying at home. You may be surrounded with people, or you may be navigating your way through Thanksgiving on your own.

Whatever your situation, perhaps the little girl on the airplane has something to teach you and me. I’ve seen multiple articles warning people not to talk about the recent presidential election when their family gathers. I’ve seen articles coaching about how you and I can survive being around grumpy relatives, co-exist with grumpy drivers, or share the aisles with grumpy (and worn down) shoppers.

But what if we were able to move through life with eyes that saw the miracles in the everyday? What if we were able to understand that a delay in a departure is not just an inconvenience, but it is an opportunity to spend more time together (and maybe even grab a small cup of gelato at that nearby ice cream shop)? What if we weren’t so tied to our own faith tribe, our own racial or gender or age group, that we were open to connecting -and welcoming into our world- everyone we see? What if we were always looking for a way to bless others (“I like your hair…I bet you run fast…”)?

I’m thinking about that little girl. I’m smiling. I’d like to be more like her when I grow little (the way Jesus wants me to grow little).

Paul, in 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18, writes: Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

As we taxied towards the terminal, I turned to Sharon with a smile, and said, “What Grandma or Grandpa is lucky enough to be waiting for her, do you suppose?” I prayed they understand the dimensions of the blessing they are about to receive this week!

May your eyes see the miracles, may your voice fill rooms with joy, and may you let the Spirit form community through you wherever you find yourself this week.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Mark Fenstermacher



God’s New Story:
A New Kind of Peace

This Sunday, Nov 27th, is the first Sunday of Advent.  We’ll begin our new sermon series GOD’S NEW STORY and light the Advent candle. Join us this Sunday as we explore Isaiah 2:1-5 and consider what it means to partner with God in making peace.




Note:  If you haven’t yet turned in your Pledge Form for 2017, please show your love for God by turning your financial promise in this week.   You can pick up a form at the doors of the Sanctuary or in the office, or simply go on-line to www.fumcb.org/pledge2017



The 1st ANNUAL BLOOMINGTON CHRISTMAS SING-ALONG is on Tuesday, November 29th, at 6:30 pm at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.  This community event is open to everyone and will include singing, celebrating our town and supporting the Interfaith Winter Shelter.  The whole amazing evening is free… and family-friendly… and features some familiar faces from First Methodist and the Open Door! More info at www.btownsing.com.

First Methodist