Summary: The humble beginnings of Jesus in Bethlehem are not really so humble at all because he came to deliver all of us regardless of our place on the economic ladder or position in society.
December 16, 2007
A couple of years ago, Toni and I were trying to get home from vacation. Our plans called for us to catch a plane out of Miami International Airport to Chicago and then on to Fort Wayne. The problem occurred when we arrived in Miami just a day after a hurricane had gone through.
The city was still cleaning up, businesses were just beginning to open again, and the airport was in chaos. We were told that we would have to check back the next day to see if there were any seats available to Chicago. So we had to go find a hotel near the airport, and it took us several hours of waiting in line to get a room. We were harried and not in a very good mood.
To be honest, our trouble wasn’t the fault of the airport. It wasn’t the fault of the hotel. It wasn’t the fault of the city. It wasn’t the fault of the other thousands of tourists trying to get home. But at the time, we were not happy at all.
The next day, we arrived at the airport pretty early in the morning. After waiting in another line that I thought would never end, we finally made it to the ticket counter. The guy there said that there just weren’t any seats available for Chicago that day. And then he said, “Let me check one more thing.” After consulting his computer again, he said, “I do have two seats. They’re in first class. You can have them for the price of coach if you want them.”
That is about like asking a cheerleader if she wants new pom poms. “We’ll take them,” we said.
Now I had never flown first class before; always have been back in the cattle car section. I could get used to first class. I don’t know if any of you have ever flown first class before or not, but it was a great ride.
We got seated first – in wonderfully wide leather seats. By the time the other passengers started to get on, we already had our first beverage in our hands. When we got into the air, they brought us lunch. While all of those poor folks back in coach were munching on their bags of peanuts, we had real food…in real dishes…with real silverware.
And then the flight attendants came offering us either Red or White wine…in real glasses. Now I think I know how you expect your pastor to react when offered wine. I think I know how my bishop expects me to act when I’m offered wine. So we’ll just let it go at that.
I could get used to flying first class. Last year, Toni and I were coming home through the Charlotte airport. Now, I’m a pretty big guy, but there was a guy next to me on that flight who was at least another half of me. I was in the middle seat and he was on the aisle. I had a glass of water on the tray in front of me when I drifted off to sleep. Midway through the flight, he got up to go to the restroom, bumped my tray, spilled my water all over my lap, and didn’t even know it. I was miserable for the rest of the way home. Yup, I could get used to flying first class.
As you know, I grew up in a working class household here in Fort Wayne. My dad worked in a factory all his life. It was honest labor and he did a good job. We were far from wealthy, but I can’t ever remember not having cookies to snack on after school. We always ate well. I always had good clothes. We only had one car, didn’t have a lake cottage or a boat, and didn’t take very many vacations, but we still had it pretty good.
I married a young woman whose father, like mine, worked hard for a living. They too, weren’t rich, but they had everything they needed.
Did you know that there are about 6,000 members of the Saudi Royal Family? One of their princes, who wealth comes not only from oil, but also from international business associations, has just purchased a new private jet. This is the new Airbus 380.
The Airbus 380 weighs in at an astonishing 560 tons, compared to Air Force One’s weight of 333 tons. The Airbus is the new double decked model which, when outfitted for passengers, can seat up to 853 people. For the prince, it will have a flight crew of about 15 members.
The list price for this plane is $320 million, although the royal version will cost much more than that. Once delivered, the plane will boast of 6,000 square feet of living space complete with bedrooms, a conference area, a royal lounge, an office, a private dining room, a movie theater, and a gym with a Jacuzzi. It is possible to convert the cargo area or third level into more bedrooms or other living space. Now, we’re only talking about a prince here. Can you imagine what the king gets?