Airport travel offers insights into mission, communion

Categories: Around the Diocese

Our world: composed of 29 percent land mass and 71 percent water; populated with 7.3 billion people, living in 196 countries spread throughout seven continents, practicing 4,200 different religions, celebrating 270 different nationalities and speaking 300 different languages.


Elizabeth Neville Director, St. Cloud Mission Office

For those of us who have the opportunity to travel, airports provide one of the most wonderful ways to meet and experience the many varied colors and faces of Christ.

We are bombarded by the multitude of sounds from the music playing through the sound system to the many different conversations of the people passing quickly by. We also are lured in by the smells and tastes of so many tempting ethnic foods, which most often outdo the meals we find on the airplane!

What happens then, when we take a few moments and sit down at a table with others to enjoy some nourishment? Though there may not be any pews or any benches, we surely need to remember that Christ is most definitely present in that moment in that place and with those individuals with whom we are sharing our meal.

Do we take the time to ask ourselves the questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What am I called to do and be in this world?
  • Who is this other person sitting next to me at this table?
  • Do I see others with my eyes or with the eyes of Christ?
  • Am I able to look beyond the physical appearance, the barriers of language, the differences in behavior and to see others as God sees them filled with wisdom, joy, love and giftedness?

Heavy stuff, right? All I really wanted to do was sit down and enjoy a good espresso!

So what do these questions mean for me and for the 7.3 billion others on this earth?

I can safely say that I believe that I am part of God’s immense dream for the church and for the world and that he is forming me and shaping me into the kind of person that is hopefully like Jesus.

I admit I get tired, frustrated and overwhelmed by this difficult and challenging responsibility as I continue to try to be a person of mission in the world. I also admit that I have committed myself in following Jesus to help, heal, educate and bring peace, and that with his infinite love I will be able to do great things.

I believe that my journey involves receiving God’s love through others, even those sitting across from me in the coffee shop, and also my bringing God’s love to all in turn. I believe I can give the world my example of real joy, which will help point the way to peace and happiness here on earth. But, I am only one of the billions. What about you?

The thing is, in order to live this way, the way that we are asked by our God to live each and every day, we all need to be challenged as well as strengthened by the water and bread turning into the body and blood of Christ. The life of God, the love of God, begins in communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and as one created in God’s likeness, so begins a life of communion with God and with every other human being on this earth.

During the Eucharist we are one body, one blood and one spirit no matter where that Eucharist is being celebrated. Communion allows us the opportunity to see Christ in everyone and for Christ to be seen in us as well.

Our Christian tradition helps us understand that “breaking bread” is the most basic and blessed way that Jesus revealed himself to his disciples and followers. By this wonderful example, we are also asked to sit down together as friends and family and break bread with all — whether they are Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Somali, Anglo , Asian, Hispanic or something else. Carrying in the table, lighting the room with candlelight, enjoying food made with love illuminates our conversation, our solidarity and our togetherness.

We need to remember that communion exists with intimacy as we take on the lives of others through the experiences of joy as well as the pains, and we are then open to experience them as our own. Communion requires us to be a witness for others and to speak in truth, to offer repentance, to love deeply and unconditionally, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to live in hospitality, and to allow ourselves to know and to be known.

Go ahead, enjoy that espresso the next time you are walking through the airport. Just remember that God calls us to be witnesses of his love and to be examples of our faith in whatever land we journey to.

Have a great flight!