It seemed an oxymoron to be attending a worship service between an airport security check and the gate check-in, but that’s what happened when I flew to Florida recently. While hiking along the crowded walkways at Chicago’s Midway Airport, a loudspeaker announcement rose above the racket: “All are welcome to join us for a 30 minute Christian service in the chapel on the mezzanine level.”
I had some extra time before my flight, and curiosity urged me toward the chapel. Maybe it was God himself urging me. Although thousands of travelers marched with purpose down the wide corridors, I wondered how many would divert to the chapel.
Following signs depicting a kneeling figure, I rode the elevator to the “M” floor and found the chapel. A pastor had just begun the service by reciting the 100th Psalm, arms outstretched, face toward heaven, and eyes closed. His congregation was 5 members, each seated next to their carry-on luggage.
When the pastor saw me, he walked over and delivered a welcome, a handshake, a bulletin, and a New Testament. “Come right in and have a seat,” he said. “We’re about to take prayer requests.”
His mini-service proceeded according to the bulletin, and I asked prayer for the big event bringing me to Florida: the home birth of my 6th grandchild. The pastor asked for Linnea and Adam’s first names, then prayed with passion for many wonderful birth-time blessings. His mini-message followed, taken from John 4, the story of a woman at her local watering well. “Jesus was a weary traveler,” the preacher said, “just like some of you might be.”
He described this biblically rare encounter between Jesus and just one other person, no one else around. “She was traveling through life carrying a lot of baggage,” the pastor said, using another airport metaphor. “And Jesus was ready with wonderful refreshment.”
As he concluded, the pastor said, “I know you all have planes to catch, so we’ll close in prayer. Feel free to take your Bibles along with you.” He ended by offering to talk one-on-one with any who might want that, and one young man did stay behind.
Apparently every large US airport has a chapel where travelers can find quietness and a place to pray. It’s nice to know God is waiting there in a calm, private place conducive to a peaceful meeting amidst the very stressful environment of an airport.
Of course he’s also in line at security, seated at every gate, and traveling on every flight, too. That’s good to know, since I’ll be back at the airport this weekend, heading home.
“As for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge.” (Psalm 73:28)