Foursquare Convention 2011 (Day One)

We flew out of SeaTac Airport Sunday morning to attend the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (ICFG) convention in Columbus Ohio. Priceline picked Dallas as our transfer airport, which was a real fortunate routing considering those who went the way of Chicago were waylaid by severe weather. We got into our hotel without a hitch, while some of my Foursquare contemporaries spent a good portion of the day wandering the Windy City’s airport. Eventually, the storms subsided and my “way of Chicago” contemporaries reached Columbus in the wee hours of the morning. I’m assuming “wee hours” has something to do with the need to pee.

Earlier in the day, as we disembarked our last leg of the journey safely, I mentioned to a fellow pastor how delightful our travels had been today verses the transferring in Chicago contingency. He said something like, we’ve really been blessed today. Which made me think about the temporarily stranded in Chicago pastors. If we had been blessed, what was their current condition? Cursed in Chicago!

Sometimes I wish I could just thank God for the “blessing” of the day, instead of always tempering my joy with the knowledge of someone else’s misery. I think the Scripture says rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. If I could only find a way to rejoice with myself. Instead of just rejoicing in my safe and easy day of travel, I think about my somewhat forsaken friend, Pastor Jon wandering Chicago’s airport, pondering Job’s lament.

Oh course I don’t ponder such things too long, as I simply cannot overestimate how well yesterday went for my Jennifer and me. It was as if the glory of the Lord followed us with every step and every interaction. A simple airport check in, a quick security screening, no problems with our flights, and no lines at the rental car or hotel check in. Everything about our trip went smoothly, including a search for late night food.

West to East coast travel means you start the day early and groggy and end the day late and hungry. Finding food near the convention center, after a long day of travel, is usually a hit or miss kind of thing. “Let’s just walk and see what we find” can either lead to a fun late night snack or to a welcome to convention mugging. Thankfully, as we were among the chosen blessed, we found a pizza/pasta joint that satisfied our late night cravings and lower expectations.

While wandering the late night streets of Columbus, Ohio, I was once again reminded of how I see almost any new, unfamiliar place as a threat to be assessed. Jen walks fancy free, tourist wide-eyed, expectant of possibility and adventure. I walk as if I’m some sort of jungle guide, trying to protect Jennifer from certain ambush.

I like to know my surroundings, to be completely aware of all my options, to get the lay of the land. When I’m as clueless as every other visitor, I see the place as a threat until I can determine otherwise. After twelve hours near the Columbus, Ohio convention center, I can confidently say that we will most likely not be eaten by lions or bears. In fact, things look really nice. Way nicer than the visitor’s brochure.

Even so, I’m not quite yet willing to let my vigilance wain, calamity may still be lurking next to the Buca Di Bepo’s or behind the Starbucks.

We don’t start convention until this evening. This is the point in my narrative where I must confess to misnaming the reason for my journey. A couple years ago, Foursquare decided to appease a couple vocal grumpy people by changing the name of our annual gatherings from convention to “connection.” I presume this was done to appease our by-law’s requirement that we connect once a year. . . oh wait. . . I don’t think that is in the by-laws.

This is one of those classic, looks like a duck, talks like a duck, acts like a duck, but really it’s not a convention, it’s a connection. So I’ve decided to keep convention as the name, to honor the spirit of our gathering. Anyway, I like conventions and connection sounds too much like something an Avatar would do. . . .”Make the connection!” I think I’d rather stay aloof and continue with my convention standoffishness.

Today I meet with the doctrine committee for a brief dinner meeting. My goal is to not say anything heretical. Since this is my first time with this astute gathering, I will just do my part to not say anything stupid or theologically suspect. We will see how this pans out. . . . must go now. . . . our complimentary breakfast is waiting. Rumor has it they have waffles!

Just got back from breakfast. . . I avoided the waffles and stuck with the sausage discs and eggs. I think I’ll hold off on any unnecessary carb loading, as it will be 93 degrees today and far too hot to run a marathon.

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