Good Shepherd Lutheran Church


The Shepherd's Staff

Being the Best

Posted by Ted Moeller on

I believe for the fifth year in a row, the Portland International Airport (PDX) has been ranked the best airport in the country. I whole heartedly agree. It’s my personal favorite, as well. I especially love the little lights in the parking garage that show where open spots are, their policy that airport restaurants—many of them local—have the same prices there as elsewhere, and that it is so close to my home (that isn’t a factor in the national survey but definitely one in mine!). Anyway, I’m sure proud of it.

   And yet I found it weird to go to the airport just to go to the airport. Patty and I recently went there to visit the Made in Oregon store. It felt strange. We had a gift box made up for a relative, and then returned home. We thought about going across the hall to Beaches for happy hour, but weighing the extra cost for another hour of parking and the lack of a Columbia River view, we didn’t. It just didn’t seem right. I realize on the signs say “terminal,” but an airport should not be a destination in itself. It’s a place you go to to go somewhere else, or to welcome someone coming to you.

   I think we need to start feeling that way about church: like an airport. It shouldn’t be our final destination, but more a sending and gathering place. PDX is a great airport; but as wonderful as it is, it’s purpose is not to create an environment that people go to hang out and never want to leave. In fact, it’s the opposite—its design is to facilitate the great and exciting experience of arrival and departure. 

   That’s what I’ve been learning in the “new normal” of these last few weeks. Suddenly, church as a Sunday destination isn’t happening. But church is. We may not be able to GO to church, but we can still BE a church. It’s happening…wherever people are checking up on one another, sewing masks for hospital workers, delivering food, saying thank you, doing family devotions, crafting Bible lessons and getting them out to people, staying at home, out of harm’s way (the harm we might cause), even sending in offerings in lieu of attendance.

   When the church functions as it should, as a “means of grace,” it becomes a place where God’s unconditional love is given and received, and His children are gathered and sent. People in motion. Church should not be an end in itself. It’s a way station on the road to salvation. So, where are we headed beyond going to church?

   Portland’s airport may be the best in the nation. That’s good. But you know what could be better? When the church—when our church—strive to be not just the best IN the community, but the best FOR the community.