A favorite recent movie is The BestExotic Marigold Hotel about seven “British retirees who decide to ‘outsource’ their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic  India.” The movie chronicles the exploits of the energetic young owner trying to make the hotel look as good as the brochure he provided his clients. It is also the story of new residents adjusting to a new place of living and how they cope with change. One of the seven eventually decides to return back to native England and expresses pride that when she boards the plane she will “turn left.”

On a recent trip to Atlanta I got bumped from economy class to first-class — this meant I also would get to “turn left” as I boarded the plane.

I found myself feeling a bit “puffed up” (to use King James language) as I waited in the boarding area because I knew I would board first.  I walked down the jetway with a bit more anticipation than the normal getting on a plane.  Sure enough, an attendant looked at my boarding pass, held out her hand and said “turn left, sir.”  Immediately my jacket was taken and a drink was offered.  Shortly after, the captain came out and shook hands with every one of us, thanking us for flying Delta.  The announcements were made about drinks and no reference to snacks for those in economy seats. Meanwhile, we not only had drinks but a breakfast snack. We even had free wireless internet available. When the plane landed those in economy were held back while we deplaned first to retrieve our luggage which had a PRIORITY sticker attached.

Everyone connected with Delta worked to make that first class flying experience exceptional. On every Delta flight, employees are paid to make sure first class customers are pampered.

In your church and mine, how well do with do with creating a “turn left” experience for guests? Does a seeker arrive at your church with a sense of anticipation or one of fear? In our churches, we don’t get paid to care for others. We do it because “turn left” thinking has already been modeled by Jesus.  The early church struggled to be a “turn left” church and they succeeded when they collected funds for the poor believers in Jerusalem, looked after widows and orphans, and took care of one another “in Jesus’ name.”

It is easy to go to my church and to expect people to notice I am there. The reality is that Jesus turned life’s rules upside down. Instead it is I who helps others experience “turn left” when we gather. And, you do the same for me.  We are called to serve each other.

P.S. – on the return flight I was back in economy squeezed between two VERY large men.