“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the birds: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” Matthew 12:22-24
Well we have sailed through another summer and have arrived here at the beginning of Autumn. The colours, and smells are amazing as fruit ripens ready for harvest and the berries show red on the Rowan trees amongst others.
The animal kingdom knows it as well – the deer enter their rut, and we begin to hear the loud honking of geese as they go over head. I love the sound of geese going over; I used to love hearing them arrive and I would often stand in the fields outside Crosby, to watch the display as they flew over in huge flocks, making their way (I presume) to Martin Mere, always stopping off on the way in farmers’ fields. A sure sign that winter is on the way as they seek to escape colder climes. As they fly over I am always amazed by their team work – and of course the V shape of their flying formation.
Now of course scientists have found out why they fly in the V, and it is this : a leader is chosen for a time, she takes the lead and as she flaps her wings they create an uplift for the two birds following. Those birds then of course through, their flapping, create uplift for the two following them, and so on down the V. Each bird supports the one behind, all have help to excel except the leader. When she is tired, one from the two flanking the leader flies up and the V is reformed and the previous leader will then take a turn at being supported. By flying in a V formation, the flock adds 71% greater fly range than if each bird flew solo.
A church like St Ann’s can (when they share a common direction and sense of community) get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are travelling on the uplift of one another. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone – and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. So, I pray, in the decisions and choices that need to be considered by us in the coming seasons, we will to remember the geese, because if we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are headed the same way we are!
When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. We can learn from this too, A leader is for a season. So over the next 6 months perhaps you could think about where God is calling you to minister in our Parish? Maybe to take a turn with one of the jobs, to give those who do them now a chance to benefit from your uplift. Back to the geese, have you ever wondered at the honking noise as they go over? Well they do that to encourage those in front of them to keep up their speed. I wonder, what messages we give to others when we honk from behind? St James tells us in his letter to watch our mouths – good advice again whether from geese or the Bible.
Finally and I think the most beautiful; when a goose becomes, sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of formation, two other geese will also fall out and fly down with that goose to the ground. They then help to feed and keep the distressed bird warm and safe, until either its ready to fly once more, or until it dies. Only then do they fly away to try and catch up with their group, even if that means flying for a while with another formation of geese. As a church, we must do just as the geese do – work as a team, shout encouragements to one another (especially those in leadership roles, whatever form that leadership takes); and when one of the congregation is hurt, or we know of someone in the community who needs help and support, then we must have the sense of a goose, and stand by each other.