V Formation

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 27; 147:12-20, Jeremiah 20:7-11 (12-13) 14-18, 1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:27-32, John 17:1-11 (12-26)


When geese travel long distances together, they fly in what is called a “V Formation.” Each bird relies on the updraft created by the bird in front of it to travel more easily and for further distances. As the lead bird at the tip of the “V” tires, others rotate into the lead position. No one leads or trails for too long. Pilots flying in groups imitate this behavior for increased efficiency, and also because it allows them to keep other members of the group in sight.

Any single goose can fly, but staying safe and ahead of the encroaching winter requires a group effort. Any single Christian can believe all the “right” things, but justice, love and mercy require meaningful interaction with others. The synergy of a food pantry staffed with multiple volunteers can accomplish far more than the self-contained efforts of individual kitchens. A group speaking in unison against the injustices that create hunger in the first place is more effective than a collection of disjointed if well-intended messages. And a community of people preparing meals for a person or family in crisis provides not just food, but the invaluable assurance of a community in solidarity with the suffering.

Such efforts often begin with the idea or drive of a single person. If we are that leader, we need to recognize when we need to rest and let someone else lead the “V” for a while, or risk tumbling from the sky in exhaustion. If we are on the tips or in the middle of the effort, we must be prepared to step up when our time comes, knowing we will not be called to lead forever. Giving and receiving are both part of the faith experience.

When Jesus prayed to prepare his disciples for his death, he asked God that they might be made as one, knowing how much of their strength and grace resided in their ability to act together to bring about God’s realm. Let’s find the formation that helps us lift and be lifted.

Comfort: Dependence on community is a strength, not a weakness.

Challenge: In the next few weeks, ask someone for help even if you don’t need it.

Prayer: God of the journey, connect me to the people on my path. Amen.

Discussion: When do you feel the most supported by a community? The least?

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