V Formation

geese-in-flight-1392071-1918x1334

Today’s readings:
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 an individual’s kitchen. 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?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll  have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Sow Bountifully

1497151063703

Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 122; 149, Deuteronomy 29:2-15, 2 Corinthians 9:1-15, Luke 18:15-30


“The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth to encourage them to give generously to the church in Judea, which needed much assistance. He told the Corinthians that God, who was the ultimate source of all they had to give, would reward them for their faithful generosity. What the audience of Paul’s letter may have missed was Paul’s generosity toward them. The generosity Paul exhibited toward the Corinthian church was not one of pocket, but of spirit. We can see this in his words:

Now it is not necessary for me to write you about the ministry to the saints, for I know your eagerness, which is the subject of my boasting about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that [you have] been ready since last year; […] But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you may not prove to have been empty in this case, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be.

Paul simultaneously praised them for their generosity and gently nudged them to fulfill their promise. He could just have easily written “I’m not sure you’re keeping up your end of the bargain, so I’m sending some heavies to follow up.” This blunt approach has a certain appeal, and it may even get results, but it is not relationship-oriented. In the long run it leads to giving that is more fearful than cheerful.

Do we sow our seeds of faith in others as bountifully as we sow material seeds? Would you rather hear “I’m counting on you; I believe you can do it!” or “I’m counting on you; don’t let me down!” One may ask what the difference is, but the first implies an expectation of success and the second an expectation of failure. People’s behavior is influenced by the expectations we set for them. Intentionally and bountifully sowing seeds of high expectation, even when we doubt, is a sign of a generous spirit.

Comfort: Generosity is its own reward.

Challenge: Treat people as if you believe in their willingness to do well, even when you doubt.

Prayer: Create in me a generous heart, O God! Amen.

Discussion: What’s the difference between being optimistic and being gullible?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!