We know love by this, that [Christ] laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. I John 3:16-18
This past Sunday was Plymouth’s celebration of Environmental Sabbath and this coming Sunday is the day celebrated nationally as Earth Day. Spring is “springing” here in Colorado with daffodils, trees budding, warmer temps on many days – though we know the reality of spring snow storms here! In my sermon this past Sunday I shared a quote from 8th century theologian, John of Damascus. “The whole earth is a living icon of [a window onto] the face of God."
Taking this to heart we open our hearts to glimpse the face of God in the daffodils, the budding leaves and even in the snow. Taking this to heart is challenging, as well as inspiring. How to see the face of God in hurricanes and floods, as well as in sunny beaches and rolling streams? It is a challenge worth the endeavor as we care for creation as well as enjoy it.
Recently I ran across some advice for human communities in a meditation on the communities of geese. A flock of geese as a “living icon” of the communal, three-in-one, face of God. See what you think:
Why Geese Fly in Formation
Next fall when you see geese heading south for the winter flying along in a "V" formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
People who share common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
When a goose falls out of formation, she suddenly feels the draft and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.
If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are going.
When the lead goose gets tired, she rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It pays to take turns doing hard jobs.
The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. An encouraging word goes a long way.
Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by a gun shot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow her until she is either able to fly or until she is dead, then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with the group.
If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.
Friends of God at Plymouth, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action, following the example of our brother and sister geese.
Blessings this week on your journey into community with God,
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, Associate, Minister, is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. She is also the writer of sermon-stories.com, a lectionary-based story-commentary series. Learn more about Jane Ann here.
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