Over these last weeks of the pandemic I’ve been incredibly thankful to the people of our church (and thankful to God!) for the many ways that we have continued to be church without physically being able to meet together in our buildings. Although we’ve been physically separated, there has been a great deal of ‘being together in the Spirit’.
Recently, I was struck by the analogy of geese to help think about this (yes that’s right geese!). You might know that when geese migrate, they fly in a V-formation called a skein (pronounced ‘scane’). Studies have revealed some amazing things about why they fly in this way. The skein improves their energy efficiency – each bird flies slightly higher above the bird in front reducing wind resistance. In addition, the down flap of the bird in front pushes the air behind it upwards which assists the birds behind. All of this rather incredibly increases their range by over 70%!
Geese are very cooperative – birds flying at the front of the formation tire
more quickly so they take turns to do this. Geese are also very loyal: pairs
stay together for life, they protect and support each other whenever danger is around. If a goose starts to go down from the skein, if the goose is sick or wounded, two geese will drop out of formation and descend to follow the hurt goose down. They will stay with the sick goose until it dies or gets better and is able to fly then they catch up together. Geese honk at each other – I love this fact about them. When they’re flying – they honk very loudly to encourage each other to keep up their speed and altitude. This honking also helps the geese keep a sense of direction and co-ordinate position changes.
Geese have something inbuilt to help them recognise that they are better together not separate. I think we too recognise this about ourselves that we are made to be in relationship with others. Moreover, I think I have seen something of that togetherness remaining in us and I’m inclined to name that at the Spirit of God still being present in us despite being physically
I notice, the Spirit at work in the church in so many ways: in the ways we cooperate in our own version of a skein, flying through uncharted skies but cooperating in new and different ways as we journey on. I see the Spirit in the acts and words of love when one of our skein has become sick or is struggling and in need. I see the Spirit in the messages of encouragement we give each other – the equivalent to honking that we do to each other. I see all of this and want to encourage us in this. (Take that as a honk from me!).
As we start to contemplate some sort of phased lifting of being separated from each other I suspect this all might take a lot longer than any of us would like and that a time of extended transition may prove difficult for us. Inevitably, we will need to draw on the same Spirit in the days ahead: as encourager, perhaps as comforter, certainly as guide as we seek to discern how we should be church in future in this transition time and beyond.
With my continued prayers and very best wishes.