The one thing that separates us from the rest of the community is that our whole life therefore as a Christian community is centred around this mysterious thing we call the Eucharist. It reminds us that God is found in the ordinary things of life - bread and wine – and therefore he is also found in all those who eat here on Sunday, in the ordinary everyday people and things of this world as well as in the vastness of the universe.
But how should we act as a community giving each other support and encouragement?
The best analogy I have ever heard is that of a flock of geese sweeping across the sky in a V formation.
As the V formation of hundreds of birds passes by - consider: as each bird flaps its own wings it creates an updraught for the bird immediately following behind. The V formation of the flock adds at least 70% to its flying range than if each bird flew alone and gives the group its direction. When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels a drag and quickly gets back into the flock to take advantage of the uplifting power of the other birds. When a goose is sick or injured and falls out of the formation, two other geese also fall back and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to rejoin the flock or until it dies - only then launching out on their own, or with another formation, to catch up with their own group.
Other geese feel free to fill the gaps created by the loss of another bird. Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep going. The leader knows where they are going finally - and most importantly for us - when the lead goose gets tired it rotates to the back of the group and another takes over at the point - so that the leadership is constantly changing and being shared by all members of the group.
Every one of these attributes of the flock of geese applies to us as a parish. Let's think about some of them.
- the power of a group sharing a common direction and sense of community so that they can get where they're going more quickly and easily;
- the sense of loss felt both by the individual and the group when one member falls out, standing by and supporting each member if they become ill or experience difficult times;
- encouraging those around us;
- not always being negative;
- taking turns doing the demanding or difficult tasks or leading the group.
Too often in the past, Christian Leadership has been held by too few for too long - and that's created a reluctance for others to take on tasks for fear of being "trapped" for the next 20 years at it!
We do get tired - need to rest on others for a while - but this is not always recognised by ourselves or other members of the church, until it's too late and negative thoughts about the church have set in. And this doesn't mean that we have less conviction or have lost our faith.
So we gather to celebrate this last Eucharist together. May God who pervades everything and is Spirit and has revealed himself to us in Jesus help us to recognise his presence as we reach out our hands today so that we can begin to see him in our everyday lives. May he Bless you so that you may discern what it is that he wants you to be.