Have you noticed a lot of honking and flapping overhead in these early spring days? Half a dozen times this week I witnessed Canada geese in flight over head. Did you know that geese fly in a V formation because that way they can cover 70% more distance than if they flew alone? And did you know that geese share the leadership of the V? Whenever the lead goose gets tired, she or he rotates back in the V and another goose takes the point position. And do you know what all that honking is about? The honking is encouragement. The geese in the back honk to encourage those up front to keep up their good work and good speed. And did you know that when a goose in the formation gets sick or is injured and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out of formation with it and follow their wounded or sick friend down to the ground to help give it protection? They stay with the injured or sick one until the crisis resolves, and then they launch out again together, sometimes joining another V until they catch up with their original group.
And so it is that our wild, honking, feathered friends hold up a mirror to us, members of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ which is the church- that great and sacred mystery into which we will soon be welcoming Garett and Finnegan, through the waters of baptism (at the 10:15 service). The Body of Christ that, as described in our first reading from the Book of Acts, started out like a flock of wild geese, connected with bonds of care, affection, encouragement and support for every member.
(8am: Though you won’t be present for the baptisms at 10:15, you are part of the community of faith into which little Garett and little Finnegan are being welcomed.) As we welcome Finnegan and Garett, today we all share in the spiritual responsibility this community takes on in promising to help them grow into the full stature of Christ. And so this morning as we prepare for this work of holy hospitality and responsibility to those who will soon be the most newly minted Christians among us, I want to offer a prayerful supplication for them and for all of us in this part of the Body of Christ – this flying V we call St. Paul’s Church:
Lord Christ, we pray for Finnegan and Garett, who are soon to become members of your body the church. May they come to know what so many of us have learned. May they come to know that, as it is with geese in flight, our journey of faith – through the beauties of your creation, but also through the bent and broken parts of our world and our own selves- this journey is made easier when we share it with You. And may they grow to marvel as they discover, the truth that we get where we are going faster when we travel on the trust of one another. And may we as members of this parish be your witnesses to them. Witnesses to the reality that though evil may seem to win, it never triumphs in the end. And may it always be that they experience safety and strength, among your flock here gathered.
And may it also be that they hear frequent, loud and raucous honking among us. And may that glorious song ring in their ears as they grow, so that they become numbered among the daughters and sons of encouragement who are so desperately needed in our world. And may we model for them patterns of partnership – partnership in which the hard jobs are shared, and heavy burdens never carried by just one of us.
And may they grow into the confidence that they will never be left to walk the dark and fearful ways of life alone. May your rod and your staff comfort them there. And may they always trust that some from among our number will fall out and be with them in times of need; sharing faith when doubt arises; being your hands of healing for any wounds which might assault their body, mind or spirit; and in that final hour of their earthly life – years hence -may members of Christ’s body be by their side to keep the vigil of death, as living reminders to them of the promise of your resurrection to eternal life breathed upon them in the gift of the Holy Spirit here today.
And may we do and be all of this, for them and with them, ever secure in the knowledge that you, Christ Jesus, are the wind beneath our wings. In your Most Holy Name we pray. Amen+