I have watched how they go these past weeks. Sweeping and diving, turning and landing—the migration ballet. When they swoop overhead, I am dizzy—lifted to heights, longing for wings. They move as one.
They call me a shepherd at my church. I have a flock that I tend. It’s a way for our church leadership to stay abreast of individual needs; divide the congregation into smaller groups and assign the elders to watch over them. As shepherd I am supposed to check in with my flock regularly. Make sure they are doing okay.
We have had troubles. Jesus said it would be so. We have brushed up against each other and bruised tender flesh in the jostling. Sheep do—they bleat wildly when alarmed, bumble about in fear. We lost sight of our shepherd for a time.
Sunday night we met in the sanctuary. There were some good words and some prayers and then we all flooded out into the narthex to dress up our church for Christmas. The Hanging of the Greens, we call it. Old and young were there—the same faces we always see when something needs doing…the same faces we’ve argued with and picked at and found fault with.
He said to love one another. The word in its original form is an action word. It’s something we are growing into—this Love like the Great Shepherd’s. It takes some hanging in. I’ve often wondered–as I lift my eyes to the sky, feel my breath leave my body as they move in unison across the sun—how do they do that? What drive inside pulls them forward, what cue from the next allows them to turn so gracefully as one–no hesitation, no clumsy choppy movements? I know it is written on their hearts—this greater purpose that allows for such harmony, such grace.
And as I hand an ornament to gnarled fingers, the same fingers that have lashed out at me and those I love in the past…I marvel at this thing that is written on our hearts too. This Love that overcomes. This Love that transforms. This Love that becomes.
So many times, our fellowship is like the sheep—mindless, aimless, losing sight of our shepherd. But Sunday night, we were like the Starlings. We moved as one, pulled by something greater—something we do not understand. In this great dance of Love, there can only be One who leads. When we follow the steps, turn with those subtle cues, follow the rhythm of our hearts—this is when we take wing. This is when we fly.