As I write this article, we have just returned from walking our two family dogs along the estuary at Much Hoole. As Mark and I observed the leaves beginning to turn golden brown, we were very conscious that autumn is upon us. It is a time when the days grow shorter, we fetch out warm coats, hats and gloves, and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘The X Factor’ return to our television screens!
As a family, Autumn has always been a very special time of year for us because it holds wonderful memories of visits to the hides at MartinMere Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Tarlscough, Burscough, to watch the swans and geese return to the bird sanctuary in order to escape from extreme winter temperatures. These beautiful, graceful and majestic birds, migrating from the Russian Arctic, will fly a staggering 2,500 miles to reach our British shores. Incredibly, Bewick Swans will fly 4,500 miles from the Siberia just to come and spend winter in Lancashire every year. What always fascinates us is the precision and organization of the formation within which they fly. Scientists have conducted studies to discover why migratory birds fly in a V-formation, with some fascinating results.
Firstly, by flying together each bird reduces the air resistance for the bird flying behind it. This means that they will reach their destination having expended less energy than if they made the journey alone. Secondly, the birds will rotate the leadership of the formation. As the lead bird tires, they will move to the rear of the formation to where air resistance is lighter. Rotation will occur many times during the journey. Thirdly, the birds will frequently produce loud, honking sounds as a means of communicating to one another during the journey. Finally, if a bird is injured and has to leave the formation, two other birds will fall out and fly alongside the injured bird until it is hopefully able to return to the flock. The elements of teamwork, cooperation and communication are an integral part of the journey of our migratory birds.
During my first two months at Emmanuel, I have been increasingly excited and encouraged to be journeying alongside so many wonderful and welcoming people. I am excited and encouraged because I am assured of God’s love guiding our journey forward as a team of practising Christians. In the oncoming pages of the magazine are details of opportunities through which we can continue to engage in fellowship with one another.
In Romans 12; 5-6, the apostle Paul reminds us that “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.”
And so I pray that in the coming months we will each seek to discover the part we have to play in continuing to fulfill God’s purpose and mission for us as a Church, the body of Christ. May we all know the joy that comes from abiding with one another, in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
May I wish you every blessing,