Learning from the Geese

The Stephen Leaders, Susan, Anna, Jack, and Cathy have been thinking how grateful we are that our church family has embraced and welcomed Stephen Ministry at the Presbyterian Church of Barrington. We have seen this in the support and encouragement of our Pastors, in the referrals of family members and friends to the care of a Stephen Minister, and even in members themselves asking to be part of this compassionate and confidential Christ-centered Ministry. This partnership between us all has made our church a Stephen Ministry Congregation.

This devotion was written by Donna Gray, Minister for Children and Families at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. Pastor Gray was responding to the Scripture Reading from 1 Corinthians 12:24b–31: 

“But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership,various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” (NRSV)

With Donna Gray’s permission, here is her reflection on this passage which we Stephen Leaders all feel so beautifully explains Stephen Ministry at PCB:

“Naturalists tell us that the goose demonstrates the best of community. Our scripture defines community as an instance when “every part is dependent on every other part.” While eagles fly solo, most of the time geese fly together in a V formation. By flying as a flock, geese have at least a 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird were to fly on its own. People who work in community and share a common bond can get where they are going more quickly and at the same time have the joy of sharing a task with another person.

When the lead goose gets tired, it drops to the back and another goose assumes the lead position. It pays to have help when a task is difficult. It provides both psychological and spiritual strength to know others will step in and help bear the burden.

Furthermore, if a goose gets sick and falls out of formation, two other geese accompany it and remain with it until it recovers. That is a wonderful example in nature of how “every part is dependent on every other part.” We don’t have to look far this time of year to see community acted out.

The church is the body of which Christ is the head. Christ needs each one of us to do our part for this body to be fully functional. How we feel and how we act make a difference to everyone in our church, and it makes a difference to God.”

It is both by giving and receiving help, we honor God in our faith Community. Please know that there is a Stephen Minister willing to be by your side and help you to bear your burden large or small. Please call Jack Raaths to talk about having a Stephen Minister for you or for someone you care about. Jack can be reached at (847) 867-3718.