As far as the eye could see in both directions, it was a highway of migrating birds, mere dashes against the gray blue morning sky. The highway seemed invisibly bounded, but the formation along its length was ever changing. All going in the same general direction, there was nonetheless wide variation in the flight patterns and interactions between fellow travelers.

Somehow it reminded me of church. I think about church often because it puzzles me. What is the purpose of church, what are we really trying to accomplish by this gathering of community – and more importantly, is it working? Are we relevant – or is that necessary? Are we following traditions and rituals that have outlived their usefulness?

There they were, this great company of living creatures, mostly of the same species. From my vantage point far below I could see personalities and differences emerge. There were formations that held tight, the ‘V’ of their flight pattern constant and perfectly aerodynamic. There were undulating and dynamic groups, still in a loose sort of ‘V’ formation but more fluid and shifting. Then there were a few renegades here and there that raced from one group to the other, breaking formation as they joined first one then another, seemingly restless and unsettled.

Isn’t that like a healthy church body, locally and globally? Many variations, many personalities, many points of view, all going in the same general direction, relentlessly driven by this God-image that we carry in human flesh.

They were just birds, doing what birds do best – flying…together, pursuing the call that beats in each birdy breast.

Would that we were so wise.

Republished with permission of Ann Halim, editor of eWeekend College View Church newsletter.