Flight 1549 hits a flock of Canada Geese whilst in the air, and both engines are taken out. Captain ‘Sully’ Sullengberger must then decide what to do in order to save the 155 crew and passengers on board.
The plane does not have enough altitude to fly to a nearby airstrip so Sully takes the unprecedented step of attempting a water landing on the Hudson River. Afterwards he and his co-pilot face an enquiry into why Sully chose to do what he did.
Sully is clearly a courageous, caring and creative kind of leader. He attempts something unthinkable, miraculously pulls it off and then is the last to leave the plane as it gradually sinks into the Hudson, checking first for any passengers who might still somehow be on board, too afraid or too confused to leave. When he is certain the plane is empty he then leaves, and as soon as they are on dry land he asks if there has been a head count, has everyone made it back alive?
Moses, the prince turned desert shepherd, was an unlikely leader of his people. He lost his privileged lifestyle and fled Egypt under a cloud when he killed an Egyptian soldier, he then spent 40 years leading sheep around the desert. However, the whole experience clearly changed him. When he returned to Egypt to confront Pharaoh and call for justice for his people the Israelites, he was a humble, honest and compassionate man. In the ensuing years he laid his own life on the line time and again in order to fight for freedom for others. On one occasion, when the Israelites had gone wildly astray, Moses offered himself in place of the people, offering his own life for theirs. This was a very different man to the one who had killed that soldier. Now he was prepared to risk his own life for others. (See Exodus chapter 32 vv 31-32)
Centuries later another creative, compassionate and courageous man would pitch up and offer his own life for the rescue of others. In a culture of animal sacrifice a kind, creative carpenter from Nazareth did the unthinkable, he refused to follow the normal procedure and instead took the unprecedented step of offering himself as a replacement for every other blood sacrifice, dying so that people might live. In Leviticus chapter 17 verse 11, the people are assured that the life of an animal is in its blood, the blood makes amends for a stray life, so Jesus offered his own blood for all the stray lives. And that’s what we remember and celebrate when we drink a sip of wine in a communion service, new life from the sacrificed blood of the creative, compassionate Jesus. Like Sully Jesus faced tough opposition in what he was doing, officials who thought they knew better and wanted to put him straight, but he stuck to his guns, going all the way through death and out the other side in resurrection. (See Philippians chapter 2 vv 6-11)