I was attacked by two geese a few weeks ago. I was in the middle of a raft on the Chatooga River when we heard some geese downstream honking at a passing kayaker. Our guide told us that our path would take us near the geese’s nest and that the geese had been attacking passersby. Sure enough, when we got within sight of the geese, they flew straight toward us, about three feet above the water. We all raised our paddles in anticipation of kamikaze geese. Fortunately, the geese veered off at the last possible moment. But they sure made their presence known which placed us on high alert.
Over the centuries many symbols have been used to illustrate the mystery and power of God’s Holy Spirit. The most popular symbol is that of the dove. We see this at Jesus’ baptism, when the Spirit of God “descended upon him as a dove.” When I think of the Spirit as a dove I get a feeling of peace and serenity. When I stand on my deck and hear the cooing of a dove, it is a relaxing, enjoyable background noise. It is hardly noticeable, unless I am specifically listening for it.
Celtic Christians, however, used the symbol of a wild goose to represent God’s Holy Spirit. That would certainly be a more fitting symbol for the day of Pentecost, which we celebrate this week. In contrast to the dove who offers beautiful background noise, when I hear a flock of geese making its way through the skies, I stop what I am doing and look for them. It shakes me out of my complacency and makes me sit up and take notice. And when I am confronted by a goose flying directly toward me with wings spread and “in my face” I am moved to action.
I wonder if that accurately describes the Disciples of Christ on the day of Pentecost. We are told that the Spirit of God descended like a mighty wind. Tongues of fire rested upon them and they began proclaiming the good news of Christ in different languages. The Spirit, it seems, was “in their face” and got their attention. They were prompted to action and we are told that 3000 souls were added to their number.
Wow. I wonder what would happen if I brought a goose to church on Sunday?
Honk if you love Jesus 🙂
Tim Hobbs, Pastor