In the Celtic tradition, the Holy Spirit is represented as a bird – but not a peaceful and serene dove. They chose the wild goose! But why? To begin with, wild geese are not controllable. You can’t contain a wild goose or get it to bend to your commands. If you’ve ever been chased by a wild goose, as I have, you’ll know they can be quite forceful. The Holy Spirit doesn’t just sit on our shoulders and travel with us where we go… He gives us orders, guides our steps, and pushes us out to places we wouldn’t always go.
Rather than the sweet and calm cooing of a dove, the goose’s honk is strong, challenging, and unnerving. When the Holy Spirit rests on someone they often become passionate and demonstrative in their devotion to the Gospel… so much so that onlookers thought the first disciples were drunk! Pentecost’s Spirit honks out the Gospel of Christ, pointing people to the Savior!
Finally, the Celtic Christians observed how geese always travelled farther and better in a flock than alone… In the same way, the “Wild Goose of Pentecost” called very different people together so that they could support and travel with one another as a church.
This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost! The long-awaited gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church! See you there – you’ll find me honking in the front row!
P.S. Thanks to Uncle Ed for letting us know about this interesting fact. Not surprisingly, Ed is from Canada where there are plenty of wild geese!