Who is this Holy Spirit of Pentecost?
The wild goose is an ancient Celtic symbol of the Holy Spirit. Although familiar with the traditional symbol of gentle doves, Celtic Christians chose the wild goose as a reminder that the Spirit of God cannot be tamed or controlled.
Wild geese have a habit of biting those who try to contain or capture them. Each time the religious establishment appeared to be firmly in the control of theology and God, the Spirit of God broke free—and often bit those who tried to stop it. Whenever the church settled into complacent institutional apathy, Spirit-filled people boldly advocated for the gospel’s radical demands.
Wild geese also have a habit of making a lot of noise when you disturb them. The song of the goose is considered harsh and noisy, not unlike the voices of reformers who clamored for renewal, truth, and justice. Over the centuries, those in power ostracized, imprisoned, exiled, and even killed wild goose Christians, but the noisy, passionate courage of these Spirit-led men and women helped recapture the original Christian vision—that the gospel cannot be curbed or restricted.
The wild goose is a communal creature, drawing its life from the flock. In the same way, God’s Spirit is not a spirit of individualism, but of community. In an age when an independent spirit is prevalent both inside and outside the church, we remember the earliest Christians testifying that the Spirit brings people together into community.
How do you experience God’s Spirit?
Have you found yourself advocating for reform when the Church becomes complacent?
Or have you judged and tried to silence those who work for transformation, threatening the prevailing “peace and unity of the church”?
—This reflection is from “Geese,” in Pilgrim Walk by the Sea
by Susanne Hassell, pages 60-61.
After [Peter and John] prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4:31 NIV