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The sense of a goose

April 21, 2008

by Pastor Steve Olson, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Dassel

“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” (I Peter 4:8-10)

One of the sure signs of spring is when we see geese heading north for the summer, flying along in a “V” formation. Yet, did you ever wonder why they fly that way?

There actually is some practical science behind it. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following it. By flying in “V” formation, the whole flock can fly 71 percent further than if each bird flew on its own.

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it feels the resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back in formation to take advantage of flying with the flock. Perhaps people who share a common direction can also get there quicker and easier when they cooperate. If we had as much sense as a goose, we would work with others who are going the same way we are.

When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies on the point. It pays to take turns doing the hard jobs for the group. It also pays to encourage those who are doing them, like the geese who honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Finally (and get this), when a goose weakens or is wounded and falls out of formation, two geese fall out and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead, and then, together, they set back out on their own until they can hook up with another formation. If we have the sense of a goose, we too will stand by each other in times of trouble.

All this, of course, is just part and parcel of living in community, as God intended it. God never meant us to go it on our own as individuals, or even as congregations. That is why I am so glad to see how we live out our Christian community here in the Dassel-Cokato area.

When I see groups of churches partner together for services of prayer, vacation Bible schools, and other service ministries, we are living out our calling to be the whole Christian church on earth.

When we see Bible studies with members gathered from many churches, and ministers fellowshiping, studying, working, and praying together, we see a living work of the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit “calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it united with Jesus Christ in one true faith.”

Yes, God’s Spirit is at work in the church today, gathering us together. May God grant us the sense of a goose to follow the Spirit’s lead.