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The Wild Goose Goes Forward



As we begin the summer season, we celebrate two major feasts of the Church: Pentecost and Trinity Sunday. It's powerful and notable that we celebrate this feast of fire that is Pentecost as Spring turns to Summer, and the ancient Celts would light the great Beltane fire celebrating the season of heat, sun, and activity. It also gives an opportunity to pause and contemplate on God in a way we don't often enough, that is, we have the chance to think about, talk about, and dwell with the Holy Spirit.


The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, invoked as the Unity of the Three Persons in our prayers. We confess belief in the Holy Spirit each Sunday in our worship. How often do we think about the Spirit, or pray to the Spirit, or dwell with God's Spirit?

What is perhaps so surprising that the Third Person of the Trinity is neglected in our regular faith life is that you might think the Holy Spirit would be the closest and most intimate to our experience. After all, we claim that we receive the Holy Spirit inside of us in our baptism, as a gift, as a companion, an Advocate, a Guide, to go alongside of us in our journey of faith. While the Son ascended to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to be His presence with us in His absence. Yet we do not talk regularly in our tradition, in the Episcopal Church, about the Holy Spirit.


Earlier I evoked the Celtic tradition, and in the Celtic Christian tradition we, like the early Christians, refer to the Holy Spirit using the imagery of the Wild Goose. The Holy Spirit is like a Wild Goose flapping forward, going ahead of us, brooding and protecting her young, behaving unexpectedly and daringly. I find this imagery evocative. The Holy Spirit is not just some tame, folksy, charming companion to make us feel safe and warm in hardship.


The Holy Spirit is a consuming fire, that rushes in unexpectedly like a violent wind, and unsettles everyone. The Holy Spirit is like a fire that burns on a bush and God's voice is heard but the bush is not consumed. The Holy Spirit is like God's presence as wind and flame going forward ahead of the Israelites leading them from slavery to freedom. God's Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles is continually ahead of the Jesus Movement, driving it forward, compelling it to expand, to broaden and deepen the movement to include more, and more, and more until everyone is included. The Holy Spirit pushes the Apostles and the early Church outside their comfort zone over and over again.


The Holy Spirit is like restlessness until we find our rest in God. But there's always a farther up and a farther in to this pilgrimage that the Holy Spirit is taking us on.


So where is the Holy Spirit leading you? If you have an easy answer, you are probably missing the mark. The Holy Spirit takes us outside our comfort zone, it leads us to places, to inclusion, to belonging, to oneness that we aren't ready for, or force us to expand our thinking. Where is God's Spirit leading you personally, in your own life?


Where is God's Spirit leading our congregation of IHS? Wherever that is God is calling us to go, or whoever God is forming us to become, the Holy Spirit is already ahead of us there, going there before us, preparing a place for us there. The Wild Goose always goes forward, flapping ahead of us into the future God dreams for us.


What does God dream for you? What are the things in the way of that dream that the Fire needs to consume and purify? The Wild Goose goes forward. Imagine if we could catch her.



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