by Rev. Garrett Rocha
Over the past week, I had the privilege to attend and present at the Wild Goose Festival (lovingly called The Goose). The Goose gathers Christian sisters and brothers from across the world to Hot Springs, North Carolina around spirit, justice, music, and art. We fellowship with one another, unplug from our devices, and learn from each other and other Christian speakers.
The thing that intrigued me after I first started attending the festival back in 2016 was its name. The wild goose is an ancient symbol from the Celtic church representing the Holy Spirit. Robert Kruschwitz explains it beautifully. He says, "… sometimes God's Spirit hovers comfortably like a dove. But the Spirit also surprises us and disturbs our plans. Like a wild and unpredictable goose, the Holy Spirit sweeps in unexpected, astonishing directions.”1
The Holy Spirit is significant in the life of faith. Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to send them an advocate that will come and reside in them, remind them of all the teachings Jesus set before them, and teach God's will in and for the future (John 14.15-31). That same Spirit promised to the disciples is promised to us today. I have always been amazed at the work of the Holy Spirit in my life and the lives of others as we share God moments.
I want to share two moments with you for encouragement. At the festival, the Florida Conference Fresh Expressions team came to share the mission and vision of our movement. Before The Goose began the team battled heavy rains during set up. Many of us were scattered or delayed as we all navigated the narrow mountain passes heading to the campground. Amid setup and the storm, one of our group members wore a tired smile and said, "I have been here for about 30 minutes, and I feel like I have found a home. Like, God is really present here. I haven't even met anyone yet!" During a chaotic downpour and setup, the Holy Spirit alighted upon a fellow young clergy, granting her peace and comfort.
Now, an example of a God moment that disturbs the peace. As a high schooler, I struggled with moving to Florida, making friends, and finding inner peace. As I attended a youth group for a bit, I began to explore my faith. After a particularly dark time, I became disheartened and depressed. One night I was woken out of deep sleep and felt compelled beyond reason to find my Bible. I rolled out of bed and searched my room for the book. It was under the furthest part of my bed, of course. After finding it, I sat in my chair, opened to scripture, and pointed to Lamentations 3.14-24. I read through the verses and the scriptures that resonated with my heart. It described a stubborn and tenacious hold on life even when the world seems to grind you into the dirt. It pointed to the sincere hope in a God that transforms the darkness of night into the dawn of a new morning. I hold that scripture close to my heart as I continue to seek good and spread the Gospel in a world that is broken, hurting, distrusting, and weighed down by the evil of sin.
John Wesley describes sanctifying grace as the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit acts in our lives, we respond by accepting and following its stirrings. The Spirit responds in kind, continuing to guide and transform us through a relationship of love and grace. The Spirit could come to us like a dove, bringing us peace and comfort. Or, as experienced in my life, the Spirit could come as a wild and unpredictable goose chasing you into the world, disrupting everyone and everything for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
So take heart in the fact that there is a God that has created you, redeemed you, who seeks to transform you, and will never leave you be in either peace or chaos.
I hope to see you on Sunday at 8:15, NINE45, or 11:15 for worship. You can also go to SAUMC.NET and join us via Livestream. Blessings upon you and I cannot wait to see you!
1 Robert Kruschwitz “The Wild Goose” Prophetic Ethics (Baylor University, 2003).