May 21, 2011 6AM: I am awakened by the sound of trumpets.  Could this be it?  Could I possibly have pre-judged Harold Camping’s prediction of the end of the world and now as a consequence I have been ‘left behind’ because of my unbelief?  Nope!  It’s just more geese. Every morning all month I have been roused by the infernal (not eternal) sound of honking geese.  These giant poop factories are all over my lawn and have turned it into a treacherous and slippery mine field.  It is really hard to describe just how much poop these creatures can produce.  It would be equivalent to maybe having 300 German Shepherds living in your back yard.  When I grew up the only time we ever saw a goose was when we went into the garage to get our bikes and were struck in the face by dead geese hanging from their necks.  That could only mean one thing; it was the fall of the year and Dad had returned from one his manly adventures where he had bagged his limit of birds that no one is going to eat now that we had seen them in this gruesome pose.  I know it had something to do with curing the meat, but it was hard not to imagine that my father was not some kind of violent goose hater that felt he needed to shoot them, hang them and then stab them to make sure they were dead.  Looking out on my lawn, I cannot but think, ‘Where is my Dad now when I need him’?  With the lack of hunters like my dad, the population of Canada geese has skyrocketed and they are prospering and leaving the farm to dwell in upscale suburban neighbourhoods where they believe the greenest lawn on the block needs to receive the most fertilizer.  “Pastor Mark what does this have to do with the end of the world?” Nothing, I am just ranting because I have been sleep deprived, awakened at the crack of dawn everyday for a month by honking geese!  Haven’t you been listening?

I know there are lots of things we can learn from geese.  They mate for life for one thing, which is a lot better than many people I know. “Pastor Mark, are you STILL talking about geese?” You do know what all that honking is about when they are flying south for the winter don’t you?  Frank, you get back here and fly in formation.  Honk, honk. You should be flying beside me not with those buddies of yours.  Honk, honk. And quit trying to show off and fly in the front of the Vee.  Honk, honk.  If you were such a leader where were you when the goslings were born?  Honk. honk.  You were off pooping all the time while I got stuck at the nest with the kids.  Honk, honk. “Pastor Mark, come on now?” No really, after this month I now speak fluent goose.

Let me get serious here for a least a moment.  Well, we are still here after May 21st so I conclude that we are not done in our mission to reach the world with the gospel.  “And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14) I actually think the church might be able to learn something from geese to help reach our goal. Here are five lessons;

1)  Synergy. As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.  When we as the church work together in a common direction and sense of community we too can get where they are going quicker and easier because we are relying on the thrust of one another.

2) Strengthen. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone.  It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.  No one of us should have to go it alone in life.  One of the great benefits of the church is to be a community that is willing to give and accept help from one another.

3) Share. When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position. It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. It makes no sense to do all the heavy lifting by ourselves. Church of the Rock is successful not so much because I am a brilliant leader (even though I am) but because of the phenomenal staff and volunteers that bring a wealth of skills, abilities, talents and resources to the leadership team.

4) Stimulate. The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.  We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. Study after study has shown the amazing power of encouragement.  One university study revealed that students standing in a bucket of ice water could last twice as long when their classmates cheered them on.  (I’ll remember that for next time I need to stand in a bucket of ice water.)  Criticism or negative honking on the other hand is a recipe for failure.

5) Support. When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again.  What an incredible lesson for us.  When we are part of a church family we should never have to stand alone during difficult times.

“Pastor Mark I would have never thought you could find so much good to say about geese?” Don’t kid yourself, I still have contempt for the poop generating creatures, I am talking here about the church.  Which incidentally can generate it’s own fair share of poop. However, the church has always been and will always be God’s only plan for the future of the world.  Jesus himself put it this way.  “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” So we can sit around in our basements and wait for the rapture, or we can get on with the job… but let’s remember the message of the goose and do it together.

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  1. Sally says:

    I too have always admired the goose and it’s abillty to adjust to its surroundings and its faithfulness to it’s partner and to the whole flock. Indeed, it is a lesson for all of us Christians to learn and one we will have to rely on; as the changes in our world begin to affect us in our everyday living. Common sense tells us that we will have interesting challenges as the worlds economy moves towards Revelations prophesy that a days wage will be needed to buy a loaf of bread…so far we have been spared. Just looking at signs of the times makes one wonder at how far away this really is??? And now today with Obamas speech in which he basically told Israel that the US supports the division of Israel which by the way God says not to do, it may be sooner than we think.

    One thing about the Harold Camping controversey, it got the whole world talking and thinking about where they may be going if the world did end and where they stood in the light of eternity (with God or without Him).

    I am sure many of you were busy answering a lot of interesting questions about the billboards. I found that this was a great opportunity to share the gospel and to tell the truth with a lot of curious even fearful people. God has a way of turning everything around for His good!!

  2. Jusuf says:

    Geese as a community are an amazing creatures. I like “Honk if you love Jesus” … most likely those geese are singing ‘christian marching on’ while flying.

    Hoping a goose will not be like a duck …. the most famous peking duck menu !

  3. Tammy says:

    Amazing analogies between the geese and the Church…thank you!
    We can learn so much by observing God’s creatures even if they do wake you up at the crack of dawn!
    My husband much like your father likes to hunt geese. Never seen him hang them though.

  4. Bruno says:

    Someone needs to watch 1996’s Fly Away Home to get back in an “awwww” geese mode… well for the time of the movie that is.

  5. Goosebumps says:

    I think it’s hard for some geese to get help from other geese who have labeled them as something they’re not.
    There’s alot of geese saying you are a new creature now believe it and at the same time they look down their noses at other geese. God loves all the geese but let’s face it, some geese are jealous and envious of other geese, and will pretend to care when they really hate the poor goose. Geese need discernment. And God will sustain the goose that’s been rejected by the other geese if they believe. And most likely the other geese will have to learn like the friends of Job did. Then they will all get along, because it is God who made the geese, not the other way around.

  6. Evelyn Bennett says:

    I feel blessed each and every day when I hear God’s creation waking me from a deep sleep.

    For a year I constantly had a neighbor playing night club music til 4 in the morning.

    When going through that you definitely count your blessings.

    I no longer have a consistent ringing in my ears.

  7. PatriciaC says:

    Reading your Monthly Blog this time had me feeling like we were in an actual conversation with one another. And to think it was about Geese! LOL!

    Pastor Mark, I will never forget when I was in BirdsHill when my daughter was a toddler and we were taking our evening walk. The first time she saw the geese flying over the conversed gravel pitts. There I was standing watching them get into formation, when I looked down to see my toddler with all the fascination, wonderment, and excitement pointing to the sky and smiling and asking more questions in one minute than you would get out of a teenager in one month. God is an awesome God. And through his creation, he gives us answers to problems, cooperation or managerial structures, and compassion on a daily basis. My brother’s boss takes his employees and their wives away to a get-a-way resort once a year. The meetings and excursion has them all come back as a well knit or structured team and a feeling like they have had a mind and body transformation every time.

    I feel blessed and thank God for what he has created for us here on Earth to share with one another, and hope and pray we can find meaning or answers in signs we see everyday that he is among us.

    Good luck with your honking and pooping issues. Thank you for all the other information you shared with us that makes a world of a difference to our day today.

  8. Betty says:

    Very interesting, Pastor Mark!
    I was growing up, next to the mountains,so we had many [smaller] birds chirping, early morning and I liked it very much,it sounded so peaceful and they were my alarm clock, for when I had to get up and do the chores and one kind of birds we had, were, what we called, the wild Doves, they made some kind of noise, only when the weather was going to be calm and sunny for that day and that was good to know, first thing in the morning.

    It is interesting, how much the birds can teach us, even those that are so small.
    I think everything, also works better in a family, when we work together, then we share the joy and the pain.

  9. Isaiah 66:5 says:

    Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at His word: Your brethren who hate you, who cast you out for My name’s sake, have said, let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy! But it is they who shall be put to shame.

  10. Isaac says:

    We have tons of geese around my work, and the other day there was an interesting thing.

    For days they had all been battling each other chasing each other around, honking swear words at each other. Then I see them all in the pond, all very close together (looked like an armada) all silent all looking one direction. I looked to where they all were looking, and there was a mean looking dog. It was amazing how all the fighting stopped once they all realized they had a common enemy.

    Made me think of the church too. We have a common Enemy and if we all realized it, we’d stop our (negative) honking too!

  11. Ian says:

    Hearing about all the geese makes me really miss Winnipeg!! You’ve provided some really great insight about the church that I’ll certainly use at some point. As a prolific preacher once told me, the key is to always conceal the source of your material. In this instance I definitely won’t reveal that a plague of geese poop was the fertilizer that made such revelation grow 😉

  12. jackie says:

    God is good, i am out here waiting for my bus, laughing and realizing so many things as i read this blog. You’re awesome Pastor.

  13. Victoria says:

    Well,I enjoyed your blog pastor Mark!
    Gave me a few smiles during a time when I could use some.Getting married finally in my anglican church,so I can take communion without getting dirty looks from some people in our small congregation-my husband and I have felt a little like the duck that is flying out of the formation you mention! We have devoted our lives to eachother and our children and consider ourselves unified,but are finally having the ceremony on Saturday,June 11,@11:00am. Yes, I am wearing white,so is he! We don’t have much family,so we decided to invite our church family…we’ll see how that goes.
    My mother is not attending,as her boyfriend has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.It is around his spine and in his lungs and lymph nodes.This is a gentleman who got upset when I would send him christian prayers of goodwill because he is Jewish-he told me to stop sending them so I did.
    Now he is asking for them again….
    so could you people help him out and say a prayer for Sydney Kraut in Montreal.He needs your love to relieve the pain and the fear he has now that he is dying. Thankyou so much.

  14. Isaiah 1:17 says:

    Learn to do right! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and correct the oppressor.

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