Toward transformation with the Wild Goose

Steve Kriss, Philadelphia Praise Center, skriss@franconiaconference.org

In late August the board and staff of Franconia Conference gathered to share dreams and visions, to work at logistical details for assembly and to take a step toward reconciliation and healing. It was a beautiful day at the pavilion behind the meetinghouse at Blooming Glen, amongst cornfields—the first day when brisk air invites longsleeves and light jackets after a hot summer. We were meeting to do business plan, to eat together, to imagine.

As the sun was setting to the west, we gathered in a circle for prayer, confession, and mutual commissioning. Led by LEADership Minister Ray Yoder, we prayed with the Conference’s core values and vision—centered in Christ—placed on the floor between us. We were there in a shared journey, shared struggle, with sometimes shared hope and sometimes contested dreams. We are different people, representing different histories, perspectives, congregations. It’s hard work and real commitment in a postmodern world to be together, to witness together, to carry each other’s joys and burdens.

Photo by Emily Ralph

But something interesting happened as we ended our prayer, at the moment of our confession of our struggle, our inadequacies, our failures and foibles—a trail of wild geese streamed over us loudly, moved to form a V and flew into the sunset. In Celtic Christianity, a tradition that maintained a healthy and hearty faithful Christianity while the rest ofEuropeand the Mediterranean region muddled through a difficult time, the Wild Goose was a name given the Holy Spirit. In that evening, amidst our questions and questing, I think the Spirit invited us again to move on, to press into a new day, to gather our diversity of experience and perspective, to pay attention to the signs around us in creation, culture, Text and Spirit and to soar into God’s future.

When I am reading this Intersections, I am struck again by how the Spirit continues to stir us. Within these pages, the diverse dreams for the reign of God and the life of discipleship that we incarnate are written in story form. We are people of many commitments and ways of describing God. We’ve been called forth and cultivated from many places . . . and we’re going into diverse places fromVermonttoBaltimoretoEngland. We’re young dreamers, pilgrim seekers and mature leaders building peace in places like Souderton, Quakertown and Allentown. We’re trying out the reconciling process by gathering across historic divisions and cultural boundaries with assembly this year . . . and we’re committing to a yearlong journey focusing on extending Christ’s justice and peace.

It feels like we’re trying to follow the Wild Goose, recognizing a new day, moving in diverse and unexpected places, seeing sometimes what was unimaginable emerge, and grappling to deal with it and make sense of it. The Celtic Christians maintained a real faith in tough and confusing times. They provoked art, developed mission movements and cultivated missional communities. They used resources creatively and carefully. They were mindful of the connection of body, soul, mind, land, resources and the resurrected Christ.

When I read our stories in this issue, I know we’re on the journey. The Spirit is stirring. Something continues to be breaking forth. We’ll need to continue to be prepared for it, to cultivate, to hope and work, to pay attention for both the signs and possibilities around us, near and far. The Spirit invites us as a historic and yet emerging community further into a journey, offering up a mission which we might embrace and find both ourselves and the world transformed through the story of the Good News even in disconcerting times.

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