"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Of goats and geese

  I like goats. I don’t know why, but they have always fascinated me. Maybe my interest began as a child when I could only drink goat’s milk and I would ride with my mom to Mrs. Berry’s goat farm up off Flat Shoals Road in Decatur. Maybe the fact that they can chew up a tin can appeals to me. I have a picture of my mother petting a goat at Noah’s Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center saved in “my favorites” computer file. I would actually like to own a goat one day. Whatever the reason may be for my fascination, goats are just cool animals.

  If you are heading north on Highway 155 from McDonough, just barely past Miller’s Store, you can see the most recent attraction for me and my family. In a fenced-in area on the right there is a pretty black and white goat and he has a couple friends who follow him everywhere he goes. No, the friends aren’t his fellow goats, but two geese. White duck-like creatures with long necks and yellow bills which can honk and bite the stew out of your leg.

  The remarkable thing about this goat and his geese friends is that they are virtually inseparable. I pass this pen several times a week and unless the weather is awful or the night is dark, you will always see the goat and the geese. Often, they are standing at the fence at Hwy. 155 watching traffic and other times they are down in the back, but they are always together.

  Shouldn’t our communities be like that? Shouldn’t our churches be more like that? I mean, how much more diverse can it get than when a goat and geese hang out together all the time? Our communities and churches continue to become more diverse in cultural, ethnic and economic groups. When all these groups come together for a common effort, it is a great thing of which to be a part. To learn and experience how other cultures live and how they worship God. To engage in honest dialogue about how your church might be able to meet the spiritual needs of your neighbors. To reach out to those in our cities and county who need some of God’s love spread to them, yet we aren’t quite comfortable with their life choices and situations.

  I spent last weekend back with my Tybee Church friends and once again returned home full of the love and acceptance of the fellowship. The diversity in that bar church amazes me. They truly believe and act out the ministry of taking care of each other….and the best part is that they don’t care if their names are known or that they receive recognition. This spirit of giving is what keeps calling me back to Tybee Church.

  Jesus hung out with Samaritans. He said to forgive the adulterous woman. He ate supper with all manner of people that weren’t considered appropriate to Jewish society. He didn’t care what others said; Jesus’ purpose was to share God’s Love to everyone. Everyone with whom he came in contact. Regardless. Should we do any less if we are following the examples Jesus set for us?

  When the goat turns to the left, the geese turn to the left. When the goat heads across the field, the geese closely follow. Three animals, different species, different colors, different languages. When God tells us to “go and tell,” we should go and tell. If He tells us that our neighbor from a lower economic class needs help, we should help. When we feel God’s leading to be kind to someone of another skin color and language, we should do so. Regardless. Just remember the goat and the geese.

  And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.