The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Honk if you love Jesus

For many years Clementson Lutheran Church held a worship service at Frontier Landing, between Clementson and Birchdale, Minn. Sometimes it was canceled because of lousy weather, but one year the conditions were wonderful. This particular Sunday wasn’t just going to be a beautiful time of worship outside. This was the Sunday the goose came to worship.

After leading services at two other congregations, I arrived a few minutes late to the landing. No one seemed to mind because a goose had visited and seemed intent on worshiping with us.

I pulled out my guitar and we stood to sing the opening hymn. When I said to please be seated, the goose sat. Right there in front of Hank and Carol Rieke. The goose appeared to listen to the Scripture readings, but had had quite enough by sermon time — he took a nap. But when we stood to sing another hymn, the goose stood up.

As the ushers took the offering I picked up my guitar to play and sing. On the first chord, the goose decided this was to be a duet, not a solo. He stood next to me and honked through the entire song, even indicating that “Yes, let's do the refrain” one more time when I gave him the opportunity. When he finished, he promptly went back to his spot.

He got up and stood with me during communion and came up one more time for the closing hymn. When worship was over, he stayed for the potluck, which was not roast goose.

I’m not entirely sure what the moral of the story is. Maybe he thought my singing was for the birds. Or maybe it’s just a lesson in evangelism and a reminder that we never know who will show up to worship, but they’re welcome just the same.


Marilyn Miller

Marilyn Miller

Posted at 1:15 pm (U.S. Eastern) 10/22/2013

I absolutely love this story.  Thanks for sharing it.  I have always thought that geese tended to be mean. Perhaps you had an "angel unaware" (Hebrews 13:12) Smile

Errol-Carol Flom

Errol-Carol Flom

Posted at 2:26 pm (U.S. Eastern) 10/22/2013

"We never know who will show up for worship" reminds me of the story of the disheveled man who kept showing up for church. Finally the pastor asked him if he'd like to be baptized and join. He agreed. The next Sunday they met at the river and the pastor dunked the man in the water. He asked "Did you see Jesus?" The man shook his head "no'. The pastor tried again, holding him under longer this time. "Did you see Jesus?" "No", again. As the pastor was about to dunk him im a third time, the man shouted "Are you sure this is where he fell in??"

Karin Johnson

Karin Johnson

Posted at 10:11 am (U.S. Eastern) 10/23/2013

Loved this story!! Almost deleted it because I thought it might refer to that silly, trite, annoying statement I see on bumper stickers.  I'm glad I read it ... brought a smile to my face and a lift to my heart.  I DO BELIEVE that all of God's creatures love Jesus more than we know, and I agree with Marilyn ... that goose may be an angel unaware.

Linda Worden

Linda Worden

Posted at 10:52 am (U.S. Eastern) 10/27/2013

When we change worship around a bit--maybe by worshipping outside, maybe by doing something different during the regular service--we open our minds to new possibilities.  I think the goose was honking this message!

Thanks for the wonderful story.

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February issue


Embracing diversity