Wednesday 18 July 2007

Wild Geese

Tonight over coffee I read Steve Chalke's newest book, Intelligent Church. I only read the first chapter as I was slightly distracted (see below). However, I was struck by a short passage in the book which is a paraphrase of a story of Soren Kierkegaard.

Sorenn Kierkegaard, the famous Danish Christian philosopher, grew up in the countryside surrounded by farms that reared geese (among other animals). Each spring he would watch as a new gaggle of goslings was hatched and began to be fattened for the table. Over the course of their short lives these geese would gorge themselves at constantly refilled troughs of grain until they were so fat they could hardly walk. He imagined that they believed their lives to be perfect, as every need they had was catered in abundance.

When autumn came, the truth became apparent. The wild geese that had spent the warm summer months in Denmark would gather in preparation for their southerly migration. As they assembled to fly south they would circle in the skies above the farms, calling out to any stragglers to join in their flight. At this point the farmed geese would lift their heads from the feeding troughs and look into the skies, heeding the call of their wild cousins. For the first time in their lives they would become animated, running as best they could around their enclosures and attempting to fly. Of course, their gluttonous diet and life of luxury meant that they were far too fat to get airborne - but still they would try. And then, as quickly as the commotion had started, the wild geese would fly off and the fattened farm geese would watch them briefly before returning to their grain to continue eating their way to their deaths.

Kierkegaard's parable poses a powerful challenge to our local churches. Are we farmed geese or wild geese?

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