Geese in Church


A true story
Thou shalt give heed unto all his words … which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them (D&C 21:4).

Oliver DeMille liked to go to church with his parents on Sundays because church was held outdoors. Nauvoo had no church buildings yet, so for sacrament meetings, the Prophet Joseph Smith met with the Saints in one of the groves of trees. People sat on plank benches, on blankets on the ground, or in their wagons or carriages. Speakers had to shout sometimes, especially when wind rustled through the trees.

One warm summer Sunday, Oliver, about thirteen, was trying to listen to Joseph Smith preach. The Prophet said that he had had a revelation, and he began to tell it to the people.

“Just then,” Oliver said, “a flock of geese flew over where the meeting was held.” The geese made honking noises, “and most of the people turned their eyes to look.” Oliver did not look but “kept my eyes on the prophet.”

Joseph Smith was concerned because the people turned their attention from him to the geese. He said, “If you care more for the quacking of a wild goose than for the revelations of the Almighty God, I’ve no more to say to you at present.” He stopped preaching and sat down. The people did not get to hear about the revelation that he wanted to share with them.

Oliver was disappointed. But he remembered the lesson the Prophet taught that day—we should pay attention whenever the servants of God speak to us.

[illustration] Illustrated by Mark Robison