IS THIS OUR MASCOT? John 1:29-42
The geoduck (pronounced “gooey-duck”) is among the world’s largest clams, weighing up to three pounds on average. It is so large it cannot fit into its own shell. It is an odd animal. Most people would not think about the geoduck as a powerful symbol, but there is a college in the Northwest which has it as their mascot.
The school is Evergreen State College. One of the only places Geoducks are found is in the Puget Sound, so they are unique and special to the area around the college. Their website explains the story behind why they chose this odd animal to be the symbol of their school.
The name “goo-ee duck” comes from a Native American word meaning “to dig deep.” The school says they want their students to “dig deep” like the clam, into their studies. They want their students to learn about and protect the environment. The goo-ee-duck is an important part of their environment—an adult clam can filter about 30 gallons of water every day. The clam is also a non-aggressive symbol. Evergreen does not use competition to push academic achievement. Instead of grades, the college uses evaluations and an environment that encourages students to help each other rather than compete for the highest rank and grade.
When you know the story behind the symbol of the college, it makes more sense. The same is true when it comes to our Christian faith. We have a lot of symbols that may be hard to understand at first, until you learn the stories behind them.
For example, you’ll hear John the Baptist call Jesus the “lamb of God” in the reading on Sunday. A lamb is a baby sheep. A lamb may seem odd to be the mascot of Christians because it is not a very powerful animal, but there is a story in the Bible about a sheep who got lost and Jesus says that he is like a good shepherd that looks and looks until he finds the sheep. So the symbol of a sheep reminds us that when we feel lost, God will find us. It was also the Passover lamb that became a symbol of God leading the Israelites out of slavery into freedom. So calling Jesus the “lamb” reminds us how God frees us from sin.
What are some of the symbols of the Christian faith that have seemed odd to you? What are symbols of the Christian faith you would like to learn more about? Can learning more about the symbols we use help us explain our faith better to others?
-Pastor Erik Goehner