These are the “Fruit” of the Spirit as listed by St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness (generosity), faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
We gave them out on Pentecost Sunday at both morning services…
In practical reality, you and I share these “fruits” with every person (and thing) we meet, all the time, every day! I’m not kidding, it’s true... Each time any one of us is living, moving and being in the sacred (out of our connection with the Holy), we are sharing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is one way of understanding INCARNATION. It’s not about being someone or something different or better than we are, it’s about being fully who we are when we’re CONNECTED!
I know this sounds idealistic, if not unrealistic, but it is not… Reflect back on those moments in your life when you’ve felt honestly and deeply good about yourself (the way you are, the person you are)… For me those moments are the ones where I felt rooted in God (well, I may not have expressed it exactly in that way, but the feeling is exactly like that for me). The amazing thing is that I believe this is happening more and more frequently (actually, I really think I’m simply more aware of it on a smaller scale). I notice when I am being motivated by love, or not. I’m surprised by joy (as C.S. Lewis describes it, not just the person, for his wife’s name was Joy, but by the experience of Joy that The Holy brought to him through her and the changes his love for her wrought), or not. Overwhelmed by a grounding sense of peace (when I take the time to contemplate)…
I’ve also discovered, over and again, that awareness of these fruits, particularly Love, Joy and Peace, motivates the others… its almost as though the internal “flame” of love and joy and peace, with patience, ignite an outer expression of kindness, goodness/generosity, faithfulness and gentleness… and when I’m operating in this mode, or on this plane, self-control grows underneath it all… almost like being empowered to use my talents or gifts more care-fully and more productively. This is often (when I’m paying attention) accompanied by a morphing of time… time seems to take on a an “other-ly” dimension.. Sometimes stretching, sometimes contracting. It kind of like when you have an intense and “passionate” conversation with someone, or a group of people, and all of a sudden you realize much more time has gone by than you were aware of… or paradoxically, only a very short amount of time (like when I’m catching up with an old friend).
In the coming months of Summer, when many of us “feel” more relaxed because “school” is out and it’s “Summer Vacation” (even though we’re still working, or retired)… I encourage you to take some time (it may be more or less than you imagine) to reflect/contemplate the “fruit” of the Spirit… How does Love affect you? Motivate you? Undergird you? How does love, in love’s “unconditionality”, call you to kindness? Patience? Generosity? A deeper sense of the “presence” and “activity” of the Holy?
How and when are you “surprised” by Joy? What calls you “outside” yourself? What motivates the giving you do, at you roots?
Lastly, I challenge you, the congregation of St. Luke’s, to contemplate how the “Fruit” of the Spirit is being expressed corporately among and through us as a congregation? How, and in what directions, are we being “called’ or “led” by love and joy, peace and patience, to the mission of kindness, generosity/goodness, faithfulness and gentleness? To whom are we being sent?
Perhaps, as the angels at the empty tomb directed his own closest followers, we are supposed to live out of the Spirit just where we are, to begin with… In our own neighborhood (it was going back to Galilee for most of the disciples, and “meeting” Jesus there). Being rooted in the Spirit just where we are first and then simply seeing where that leads... And in the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus says to his friends, directly before being taken “out of their sight”, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We are witnesses to the incarnation of the Holy; first in the familiar (Jerusalem), and also the unfamiliar (Samaria), and then everywhere (the ends of the earth).