As I was backpacking through Yosemite this past week with Rick Oldenkamp and his friends, I was thinking many times about faithfulness, the seventh fruit of the Spirit named in Galatians 5. What does it mean to have faith? And what does it mean to be a faithful person, one who exemplifies faithfulness? Two weeks ago, I described goodness as love in action. Similarly, I believe that faithfulness is love that endures all things as I Corinthians 13:7 puts it. The faithful person is dependable and trustworthy even when things are difficult. We are blessed to have such people in our lives. For the faithful ones in our midst, let us give thanks. With God’s help, may we all be faithful people!
When you receive these eNotes, I will be on my way to Yosemite where I will be backpacking for six days with Rick Oldenkamp and four of his friends. I’ve never been backpacking before and have never been to Yosemite, so I am looking forward to this adventure and to experiencing this astoundingly beautiful part of God’s creation up close and personal.
This Sunday when I’m away my wife Carol will preach and serve communion. She brings a wealth of experience as a Presbyterian minister and seminary professor, having served on the faculties of Union Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia, Princeton Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, and Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Come, hear her message titled, “It was the best of advice; It was the worst of advice.”
Goodness is the sixth fruit that the Spirit of God wants to grow in our lives. How is goodness related to the other fruits of the Spirit we have looked at so far – love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness? What does it mean to be “good”? Actually the better question is: how can we be a source of goodness in the lives of those around us? For goodness is an active quality that does good, and creates good in the lives of others. According to Ephesians 2:10, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.” I invite you to think about that!
p.s. And don’t forget that we will be singing the songs and hymns that you all requested this Sunday.
When the apostle Paul is describing what love is in 1 Corinthians 13, the first thing he says is “Love is patient. Love is kind.”Last Sunday we looked at patience.This coming Sunday we will explore kindness.Kindness is a gift we can give to others that usually costs us very little.And no matter what our life situation, simple human kindness makes it better.So I invite you to Try a Little Kindness.
In the past weeks we have looked at the “big three” fruits of the Spirit – Love, Joy, and Peace. We light candles for each of these qualities in our wreaths each Advent season. But the fourth fruit, PATIENCE, is also incredibly important though often sadly lacking in our lives. I know that in my own life, impatience has often gotten in the way of my showing love or experiencing joy and peace. Yet in in 1 Corinthians 13, his great chapter on love, the first thing the apostle Paul says is “Love is patient.” This coming Sunday, July 14, we will ponder the importance of patience and consider how we can cultivate this wonderful quality in our lives.
This Sunday, July 7, we will ponder PEACE, the third fruit of the Spirit that the apostle Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23. Jesus said in John 14:27 that we should not let our hearts be troubled, because through the Spirit he will give us a peace that the world cannot give. And the apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Peace Not of this World, what a priceless gift God offers us! Will you open your hearts and minds to receive it?
After love, the fruit of the Spirit that the apostle lists next in Galatians 5:22-23 is JOY. There are many verses in Scripture that promise joy and invite God’s people to rejoice. This Sunday, June 30, will be looking at Philippians 4:4-13, a passage which links joy to peace, contentment, and strength for living. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” You will be glad that did. Joy makes life more than just existing. May we open our hearts to receive the joy that the Spirit of God wants to give us.
“Live by the Spirit”, “Be led, be guided by the Spirit” and you will live a fruitful life.The Spirit of God desires to produce wonderful, life-giving qualities within and among us. The first of the first of these delicious “fruits” listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is LOVE. Earlier in Galatians 5:6 the apostle states clearly, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through LOVE.”Love is a good summary for all that God wants from us and for us. Love is “the ONLY thing that counts. . . “ Think about that. Is it really that simple?
This coming Sunday, June 16, I begin a new summer sermon series titled A Fruitful Life that will explore the nine fruits of the Spirit that the apostle Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-24, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” However, before we get to these wonderful qualities that God wants to grow in our lives, we need to be aware of the alternative, a life guided not by the Spirit but by the Flesh (Sarx in the Greek). When Paul speaks of the Flesh (sarx) he does not mean to limit it to bodily desires, but to the whole of human nature, apart from God. So in Galatians 5:13 the NRSV translates this word sarx by “self-indulgence”; other translations use “sinful nature”. I like Richard Rohr’s choice of “ego” or “small self”. But the point is that our default human perspective leads to all sorts of personal and social problems and vices. We see this happening in our world today with destructive results. So this Sunday I will explore The Self-Indulgence Trap. Then in coming weeks, we will taste, enjoy and be nourished by the delicious fruits of the Spirit of God.
This coming Sunday, June 9th, is Pentecost Sunday. On this day each year we remember the dramatic story from Acts 2 where the Spirit came upon the early Christians, accompanied by the sound of wind and a vision of tongues of fire, empowering them to speak and understand diverse languages. You are invited to wear red, yellow or orange to recall how the Spirit appeared on that day. On this Pentecost we will also reflect on Jesus’ prediction in John 14:8-17 of the coming of the Spirit as God’s indwelling presence in each of us. And we will ponder his surprising claim in v.12 that through the Spirit his followers will do even greater works than he did.