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.
We celebrate the Lord’s Supper, also known as Communion or the Eucharist, on the first Sunday of every month. This Sunday, June 2, my message, A More Meaningful Communion, will explore the multiple meanings of what we are doing when we participate in this sacrament. Our scripture texts will be John 6:48-51,60 and 1 Corinthians 11:17-33. I invite you to open your hearts and minds up to the grace of God offered to you in Word and Sacrament.
In John 15:12-17, Jesus tells his disciples that they are his friends, not just his servants. Friendship includes sharing and upholding common values, but living out those values is motivated and shaped by love and not by fear. Love leads even to a willingness to sacrifice oneself for one’s friends. How do you feel about having such a friend in Jesus, and with others he calls friend?
This Sunday we will read and reflect on the story of Thomas found in John 20:19-31. Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them on Easter evening. And he has trouble accepting their story. For this reason he has been called “doubting” Thomas. I think this is unfair. My message is titled Faithful Doubt.