The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
~ Galatians 5: 22-23
Dear People of St. David’s,
I hope that you are enjoying these beautiful late spring days when God’s creation has come alive once again after winter and everything is green and lush. As the program year has come to a close, so has our celebration of the completion of the Trinity. It has unfolded as it always does with God (always with us), the birth of Jesus at Christmas, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. There is a cyclical rhythm to our observances, and Trinity Sunday marks our attempt to say, “These Three are One.”
In planning for the Family Service on Trinity Sunday, Emily Given and I mused about how we might make the gift of the Holy Spirit more vivid to our congregation. On Pentecost, the previous week, we had celebrated with tongues of fire hanging “in the air.” It’s fine to see the tongues of fire, but what happened to the people when those tongues touched their heads? What did the Holy Spirit impart? How could we appreciate a gift that might be invisible? Isn’t a gift something that comes in a box, that one unwraps?
We got nine small gold boxes and placed a card inside each one with the nine fruits of the Spirit, as listed above. For a little more suspenseful discovery, we tied a ribbon around each gift. The children were excited to open the boxes, and as we opened each one, we asked them if they knew what that “fruit” meant. Some of the fruits proved a little difficult, and we sent the child who had opened that gift off to consult with their grownups. They came back to the group with further elucidation.
What was unexpected is that the children wanted to keep the gifts. I’m not sure why I was surprised, because the whole point of a gift is that one gives it away. And no one asked to trade. The child who got “Self-Control” did not ask to have “Love” instead! What was fascinating was to hear parents and children deciding where they might put the card when they got home. On the refrigerator, on a bulletin board, on a pillow? Might it be a nightly reminder, at prayer time?
All of us have received those same gifts. We have wound down our year of “Faith Matters.” Where shall we focus over the summer? Before a new yearly theme springs forth next fall, what about considering the fruits of the Spirit, the gifts given to all of us at Pentecost? Some of the gifts are harder than others. Self-control trips us all up, as does patience. Perhaps it would help to think of these as gifts, rather than qualities we strive to exhibit. A gift comes in a shiny box with a ribbon, we are excited about opening it, and once we open it, we decide where to put it. Then we use it.
Have fun this summer! Unwrap love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. They are wonderful gifts, and when we miss the mark, the Spirit gives us another shiny box, another try, as we amend our lives and move on.
The Rev. Elizabeth W. Colton