Carolin and I were recently called to a meeting with all other ordained pastors of the Michigan area with our new Bishop, Rev.
David Bard. This event was held as a ”get to know each other” time, since Bishop Bard has been our resident bishop for less than a year.
At the worship service, he preached in part on the “Fruits of the Spirit” passage from the book of Galatians, and concluded by telling us pastors that we could do nothing better than living by and teaching these fruits to our congregation. In his opinion, if all of us Christians lived out the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, both the church and the world would be a much better place. The irony in all of this is that we had already decided to cover the Fruits of the Spirit collectively and then individually during a good portion of our summer worship services (beginning on Sunday, June 18th and then in both the Sunday and Wednesday evening services through the end of July). It was good to know that according to our Bishop, we were on the right track!
As I have begun to ponder these ways of living and treating other people, I am realizing even more that Bishop Bard (and Paul before him) was absolutely on target. As I look at the list of the Fruits of the Spirit, I am also understanding once more that for all of us, some are easier to live out than others. After seeing the list again, you may already be asking yourself question like “How am I at being patient when something or someone is slowing me down? How can I ever be kind to that person who drives me absolutely crazy? How am I at showing self-control in the face ofsomething that really tempts me? —on and on the questions go! I am sure that as we address many of these questions in the weeks to come, we will all come to the conclusion that bearing these fruits in our daily life is no easy task. But the truth in all of this is that unlike when we go fruit shopping at the grocery store, when it comes to the Fruits of the Spirit, we can’t pick and choose as to which ones we like the most! May that challenge be an encouragement for you to join with us in worship as we discuss and celebrate these fruits that God has planted within each of us.