Wondering Wednesday – the fruit of the Spirit

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Joyce Rupp’s writing has been immensely nourishing for me and this post in her most recent newsletter seems most apt for the week of Pentecost. I sometimes pray for whatever fruit I feel I need most on a particular day, this reminds me that I need to do that more often.

Activating the Fruits of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
(Gal5:22)

Come, Spirit, assure us that the turbulent animosity and violence of this era can be lessened when we choose to express your love
in all we are and all we do.

Come, Spirit, plant an emergent joy in the hearts of those who
seek relief from the despondency of drug dependency and thoughts of suicide.

Come, Spirit, weave your peace through leaders of nations whose governance supports and encourages domination and superiority over other human beings.

Come, Spirit, slow us down when we lack patience to be with those persons whose pain and sorrow would benefit from our compassionate presence.

Come, Spirit, soothe our soreness of mind and heart with surprising touches of kindness that restore our ability to be
caring and considerate of others.

Come, Spirit, open our hands and hearts to go beyond a fear of scarcity, to share generously from what might be of assistance to those in need.

Come, Spirit, draw back home to faithfulness anyone who has strayed from vowed commitment and become lost in the illusion of self-centeredness.

Come, Spirit, awaken those who consider gentleness of heart as a weakness; help them see how this virtue reflects your grace-filled, transforming strength.

Come, Spirit, tame our sanctimonious voices with self-control when we get caught in judgmental opinions filled with haughty condemnation.

Rushing Breath of Love, you came into the Upper Room of the disciples long ago, calming their fears, encouraging their vision, and enlivening their ability to be people of valor, compassion and healing.

You come into the Inner Room of our lives today, offering us this same transforming love. Open what is closed within us. Breathe renewed confidence into our fatigued spirits. Send us forth with a passionate desire to be conveyors of your goodness, messengers of unconditional love by the way we think, speak and act. Amen.

Abundant peace,

Joyce Rupp

Go the distance – on earth as it is in heaven

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This picture is me in a t shirt I bought at the Grand Canyon – on earth as it is in heaven. This week I want to explore the relationship between our life now and our life to come as part of my reflection on how life and ministry work best.

One of the attitudes I have about my life is that I would want to live the Christian life, even if heaven did not exist.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe heaven does exist and I am hoping to go! (I am not sure what we will all be doing though – a thought for a future blog).  My point for this reflection is that my purpose and motivation for why I live my life with the values and practices of Christianity is that it seems to me to be the best way to live as a human being. I understand that some people’s lives here on Earth are so hard, that the promised hope of a future life of justice and peace is what they need to trust in. I do not mean to z this hope and belief, I have seen and personally experienced enough to get it. For my life today, following a loving God, seeking to live out the fruit of the Spirit in my life and acting in ways which help to see God’s kingdom come here on earth are joys and purpose enough that might make my t shirt a prophetic statement not a fashion statement!

Wondering Wednesday – Tomorrow starts the night before or the hour of questions

cornwall-2011-071.jpgMany of my heroes as a child and young person were from the world of sport. One of them was also a poet, John Snow, the Sussex and England cricketer. Thirty plus years on I can still remember the beginning of the first poem of his I ever read called The Lord’s Test:

Tomorrow starts the night before

lying looking through the blackness

wondering about the hidden day

’til falling forward trackless

unknowing down the slope,

you’re sitting in it,

you and hope…                                                                                                                                                                                    

This poem resonates with me so much as I have often had concerns about tomorrow, the night before. Usually without any real reason, most of my days don’t hold anything scarier than teaching, meetings, church or study which are nothing compared with the challenges faced by so many.

So why does tomorrow start the night before so often?  Perhaps because it reminds me to commit my day to God and be aware of the work of the Holy Spirit in my life leading and guiding me. Perhaps because I don’t always have the confidence that past evidence suggests I should have in my own capacity. Perhaps even because I have become a habitual reflective practitioner and know that processing things before, during and after they happen can help me learn, understand and apply.

Tomorrow can also be early today as this quotation from Chaim Potok’s The Book of Lights so eloquently describes:

This was the hour he had learned to dread, the hour of questions.  No time of the day or night seemed so filled with the weight of darkness as this hour before the twilight of morning when there hovered about him what he had come to call the four o’clock in the morning questions…

Whether before we fall asleep or when we wake up very early thoughts can race around our head distracting and sometimes distressing us.  This is not helpful!

But I need to remind myself that tomorrow there is hope, there is love, there is joy, there is peace along with other fruit of the Spirit and that those things are real even if there are some days I only fleetingly experience them.  I am helped with this by spending some time with God every morning sitting in a chair looking out over the garden.  I see the birds and am reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6 when he encourages us to look at the birds of the air and see how God feeds them.  The passage then goes on to say “And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” I know the answer to this is no, but that doesn’t always stop me from doing it.  Tomorrow starts the night before but that can also mean the excitement and anticipation of a new day, a new experience, a new challenge to be faced with the hope that faith in God can bring.

References:  John Snow,  Moments and Thoughts,  Kaye and Ward, 1973.