By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26
You may have a favorite local fruit and vegetable stand near your home, or on a route you tend to travel on frequently. How thankful Jackie and I are for only being less than 10 minutes from Poor Boys Produce & Vegetable in Bellcross, right next door to the bakery. Many of us are blessed to have fruit and vegetable stands along our roads throughout the Beacon District and I am so thankful for the fresh bounty that’s spread out before us as we consider what to place in our baskets.
Prior to my appointment in Laurinburg at Saint Luke UMC (where I was sent after serving four years at the Currituck Charge), Rev. Mack McMillan spent a lunchtime conversation with me about the ministry he enjoyed while serving this community for a season. I remember Mack describing his love for the people of Saint Luke and the joy of serving the Laurinburg community. He was so eager to share about the kindness and generosity of the people, where folks were striving to live out the gospel. What a tremendous blessing Pastor Mack was to me, encouraging me as I was soon to become the next pastor to serve these faithful people.
When I arrived at Saint Luke about a month after that lunchtime meeting, they had a banner with the Fruit of the Spirit passage from Galatians. It was such a colorful banner that reminded us of Paul’s words of how a life in the Spirit would bear fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
In John Wesley’s sermon, The First Fruits of the Spirit, he shares this reflection about the Fruit of the Spirit: These are they who indeed “walk after the Spirit.” Being filled with faith and with the holy Ghost, they possess in their hearts, and show forth in their lives, in the whole course of their words and actions, the genuine fruits of the Spirit of God, namely, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance,” and whatsoever else is lovely or praiseworthy. “They adorn in all things the gospel of God our Saviour”; and give full proof to all mankind, that they are indeed actuated by the same Spirit “which raised up Jesus from the dead.” (http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-8-the-first-fruits-of-the-spirit/)
I really like the word Wesley uses in the last sentence – actuate. The Spirit causes us, motivates us to act in certain ways. Ways that are full of those listed by Paul. It was this Spirit that consumed Pastor Mack in his pastoral ministry, as he made time to speak with a young clergy member heading into a new appointment.
This week across our connection, some churches will be transitioning pastors. We praise God for the seasons of ministry shared between churches and pastors, and anticipate these days of new beginnings. Following the example of Pastor Mack, there will be opportunities for all of us to practice love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
We thank God for the ministry these pastors shared with their churches:
Sam Swinney (Anderson), Benny Oakes (First: Elizabeth City), David Clift (Moyock), and John Check (Robersonville)
We thank God for these pastors/laypersons serving in new places:
Reggie Ponder, Jr. (Anderson), Carmen Liliana Castillo-Africano (Cedar Grove), Jim Jones, Jr. (First: Elizabeth City), Eric Lindblade (Moyock), David Jenkins, Jr. (Robersonville) and Jason Villegas (remaining at Murfreesboro and serving as Director of Youth Ministries for the Annual Conference)
Whether we are welcoming new pastors, celebrating visitors to our places of worship, sharing a greeting with our neighbor, or speaking with someone in the checkout line, let us, as Rev. Wesley said, “indeed [be] actuated by the same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead.”
See you at the fruit and vegetable stands,