Offices of Morning/Evening Prayer for the Weekend of 29 June 2019/Parish of Strait Chedabucto, Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island
II Kings 2:1-2, 6-14; Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62
Collect of the Day (Book of Alternative Services)
You have taught us through your Son
That love fulfils the law.
May we love you with all our heart,
All our soul, all our mind, and all our strength,
And may we love our neighbour as ourselves;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever.
By now some of you may know that I once worked in the church as a musician. It was during that time that Genevieve (not her real name) came barreling up to me and out of the blue enthusiastically said, “I want to donate a piece of music called ‘The Fruits of the Spirit’ to the choir if you’ll have them sing it.” Now, at the time, I did not know Genevieve. But, I was about to get to know her.
This was Genevieve’s first Sunday at our church. She and her husband John (not his real name) came to us from another part of the country. He had just retired as a priest and the couple had just moved to be closer to their children and grandchild.
But, as I got to know the couple, I learned why the fruit of the Spirit was so important to Genevieve. And, whenever I hear this passage from Galatians, I think of Genevieve and John.
Genevieve had a good upbringing. Like so many of her friends, she fell in love and married young. Sadly, as sometime happens, her marriage was not one that led to greater freedom that allowed for the fruit of the Spirit to easily bubble up. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Those were challenging times. And, I suppose that it challenged the worse that Genevieve could have become – “conceited, competing, envying” – to use the words of Galatians.
Somehow, Genevieve found the courage to embrace her higher nature. And, she prayed. She prayed that her circumstances would not be the last word. She prayed, asking God to bring her to a place where she might live out loud the freedom that was in her heart. She knew this because of what God had already accomplished in her through her faith in Jesus. And, in the midst of really tough days, she didn’t stop believing. She didn’t stop trusting God beyond her circumstances at that time.
Some time passed, and she met John. John, too, had a similar experience. Genevieve and John found the love in one another that had previously been missing from their earlier lives. Each recognized the fruit of the Spirit in the other. And, on their wedding day a choir sang the music that she was offering to me – “The Fruit of the Spirit.” By the time that we sang it, Genevieve was singing in the choir. For as long as I knew her, she had a glow about her. And, especially on that day, she glowed with the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
I suppose that each of us can think of someone that we’ve known that reminds us of the fruit of the Spirit. Take some time this weekend and give thanks for their witness.
Their witness reminds us that, through faith in Jesus Christ, there is freedom to be offered freely for all people. To accept this freedom in Christ asks something of us. To accept this freedom requires that we do not refuse Jesus when he comes.
In Luke’s Gospel, we hear about a village that refuses to receive him. Notice. The disciples are quick to judge them. James and John want to call down fire from heaven. Jesus, though, does not judge the village for refusing him. He does, however, rebuke James and John for wanting to destroy the village.
This is an example of how Jesus comes – seeking and available – if he will be received, he will enter and dwell.
This Gospel reminds us that Jesus is not one to refuse an opening; neither, does the Spirit, as we heard in Galatians.
It’s like Genevieve.
She discovered that when we live by the Spirit, we are guided by the Spirit. She and John gave witness to this in all that came to them in their lives together.
Not long after I first met Genevieve, she began to show rapid signs of decline. The cause was not immediately clear. In fact, it took many tests and trips away to specialists to determine what was happening. Genevieve was diagnosed with an extremely rare type of dementia. Her treatments were progressive from that point to time in a dementia unit. But, as the disease progressed there was something about Genevieve that – changed, yes – but didn’t disappear. In her, you could still see the presence of the fruit of the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against those things.
I say this to you in the name of the One, True God: +Father, Son and Holy Spirit.