The "Fruit of the Spirit" we discover in the New Testament letter to the Galatians 5:22 are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." I have the most trouble with the last, mostly from using my hands to put too much food into my mouth! I chose this scripture verse since this is the weekend that many Christians celebrate the Christian feast of Pentecost.
The second chapter of the book of Acts tells us that the disciples were all gathered in one place on the Jewish Festival of Pentecost (Shavu'ot, the Festival of Weeks, a time of harvesting the first fruits and giving them back to God and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai) "and suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability."
I believe that the Spirit gives each of us gifts that we are to use in both dramatic and quiet ways, but ways living into the nine words from Galatians. So I want to share a story that I believe contains all of these fruits of the spirit. It is a story that was shared recently by David Colin Jones, bishop in residence in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.
"I saw an extraordinary example of self-giving love in a visit to a Sioux reservation in South Dakota. One Sunday afternoon I had the privilege of attending a powwow on a reservation. The powwow was actually a "giveaway." The tradition in that culture was to honor a departed relative by giving gifts to others in memory of the diseased. The family hosting the powwow had been preparing for a year to give away as much as they could to show their love and respect for the deceased?
Sitting near me was a young couple with a baby. They obviously were tourists and had happened upon the powwow shortly after I had arrived. The family hosting the giveaway noticed the young couple. Without even being introduced, a member of the family walked over to them and presented a hand-made baby quilt. It had obviously taken hours and hours to prepare. It was beautiful. Needless to say, the two young parents were absolutely astounded. Their eyes filled with tears. They had never before experienced that kind of generosity. They had just happened upon the powwow, attracted by the sound of the drums. They had not expected to receive anything.
For a moment that Sunday afternoon, the young couple experienced a glimpse of the extravagant generosity of God. They caught a fleeting glimpse of giving for the sake of giving - giving with no expectation of receiving something in return.
Such is the Christian story - the giving of God's son for the purposes of God. It is in that spirit that we give and that we serve.
Where is your love being channeled today? Whom will you serve? How has the Holy Spirit given you love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? In what ways are you an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit that is in your heart, mind and soul? Where is the Spirit in the story of your life?
- Wagner-Pizza is canon and provost of Trinity Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Williamsport.