Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fruits of the Spirit - Proper 8C

Last week we discussed the Demons in our lives – some of which are cute and cuddly – they keep us company in our darkness.  Others are scary and terrify us in the dark.  We all struggle with our demons – struggle to keep them in chains and guarded - so I encouraged you all to name those in your life.  I asked you to think about what you use to numb yourself from the pain of everyday stuff and to think about what else you could be using that time and energy for to help bring about the Kingdom, in this community, in this city, in the world. 

Today’s Galatians reading is one of my favorites.  Probably in my top three as far as my own personal piety goes.  I LOVE how exacting Paul is in this.  He is very clear to name some common demons: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissentions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.  We all know THOSE people don’t we?  Those for whom any of these demons is a Stance in life – how they approach every single day and every single issue.  “I’m warning you…those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” 

There’s the plumb line for us.  Paul sets it up and gives us guidance as we travel through our own every day lives.  Don’t follow THOSE people – their passion may be impressive and infectious, but if that’s all they have, they are not on the right track.

On the other side of that plumb line, Paul tells us what to look for in our own lives, in our leaders, in our institutions: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  This is a real way to discern a way forward in our lives.  These are commonly called the Fruits of the Spirit.  If a spiritual practice helps to grow these fruits in your own life – keep doing it!  It a person’s life looks more like this than what’s on the other side of that line, look to them for guidance.  If an organization or institution’s reactions to events look like this, they might be on the right track!

I love this because it is clear and precise in a way that my life usually isn’t.  I don’t know about you, but it can be very difficult to figure out which news to believe, which causes to get behind, which people to hear.  This plumb line of Paul’s is very helpful to me when I lay my head down to sleep on my pillow each night and ponder the day’s events as I drift off to sleep. 

Maybe now if you have named your demons, you may look at your life – what are your fruits?  What is your daily stance toward life?  People are naturally drawn to those who display the fruits.  As I look at that list again, I can picture the great mystics, the peaceful protesters, those we admire so much: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela…all are not even Christian, yet they draw us in and fascinate us.  They display these Fruits - and to us they are irresistible.  They help us imagine how we, too, can embody the Fruits of the Spirit and become irresistible to those around us.  They help us to envision how we can help to usher in the Kingdom of God. 

As you go from here today, I pray that you will ponder your own plumb line and where you are in this continuum.  Next week, the Gospel leads us into that next step - there's your teaser.  Be here and see what's next.  Amen.

Until I figure out how to embed it better, the podcast of this sermon is on the player on the right margin for any who would like to listen.

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Please be graceful with me and others!