Dear Church family,
This Sunday we begin a 5-week sermon series on the fruits of the Spirit. The listing of the particular fruits the Spirit gives is found in Galatians 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

There is a song I often sing with our Hobson preschoolers that goes like this,
“Oh, the fruit of the Spirit’s not a lemon!
Oh, the fruit of the Spirit’s not a lemon!
If you want to be a lemon, you might as well hear it:
you can’t be a fruit of the Spirit!”

When we sing the word “lemon” we all pucker our faces like we are tasting something sour. The kids love it, mostly because the song ends with a stomping chant of the list of the Spirit’s fruits. What we cover with the heading of “lemon” in the song is actually a litany of terrible sins Paul lists just before he lists the fruits of the Spirit. Paul wrote that he could see sinful fruit all around him. He included in this list of sins immorality, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions and disputes. After this list, Paul shares the fruit we have from the Spirit, the fruit that works in opposition to the sinful fruit.

It is this same impulse which has led Phil and me to begin this series. We would have to live in a bubble or underground to not see the evidence of this terrible list all around us. Specifically, so many of us have been troubled, angered, divided and embittered by the upcoming presidential elections, and that makes this list of sinful fruit seem even more ever-present.

It is our hope and prayer that, in these coming weeks, we can focus instead on our calling as Christians. Our calling, to quote Paul, is a call “to freedom…to, through love, serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). And that freedom to serve grows and spreads the Spirit’s fruit. It is this fruit that our neighbors need more of right now, not the lemons. It is this Spirit fruit that we ourselves need more of right now too! We are called to show this kind of fruit in the world: not strife but peace; not anger but love; not jealousy but joy.

There is plenty of the other to go around but there can never be enough Spirit fruit. May our prayer today be that we will be joy and patience, gentleness and goodness; and leave the lemons at home.

Christ’s peace be with you all,