31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
June 11, 2023
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Years ago, I received this little box as a gift. Inside of it are nine little coins with words on them: Courage, Luck, Love, Strength, Wisdom, Hope, Confidence, Patience, and Inspiration. Often, when I am getting ready in the morning, I pull one out. The gift came with no instructions however I’ve always just felt like the word that I choose sets the intention for my day. Will I need luck? Will I be called upon to have wisdom or patience? Is it a day for hope?
Although it didn’t come in a little box, you have also been given a gift. You have been given gifts from the Holy Spirit, gifts of the Holy Spirit. The New Revised Standard translation lists the gifts, the fruits of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. (Galatians 5:22-23, NRSV). The Message translation is a bit more wordy, and yet, I think gives us a fuller sense of what these gifts mean in our lives: “affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity…. a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people, …[and] loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” (Galatians 5:22-23, The Message).
Sometimes, when we see or hear a list, we automatically think ‘to do list’. I need to work on my affection for others. I need more patience and the willingness to stick with things. My kindness and generosity, my sense of compassion need more work.
The fruits of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, are not a list of what you need to do more. The gifts of the Spirit are exactly that, a gift – to you – from God- through the Holy Spirit.
They are freely given to you. No strings attached. They have already been given to you. You don’t need to earn them, strive for them, work on them. They are a gift, given to you in love.
In the same way that we have already been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to be our helper and friend, to guide and support us through this journey of life, so too, we have already been given the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Take a deep breath and notice. The gifts of the Spirit are already inside your mind, inside your heart, inside your soul. They are already yours. A gift.
And like a gift box of chocolates, you could just keep these gifts of the Spirit all for yourself; however they are better shared. There is a reason why the Apostle Paul calls them fruits of the Spirit – because they flower; they grow; they multiple and bear fruit.
In the same way that these gifts pour forth from the Spirit into our lives, they overflow from our lives into the lives of others.
Throughout these summer months of worship, I’ll share more about how the gifts of the Spirit make our lives better, change our lives for the better, and how the gifts of the Spirit bear fruit in our lives, making others’ lives better. Don’t worry if you miss one, all of these messages will be posted together on FCC Bristol’s Youtube channel so you can watch them anytime. Perhaps even share them on so others might hear the good news of the Spirit’s gifts to them.
Some of these spiritual gifts are going to be so familiar and well used that you could not imagine your life without them. Other gifts of the Spirit might be lying forgotten in the back of a closet and needing some dusting off, and still others, you might be saying, “Nope, I don’t have those. I’ve never gotten them.”
You have though. Each and every person has been blessed with the Holy Spirit, blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, blessed with the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The world would like to tell us otherwise; however we have all been gifted with these blessings, and we have all been invited by God to live a different life, a life led by the Spirit, a life filled with the Spirit, a life that is so much more.
Life in the Spirit is brighter, freer, fuller, better, more meaningful. As the Apostle Paul writes to the Christian community in Galatia, when we live God’s way, when we live in the Spirit, God blesses us with the ability to love and be in authentic relationship with others. God blesses us with joy, with exuberance, with the awareness that our world is full of delightful things like singing birds and ice cream, art and fluffy dogs.
When we live in the Spirit, we are blessed with peace, calm, serenity – in this world that is anything but. We are blessed with compassion and kindness and generosity even in those moments when we have no idea where those emotions came from, in those moments when we are exhausted, overwhelmed, and at our wits end. Somehow the Spirit comes to us and bears the fruit of faithfulness, helping us to know, to feel that God’s Spirit is in all, God’s love is upon all. Melting our frozen hearts, calming our angry minds.
And when the way of the world is to give up, to throw out, to move on, God’s spirit blesses us with patience, gentleness and self-control, the ability to stick with things, to be loyal, not needing to force our way in relationships or in life. Instead, being able to direct our energies wisely and use our tremendous talents to make the world a better place.
These are the gifts of the Spirit. These are the fruit of the Spirit. This is life in the Spirit.
Throughout these summer months, when we are inspired by the renewal happening in nature, where in New England at least, we have more daylight hours and more opportunities to be outside and we transition to a different rhythm for life, throughout these summer months, I invite you to set a daily or weekly intention using the gifts of the Spirit.
Will you be inspired by those who are diligently and faithfully watering and weeding the First Fruit garden that will produce vegetables for our food insecure neighbors? Will you pause to notice a flower, to delight in laughter, to bless and be blessed by the gift of silliness? Will you begin to notice the kindness, the patience that strangers have for one another at the Farmer’s market, in the airport, at the grocery store?
Each day, each week, I invite you to choose one of the gifts of the Spirit and set it as your intention. Notice how that gift is present in your life, present in your heart. Consider how that gift makes your life better. Take note of how that gift bears fruit in your life, making others’ lives better.
In love, God created us. In love, God gave us the gift of Jesus Christ. In love, God blessed us with the Holy Spirit, a helper, an advocate, a friend. And through the Holy Spirit, God has given us to gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
God has given us all of these fruits of the Spirit, these gifts of the Spirit as a blessing, a blessing to us, a blessing to others, a blessing to the world.