Please read Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15.
As we have been focusing on the fruits of the Spirit, it is good to pause and ponder what we mean by “fruitful.” While I love the language of “fruits” when we talk about the gifts of the Spirit, I have not always been a fan of the term “fruitful.” Fruitful means productive and generative, and those are good things, but if you are not productive in the ways we typically think of, or are in a fallow season, the word can feel like an indictment. “Fruitful,” when heard through the ears of a friend experiencing infertility, is not helpful. “Fruitful,” when heard through the ears of a newly disabled worker, is not helpful.
Years ago the congregation I served had a ministry fair. We listed all the ways you could serve on a giant bulletin board: make and serve treats and coffee on Sunday mornings, drive for meals on wheels, tend to the gardens, play games with Sunday School kids, serve at Loaves and Fishes, play in the bell choir, work on minor repairs around the church, or go on retreats with confirmation students. The list was full of ways for people to participate in the life of the church.
I didn’t think twice about the list until a long-term member pulled me aside, pointed to the bulletin board and said, “there isn’t a single thing on this list that I am physically able to do. How can I serve? What does participation look like for someone like me?” Uff da. The narrowness of the vision of what participation looked like hit me like a ton of bricks. This woman before me was one of the most amazing people I knew. Her wisdom, compassion, and insight helped form me in those first few years of ministry. We depended on her leadership in the church when conflict arose or there were divisive issues on the table. She knew the names of all the children and the elders. She was faithful and fruitful.
Psalm 92:12-15 reads,
The righteous flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. In old age they still produce fruit; they are always green and full of sap, showing that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. The righteous produce fruit in old age because they reflect the righteousness and trustworthiness of God. They flourish because they are planted in God’s house. They flourish because their rootedness is in God’s faithfulness. They flourish because they trust that God is the center and source of life. Fruitfulness looks more like the faithfulness of God, rather than a to-do list of physical tasks. May we keep the expansive notion of fruitfulness front and center as we follow the lead of the Spirit.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth
Let us pray:
Lead us, Gracious God, and shape us by the grace of Christ and the inspiration of your Holy Spirit. Open our hearts to expand our understanding of patience and self-control, that we may grow in our ability to reflect your love and grace to those we meet this day. All this we ask in the name of Christ, Amen.