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Living a good life 1

To introduce the fruits of the Spirit series of Assemblies and discover what the fruits of the Spirit are.

by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5

Aims

To introduce the fruits of the Spirit series of Assemblies and discover what the fruits of the Spirit are.

Preparation and materials

  • Optional: Nine fruit-shaped cards for each of the nine ‘fruits of the spirit’ (see Section 6) or as a series of PowerPoint slides.

Assembly

  1. This assembly begins a series of assemblies about the ‘fruits’ or ‘gifts of the Spirit’. This selection of fruits comes not from a tree, but is from the Bible. It is written about in St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians and is among the earliest of Paul’s letters. The Epistles can be found in the New Testament (Galatians 5).
  2. Let us start by setting the piece of writing in its context. Galatia – which is where the Galatians, the people to whom this letter was sent, lived – cannot be found today. However, what we do know is that it was probably in the central part of what is now southern Turkey. The Galatians whom the letter addresses were a Church; a new fledgling group of Christians set up by St Paul on his many travels to far away lands.
  3. St Paul is an amazing figure in the religious history of Christianity. He began his religious life as a Jew and became an ardent persecutor of the new faith on account of what he saw as the danger that it posed to Judaism. He is mentioned by the author of the The Acts of the Apostles as being present at the martyrdom of St Stephen. Saul, as he was then known, has a very dramatic experience while travelling on the road to Damascus. He has a vision of Christ, who asks why Saul is persecuting him, and then he loses his sight for three days, until it is miraculously restored. Saul then converted to Christianity, changed his name to the Greek version – Paul – and became one of the most, if not the most, influential missionary and developer of doctrine that Christianity ever had.
  4. Once this background is known, it is easy to see why Paul was writing about the fruits of the Spirit. He was an ardent believer in the Spirit of God’s power to change, direct and alter a person’s life.
  5. So, what are these fruits or gifts?

    When the Spirit of God starts changing someone, that change shows as a growth in character, an alteration in his or her way of life that is good for the people he or she lives among. This change in temperament is called a ‘fruit of the Spirit’, like the fruit grown by a tree, which can feed people and wildlife. From ancient times to today, abundant fruit from an orchard is seen as cause for hope and celebration.
  6. Altogether, there are nine fruits. They are as follows (you may like to have volunteers to hold up the fruit-shaped cards with the name on or use the PowerPoint slides):

    Love – caritas/agape

    Joy – gaudium

    Peace – pax

    Patience – longanimitas

    Kindness – benignitas

    Goodness – bonitas

    Faithfulness – fides

    Gentleness – mansuetudo

    Self-control – continentia
  7. This list is clearly not intended as an exhaustive description of the fruits, but was given to highlight the fruits that Paul wants the Galatian Church, and today the wider Church, to keep in mind. It is important to have an image here too. What gives us the gifts is God’s Spirit, and whether you view that using the Christian image of a dove or, as some Christians like to see it, as a wind – something that you cannot see but that you can feel – the important thing is that it occupies us all. The Spirit is God’s guidance in each of us and we are to walk by, and in, the Spirit.
  8. These fruits, or gifts, are the same as any; they are something to be enjoyed, nurtured and cared for. Just as an apple tree in an orchard is nurtured by the farmer and uses rain and sun to grow from being a seed to an apple tree, so we must nurture and care for our spirit if we are to gain fully from the gifts that God has given to us to use for his glory. The fruit is not the result of our endeavour, but the gift that is within, which should be developed.

    So, over the next few weeks, we are going to think about each of the fruits in turn, and to look for examples in our everyday lives of those gifts in action, and to see how we can cultivate and foster those fruits within ourselves.

Time for reflection

Display the series of fruits once again, and give students time to reflect upon them.

Prayer

Give us the ability to recognize the fruits of the Spirit within us. Show us and guide us how best to use them, and teach us how to recognize them in those around us.

Amen.

Hymn

‘Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost’ (Hymns Old and New, 184)

Publication date: September 2010   (Vol.12 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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