So it’s my tradition after the prayer of the day to bring a message to all of God’s children. And I want to talk a little bit about my stole. The stole is this scarf-like looking thing I wear around my neck and it’s an ancient symbol of my role as a pastor. Part of my responsibility is to preach, share God’s word, and offer baptism, and holy communion – and this scarf, hung around the neck, means I’ve been called – and selected by this congregation – to do exactly that. In our denomination, some leaders called deacons wear their stole like a sash – going from one shoulder to the opposite part on their waist. That’s a symbol that they have been called by God and by a congregation to preach, share God’s word, and to serve others in a specific role like finding people homes, feeding people, sitting with people as they are dying, etc. This stole was a gift from CLC when I first started and I like it a lot because of the symbol it has here on the corner. What does it look like? Grapes! That’s right – grapes.
I know I’ve shared a few children’s messages with you about grapes because they’re so cool. I love eating grapes and watching grapes grow. Grapes are used to make grape juice and wine – two items often used in holy communion. And I recently learned that when they’re making wine, after crushing up all the grapes and getting all the liquid they need, the left over pieces – smashed up grapes – is called M A R C (i.e. my name). That MARC is then usually used to make compost – which is a kind of fertilizer to help plants grow. Grapes are amazing and grapes are a fruit. What do you think fruits are for?
Plants grow fruit as a way to spread their seeds. They want you to pick them, carry them, eat them, and drop the seed in the ground so a new plant could grow. So plants, over time, evolved to make their fruit as sweet, juicy, and tasty as they can be. This fruit, though, does more than just help the plant make new versions of itself. This plant also helps those who can eat it. It provides us energy, vitamins, and nutrition we need to grow too. Most individual plants, if they don’t grow fruit, can still survive as long as they are healthy. That’s why we sometimes see fruit trees still growing big and strong even though they no longer grow fruit. But this fruit, while designed to bring a seed to a new place, has this happy accident where we are healthier and stronger. Fruit, in a weird way, isn’t just for the plant. It’s also for others too. And that’s what makes fruits really neat.
A writer named Paul [Galatians 5:1,13-25] noticed this about fruit too – how it provides a benefit to the person but really makes a big difference in the lives of others. He used the image of a fruit – to help describe our responsibilities with others. Because Jesus loves us, because we’re baptized, because God says we matter and we belong – we’ve already received what we need to help show others how God loves them too. The presence of God in our life can, and should, bear fruit – but a fruit meant for others. So Paul will list what that “fruit” – our actions – look like. It looks like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When we spread joy, when we help bring peace, when we are kind, when we share and not hoard everything to ourselves, when we are patient with each other, and when we practice self-control – which means not letting our wants force others to do what we want – these are gifts that help others thrive. Because you never know who around you needs a bit of kindness, joy, a little peace, and the knowledge they are loved to become exactly who God wants them be.
Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on the Third Sunday after Pentecost, 6/26/2022