Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Fruit of the Spirit: Introduction

For the past five months, I've been serving my church as the assistant to our Director of Family Ministry. The two most recent months have taken place under stay-at-home orders in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. 
My role used to include working in the office, making curriculum adjustments and craft preparations;  connecting with volunteers and parents as Sunday school classes began and ended each week; meeting for prayer with staff; and attending special evening events and holiday services. Now I've joined the ranks of those attending meetings via Zoom, reaching out to our parents by telephone, and preparing resources that are made available through emails and Facebook posts. Both "versions" of ministry have blessed me, and of course, I hope that our efforts have been "enough" for our families, until we can meet again face-to-face.

Each week, I've been developing a set of activities to introduce our church kids to the idea of "Fruit of the Spirit," based on this verse from Paul's letter to the church in the city of Galatia:
"The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5: 22-23) 
My time as Assistant to the Director of Family Ministry comes to an end at the end of this month, and we only will have made it through love, joy, peace, and patience. My plan is to continue to develop activities for the remaining fruits, and share them here, so that I can bring the series to completion.

The idea of the fruit of the spirit is completely in line with my personal devotional reading, which has focused on what are often referred to as "the spiritual disciplines." These practices are actually ways in which we can make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit to bring about the fruit I've been sharing with our youngest church members!  After I finish this activity series about the fruit of the spirit, I am planning to move into a series that highlights what I've been learning from my reading about the spiritual disciplines. There are no accidents; I think God has been putting this together in my life for my spiritual growth, and I am happy to share the journey with anyone who stumbles upon the record of it here.

An Introduction to the Fruit of the Spirit
At a time when we are all facing unfamiliar restrictions on our movement and activities, it is good to be reminded of our freedom in Christ and the “fruit of the spirit,” against which there is no law!
When you hear the word “fruit,” you probably think of things like bananas, apples, and strawberries. But the word “fruit” is also frequently used to describe the results or profit of something; you might have heard the phrase, “the fruit of our labor,” referring to “the results of the work we did.”

So, reread the verse above with the word “result” in place of the word “fruit,” and you will understand that this is a list of the results of letting the Holy Spirit direct our thoughts and actions.

The phrase “fruit of the spirit” refers to nine behaviors that are the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I think we can all agree that these behaviors can help us get through the current challenges we are facing! When we allow God’s Holy Spirit to work in our lives, He allows us to bear all of this good fruit.

Some of these fruits we enjoy from God’s Holy Spirit may be easier for us to define and understand than others. Let’s start with some crafts and activities that remind us of all nine fruits, and then we can focus on particular fruits in the coming weeks to make us more open to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.

Don’t forget that any and all of these crafts and activities can be completed while enjoying fresh (or canned) fruit, dried fruit snacks, or a fruit smoothie!

Fruit of the Spirit Bookmark:
Visit http://www.christianpreschoolprintables.com/wp-content/uploads/CPP/Bookmarks/FruitsBookmark.pdf for bookmarks that can be printed off in color to use in your Bibles or storybooks. For a little something “extra,” you could laminate them, punch a hole at the top, and tie on yarn or ribbon.

Fruit Basket Craft

Visit http://www.christianpreschoolprintables.com/wp-content/uploads/CPP/FruitSpirit/FruitBasketCraftPack.pdf for printables available in color, or in black-and-white for you to color! Print, color, cut out, glue the fruit onto the basket, and display for a colorful reminder of the work of God’s Holy Spirit inside of us!

Fruit of the Spirit Word Search
Visit http://www.dltk-bible.com/word-search/wordsearch-fruit.htm for "easy" and "hard" versions of a  word search, so you can tailor the activity to your child’s age. Print out the word search, and let the children see if they can find all the words in the Word Bank.

Fruit of the Spirit Rock Art Activity
No printer? No problem! Here’s a fun activity that doesn’t involve paper or printers.  Spend some time outside gathering smooth rocks. Bring them inside and wash them with soapy water. Allow to dry. Then, using acrylic/craft paint and a paint brush OR markers, such as Sharpie brand, write out a fruit of the spirit on each of the rocks you have gathered. (Remember that the nine fruits are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.)
If you want to get even more creative, add patterns around the word, or drawings of actual fruit, such as bananas, apples, pineapples, and grapes!
Each family member can create their own set, OR create a “family rock garden” with everyone creating a painted rock or two. Gather the painted rocks where everyone can see them, perhaps around an indoor plant, or in a bowl or on a tray on the kitchen counter or dining room table.

Next Post: The Fruit of the Spirit, LOVE

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