Greetings to all in the Love of Jesus Christ:
In the immortal word of Mark Line (FCC Mesa): “CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMP!!!!”
This Saturday, I will drive to the Loch Leven Camp & Retreat Center in the San Bernadino Mountains east of Los Angeles. Loch Leven is the Pacific Southwest Region’s (PSR) church camp, and for the second year in a row the Arizona Region and the PSR are teaming up. Over a dozen Arizona Disciples have already attended church camp this year, and next week the camping season concludes with our CYF Camp for high school age youth. I am excited to be there with 6 Arizona high school aged Disciples.
As those who have already attended can tell you, this summer’s camp celebrates the “Fruit of the Spirit.” If you’ve got a camper at home, ask them if they can name the nine fruit of the Spirit that Paul lists in Galatians 5: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, & Self-Control. These are characteristics that emerge when human beings are connected to and filled with God’s loving Spirit.
I find it amazing and wonderful that both Paul and Jesus use the metaphor of fruit to talk about the life of faith. As Jesus begins to conclude his “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7), he says: “You will know them by their fruits.” Jesus is trying to help his disciples know how to evaluate different messages they hear. Look at their actions, Jesus says. Do they radiate joy? Are they kind? Do they practice self-control? You can tell about someone’s faith – and they can tell about OURS — not by their words, but their actions, their attitude, their manner of relating to their neighbor. “You will know them by their fruits.”
I have always found Jesus’ words here helpful when thinking about how to relate to other world religions. There are those, of course, who cite Jesus saying in John 14 “No one comes to the Father except through me” as grounds for insisting that Jesus is the only path to God. But I find that Jesus in Matthew and Paul in Galatians suggest something different. If “You will know them by their fruits,” and if the “fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace …,” and if “no bad tree can produce good fruit,” then what does that suggest about someone whose practice of Hinduism or Buddhism or Islam leads them to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, etc.? It suggests that their practice is of God because it has produced the fruit of the Spirit. For God’s Spirit is one, and God sends it to all of Creation, and I believe that God and Jesus both celebrate whenever anyone receives, embodies, and shares in God’s loving Spirit.
I hope you all have a great week. I’m off to “CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMP!!!!”
Dios les bendiga!
Regional Minister and President, Christian Church in Arizona
Regional Calendar of Weekly Prayers
Join in praying for our Arizona Disciples Congregations.
View the full calendar at azdisciples.org.
16 – Comunidad Limen Christian Church led by Pastor Pedro Ramos-Goycolea
23 – Coolwater Christian Church led by Pastor Rick Gates
30 – General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
6 – General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
13 – Desert Dove Christian Church led by Pastor Michael Malone
20 – Desert Heritage Church led by Pastor Derrick Elliot
27 – East Mesa Christian Church led by Pastor Charles Dubbs