Last week La Casa Norte, the mission to homeless youth in Humboldt Park, presented an award to Kenilworth Union Church for its financial and volunteer support over many years. Patti Morrell introduced us at a scholarship event in Evanston. Some of you know Patti. She’s a local interior designer and longtime volunteer at La Casa Norte, not a member but a friend of Kenilworth Union, part of our knitting circle, for example.
As a parish pastor, it was so gratifying to hear what an impartial observer like Patti thinks of the character shaped by our community of faith. She talked about the way the congregation cares for its own who are sick or sad or confused or bereft. She talked about the congregation’s heart for the abandoned and forgotten of our city. She talked about the congregation’s generosity.
What made me so glad is that Patti saw the produce of our faith, its issue, its harvest. She noticed and described the distinctive and winsome kind of life that is shaped by Christ’s Spirit.
In his letter to the Churches of Galatia, St. Paul describes this issue as the fruit of the spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit,” he writes, “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
What Paul wants to say, I think, is that faith should never be without issue; faith should not be barren or sterile; it should bear fruit.
To change the metaphor, the virtues Paul catalogues in his letter are nine facets of a gemstone, nine aspects of a beautiful life.
That’s what we’ll be talking about in a sermon series this summer: specifically what life looks like when it is lived under the powerful sway of Christ’s Holy Spirit.