Fruits of the Spirit: Faithfulness
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.” (John 3: 8)
I love to sail and have spent hours on the water thinking about how the Spirit is mysterious and uncontrollable and effective – in His own time and way! Which can be frustrating and exhilarating.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.
Lamentations 3: 21-25
Meddyliaf yn wastad am hyn, ac felly disgwyliaf yn eiddgar. Nid oes terfyn ar gariad yr Arglwydd, ac yn sicr ni phalla ei dosturiaethau. Y maent yn newydd bob bore, a mawr yw dy ffyddlondeb. Dywedais, “Yr Arglwydd yw fy rhan, am hynny disgwyliaf wrtho.” Da yw’r Arglwydd i’r rhai sy’n gobeithio ynddo, i’r rhai sy’n ei geisio.
Galarnad 3: 21-25
Hagia Sophia, Iznik (Nicaea)
Reverend Tom Saunders writes:
When I started thinking about this fruit of the Spirit – the fruit of faith, or faithfulness – I was drawn to a memory from over twenty years ago. While I was in training for ordination, I went on a study tour of the sites of the first seven ecumenical councils of the church. These places are in modern-day Turkey, but back in the 4th – 8th centuries they were in the Christian church’s heartland. The ecumenical councils were the arena for fierce battles over doctrine, and one outcome was to put into writing the central beliefs that are shared by the mainstream denominations to this day. On Sundays we still often use the creed which was decided at the councils of Nicaea (325AD) and Constantinople (381AD).
I was saddened to see that the sites of the ecumenical councils and the other great church buildings of that era show hardly any sign of their past importance. Some buildings have vanished altogether, some are just ruins or derelict shells, others have become mosques. We see something similar in the boarded-up and converted chapels and churches of our own land now. The geographical centre of the Christian faith has always been moving, as the Spirit blows where it wills… to new lands, to new peoples and to continents that were unknown in the first millennium. Sometimes the Spirit looks to have moved on to somewhere more fertile and we seem to be hanging in here by faith alone, but God’s plan is holding together. The Spirit may leave behind ruins in one place, but it always builds new foundations in another place.
Six months ago, an entirely online church would have seemed unthinkable to most of us. Now we have learned that the church can live differently… without buildings, without the sacraments, without singing in praise together, and even without physically meeting at all. I’m not too comfortable being exiled in this strange virtual world, and I don’t want to live in this makeshift way for much longer, but now I know that we could if we had to. And we can expect that one day God will move the church on into some new place or some altogether new way of existing – just as the church has always moved on from one continent and one culture to another and another. The Holy Spirit is not limited to sustaining what we already know or to building up what we can already imagine.
Whatever happens, we will continue to need faithfulness. Faithfulness is a gift of trusting loyalty. It means we trust in God revealed in Jesus Christ, and it means we hold together in mutual loyalty and love. Faithfulness implies persistence in living out the other fruits named by St. Paul in Galatian 5: 22-23. These qualities which bind the people of the church together (qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) are the same qualities we see in the character of Jesus Himself. The Spirit is working to make us more like Jesus, and to lead God’s church onwards with faithfulness.
who sent your Holy Spirit
to be the life and light of your Church:
open our hearts to the riches of your grace,
that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit
in love and joy and peace.
Increase in us your gift of faith
that, forsaking what lies behind
and reaching out to that which is before,
we may run the way of your commandments
and win the crown of everlasting joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
a anfonaist dy Ysbryd Glân
i fod yn fywyd a goleuni i’th Eglwys,
agor ein calonnau i gyfoeth dy ras,
fel y dygwn ffrwyth yr Ysbryd
mewn cariad a llawenydd a thangnefedd.
Cynydda ynom dy rodd o ffydd
fel, gan adael yr hyn a aeth heibio
ac ymestyn at yr hyn sydd o’n blaen,
y bydd inni redeg ar hyd ffordd dy orchmynion
ac ennill coron llawenydd tragwyddol;
trwy Iesu Grist ein Harglwydd. Amen.
Adapted from the collects for Trinity 9 and Trinity 18
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