Reading: Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Memory verse: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
We reach to you like plants reaching for the sun.
Shine down your light, O God.
We are fed by you like plants nourished by water.
Rain down your love, O God.
We grow in you like plants producing good fruit.
Burst out these fruit in our lives:
Gather us in your love, O God. Amen.
This week, our family returned from a month-long trip to Benin, West Africa. Many things about this trip were unforgettable, including a visit to Ouidah, a historical slave port on the coast of Benin.
This is the port where slaves from all over western Africa were taken. They were sold under a baobab tree in the town of Ouidah, stripped down, then forced to walk, chained together, down the road to the ocean.
Along this road, there is a tree called the “tree of forgetting.” Women were forced to walk around this tree 7 times, and men walked around it 9 times. The purpose was to weaken people, and to make them forget where they came from: their family, their village, their home.
They walked several kilometres more from there to the “port of no return” on the Atlantic Ocean. A monument stands there today as a reminder, with carvings showing how the people would have looked as they walked towards the ships on the ocean’s edge.
Our 6 year old daughter was very impacted by this experience. She said, “If you have a really good imagination, you shouldn’t go to that place because you just might cry.” You can read more of her reflections here.
As I read this passage in Galatians, my mind went back to this experience – one where we pondered slavery and freedom, and mourned a tragic history. We also mourn for our present, for people who are still not free but caught in various forms of slavery through human trafficking.
As followers of Christ, we are called to use our imaginations to envision a different reality – one where we are no longer slaves or free, but free together.
One of my professors in university said that the church is like a chain gang. We’re joined to each other, and sometimes it’s hard to be that close. Sometimes it’s hard to cooperate so that we can walk together well. But that’s our call – to be part of this motley chain gang, linked together in love.
- Read Gal. 5:1, 13. What does it mean to be slaves to one another in love?
- Verse 16 tells us to live by the Spirit. How can we help each other to live by the Spirit?
- What is the spirit of your home? What fruits of the Spirit would be obvious to visitors coming to visit your home?
Make chains of love to represent being slaves to each other in love. Use strips of paper, and each day have family members record various fruits of the Spirit that they saw demonstrated in the family or the community. Staple or tape them together and see how many you can do in one week. You could also make a list of the fruits of the Spirit to keep in a prominent place in your home.