MEETING AIM: To explore what Paul means by the fruit of the Spirit.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Galatians 5:22-26
BACKGROUND: Paul had planted churches in Galatia (modern day Turkey) on one of his big trips. Probably most of the people there who’d decided to follow Jesus were not Jewish as he was. When he left, it’s possible that other Jewish people had come in and tried to tell the new Jesus followers that they had to be more Jewish to be saved. Paul wrote this letter to the churches in Galatia to explain to them that it wasn’t necessary to do all the Jewish things in order to follow Jesus. In this very famous passage, he writes about the characteristics that the Holy Spirit grows in those who follow Jesus.
As you begin the session, invite the children to sit together in a circle and pass round a simple object. When a child has the object they can share their response to the question. Ask the children to share any way that they are like their parents – either physically or in terms of characteristics or things they are good at.
You will need: exotic fruit cut up on plates; forks or spoons
Show the group your exotic fruits and chat about what the fruit is and where it comes from. Encourage everyone to try some.
Which is the most popular?
You will need: picture of a fruit tree or plant; Duplo or other large building blocks; stickers with the fruit of the Spirit written on
Give the group some background on this letter from Paul to the churches in Galatia.
Explain that he’s trying to explain how we follow Jesus well and how the Holy Spirit changes and shapes us as we do that. Show the group picture of a fruit tree. Ask them if they can identify what sort of fruit would grow from the plant or tree. Say that we can identify what a tree or plant is by the fruit that grows on it. You don’t get apples on a lemon tree!
Read Galatians 5:22-26. Ask the group if they can work out why Paul talks about fruit like this. What does he mean? Fruit is the stuff that we display in our lives that shows people what kind of person we are. Where does Paul say this fruit comes from? We believe that we are God’s children so it makes sense that we would share some characteristics with our heavenly Father – just like the ways that you might be like your mum or dad. You can be like them because you share some of the same genes or because you spend time with them and their character rubs off on you.
Look at the list of fruit that Paul mentioned. Do these all sound like characteristics of God? Explain that we sometimes think about all these fruits as very different – like one is a melon and another is a grape but that’s not quite right. One fruit builds on the next and so on. As you say this next paragraph, build a tower with the bricks – each one with a different fruit sticker on:
The first thing that we need to know as followers of Jesus is that we are loved by God. And when we really know we are loved, it’s easy for us to love other people. And when we can really love, that brings us joy because we’re able to see the good in others. We feel peace because we know how much God loves us. And when we have that peace, we can be patient with ourselves or others and we can choose always to be kind and do the right thing (goodness). And when we trust that doing the right and kind things are what we should be all about, our faith grows as we see how faithful God is to us and we begin to be faithful both to him and others, so we use what we have in a gentle way. And as all these things grow together, we realise that we have more self-control; we make wise choices in all the areas of our lives. All these things come from spending time with Jesus, seeing what he’s like and letting the Holy Spirit change us to be more like him.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute:
- What does it feel like when you know you’re really loved?
- Which of the fruit of the Spirit do you know you find hard?
- How would your life look different if you showed all these fruits?
- How might the world look different if everyone had the fruit of the Spirit growing in them?
- How can we spend time with Jesus and let him grow this fruit?
You will need: card circles; felt-tip pens; pencils; hole punch; string
Give everyone a card circle about 10cm in diameter. Ask them to use a pencil to draw a circle slightly in from the edge and then show them how to draw wedge shapes so that it looks like the cross-section of a citrus fruit. There need to be 9. Ask them to either write each part of the fruit list in a different wedge, or draw something to represent it. They can colour the outline rim to make it look like a slice of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit. As you work, continue your discussion from ‘Chatting together’.
Punch a hole close to the edge and thread a piece of string through so that it can be hung somewhere at home.
Teach the group a simple breath prayer that they can use throughout the week. Get everyone to find their own quiet space, get comfortable and close their eyes. As they breathe in, they simply say to themselves: “Be.” When they breathe out, they say: “Loved.” Encourage them to try praying this way a few times every day, remembering that God loves them and everything else grows from there.
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