Loving-Kindness Lenten Observance
Fruit of AGAPE Community Transformations invites United New Testament Church International members and other interested individuals to join us in a Loving-Kindness observance for this Lenten season. While many Christians seek to give up a vice or sacrifice an indulgence during the 40 days of Lent, this practice encourages the addition of the Fruit of the Spirit blessings to empower its growth in us, our relationships, and our communities.
The pivotal biblical foundation for this loving-kindness Lenten pratice comes from Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians 5:16-25: Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions,factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. (New Revised Standard Version)
This passage from Galatians 5:16-25 provides a comparison between “the desires of the flesh” and “the fruit of the Spirit” and sets out a mandate for “those who belong to Christ Jesus [to crucify] the flesh with its passions and desires.” If we belong to Christ, we are called to live by and be guided by the Spirit. As we increasingly experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, the more our need to “gratify the desires of flesh” diminishes and the more our Chrisitian nature becomes enriched and empowered to do His work.
The suggested Loving-Kindness observance begins with a meditation on Galatians 5:22-23, 25: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” Then in prayer, ask God for the blessing of each spiritual quality in your faith journey:
May we be blessed and bless others with LOVE.
May we be blessed and bless others with JOY.
May we be blessed and bless others with PEACE.
May we be blessed and bless others with PATIENCE.
May we be blessed and bless others with KINDNESS.
May we be blessed and bless others with GOODNESS.
May we be blessed and bless others with FAITHFULNESS.
May we be blessed and bless others with GENTLENESS.
May we be blessed and bless others with SELF-CONTROL.
May we be fruitfully and richly blessed by the love of God, the fellowship of Christ, and the aid and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Amen
The observance can be in corporate form, as written, or in personal form by substituting the word “I” for “we.” Repeating the blessing before facing a difficult situation can be especially helpful in establishing a Spirit-filled heart and mind that leads to a Christian response. The observance can also be used for intercessory prayer by repeating the Loving-Kindness Blessing on behalf of other people or groups. These might be family or church members, political leaders, and so on. For example, some of us will be asking for the President to be blessed during this season. Please feel free to share this Lenten observance with others. Note that while Lent provides a wonderful opportunity to pray for the fruit of the Spirit, this Loving-Kindness Blessing is suitable for any time of year.
Submitted by Rev. Margaret Hoggard
Director, Fruit of AGAPE Community Transformations
Fruit of AGAPE Community Transformations was founded in February 2016 by Royce Hoggard and his wife Rev. Margaret Hoggard, a member of the UNTCI ministerial association. The privately funded initiative supports and recognizes grassroots educational and mission projects and individual efforts in keeping with Christian teachings and practices in the spirit of Agape.
Questions and comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Margaret Hoggard through the UNTCI member link.