In Galatians, 5:22-26, Paul lists nine attitude and behavioral characteristics as the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. The Emmaus movement relies on the Holy Spirit to direct and move both team and pilgrims through Emmaus Walks. The author of the Handbook on Emmaus explains that the fruit of the Spirit “represents the character of a team properly formed in the spirit of Jesus Christ. This is the fruit that we want the pilgrims to feast on throughout the weekend.” (Handbook on Emmaus, 63).
As I began writing this, I thought that I would simply list each of the characteristics and explain how they relate to the Emmaus Walk. It would be simple right? As a team, we should share our love for others with the pilgrims on the Walk. We should have patience for those that think differently or had reservations about the events of the weekend. But as I read through the Handbook on Emmaus, I realized that it’s much more complex than just sharing our human attitudes and behaviors.
Relating Everything to God
Yes, as a team, we should show love to our pilgrims, but that love should draw “attention to God and not to team members…the aim of the Walk to Emmaus is to turn people’s attention toward God.” (Handbook on Emmaus, 63).
Our unconditional love can give the pilgrims a way to let down their defenses and allow God to touch their lives in a way that is right for each one. Our love should never become something that is judgmental or corrective. We need to listen and love.
When we show joy through worship, or the joy of singing, the joy of praying or of eating and laughter, we must remember that any of these things can be taken a step too far and it again becomes about us and not God. Everything we do should bring us back to the Lord.
Waiting on God
One of the most eye-opening thoughts was the text on patience. Yes, we should have patience with those that aren’t at the same place we are and, we should be patient with those who are anxious or fearful about being away from home. What is truly meant by patience on our walk is being patient while we wait on God.
We may want to move things along so that we hit every minute of the weekend schedule and keep things on track. We want to eat our meals at the exact time the schedule says we should eat, or we want to go to bed because we’ve worked hard and are tired.
God and the Holy Spirit will move in Their own time, and we are called to wait if we discern that either is moving out of the scheduled time frame. Our patience shows that we trust God to work within the Emmaus Walk. “Team members are functional atheists when they try to do the work for God, try to speed up the movement of the Holy Spirit, try to ‘save’ the pilgrims or bring them to a ‘decision,’ or manipulate an emotionally charged atmosphere.” (Handbook on Emmaus, 66).
We are being patient when we allow pilgrims to experience the Walk in their own way and in their own time. We need to give them this important freedom to do so. Their response will be much more relevant because of our patience.
The Rest of the Fruit
The other six characteristics are just as important for us as a team member. We should be kind, but not smothering or controlling, and we should never bring attention to our kindness. “The Walk is not a gift of the team, but of the risen Christ who walks with pilgrims and gives them the Holy Spirit through the church and the Emmaus Community.” (Handbook on Emmaus, 69).
And of course, we should be peacful, gentle, self-controlled, faithful and good. If we are working within the tenants of the Emmaus Walk and following God’s lead, we will be able to come together as a team formed with the fruit of the Spirit.