Tropical Harvest – Phil 4:1-9

tomato umbrellaTired of turnips? Bored of baked beans? Weary of wheat? Indifferent to apples? Then try this Tropical Harvest Festival!

You will need:

  • Lei flower garlands [click] (optional, but fun!)
  • Paper umbrellas [click] (for linked activity)
  • Prepared containers of chopped fruit as listed below (substitute other fruits to taste)
  • Boxes of fruit juice
  • Bag of ice cubes
  • Large container to mix punch
  • Ladle and cups to serve
  • Labels for boxes:
    • True Mangos
    • Noble Oranges
    • Righteous Lemons
    • Pure Ice
    • Loveable Limes
    • Admirable OJ
    • Excellent Apple Juice
    • Praiseworthy Pineapple Juice

These labels correspond with the NIV. Alter them to match your reading if using a different version. Hide all the fruit and fruit juice around church beforehand.

Tropical Harvest

Read Phil 4:1-9

Although it is definitely Autumn* now, we can still remember a little bit of summer. So in this Tropical Harvest we are going to use all the wonderful fruits and vegetables to help us remember to feed our minds, as well as thanking God for the good food that feeds our bodies.

I need you to listen out for any fruit or vegetables I mention. Some are obvious and some less so. Listen out for them.

Our Bible reading is part of a letter that Paul wrote to Christians in a city called Philippi. The church there was full of people just like us. Some were tall and some were short; some were old and some were young; some were rich and some were poor; some were happy and some were sad.

Paul mentions two people who were particularly sad. A pear of women with quite tricky names – Euodia and Syntyche. I don’t suppose you know many people called Euodia or Syntyche at school or at work, do you?

These women had bean having an argument.  We don’t know what it was about, but Paul urges them to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” Sometimes we disagree with people. I expect you can think of someone you disagree with right now. That’s normal and it’s OK. The important thing is to disagree well.

John Wesley wrote a famous sermon called ‘catholic spirit’, (that’s catholic with a small ‘c’, meaning all together). John wrote, “Though we can’t think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?”

God has put us in a church family made from lots of different people. We’re like a delicious soup made from all kinds of vegetables. We don’t need to pretend that we’re all the same. We’re not the same, and that’s what makes a good soup. But in our church family we can be of one heart, especially when we are not of one oponion.

writer mug

I’m a free-lance writer, and despite my spending many years denying it, my children insist that “but all the other kids have them” really does apply to shoes. So I guess I’ll have to bow to modern fashions and let them stop wearing tissue boxes to school.

If you find these free resources useful, would you consider supporting my work? The price of a coffee a month would be great [click here] or whatever you can afford. But don’t worry if you can’t. You are very welcome to help yourself for free. Thank you.


But enough about winter root vegetables and warming, hearty soups. We need to turnip the heat for some tropical joy!
[Put on leis]

Paul talks quite a lot about joy in this letter, and it’s so important that here, he says it twice! So how do we get this joy in the Lord? Through everything being perfect? Through not having any problems or difficulties? That’s never going to happen! Paul answers the question in the next few verses: through prayer and petition (that means talking to God and asking for help) because we don’t have a God who is distant, we have a God who wants to stay in touch – and being in touch with God brings us peas.

By peace I don’t mean merely an absence of arguing on the outside, but a deep, rich, juicy peach, sorry, peace that sprouts up in our hearts and leeks out to those around us.

Paul says that it is beyond what we can understand, and that’s saying something for a brain-box like Paul! It is a peace that can fill our hearts and minds so that our identity and worth are not found in the type of car we drive or our grades at school, our job titles, our looks (or lack thereof), our wealth (or lack thereof), the number of Twitbook or Snapgram followers we have, or anything else by which the world judges us. Instead we are defined by what God thinks of us.

And what does God think of us? We can find that right at the very beginning of the Bible. God looked at the world and the people he had made and he smiled to himself. “Yep”, he said, “that is very good.” God loves us. Though we mess up all the time, God amazingly, inexplicably, against all odds, loves us. There is the peace.

Fruit-Punch“Finally”, says Paul, “feed your minds with good food.” You are what we eat, we say, and it works the same with our minds as with our bodies. So let’s make a tropical fruit punch to help us remember all the good things that we can feed our minds with.

I’ll need some helpers to find the ingredients.
[Give leis to helpers]
Can you find these things around the church? We need some …

[read verse 8 as you ask for ingredients]

  • True Mangos
  • Noble Oranges
  • Righteous Lemons
  • Pure Ice
  • Loveable Limes
  • Admirable OJ
  • Excellent Apple Juice
  • Praiseworthy Pineapple Juice

[Add ingredient to make punch]

This is a very good recipe. As the family of God, we follow each other and lead by example in our turn. We look for these qualities in our fellow church members, and they can expect to find the same in us. So come, enjoy this delicious tropical punch, and as the fruity goodness nourishes our bodies, may our hearts and minds be nourished by whatever is true, whatever is noble …

And I have a small treat for anyone who can tell me a fruit or veg that I mentioned. Just come and see me.

Linked Activity

Give out paper umbrellas and felt-tipped pens. Invite people to choose on or more of the qualities listed and write it on the umbrella. Then put the umbrella in a place where it will be seen regularly, as a reminder to feed our minds healthy food.


Philippians 4:1-9 New International Version – UK

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.


Credits and Links

New International Version – UK

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

This post is based on an all-age talk by Patrick Kelleher [click] at Christ the King, Kettering. With thanks. And apologies.

For a timely blog on Wesley’s sermon [click], visit John Wesley for a Divisive World.

Affiliate links: If you buy anything after following a link in this blog, Amazon will pay me a (very) small commission to support this ministry. The price you pay is the same and no personal data is transferred.


*At least, in the northern hemisphere. Happy Spring all you Aussies and Kiwis.



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