It’s Never too Late

By Linda Porter of Wiarton, Ontario, Canada

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14–16

On a beautiful spring day, I discovered an old metal pail sitting upside down in a bed of lily of the valley.

When I turned the pail over I discovered underneath some pale, skinny, spindly plants searching for sunshine.

Over the next few days I watched the plants slowly become stronger, greener, and sturdier as they soaked up the much-needed light. Would they ever flower? Would they ever reach their potential, or had the light come too late?

I thought of the pail and how thoughtlessly it had been tossed by the fence last fall, no one aware of its impact on these struggling plants. How thoughtlessly, without realizing the barriers to the light our actions may cause.

Are there barriers you and I can remove to allow someone to come into the light of Christ? Is it too late to start, or can we still be a light of welcome in our community?

Is there someone today with whom you need to share the light of Christ?

Prayer for Peace:

God of light, may we be ever mindful of opportunities to share your radiance, warmth, and love. May we welcome all to your sanctuaries of peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Embodying God’s Shalom

Each day this week find a way to express and embody God’s shalom. Begin by prayerfully listening to your longing for peace. Become silent and imagine you can hear the groaning of Earth’s peoples, nations, and creatures. Prayerfully open yourself to God’s yearning for peace and the divine vision of shalom.

What images, feelings, and words come to you? What prayer for peace comes to you from your time of listening? Speak or write this prayer. What small act of justice, kindness, healing, or peacemaking is God inviting you to consider this day, this week?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will look for ways to uncover the good that is hidden so I may share your peace.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

By Dave Brown, Presiding Bishopric

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.  John 10:14–15

The Community of Christ congregation where I grew up met in a large room in city hall. We didn’t have our own building until I was about 13 years old. We acquired a house to use as our “church.”

Even without a traditional church building to meet in I felt like I was part of a community. They asked me to pass out bulletins as people arrived and to help receive the offering. Sometimes I would read a scripture or a story as part of the service. The members of the congregation accepted me as a developing disciple.

As I’ve thought about my experiences as a child and youth in the church it has become clear to me that what was important was being a part of the community and not so much where we met.

In this passage from John, Jesus tells us that he is the good shepherd, and that he will lay down his life for us.

He also invites us into community by providing the context for his role as the good shepherd.

We cannot truly know Jesus until we know each other. And that is how we create community—by making the effort to know each other in ways that are deeper than just names and greeting one another on Sunday.

When we receive someone else’s gifts with joy, as my congregation did with me, we know them better than we did before. The cycle of receiving and sharing with one another helps us all grow in discipleship and create community in Christ.

Prayer for Peace:

Gentle Shepherd, you know us. As we come to know and love our community, we know and love you. As we learn the way of the disciple, we will know the way of peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Embodying God’s Shalom

Each day this week find a way to express and embody God’s shalom. Begin by prayerfully listening to your longing for peace. Become silent and imagine you can hear the groaning of the Earth’s peoples, nations, and creatures.

Prayerfully open yourself to God’s yearning for peace and the divine vision of shalom. What images, feelings, and words come to you? What prayer for peace comes to you from your time of listening? Speak or write this prayer. What small act of justice, kindness, healing, or peacemaking is God inviting you to consider this day, this week?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will intentionally get to know the young people around me. I will express my thankfulness for them.

Walk Humbly with God

By Karin Peter of Adrian, Missouri, USA

“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  Luke 11:9–10

April 19, 2009, is a day LeGenda Ruffins and family will always remember. That was the day of her ordination to the office of deacon at the Moss Point Congregation in Mississippi.

LeGenda is among several emerging leaders responding faithfully to God’s call by developing ministry skills through programs such as MEADS (Ministerial Education and Discipleship Studies) offered at International Headquarters.

LeGenda believes the programs opened doors for her and allowed her to develop her ministry skills, helping her become more in tune with the needs of others. She is happy for the opportunity to deepen her commitment to the church and to share the peace of Jesus Christ in ways that will minister to the Moss Point community.

LeGenda greets each day with a smile, peaceful in the knowledge that she walks humbly with God as she provides ministry.

If you visit the Moss Point Congregation, she will be there to offer outstanding ministry, thanks to your contributions to World Mission Tithes, which provide training through the MEADS program. Thank you for responding and sharing generously to enable the continuation of programs like this.

Prayer for Peace:

God of knowledge and wisdom, we thank you for the encouragement to ask for help. We thank you for the guidance to search for ways to serve you. May we learn with humility and share our knowledge with others seeking peace.

Spiritual Practice:

In many languages, God’s name contains the sound “ahhh,” a sound we make when we are breathing out or sighing. Our prayer will use the ahh names for God with a gentle arm movement that opens us to God’s presence. Begin with hands in front of you at chest level and move them up and in a large arc or circle as you breathe out each name for God.

You may speak the name of God or find a single musical note to hold or chant as you sing God’s name. Pray or sing each name several times as you call on the God of many names: Yahweh, Adonai, Jehovah, Yeshua, Sophia, Allah, Alpha, Omega. Say or sing “amen” to close.

Peace Covenant:

Today God, I study for peace, being open to your spirit of enlightenment.

To Be a Disciple

By Norma Cross of Independence, Missouri, USA

Do not be discouraged. You have not been promised an easy path, but you have been assured that the Spirit that calls you will also accompany you. That Spirit is even now touching alive the souls of those who feel the passion of discipleship burning deeply within. Many others will respond if you are persistent in your witness and diligent in your mission to the world.  Doctrine and Covenants 162:3a–b

I will never forget the anxiety that came over me when I felt a strong call to serve God. I prayed deeply, because I knew I always wanted to serve in that way. I listened, but I said, “Oh, no, I’m not ready to represent you.”

With guilt I remembered God calls because of who we are and how we can serve God’s people, not for our own comfort.

God called Saul, who had a dedication to what he thought was God’s message, but not necessarily to Christ’s mission. At first this call was not agreeable to him. Then God saw him change to Paul, a fervent and dedicated disciple.

Peter, as a fisherman, understood the strain of daily toil with heavy nets to earn his bread. He became a devotedly strong fisher of men. John, the beloved, the humble—could it be that Jesus called him because he needed comfort and to feel loved, when it was usually Jesus giving the love.

When we worry about not being ready we must remember God sees each of us as having great worth.

We ask God to lead and direct us to what ministry God has for us to do this day. Be persistent in your witness to the world.

Prayer for Peace:

Broken-hearted God, we confess our need for forgiveness. We often have failed in our discipleship, and yet you love us.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Making Responsible Choices

Each day this week prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and for creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.

Offer yourself to God with the prayer of Teresa of Avila: “God, what do you want of me today?” Sit prayerfully with this question as you review the day again. Be aware of images, thoughts, names, or actions that come to you. Ask for blessing to live this day responsibly and compassionately in the spirit of Christ.

Peace Covenant:

God, having been forgiven, I covenant anew with you to continue in your service and humbly share the peace of Christ.

Serving the Neighbors We Have

By Cindy Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, USA

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.  2 Corinthians 5:18–19

It had snowed again—six inches! Once again the church sidewalks and parking lot needed to be shoveled. This is no easy task with our church campus covering three city blocks.

I went with my husband to remove snow from the sidewalks, parking lot, and stairs. He used a snowblower, while I used a scoop shovel on the stairs.

After an hour of shoveling snow in the cold, I was ready to go home. But, much to my surprise and irritation, my husband pushed the snowblower across the street to a neighbor’s house. The people had been standing inside, watching us work for an hour.

Then, he started to blow the snow off their sidewalk! And their driveway! He blew the snow off the sidewalk for the entire block.

I couldn’t believe he would help “those” people!

Those were the people who parked in the church parking lot—even in front of the door on Sunday morning. Those were the people who left broken beer bottles in the parking lot and on the lawn that we had to pick up every Sunday morning.

And today they stared at us, never offering to help.

That was when the Spirit tenderly chastised me by bringing the words of the hymn, “Yesu, Yesu” to my mind—“show us how to serve the neighbors we have…”

“Those people” were our neighbors. They were the neighbors we are to serve. And that was exactly what my husband was doing.

Prayer for Peace:

Reconciling God, let us live by Christ’s example—not judging, not holding grudges. We simply would love as we are called to do. We would practice peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Making Responsible Choices

Each day this week prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and for creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.

Offer yourself to God with the prayer of Teresa of Avila: “God, what do you want of me today?” Sit prayerfully with this question as you review the day again. Be aware of images, thoughts, names, or actions that come to you. Ask for blessing to live this day responsibly and compassionately in the spirit of Christ.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will practice peace where I have been impatient before.

PAX Reinforces: All Are God’s Children

By Anita Wilson of Charlotte, Michigan, USA

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace…  Colossians 1:19–20

There are now four Community of Christ members in our PAX (Program of Academic Exchange) organization. Marty received her five-year award last night. I was so pleased because I brought her on board. Sarah, from the Richmond Congregation in Virginia, got her first-year welcome.

I have been with PAX six years, and my sister is in her eighth year. Together we share a strong testimony of the church’s call to bring peace to the world through our work in PAX.

It isn’t easy work. During the year we deal with problems with host families, students, and government regulations. We often are challenged with the role of peacemaker when plans don’t go well, but we use good mediating skills to help us cope.

We are all passionate about what we are doing. We feel blessed to have the opportunity to extend our ministry in this way.

Our work is a powerful testimony that God is at work in the world. God calls each of us to look at those with whom we share this planet, those who may have—at one time—not understood the diverse population with which God has blessed the world.

My weekend with my PAX family and with my Community of Christ sisters who share this work has strengthened my faith. We stand strong in our commitment to be an ensign of peace to a world filled with struggles and cultural misunderstandings. We promote the acceptance of all people regardless of differences. All are God’s children.

Prayer for Peace:

God of all nations, where there is misunderstanding, let us bring light. Where there are those who are socially marginal, let us bring the reconciliation of Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Making Responsible Choices

Each day this week prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and for creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.

Offer yourself to God with the prayer of Teresa of Avila: “God, what do you want of me today?” Sit prayerfully with this question as you review the day again. Be aware of images, thoughts, names, or actions that come to you. Ask for blessing to live this day responsibly and compassionately in the spirit of Christ.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, with Christ dwelling in my heart, I will continue my peace journey.

Peace Restored

By Shirley Remmenga of Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.  James 3:17

An administrator and an employee at my office were disagreeing on terms of a contract. Both were unhappy and unable to communicate.

I had taken some peacemaking and conflict-resolution classes, so I decided to contact each of them. I invited them to a meeting where they would have a chance to air their complaints, listen to each other, and perhaps develop a plan that would satisfy them both.

Each agreed to try. We met, we listened, and they told their stories. We found a reasonable solution, restoring peace between them.

All three of us were grateful God’s peace had been present with us. Good communication, I believe, is essential to the peace process. Good communication doesn’t happen until we listen to one another.

Listening is even more impartial and full of mercy if we listen to God.

Prayer for Peace:

Gentle God of wisdom, let your mercy flow among us. Help us express ourselves with gentleness and listen to one another with patience. Form us into beings who can collaborate on the path to peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Making Responsible Choices

Each day this week prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and for creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.

Offer yourself to God with the prayer of Teresa of Avila: “God, what do you want of me today?” Sit prayerfully with this question as you review the day again. Be aware of images, thoughts, names, or actions that come to you. Ask for blessing to live this day responsibly and compassionately in the spirit of Christ.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will listen with an open mind to the ideas of others.

God Is Good

By Merna Short of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Luke 4:18–19

Australia saw many natural disasters over the winter and spring of 2011. Dreadful floods hit Queensland and spread down the east coast, ruining towns, farms, and the landscape. Initial losses totaled billions of dollars. Added to this was the loss of livelihood of thousands of people.

Then cyclones came. The northeast Australia coast and 100 miles inland were affected, and the aftermath also was felt through the center and south of the continent.

Following this were two more cyclones in the northwest and southwest. At this same time a devastating earthquake rocked our New Zealand neighbors. Looking down the months and years it will take to normalize life, I thought of the saying, “How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time.”

I have never believed God sends these disasters as punishment. They are part of the cycles of life on this planet. I happened to be reading a study of Jeremiah. It was very uplifting. In it the author says not to get God and life mixed up.

God is not our source of trouble. God is all good. The Divine is our help in times of trouble. I’m sure there will be openings to witness of this over the months ahead. God gives us hope.

Prayer for Peace:

Creator God, we know you weep with us when struggles overwhelm us. We know your comforting Spirit is always with us. Help us look beyond our troubles and recognize your presence, right here, walking beside us and sometimes before us. Wrap us in your arms of peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Making Responsible Choices

Each day this week prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and for creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.

Offer yourself to God with the prayer of Teresa of Avila: “God, what do you want of me today?” Sit prayerfully with this question as you review the day again. Be aware of images, thoughts, names, or actions that come to you. Ask for blessing to live this day responsibly and compassionately in the spirit of Christ.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will look beyond the darkness to see your rainbow of hope.

You Are My Witnesses

By Jim Slauter of Orlando, Florida, USA

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself…Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.  Luke 24:36–39, 44–48

I stood on the seashore of the Black Sea in Odessa, Ukraine, during an early Sunday-morning baptism service. We were a group of 15–20 people surrounded by several hundred beach-goers as the sun rose in the clear blue morning sky.

As we started to sing a song of preparation, I noticed the people around us began to quiet their conversations, play, and laughter. We entered the water and waded out. As we turned to face the small congregation, I was taken by the reverence of the other observers that had spread like a wave along the beach.

I wondered what their reverent respect meant. Were they believers who were excited about this event in complete strangers’ lives while being reminded of the importance of their own baptism? Were they indifferent, but silently respectful while questioning the meaning of commitment in a secular world? Perhaps it was both of these.

I will never know what was in the minds of the onlookers; however, I can bear testimony of the power of the Holy Spirit present.

I am thankful to God for the Holy Spirit’s power that was at work in the lives of the new disciples, the Odessa Congregation, and hopefully, in the hearts and minds of the reverent observers.

Like the disciples who encountered the living Christ, we, too, met him that morning on the seashore of the Black Sea and were blessed and challenged to willingly witness his peace in our world.

Prayer for Peace:

God on the seashore, God in our hearts, we have heard the risen Christ in your word, we have seen him in the deeds of disciples, we have felt him in spirit.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Making Responsible Choices

Prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God. Review the responsibilities and opportunities of today. Ask God for wisdom and insight about what matters most. Sit prayerfully with this question. Live this day responsibly and compassionately in the spirit of Christ.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will witness to the curious and turn curiosity into belief.

“I Tell You This to Break Your Heart”

By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

The earth, lovingly created as an environment for life to flourish, shudders in distress because creation’s natural and living systems are becoming exhausted from carrying the burden of human greed and conflict.  Doctrine and Covenants 163:4b

On the December 2009 cover of Sojourners magazine is a photograph that haunts me. It is the image of an underweight polar bear on a tiny ice floe.

The ice is barely big enough for his four feet, bunched together. His claws hang over the edge. He peers into his reflection in the water as if he is seeing his own ghost. He seems to be wondering, “If I jump in, can I make it to the next unseen ice floe?”

Tomorrow is Earth Day. We in Community of Christ, which claims the Sacredness of Creation as an enduring principle, may want to work toward recognizing every day as Earth Day. After we observe the measured disappearance of polar ice, watch with horror the results of oil spills in offshore waters, and hear of the destruction of wildlife because of poison in lakes and waterways, we should be ready to take action.

Listen to part of Lead, a Mary Oliver poem about the death of loons caused by lead in the water: “I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.”

Today I’m thinking of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and China, but it’s happening all over the world. These waters, once teeming with life, shining with hope, regulating Earth’s course with ebb and flow, have now been deregulated. They are compromised by greed.

Lift the coastline inhabitants to God’s healing light—the fish, the birds, the mammals. The reptiles, the sand, the grass. The homes, the humans, and their sagging spirits. We have jeopardized the pristine for profit.

Poet Wendell Barry writes, “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” Let us do whatever we can to exercise stewardship of our Earth.

Prayer for Peace:

Creating and sustaining God, we ask your help in working for a healthy, peaceful Earth. Help us look beyond ourselves to find opportunities to bring your balanced ecosystems back to their intended rhythm.

Spiritual Practice:

Place your hands over your face and eyes, pray for insight (pause in silence). Place your hands on your head and ask to be blessed with the mind of Christ (silence). Put your hands over your ears and listen to the needs around you (silence). Put both hands over your heart and ask to share God’s compassion and peace (silence). Thank you, God. Amen.

Peace Covenant:

I will try to leave small footprints of large effect for the good of Earth.