Take Bread from My Repentant Hand

By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, USA

And again, I say unto you, Sue for peace, not only the people that have smitten you, but also to all people; and lift up an ensign of peace, and make a proclamation for peace unto the ends of the earth.  Doctrine and Covenants 102:11a–b

How can I ask forgiveness of the Lord, while I am yet sinful? I meditate about tomorrow’s Communion service. How can I take the bread, the wine—blessed to the souls of those who partake? The line is thin, and I stumble easily. Would I be taking the symbols of Christ’s love and grace in vain? Should I refrain from eating, though I need wholeness so desperately?

I wonder. Do those on their knees beside me fight these silent battles as I do? I strive so hard for lofty goals that seem so unattainable. Yet, I will eat, and drink, and believe that God’s love will overcome my sinfulness. Tomorrow, as I leave the table, I will feel forgiveness, my soul restored.

I have made my inward journey to peace. Now my outward journey challenges my proud heart; a pride that may flaunt silken garments in the face of beggars and hollow-cheeked children. No. I will lower my eyes to see their tattered forms. I will hear their hungry whimpers and hasten to their side. Then, perhaps, they will forgive me and take a piece of bread from my repentant hand. Grace and generosity endure.

Prayer for Peace:

God of the table of peace, we thank you for our place at the table. We are happy to serve all who will come to your table. Let us go out and invite others to come to the table of peace.

Spiritual Practice:

Compassion is a fruit of the spiritual life. When we open a space for God, we become vessels and channels for the flow of God’s justice and healing. Enter into quiet prayer and ask God to open your heart to those who are hungry.

What spiritual and physical hungers do you become aware of? What people or groups come into your mind and heart? What responses are you invited to make?

Pray about and write down the response or action you choose to complete. Is it a phone call; a pantry donation; a check for Abolish Poverty, End Suffering or Outreach International; a visit? Move into completing this action as you leave your prayer space.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will proclaim peace to all who will hear.

Put Yourself in Your Pastor’s Shoes

By Gary Piper of Fort Gratiot, Michigan, USA

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  Luke 6:36

Community of Christ pastors have a great deal of responsibility. Like an iceberg, many roles of the pastor are below the surface, where they cannot be seen, only experienced. From time to time we need to remember some important vulnerabilities of a pastor.

Pastors are not superhumans. They have families, which are important to them. Your family is important to the pastor, as well. Many Community of Christ pastors also have full-time jobs outside the church. Pastors do not have all the answers. Believe it or not, they even make mistakes!

It may amaze you to learn that pastors are not all things to all people. They can get frustrated. I’ve even known pastors to get sick, now and then. Pastors have feelings and need to get away for a healthy rest. Unless it’s urgent, don’t call them while they’re on one of their rare vacations.

Here’s where you come in: Pastors need to be encouraged and loved. They need to be forgiven. Never forget them and other church leaders in your prayers. Your pastor needs you as much as you need your pastor!

One of the greatest struggles of a pastor is how to make the best use of time. Of all the members of the congregation the pastor has perhaps the most potential for being fragmented, pulled this way and that. The pastor also is the person in greatest need of help. So now you know your job.

Prayer for Peace:

Merciful God, we would be merciful, too. Let us put ourselves in the shoes of our leaders. Let us follow them on the road to peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All

Each day this week reflect on God’s call in your life. Begin by prayerfully asking to recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come.

When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energies and gifts? When have you felt most deeply connected and responsive to God’s movement in your life? When have you felt disconnected or resistant to God’s call? How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family members, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will work side by side with my congregational leaders and show them support.

Fully Immersed in the Spirit

By Elizabeth Else of St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped… For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water…the grass shall become reeds and rushes.  Isaiah 35:5, 7

Several years ago, I was sailing the Aegean Sea. I love being “on” the water and enjoy boating. However, I’m not a strong swimmer and have always been a little hesitant to be “in” the water.

We dropped anchor to explore an area with a sunken city. While others were snorkeling, I stood, unmoving, with my head well out of the water and looked down. I could see the outlines of old house walls, partial doors, windows, and many fish. I thought I was seeing the site well enough.

Another traveler, who knows me well, noticed my reticence to fully immerse myself. Although gently encouraging in the past, and respectful of my right to make decisions, on this occasion she insisted, “You need to try snorkeling.”

She took off her goggles and snorkel and put them on me before I could make an excuse. I hesitantly took the plunge.

Suddenly, I saw spectacular sights. The fish had vibrant colors. I saw each stone of the ruins in minute detail. I swam through the doors and examined old walls. Even hearing was different as I listened through the medium of water rather than air. Because I was immersed, I was able to experience a new world of color, creatures, ancient civilization, and sound.

Just as immersing ourselves in water can bring a new world of understanding, so immersing ourselves in the spiritual world can bring new ways of relating to the divine presence around us.

May we be open to a new awareness of God’s love and call. Take the plunge. Experience the joy and possibilities of a new way. Be fully immersed in the Spirit.

Prayer for Peace:

Mysterious God, may our eyes be open to learn new ways of seeing and our ears to new ways of hearing. May we discover anew your creation and new ways to quench our thirst with your living water.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All

Reflect on God’s call in your life. Recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come. When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energy and gifts? How do your gifts and callings connect with God in your family members, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant:

With the living water of Christ, I will thirst no more for the temporal. I will be one with the Spirit.

The Lost Puppy

By Elizabeth Booth of Fort Gratiot, Michigan, USA

The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.  Isaiah 32:17–18

One brilliant summer day, Bridget my shih tzu puppy, lay in the window, longing to go outside.

She turned and looked at me, her big, black eyes saying, “Please let me go out and enjoy the yard.”

I opened the door, and she tore into the backyard.

Little did she know she was about to get more than she bargained for. She found a small hole in the wooden fence, and suddenly Bridget’s world got much bigger.

Minutes later I realized she was gone. In desperation I called and called. Suddenly I realized what had happened. I tried and tried to coax her back through the same hole. But in the excitement of exploring and discovering a different world in the neighbor’s yard, she wouldn’t come.

Soon, though, she found her new surroundings unfriendly and became frightened. But she just wouldn’t answer my call. In desperation I called my grandsons, Dylan and Ethan. They went around the fence and into the neighbor’s yard, picked up Bridget, and helped her back into her yard.

For many people Bridget’s story becomes real as they are enticed by the lure of the world. They wander away from their families and church. They become lost. Unable to find their way home, they begin praying for Jesus to search for them. Finding them, he’ll lead them back, where once again they can dwell in Christ’s peace.

Prayer for Peace:

Tender Shepherd, who never forgets any sheep, find us when we get lost. Bring us back to the path leading home. Bring us back to the path leading to peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All

Each day this week reflect on God’s call in your life. Begin by prayerfully asking to recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come.

When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energies and gifts? When have you felt most deeply connected and responsive to God’s movement in your life? When have you felt disconnected or resistant to God’s call? How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family members, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant:

When I am lost, God, I will turn to you for guidance.

Learn Faith and Love from a Child

By Flo McDonald of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

Shun wasteful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  2 Timothy 2:22, adapted

A deep moment of awakening may come at any time. All are called to be humble and teachable. I received words of encouragement and was blessed by a simple act of kindness.

One day I was trying to paint the high ceilings in my dining room. I stood on the stepladder with the paint and a roller, reaching for the ceiling. I had been working for some time and was getting tired. I began to complain about what a hard job it was.

My first grandson, a toddler, was watching me. He walked to the ladder, hugged it as best he could, looked up at me and said in a loving and compassionate little voice, “My grandma—I’ll fix it for you.”

I immediately was humbled and ashamed. I stopped painting and took time to give my grandson a big hug and assured him I was all right. This child loved me so much he was willing to help, even though he couldn’t.

I have never forgotten that moment. I have come to appreciate the lesson I learned through the words and love of a small child.

There have been times in my life when I have made a great effort to respond to some need only to find I wasn’t needed after all. Although I sometimes have thought my time was wasted, I believe that when making the effort willingly, prepared, and with love, our intentions are affirmed in the sight of God.

Prayer for Peace:

We call on you, God, with a desire for a pure heart. May we not wait for comfortable tasks that we are sure we can do. We would not be waiters, but doers. May we be brave enough to share the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All

Each day this week reflect on God’s call in your life. Begin by prayerfully asking to recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come.

When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energies and gifts? When have you felt most deeply connected and responsive to God’s movement in your life? When have you felt disconnected or resistant to God’s call? How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family members, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will accept the challenge and risk myself for peace.

The Wind in Our Sails

By Marian Hassell of Richmond, Virginia, USA

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:4–7

“It took the wind right out of my sails.” I never gave it much thought before, but suddenly this phrase had new meaning. For a sailboat, it would be a time of no movement. The force of the wind enabling forward motion would be temporarily gone.

For a person, it might be an event with an emotional impact that makes response temporarily impossible.

I felt that way as I heard the news of the young freshman violinist. I was stunned. He had jumped from a bridge after being mortified by his roommate and a friend. A life of promise was gone.

 Shaming a friend was a cruel act. I might dismiss these two students as people who have nothing in common with me. I would never do anything like that. But what if, in my still moments, I examine not the behavior of those students, but my own actions or inactions.

How do I reach the model of love lived out by Jesus? Am I fulfilling my commitment as a disciple to be a loving servant in my family, at work, at school, at the shopping center? Jesus tells us his disciples are to be known by their love. What would loving people look like? How would they behave? The scripture reading for today gives a concrete list of attributes: patient, kind, not envious, or boastful, or arrogant, or rude, rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

If I am honest, when the wind has gone out of my sails I remember times I have fallen short. That’s in the past. Today brings opportunities to move in love—serving as the disciple I feel called to be.

Prayer for Peace:

God of grace, forgive me for all the times I have not been patient or kind. Forgive me for not rejoicing in the truth, for not promoting hope and peace. Help me be mindful of my call to discipleship wherever and whenever there is need.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All

Each day this week reflect on God’s call in your life. Begin by prayerfully asking to recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come.

When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energies and gifts? When have you felt most deeply connected and responsive to God’s movement in your life? When have you felt disconnected or resistant to God’s call? How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family members, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will look to the model of Jesus and practice his love.

Stand for God

By Susan Skoor, Council of Twelve Apostles

…all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.  1 Samuel 17:46–47

David was a youth without training in warfare when he confronted Goliath. Saul agreed to let David fight Goliath, but he tried to clothe David in armor that impeded his agility and motion. No one expected David to succeed.

Armed with trust in God and the youthful skills honed in tending sheep, David proved himself and stood strong in faith for God.

When I attended university the young adults took the initiative to plan creative worship services and travel to congregations around Columbia, Missouri. Although some of our ideas were strange and perhaps less than worshipful, we were warmly welcomed wherever we went. No one dismissed us as too young to plan worship services, nor did they weigh us down with tradition and precautions.

Consequently, we had the opportunity to learn by doing. We grew in our ability to plan and carry out meaningful worship services. As we interacted with older adults and began to know them as friends, we began thinking of their needs as we did our planning.

We moved in faith, offering skills still new and untried, standing strong for God. We were secure in the loving embrace of older, wiser people who accepted us as we were, with raw energy and commitment to God. I am who I am today in part because of the generosity of the adults in Columbia, Missouri, who nurtured and loved me in years of exploration.

Now it’s time for my generation to empower the youth and young adults as they step up to lead in new ways. I want to give them my armor and encourage them to follow my methods and perspective. However, I will trust them to stand strong for God and slay their own giants in their own way.

Prayer for Peace:

God of all generations, we offer thanks for young adults and youth. Thank you for their vitality, creativity, and joy. Help us build bridges of peace and empowerment between their lives and the lives of older adults.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All

Each day this week reflect on God’s call in your life. Begin by prayerfully asking to recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come.

When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energies and gifts? When have you felt most deeply connected and responsive to God’s movement in your life? When have you felt disconnected or resistant to God’s call? How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family members, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant:

I will seek wholeness among the generations in the spirit of shalom.

Two Copper Coins

By Mary Hathaway of Washington, D.C., USA

A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”  Mark 12:42–44

Because I have finances to meet my needs, I decided whatever coins I found in my travels I would donate to the World Hunger Fund. Once, this brought an unexpected return.

A woman ahead of me in line had finished her grocery checkout. I noticed she and the cashier were fumbling in their purses, looking for coins. Fishing out my coin purse, I handed her two pennies. I told her I knew I had the pennies because I had planned on putting them in the World Hunger “can” at church. She accepted the pennies and completed her purchase.

Then to my astonishment she turned back to me and handed me a dollar bill, “for the World Hunger can” she said. The giving of those two coins had returned 200 fold. Praise God for generous people who help us by contributing to the mission initiative of Abolish Poverty, End Suffering, which fights hunger.

Prayer for Peace:

Generous God, may we be generous too. May we give all we can to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering. May we encourage the redirection of funds spent on war to spend them on feeding people, helping those who hurt, and sharing Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice:

Watch the trees outside your window for a few moments. Close your eyes and meditate on Alma’s words about seeds and trees. If you were to plant and grow the Word of God in your heart, what kind of tree might symbolically represent this process? Envision the word-seed as it grows into a tree of life and blessing. Ask God to show you how to begin. (See Alma 16:152–173 Book of Mormon RAV.)

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will set up my personal World Hunger “can.” I will empty my pockets each day as I empty my soul in prayer—that the money will be used to great effect.

Surely God Blessed Him

By Gary McDonald of Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.  Psalm 4:8

Kyle is a family friend of many years. On a recent visit we discovered he was in terrible health. Kyle suffered from congestive heart failure, diabetes, and breathing complications. He was legally blind. Kyle was seriously overweight and didn’t have one day of the week when he honestly could say he felt good.

One afternoon he asked us to take him to the doctor. We said we would, but first we wanted to tell him about the sacrament of laying on of hands for the sick. He listened with patience, respect, and interest. Afterward he asked for that sacrament. After praying we took him to the doctor.

The doctor admitted him to the hospital. The doctor said Kyle needed about 50 pounds of fluid drained from his chest. During the procedure his heart stopped beating. The staff revived him but could not complete the drainage. While he was in intensive care I prayed for him again.

At one point the hospital staff thought Kyle was going to die. I tried to prepare his friend. Together we prayed once more for Kyle and his precarious condition. Two days later he was released from the hospital.

Kyle began walking and swimming. His need for extra oxygen disappeared. The doctor put him on a strict diet, and he lost weight. Today Kyle is a healthy, whole man who spends his time helping others in need. Surely God has blessed him.

Prayer for Peace:

Healing God, we thank you for the sacraments. We thank you for the possibility of wholeness in our lives. We thank you for our safety and our peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Honoring the Worth of All Persons

Each day this week read Psalm 139:13–18. After each reading sit quietly and let the deep meaning of the words sink into your mind, heart, and body. Imagine God watching you grow in your mother’s womb. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14a)?

Sense the intimate knowledge God has of you and every child ever born. Ask God for an awareness of the sacred worth of each person on the planet. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How are you being invited to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion.

Peace Covenant:

God, I will remember to come to you in prayer when I am in need.

Our Youth: Growing in God

By Sarah and Becky Humphrey of Independence, Missouri, USA

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  James 4:8

Sarah writes:

Where I feel God the most is at Planet Rock. This is a youth group sponsored by the Walnut Gardens Congregation of Community of Christ.

Planet Rock has helped me to meet new people and connect with God.

Whenever I am there we pray, and I can feel God. It helps me get to know God better. The prayers that people share are inspiring to me because I can feel God’s Spirit even closer. We all feel God in different ways, and Planet Rock is where I can feel God near.

Becky writes:

Last summer I had the opportunity to go on the church history caravan. When we were closest to one another and God was when we were on the bus, sharing our beliefs and becoming friends. It was during the long and exhausting hours of driving that we all grew in God. In work and play, God is there for us to know.

Prayer for Peace:

Close and loving God, we would grow even closer to you. Thank you for all the experiences that make it possible. Thank you for the activities of our community, which values us and engages us in ways that bring us together. Thank you for providing avenues of peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Honoring the Worth of All Persons

Each day this week read Psalm 139:13–18. After each reading sit quietly and let the deep meaning of the words sink into your mind, heart, and body. Imagine God watching you grow in your mother’s womb. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14a)?

Sense the intimate knowledge God has of you and every child ever born. Ask God for an awareness of the sacred worth of each person on the planet. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How are you being invited to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion.

Peace Covenant:

God, I will support the programs of the community that engage our youth in positive ways.