Pray Faithfully

By Dave Schaal, First Presidency

…Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.  Mark 9:50

When I reach for the salt, I give it little consideration. It’s simply a seasoning that we use  with little thought or reflection.

This would not have been the case in Jesus’ time. More than just a seasoning, salt was a preservative necessary to sustain life in lean times. In addition, the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) show salt was to be used in some sacred rites. So when Jesus tells his disciples, “Have salt in yourselves,” he was saying something about the spirit that needed to be “in them” to sustain their faith and the faith of others.

A mentor of mine went through many personal difficulties. At times his heart was broken. Still he insisted on praying each day, as often as he could remember. He also took time for his own healing, while making sure he continued to help people in need.

I became convinced this combination of constant prayer and care for hurting people caused him to uphold a powerful faith that sustained him and inspired others. He had “salt within himself.”

How is your salt?

Prayer for Peace:

Faithful God, our tears roll down into the cracks of our broken hearts, and there your salty Spirit heals.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Offering Blessings of Community

Each day this week receive and share blessings of community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the network of relationships in your life. See and feel connections with family members, spiritual friends, people in your congregation and community, people and creatures in God’s sacred web of life. What blessings flow to you from these circles?

Reflect, pray, and write in your journal about the call to be “Community of Christ.” Go deeper each day as you “discern and embrace” the “divine blessing” of this name that opens you to “become a blessing to the whole creation” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:1). What act of blessing are you invited to complete?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will pray as often as I can remember.

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Go and Tell

By Rick Maupin, Council of Twelve Apostles

In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius.” He stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” He answered, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.  Acts 10:1–4

Organized in 1989, the church in Jamaica is in transition. The first generation of leaders is passing on, and a new generation is moving to the forefront.

For the future growth of the church in Jamaica and for the success of these new leaders, it is important that they have a strong connection with the church’s identity, mission, and message.

Recently several of the current and potential leaders gathered for a weeklong leadership-training event.

It focused on educating and equipping young adults to go and tell—to be leaders and missionaries.

At the end of the week a young-adult leader challenged others by saying, “The key to the future is that we do not place what we have learned on a shelf. We need to take this back to our congregations and help them grow in their understanding of scripture and church mission.”

Your contributions to World Mission Tithes made it possible to rent space and bring these leaders together for this important event. Thank you for responding generously.

Prayer for Peace:

Divine Listener, our prayers journey to you. We offer ourselves to help your children and therefore to honor you. In humbleness we ask you to accept what we offer toward sharing the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice:

Imagine or write a journal description of a banquet for your congregation and community. Envision rich sharing among diverse groups as people plan, cook, eat, share stories, and perhaps sing, or pray together. Prayerfully consider this question: “Is there a way for me to transform this vision into a real event?” What does the table ministry of Jesus look like in your personal and congregational life?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will not take what I learn of you and place it on a shelf or hide it under a bushel. I will expand on it through my witness.

Trust and Obey

By Mnqobi Ngwenya, of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

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

A few weeks ago, early in the morning, a man cycled to town and went to the marketplace before it opened. A blind man sat by a fire with friends. The stranger came directly to the blind man and asked if he could pray for him. The blind man quickly agreed and prepared to receive his blessing.

The stranger prayed, and instantly the blind man’s eyesight was restored. As the blind man and his friends were rejoicing, the stranger quickly got on his bike and cycled off without the crowd’s notice.

I was humbled, not so much by the miracle that happened to the blind man, but by the humility and obedience of the man who performed the miracle.

Unlike Jonah’s first response, he trusted the Lord and acted on what he was told to do. I imagined how far the man had cycled and what was going through his mind while on his way to the market.

I asked myself many questions and was convinced that if you trust the Lord and obey, God will be with you in fulfilling Christ’s mission.

Prayer for Peace:

God, give us a receiving spirit and listening ears so we can quickly hear and obey your leadings. We would pursue righteousness and pure hearts. We would pursue peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Welcoming Unity in Diversity

Each day this week meditate on unity in diversity. Prayerfully read Doctrine and Covenants 163:8c, which calls “the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls.”

Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle. Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “dangerous” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep you and others from being one in Christ’s peace.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will listen closely for your direction in my life.

Leading the Way

By Don Richardson of Nauvoo, Illinois, USA

…and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “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 4:17–19

When I was in basic training in the US military, a physical requirement was to run a “timed” mile. Recruits lined up on a quarter-mile track, 10 or 12 soldiers deep, about 15 yards behind another group.

I was placed close to the outside of the track. When we started, I sprinted to the inside and set a pace I thought I could keep up for the mile. After finishing, some others told me that when they saw what I did they thought I knew what I was doing, so they followed me.

If we are Christ’s disciples, we will let God lead us in the way we should go. When we are baptized we commit to follow Jesus. We need to ask if our actions reflect our commitment. Or are we fair-weather friends of Jesus—following only when it’s easy?

Let our words and actions show those around us who our leader is, who will release the captives and bring sight to the blind.

We might be ones who can lead others to Jesus.

Let us live our lives in a manner that others will want to follow us to Christ.

Prayer for Peace:

Tender Shepherd, may we keep our eyes on you as the one we would follow. Lead us on the path of peace that we may share with others.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Welcoming Unity in Diversity

Each day this week meditate on unity in diversity. Prayerfully read Doctrine and Covenants 163:8c, which calls “the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls.”

Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle. Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “dangerous” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep you and others from being one in Christ’s peace.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will follow you and help lead the way for others to find Christ’s peace.

Signal Community

By Stacey L. Keenan of Kansas City, Missouri, USA

May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. …May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy…  Psalm 72:2, 4

I am the treasurer of our school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA), and we often get requests from parents to spend funds for a charitable cause or needs of children. But because PTA is for educational purposes we needed to find other ways to meet the needs of the children and families in our school.

One mother came with the idea of a PTA-sponsored “Family Needs Committee.” This committee takes requests from social workers, school counselors, nurses, and administrators to address specific needs in the district. The needs include shampoo, bedsheets, specific sizes of clothing and shoes, and backpacks.

Any PTA parent who wishes to be a part of this committee gives an e-mail address to the committee chair. The chairperson then sends an e-mail to all parents who signed up. Parents then bring the items to a pickup station. From there, they’re delivered to the family by the social-service employee who made the request.

These items are not provided by PTA funds; rather the PTA committee acts as an e-mail transfer agency, and it’s all based on volunteer parent donations.

Good problem: This program has been so successful, many parents have been frustrated. They want to help, but the typical response time to an e-mail is just five minutes, so one must act quickly to be able to donate.

In addition, our district set up a “closet” to supply families in need.

They receive essentials such as new underwear, socks, personal-hygiene items, coats, hats, and scarves.

At a “family night” my daughter’s fourth-grade class collected more than 500 items for the necessities closet.

We have a responsibility as peacemakers and visionaries of justice to address human needs. It’s great that our responses are needed…but we better hurry!

Prayer for Peace:

Gracious God, may we give what we can to help change lives. May we share the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Welcoming Unity in Diversity

Each day this week meditate on unity in diversity. Prayerfully read Doctrine and Covenants 163:8c, which calls “the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls.”

Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle. Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “dangerous” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep you and others from being one in Christ’s peace.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will act without hesitation to meet another’s need.

The Gift of Friendship

By Lisa Soignier of Independence, Missouri, USA

Through divine grace and wisdom, this faith community has been given abundant gifts, resources, and opportunities to equip it to become such a people. Chief among these is the power of community in Christ expressed locally in distinctive fashions while upholding a unity of vision, foundational beliefs, and mission throughout the world.  Doctrine and Covenants 163:11a

Shortly after the camping season I was following a conversation on the Internet with some friends. We talked about how much our first camp counselors meant to us. We compared the counselors to our first-grade teachers.

My first counselor was Dell at Camp Powderfork in Bald Knob, Arkansas. She was a wonderful teacher and mentor. Through the years, she sent me birthday cards, graduation cards, and kept up with the birth of my children.

When I moved to Independence, Missouri, several years ago, we reconnected and resumed our friendship. During the last few years of her life at a nursing home, she still wanted to know about every detail in my life.

She was special!

During that same first youth camp, I met my best camp friend. We couldn’t wait to see each other as summer camps came around each year. Last summer we again spent some time at that same campground. Thirty years had passed since we last saw each other. It was as if time had stood still!

The most-remarkable part of this story is that my friend is not a member of Community of Christ. Through the love and acceptance she felt from the campers, she continues to want to be a part of the companionship of this denomination. One never knows what God has in mind for us through friendship.

Prayer for Peace:

Generous God, we thank you for our teachers, mentors, and counselors. We thank you for lifelong friends. We thank you for the opportunities and resources of our community that enable us to reach out in pursuit of peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Welcoming Unity in Diversity

Each day this week meditate on unity in diversity. Prayerfully read Doctrine and Covenants 163:8c, which calls “the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls.”

Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle. Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “dangerous” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep you and others from being one in Christ’s peace.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will look at my distinctive gifts and assess where I can best use them to share the peace of Christ.

“Service Spirit Soon”

By Candy Brayton of Independence, Missouri, 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

I’ve had my 2005 car about six years. The top coat of paint is peeling, the front passenger window is sticking, and the “Service Engine Soon” light has come on.

The most-recent problem had me searching the owner’s manual for answers. I learned a loose gas cap can trigger the “Service Engine Soon” light. The car’s computer reads it as an emission control failure. In simpler terms, the car can tell when it’s releasing an unacceptable level of pollution. The fix is either simple (make sure the cap is screwed on) or more involved (take the car to a service station).

What does car maintenance have to do with Christ’s love? Good question.

When I think of “emission control,” I think of the energy I project into the atmosphere. Do I pollute the environment with negativity, or do I enrich the environment with the positive energy brought by modeling my life on the example of Jesus? In this case, our virtual “Service Spirit” light should always be on. The spirit we emit needs a lot more formation than car care.

I try to set aside time daily for prayer and meditation. I try to be slow to anger. I’m trying to find positive ways to overcome sadness. I want to practice daily acts of kindness. It’s not easy if one is stuck in a negative-emissions mode, but we can change that. It takes time, commitment, patience, and mostly prayer.

Prayer for Peace:

Creator God, fill us with your positive energy. Help us realize as we live the life you would have us live, we will emit a positive witness of you. Acts of kindness and sharing the peace of Jesus Christ will be our joy.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Welcoming Unity in Diversity

Each day this week meditate on unity in diversity. Prayerfully read Doctrine and Covenants 163:8c, which calls “the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls.”

Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle. Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “dangerous” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep you and others from being one in Christ’s peace.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will be a positive witness for you.

Be Servants of All

By Art Smith of Independence, Missouri, USA

But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.  Mark 9:34–37

I can relate to the disciples in this text from the Gospel of Mark. They’re made to look foolish again and again. I know I’m guilty of this one. Even when I think I’ve been doing better at not feeling superior to others, I realize I’m doing it again. Yikes!

What to do? Jesus seems to say that I’m not going to be able to cure myself of feelings of superiority just by giving myself a good talking to. Jesus says become a slave and welcome children. I know of one who emulates what Jesus is saying.

Not long ago I was visiting Simon’s house in Sacaba, Bolivia. The building is made of adobe blocks, a humble structure indeed. Plaster on the living room walls was gouged off, patched, and gouged off again over the years. People scribbled on the paint with permanent markers. There’s not much living room furniture, no sofa, no recliner, just stacks of little plastic chairs of many colors.

On this visit a new banner hung from the living room ceiling. It marked 10 years of hosting the Community of Christ Sacaba Congregation’s children’s church. Simon and his wife, Victoria, welcome dozens of kids every week.

Recently Simon retired from full-time church employment. As I talk with him about his retirement, I find, if anything, he has increased his congregational support, even without the church’s financial backing. He still goes to Tiquipaya every Sunday and makes more trips to Collpa than ever before. In many ways, Simon chose the life of a slave.

I can’t imagine Simon arguing with anyone about who’s the greatest.

Prayer for Peace:

God, we would be humble like Jesus. Let us not concern ourselves with being greatest or first. Make us servants of peace as we serve others in the world.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Welcoming Unity in Diversity

Meditate on unity in diversity. Prayerfully read Doctrine and Covenants 163:8c, which calls “the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls.”

Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside this symbol of Christ’s peace. Who is easy to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Ask God to forgive and heal barriers to Christ’s peace.

Peace Covenant:

God, I will stand back and let others go before me, so they will be affirmed.

Expanding the Capacity

By David Nii of Centennial, Colorado, USA

…when you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God.  Mosiah 1:49

The Spokane Valley Congregation in Washington partnered with a nearby elementary school to launch a homework club that runs during the school year.

The program experienced overwhelming success in participation of students, teachers, and congregation members. Nine high-school volunteers joined the staff, which now totals 38 adults.

As a direct result of Spokane’s homework club, three people were baptized in the first year. Seventy Claude Duty, the congregational missionary coordinator, set up an effective ministry for follow-up, phone calls, home visits, and side-by-side mentoring. New people attend services and prepare for baptism and confirmation of membership.

The congregation continues to expand its hospitality and community connections. Grants from World Mission Tithes expanded the capacity of the Homework Club. The program continues to bridge the educational needs of the community with the compassionate sharing of Christ’s peace through congregational life. Thank you for responding faithfully and giving generously.

Prayer for Peace:

Thank you, God, for your presence. Thank you for opportunities to serve you by serving companions and strangers alike. We thank you for our mentors. We thank you for our volunteers. We thank you for the compassion of the community.

Spiritual Practice:

Remember or find a way to directly experience a fragrance you enjoy (scented oil, candle, fresh bread, pine trees, sea air, spices). Ask God to help you discern a situation to which you are called to bring reconciliation and healing. Pray that you might spread the peace of Christ as fragrantly and generously as the aroma you now experience. (See Ephesians 5:2.)

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will look for opportunities to serve you by serving others.

United Nations International Day of Peace

By Brad Martell of Independence, Missouri, USA

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

Looking out my living room window, I’m struck by the cross streets I live near. The white letters of North Union Street and West Truman Road against the signs’ green background recall the history of both the USA Civil War and the Second World War.

As a peace and justice minister for Community of Christ I find it interesting that I have these daily reminders of times and places of great violence and challenge in our world. They not only reflect the past, but hold before me the wars, injustices, human-rights abuses, and environmental destruction of our world today.

I pray often as I walk to my office—the messages of the street signs behind me, and the spiraling Temple dedicated to the pursuit of peace, reconciliation, and the healing of the spirit, before me. I pray for the mission of the church. I pray for communities and individuals. I pray for a stop to violence and the overcoming of poverty and suffering. I pray for the peace of Jesus Christ to continue to transform lives and communities. I pray signal communities that uphold these values will one day shine before the world.

Today is the United Nations International Day of Peace (http://www.internationaldayofpeace.org). This “Peace Day” is an opportunity for people, organizations, and nations to take part in practical acts of peace around the globe.

I pray today and each day we as a community of Christ will continue to be transformed by Christ. I pray that as we live out the mission initiatives to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering and Pursue Peace on Earth our efforts will continue to multiply throughout the world.

Prayer for Peace:

Holy Parent, teach us the peace of Christ. Forgive our past and current wars. Forgive our destruction of your creation. May we reduce our consumption of Earth’s resources and be better stewards of our planet.

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 work for justice and peace.