Christ Is Risen

Sunday, March 31

3-31By Andrew Bolton, Council of Twelve Apostles

But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

—Luke 24:12

Reading the entire text of today’s scripture (Luke 24:1–12) has great value. Verse 12 is how the story ends. Peter, acting on the testimony of devoted women disciples, goes to see fi the tomb is as empty as they say it is. He finds the tomb empty. All four gospels speak of an empty tomb. Where is Jesus? For some there are doubts about the resurrection experiences. Then in other there is joy and , for peter in today’s passage, amazement.

However, what do Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection mean? I have pondered this for years. This is what I now understand.

Because of the crucifixion of Jesus the Gospels describe human evil in its full, brutal, and cruel reality. The religious establishment accused an innocent man, and the oppressive Roman Empire executed him. It is another story of human-rights violation, of an innocent victim who simply protested the rip-off of the poor in the temple system (Luke 19:45–48). The Gospels do not flinch in telling the truth about human evil. The Gospels take sinfulness seriously. Christianity, therefore, is not naïve about the human condition.

But that is not all. In the light of Easter morning, we witness the power of God to right a wrong, to bring healing for injustice, to turn the tables on evil. Jesus rises back to life. Good overcomes wickedness. Human history makes a decisive turn.

Of all people, Christians are the most realistic about human evil and at the same time the most hopeful about the kingdom where the worth of all people is celebrated and honored. That is the message of crucifixion Friday and resurrection Sunday for me.

And like Peter I am amazed.

Prayer for Peace
May we be amazed anew, God, at the healing power of the resurrection. May we be ever aware of the hope for the human condition because of Christ. May we share this hope and Christ’s peace with all humanity.

Spiritual Practice: the Ashes of God’s World
Hold an imaginary or real bowl of ashes in your hands. Let it represent the losses, sufferings, and injustices in the global community. Name things in the bowl that particularly grieve you. Pray a blessing on the Community of Christ as it responds to the ashes of God’s world with healing words and reconciling actions.

Peace Covenant:
Today, God, I will believe when I hear of the empty tomb.

Empty Tombs

Saturday, March 30

3-30By Val Walker of Plainfield, Indiana, USA

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.

—Psalm 98:4–5

My family traveled to a Florida beach for a short vacation. It was close to Easter, and I was preparing a sermon. I prayed for a testimony to help focus my words in a fresh way.

I walked the beach daily in sugar-like sand, occasionally picking up shells. As names came to mind, I would toss a shell in the water and say a prayer for family and friends. As the waves broke on the shore, I could hear my congregation break forth in joyous song and praises on Easter morning. Could I break forth with a meaningful message?

I kept asking God to prompt me with ideas to share. One morning while walking the beach, the words “empty tombs” came to me. My thoughts were, “Obviously the tomb was empty. It’s Easter! How is that different from any other Easter sermon?”

I kept on walking, challenging God again with the same question. After hearing “empty tombs” for the third time, I decided to listen closely. I reached down for a shell, and finally the answer came to me. This shell was an empty tomb—once home to a creature that outgrew it and found a new home, or died and became food for another. The shell itself was beautiful but no longer was needed by the creature that once lived in it.

Then came the words: “Are you an empty tomb? Have you shared Christ with others, letting him out of the tomb? Or do you keep him to yourself, not wanting to let anyone know what you have? Scared to share because you might not be accepted?” I had my testimony.

That morning I gathered a whole bag of shells, many broken, some perfect, but all empty. They became mementos for everyone that Easter day, reminders that we need to empty the tomb, to share the Christ and create a spiritual home for someone else. We need to share as Christ would share.

Prayer for Peace
God of the breaking waves and the still, small voice, may we pause to listen for an answer when we call for you. May we hear your message in what is before us. May we find the sacred in the ordinary. May sharing Christ’s peace be part of our everyday lives.

Spiritual Practice: Breathing with the Ocean
Sit or lie in a relaxed posture. Pay attention to your breathing. Let the rhythm become calm and even. Imagine sitting or lying on a warm, sandy beach with ocean waves rolling in and out near your feet. Listen to the waves as they “exhale” and “inhale.” Begin to breathe in time with the waves. Become aware of the ocean as the presence of God washing onto the shore to touch your body and spirit. With each breath receive what the ocean of God brings you. Let go of what is carried into the sea of God’s presence. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving. Ask how you can share God’s healing and peace today.

Peace Covenant:
Today, God, when I call on you—I will pause to listen with expectation.

Christ. Alone Then…Alone Now?

Friday, March 29

3-29By Deb Crowley of Eaton Rapids, Michigan, USA

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart!

—Psalm 36:9–10

Beneath the twisted olive tree
the Savior wept for you and me.
There he prayed throughout the night
waited for the morning light.
His friends just slept, they didn’t care
he was alone in deep despair.
—Peggy Michael

In a 2010 survey, two-thirds of those polled knew that Easter is a religious holiday. But only 42 percent connected its meaning to Christ’s resurrection. And only 2 percent of adults said they would describe Easter as the most important holiday of their faith.

Not everyone who connects Easter to religion has the facts straight. Two percent of those surveyed said Easter is about Jesus’ birth. Another 2 percent said it’s about Jesus’ “rebirth.” And 1 percent said it’s a celebration of his second coming. Three percent described Easter as a celebration of spring or a pagan holiday.

In the same survey, 31 percent of active church-goers said they definitely would invite an unchurched friend to worship with them on Easter weekend. This Easter, share the truth and joy of the holiday with someone who doesn’t know Jesus and the salvation he offers. Don’t leave Christ alone in the garden. News of the resurrection is too good to keep to ourselves! Invite People to Christ!

Prayer for Peace

Ever-present God, we want to be present for you. May we not keep you waiting for our response. May we be present for those who are lonely. May we share with them the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Teacher-learner
The first disciples of Jesus followed to hear his words, to learn a new way of living, to practice what they learned in daily life. Prayerfully consider your role as a teacher-learner, disciple-apprentice; a people cultivator in Community of Christ.

Reflect on your response to the life of Jesus. Reflect on him as teacher, surrounded by people. Now think of him alone in the garden. Can you be present for him; present for others in his name? Write or think of people you feel called to nurture and encourage in specific ways. Ask God’s blessing on you and your congregation as a community of teachers and learners.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will not leave anyone alone in the garden of despair.

A Second “Last Supper”

Thursday, March 28

Three Ice Cream ConesBy Tammy Lindle of Independence, Missouri, USA

Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.

— James 5:14

Maundy Thursday is the Christian feast or holy day on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with the apostles. Good Friday follows, and then eventually Easter, when the Christian church celebrates restored life!

I’ve shared in some remarkable “last supper” experiences. I had jaw surgery that required a splint for my mouth. My mouth was wired shut for six–eight weeks. This meant only blended foods through a syringe and absolutely no chewing. Doctors cautioned not to overeat before surgery, so I picked a wonderful meal at a favorite restaurant two nights before my surgery. Some good friends joined me.

The night before surgery my congregation’s gardening group was at my house on gardening night. Following the evening’s work the members gathered in my backyard and had a circle prayer for me. Their prayer and presence brought me peace, assuring me I was not alone on this journey. Following the prayer they took me out for ice cream “one last time.” I count that last “meal” as one of the sacred events of my life.

Months later, I had to repeat the surgery. This time my mouth was “wired” shut for three months. I had a second “last meal” to consider. Selecting the last solid food to eat for three months might seem easy for some. I knew what was ahead of me following surgery. I enjoyed that dinner. I treasured the friends and family who would journey with me on this next trial. They brought peace and comfort to that “last supper.” Being set free from the splint and wires was a new-life experience for me—something to look forward to! I can’t help but wonder how Jesus felt about what lay ahead for him, following his last supper.

Prayer for Peace
Redeeming God, thank you for the gift of your Son. Thank you for those who pray for us and join us on our journeys. May we never leave anyone alone in their hour of need.

Spiritual Practice: Healing for Broken Spirits
Begin with quiet prayer. Ask God to help you discern some “sore places” in the body of Christ and in God’s creation. Become aware of people who feel separated, wounded, or left out. Reflect on or write a short journal entry of healing words to at least one person who comes to mind. Ask God for words that will touch this person’s broken spirit like healing ointment. Keep this person in your heart and prayers today and act on any ideas that come to bring blessing and wholeness.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will be awake and ready if anyone should need me.

Simple, Tangible Ministry

Wednesday, March 27

3-27By Robert Glenn of Evansville, Indiana, USA

“Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

—Matthew 12:18–21

A woman in our congregation holds the office of teacher. She understands what it means to be a servant to her brothers and sisters, and therefore to God. If one listed all that she does for friends, family members, and our congregation, it would be a long testimony. I will share some of it.

She takes food to those who have little or none, and to those who are sick. She organized a vegetable soup detail with cooks who met in the church kitchen to make and package several containers of soup for the pantry. She invited a friend to have her granddaughter’s baby shower at our church. All had a great time, and that grandmother, out of her thankfulness, made chicken noodle soup to enlarge the supply of soup in our food bank. She invited a woman whose washer and dryer had broken to bring laundry to her own house to be washed.

This woman counsels college girls and helps people find work. Her mind looks for ways to lighten the burden of others. She recently retired from nursing, but before she left she collected canes, grabbers, walkers, and other needed items for her workplace.

I admire her for her gracious spirit and humility in her ministry. This sister cares for others. She is a testimony to me of generosity. Her hands are God’s hands.

Prayer for Peace
Let our hands be your hands, God. Let our eyes be your eyes—looking for ways to help others, looking for ways to share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Hand Ministry
Place your hand on a piece of paper and trace around it to create an outline. Add details of fingernails, wrinkles, or skin color if desired. Look at your hand and meditate on what you do with your hands each day. Ask God to direct your thoughts to a person in need of blessing, kindness, or healing touch. Pray for wisdom about the specific act needed by this person and discern how and when you will use your hands to complete this ministry.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, my hands are your hands. Make me a servant.

…to Wholeness

Tuesday, March 26

3-26By David Brock, presiding evangelist

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually* into a dwelling-place for God.

—Ephesians 2:19–22

There is a bond beyond blood ties that binds us together with chords that we dare not break. We dare not break! All the agony and the ecstasy of Palm Sunday and Passion Week are taken up into God in Christ. God weaves them into a garment of beauty, like the bright ti fai fai the Tahitians wrap around their honored guests in Papeete on a praise-filled Sunday morning; like the shawls of India or Latin America that adorn the shoulders of hard-working wives and mothers and in which they wrap their children and grandchildren.

Just as in Christ’s day, these are still the days of wonder and miracle—the miracle of a God who can take the disparate days and dimensions of our fractured lives and communities and make a circle. A God who shapes from the chaos the beauty of fractal patterns in what we perceive only as randomness.

In those rare moments when the eternal breaks through there is no them and us. There is no now and then, no worthy and unworthy, male or female, bond or free. There is only the Eternal Now, the One, the Whole. God saves us. God takes our fractured and divided selves, heals us, and makes us whole!

Prayer for Peace
We, the broken people, God, ask you to make us whole as only you can. Help us tear down walls that separate us, overcome prejudice that fractures us, open doors that shut others outside of us. Infuse us with Christ’s peace that we may share it.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Read Psalm 139:13–18. After each reading sit quietly and let the words sink deeply 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 139:14)?

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

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will reassemble the broken pieces of my relationships into a mosaic of wholeness.

…Journeying…

Monday, March 25

3-25By David Brock, presiding evangelist

Listen to the Voice that echoes across the eons of time and yet speaks anew in this moment. Listen to the Voice, for it cannot be stilled, and it calls you once again to the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom…

—Doctrine and Covenants 162:1b

During Passion Week, I still feel fractured. I often have that divided feeling. I’m torn between the awareness of my own unworthiness, my sinful self, and probably worse—my inattentive, remote, distracted repetition of prayers that could mean so much and yet often matters so little.

Yet, on occasion, the symbolic reenactment of the central person of my faith, the central event of our movement, and the encounter between the source of life and love, offers a moment of joy unspeakable. I often feel fractured and distracted…but sometimes I also am healed and whole!

Events that took place during Christ’s Passion Week so many years ago shaped our community faith. But you know what? It is not just the truth and history that abide, the truth that undergirds, the truth that is most real. There is wideness in God’s mercy. There is a balm in Gilead and Michigan and Missouri, in Siberia and Sudan, and to the ends of creation, that makes the wounded whole.

There is a love broad like beach and meadow. There is a voice that echoes through the eons of time and down to our day…and beyond. A voice that call us by name, that calls us beloved son or daughter, that gives us our communal identity bearing a name that tells us who we are, what we are called to be, and what matters most.

Prayer for Peace
Center of life, we hear you calling us by name. We answer, recognizing Christ at the center of our faith. Source of life and love, we are yours. Use us as you will to share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Time with God
Sit quietly and let your breathing become calm and deep. Ask God’s Spirit to rest on you. See or sense the Spirit anointing you in the form of light, a dove, wind, color, or other images that might come. Ask to be made aware of God’s love. Listen to the ways in which God wants to flow from your heart as living water. Give thanks that your name is “beloved,” that our name is Community of Christ.

Peace Covenant
My prayer today, God, will not be distracted. I will be with you.

From Fractured…

Sunday, March 24

3-24By David Brock, presiding evangelist 

As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

—Luke 19:36–38

Today is Palm Sunday. It is the day of the first Christian parade! The grand marshal rides into the capital city along a crowd-lined street, and there is excitement! No majestic steed—just a donkey. The leader and his team are a ragtag bunch, but emotions are high. The adulation is overflowing. Tunics are laid before Jesus and the donkey, palm branches are waving in joy, and praise songs, chants, and shouts liberally pour over him as he passes.

The rabbi, the teacher, the healer, the forgiver, the preacher, the Lord, the one in whose presence people clamor to be. They know the authority in his voice, his touch, his eyes. He comes to their town and he just might be the savior they’ve been waiting for. Today is the day when our children parade down a pew-lined aisle in costumes, waving branches, shouting “Hosanna,” and we celebrate them in their little ragtag production. It is festive and fun, and there is a hint of Easter hope in our jubilation. It is good!

Today is Palm Sunday. And though I can and do celebrate, I can’t get away from…I can’t put out of my thoughts…what happens at the end of the parade route. It is Passion Week. The most excruciatingly painful experiences and truths lie just ahead of Jesus, there in the capital city. And just ahead of us here, there is all the denial, betrayal, failure of nerve, scapegoating, and violence perpetrated by one human on another.

We cannot turn away from the physical suffering. We face the terrible fact of the ever-so-thin veneer of civility and conviction that quickly disappears when our own hopes disappear. We face a committed, “I’ll stand by your side until death do us part” disciple, who denies he ever knew the one he once defended. The adulation quickly shifts to chants of “crucify him!” and causes me to feel fractured on Palm Sunday.

Prayer for Peace
Eternal Presence, be with us on our path from the mountain. May we understand the pain and suffering you endured, the love that made it so. May we share your love and Christ’s peace with all who are burdened.

Spiritual Practice: Chalice Prayer
The chalice prayer is a form of intercession. Create a cup or chalice with your hands in front of your heart. Open your heart to God’s concern for the Earth and human family as you hold them in your chalice. See beauty and suffering as you lift the chalice and release the creation (open hands) to be blessed and healed by God. Place yourself inside the chalice as you confess your deepest needs. Lift and release yourself to God for healing. “Thank you and amen.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will not deny your truth by my actions.

The Needs of Another

Saturday, March 23

3-23By Cindy Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, USA

Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint. Break free of the shackles of conventional culture that mainly promote self-serving interests. Give generously according to your true capacity. Eternal joy and peace await those who grow in the grace of generosity that flows from compassionate hearts without thought of return. Could it be otherwise in the domain of God, who eternally gives all for the sake of creation?

—Doctrine and Covenants163:9

When our son moved from the college dorm into an apartment, my husband and I gave him a nice wooden computer desk. A few months later when we visited him I noticed that the computer desk was missing, and his computer was spread over the kitchen table. I asked him what happened to the computer desk. He replied that he had given it away.

A little perturbed, I asked, “Why? If you didn’t want it, you could have sold it!” I could not understand why he would give away an expensive piece of furniture, especially when he could be using it.

His reply was, “My friend had a greater need for it than I.”

My son’s generosity humbled me into silence.

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, may we be cheerful givers. May we be mindful of what we have, not dwell on what we don’t have. May we share from our overflowing cup and our half-empty plate. May we share the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Generous Offerings
Spend time meditating on the act of giving an offering. Begin by asking God for the spirit of generosity. Pray and reflect with these questions: How do I feel when I bring my offering to a worship setting and share it? What deep reasons motivate me to give? What is my best understanding of A Disciple’s Generous Response? Considering my financial circumstances, do I feel I am giving to my true capacity? In other words, am I giving the amount I am capable of giving without jeopardizing the needs and well-being of my family? Is God asking me to be more generous? How will I respond?

Peace Covenant:
Today, God, I will be grateful for what I have to share.

Moving…Changing…Continuing

Friday, March 22

3-22By Don Richardson of Nauvoo, Illinois, USA

Scripture is an indispensable witness to the Eternal Source of light and truth, which cannot be fully contained in any finite vessel or language. Scripture has been written and shaped by human authors through experiences of revelation and ongoing inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the midst of time and culture.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:7a

My wife and I recently had moved to Illinois. We needed to get Illinois driver licenses, so we studied the State Driver’s Manual. After we got our licenses, we were driving to a neighboring town. There was road construction, and we were the first car in line at a stop sign held by a worker. After a short wait, the worker began walking, moving the stop sign closer to the construction site and farther from us. Should I follow him or stay put? I looked at my wife and said, “The manual did not tell us what to do when the stop sign moves.”

We study good books, including the scriptures, and we listen to others we trust. We try to prepare for every possible event in life. But along comes a circumstance in which we have no experience or information. It is at times like this we need to assess the problem, then, based on what we know from our past and our trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, try to make an intelligent decision.

Our divine Parent is always with us, even when the “road signs” of life appear to move and change on us. Trust in God.

Prayer for Peace

Never-changing God, we know it’s more urgent than ever to keep communication with you open even when—especially when—our lives change. The Holy Spirit assures us of your care and love. It gives us the strength and faith to share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Encountering Scripture as Continuing Revelation
Read and pray with Doctrine and Covenants as Continuing Revelation of God’s vision for the church and creation. Choose a favorite section or focus on counsel in Sections 156—164. Read a few selected paragraphs slowly three or four times. Pause to pray for deep understanding after each reading.

Pray for the opening of your heart and emotions. Prayerfully ask to hear the phrase or word that speaks to you or touches your life. Stay with this word or phrase. Listen as fully and openly as you can. What sense of divine presence or invitation comes? What is revealed?

Peace Covenant
When I face new challenges today, God, I will call on you and your wisdom.