A Swarm of Help

Tuesday, April 30

4-30By Cindy L. Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, 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

This past spring had been unusually wet, resulting in an unusual mass of mosquitoes and gnats. One evening when a friend and I were outside, we decided it was unbearable to continue our walk because of the insects swarming over and around us and into any open orifice.

Suddenly, a blue dragonfly zoomed into the swarm of black gnats, scattering them. Another dragonfly joined the first one. And then, a large group of dragonflies was zooming overhead and around us, keeping the black gnats and mosquitoes at bay. My friend and I were able to continue with our walk and visit.

How often problems come swarming around us to a point where we lack the will to continue. We feel defeated. Yet God has not left us alone to face obstacles or difficulties. God’s Spirit is present and nearby, ready to help overcome struggles on life’s journey.

Prayer for Peace
Ever-present God, your Spirit may come as a rushing wind, tongues of flame, silence, or a swarm of dragonflies. May we be aware of the help that comes from you. Help us accept the mystery of your creation. May we be at peace, knowing you are with us in many ways.

Spiritual Practice: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation
Choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Prayerfully consider one of the following practices or create your own. Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude while looking and listening for God in all things. Write or pray a psalm of praise for the Earth’s beauty or a prayer of healing and blessing for its wounds.

Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping such as recycling, simple living, or fasting from over-consumption of resources. Notice the diversity of the planet’s creatures and be gentle to plants, animals, trees, and people! Fall in love with the vast, intricate wonder of God’s creation and give thanks.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will accept the mystery that you are.

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Silly Prayer?

Monday, April 29

4-29By Eustacia Judd of Norwalk, Connecticut, USA    

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing…then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

—Isaiah 35:1–2, 6

“Please God, I know this isn’t world peace or anything important, but could I please have a deer in the backyard?” Even as I prayed I thought it sounded silly. Most people want deer to stay out of their yard. But this desperate grandma wanted a deer in the yard.

The request stemmed from a promise I had made weeks before. Our 4-year-old granddaughter was coming from Texas to stay with us in Connecticut for three weeks. Her parents were moving into a new home. When we talked about her visit she was concerned about leaving her parents. To give her something to look forward to I said, “Deer come to our backyard.” Later my husband said he hadn’t seen a deer in the yard in a while, and I realized I hadn’t either. Hopefully our granddaughter would forget my promise.

We flew to Connecticut a few days later to pick her up. On the way home we stopped at a farm to watch horses and hopefully take her mind off grandma’s promise. However, as we pulled into the driveway our excited granddaughter asked, “Are the deer here now?”

There were no deer, nor were there any for the next few days. So, off I went to the feed store to buy deer food. A week passed, and still no deer. I had done everything I could think of, except one. Pray. So I took my request “upstairs.”

How blessed and thankful I was when the next morning a doe was eating the food. I woke our granddaughter early, and she went outside and slowly walked toward the deer. She got a lot closer than I ever did. She was thrilled! Every day for the rest of her visit, at least one deer visited our yard for something to eat.

How thankful I am that God hears the silly prayers of grandmas.

Prayer for Peace
We know, listening God, that no prayer is insignificant. Whether for world peace or for a butterfly to land on a flower in our garden, we pray with faith that you will hear. We know prayers are answered in unexpected ways, but our prayers always cause us to grow in understanding of all our blessing. They cause us to grow in our understanding of how to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Joy of Gratitude
Stand, if possible, with arms outstretched. Imagine God filling your arms with all that you have: family, friends, and possessions. Hold out your arms until they feel tired. Now, bring your arms across your body. Place your hand over your heart and thank God for the abundance that fills your life. Sit for a time aware of that abundance. Then ask God to help you open your heart in gratitude and share freely with others.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will not cast aside a prayer thought, thinking it unworthy.

Make No distinction

Sunday, April 28

4-28By Peter Judd of Kansas City, Missouri, USA

The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us.

—Acts 11:12

I often have said it would be easier for me if everyone in the church thought and acted like I do and had the same priorities. Although I say this jokingly, I must admit there is much truth in it. I confess that I am much more at ease with like-minded people than with those who are different.

So when my wife, Kris, and I decided to start attending Norton Heights Congregation in northeast Kansas City, Missouri, I quickly realized I was leaving my comfort zone. We started going there because Kris felt a strong call to minister with disadvantaged children. I went along to support her.

Norton Heights was then and still is a diverse congregation. Many people there are different from me in various ways. Educationally and socioeconomically, there are notable differences among the members. They cover a wide range: Some are new Christians, while others have been disciples for decades. Theologically, some are traditional, while others are progressive. In a small congregation, these differences make life interesting.

It has been easy for me to judge the ways and ideas of some to be inferior to mine. Yet whenever this happens I discover ways I am blessed and enriched by those who are different. The “me versus them” gives way to “us,” and I am humbled and judged by my thoughts that separate.

Over the years since I started attending Norton Heights I have come a long way in learning not to make distinctions. I have come to love the people of my congregation-not just those who are like me, but every one, no matter how different. We are family. We rejoice together as we become one in Christ.

Prayer for Peace
God of differences, God of common ground, may we bless others as we are blessed by them. May we be aware of the diverse gifts that are brought into your sanctuaries and embrace them for your purpose. May we welcome them and employ them to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Welcoming Unity in Diversity

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will be part of the “us” team, working for Christ’s mission.

Cast Your Nets…Mosquito Nets

Saturday, April 27

4-27By Sherri Kirkpatrick of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

“When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God.”

—Mosiah 1:49

We were back in Zambia after having the always unpredictable Congo experience. As we crossed the border today, the immigration officials spent an hour poring over our passports and—aha!—they found my passport had not been stamped out when I went into Congo.

What to do? They finally decided the clerk who failed to do the stamping, needed to come fix it. But he was off today. Finally they decided to call him in from home. He ultimately arrived, and after hemming and hawing for another hour we were released!

However, the Wasaidizi health workers were amazing as usual. The doctor from Kaboka came to Lubumbashi to meet with us. He said one of the biggest problems right now is malaria. It is especially deadly for the pregnant women who become anemic and hemorrhage during childbirth. Children under 5, who have no immunity, also suffer. For the cost of US$3, we can buy a mosquito net, and the whole family can sleep under it. I think we have a new project to pursue!

We will visit the Kasompe school tomorrow. They have finished putting new floors in the classrooms and painting the walls inside and out. We understand the parts for the new desks are made but not assembled. Things are moving, albeit slowly. We’re eager to meet with the teachers and get an update. Christ’s mission, our mission—to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering—continues.

Prayer for Peace
God of grace, keep in front of our eyes the needs of the Earth’s people. Keep us ever aware of how we can help. Help us remember this is part of sharing the peace of 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 research where my generosity might do the most good.

Missing Pieces, Missing Peace

Friday, April 26

4-26By Jeanne Hough of Claire, Michigan, USA

Heed the urgent call to become a global family united in the name of the Christ, committed in love to one another, seeking the kingdom for which you yearn and to which you have always been summoned. That kingdom shall be a peaceable one and it shall be known as Zion.

—Doctrine and Covenants 161:6b

One of my greatest pleasures is to volunteer at our senior center. My recent project was to sort out donations of myriad jigsaw puzzles. After working a long time, it is frustrating to find pieces are missing, and the project cannot be completed. We search for the missing pieces to no avail. We have to discard that puzzle so others will not repeat that frustration.

Our search for God and the peaceable kingdom also can be puzzling at times. Our patience wears thin while we search for an answer to prayer. If our closeness and awareness of God’s presence is missing, we lack the peace that God’s love and assurance can give us, and it is easy to give up the search.

The scriptures assure us that God is with us always. We must patiently and continuously search for assurance to live a life of peace and comfort in connecting with the Divine, in connecting with other kingdom builders, and in continuing our pursuit of peace on Earth.

Prayer for Peace
Mysterious God, we accept that we need to seek your kingdom and to ask questions along the way. May we not grow weary or impatient, but take time to learn what you would have us do; to take time to share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Pursue Peace on Earth
Read and reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 161:2a. Reflect on how you can “see violence but proclaim peace…feel conflict, yet extend the hand of reconciliation…encounter broken spirits and find pathways for healing.” What does the peace of Christ mean to you? Begin by prayerfully listening to your longing for peace. Prayerfully open yourself to God’s yearning for peace and the divine vision of shalom. What act of justice or peacemaking does God invite you to pursue this day? Dwell on these words of pursuit: see, proclaim, feel, extend, encounter, find.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will search for all the pieces for putting together peace.

Heads Up!

Thursday, April 25

4-25By Art Smith of Independence, Missouri, USA

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

—John 14:27

On my first scuba dive in Cartagena, Colombia, with my friend, Erv, a new portion of God’s creation opened before my eyes. But a big part of scuba for me was about overcoming fear. You have to calm down, keep your wits about you, manage the pressure in your ears and your lungs, watch your gauges, and remember to keep breathing slowly and steadily.

After I’d gotten familiar with the gear in just a few feet of water, Erv led us out a little deeper. I was following her closely, not so much watching sea life as the ends of Erv’s flippers. I started to feel a little more comfortable. There came a moment when I watched Erv double back behind me, apparently checking on another diver. I’d become comfortable enough that I actually let her out of my sight.

A moment later I glanced over my shoulder. Erv wasn’t there. Nobody was there! I looked over my other shoulder. No Erv! Nobody! I felt my heart start to race and my breathing increase. I maneuvered my flippers, legs, and arms to spin my body around, doing a full 360-degree turn. Still no Erv! I started to panic.

In the world where I normally walk, if someone I’m following ducks away for a moment, a quick check over the left or right shoulder, or turning completely around, is sure to bring them back into sight. But the underwater world is different.

It finally dawned on me to look up. In a startling moment I discovered Erv and the others hovering right above my head. I couldn’t help but think about how this experience is like my walk with God. How easy it is to become frightened and feel abandoned when all the while God is so close that—if I’m not careful—we could bump heads.

Prayer for Peace
Ever-present God, when we feel we have lost sight of you, help us remember you are in every dimension of our lives. Just because we don’t find you where we think you should be, may we be aware of your permeating presence over, under, around, and within us. May Christ’s Spirit permeate us as we share his peace.

Spiritual Practice: Flowing Water
If possible, sit where you can hear the sound of water—a fountain, stream, the sea, (perhaps a CD of water sounds). Listen to the sound as you thank God for the life-giving, life-shaping power of water. Pray for God’s blessing on all the parched places of the Earth where there is injustice, oppression, violence, and disregard for life. Pray for those who cannot find God. Now, get up and drink a glass of clear, cold water as you pray, “God, let your presence flow through me as a disciple of Christ Jesus.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will see your creation with new, all-encompassing eyes.

Rooted in God

Wednesday, April 24

4-24By Carolyn Brock of Independence, Missouri, USA

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.

—Jeremiah 17:7–8

Once in an African desert we came upon a woman digging for water. Her thin, muscular body was dripping with sweat as she used a large tin can to scoop up soil along a dry riverbed. After hours of hot, strenuous work, she finally found the water. Tilting her head back, she poured the full can over her head and face, then laughed. The work of going deep into the earth in search of life-giving liquid was forgotten as the water caressed her skin, and she took a long, cool drink.

A deep underground river of Spirit is our source of life and joy. But it is not found merely by tapping into the surface waters. The transformation of the whole self requires digging through layers of ego and fear, illusions and false centers of meaning. Finding God at our center and choosing Spirit as our integrating identity is work that demands trust and perseverance. It is also the way we discover our thirst for God’s touch, God’s revitalizing presence.

As a people we have struggled long and hard, digging away at superficial issues—differences in language, names, words, interpretations of doctrines. Perhaps the real question must become: “Is God’s life flowing through us?” Have we dug down to what is essential, the presence of God in our bodies, minds, and spirits? Is that when we finally shall learn who God would have us become as Community of Christ?

Prayer for Peace
Faithful God, we trust in you. We seek your Living Water. We will share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Deepening Roots
A tree with superficial roots will wither during drought or be uprooted by severe storms. A tree whose roots go deep is stable and draws from deep waters. Imagine yourself as a tree by a river or stream. Sense your roots extending deep into the earth in search of God’s Spirit. Reflect or pray about what you hope to find as your spirit searches for deeper identity in God.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will dig deep to find the disciple you would have me be.

A Handful of Earth

Tuesday, April 23

4-23By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, 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 through the blood of his cross.

—Colossians 1:19–20

 How briefly gates and fences
measure the plot of land
where I toil and pray.
Who tilled this ground before I came?
Will we meet someday and
discuss our stewardship over it?
Sometimes I talk to God
about the tenants
who have worked this soil,
coaxing their daily bread from it.
As I kneel among the peas and cabbages,
I thank God for lending
this scrap of good earth to me
for a few seasons.
I dig and plant and
ask God to bless it for me
and for future generations
that will toil, plant, and pray
where I now stand.

Yes, this is the promised land.
Promised to a people
willing to toil and trust,
plow and pray,
and subdue the nurturing earth.
Teach us that we
must harness the passions that
threaten to consume all nations.
How long will pride and greed
rule the helpless
and rob generations
of their rightful heritage?
O, God of mercy,
starting with this land—
subdue us, refine us,
and mold us into a people
willing to give themselves
to the greatest cause of the ages—
The right of a future.

Prayer for Peace
Creator God, bless us with a determination to be stewards of your Earth— keepers of the soil and protectors of the plants and trees. Curb our consumerism and greed. Enable us to live lives that honor the sacredness of your creation.

Spiritual Practice: Weeding the Garden
Inner transformation can take place amid daily activities and work. Try cultivating the spiritual discipline of grace and acceptance while weeding the garden. As you pull each weed, offer a short prayer. Tug. (God remove from my heart all prejudice and fear.) Tug again. (God, keep me from making unjust judgments.) As you remove the weeds, continue praying. (Plant in my heart the seeds of your love.) If you don’t have a garden, try this kind of transforming prayer while engaging in repetitive activities or work today (cleaning out a closet, washing dishes, cleaning the floors, mowing the lawn).

Peace Covenant
Today God, I will remember that if I can’t reuse it or recycle it, I may not need it in the first place.

“Turn Off the Water, Mom!”

Monday, April 22 (Earth Day)

4-22By Janné Grover of Lee’s Summit, 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. Humankind must awaken from its illusion of independence and unrestrained consumption without lasting consequences.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:4b

On a walk through the nearby park on a sunny day, I was struck by the awesomeness of God’s creation. I stopped and took a 360-degree view. I saw sunlight streaming through the colors of changing foliage. Squirrels were running and jumping between trees. I saw a fuzzy caterpillar crossing the path, birds in flight, and clusters of delicate, white wildflowers. I was filled with a sense of God’s presence. I paused for a few moments to soak it in and praise God for the gift of life and the fullness of creation.

As I continued on my walk, my thoughts of praise turned to disappointment as I saw trash lying on the path. I wondered why some people are so irresponsible. I shook my head with a sense of satisfaction, knowing I would not litter.

How self-righteous of me! I began to realize I have the luxury of deciding how I care for and use the natural resources at my disposal. Sure, I do what I can to recycle and practice environmental friendliness whenever possible. However, everything I do still allows me certain conveniences, and nothing I do moves me beyond what is easy and comfortable. I know when I turn on the faucet that I will have clean water. And if I choose, I can spend as much time as I want in a hot shower—carelessly wasting water.

One Community of Christ Enduring Principle is Sacredness of Creation. I am thankful we live in a time when there is increasing awareness of pollution. Local and global efforts are made to become better stewards of our natural resources. I am pleased my kids are learning good practices at school and at church and are holding me accountable for letting the water run too long.

I now pick up trash on my walk instead of shaking my head in frustration and judgment of the carelessness of others. It may not make a huge difference in the global picture, but planting small seeds of change can lead to good effects for all creation.

Prayer for Peace
Creator of Earth, may we show gratitude for this life-giving planet by how we care for it. Help us end conflict and greed that destroy habitats. Lead us in the way to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation
Choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Prayerfully consider one of the following practices or create your own. Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude while looking and listening for God in all things. Write or pray a psalm of praise for the Earth’s beauty or a prayer of healing and blessing for its wounds. Give thanks.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will turn off the water and leave more to share.

“Alive in the Lord”

Sunday, April 21

4-21By Ron Harmon, Council of Twelve Apostles

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose names was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At the time she became ill and died… they laid her in a room upstairs…Peter…knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes…

—Acts 9:36–37, 40–41

The sun set as we gathered around the fire after a full day at camp. I was thinking ahead to the soft pillow and bed that awaited me in the lodge.

I was not prepared for what I was about to experience.

John was a new member of the church I had met earlier in the day in my class. When I asked the class members to share something we might not know about them, John shared his life journey and experience with Christ through a small Community of Christ congregation.

John’s story was raw, difficult to hear at times, yet powerful. He experienced God’s love through a genuine and caring community. His life was different as a result. He shared his story with intensity and delight as he described the radical change in his life. Images of John’s story flashed through my mind as he began to play an old, worn guitar before the beginning of campfire.

At first I was taken aback by the harsh sound of strange chords and off-key, impromptu singing. He was making the words up as he went. I could not recognize the words, but the joy in his voice moved me. As people gathered for the campfire he continued to sing. It was as if no one noticed he was singing out of tune.

Here was a man who was alive in Christ and at home with his surroundings. The community that welcomed him continued to affirm his place among them. Like Tabitha in Acts 9, John often had found himself on the margins of society. This was his experience in a world that often does not recognize the possibilities of new life. I smiled inside the next day when I heard John playing and singing a new song of joy hope.

Prayer for Peace
Ever-present God, we are alive in Christ. We become new through your Spirit. We are fulfilled in doing Christ’s mission and sharing his peace.

Spiritual Practice: Music for Meditation
Identify a form of music for meditation. Choose music that carries a soulful, spiritual, or healing quality for you. Sit quietly and soak in the intent of the composer. Allow healing waves of sound to lift your spirit.

Peace Covenant
Today, god, I will listen to the heart of the singer and not-so-m