Accept God’s Mission

Sunday, June 30

6-30By Dale Luffman, Council of Twelve Apostles

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven…Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here… but Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” As they continued walking and talking…Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father!…But when he could no longer see him…he picked up the mantle of Elijah…

—2 Kings 2:1–2, 11–13

We can learn many of the skills for ministry. This is my experience. We often seek a minister of high competence, one who has gained the community’s confidence of faith. We look to people who embark on the vocation of ministry. This is the case for Elisha as he looks to Elijah, who sought him out to cloak him with his prophetic mantle. God called Elisha to be a minister to promote God’s purposes for Israel.

Elisha serves Elijah and receives on-the-job training. Developing the skills of ministry is not easy. It is based on more than desire or personality. Formation of disciples is hard work! That is why Community of Christ tries to aid developing ministry by offering seminary and Ministerial Education and Discipleship Studies courses. Elisha comes to understand that preparing for ministry is not only hard, but costly, sometimes confusing, and exhausting. Elisha stretches as he is tested.

Often, ministry does test us. A competent, learned mentor like Elijah is significant to the Elishas of this world. They help those who embark on developing the gifts of ministry that honor God and serve the needs of people of faith.

But it is hard to let go of those who wisely lead and teach us. We find it easier to follow than lead. Elisha discovers this. Grieving, Elisha nonetheless takes up the mantle of Elijah and extends the prophetic witness. He does not give up! Elijah had called Elisha to vigilance and to faithful witness so Yahweh’s mission might be evident in Israel’s life. Elisha receives the testimony that he needs in Elijah’s departure.

He now picks up his mantle and is confirmed in his new role of ministry.

Prayer for Peace
We are listening for your call, God. We await our part in Christ’s mission. We will prepare ourselves as disciples to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Develop Disciples to Serve
Read and reflect on Psalm 42:1–2. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to respond to people and their needs. The call to journey inward can restore us in times of physical or spiritual depletion.

When you are thirsty, dry, and empty, listen prayerfully again to the psalm: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” As you feel restored, thank God for the opportunity to be a responding, serving disciple. Remember this exercise as you drink water throughout the day.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will pick up my mantle and accept a new role.

Advertisements

Soften My Heart, Lord

Saturday, June 29

6-29By Deb Crowley of Charlotte, Michigan, USA

“And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”

—Matthew 25:40

How can we work hand-in-hand with God to change lives? Perhaps it’s in response to a phone call to rush to the hospital. There we pray for a friend who received a life-threatening diagnosis. Perhaps we answer a midnight call that summons us to the bedside of one leaving this world. Maybe it’s in response to a stranger who seeks help paying a utility bill. There are no strangers among us.

A family in emotional, spiritual, or financial crisis needs someone to invest time. We can do that. Spend time. Be present. A co-worker needs a listening ear. We listen. A frenzied parent, stressed to the limit, needs help with childcare. Let them come.

God softens our hearts to respond to the plight of children sold into slavery in Africa, Asia, and other places. Are we aware, are we angered to action? We can travel from our comfortable homes to aid families in crisis after a natural disaster, nearby or far way. God nudges our conscience to dig deeper into worldwide issues and possible remedies. God calls us to do something about them. Perhaps our actions rely on world mission tithes.

“Abolish Poverty, End Suffering.” These are easy words to say. Acting on them can bring stunning results. Lives are changed.

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, humble us for your service. Soften our hearts in alignment with Christ’s mission. May we work together to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Embodying God’s Shalom
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 people, 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 does God invite you to consider this day?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will do my part to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering.

Make a Difference

Friday, June 28

6-28By Sara Parkin of Midlands, Michigan, 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

(Part 4 of My Journey with Alzheimer’s Disease)

Alzheimer’s patients can make a difference in the world. When we see someone who looks burned-out, fatigued, tired, or tapped out, we can make a change in their lives. We can pray, listen, place our hands on their shoulder, ask if we can help them, or let them know we care. We will make a difference.

To do this, we need to take care of ourselves. We need to keep our brains working and play games. We can risk doing something that is challenging to us—try it. If it doesn’t work, it is not a failure because we will have learned something new. We will have learned it is something we can’t do at this time. So, we can try something else.

We can exercise, walk, move in our chair while watching TV, or move our arms, neck, and fingers. We can laugh, dance, or do dishes. We can just move at our own rate and rest when we need to.

Eat fresh fruit, fresh veggies, lean meat, fish, rice, potatoes. Pray for others. Pray for self. Write in a journal. Have quiet time with God, who journeys with you.

Prayer for Peace
Thank you, God of light, for shining in our darkness. May we shine, too, for others. Use us in Christ’s mission. May we use our gifts and our light to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All
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 God’s love 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, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will ponder how I can make a difference.

Creative Suffering

Thursday, June 27

6-27By Barbara Howard of Independence, Missouri, USA

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

—Luke 1:78–79

Listen to the story of the plagues of locusts that devastate the countryside of South Africa. Hordes of insects come in cycles. They cover the land, devouring every plant in sight. Landowners run out and try to drive the locusts away. It is useless. Like a tidal wave, they sweep over the countryside. The land lies stripped and bare from their destruction. Then the insects, gorged from all they have eaten, die. They cover the ground in piles of corpses.

Now the heartbroken farmer must act. He rakes them together and plows the predators underground. From the plowing, and from the remains of these despicable creatures will come the greatest crop he has ever grown.

We can accept human suffering and tragedy in this way. Beethoven finished what some consider his greatest work after he became deaf. Milton wrote some of his finest poetry after he was blind. Some people have been able to take pain and affliction and use it as strength.

Viktor Frankl describes this powerful use of suffering in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Living in the death camps of Nazi Germany, he came to believe and live the principle that regardless of the circumstances, life held great meaning. He used his suffering creatively. He affirmed there is a dimension of life that we experience only through pain.

The life of Jesus is the lived-out principle of creative suffering. May we develop the courage to use our suffering creatively.

Prayer for Peace
In the despair of our illnesses, God, give us strength to survive. In our survival, give us hope that we might focus our minds on life. In our living may we creatively engage in community with others. God, help us recognize blessings in trials. Help us creatively share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Connecting with God as Center
Connect with God through journal writing or contemplation. Open yourself to God’s presence and share what flows from your heart and mind. It might take the form of a prayer, psalm, or poem. Try to write or meditate at least five minutes each day.

What do you experience? Is this an effective way to connect with God? What surprises you? What new God images or questions emerge? What deepens or changes in your relationship with God, Christ, Spirit?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will not dwell on my darkness, but I will center myself on Christ.

Hospitality

Wednesday, June 26

6-26By Carolyn Brock of Independence, Missouri, USA

Be patient with one another, for creating sacred community is arduous and even painful. But it is to loving community such as this that each is called. Be courageous and visionary, believing in the power of just a few vibrant witnesses to transform the world…

—Doctrine and Covenants 161:3c

Fish in coconut sauce, fried crickets, warm Coke, and spiced chai (tea) were among the delicacies we enjoyed in the homes of African church friends. We soon learned the hospitable sharing of food is a central theme of African community life.

We never entered a home, no matter how small, in which they did not offer food or drink. This was not preferential treatment for white missionaries. Everyone who enters an African home is offered food. To fail to give or accept hospitality is an offense, a sign that community and trust do not exist.

Feeding one another, sharing our basic substance, is the way we support each other’s being. To be in community means to live together in life-sustaining, soul-nurturing ways. Survival in tribal terms hinges on being in community.

What can we do about the survival of our tribe? How does our survival depend on being in community? How can we live up to the name “Community of Christ” without also taking on the hospitable, inclusive behaviors of Jesus, who shared physical and spiritual food? Jesus’ actions define community as life-supporting, wholeness-promoting relationships with all God’s people.

How does “creating sacred community” imply a deeper, more complex, diverse journey of becoming than we have previously imagined for ourselves? We begin by opening our hearts in hospitable ways to all who need to be “fed.”

Prayer for Peace
God of all tribes, kindred, and tongues, we need to be fed by your Spirit and by one another. May we feel welcome at your table of grace.

Spiritual Practice: Welcoming Unity in Diversity
Meditate on Unity in Diversity. 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 us from loving one another.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will go deeper and work on my becoming.

A New Life in Christ

Tuesday, June 25

6-25By Cindy Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, USA

I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

—Ezekiel 37:26–27

I live in a part of the United States once called the “Great American Desert.” It is land that was considered unfit for cultivation and inhabitation by people, mainly because of the lack of water. Yet, as the early pioneers traversed this land, the sight of lone windmills soon sprinkled the terrain. Those windmills—the source of water and life—changed this land into a place of value and new life.

We, too, are sparse in an inhospitable world. We who would be sanctuaries and signal communities for those on a spiritual journey can point to a God whose dwelling place is among us. Through Christ, each of us becomes a new person, a landmark offering hope and life in a barren world. We can be windmills for the wearied voyager by directing them to the living water of Christ. Here they will find a new and blessed life. What once was considered worthless is now rich and valuable.

Prayer for Peace
God who sends us Living Water, we need not thirst again. God who sets sanctuary among us, we are not afraid. God who calls us to be sanctuary for others, may we share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Invite People to Christ
Read and reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 162:3b and 163:2b. Pray to be aware of people who might be receptive, and therefore blessed, by your sharing of the message of the Living Christ. Imagine being in relationship with them and inviting them to Christ. In preparation, discover your personal testimony of Christ. “Be persistent in your witness and diligent in your mission to the world.” Repeat this mantra throughout the day: “Christ’s mission, our mission, my mission.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will be a beacon for the lost, a well for the thirsty.

Under the Bed

Monday, June 24

6-24By Ward Serig of Pensacola, Florida, USA

A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43Then 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. 44For 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

Several children in our congregation were preparing for the time when they would enter the waters of baptism. Their teacher asked, “What are some ways you help your parents at home?” One boy responded, “I push everything in my room under the bed so it will look like I cleaned the room.”

I have often thought about the youngster’s reply. I find myself wondering if, and when, I have pushed things “under the bed” and out of sight to impress others. Jesus came down hard on those in his time who behaved in this manner. He didn’t think much of those who prayed in public to remind their hearers how righteous they were.

He affirmed the widow who gave her last, small bit rather than those whose large coins made a loud noise when tossed into the offering bowl. He rebuked those who tithed meticulously but were dishonest in their private dealings, not caring about helping those in need.

Perhaps when I am tempted to push debris “under the bed” I should ask myself, “When will it pile up and be pushed out on the other side for all to see?” A better question might be, “What would Jesus do?”

Prayer for Peace
All-seeing and all-knowing God, may we be sincere in our generosity and give with sacrificial love. May we never separate ourselves from you by trying to hide that for which we are ashamed. May we come repentant and freely receive your grace. May we be transparent and genuine so we may freely share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Making Responsible Choices
Prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.

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

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will repent and rejoice in your grace.

Where Do We Encounter God?

Sunday, June 23

6-23By David Brock, presiding evangelist

Now there was a great wind… but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence…Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered…the Israelites have…killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life…Then the Lord said to him, “Go…you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.”

—1 Kings 19:11–15

Being a prophet is difficult!

Elijah risks his life to stand up for God before the prophets of Baal. And what is his reward? A pledge by Queen Jezebel to kill him within 24 hours! Afraid and feeling sorry for himself Elijah flees into the wilderness, lies down under a lonely tree, and pleads with God for death.

But, God is not done with Elijah. God does not abandon him, but provides warm baked cake and fresh water…twice! Later, there is a cave to shelter him and the presence of the Holy in the unforgettable “sound of sheer silence.” God does not let Elijah have the desire of his discouraged heart to go to sleep and never wake up.

Being a prophet is difficult!

God nurtures and cares for Elijah but does not stop there.

God demands, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And God gives a directive: “Get up and eat!…Go out!…Stand on the mountain!” And, again, later: “Go, return on your way!…Go, anoint the king!”

If Elijah’s life is a guide for our own, we can assume God meets us anywhere God wants, but often not where we expect. Many proclaim God’s presence in earthquake, wind, and fire, but sheer silence may more often be the place of encounter. It may be in notable and public ways–walls come down; there is a sea change in political and economic arenas; societies free captives and restore justice.

But is God less present in our fears, in our lonely, wilderness places, in our want-to-give-up-and-die times? Sometimes God encounters by nurturing and protecting and comforting. Sometimes God says, “Get up…Go out…Stand…Return…Go!”

Being a disciple is difficult!

Encounters with God can be difficult. However, they also restore, refresh, and renew. We cannot go anywhere where God will not or cannot meet us. Thanks be to God!

Prayer for Peace
Covenant God, you are there, in the silence, to comfort us when we are afraid to feed us when we are hungry, to give us strength for Christ’s mission.

Spiritual Practice: Reflection on Hunger
Hold a piece of bread in your hands. Reflect on the people and work that made this bread possible: the farmers, millers, bakers, transportation workers, and grocers. Offer a prayer of gratitude and blessing for all who worked to create this bread. Ask for compassion and courage to offer bread to all who hunger.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will get up and go out to engage in Christ’s mission.

Children of Courage and Compassion

Saturday, June 22

6-22By Sherri Kirkpatrick of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

The earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of the earth to be agents unto themselves.

—Doctrine and Covenants 101:2f, adapted

Children from Escondido, California, want the children in Zambia, a country in Africa, to know they have friends in the United States. The Escondido children drew pictures and words depicting courage and compassion. They also sent photos of themselves. They are eager to develop a continuing connection with the children in Chipulukusu and Kasompe in Zambia.

One person with passion is often the catalyst for moving an entire group. A fourth-grade class in West Des Moines, Iowa, is no exception. Braedon Kirkpatrick made an impassioned plea to his class for the kids in Africa. As a result the class partnered with HealthEd Connect on a character-development project. One class posed for a photo while holding the posters made for children of the schools in Kasompe and Chipulukusu, showing in pictures and words the characteristics of respect and responsibility.

The children learned about the kids in Africa through a class presentation by Braedon. The pictures accompanied the HealthEd Connect team and were presented to the children in the Zambian schools. Pictures will be taken of the children in Zambia and sent back to the fourth-grade classes in West Des Moines. Friendship, caring, and new awareness now stretches around the world. What fun!

Kendra, Maya, and Georgia Seagraves from California were so touched by the needs of the children in Zambia that they decided to make their connection a long-term project. They put a jar on the kitchen table where they placed donated money they earned or were given, and they graciously accepted other donations from family. When Kendra received US$10 in a birthday card, she immediately ran to the jar and donated the entire amount. They have donated enough to provide 1,500 school lunches! What an awesome response by awesome kids.

Prayer for Peace
God of all nations, help us send our compassion around the world. May we learn from the generous response of the children, how to share your peace.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
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 make generous choices for what matters most.

God: Hidden below the Surface

Friday, June 21

6-21By Peggy Young of Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

—Isaiah 55:12

It’s June 21, the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere, the transition of spring into summer. The riotous blooming of spring is over. Farmers planted their fields. Seedlings are starting to grow. Of all the seasonal shifts, this one, to me, is the least noticeable.

The arrival of spring is dramatic. Warmth returns. Lush greens replace tired browns. Blossoms and flowers of all colors cheer the landscape. Birdsong fills the air. Almost as spectacular is the arrival of fall with the turn of color in the leaves and a decided chill in the evening air. And who can miss the advent of icy winds and shimmering snow in winter?

A rise in temperature, however, is usually the only sign summer has arrived. We tend not to notice the tiny buds left behind after warm breezes blow away the flowers. Crops grow in the fields with subtle change. Unless you walk among the rows, you are unaware of the produce taking shape and getting larger. Yet, it is happening.

We often become impatient during times in our lives when we don’t see any productivity. But though we may be unaware, something is happening. God is always working within us, behind the scenes, and hidden below the surface. Previously planted seeds may be ripening unseen in our hearts and souls. When the harvest of our hearts is ready, will we be ready to reap?

Perhaps a fresh chance will arise to forgive someone who wronged us long ago. Perhaps a new idea will burst into our awareness, ready for us to write about, speak about, or just accept. Perhaps an opportunity to show love, long in preparation, will come about.

Let us rejoice during times of unseen growth and preparation and pray that we recognize the harvest when it arrives.

Prayer for Peace
We are joyful, Creator, for we know the harvest lies just below the surface. We hear the birds sing and know the soil is ready to burst with new life. A fresh chance lies just ahead to forgive and 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.

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 nurture the seeds growing in my soul.