Peace Then…Peace Now

Monday, September 30

9-30By Ramona Seeley of Leeton, Missouri, USA

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

—2 Corinthians 5:18–19

I was working for the Red Cross in San Francisco in 1945 as the Second World War drew to a close. Down the block and across the street from the Red Cross building was the place where the United Nations began. During my lunch break, I would watch as men and women from different nations came and went. What a feeling of hope it gave me to see people involved in peace and soldiers coming home! I thought peace and harmony were possible.

Today the United Nations has not yet fulfilled all our hopes and dreams of a world without war. It made a beginning, and I still have hope that someday we may learn to live in peace with one another and through Christ be reconciled.

Can you imagine what a blessed world this would be if we could understand, appreciate, and accept the differences and diversities among us? If only we would realize that one God created all of us.

At the same time, I need to remember that peace begins with me and with what I do. The words I use affect not only the community in which I live, but the world.

Prayer for Peace
Reconciling God, we long to be a peaceful people. We long to be close to you. Bless us with a resolve to reconcile with one another and Christ, so we may share his peace.

Spiritual Practice: Peace Action
Community of Christ is called to ministries of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit. PeacePathways is a church-sponsored website sharing justice and peace ministries, resources, and opportunities. Visit www.kidpeace.org and prayerfully discern one ministry that speaks to you or captures your attention. Offer a prayer of blessing on the peace ministry you have selected. Listen quietly to see if God is calling you to additional responses to this ministry or another ministry of peace, reconciliation, or healing. If you cannot visit the website, offer a prayer of blessing on all peace ministries.

Peace Covenant:
Today, God, I will remember that peace on Earth begins with…the next thing I do.

God Is with Us

Sunday, September 29

9-29By Lackings Banda of Lilongwe, Malawi

Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation

—Psalm 91:14–16

I tell this story of Christmas, but it is for all the year. Many are the times when people in prisons, orphan care centers, and hospitals do not have hope of a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Good food, a little of celebration and a message of Emmanuel (God with us) mostly symbolize celebration for the newly born baby. Prisoners, orphans and patients expect little from the outside world at this time of year.

This year it has been different in Lilongwe. People here in prisons, orphan care centers and hospitals were cheered on Christmas day. Many people showed their love by sharing Christmas gifts. Some went to the prisons and hospitals with food and clothing, while still some went with the good news of the Gospel.

Love and sharing was at the heart of the message of Christmas. Radios, televisions and homes displayed the heart of a sharing people who cheered up those who least expected to be remembered. Jesus Christ was a gift first given by God to save us. Let us show the same spirit of sharing with the less privileged even before and after Christmas. Hope and comfort to the needy is not needed only during Christmas, but always.

Remember, individually and cooperatively as a church, the Lord needs us to bring hope and show love by sharing with those in need. You can do something and do not underrate your help that you can offer them. People in the hospitals, prisons and orphan care centers need our prayers and comfort to bring back the lost hope. Sharing, like we do at Christmas, can be the starting point of sharing what matters most. God will protect us. God is with us!

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, may we learn to share the spirit of Christmas throughout the year. May we not wait for a season to give to those in need. May we remember that Christ lives and that you, our God, are with us. May we celebrate everyday as an opportunity to give and share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Growing a Gracious, Generous Heart
Open your heart to God’s grace and generosity with a “breath prayer.” Let your breathing slow and deepen. Be aware of God’s breath moving in and out of your heart. Spend several minutes focusing on breathing in God’s generosity. With each breath, silently name one gift for which you are thankful. Let your heart expand to contain God’s gracious outpouring of love. With each breath out, name one gift you want to share from the overflow of your heart.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, and every day, I will remember the prisoner, the orphan, and the patient.

Happening in Spain

Saturday, September 28

9-28By Keith McMillan of Waltham Cross, England

God is calling for a prophetic community to emerge, drawn from the nations of the world, that is characterized by uncommon devotion to the compassion and peace of God revealed in Jesus Christ. 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

“There is something happening in Spain!” I heard this many times on a recent visit to Madrid and Barcelona. Many people are asking about Community of Christ. Several have chosen baptism. The church is beginning to recognize its potential in that nation.

Recently, about 25 members and friends of the church gathered in Madrid to celebrate Communion, the first time in many years for some of them. A wonderful spirit prevailed as the group sang hymns, prayed, and shared in companionship. This is just one example of how the Spirit of God calls us into new places to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Your contributions make Christ’s mission a reality throughout the world. Thank you for responding faithfully to the Mission Initiative of Invite People to Christ.

Prayer for Peace
Welcoming God, may we send the sound the Earth around, inviting people to Christ. May we take Christ’s message of peace and share with all who might hear.

Spiritual Practice: Ongoing Revelation
One Enduring Principle of Community of Christ is Continuing Revelation. We are a people always in process, becoming shaped by God’s interaction with us. In prayer, listen deeply to the name, “Community of Christ.” Write or say a prayer asking God to continue to form us through our name. Listen deeply to what it would mean to live in community, following and sharing the way of Christ. Become comfortable with sharing who we are.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will do what I can to expand Christ’s mission beyond borders.

Lost Words

Friday, September 27

9-27By Sara Parkin of Midlands, Michigan, USA

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

—Psalm 85:8

(Part 7 of My Journey with Alzheimer’s Disease)

Doctors told me earlier that I had dementia with memory loss. Words were what I lost. It is hard to talk with words when you can’t speak the words that won’t come from your mouth.

I told my pastor a year and a half ago that I would not stand up in a service to speak. I was leading the Lord’s Prayer, and in the middle of the prayer, I lost my words. Thankfully, someone in the first row saw what was happening, picked it up, and kept it going.

When I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, God put me to work remembering that I am alive, and God is with me. It is not just the words now as I learn there is help. I realized my pride was in the way. I did not want people to know what was going on in my life. I cannot do it alone, not any more. Now I ask for help.

Many words mean a lot to me. I am sure we all have words that have meaning in our lives. I have made a list of more than 30 words that mean a lot to me: God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, surrender, will, love, peace, joy, hope, prayers, family, friends, laughter, care, free, accept, change, courage, new, alive, share, kind, today, now, feel, Alzheimer’s, help, focus, smile.

In the next journal entry, I will share what these words mean to me as a person with Alzheimer’s disease. I will start the list with God.

Prayer for Peace
We turn to you in our hearts, God. We listen for your words. We try to find the words to Invite People to Christ, to share his peace.

Spiritual Practice: Tears of Compassion
Offer a silent prayer for the gift of God’s compassion. Cup your hands and ask God to make you aware of the suffering that causes the Earth and its inhabitants to groan and weep. Be open to faces or places, sounds or voices; feelings of connection with those who suffer. Imagine catching the tears of those you see and holding them in your hands. Listen for prayer images or words God may give you. Discern any active responses of ministry or healing you are invited to complete for those who weep.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I may lose the right words, but I will not lose my faith in you.

Kindred Spirit

Thursday, September 26

9-26By Shirley Remmenga of Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

And you will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every one according to that which is their due.

—Mosiah 2:24, adapted

One fall morning, I was standing at my kitchen sink, looking out toward the lawn between my house and the house next door. A slender-nosed, bushy-tailed red fox came around the corner of the house. She carried something white in her mouth. She went directly to a big flowerpot on the neighbor’s sidewalk, jumped up, dug a hole, and dropped it in. She covered it up, jumped down, loped around the house, and was gone.

She tempted me to go see what she buried. I started to leave the sink, but another thought halted me. Do I have the right to invade her privacy? Why do I need to know what it is? Why can’t I accept the mystery? That beautiful creature deliberately had hidden something of value to her that she would unearth later. If I disturbed it, she would know, and perhaps it wouldn’t be of any use to her then. So, I left it there.

I never saw her return for it, but I’m sure she did. I enjoyed seeing her occasionally after that, just running along the greenbelt next to the houses. She and I shared the same space, so to speak. She didn’t threaten my life, and I didn’t want to leave footprints in her habitat. We had a kinship in a sense. It was a good feeling and a blessing for me to have this peaceful connection with one of God’s beautiful, clever creatures.

Prayer for Peace
Creator God, thank you for the creatures that share our world. We learn about you and see your mystery in them. We would leave them in peace. We would share Christ’s peace, which teaches us to restore right relationships with creation.

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 leave the stone unturned and bless what lies beneath.

Reshaping Our Lives

Wednesday, September 25

9-25By Rosemary Holmes of Clay Cross, Derbyshire, England

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

—Psalm 51:10–11

With some sadness, I recently witnessed the gardener pruning heavily three 80-year-old lime trees in our garden. They had become too tall and overpowering. When in full leaf they kept out the light. This not only caused some of their lower limbs to die, it stunted the flowers and shrubs beneath them. Though I felt sad, I knew in the spring the trees would branch out again toward their former glory.

Pondering this, I thought about our own lives and our influence on others. As the years go by our thoughts and ideas, if biased and outdated, not only affect our own growth but may stifle the development of those around us. May we have the grace to let go of stale precepts. And, may we have the generosity to share God’s continuing truth.

We should try always to be sensitive to the needs of others. We periodically should reevaluate and reshape our own formation. As we gain new perspective, those with whom we associate will encourage us to grow spiritually.

Prayer for Peace
God of all growing creation, help us find the time to reevaluate our perceptions of your truths. Give us courage to prune those ideas that stifle our own growth and the growth of those around us. Build into our lives an inner strength that influences others for good. Renew us as we grow toward the light and reach for higher levels of spirituality and understanding. Renew in us the will to share the peace of Jesus Christ.

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 weed, continue praying. (Plant in my heart the seeds of your love.) If you don’t have a garden, try this kind of transforming prayer today while doing repetitive activities or work (cleaning out a closet, washing dishes, cleaning the floors, mowing the lawn).

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will be aware of how I might help Develop Disciples to Serve.

Zion’s Gate

Tuesday, September 24

9-24By Glenn Johnson of Covina, California, USA

Heed the urgent call to become a global family united in the name of 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

On a recent business trip to Israel, I asked a colleague for a ride to Jerusalem. He dropped me by the Jaffa Gate. When I arrived it was dark. It had been a few years since I had navigated the narrow streets, but I managed to find my way past the Cardo to the Western Wall. A crowd had recently dispersed after some sort of concert or rally. I felt I had missed something important.

On my way back, I made a wrong turn. The Jaffa Gate was not in sight. I turned right. I came to another gate. I went through and read the sign: “Zion’s Gate.” My mind raced as I considered whether this hill really was “Mount Zion,” a beacon of the present and future kingdom of God for my faith community.

I explored the streets nearby and found Hagia Zion, or Holy Zion Church, and the Jewish Yeshiva Institute for the Preservation of Holy Mount Zion. Beyond a barbwire fence, I saw the minaret of a mosque. Despite all hopes for peace, Jerusalem remained a city divided. Yet from this new vantage point on Zion’s holy hill, the city’s outer walls were an apparition in golden light.

Jesus spoke of basileia tou theou, the kingdom of God, as a present reality and a hoped-for future. My unexpected nighttime discovery of Zion helped me to understand better Jesus’ teachings. As we work together as an imperfect yet transforming community, let us always see the cause of Zion as tangible, real communities to be celebrated and experienced, as well as future ideals toward which we can strive.

Prayer for Peace
Gather us in, O God, in closeness to your peaceable kingdom. Help us become a community that embraces Christ’s mission of peace.

Spiritual Practice: The International Community
Find (or imagine) a globe or map of the world. Look at all the nations and find a country other than your own. Notice the geographic distance between your homeland and this one. Picture a person living there. Pray for this person. Sense God’s love connecting you just as the oceans connect the continents. Thank God for the spiritual connection you have with all of God’s people around the globe. Ask a blessing on the church as a community sharing Christ’s peace, drawing all into the family of God.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will work for the reality of the peaceable kingdom.

A Kind and Compassionate Voice

Monday, September 23

9-23By Don Streeter of Dallas, Oregon, USA

Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Luke 18:38

(Inspired by scripture)

“You are beautiful!”

You might wonder why a stranger would say this to you. But you must understand—until three days ago I was blind. I lost my sight as a child and lived as a beggar on the road outside Jericho.

For many days recently as people passed, I heard them talking about a preacher named Jesus. He traveled the area teaching and preaching. I learned he was a descendant of David. He had the gift of healing. Some said he might even be the prophesied Messiah. But what do I know of prophets and Messiahs? Blind beggars aren’t welcome in the synagogues.

What I wanted more than life itself was to see—to see flowers and faces, sunrises and sunsets. I wanted to see even the dirt upon my feet. If only this Jesus could heal me. But how could I find him? Who would take me to him?

Then my whole life changed. As I sat on the road begging, I heard a crowd approaching. “What is this? Who passes by?” A person joyfully answered, “It’s Jesus of Nazareth. Come.” My heart leapt inside me. Jesus, the one who could make me see again. In my soul I knew he could heal me. I had no doubt. I cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He just had to hear me!

Someone from the crowd told me to hold my peace, that Jesus had important things to do. He had no time for me. But I knew he could heal me if he could just hear me. I called out again, “Son of David, Son of David, hear me. Have mercy on me!”

Through the noise of the crowd I heard Jesus ask that I come to him. They led me to where I could feel a strong presence, and I knew Jesus must be near. I feared I might collapse. But a kind and compassionate voice said to me, “What do you want me to do for you?” With a calm voice I answered him, “Lord, let me see again.”

Then he said to me, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” Immediately I could see. The first person I saw was a man who, despite great fatigue, carried an uncommon strength. As my newly opened eyes met his I saw a depth of love and compassion I had never known.

I praised God right there. I blessed God for my wholeness. Your bodies may not be blind, crippled, or sick; but your spirit may be blind to God’s love, crippled with hate, or sick with loneliness.

Call to him as I did, “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me!” Ask him as I did, “Have mercy on me!”

Prayer for Peace
Open our eyes, God, that we may see your love.

Spiritual Practice: The Jesus Prayer of Mercy
Silently enter prayer. Greet God and take up the prayer phrase: Lord, Jesus Christ (as you breathe in)…have mercy on me (as you breathe out). Prayerfully repeat these words several times. Breathe in the transforming presence of Christ.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will be transformed as I accept your mercy.

Serve God

Sunday, September 22

9-22By Robert Adie of Kisumu, Kenya

No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

—Luke 16:13

Many years ago in my village in Kenya I and my wife visited an old woman who was living alone in her small two-room house. When we approached the door I called to inquire whether there was someone in the house or not. There was no response and the door was a half opened. When we entered in and I made a second call and she responded with low deep voice, “enter, am not feeling well.”

When we entered the bedroom which was dark without proper ventilation, we called her by name and she recognized my voice. “Karibu, my son” (this is a Swahili word for welcome). The smell was not pleasant. I opened the window and went closer to the bed to hold her hands and listen to her.

When I approached the bed I saw very may bed bugs trying to hide in the beddings. I prayed for courage and found myself having to take a deep breath. Without thinking I managed to get her out of bed and carry her outside to bask in God’s sunlight. When now my wife and I look at her, we realize that she could not go back to that bed without our further action.

As my wife continued to talk to her about Christ who she knew very much about I went in to remove the bed and all the beddings outside to the sun. My wife took charge of the mattress, sheets and blankets and cleaned with soap and water and placed them on the shrubs for the sun to dry them. I went to the house and clean the entire place with insecticide powder leaving no chance for the bed bugs to live.

When we finished the works and went back to her, she told us that she has been sick for a week and nobody has gone to see her. On the night after our visit, she felt that Christ promised that she would get well. We prepared food for her and my wife bathed her and she got healed. She told us how she had a good peaceful sleep and she offered a blessing prayer. She testified this to everybody she met. She always encouraged us to do good to everybody in need. I felt I had met a challenge as part of my walk with Christ. I felt I had served my God.

Prayer for Peace
Tender Shepherd, may we work to serve Christ’s mission of compassion.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering
Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Let your mind be drawn to places where people have no homes. Be aware of the insufferable conditions of poverty. Let the images fill your mind. Imagine Christ tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, hear the voice of Christ saying: “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will not be repulsed by poverty’s infestations, but will bring them into your healing light.

Children Explore Peace (United Nations International Day of Peace)

Saturday, September 21

9-21By Andrew Fox of Chesterfield, Danesmoor, British Isles

Do not neglect the smallest among you, for even the least of these are treasures in God’s sight. Receive the giftedness and energy of children and youth, listening to understand their questions and their wisdom. Respond to their need to be loved and nurtured as they grow.

—Doctrine and Covenants 161:4a

Children throughout the British Isles Mission Centre now have a unique opportunity to explore peace through the Peace Mobile, a set of 20 interactive displays. The Peace Mobile is designed to help children discover the power of peace through play. Peace Mobile themes include increasing self-esteem, holding respect for others, celebrating diversity, and caring for the planet.

A Tangible Love grant, funded through the Mission Initiative of Abolish Poverty, End Suffering, helped to create a second set of displays and employ a part-time coordinator to meet the Peace Mobile’s increasing demand. The grant enabled 12 schools to participate in the program in the last year. The project recently added two more displays, one based at the British Isles Mission Centre church campground and the other in a community school for children with social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties.

Your contributions to world mission tithes make it possible for children to have a fun, hands-on way to learn peacemaking skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. Thank you for responding generously to this need to Pursue Peace on Earth.

Prayer for Peace
God of justice and peace, may we follow the teachings lived by Christ. May we live them as examples to our children. Help us learn new ideas for peacemaking from our children. May we, as adults and children together, share the peace of Christ as we live it in the world.

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 treasure and support young peacemakers.