I Am Here

Thursday, October 31

10-31By Ramona Seeley of Leeton, Missouri, 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 for evermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

—Ezekiel 37:26–27

His Footsteps

I cannot help but know there is a God.
I have seen the footsteps where He has trod.
They left their mark on valley, hill, and sea,
On hearts and minds and souls—and me.

 It was a gloomy day outside and I was feeling despondent. I was 18 and still feeling the loss of my mother, even though she had been gone for six years. Suddenly, the clouds parted and a beam of light landed directly on my desk. It felt like God was saying to me, “I am here.” I immediately penned this poem.

When I think back, I know God has been with me many times when I wasn’t aware of the Divine presence. I am blessed with joy when I write my experiences. I hope you know God is with you always.

Prayer for Peace
Covenant God, we see evidence of your presence all around. You bless us with your presence. We are indeed your people as we share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: God’s Healing Light
Today’s intercessory prayer is adapted from the Quaker tradition. Become still and turn your attention to God. Prayerfully identify a person who is in need of healing, blessing, or guidance. Close your eyes and imagine God’s presence surrounding the person. See or sense the person being held in God’s light. Continue holding the person in the light and release the person into whatever blessing God knows is needed. Words are not necessary. Trust the Spirit to see and penetrate more deeply than human awareness. Thank God and close with “amen.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will hold another to your healing light.

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From the Diversity Team: Jesus Knows Best

Wednesday, October 30

10-30By Nanette Chun-Ming Ward of Ashland, Missouri, USA

So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,

—Ephesians 2:17–19

As a child living in Hawaii in the 1960s, I watched Father Knows Best on television. This classic American family comedy series was about loving parents and their three children. Kathy, the daughter about my age, always (in my memory) wore a dress, socks, and shoes. She didn’t look like me, a girl of Chinese ancestry, and she didn’t dress like me—shorts, shirt, and slippers were my typical island wear. Most characters on popular shows didn’t look like me because they were white, like the Father Knows Best family.

One day after watching the show, I wanted to be like Kathy. So, I put on a dress, socks, and Sunday shoes, and went outside to play. My mom spotted me in the front yard and immediately called me back in to change. I remember feeling embarrassed.

Years later I recognized my need to mirror Kathy was about cultural identity. I was out of sync with the dominant white culture presented to me on TV, a powerful, influencing medium then and now. I wanted to be different. That, in my young mind, was somehow better. After all, Chinese people on TV then were bucktoothed, spoke broken English, wore drab clothes, and were low-paid workers. However trying not to be who I truly was didn’t feel right. I was neither Kathy nor the Chinese worker. I was Nanette Chun-Ming, living a great life as a kid in Hawaii with a loving family that looked like me. I had my own identity.

I am grateful that my parents and my church family loved me, and others, in all the beauty of our diversity. They assured me in my early years that Jesus loves all the little children of the world, just as the song says. I am also grateful for the lesson from that childhood experience. The lesson is to be alert and sensitive to those who feel different in any way. It is important to not only confirm their worth and affirm Jesus’ love for them, but to recognize and make room for their offerings of love and service to others.

Prayer for Peace
Loving God, we come as your unique children, knowing we are loved for our diverse characteristics and gifts. Help us use our varied abilities to share the peace of Christ.

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 be myself, knowing I am loved by you just as I am.

Planting Trees…Planting Foundations

Tuesday, October 29

10-29By Louita Clothier of Lamoni, Iowa, USA

Listen to its teachings and discover anew its principles. Do not yearn for times that are past, but recognize that you have been given a foundation of faithful service, even as you build a foundation for what is yet to be.

—Doctrine and Covenants 162:2b

One of the many times I feel grateful to my father is when I look at the giant pin oak tree in front of our home. Besides being a majestic beauty, it shelters squirrels and birds, and provides shade for the bench where I sit and gaze on the lake across the street. Dad planted that young tree as a gift for the new house in 1958. How could he have known his daughter would live in that house and draw such pleasure from his generosity a half-century later?

As well as his work as a chemistry professor at Graceland University, Dad loved growing plants and trees, and was a gifted landscape architect. For three decades from 1955 to 1985, Dad gave and planted a quality tree in the yard of every new house built in Lamoni. He landscaped three new churches built in Lamoni during those years and every new Community of Christ church building in the mission center. He transformed Graceland’s west campus from a cornfield into a park-like sanctuary. At age 80, he designed and helped plant the Old, Old Path Memorial Park at the corner of West Main and State streets. Lamoni would look different without Dad’s artistry, generosity, and willing work.

Lucy, in the Peanuts comic strip said, “The planting of a tree shows faith in the future.” Dad chose the best-quality trees—the slowest growing and longest lived—knowing he would never see them in their maturity. He was more than a planter of trees; he was a nurturer of the generations to come. He left a foundation for the future—a legacy of lasting beauty.

Prayer for Peace
Creator of seeds, saplings, and trees, help us plant a firm foundation in fertile soil, so we may become well-formed disciples, generously sharing the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Trees
Watch the trees outside your window for a few moments. Close your eyes and meditate on Alma’s words about seeds and trees. If you were to plant and grow the Word of God in your heart, what kind of tree might symbolically represent this process? Envision a seed as it grows into a tree of life and blessing. Ask God to show you how to begin (see Alma 16:152–173).

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will invest in the future with faith.

Stitched with Loving Hands

Monday, October 28

10-28By Betty Batzli of Chino Valley, Arizona, USA

…uphold the worth and giftedness of all people and…protect the most vulnerable.

—Doctrine and Covenants 164:6a

We lived on a small farm in the southwest. We played host to many transient people walking across the country looking for work. They had no permanent homes and carried all they owned, living from one meal to the next. As a young girl, I saw the superficial differences between them and myself, and I assumed they must be different on the inside as well.

When the bolls of cotton were bursting and ready to harvest, these seasonal workers moved in to pick. Migrant workers stayed as long as there was work. All who were old enough worked in the fields. The younger children came to school for a while but soon moved on. They never felt at home with the local students.

Late in the fall a new girl came into our class. She wore a faded dress that hung from her skinny shoulders as if draped over a fence post. She had ragged hair that hid her face as she looked at the floor, trying to hide.

At noon we saw her come outside, stand uncertainly for a while, and sit alone on a bench. She carefully pulled a crumbling piece of cornbread from her bag. She took small bites as crumbs fell to her lap. We asked her to eat with us and we found we liked her. We were sorry that she had to wear the same clothes day after day. We wondered if she only owned one dress.

One day she entered the classroom with a broad smile and a new dress. This dress had puffed sleeves that fit her shoulders and hid their smallness. We surrounded her at recess admiring the new dress and she proudly proclaimed her mother made it. I told her my mother was making me a new dress too, but she broke the needle on her sewing machine and couldn’t finish it now.

“My mother doesn’t have a sewing machine,” the little girl shared sheepishly. At first we didn’t believe her. We looked closely and saw her mother had stitched it by hand. We asked her how long it took. She told us her mother worked on it at night after she came home from picking cotton all day, fixed their supper, and the rest had gone to bed.

That memory revisits me often, and I’m impressed that no matter how different we appear on the surface, we have much in common underneath. It doesn’t matter if they are wealthy or poor, mothers and fathers love their children. God creates each of us with the potential to love unselfishly. We are all loved and of worth to God.

Prayer for Peace
Loving God, as we are of worth to you, may we find worth in one another.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Sense the intimate knowledge and love 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 affirm the worth of persons?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will find ways to protect and affirm the vulnerable.

Serve Humbly

Sunday, October 27

10-27By John Wight, senior president of seventy

…‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

—Luke 18:13–14

I had known this man as an apostle and as the presiding evangelist of the Community of Christ. People regarded him favorably in these prominent leadership roles. Thus, I was a bit surprised to see brother Everett Graffeo rolling around on a gym floor in a local Boys and Girls Club. He was there, laughing and playing with young children who were part of his group at the Hawthorne Place Jesus and Me Club.

As I thought more about it, the surprise quickly disappeared into an understanding that Everett, now retired from church appointment, was exactly where one would expect to find him—serving humbly. Despite his years of service in the highest levels of church leadership, this gentle, loving servant of Jesus Christ was once again living our his understanding of humble service.

This was not a onetime experience. Week after week, I would see Brother Graffeo sitting on that gym floor sharing the love and peace of Jesus Christ with children who came from difficult family environments. He communicated to them how important they were and how much worth they had—a message different from what they heard at home.

Most weeks he would eventually end up carrying little David from activity to activity because the little six year old would fall asleep in his arms. David didn’t know that “Mr. Everett” had been a top church leader. All he knew was that his friend, a humble servant of the Lord, loved and cared about him.

I am grateful for this living example of humble service. It is a wonderful model for me to emulate in my own efforts to serve humbly.

Prayer for Peace
Tender Shepherd, we thank you for sending Christ to find us when we lose our way. We thank you for models of generous and humble natures, that we may understand how to share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: The Jesus Prayer of Mercy
The Jesus Prayer is an ancient spiritual practice from Orthodox Christianity. It is a way of connecting with the gracious spirit of Christ as we ask to receive his mercy. The prayer comes from the scripture of the blind man calling Jesus to heal him. Silently enter prayer and let your breath become slow and even. Greet God and then take up the prayer phrase: Lord, Jesus Christ (as you breathe in) … have mercy on me (as you breathe out). Prayerfully repeat these words for several minutes (or forty times). Breathe the humble presence of Christ into your mind, heart, and body. Be transformed as you receive the humble, peaceful heart of Jesus.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will reflect on a disciple whose humble nature I might emulate.

Enabling Us to Emulate Christ

Saturday, October 26

10-26By Joanne Kramer of Onaway, Michigan, USA

“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill-offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.

—1 Chronicles 29:14

The couple entered my office in tears. They had paid their rent on time, but the water company turned off their water without notice. Their landlord had been taking the rent, which included water, but wasn’t paying the water department. A neighbor called Child Protective Services, which took the couple’s two children. The caseworker said they would not return the children until the family had a place with running water.

Barberton Area Community Ministries (BACM) helped this family with emergency shelter so the children could come home, and we provided food for the week.

This is one demonstration of the power of the grants offered under the Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Mission Initiative. Our ministries first received a World Hunger grant in 2009, and since we have served thousands of residents. The grant enables BACM not only to feed the most vulnerable among us, but it allows us to share the love of Christ with people in need. Thanks to your generous response, we can respond to this Mission Initiative.

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, may we be generous with our many blessings. May we be mindful of the victims of poverty and injustice. May we share with them the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: The 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. Form the chalice again and hold persons who have particular needs—friends, loved ones, strangers. Lift them and release them for God’s blessing. Place yourself inside the chalice as you confess your deepest needs. Lift and release yourself to God to be a blessing to others. “Thank you and amen.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will be mindful of the many blessings I have to share.

There was a Knock at the Door…

Friday, October 25

10-25By Robert Glenn of Evansville, Indiana, USA

The Spirit of the One you follow is the spirit of love and peace. That Spirit seeks to abide in the hearts of those who would embrace its call and live its message. The path will not always be easy, the choices will not always be clear, but the cause is sure and the Spirit will bear witness to the truth, and those who live the truth will know the hope and the joy of discipleship in the community of Christ. Amen.

—Doctrine and Covenants161:7

A new family bought a house three doors from me. I have been looking for someone outside the house so I could stop the car and welcome them to the neighborhood. The weather was cold and snowy here for about two months so no one has been outside.

One night, just after dark, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to find a little child and her father standing there. They were my new neighbors and she was selling Girl Scout cookies. I told her she was the first Girl Scout to knock on my door in four years.

Her father was a friendly person. In our brief conversation I learned he grew up on a farm in northern Indiana. He said that up there the neighbors depended on one another. His nearest neighbor lived two miles away and they had to work together to be able to survive. He could tell I was elderly (88 years young), and he said if I ever needed anything, it was his habit to do whatever needed doing. He would like to be a helpful and friendly neighbor.

That’s what community is all about. When I think about Community of Christ, I think about people worshiping and working together—each one doing their part to fulfill the mission of Christ, each one sharing the peace of Christ with their neighbor.

Our community and our congregation work well together. Because of that I think the younger ones among us see how we depend on one another. They see how the name of the church comes alive.

Prayer for Peace
Welcoming God, we knock at any hour and you are there. May we experience Christ as the one who embodies your shalom. Help us share Christ’s peace with our community.

Spiritual Practice: Offering Blessings of Community
Receive and share Blessings of Community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the connections in your life. See and feel connections with family members, spiritual friends, people in your congregation and community, and people and creatures in God’s sacred web of life. What blessings flow to you from these circles?

Reflect, pray, or write in your journal about the call to be “Community of Christ.” Go deeper each day as you discern what act of blessing you are invited to complete.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, a knock at the door will not disturb me. I will answer expecting new friends.

Peaceable Sports

Thursday, October 24

10-24By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

—James 3:17

One crisp day near the autumn harvest time, our extended family and friends gathered for a turkey dinner. We expected about 40 people, so we reserved the dining hall at a campground.

Recovering from a fractured tibia in my right leg, I was “forced” to rest while several others cooked and served the meal (too bad…so sad). My husband set up a lawn chair for me outside and I spent this waiting-for-dinner time watching the children play. Soccer was on the agenda for children and youth from ages 4 to 18—boys and girls, big and small.

No, the 18 children did not divide into separate teams—they were all together. They didn’t choose players for teams or leave anyone out. Everyone cheered and encouraged everyone else. Kicks passed from older to younger were gentle. The usually fast players ran in slow-motion so little legs could keep up. Goalies accidentally-on-purpose allowed younger children the GOOOOOOAL! Usually competitive youth were willing to yield points to build up confidence in others. They naturally honored the worth of each person.

This scenario did not sacrifice the fun, but rather increased it by the spirit of sharing. The two oldest boys, Wesley and J’Cole, heads taller than the rest, were right in the mix—coaching and teaching as they played. The rest of the children were excited just to have them there.

You see, these two boys are members of the Sporting Kansas City Team Juniors. The professional team calls them up to play occasionally. Part of this program is doing community service. Wesley and J’Cole did not flaunt their skills. They didn’t patronize the younger ones. They didn’t play “around” them—they played “with” them. And they had as much fun as the little rookies. It was a heart-warmer on a cool day.

Prayer for Peace
Coach of our lives, may we sometimes set aside our need to win, to share winning moments with others. May we honor the worth of all by sharing the spotlight and 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. 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 while you move into the outward journey. Remember this exercise as you drink water throughout the day.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will play and share with others without keeping score.

Quiet Overcame the Noise

Wednesday, October 23

10-23By Donald Kirby of Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

—Isaiah 2:4

The church in England set up Dunfield House as a retreat center in the 1960s. The grounds were large with classroom space, meeting halls, and a dining area that could seat 300 or more. The United States Air Force stationed me at a nearby base.

On summer days we often met at Dunfield House in open air rooms with breezes blowing through. One day during a down-pouring rain, it was too noisy to hear what was going on in the worship service. The tin roof magnified the sound of the rain! One of the ministers stood up, went to the front, and as he began to speak…the rain suddenly stopped.

The speaker told us he was inspired to share a special message. During this 30-minute pause in the rain, we clearly heard his message for us—he shared what God put in his heart.

He spoke about how the United Nations just sent 5,000 military troops to Beirut, Lebanon. The world feared another war. He told us not to worry about this. We were to work harder for the cause of peace. He assured us the Holy Spirit would be with us always. The Lord was preparing us to become a community of peace. During this message, it was so still you could hear a pin drop. Our noisy fears were overcome by the quiet. The Holy Spirit moved and comforted the congregation.

Prayer for Peace
Holy Presence, by all you have revealed to us, we know you continually prepare us to be a community of peace. Hear our prayers for peace. Be glad in what we do for peace. Prompt us to do more. Prompt us to share Christ’s peace in places far and near.

Spiritual Practice: Peace Action
Community of Christ is called to ministries of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit. PeacePathways is a church-sponsored web site sharing peace and justice ministries, resources, and opportunities. Visit the web site (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 web site, offer a prayer of blessing on all peace ministries.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will set aside time for quietness amid my noisy fears, and I will take comfort in your peaceful Spirit.

Make a Difference Day

Tuesday, October 22

10-22By Eleanor St. Claire of Oak Harbor, Ohio, USA

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

—Matthew 11:30

Donnella is the most generous person I know. Because of her concern for others, she is the neighborhood repair/recycle center. Nothing is thrown away if it can benefit someone. She washes and bleaches clothing until it is sparkling white. She collects and delivers furniture to bare homes. She even takes care of the trash from our congregation. Her daughter, Kristine, is at her side in much of this ministry.

Donnella is generous in her encouragement and support as well. Joyous laughter often comes with her exclamation, “Wonderful!” She spends many hours caring for local children, without charge. And she helps people find jobs. She is on her knees for those in need of prayer and she finds pleasure in filling her offering envelope on Saturday night.

Is this a young whirlwind? No, she is a diabetic senior citizen who has bad days with aches, pain, and fatigue. But she spends her healing time planning for tomorrow. Her heart also knows the spiritual pain from poor choices of loved ones, but it doesn’t affect her joyous response to the community.

Many take part in the Make a Difference Day in October. Donnella is making a difference every day, and her joy in her work is evident. In her way, she busily engages in the Mission Initiative Abolish Poverty, End Suffering. She inspires the neighborhood to be a part of it, too.What an example of doing Christ’s Mission!

Prayer for Peace
Burden-sharing God, we thank you for the gift of Christ who lightens our burdens. Thank you for your everyday community disciples who show they care. Thank you for all those who share the peace of Christ.

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. Think of refugees whose homes were destroyed by war or natural disaster. Be aware of the hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind. Offer a prayer for those who are suffering. Imagine Christ tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying: “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, and every day, I will try to make a difference.