Wayward Child

Friday, January 31

Photo by Cindy Korf

Photo by Cindy Korf

By Cindy L. Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, USA

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand…knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…

—Romans 5:1–4

On my morning walk, I was pouring out my fears and problems in prayer. I confessed I felt like a wayward child who had made a muddle of recent events. I ended my prayer by thanking God for listening to my ramblings and for understanding my heart.

Through the Spirit, I prayed for faith to see what “creation” or solution could be made from this world of my waywardness. It was then that I saw two trees in front of me, causing me to smile and burst into laughter. The barren trees looked as though they were dancing, with limbs going in different directions, saying, “See, even when a limb (or child) goes wayward, we still grow and go on.”

Like those trees that have branches that go wayward, the tree still lives and grows, and so do we even with our own mishaps. Through faith, we can have confidence that we can become all God created us to be.

Prayer for Peace
May we grow in your grace, God, and endure as we grow ever closer to you. May we form into disciples who share the peace of Jesus Christ.

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 not let one wrong choice discourage me from having faith.

Sometimes a Psalm Surprises

Thursday, January 30

1-30By Karen Tousley Hutchinson of Loveland, Colorado, USA

O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. …When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? …and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

—Psalm 8:1, 3–9

My plan for the new year was to read and reflect on one of the psalms every day. At first I did this fairly regularly. But I soon found that some early psalms didn’t inspire me or help me with what I was looking for in the way of my re-emerging faith. I was struggling to stay with my plan. Phrases like blood and tears; the wicked sinners perishing, the conspiring nations, distracted me. I wasn’t sure of their purpose and didn’t understand their context.

I eagerly looked forward to reading the 23rd psalm. It was the one I was most familiar with—one that most closely meshed with my faith and ideas of ministry. So every morning I would read a psalm and reflect on it. I tried to find at least one gem in each psalm that would hold me over as I waited for number 23.

Suddenly, I came to the eighth psalm and found, not just a gem, but a treasure chest. I had heard it before but had forgotten it. The praise and awe of the passages jumped from the book and shook me. “O Lord, our God, how majestic is your name in all the earth…”

I suddenly remembered how much beauty I find wherever I am—whatever the psalm, whatever the day or place. God shares this wonder with us whenever we look for it, and I think God loves a good surprise!

Prayer for Peace
Thank you, God, for encouraging us to delve further into your word. Help us struggle through the difficult passages of life. Break upon us with surprising light when we sing and pray.

Spiritual Practice: Psalm Writing
The psalms are prayers of honesty and trust. The psalmist trusts God’s presence in times of fear and failure, joy and plenty, growth and change. Write a short psalm-prayer expressing to God the truth about your physical, emotional, and spiritual state. What are your deepest feelings, longings, and needs? What prayer of praise, intercession, or petition flows from you as you consider your life and the life of God’s world?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will not give up on learning when confronted with difficult ideas.

Shrinking Print and Faded Ink

Wednesday, January 29

1-29By Karen Moreland of Independence, Missouri, USA

Listen to the Voice, for it cannot be stilled, and it calls you once again to the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom… 

—Doctrine and Covenants 162:1b

I once “was blind but now I see” is a wonderful phrase from a hymn by John Newton. It is rich in historical and religious meaning. For me it also has taken on a physical meaning. Vision is a blessing from God that I had not fully realized until I started to lose my sight. I complained to my husband about dim light bulbs and dingy paint—not realizing my vision slowly was fading.

I carried a magnifying glass, complaining about shrinking print and faded ink. After going to an optometrist, and glasses not being much help, I was persuaded by my husband to go to an ophthalmologist.

The doctor determined I had cataracts that needed to be removed. After another examination by a retina specialist, who agreed, I scheduled surgery. After the surgery, I could hardly wait to remove the eye shield and check my vision.

Everything was so bright, and colors were now vivid. The calico cat was beautiful. The neighbor’s house was bright white, and all the time I had thought it was beige. Successful surgeries on both eyes restored my vision to an almost-perfect condition, something I had not experienced since I was a child.

Now I praise and thank God daily for the gift of vision. God’s world is beautiful, full of color and bright sunlight. I have been blessed with precious vision to see and enjoy God’s wonderful creation.

Prayer for Peace
We can’t see you, God, but we do see your creation all around us. We know you are with us. Help us pause to enjoy it, pause to praise you, and pause to see more clearly Christ’s mission.

Spiritual Practice: Voices of God
What is the voice of God saying to us? Do we hear the whispers of God’s longing for shalom; God’s dream of wholeness for all creation? Do we hear the “voice” of God calling to us in faces and eyes, in the sounds of suffering and joy, in scripture and sacred word, in tears and laughter, in silence and noise?

Spend a few moments reflecting on when and how God’s voice speaks to you. When did you first feel called to join God in the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom? How does that call come through the many “voices” of God?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, as I look at your beautiful world, I will listen for your voice.

Faith upon Faith

Tuesday, January 28

1-28By Barbara Brock Davis of Independence, Missouri, USA

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.

—Matthew 14:28–29

I sailed on the ship of life, feeling comfortable. But then I reflected on how Peter must have felt as Christ called to him from the water. I imagined what it would be like to be part of such an encounter. I envisioned myself feeling an urge to go to the rail.

As I looked over the vast sea, I sensed the presence of my Creator. The divine presence communicated with my soul and called to me to step over the rail onto the water. He assured me he would meet me near the shore.

Before I stepped out, I searched the horizon for assurance of his presence. There he was, standing on the water with his hands beckoning to me. A surge of excitement rushed through me. Without much thought, I jumped over the edge of the ship and stepped onto the water. I began to walk quickly to meet this Savior of mine.

New opportunities to serve entered my mind, and I could see blessings flowing endlessly into my shallow life. That which I had pondered suddenly clarified. I knew I was basking in the presence of One I had known from my earliest beginning. I sensed the divine purpose for my life and why God put me in this time and place.

Halfway on my journey to the divine image on the water, reality hit me full force, and I realized I was defying nature by walking on water. The waves crashed around me. I could feel the sting of the salt spray on my face as I tried to keep standing. I looked down and saw the depth of the sea—my lack of faith—and I was frightened. Suddenly I began to sink. My Savior reached to me, and I desperately reached for him. In his eyes I saw intense and comforting love. He didn’t chastise me for losing faith, he just smiled.

When doubt and fear overcome my life, I look up and feel the intense love of God. This love helps me rise above the sea of adversities in my life. If I fail at an effort, I try again. Each time I am given more strength and courage for the next time. Each experience builds on the one before. I realize I can do what seems impossible in life. God created us to walk on water—to make Christ’s mission our mission—mission possible!

Prayer for Peace
Ever-present God, we have only to reach out in faith, and you are there to pull us from the depths. We praise you for the possibilities of life.

Spiritual Practice: Develop Disciples to Serve
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to respond to people and their needs. Pray about using your skills to help another person. As you feel your faith strengthened, thank God for the opportunity to be a responding, serving disciple while you move into the outward journey.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will move out with faith to serve.

God Prepares the Way

Monday, January 27

1-27By Julie Conway-Sword of Gainesville, Florida, USA

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

—2 Corinthians 13:11

I like to reflect on the story of Jesus preparing breakfast for his disciples on the beach (John 21). I can almost smell the fish cooking, and feel the stimulated hunger pangs as the disciples haul the guided catch from their boat. I see them realize it is Jesus who has watched, waited, and challenged them to cast their nets on the other side. Jesus prepared this surprise, and the disciples rejoiced in his presence.

We recently had moved into a new house. The children had picked the color scheme for their bedrooms, settled into their school routines, and developed some neighborhood friends. But then my husband’s employer moved him to a job in a different city. I did not want to move again, and I felt the Lord must know it.

One Wednesday evening I took our children to prayer service, wondering, but hardly daring to ask, what God would have me to do with my unwillingness to accept this move. During the service, the worship leader assured me God always prepares the way; that the Holy Spirit had been preparing me for the move. I was assured that God always opens doors for new opportunities to serve.

It surprised us to find our new home would be one of our favorite places to live—a friendly creative congregation, great schools for our children, and a place to call home. We were grateful. Be prepared—there may be something new in store for you. God will surprise!

Prayer for Peace
Tender Shepherd, thank you for giving us tools to cope with change. Thank you for your comfort, guidance, and companions on the journey to 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 be aware of preparation going on in my life.

Follow Christ

Sunday, January 26

running puppyBy John Wight, senior president of seventy

…“Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

—Matthew 4:19–20

I love animals—tame and wild. I believe they are a real gift from God. Through the years, I have had several dogs and a couple of cats. These animals have taught me much. Some of their teaching relates to the life and ministry of Jesus. Some relates to Christ’s calling and the expected behaviors of disciples. Let me explain.

Each of my dogs displayed great excitement on seeing me—wagging their tails, following me wherever I went, just happy to be with me. The cats, on the other hand, were aloof. Oh, they liked being around me, but on their terms, not mine.

If I called one of the dogs, it immediately would leave what it was doing and happily run to be with me. If I called one of the cats, however, it would look up and dismiss my call with a look that might have said, “No, I’m not ready to come to you right now. I’ll let you know when I’m ready.”

According to Matthew 4, when Jesus called Peter, James, John, and Andrew, they “immediately” left everything—jobs, possessions, even family—to follow him. Christ challenges any follower of his to have a similar response to Jesus’ invitation. If not literally to leave those possessions behind, to at least have a heart that causes them to want to follow Christ first, rather than on their own schedule or simply when it is convenient.

To put it another way, those who would follow Christ must be “canine” Christians rather than “feline” Christians. Which are you?

Prayer for Peace
Creator God, we learn life’s lessons from many realms of your creation. We see the mother bird who knows when to nudge the fledgling from the nest. We see a tight line of ducklings following their parents. We see the orderly flight of geese, breaking pattern only to help another goose in distress. We see bison circling calves to protect them; dogs leading the blind and saving lives.

Our pets bring comfort and warn us of danger. You have likened us to sheep, needing a shepherd to find us when we are lost and to lead us when we go astray. We follow you for safety, Lord, but also for the love of your company.

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 the message of the Living Christ. Imagine being in relationship with them and inviting them to follow 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 still, and be happy to be with you.

I’ll Not Refuse Again

Saturday, January 25

1-25By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, USA

When your willingness to live in sacred community as Christ’s new creation exceeds your natural fear of spiritual and relational transformation, you will become who you are called to be. The rise of Zion the beautiful, the peaceful reign of Christ, awaits your wholehearted response to the call to make and steadfastly hold to God’s covenant of peace in Jesus Christ.

—Doctrine and Covenants 164:9b

God called to me so often in a whisper, soft and clear.
But my proud and stubborn heart still refused to hear.
God spoke the voice of thunder, in the loud and howling wind.
I heeded not the call before—I’ll not refuse again.

Oh, the generous hands of God that nurture and provide
season after season,  coaxing seeds from where they hide.
What can I offer God who supplies my daily bread,
offers grace, peace, and love, and a place to lay my head?

I offer gratitude and an answer to the call
to end the suffering on Earth for each one and for all.

Prayer for Peace
Eternal God, please never give up on us. When we turn away, call louder. Penetrate our hearts with your love until we respond. Coax us from where we hide in fear, so we may become whom you would have us be.

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 suffer. 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, my response will be at your first call.

Christ’s Promises Are Sure

Friday, January 24

fire saleBy Patty Wiese of New Hope, Minnesota, USA

These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace…

—Zechariah 8:16

Something for nothing. How often are we tricked into thinking something for nothing is possible? I recently received a nice invitation to sign up for a new “rewards” program from my favorite clothing store. What attracted me was the $20 birthday coupon. Following the online instructions, I quickly discovered the real opportunity was to sign up for a credit card! Not exactly what I expected or wanted.

This is what the world offers. It entices us with false hopes, promises us rewards without effort, even encourages us to buy bars of gold that are “delivered in 10 days. But wait! If you call in the next 10 seconds we will double the offer!”

There is an adage I find true: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Jesus offers us more than this world can deliver. He offers spiritual blessings. He is our hope. His words are true. His offer of grace is freely given. No catches, gimmicks, or ulterior motives. No fooling!

Prayer for Peace
Deepen our roots, God, that we may be nourished by your Spirit. Help us not try to satisfy ourselves with shallow materialism but listen and discern what matters most.

Spiritual Practices: Spiritual Hunger
Jesus discerned hungers of body and spirit, and he fed them through a physical, verbal, spiritual ministry of presence. In a time of listening prayer ask God to help you discern physical or spiritual hungers of people in your congregation, community, and global family. Invite the Spirit to move you to one hospitable act that “feeds” someone’s hunger today.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will set aside foolish wants for Enduring Principles.

Renewing Faith for a New Year

Thursday, January 23

1-23By Darrell Belrose of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

…for God will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to God in their hearts. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet…Faithfulness will spring up from the ground….

—Psalm 85:8, 10–11, adapted

Internet, cyberspace, computers fixing computers, hubs, what exactly are they—how do they work? I’m not sure about all this, but…

I HAVE FAITH!

Electricity, solar power, wind energy, sound waves, energy fields—how do they work? I don’t understand all this, but…

I HAVE FAITH!

Reiki, therapeutic touch, mindfulness, prayer, reflexology—how does it work? I can’t explain all this, but…

I HAVE FAITH!

Microscopic life, macroscopic universe, God beyond, God within—how is this possible? I can’t see all this, but…

I HAVE FAITH!

Inspired scriptures, discernment, Enduring Principles, Mission Initiatives—how does all this lead to being co-creators with God? I can’t answer this, but…

I HAVE FAITH!

Resolutions for a new year—what is the purpose? I don’t understand all this…but I believe. I believe that which I have experienced, and these ideas have shaped and transformed my life over the years.

I HAVE FAITH!

What an exciting time to be alive, to have opportunities to listen to God, who cares about us, trusts us, loves and encourages us to be Christ’s ambassadors in yet another new year. What a privilege—what a gift. I don’t understand how it works, but I choose to step out in…

FAITH. I choose to embrace FAITH. I choose to trust in a FAITH that will carry us forward with Christ’s mission!

Prayer for Peace
God who speaks to us, may we be faithful in hearing your word. May we be faithful in sharing Christ’s peace.

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.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will listen prayerfully and with faith.

Live the Possibilities

Wednesday, January 22

1-22By Ginger Walker of Houston, Texas, USA

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

—Matthew 5:9

One year at reunion (family camp) I was talking with a friend about the auction that would be held later in the week. I write poetry, and she said she was going into town the next day and would look for a frame for one of my poems to offer at the auction.

She brought the frame to me the next day. Sometimes frames have sample photographs already in it. This one had a scripture that said, “I can do all things through Christ.” I pulled out my notebook of poetry and thoughts. I found one I had written several months earlier titled, “Possibility.” I would like to share it with you:

What is possible for me to do?
I set narrow limits when I don’t listen to God.

With the Divine, peace and justice are in my reach,
I can write a poem, sing a song, or teach.

God has shown the way to a missional life
and beyond—where I can only imagine.

A lifetime may not be long enough
to live all the possibilities.

Prayer for Peace
God of peace and justice, help us, as disciples of the Prince of Peace, to live the possibility of peace. Help us to live and work for justice.

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 have faith in the possibility of doing Christ’s mission.