Through the Doors of the Temple

Friday, February 28

2-28By Karen Moreland of Independence, Missouri, USA

Generously share the invitation, ministries, and sacraments through which people can encounter the Living Christ who heals and reconciles through redemptive relationships in sacred community. The restoring of persons to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose of your journey as a people of faith.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:2b

Recently three young adults entered the Temple in Independence. It was cold outside. They had come in to keep warm and to hang out until their ride showed up. I invited them to a tour of the building with one of our guides. They accepted.

After the tour one woman came to the counter with tears streaming down her face. “This has been a wonderful day in my life, on a day which would have been sad.” She shared that they were waiting for her dad to pick them up to visit her mother, who was dying. “This is the last time I will be able to see my mom,” she sobbed. “I thank you for letting us hang out until our ride arrived; I have never felt such loving peace.”

We may never know the pain people bear when they walk through the doors of the Temple or the doors of our congregations. However, I can testify that once they emerge from the sanctuary of God’s loving peace, the Spirit’s touch transforms not just their day, but perhaps their lives.

Prayer for Peace
God of hospitality, help us, as disciples of Christ, to open our arms wide and welcome all. We know they come, not just for shelter, but to be embraced with Christ’s peace.

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 welcome any opportunity to serve.

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Smile…God Is with Us

Thursday, February 27

2-27By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, USA

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

—Romans 14:19

We often enjoyed fishing in a small stream near our family home. One summer day, we gathered there and dropped our hooks in the water. As the morning wore on, young Kim lost interest. Her parents asked me if I would take her home. So I lifted her onto my shoulders and chose the shortcut through the light woods.

Our family home was visible in the distance. At first, I easily threaded my way among the trees and vines. Then the going became more difficult. I told Kim to keep her face close to me and hold on tight. I assured her she would be safe, and soon we would break into open space where we could see.

Kim doubted it and questioned me, “Where are Mama and Daddy?” I told her they were still fishing where we had left them.

A few steps later she pleaded, “Where is Granny B’s house?” I pointed the way, but at that time she still could not see it. She felt we were lost and insisted, “Where is God?” I tried to put her mind at peace and assured her God was with us. Then I smiled as we returned to the open road with home in sight.

As I walked the familiar road, it reminded me of a conversation between a grandfather and his young grandson. At each opportunity the older man pointed out the wonder of God’s creation. Finally, the boy responded, “Grandpa, you think about God a lot, don’t you?” He replied, “Son, I hardly think about anything else.”

I find that when I view the world through the eyes of a child, I see God more clearly. At these times, I am compelled to worship the Creator of all—the one who walks beside us in the dark forests of our lives, and on the open roads—the one who brings us peace.

Prayer for Peace
Tender Shepherd, help us assure one another of your presence. Give us faith to know that when we lose our way, you are with us.

Spiritual Practice: Listening to Children
Sit in your quiet place and center your heart and mind on God’s presence. Spend several minutes asking God to bring into your awareness the names and images of children in your life. You may see their faces or hear their voices as you receive these impressions. Listen deeply to the unique gifts and needs of the children who come to mind. Offer a prayer of blessing for each child and the needs you perceive. If you feel led, you may want to write a note or card and give a message of affirmation and love to each child.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will step out in faith, knowing you will be with me on my journey.

This Expansive Light of Mine

Wednesday, February 26

2-26By Catharine Craig Doty of Lamoni, Iowa, USA

There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!” …I will…sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

—Psalm 4:6, 8

A song I enjoyed singing as a child was “This Little Light of Mine.” I remember being in the front of our church with the other children, singing my heart out. You remember that song, don’t you? “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”

My infant son and I spend our mornings singing. We listen to music in ways not available when I was young. Now we turn on the Xbox and connect to Raffi Radio, a streaming online radio station. Lately, our playlist has included a jazzy version of that same tune I loved to belt out when I was 7. As an adult, the lyrics have a different meaning for me, and I have found a deeper inspiration when I sing to my baby. My expanded light:

This little light of mine
My mission is to let it shine
This little light of mine
A new voice I will find
This little light of mine
God grant me courage to shine
I am light, I am brave, See me shine

Won’t let apathy blow it out
Gonna work to make it shine
Not gonna let doubt shut it out
I trust in the Divine
Won’t let sadness snuff it out
Remember to let God shine
I am light, I am brave, See me shine

As adults we move beyond the innocence of our childhood, and songs and ideas evolve with us. Considering all the hurt, indifference, poverty, and darkness that shadow our world, this children’s hymn seems all the more important to sing, teach, reflect on, and expand with.

[This Little Light of Mine was written and composed in 1920 by Harry Dixon Loes (1895–1965).]

Prayer for Peace
Visionary God, may your light shine in us and through us. May our light overshadow doubt. May we focus our light on injustice and act for justice.

Spiritual Practice: Light
Close your eyes, and become centered with your breath. Reflect on the statement: “The light of God is in all things,” as you breathe gently in and out. The light has a bright, soft beauty and radiates God’s healing love. The light of God reaches you and permeates you with a deep sense of peace. Rest in the light as it surrounds and fills you. Thank God that you live in God’s light, and it lives in you.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will look at the world with the light of your love.

Addy’s Words

Tuesday, February 25

By Gwen Simpson of Lamoni, Iowa, USA The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

Addy

Addy

—Psalm 146:8–9

My granddaughter, Addy, and I had gone to the mall to do some shopping for my mother and so Addy could play at the indoor playground. We were sitting at the food court, eating lunch and talking. Earlier that morning my father, brother, and I signed the papers to place my mother in a nursing home. Her failing health and mind made it impossible for my father to care for her at home any longer.

My mind was racing with those events. The lives of my father and mother, as well as my brother’s and mine, were changing dramatically. The sadness, uncertainty, and tears of that morning clung to me. Did Addy sense my vulnerability?

“Grandma Gwennie,” Addy said, drawing me back to the present, “When we go to the playground, you may have to hold my hand because I might be afraid.” The innocent words of a 3-year-old child struck me with the words my heart was crying out to God. Vocally, I assured her that we would hold hands, and I would be with her the whole time.

Silently, I heard God speaking words of assurance and love in the voice of a child. It would be OK for my family. God was holding our hands and would be with us no matter what the future held.

Prayer for Peace
Thank you, compassionate God, for the many times you hold our hands, even when we are unaware. Thank you for the assurance of your presence with us each day. Today, may we walk unafraid and at peace.

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 beauty and 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 has spoken to you. When did you first feel called to join God in the pursuit of peace and justice? How does that call to shalom continue to come to you through the many “voices” of God?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will listen closely to the voices of little ones.

When We Dance Together

Monday, February 24

2-24By John Bonney of Springfield, Oregon, USA

And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

—Matthew 5:47–48

I try to acknowledge people as they pass me, looking for a seat on the bus or even sitting next to me. I not only try to see the Spirit in them, but to affirm them. Affirmation gives others the sense that someone else notices that they “are.” They have value and worth.

As people come in contact with me I may merely nod to them, perhaps smile, and on some occasions we talk. Most folks are a passing story. I just present to them a look in my eyes that says “you count for something.”

I often rode the bus with a young woman named Calista. She was 21 years old at the time, afflicted with cerebral palsy, and I had difficulty understanding her. Still we enjoyed a connection over those months we rode together. I learned a little more of her story. While I knew her, she married and seemed happy. I hope she knows that matters to me.

I often wondered if physical, emotional, intellectual challenges mask the inner person. Patrick has Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, and is 10 years younger than I. I saw him regularly on the bus for about three years. I understood about 10 percent of what Pat said, but his character came through loud and clear. Despite our limitations, all people reflect the God who made them.

As we dance into the rest of our existence, limitations fall away. We will be known. We are worthy of the wonder of our creation. I imagine that it pleases God when we all dance together.

Prayer for Peace
Loving God, all people of your creation have worth. May we learn to look past the physical shell and see the spiritual people—to see the reflection of their Creator. To see the Christ whose peace we share.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Read Psalm 139:13–18. After each reading sit quietly and let the words sink deeply into your mind, heart, and body. Imagine God watching you grow in your mother’s womb. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)?

Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has of you and every child. Be aware of the sacred Worth of All Persons. 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 take the time to affirm the passing stranger.

Love beyond Boundaries

Sunday, February 23

Wim vanKlinken

Wim van Klinken

By Wim van Klinken, director of International Headquarters

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”

—Matthew 5:38–41

Unfortunately, over the centuries, many have misinterpreted and even misused these words in Matthew because of a lack of knowledge of the background in which Jesus spoke them. Many have interpreted and used Jesus’ sayings to submissively endure oppression and abuse. Some have even used them to justify submission. Others, finding such an interpretation unacceptable, have answered evil with evil, murder with murder, violence with violence, cheating with cheating.

In Jesus’ times, Roman military code stated soldiers could ask servants to carry for a mile their luggage. However, if a soldier would use them any longer, the soldier would face retribution from his superior. Going another mile was an act of civil disobedience that would bring the oppressor trouble. Similarly, by offering the other cheek and outer coat, Jesus calls for nonviolent resistance.

Knowing the cultural setting, these servants would likely refuse and would put the oppressor in an impossible position. Jesus calls us to go beyond the boundaries of our normal responses and oppose marginalization and oppression in a manner that keeps love and the Worth of All Persons, even our enemies.

Prayer for Peace
God of justice, may we love our “enemies” bravely enough to require of them respect and honor for the worth of all creation. May we not demand from them that which we would not demand of ourselves. May we not stop at minimal acts of love, but go beyond conventional boundaries to love as Christ loved.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Read Psalm 139:13–18. Let the words sink deeply into your mind, heart, and body. Imagine God watching you grow in your mother’s womb. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)?

Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has for you and everyone. 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 and justice.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will peacefully resist injustice.

Freely Give

Saturday, February 22

2-22By E.J. Chappelle of Rosharon, Texas, USA

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…

—Ephesians 2:8

I felt able to be a little more generous than usual one day, so I bought some ice-cream cones to share with a few friends. It felt good to bring unexpected gifts to others. Later one of these friends went to the store after receiving a little extra money. It disappointed me when he returned without any treats to share.

Even as a child I knew that a gift is just that, a gift freely given without expectation of receiving something in return. But I’ve still got a self-serving mind that my wiser heart is often slow to rebuke. Of course, I quickly got over that minor disappointment.

When I think of the far greater gifts of God to us, I am humbled. You can’t earn it, and no one deserves God’s grace. Our Creator doesn’t need someone to save his soul in return. We need only accept the divine gift of forgiveness and salvation and live life as disciples on Christ’s mission. Freely, we have received…freely give.

Prayer for Peace
Freely giving God, help us adopt your way of giving. Help us grow a generous heart. May we share what we can, especially the peace of Jesus 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, I will be vulnerable to your grace with humble gratitude.

Understand the Vision

Friday, February 21

Alaska photo by Glenn Johnson

Alaska photo by Glenn Johnson

By Glenn Johnson of Covina, California, USA

At the beginning of your supplications a word went out, and I have come to declare it, for you are greatly beloved. So consider the word and understand the vision.

—Daniel 9:23

While “flightseeing” over the Alaskan wilderness, we entered whiteout conditions. There was zero visibility, and we saw only a wall of snow through the windshield. The pilot announced we needed to turn back. I would not be able to see Prince William Sound that day. I was disappointed.

As the pilot banked into open skies again, we flew over the same glacier-filled waterways and snow-covered peaks that we saw on our way to that point. But this time, after emerging from the whiteout conditions, my vision cleared, and my vantage point improved.

Every detail of the awe-inspiring landscape unfolded distinctly before me: the blue ice of the glaciers, the pure white coats of Dall sheep, the massive rock formations, and the pristine interplay of blue skies with wispy white clouds. Never before had I enjoyed such a remarkable view of God’s great creation.

Sometimes we make plans that we think are best for our lives, but roadblocks get in the way. As we adjust our course and press on, trusting in God’s grace, our vision intensifies, and we find ourselves on a better path.

Prayer for Peace
Creator God, open our eyes and brighten our path that we may see our way to communion with you. Bring us close to your loving presence and give us strength for our journey. May we see clearly how to share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Sea of Light
Quiet and center yourself. Ask for God’s healing and guidance as you enter this time of prayerful presence. Close your eyes, breathing deeply and calmly. Imagine that you are floating in a beautiful sea of light that rises and falls with each cycle of your breath. The golden light of this sea buoys you up, so you float effortlessly. Waves of light carry and wash over you, bringing wholeness and peace. Rest in the sea of God’s love and then offer a prayer of gratitude.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, if I find myself disappointed by what I cannot see, I will readjust my attitude and find delight in what I can see. And I will see it in a new light.

Pond Scum

Thursday, February 20

2-20By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

The earth, lovingly created as an environment for life to flourish, shudders in distress because creation’s natural and living systems are becoming exhausted from carrying the burden of human greed and conflict. Humankind must awaken from its illusion of independence and unrestrained consumption without lasting consequences.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:4b

There are occasional traffic jams inside the Temple lately. An eye-catching photograph display in the hallway gallery causes the standstill. The artist and photographer is R. Paul Davis, of Lamoni, Iowa. Each time I pause there I discover something new.

In some photos, viewers need to use imagination to know what they’re looking at. Paul gets up close and personal with pond scum. Who, but an artist, would search for and find such color and beauty in the mud? (I wonder what Paul’s neighbors think.)

The eyes of vulnerable African children draw you in and speak through a window, not confined in a frame. Next photo: Energetic wild horses pop into focus in contrast to the distant hills on the horizon. Then, a spiderweb, draped with dew, snags us.

Paul’s camera catches the soft green of a rusty fencepost in the light. But does he really “catch” it? Perhaps that’s not a good choice of words—considering the artist’s philosophy. To quote Paul, he “made the photos on these walls. Took is the word most often used…and it’s accurate in the sense the scene exists apart from the photographer and his camera. But taking implies removal/seizure/aggression. To the contrary, the scene continues after the photographer has departed.

Something is happening inside the camera and, one hopes, inside the photographer that feels more like creation than destruction, so let’s go with “made” the photos.”

As we travel this Earth, the Creator offers us visual blessings. They are offerings. And, as Paul says, we don’t have to take them to enjoy them. If we leave them undisturbed, the next travelers can discover and relish them, too. Our visual safari leaves no harm in its wake, and we leave the smallest footprint possible. The Sacredness of Creation endures.

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, may we always leave nature as we find it. May we always leave human conditions better than we find them, because we 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, create and offer a prayer of healing and blessing for its wounds.

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
On my walk with you today, God, I will step gently.

Uniting Words and Actions

Wednesday, February 19

Art work by Ken McLaughlin

Art work by Ken McLaughlin

By Merna Short of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.

—Ephesians 2:14

A good friend of another faith community needed some help in composing a greeting card for a special occasion. He phoned and asked if my husband would help write the words to express the feelings in his heart. He brought Christian daily reading books with examples of sentiments he wished to send.

It took time, but eventually they wrote a lovely card with beautiful thoughts and expressions.

“How much do I owe you?” he asked my husband. “Nothing but a smile,” was the answer.

“I can do better than that.” The two men held each other in a warm embrace.

“Thank you, brother.”

What deep meaning was in those words and actions! Two men representing different denominations lived as brothers in Christ. I have found many brothers and sisters along life’s way and am deeply grateful for the kinship through Christ, who binds us in love.

Today before our friend left for his home, we could share some of the readings from Daily Bread. He was keenly interested as he saw that each day includes scripture, a message, prayer, spiritual practice, and final challenge or covenant. How good it is when we can share our witness with friends in Christ.

Prayer for Peace
Help us build bridges, God, where once there were dividing chasms. Help us break down the walls that divide and open doors that exclude others. We are one in Christ. He is our peace.

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 remove the labels that I may harbor in my mind.