Consolation and Comfort to Go

Wednesday, April 30

4-30By Julie Conway-Sword of Gainesville, Florida, USA

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.

—2 Corinthians 1:3–4 NRSV

When my husband, Walter, passed away, I thought I was beyond comfort and solace. I did not want to enter my empty home, eat, or do anything without Walter. I had never lived alone, and I felt bereft and forsaken. My good neighbors, friends, and relatives rescued me.

They prayed with me, took me to lunch, listened to me talk, and let me cry until I rejoiced in the compassionate comfort of God. The comfort came in the form of those whom God sent—earthly angels. I thought, “By the grace of God I’ve made it through the first year—I think I can do this.”

In the following years, there have been many friends in need with whom I have sat, hugged, listened, cried, and prayed. The same comfort and compassion the Lord shared with me, I can pass on to others. Is this one purpose of our lives here on Earth? Once we experience comfort, we understand and can pass on that same solace and spirit of consolation.

Prayer for Peace
As you love us, God, help us love others. As we are forgiven, welcomed, and greeted with peace, may we share these parts of peace with others.

Spiritual Practice: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All
Reflect on God’s call in your life. Begin by prayerfully asking to recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come.

When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energies and gifts? When have you felt God’s love in your life? When have you felt disconnected or resistant to God’s call? How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will ponder your blessings to me, and use them to bless others.

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We Plant in Faith

Tuesday, April 29

4-29By John Bonney of Springfield, Oregon, USA

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

—Matthew 17:20 NRSV

In the spring, on any given day, we go into our yard to plant. We soak vegetable seeds for several hours to improve germination and give them a head start. We plant in raised beds and ground-level beds. We trim, weed, water, and fertilize. We do this several times over two or three months. And of course, we practice faith, because that’s part of planting.

Even those who find the term “faith” has too much religious baggage, even they plant in faith. They expect the plant to respond and grow, even when it is yet unseen. Planting of anything, not just seeds and bulbs, is a matter of faith. Planting is a vision, an anticipation of the inner eye of the imagination.

There probably are as many definitions of faith as there are people to offer them. One definition that has worked well for me, and that I often refer to is, faith is acting as if… as if what? As if what I imagine, what I see in my mind’s eye, what I believe to be true, is reality, and I live as if it were so.

For me, faith is not a single act or even a group of acts. It is a lifestyle, a way of living. Faith is responding to the unseen Spirit. It is an attitude that says even though I can’t prove this, even though I can’t see it, hear it, or touch it, I believe it. Therefore I’ll live my life as if it were. Faith is living belief.

So we plant our seeds and bulbs, believing that what we imagine will be. Is my life what God envisions it? I pray I am faithful to the divine image within me.

Prayer for Peace
Divine Planter, nourish us with your living water, Jesus Christ. May our faith grow in response to his love. May his peace grow as we share it.

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 tree might symbolically represent this process? Imagine 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 live as if…

Can’t See the Brokenness

Monday, April 28

4-28By Karen Moreland of Independence, Missouri, USA

Open your hearts and feel the yearnings of your brothers and sisters who are lonely… Respect each life journey, even in its brokenness and uncertainty, for each person has walked alone at times. Be ready to listen…

—Doctrine and Covenants 161:3a–b

Spring is my favorite season. I love to hear birds chirping and see the panorama of color. Each year I hang flower baskets along the front of our house. We have a life-size white swan planter sitting on the porch railing. I put a ceramic bluebird on the rail facing the swan. It looks like the swan is fondly caring for the little bird.

One day I walked by, and I thought something wasn’t right. I looked closer look and found the little bluebird was broken and its pieces carefully placed back on the ledge. The swan, its slender neck gracefully bending toward the broken bird, looked like it was nurturing the little bird in its brokenness.

I asked my husband if he knew what had happened to my bluebird. “The cat did it.” Further questioning revealed my husband accidentally had knocked the bird off the railing and tried to glue the fragments back together, an impossible task. Knowing I would notice if the bird were missing, he set it back on the railing, hoping I wouldn’t see its brokenness until he could find a replacement. We laughed. Then he added, “You aren’t very observant. It’s been that way for some time.”

I thought about his comment. I wondered how many times I walk through my daily routine and not notice the faces of those who are broken and bruised. How many times do I focus on my own agenda so much that I walk past a lonely person and not even smile? How many times do I look in the eyes of those who are hungry but think only of my own meals?

I pray for clearer vision so I may see others as God sees them. May God help me reach with loving kindness to ease another’s pain, so I might become a nurturer of souls, a mender of broken hearts.

Prayer for Peace
God, help us see with our hearts. Make us keenly aware of brokenness beneath smiling facades. Show us the places we need to share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Healing for Broken Spirits
Begin with quiet prayer. Ask God to help you discern some “broken places” in the body of Christ and in God’s creation. Become aware of people who feel separated, wounded, or left out. Reflect on or write a short journal entry of healing words to at least one person who comes to mind. Ask God for words that will touch this person’s broken spirit like healing ointment. Keep this person in your heart and prayers today and act on any ideas to bring blessing and wholeness.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will be aware of ways I can comfort a broken spirit.

Peace Be with You

Sunday, April 27

Becky Savage

Becky Savage

By Becky Savage, First Presidency

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

—John 20:26–28 NRSV

Thomas carries the unfortunate label of “doubting Thomas.” Modern translations interpret the Greek words (apistos) as “doubt” rather than the literal unbelief. Yet Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus until he called her name. Jesus appeared to the disciples. They were hiding behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. They recognized Jesus only after he showed them his hands and side.

When Jesus offered Thomas the same opportunity, Thomas immediately proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” He saw God revealed fully in Jesus. God and Jesus were one.

I find hope in Thomas’ unbelief becoming strong belief. He did not have to look or feel. He knew! Scripture stories, parables, signs, and human encounters with God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit bless us. Our Restoration heritage aligns us with Christ’s mission of peace and care for the most vulnerable.

There is evidence of God’s grace and generosity, passionately expressed through Jesus’ mission, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. I want to join in Christ’s mission of peace and care for the most vulnerable.

When Jesus says, “Peace be with you,” the message transcends time. It calls me and you to mission as peacemakers. I am responding to the call. Will you join me?

Prayer for Peace
Revealing God, made known to us through Christ, we hear your call. We—the vulnerable and strong alike—will respond. We would honor the blessings you give by using them to fulfill Christ’s mission.

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

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will travel a new path and find new ways to respond to need.

The Quiet of this Place

Saturday, April 26

Nauvoo House Nauvoo, Illinois

Nauvoo House
Nauvoo, Illinois

By Evelyn Richardson of Nauvoo, Illinois, USA

Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed. …For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

—Isaiah 61:9, 11 NRSV

It is quiet in the Visitors Center at the Joseph Smith Historic Site in Nauvoo, Illinois. The day started with a much-needed rain shower. My husband, Don, is leading a tour. A deer looks in the window as it eats from the flowerbeds. It is peaceful.

However, behind the scenes, we process orders to stock the book and gift shops for the increasing spring and summer visitors. I look forward to meeting the visitors and volunteers.

Nauvoo! What a wonderful place to share in the history of the Restoration movement. Times were difficult for those disciples who gathered on “the flats” here in 1839. If it had not been for them, rooted and grounded in the good news of Jesus Christ and his mission, where would we be today?

As I look over the script for the tour guides, I wonder how life would have been with the young church in this place. People received direction to build a second temple, a House of the Lord. There was much illness and grief from malaria. The prophet, Joseph Smith Jr., was still a “wanted man” in the eyes of the law in Missouri. Yet, those people of great faith built a community where they could live as one. Life was not always rosy, but I am thankful for those pioneers and the spirit of this place.

I’m sure we each have a place where we can retreat and feel close to God and let God’s Spirit bless us. Thanks to the generous response of disciples to world mission tithes, we have support for Community of Christ historical sites.

Prayer for Peace
God of the past, present, and future, we are thankful for the faithful pioneers who laid a foundation from which we can pursue Christ’s mission of peace.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring God’s Call to Others
Reflect on God’s call in your life. Quietly reflect on the moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation to expand your gifts. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come. When have you experienced God through the calling and gifts of others? How do your gifts connect with the call of God you notice in your family, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will learn more of the story of the Restoration.

Sacred Space

Friday, April 25

Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux, France

By Bill Gillard of Leonay, New South Wales, Australia

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

—Matthew 17:4 NRSV

April 25 marks a sacred day of remembrance for Australians. We remember fallen soldiers. On this day we hold religious services all over our land and in other countries. This year I watched the memorial services at Gallipoli, Turkey, and then in Villers-Bretonneux, France. As I listened to speakers describe these places as “sacred spaces.” Another area dedicated to remembering brave soldiers is the Kokoda Track in Papua, New Guinea.

As I thought about these services, my mind went to Moses’ experience, when the presence of God appeared to him in a burning bush. God said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). Moses was in a sacred space in the presence of God. I wondered, “Where are my sacred spaces?”

Answers came readily to mind—in my garden surrounded by the fauna and flora revealing God’s creation and circle of life. I find sacred space when I attend church for worship and the sacraments. There is a designated place in my home where I meditate, study, and write. Sacred space surrounds my family and its abundant love. It’s there when I share a meal with friends. Another sacred space in our home—part of the Open Door Congregation—is our swimming pool, the site of many baptisms.

Jesus cherished and used sacred spaces—on mountains and in boats to escape the crowds and pray. After his resurrection, Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain. As these disciples looked at Jesus, they noticed a dazzling, bright change come over him and saw him talking with Moses and Elijah. Seeing this, Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here…”

How good it is to be with God in sacred spaces and to receive peace and enlightenment in this time together. May God bless you regularly as you find sacred space to be with God.

Prayer for Peace
Ever-present God, thank you for the sacredness of every place in which we meet you. Thank you for the peace you bring to these places.

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

Peace Covenant
Today, God, as I move from sacred place to sacred place, I will see sacredness in the spaces between, too.

Mountain in the Clouds

Thursday, April 24

4-24By Jackie Porter Smith of Thornton, Colorado, USA

He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”…And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

—John 21:17 NRSV

Many years ago, a woman invited me to a women’s retreat in North Carolina. Because I lived about 60 miles from the nearest congregation, I could not attend often. I missed the companionship of those in my home congregation in Colorado.

I always approach retreats expecting to meet God there. So, I set off for the mountains of North Carolina. I missed the mountains of Colorado, as well as my congregation.

As we drove I was awestruck at the beauty of God’s creation. Already God’s blessings were raining down on me. The retreat theme was “Go and Feed My Sheep.” All weekend we talked about ways to reach out to the world, to share God’s love with friends, family, and strangers. I found love in Community of Christ 2,000 miles from home.

It is easy to connect to God and God’s plan when surrounded by others of faith in such a beautiful place. I prayed for the people of the world to know and feel this love. I prayed I would be a part of the mission to Invite People to Christ.

Sunday morning, our last service was in the chapel, high on the mountainside, overlooking a valley. As I entered the chapel, it and the whole hillside filled with billowy clouds. They covered the valley below. Nothing else was visible. It was the most awesome sight I had ever seen. Nothing but clouds everywhere! As we began to sing praises and worship, the clouds became fuller and more and beautiful.

As the speaker talked to us about our mission in the world, the clouds slowly began to lift. As we sang, “A Charge to Keep I Have,” the valley became clearly visible. The world opened to us, and the landscape become sharp, God was showing us the world and inviting us to go and “feed my sheep.”

Prayer for Peace
“God of the mountain, God of the hill, show us your Spirit, teach us your will. God of the bright cloud, God of the dawn, give us your vision, lure us on.”

—Native American, adapted

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 clear the clouds from my vision to see Christ’s mission for me.

Dark Night, Morning Light

Wednesday, April 23

4-23By Michalina Bartlett of Gainesville, Florida, USA

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion.

—Psalm 9:10–11

What is your night and what is your song? We spend much of our lives in darkness. It is hard to see the joy without light. Night can bring feelings of loss, depression, and suffering. It can mean feeling loneliness and separation from God’s love. Most of us can say, “I am one who knows the night.”

Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

—Psalm 30:5

Here is my psalm:
My night is sad; my night is so dark. I am afraid. Tears are in the darkness. The night is everywhere I go. The night is so alone for me. I am lost. Still I sing.

Arise and sing into the night. What does the song mean? The song of the nightingale is a song of longing—longing for a heavenly home. Nightingale, you break the lonely silence of the dark.

You are a hiding-place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

—Psalm 32:7

Here is my song:
Let it be a song of joy, a song of peace, a song of love, an unforgettable song. I sing of God’s goodness as the light in my heart. The gift of our song is joy to us and is like no other. What is your night, and what is your song?

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

—Psalm 27:1

Prayer for Peace
We praise you, God, for the bird that sings, for the branch to which it clings, and the earth from which the tree springs. We rejoice in the light the morning brings.

Spiritual Practice: God’s Healing Light
Today’s intercessory prayer comes from the Quaker tradition. Become still and turn your attention to God. Prayerfully identify a person in need of healing, blessing, or guidance. Close your eyes and imagine God’s presence surrounding the person. See or sense the person held in God’s light. Continue holding the person in the light and release the person into whatever blessing God knows is needed.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will sing of you when my life gets dark.

Just Look!

Tuesday, April 22

4-22By Joann Condit of Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.

—Luke 12:6 NRSV

We were walking down a long, cobbled road curving around a hill on which perches the lovely medieval town of San Gimignano in Tuscany. Our friend, Dot, joined with Marcia and me just outside the city walls. I found myself, atypically, silent as we continued down the road.

Dot stopped suddenly and exclaimed with excitement, “Look!” I quickly looked up and out at the beautiful countryside spread below us. “No,” she insisted. “Look!” She was gazing, I thought, at her feet, her hands clasped under her chin and a look of intense joy on her face. I could not see anything to cause such delight until she jabbed a finger at the cobbles and said again, “Just look, my first Italian ant!” We indulgently had a good gander at the “Italian” ant before we continued down the hill.

I often think of Dot since that day. I wonder how many ants I have missed in my life by taking the loftier view. Surely, I might have seen a Portuguese ant, and perhaps one from Germany or even China. I might have taken in the larger sweep of countryside and then looked for the tiny mosaics of leaf, flower, and ant that compose the whole beautiful expanse of God’s world. I might find amusement, joy, and excitement, experiencing untold gratitude.

Blue vibration near my ear
dragonfly hovers by
with singing wing.

Deep throbbing in my chest
blue whales have an
ancient song to sing.

From tiny soloist to massive choir,
far-flung spectrum of
Maestro’s creative fling.
—Lu Mountenay

Prayer for Peace
God of all creatures—great and small, God of insects and sparrows, elephants and whales, give us keen eyes for what is at our feet as well as on the horizon. Like you, aware of all needs, may we take on your eyes and see where need exists—see where peace is needed.

Spiritual Practice: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation

Choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude while looking and listening for God in all things. Fall in love with the vast, intricate wonder of God’s creation, and give thanks.
Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will look for the small as well as the great.

Who Will Tell the Story Today?

Monday, April 21

4-21By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

Be respectful of tradition. Do not fail to listen attentively to the telling of the sacred story, for the story of scripture and of faith empowers and illuminates…

—Doctrine and Covenants 161:5

The large cemetery was right across the street from my childhood home. A thick laurel hedge with dark, shiny leaves bordered the grounds. We knew where the secret portals were—the few thin places in the foliage wall that we could squeeze through. We came to think of it as our evening playground from closing time and after.

We liked to play hide-and-seek behind the gravestones, and it never occurred to us to be afraid. It never occurred to us that we were trampling on “sacred” ground. We were unaware.

We were not just errant trespassers but great translators of the characters on the markers in the Chinese and Jewish sections. The stones were mysterious and elaborate. We would try to describe the people buried there and tell their life story. We made each other wonder with our wild imaginations.

Some markers were old. We would try to find the oldest in the yard. We never looked for the newest one—we stayed away from the fresh mounds of soil. Somehow, even as children, we knew death was too close at these points.

My favorite marker was a large, natural stone that had large, ruggedly carved letters—“DAD.” Only that—no names or dates like the other markers. However, I had the feeling he was just as beloved as the other ones. He was someone’s wonderful dad.

I wonder…did children play around Christ’s empty tomb? Were they curious about the man who left it so mysteriously? Did they know what an impact he would have on the future of the world? Would they wonder at his rising from the grave to bring everlasting life? Who answered their questions? Who will tell the sacred story today?

Prayer for Peace
Mysterious God who presides over life and death, may we be faithful to the sacred story and carry it forward. May we carry Christ’s peace forward to share.

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 voice 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 sense. If you feel led, you also 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 delve into my memory and find a sacred story to tell.