Welcome Home

Friday, November 7

11-7By Flo McDonald of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus. …Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

—Romans 15:5, 7 NRSV

Opportunities to live in different areas of the USA blessed our family. I attended classes for young mothers on ways to respond to the needs of growing children when it is necessary to relocate. I am grateful for the instructions received. In addition, I learned it was possible to make the transitions without too much trauma.

One idea was to make the move an adventure and have fun. We learned about the environment and visited places of interest in New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Missouri. My husband liked to travel back roads instead of staying on main highways. One day the family made a shopping trip to Phoenix, Arizona. On the way home, the road on which we traveled ran out—it was unfinished!

We had prepared for the trip, or so I thought. The day was hot, and our car did not have air-conditioning. Concern for my family caused me to forget about myself. I assured them I was fine. The time came when I was not fine.

A service station was ahead. We stopped, and I did what experts told us not do in one of our classes. I rapidly drank liquids. Despite my stupidity, the Lord blessed me. I survived. But to this day I cannot stand the heat as well as I once did.

Another lesson learned was to make the new home a familiar place. Familiar objects and pictures helped, as did continuing familiar daily routines. The most help of all came in finding and attending the nearest Community of Christ congregation.

I remember those days, the friendships we made, and experiences of community. I realized that God had heard our prayers and had given our family strength and protection. I never would have known that we could handle so many moves so smoothly. Our faith families welcomed us. I trusted God to remain steadfast no matter where we lived.

Prayer for Peace Welcoming God, it is good to know when we must leave a home, that you will be there waiting for us in our new home. Thank you for our international community with whom we can live in any new place.

Spiritual Practice: Experience Congregations in Mission Read and reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 164:9a–d. Reread the sentence, “If you truly would be Community of Christ, then embody and live the concerns and passion of Christ.” Make a list of the issues you feel mattered most to Christ. Make another list of issues that matter to the people in your congregation. Reflect on the similarities and differences. How can you help align the lists? Throughout the day, as issues arise, ask yourself, “Would this matter to Christ?”

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will welcome the newcomers and help them know they are “home.”

God’s Treatment Center

Monday, November 3

11-3By Merna Short of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

—Matthew 5:16 NRSV

Norman Vincent Peale said, “If you want a complete medical treatment, you go to a hospital. If you want to get the soundest and deepest spiritual help, you go to church.”

I know many people who feel they can worship God in nature. This is true. We can worship through nature, family, friends, music, art, and in the quiet of a meditative moment. We can worship while alone or with others. Participation with other believers in worship or class also encourages others in their faith journey.

Companionship during scripture study, reflection, conversation, and listening can bring encouragement, peace, and collective healing. Practicing the Enduring Principles and Mission Initiatives offers collective opportunity for living Christ’s mission.

I find blessing in the joys of serving. I am grateful for the many caring mentors who serve as guiding lights for me. These mentors teach me and other fledgling disciples.

Others may choose to come to “God’s Treatment Center” for strengthening and renewing faith. May we, as disciples, offer the prescription of healing ministry and spiritual practice.

Prayer for Peace Creator God, we know that all light comes from you. Help us reflect your light in dark places. Help us share your light so those who are troubled may see and know your love and peace.

Spiritual Practice: Light Close your eyes, and center 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 As Maryanne Williamson wrote, “As we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same.” Today, God, I will not shrink from adding to your glory.

Across the Ages of Time

Saturday, November 1

11-1By JoAnn Condit of Phoenix, Arizona, USA

The Lord is exalted, he dwells on high; he filled Zion with justice and righteousness; he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

—Isaiah 33:5–6 NRSV

On November 1, 1992 (All Saints Day), I visited the cathedral town of Alcobaça in Portugal. The town is small, and the cathedral is vast, of remarkable construction, standing firm since its establishment in 1138. This was an abbey of Benedictine monks, the Black Monks—named for their black robes. There were always 999 of these farmer monks—no more, no fewer—living in the cloister attached to the cathedral.

The kitchen, cleverly designed, served the purposes of the cloister. Flues over the fire pits carried off smoke. A small river, diverted through the kitchen, brought fish speedily from water to table. The river carried away the refuse. It still flows deep and fast. The sound is pleasant as it rushes through the cave-like room and away under the wall.

The small choir room boasts impressive acoustics. Disclaiming his musical aptitude, our young guide, Pedro Pinto, sang a few lines of a Gregorian chant that nearly brought me to my knees—his voice as clear as crystal and incredibly pure. Memory of our visit, gives me a sense of the devotion to God that remains there throughout the centuries.

The reasons Portugal dissolved all religious orders in 1834, were complex and real. The dedication of the monks was also real. It was as real as the lingering scent of incense that permeates the very stones of the cathedral.

May we, too, live that generations who come after us will grasp the essence of our devotion. May they feel our joys and our sacrifices and find in them strength and renewed courage for their own journey of faith. Help us be a pattern of grace, a living song echoing peace.

Prayer for Peace Creator God, stability of our times, help us have the courage and devotion of our ancestors. Give us the endurance to work for justice and the generosity to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Offering Blessings of Community Receive and share Blessings of Community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the relationships 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? How have you felt the love of the community?

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 Covenants Today God, I will remember whose shoulders I stand on and be mindful of those who will stand on mine.

Long-distance Prayers

Thursday, October 30

10-30By Linda Porter of Maryland Heights, Missouri, USA

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.

—1 Peter 3:12 NRSV

My daughter had a condition that caused her joints to pop out of place. This was painful and dangerous. When she had a job teaching at night in a town seven miles away, she had a terrible incident that needed long-distance prayers.

Jeni was going to her car and dropped her keys. As she bent to pick them up, her ribs dislocated and pressed against her lungs. She couldn’t breathe or move without pain. As she made it into her car, she knew she had to navigate home. She prayed all the way.

Because this was before cell phones, Jeni prayed alone. She knew she would not be able to turn her head or move without severe pain. She went in faith. As she approached intersections, the lights changed, and she could drive through. As she approached the busy highway, there was a break in traffic, and she could enter and drive without worry. As she exited the highway, she again had green lights all the way home.

Jeni crawled up the steps into the house and across the floor. She knelt at the sofa, where she struggled to breathe. Her grandmother found her there and called me and my husband. The people we were visiting stood and joined us in offering long-distance prayers. Our elderly aunt took Jeni’s hands and prayed. Jeni now had a good support group praying for her. She made a sudden small movement and heard her ribs pop back into alignment. She could breathe again.

As we rushed to her side, I thought how I had felt a power leaving our circle so far from Jeni and how those prayers joined with others. The x-rays later showed where Jeni’s ribs had bruised and nearly punctured her lungs. The doctor could not imagine how she could have done what she did with such injuries.

Jeni healed that night. She healed in God’s perfection and has had no more painful incidents of joint or bone distress. Today, she will tell you that God hears prayers of faith. And I know that even long-distance prayers are never too far away.

Prayer for Peace Compassionate God, you know our needs even before we utter them. You know our concern for our loved ones. You see us and know us more deeply than we know ourselves. Know that we pray to you in faith, trusting that you hear.

Spiritual Practice: Intercessory Reflection Sit quietly with your eyes closed as you enter intercessory reflection and prayer. Ask God to bring persons who need prayer to your mind and heart. Be open to images of the persons or spiritual insight into their needs. Listen for signals from their lives and let the depth of God’s love for them become powerful and real to you. Ask God to help you see ways to affirm and support them when you meet them in daily life.

Peace Covenant Today, God, as you hear my prayer, I will hear and respond to the needs of another.

Waiting in Line? Not so Bad!

Saturday, October 25

10-25By Dustin Davis of Los Angeles, California, USA

…so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith…

—Romans12:5–6 NRSV

I like to go to theme parks to escape the mundane world. It’s not unusual to strike up a conversation with people around you in the long lines.

One morning while waiting, my friend, Carla, and I met Jessica and her younger sister, Lindsay, who had come from another city. They shared in our excitement, and, later we were happy to share our place in line for one of the new rides. Afterward, we said good-bye and hoped to see them again.

Not long after that, we met a young man named Jason, with whom we instantly clicked. Before we knew it, we were wandering around the park together, sharing our stories. We continued to meet him throughout the day, and we saved a spot for him at an evening show.

We also made friends with two new high school graduates, Rebecca and another Jason, while waiting in line. They were hungry, so we promised to save their spot in line so they could go eat. Delighted to not lose their spot, they came back with ice cream to share. We spent the rest of the time in line laughing and getting to know each other. When we got to the front of the line, we all rode together.

Sometimes I was in the most unlikely places and with unlikely strangers that we found community. We met such friendly people at every turn. Instead of simply experiencing our excitement and enthusiasm with each other, we shared it with others, multiplying it.

We long for deep and real connections, hard to come by in our fast-paced and social-media-driven society. Be ready to share the peace of Christ wherever you may find yourself—at work, school, the gym, your home, or even standing in a long line. For a few joy-filled hours that day, we experienced one of the Blessings of Community.

Prayer for Peace God of the universal community, help us always be aware of opportunities to connect with people and to share moments of blessing.

Spiritual Practice: Offering Blessings of Community Receive and share Blessings of Community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the relationships 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? How have you felt the love of the community?

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 God invites you to complete.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will not waste my time while in line…I will use it to share peace.

Home at Last

Thursday, October 23

10-23By Melba Jean Dixon of Farwell, Michigan, USA

“Agree with God, and be at peace; in this way good will come to you.”

—Job 22:21 NRSV

Frank and Carol were seeking a church to attend—a place where they would feel comfortable and welcome. Both were previously baptized in other denominations. Each became dissatisfied.

Frank worked at a hardware store with Glen, a member of Community of Christ. Frank and Carol decided to try Glen’s church. They entered and felt a connection when they saw Dee, who had brought ministry to them many years before.

It was Communion Sunday, and the congregation’s pastor, Dean, was presiding. During his Communion thoughts, Dean invited all who came with faith in Christ to take part in the bread and wine. Carol said Dean’s invitation brought to her a feeling of acceptance. She and Frank experienced a welcoming presence, and they continued to attend.

At a later service, as I prepared to give the message, I felt an urge to issue an invitation to the congregation. During my message, I explained the church’s new policy, “Baptism, Confirmation, and Church Membership,” which provides a way for previously baptized people to become members of the church through confirmation. At the close of the service Carol told me that she and Frank wanted confirmation as members of Community of Christ!

Frank and Carol received the sacrament of confirmation on a Communion Sunday in 2012. The sanctuary filled with a spirit of peace and joy. Members of the congregation love and welcome them.

They are a blessed addition to our church family as they bring their cheerfulness and gifts of music. They are eager to pitch in and work on any project. The Farwell Congregation welcomes their first new members by confirmation, and Frank and Carol have finally found a church to call home.

Prayer for Peace Welcoming God, may those who come seeking a spiritual home find a welcoming and open community. And further, may we go out to find those who are waiting. Help us share Christ’s peace with them.

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 open my heart to the urging of your Spirit.

It Started as a Dream…

Saturday, October 18

Boardwalk Through Lush ForestBy Nancy Hylton of Seattle, Washington, USA

You are called to create pathways in the world for peace in Christ to be relationally and culturally incarnate. The hope of Zion is realized when the vision of Christ is embodied in communities of generosity, justice, and peacefulness.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:3a

It started as a dream to serve families with disabled children closer to their homes near Seattle, Washington. It started with the weekday use of a church nursery room by five families and two physical therapists. It started in August 1979 as a nonprofit neurodevelopmental center to help young children and infants with movement and learning problems.

From the start, the center took on a life of its own. Families and staff members built on the strengths others. Soon we needed a larger space. A doctor offered an extra two rooms behind his laboratory. We often used the carpeted hallway for therapy and communication groups as we overflowed the space.

Then we moved to a three-story house. We renovated the entry level as our primary therapy space. We used the stairs to teach kids to climb. Soon we outgrew this space, too.

With the help from donations, we tripled our space in a former day-care facility. To reduce the stress of travel on families, we started satellite locations. Our service expanded to include water therapy, hippo-therapy, and a fitness center. Our clientele expanded to include preteens and young adults.

It is a privilege to be part of this program, from the start—more than 30 years ago. I am convinced God not only struck the spark for our beginning, but God blessed us with the right people and skills. Supportive parents, who continue the work after their children complete the program, continue to bless us. Generous responses from businesses and foundations helped from the start.

God’s blessing on this zionic work is clear to me. Starting from a dream, it developed into a vibrant, life-enhancing program.

Prayer for Peace Generous God, we thank you for the dreams you plant in our hearts—dreams to serve those in need. We thank you for our dreams and plans to end suffering. Thank you for giving us a spark to fan into light and peace for the world.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Let your mind go to places where people have no homes. Think of refugees with homes 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, I will create a pathway for peace, with faith in your blessing.

A Different Kind of Baby

Monday, October 13

11-13a

Greg Clark

By Greg Clark of Independence, Missouri, USA

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea. …There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. …“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

—Psalm 46:1–2, 4, 10–11

The woman, easily in her 70s, maybe older, shuffled up the sidewalk, pushing a baby stroller. She wore a pale-blue sweatshirt and jeans, protecting her against the chill of a Midwestern day in late October.

Every few steps, she’d stop to fuss with the blankets in the stroller, clearly trying to keep the occupant warm.

Soon, she was right in front of my window, and I thought I might glimpse a child, bundled against the brisk weather. Instead, all I saw was the blanket, pulled protectively over a squirming body.

Then the woman stopped to arrange the blankets again. This time I could see. Instead of an infant, I saw floppy, furry ears; dark eyes; a black nose; and a little pink tongue.

The woman took a couple of more steps and then stopped again to adjust the stroller’s bonnet, obviously protecting the pup’s eyes from the thin sun.

This was one pampered pooch!

The thought hit me, “The pup has no idea how good its life is.” Then another thought hit: “I don’t know how good I’ve got it. In fact, most of us probably don’t understand the wealth of blessings that pour into our lives every day.”

Then I thought of those who find it hard to experience such blessings. I thought of how it’s our call to minister to them—Abolish Poverty, End Suffering—and to open our hearts to their pain and problems. To help others understand the Sacredness of Creation and Blessings of Community which surround them.

The dog in the stroller obviously basked in the love of its master. We can do the same. We are called to open the paths for others to feel that love, too.

Prayer for Peace Tender Shepherd, our blessings are too many to count. Day after day you surround us with your love. At times we separate ourselves from you, and yet you love us still. Often we are in conflict, and yet you trust us to share the peace of Christ. May we be worthy of your trust.

Spiritual Practice: Offering Blessings of Community Receive and share Blessings of Community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the friendships 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. How have you felt the love of the community? Go deeper each day as you consider what acts of blessing you can complete for stranger and friend alike.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will share your love with those in my care.

Be of One Mind and Heart

Sunday, September 28

Ron Harmon

Ron Harmon

By Ron Harmon, Council of Twelve Apostles

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…

—Philippians 2:1–5 NRSV

Recently, during leaders meetings in Independence, Missouri, a woman approached me after a question-and-answer session. She was concerned that she had not made herself understood as she shared her comments with a large group of leaders from the USA. I could sense her frustration, so I asked her to elaborate.

She shared about some challenges in her mission center and then shared her specific concern. As I listened carefully, I not only heard, but felt, the depth of her concerns. As I responded, her eyes began to well up. She nodded and affirmed that I understood her concern. I assured her I would share this with my colleagues.

Something powerful happens when we create the time and internal space to listen intently to one another. We find ourselves in the sacred space of another’s deepest concerns, hopes, and ideals. The space that separates us fades in significance as we connect at a level beneath intellect and abstract ideas. We connect as human beings. And, although we may not agree, we sense the great importance of our bond as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Perhaps this is what the author of Philippians meant when he wrote, “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

Prayer for Peace Listening God, we have faith that you hear and feel our deepest concerns. Weep with us, God, so we may have joy in the morning light. Help us know this joy comes from you.

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 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 listen deeply and with compassion to another’s need.

Blessed amid Difficulty

Saturday, September 27

Four Hands Joined TogetherBy Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. …When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.

—Psalm 34:15, 17 NRSV

When my son was fighting leukemia, drawing his bone-marrow was such a painful experience for him. He needed me to be right there, even though he was 25, and a parent himself. At first I tried holding his hands during the procedure, but he was too strong and nearly broke my fingers. So then I started massaging his scalp during the process as I prayed.

While I prayed, I imagined the hands of all our family and friends—I felt the whole church community had their hands right next to mine, providing love and support. It was a comfort to Zac, but so much more for me. It was something I could do. It helped take away some of the helplessness I felt. We lost him to the disease, but I could at least do something while he was with us!

Prayer for Peace Compassionate God, open us to the many blessings you desire for us. Help us be receptive to your healing love. Help us share your love and the peace of Christ.

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 healing and wholeness for all creation? Do we hear the “voice” of God calling to us in the sounds of suffering and joy, in scripture and sacred word, in tears and laughter? When and how has God’s voice spoken to you? How does the assurance of comfort come to you through the many “voices” of God?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will listen for your healing words and not feel helpless as someone suffers.