A House Becomes a Home

Monday, November 10

11-10By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, USA

“Humble yourselves, and continue in prayer to God; cry to God when you are in your fields, and over all your flocks; cry to God in your houses, and over all your household, morning, midday, and evening. …And when you do not cry to the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer to God continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.”

—Alma 16:219, 222, adapted

A severe storm badly damaged my house. I had to move out and put it on the market “as is.” A year later it still had not sold. We made ready to tear the house down and sell the lot. But prayers and a phone call changed events. It was from a woman who bought old houses and made them habitable again. She told me an interesting story.

As she drove down my street, she saw the vacant house, but it did not capture her imagination. She continued, “A powerful Spirit pulled my car into the driveway. Nothing like that ever had happened to me before.” The potential buyer stepped inside the unlocked house. Somehow, her feeling of attraction and the house’s appearance did not match.

She saw that beneath the damage skilled handiwork displayed itself throughout the house. She determined that without major changes, she could renovate it and make it ready for resale. The caller went on, “What struck me, though, was the Spirit that I felt inside the home. I felt comfortable there.”

I shared some of the house’s history with her—that my husband and I dedicated the house to God. We raised our children and grandchildren there. It also served as a safe playground for two generations of neighboring children. In the quiet moments that followed she came to understand.

Two weeks later we met and completed the transaction. We felt the settlement was fair to both of us. Surely the Lord had sent this kind stranger to bless me. I have faith that God continues to bless her and those who find sanctuary in their new home.

Prayer for Peace Creator God, we have faith in your listening ear. When we forget to pray, nudge us with your gentle elbow. When we remember, enfold us in your peaceful arms.

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 listen and respond morning, midday, and evening.

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Living Water

Wednesday, November 5

11-5By Val Walker of Plainfield, Indiana, USA

Therefore, continue to be strong in faith. To you who hear my voice and know my promises I will reveal myself and give my peace, even in the midst of your uncertainties.

—Doctrine and Covenants 158:11a

I planned a worship service to celebrate Communion, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, using the story of the woman at the well (John 4). Our worship center included a small fountain with water bubbling over rocks, creating a pleasant, falling-water sound as we shared in worship.

As part of my message, I wanted each one in the congregation to share in a symbol of the living water experience. I used a small medicine dropper to draw water from the fountain and offer a drop to each person. I practiced at home and found the capacity of the dropper was 24 drops. Normal attendance for us was about 40 people, so I planned to stop halfway and refill the dropper.

That morning I counted 38 people at church. As I talked about Jesus offering himself as living water, I walked through the congregation placing a drop of water from the fountain in the palm of each outstretched hand. I decided to go as far as I could with one dropper before refilling. I counted silently as I went. When I finished, I placed the last drop back in the fountain. There was enough and to spare—from one dropper of water.

I could not believe it, did not trust myself, and no one knew why I finished the message with tears in my eyes.

I went home to prove the “miracle” to my uncertain self, before I could share the testimony. Again I filled the dropper and counted—only 24 drops. I had not trusted God, had not trusted my math, and had not trusted my congregation to understand the experience. If I had not prepared and practiced before the service, I wouldn’t have realized the powerful message God had for us and especially me!

The following Sunday, I testified of the experience with the congregation, telling how God brought alive the living water offered by Christ. Be strong in faith, “even in the midst of your uncertainties.”

Prayer for Peace Faithful God, living among us, help us be aware of your presence. Help us drink in the experiences we might otherwise brush off. Help us immerse ourselves in sharing Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Vessel for Living Water Visualize or feel a vessel at the center of your being. Imagine drawing something from the vessel to share with someone, but as you reach inside you find only a tiny pool of stagnant liquid. You are thirsty, dry, empty. Then something clear and cool begins to pour over you. It splashes and tumbles into the vessel, filling it to the brim. The living water of Christ pours on and in you. Your vessel fills and runs over, blessing you with enough and to spare.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will place my faith in the results without the test.

 

Choose God

Friday, October 31

10-31By Terry Smith of Naples, Florida, USA

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

—Romans 8:28 NRSV

My meeting with Michael was near the airport, where he had an aviation business. He was a friend, as well as a client, and our business together allowed me to fly his twin aircraft.

Michael was unusually quiet. He finally told me a close friend had crashed his own airplane in the Everglades, killing himself and his wife. A grieving Michael looked at me intently, and asked, “Do you believe in life after death?”

It was no longer a business lunch.

Michael was religious. He was a lifelong, observant, and obedient Catholic. But this tragic event shook his faith. His faith journey slammed to a stop while he considered the most profound question facing people. Michael was asking me, “Is there a God?”

How does one answer? Science is not applicable and can only add more questions. Often science dissolves, leaving us with subjective conviction. So I testified.

I told Michael of worship experiences when I “sensed a presence.” I told him of harboring a hatred that was eating at me, from which I felt healed by the Holy Spirit. I told him I railed at circumstances I could not control, and I felt healed when the elders prayed for me. I told him of when God chose to save my life, and that of 400 sleeping sailors. Where was the proof? I had none, but I believe it because I could not account for it any other way.

Scriptures testify of God’s love for us. They offer hope, of which God is the source. They tell us God calls us according to God’s purpose for us, and that we are a worthy investment. I told him that choosing to believe was respectable. We can model our universe with or without God, but God’s presence changes everything for the better. God offers us hope and forgiveness and what Apostle Paul called inner strength. God offers the promise of peace and a community of loving people.

God or no God? Both are conclusions based on the lack of repeatable evidence. I choose God—it is a far better way of life.

Faith begins as a whisper and finally becomes the voice of conviction. Faith is like falling in love with Holiness, and Holiness loves you back.

Michael began to feel better. The act of discussion, probably as therapeutic as my testimony, strengthened faith. I don’t know about his, but it strengthened mine.

Prayer for Peace Compassionate God, help us develop inner strength so we may share your peace.

Spiritual Practice: Making Responsible Choices Prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. The practice of 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.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will weigh the evidence of creation and choose you.

Holy is the Name of the Lord

Monday, October 24

10-24aBy Ward Serig of Pensacola, Florida, USA

Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel said: “Blessed be the name of God from age to age, for wisdom and power are his. …He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him.”

—Daniel 2:19–20, 22 NRSV

God of Shalom, eternal Presence, God of networks, we connect with you. Faithful God, whispering God, merciful God, God of the vulnerable, God of enduring love, we respond to your love.

Divine Presence, Creator God, God of hope, God of the oppressed, free us now.

Stronghold in times of trouble, God of the universe, God within our hearts, burden-lifting God, listening God, God of the open doors, welcome us home.

God of wisdom and knowledge, God of the downpour, God of the mist, healing and compassionate God, Center, Rock, Pillar, Root.

As I studied the images of God expressed in the prayers for peace in the 2012 Daily Bread, these were among the ways used to address God in January alone. Scanning the prayers for the rest of the year, I note more than 140 terms, trying to portray God’s nature. Perhaps the title which best summed it up was used February 29, “God of Many Names.”

I find that often I spend as much time meditating on the character of God expressed in the daily prayer as on the message of the article itself. I am grateful for my faith in a God whose nature is beyond all description and human understanding and yet is intensely personal and involved in all creation.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty!

Prayer for Peace YHWH, unpronounceable, indescribable, and mysterious God, we dare utter your name. Love has overcome our fear of the unknown. Love reaches out and inspires our words of praise. We do not try to capture your essence, holy One, but to ponder your limitless presence.

Spiritual Practice: Many Names of God In many languages, God’s name contains “ahh,” a sound we make when we breathe out or sigh. Our prayer will use the aah names for God with a gentle arm movement that opens us to God’s presence. Begin with hands in front of you at chest level and move them up and in a large arc or circle as you breathe out each name for God.

You may speak the name of God or find a single musical note to hold or chant as you sing God’s name. Pray or sing each name several times, as you call on the God of many names: Yahweh, Adonai, Jehovah, Yeshua, Sophia, Allah, Alpha, Omega, Abba. Say or sing “amen” to close.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will call to you with my heart, knowing you will hear and respond.

GPS: God Positioning System

Wednesday, October 22

10-22By Joann Condit of Phoenix Arizona, USA

Therefore my people shall know my name; therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I. …Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion.

—Isaiah 52:6, 8 NRSV

It was a matted and scruffy-looking toy fox, the beloved and constant companion of our 5-year-old grandson. The fox went with Tyler; his brother, Stephen; his parents; and Pa; and me to California to visit relatives. The house was full of family, and all the beds spoken for. Our grandsons slept in our sleeping bags.

Tyler and 8-year-old Stephen played hard all that day. By bedtime Tyler was tired and cranky. He needed to cuddle his fox and go to sleep. Alas, the fox was nowhere to be found, and Tyler was inconsolable. First Pa and I looked, then brother, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins joined the foxhunt. We thoroughly searched the house and the big backyard—even the tree house.

Outside lights shone brightly, and flashlights probed the corners. No fox. Tyler cried himself to sleep. His beloved fox had vanished from sight but not from his heart. He mourned.

Some 10 months later, I went to a women’s retreat and unrolled my sleeping bag onto a top bunk. When I climbed up, I found a large lump in the bottom of the bag. I hoped no one had put some unlovely object in there! Cautiously, I unzipped and folded back the bag to reveal…yes, the fox! The lost was found and gratefully and lovingly received home by Tyler.

We humans don’t resemble lost toys, but we do lose sight of God and become inconsolable. We are assured that God continues to love us, to search for us when we are lost, to make the divine voice known to us. Listen, for it is God who speaks. We reunite in love.

Prayer for Peace We are listening, God. Speak so we may find our way back to you.

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 speaks 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 be guided by your voice and consoled by your Spirit.

Words of Support

Monday, October 20

10-20By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, USA

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

—Romans 12:1–2 NRSV

Our congregation is the spiritual home of several generations. We carefully nurture all children who come to us and teach them the ways of Christ. Young Jared was one of these children. He asked for baptism, so we planned a service to celebrate his commitment to Christ.

A couple of days before the sacramental service, I felt compelled to write a letter of support to Jared. As I finished it, the phone rang. It was his mother. She said in an anxious voice, “I need to talk to you, and it is important.” She told me the person who was to bring the message for the service of baptism had laryngitis and could not speak. She pleaded, “Can you do the charge on such a short notice?”

I must have hesitated as I looked at the letter I had just written. I asked if I might read something to her as an answer to her request. She agreed, though she did not understand why I was hesitant. I shared the letter that I had written to her young son, and she understood my answer. It was the message that I was to give at his baptism. We rejoiced together that I had responded to the Holy Spirit on behalf of young Jared.

Prayer for Peace Prepare us, Lord—make us ready. Gently nudge us to be open to your Spirit. Help us remember that you have a purpose and a call for each one. Help us respond to that call.

Spiritual Practice: Encountering Scripture as Continuing Revelation Read and pray with Doctrine and Covenants as Continuing Revelation of God’s vision for the church and creation. Choose a favorite section or focus on counsel in Sections 156–164. Read a few selected paragraphs slowly three or four times. Pause to pray for deeper understanding after each reading.

Pray to open your heart and emotions. Prayerfully ask to hear the phrase or word that speaks to you or touches your life. Stay with this word or phrase. Listen as fully and openly as you can. What sense of divine presence or invitation comes? What is revealed?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will rejoice in the times that, together, we got it right.

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.

Live the Gospel

Sunday, September 21(Heritage Day)

9-21By Richard Howard of Independence, Missouri, USA

…but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons…Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food.

—Matthew 10:6–10 NRSV

Today’s scripture tells of Jesus’ commission to his disciples to spend their lives bringing healing and hope to people in desperate need. They were to trust the Spirit to lead them. They were to travel light—no money, no baggage, no extra clothing. Jesus was already their role model, for scriptures tell us he had no place to lay his head as he shared his life with others so fully.

Elkana and Alicia Odupa of Kenya, Africa, sensed deeply a call to travel and set up their home and family among the Turkana people of Nakwamekwi. The village was on the brink of economic and social collapse. Consumption of alcohol had become epidemic, and the whole population was desperate.

The Odupas began working with the citizens, introducing agricultural and handcraft skills that within several months worked a transformative miracle among people of all ages in Lodwar and Nakwamekwi.

Elkana and Alicia, members of Community of Christ, also introduced the Christian gospel to the people. Soon more than 50 people united with the church through baptism. Equally important, the community left its destructive life patterns by embracing the gospel. People healed their addictions and built vocational opportunities that rescued families from poverty, disease, and despair. This was redeeming and transforming work.

All of this happened a generation ago, because Elkana and Alicia Odupa found great joy in living the gospel. They were foundational witnesses and part of the heritage we claim today.

Prayer for Peace Tender Shepherd, lead us to your lost sheep. Help us be faithful to the good news of the kingdom, not the polls of approval from the world. May we be laborers for 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 rediscover my testimony in preparation to share the invitation.

God-size Job…We Need Not Apply

Wednesday, August 27

8-27By Deb Crowley, of Charlotte, Michigan

My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you. …Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge God, and he will make straight your paths.

—Proverbs 3:1–2, 5–6, NRSV adapted

God is God, and we are not. These words from a sermon resonate loudly for me. The job of administrator of close to a hundred congregations is daunting. On good days, there is excitement, camaraderie, and the Holy Spirit, giving insight, energy, and hope.

Other days, there is dealing with conflict, anger, heartbreak, and overwhelmingly heavy burdens. Do you ever have days like that?

A couple of months ago I had a hard day. Bickering members in a few congregations saddened me. Financial woes that go with every charitable organization depressed me. I cried to God in frustration because no easy answers could relieve the pain and suffering. “Why, God? What can I possibly do to make a difference? People are too stubborn. They’ll never get along, and it’s just too hard! I want to quit before the dark hole swallows me!”

At my lowest point, God spoke. Not in a verbal voice, but through a message in my mind that was clear and concise. “All you have to do is love them. I’ve got everything else under control!”

I could feel the weight fall from my shoulders as God reminded me that God is God, and I am not.

There is no way I can carry the weight alone. No way to solve the problems of the world. No way to stop the bickering over insignificant concerns that stem from fear or a sense of loss. It is a God-size job!

It is my job to administrate justly and ethically. It is my Christ-like joy to love unconditionally and pastor with tenderness and patience. It is also my job to trust God as directed in Proverbs. God is God, and we are not. Bring on the challenges! With God anything is possible, and there are plenty of good days for those who faithfully rely on the Lord!

Prayer for Peace God of wisdom, help us lay our burdens at your feet. Help us trust your love when life challenges us. We rely on you to help us share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Praying for Leadership of the Church An important spiritual practice for disciples is praying for members of the body of Christ, particularly those who carry leadership responsibilities. Ask God to guide your awareness of persons who lead the community of faith in congregations, mission centers, and the World Church. Pray for God’s outpouring of grace on each servant leader who comes to mind.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will be aware of your comforting presence when I face a challenge.

I Close My Eyes…

Tuesday, July 29

7-29By 14-year-old Rachel Huerkamp of Delta, Colorado

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you…to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

—Romans 12:1–5 NRSV

I close my eyes and lock my hands. I pray away my sorry day and end it with the hope of tomorrow. With the dreams that follow me to sleep, I see my life of faith carved by mistakes, wisdom, and my surroundings. With these, the Divine helps me learn and choose the person I will be.

I will be a person who makes a change. I will not fear change, but absorb and embrace it. I will be the person who not only seeks change, but is part of creating change. I will choose change. I will be a person who makes a difference in the world God has created for us.

I will trust God’s call and praise God for lessons learned. The result of my response will reflect what I put into it.

With my eyes shut and my hands together, I lift everything that I am to you, O God. Know my faith is genuine—so you may cleanse my heart, soul, and mind. Help me on the path of life to finish the race at home with you.

Prayer for Peace Creator, God, shape us with the breath of your Spirit. Help us respond to our experiences with faith and generosity, willing to change what needs changing; willing to accept the shape that is good and acceptable to you.

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 choose to be a person who will share Christ’s peace.