The Heavens Proclaim God’s Glory

Saturday, November 8

11-8By Cindy L. Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, USA

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge…yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. …Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.

—Psalm 19:1–2, 4, 6, adapted NRSV

One morning blessed me with the beautiful sight of the morning sun rising. The rays of light painted the sky from the horizon outward and across the entire firmament. I could only marvel as the Spirit filled my soul and the heavens justly proclaimed the glory of God!

Day after day, the sun rises and sets. The heavens speak, but without a sound or word. Faithfully, the heavens proclaim the glory of God! The skies display God’s artistry. God is alive! Divine presence is with us always if we would just open our eyes and see. Open our mouths to express gratitude. Share our witness of God’s generosity to the end of the Earth. No one can hide from God’s grace.

Prayer for Peace Generous God, you bless us with your creation. Help us discern opportunities to share through word and deed our appreciation by inviting others to share in your blessings, to share in 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 spend my day in gratitude, speaking of your goodness.

Variation on an Arizona Theme

Monday, October 27

Low angle view of rock formations, Utah, USABy Pat Marmoy of Independence, Missouri, USA

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

—Psalm 36:5–7 NRSV

Shortly after arriving in Mesa, Arizona, for our annual winter stay, I stopped to soak in the brilliant sunset. One feature I enjoy about Arizona is that sunsets offer many colors. The scene changes so fast that if you do not take time to enjoy it, it is gone.

When we first started spending winters in Arizona, people commented about how nice it must be to escape the cold, messy winters in Missouri to spend time in warm, sunny Arizona. I would respond, “But I like snow.” Later I realized what I meant was that I like seasons—all four, distinct seasons.

People are curious to hear me say I enjoy the rain. Day after day of 70-degree, clear-sky weather in Mesa becomes monotonous for me. Bring on the rain, and let me sit on a porch and listen to its rhythm and enjoy its fresh smell.

Traveling through Utah I found the rock shapes and formations visually interesting. Just when I thought that God could not create one more variation on the theme of rock formations, we would happen on new ones.

When I think of all the diversity in God’s creation of plants, geology, weather, animals, and people, I am not only intrigued, but thankful. What a boring place it would be if we had only one type of flower, one scene of the setting sun, and—most of all—one look and culture for all of God’s people.

We welcome the diversity of nature yet find it harder to accept the diversity of people. To be honest, some variations in humans irritate me. But surely the differences in human personality, attitudes, behaviors, and perspectives must be a delight to God. So, I have begun to try to see diversity as God does. What a difference it makes when we purposely choose to enjoy the uniqueness of someone rather than try to make that person fit our expectation. Thank God for diversity!

Prayer for Peace Steadfast Creator who offers various and spontaneous blessings, may we embrace your creation anew. Help us learn ways to share Christ’s peace with different people.

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 look beyond the ordinary to find the extraordinary.

When We Fall and When We Fly

Tuesday, October 21

10-21By Elva Eliason of Vancouver, Washington, USA

…live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

—Ephesians 5:2 NRSV

It is cold outside. I am not in a rush to go out and meet the challenges of the day. My bedroom window shades open from the top, allowing me to see the sky and the upper branches of the tall trees. I thank God for that view each morning, and this morning I am in awe of the clouds.

They look like a thick featherbed quilted into puffy squares, shaded in whites and grays. However, the darker grays might mean snow, so maybe I shouldn’t be pleased with their beauty…and yet I am.

Then I see a hummingbird dancing over the top of the trees. Settling on the uppermost branch of a tall tree, he hasn’t enough weight to bend the tender twig. He sits there…and sits there, unusually still for a hummingbird. I begin to worry. If he sits much longer, his tiny body will freeze.

Suddenly he plummets straight down, and I gasp. It is just as I feared—his wings have frozen. Unable to fly, he has fallen to the ground.

I rush to the window, but he is behind the neighbor’s fence. I can’t help. I watch for a long time, and then I see him flutter up to one of the lower branches. He sits there and then hovers above the branch for a moment or two, struggling to beat his wings. He settles down on the branch once more, rises again, and again, each time his wings beating stronger.

Then he quickly zooms over the top of the tree, hovering for a moment, exulting in the rebirth of his strength. Then he rises toward the gray clouds.

Sometimes our spirits shrink to the size of a tiny hummingbird. Sometimes our spirits shudder and freeze. But then…an act of love, a memory of what it was like to feel the Spirit’s warm breath beneath our wings…creates a spark. And the spark creates light and warmth within. And strength returns to our soul.

We need to be vulnerable…not to judgment, but to love. May we not linger too long in that part of our soul that is cold and dark. For love is with us—when we fall, and when we fly!

Prayer for Peace Creator God, hover above and around us. Breathe your healing Spirit into us. Give us strength to lift ourselves from cold, dark places and bask in your light. Give us strength to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Breathing God’s Compassion Light a candle and sit quietly, reflecting on the fire and light of God. Pay attention to your breathing and let it become calmer and deeper as you focus on God’s presence. Ask God to breathe in you. Now imagine breathing out God’s compassion and grace each time you breathe out. Pray to have the spirit of Christ radiate from your life like the gentle flame of a candle.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will remember an act of love done for me, to lift my spirit. I will act with love to lift the spirit of another.

Hide and Seek

Thursday, October 16

10-16By Karen Tousley Hutchinson of Loveland, Colorado, USA

I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

—Psalm 121:1–2 NRSV

From where will my help come? God surrounds us and meets us through our senses. Psalm 72:6 says “May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass…” Who has smelled a rainy day after mowing the grass? What a gift to think of God that way—sending comfort through scent!

It is all encompassing. It surrounds us, and we cannot escape it. It fills our being, and so does God! What a wonderful thought. Even when I want to run away and hide, I am pulled back into God’s presence. I cannot escape.

I was struggling through a troubled year that I would rather have avoided. I did not want God’s presence in my life to be nearly as encompassing as it was. I saw it as a demand, rather than the gift it was. I kept trying to run away. People I loved died. There were surgeries and heart attacks. It seemed that overwhelming sorrows continually surrounded me.

I had only to lift my eyes to the hills and smell the mown grass after the rain. The scent kept pulling me back into God’s presence.

There are still times I want to run away from God’s love, but I have found there is no place to hide. Praise God for the comfort and the persistence of divine Presence.

Prayer for Peace Ever-present God, you seek us when we try to hide. You embrace us when we try to evade you. When we would flee, you are present. When we would escape, the fragrances of your Earth remind us of your presence. Help us realize when we are vulnerable to you, we are free.

Spiritual Practice: Fragrance Remember or find a way to experience directly a fragrance you enjoy (fresh flowers, candle, fresh bread, pine trees, sea air, spices). Ask God to help you see a situation for which you sense God’s call to bring harmony and healing. Pray that you might spread the peace of Christ as fragrantly and generously as the aroma you now experience.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will keep my senses keen to experience your Presence in creation.

Children of God

Friday, October 10

10-10By Evelyn Richardson of Nauvoo, Illinois, USA

“And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

—3 Nephi 5:56

He was 3 years old. He had a twin brother, but the doctor diagnosed him alone with leukemia. He started his ordeal with weekly chemotherapy treatments and seemed in good spirits despite all he would face over the next three years.

After his first chemo session, the doctors let him go home and sleep in his own bed. The next day he asked to go to the end of the driveway to get the mail, as if that were a privilege and wonderful adventure. His mother loaded him into his little red wagon and pulled him to the mailbox.

On the way back, he asked his mother to stop for a moment. When she did, he sat in his wagon and looked all around in silence—taking it in as if seeing it for the first time. He finally spoke and said, “Mommy isn’t everything beautiful?”

His words tugged at her heart as she answered, “Yes, honey. Everything sure is beautiful.”

A 3-year-old child, facing the fight of his life, made her realize the wonder of God’s creation. Let us take time to enjoy life to its fullest while we can. Let us recognize the sacredness of God’s creation around us, as if seeing it for the first time.

Fragile blue of robin’s egg—
the blue that says, look, don’t touch
Watery blue of grandma’s eyes—
the blue that says, I’d look if I could

                                      —Lu Mountenay

Prayer for Peace Compassionate God, when our vision is cloudy, clear our mind to see the love you have for your creation. Clear away jaded judgments that block our childlike wonder. May we be intentional in seeing and appreciative of what we see. May we be intentional as we share Christ’s peace.

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 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 see your world anew on my way to the mailbox.

It Is Enough

Wednesday, October 1

10-1By Deb Crowley of Charlotte, Michigan, USA

The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

—Isaiah 32:17–18 NRSV

A steady monotone chorus of cicadas filled the air and disturbed the idyllic peace at the campground. They drowned out the intermittent croak of frogs basking on lily pads in the pond. They rudely interrupted the light banter of chirping crickets. The noise disrupted the expected solitude as I sought quiet communion with God.

Yet, as my thoughts began to center, the chaotic hum receded into the background. The still, small voice of God, the peace of the Holy Spirit, and the companionship of Jesus became real and present. They flooded my soul with peace.

How like life! Our hectic schedules and a cacophony of voices demand attention. They threaten to engulf our full selves and become the focus of our attention. At these times it is difficult to center oneself and build deep connections with God and others. Yet, as we hone in on that holy Presence through scripture, song, prayer, silence…all else becomes background noise. God fills the spaces, bringing comfort, renewal, and peace.

The cicadas still sing. The world around us continues swirling in chaotic dissonance, but just for a moment, God breaks through, restoring peace and harmony.

It is enough.

Prayer for Peace Listening God, we know you hear us, though sometimes it is hard for us to hear you. Help us go deeper into silence, where we can find you. Rest our keen ears that we might not hear the noise nearby—that we may hear your voice within. Your peace is enough for us.

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 listen deeply.

A Deep Stillness

Friday, September 26

9-26By Diane Sosebee of Evergreen, Alabama, USA

I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

—Psalm 121:1–2 NRSV

Early morning is my favorite time for meditation, Bible reading, and devotions. A desk sits in front of a window with a view of my small backyard and garden. Each morning I sit in silence and listen for God to say, “Be still and know that I am God.”

One morning, I became aware of a deeper stillness and silence. No birds at the feeders, no hummingbirds hovering, no butterflies fluttering. Not even a leaf moved in a breeze. I looked to the hills and felt close to God, who created them.

I recognized the sacredness of that moment, when everything was silent before God. How many times a day do I miss sacred moments because I can’t be still; because I don’t listen? It was a humbling experience of seeing creation in stillness before the Creator, and hearing God in the silence.

Prayer for Peace Creator God, only you can speak so meaningfully without words—so forcefully without stirring the atoms. Only you can call to us from the hills by filling our eyes with the wonders of your creation. May we respond to your peaceful offerings by sharing the peace with others.

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. Look and listen for God in all creation. Write or pray a psalm of praise for the Earth’s beauty or offer a prayer of healing and blessing for its wounds.

Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping such as recycling, simple living, or fasting from over-consumption of resources. 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 Today, God, I will find you in the deep stillness.

The Summons

Monday, September 22

White Birch in Front of Maple TreesBy John Bonney of Springfield Oregon, USA

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord…

—Psalm 98:7–9 NRSV

The trees are almost bare, signaling the approach of the most wonderful time of year for me. In the winter months, the trees are dark, stark, and bare. They stand bleakly against the sky, showing their naked, gnarly bones. It is a sight with which I never grow bored. On an unadorned winter morning, I see such imaginative, creative gifts of the eternal Presence. The trees, stand, waiting for the summons to fulfill their purpose.

Soon spring unfolds, and those same unadorned trees find another season of expression. The leaves appear in their small light-green, almost yellow jackets. In time…in time, those same leaves become full, darker green, and glorious. They dress the tree in a verdant robe. They sing silent praise of the presence of the One who created them.

Time passes, and I see the trees of early summer. Decked in lush and deep green, in yet another stage of their splendor, they display their leafy tresses as if they were the only specimen on the block. They are gray-green, blue-green, and many more greens between.

In September the cycle comes to another completion. Not ending, but continuing to the next cycle. The leaves find their purpose. They take on a varied and glorious color palette to express their wonder at creation. Then the leaf falls and fulfills its purpose, completing its journey on Earth.

We, too, as humans feel the journey. Each season includes joy and pain. We see the passing of those we know, those who are close to us. It hurts, and we find relief in the memories of cycles past. We are left to watch others move on. We remember the lives we shared. Thank you, God, for continuing creation’s cycle.

Prayer for Peace You bring us home, God, when we have nowhere else to go. Thank you for the seasons and cycles of the Earth. Thank you for the renewal of creation, which delights us, and the comforting return of the familiar. Return us to peace.

Spiritual Practice: All That Lives Take a walk and find a tree where you can sit (or imagine walking). Lean against the tree and feel the texture of the bark. Listen to the wind move through the leaves. Sense God’s presence flowing through the tree and all creation. Offer a prayer of gratitude for your connection to all that lives. Ask for grace to discern and carry out one small act of justice or healing that creates greater wholeness for the planet, the community of creation.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will cherish the present season.

The Fish Could Not Speak

Tuesday, September 16

Dee River during an acid flow from Mt Morgan historic mine Photo by Corinne Unger

Dee River during an acid flow from Mt Morgan historic mine
Photo by Corinne Unger

By Corinne Unger of Chapel Hill, Queensland, Australia

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

Nearly 40 kilometers of the Dee River was dead. Heavy rain caused acid runoff from the weathered waste rock at the old gold and copper mines. Fish floated slowly downstream like fallen leaves. Their lifeless white underbellies glistened in the sun.

I met with Jack, a Queensland fruit farmer, at the riverbank. He explained the frequency of these flows. There was a sense of acceptance about this fate. After all, it had happened many times over the preceding century.

I recently had taken over managing this abandoned mine for the government. I wondered why the media were silent, why the local government representatives remained aloof. The fish could not speak; the vegetation could not protest. While this small community was doing its best to raise awareness, few others cared.

I knew it was up to me to give voice to this issue. It needed my knowledge and expertise. I would need to develop a team and a plan to support these people in their efforts to bring life back to this river. I needed hope and courage, for without them I could not complete the task.

Sometimes in life, we need to steel ourselves with faith if we are to fulfill our goals. In Christ we find a strong example—someone prepared to take on a challenge to win hearts and minds and bring about change.

Prayer for Peace Creator God, help us protect your delicate web of life. Help us relieve the Earth of human greed and conflict. Help us share peace in place of power.

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. Look and listen for God in all creation. Write or pray a psalm of praise for the Earth’s beauty or offer a prayer of healing and blessing for its wounds.

Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping such as recycling, simple living, or fasting from over-consumption of resources. 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 Today, God, besides reducing my own harmful footprints on your creation, I will take action to reveal industrial and commercial contamination.

My Lawn…or an Ancient Seabed?

Monday, September 15

9-15By Don H. Compier of Independence, Missouri, USA

Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!

—Psalm 117 NRSV

Last summer I determined to take care of my lawn by myself. I relished the joy of tending my part of God’s earthly garden. I carefully learned the rules of good lawn maintenance and followed them to the letter. I applied fertilizer and weed control. I set my sprinklers on timers and in strategic locations to keep the grass well-watered.

But nature had the final say. Day after day it did not rain, and we suffered with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. My best efforts suffered dishonorable defeat. One night after frantic mowing around the many bald spots, hacking mostly weeds, I had to admit the cause was lost. I turned off the faucets and stored my fancy timers, sprinklers, and hoses, leaving my lawn to forces well beyond my control.

The searing heat and drought had turned the ancient seabed just under my sod into a stone oven. No recently arrived interloper could survive, while species here long before any human settlers thrived. The ancient order of the universe reestablished itself. The continuity of tens if not hundreds of thousands of years marched on, oblivious to humans and our illusions of mastery.

This fall I applied plenty of fertilizer, and next spring and summer I will apply new seed, insect control, and all the usual statements of hope, knowing assuredly that success or failure will not be up to me. Strangely, I find this comforting. Scripture describes God as the Ancient of Days. We worship a cosmic Deity. God’s concern and care extends to all creatures, living or not, throughout a vast universe and across untold millennia. It isn’t all about us! We came into the story rather late.

This realization evokes proper humility and respect for an interconnected world. And yet our infinite, eternal Creator, in steadfast love, cares for you and for me! Results rarely turn out just as we want. Yet, as one year passes into the next, we experience the faithfulness of God, which endures forever!

Prayer for Peace Eternal Creator, your seasons come and go, but your love is steadfast. Praise the Lord!

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

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will be aware of our interconnected world and the effects of my actions on all creation.