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.

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.

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.

A Tight Vessel

Tuesday, October 14

10-14By Cindy L. Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, USA

And when they were buried in the deep, there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like a dish, and also they were tight like the ark of Noah.

—Ether 3:8

In the story of the Jaredites, God directs them to cross the ocean to a choice land. I would have thought, “This will be a pleasant trip—with peaceful ocean breezes and smooth waters.” On the contrary, God told the brother of Jared to build vessels “tight as a dish” because there would be waves that would cover and swallow the vessels.

I often think that if I’m traveling the path God directed me to travel, it should be “easy sailing,” with smooth waters and pleasant ocean breezes. But, like the Jaredites, the journey is not always smooth. At times, the journey fills with turbulent seas, violent storms, and dark nights of the soul. The miracle of it, though, is that God provided direction for the Jaredites to have the means—tight vessels—for a safe, though not necessarily easy, journey.

Even for us today, God knows there are difficulties and provides the means for us to have a safe journey through the presence of the Holy Spirit, who never leaves us.

Prayer for Peace Nurturing God, assure us of your presence when our souls are dark. Bring us through the rough waters to the peace of Christ.

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 set aside expectations that life will be easy. I will prepare for the journey and have faith in your care.

Produce Fruits of the Kingdom

Sunday, October 5

10-5By Karin Peter of Adrian, Missouri, USA

“…There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

—Matthew 21:33–40 NRSV

The chief priests and Pharisees who heard this parable were not happy with Jesus. They realized Jesus was comparing them to the wicked tenants in the vineyard. They also realized Jesus put them on notice, “…the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom” (Matthew 21:43).

Jesus expected more of religious leaders than simple belief in God’s kingdom. Jesus was looking for the people to make God’s kingdom real in their choices, words, and actions.

In a similar way, Community of Christ has undergone a radical shift in understanding our call as a people of God. We have moved from believing in Zion to becoming a prophetic people, a people of peace, wholeness, and restoration. We discern together how God’s Spirit guides us through difficult issues. Christ sends us in mission to share the gospel in ways that release and value the gifts, ideas, skills, and passions of all people.

This exercise of becoming can be disconcerting, even uncomfortable. Yet I believe, even when we find ourselves at intersections of misunderstanding, disagreement, exhaustion, or doubt, we are on our way to becoming “new tenants” in the vineyard. Through our choices—our words and our actions—we learn to produce and to share the good fruit. We become a community of God’s peaceable kingdom.

Prayer for Peace God of wisdom, guide us as we become new tenants in the vineyard—new disciples in the community. As you bless us, may we bless others with peaceful actions.

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. 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 contemplate my choices carefully, always asking if they’re part of Christ’s mission.

How Shall They Hear?

Tuesday, September 30

"G" is for God

“G” is for God

By Susie Shelton of Independence, Missouri, USA

The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval.

—Romans 14:18 NRSV

I worked for years as a court reporter, but it seemed no matter how hard I worked, my work never satisfied me. Then I discovered real-time captioning—listening to people speak and transcribing the words instantly to the screen. I continued practicing and going to seminars. However, I still felt something was missing. My chosen career left me unfulfilled.

One day I used my real-time captioning skills to help a hearing-impaired man in court. Providing help gave me a deep satisfaction. As a child I learned: All that we are and hope to be, we can dedicate to God and use to serve others.

Years later, I prayed for guidance for my role in Christ’s mission. Then, the Architect of my life turned the light on. I recalled how I felt helping the man in court. I wanted that feeling back. I took a course in sign language to understand better those who were deaf or hard of hearing. I was afraid I wouldn’t measure up. I gave up my concerns to God. It was like jumping into the unknown, trusting God to catch me.

At a university I used my skills to help students. I was their ears. I wanted to expand this service into a ministry. I started contacting churches. Many did not need what I had to offer. I continued honing my skills and praying for opportunities to serve.

One Sunday I stopped at three churches before I came to the Stone Church Congregation in Independence, Missouri. I shared my idea of captioning for hearing-impaired people. The pastor expressed interest. I first wrote the services for me to build my biblical dictionary.

The first Sunday I provided captioning, a woman who was sitting behind me was watching my screen. When the service was over, she thanked me and gave me a hug as tears streamed down her cheeks. Many hearing-impaired people attend this congregation, and I feel joy in making the ministry accessible to them. I hope captioning ministry will expand to other congregations.

Prayer for Peace Architect of life, help us structure our lives to serve those in need.

Spiritual Practice: Develop Disciples to Serve As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called 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 give up my hesitation to serve, and trust you to guide me.

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.

Priceless Legacy

Tuesday, September 23

9-23By Vivian Betts of Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

—Jeremiah 31:33 NRSV

My grandma was an amazing woman. She was never happier than when sharing what she had. During the war she took people into her home, and her spare bedroom was constantly in use. She would help anyone in financial need.

When I was young we did not own a car, and church was half an hour’s walk away. As we had four services to attend on Sunday, I would spend lunch and dinner with my grandparents. She let me help with the cooking, and she talked constantly about the church she had found as a young woman and the difference it made in her life.

She relied a lot on Granddad, but when he was 68 he was killed in a car accident. She went on to live until she was 97, spending her last years in Peace Haven, Britain’s Community of Christ residential home. When she died she had no financial assets. She had spent her years giving it away. Yet what she left for me were special memories of a woman who lived her life as a vivid example of Jesus Christ, and I thank God for her.

Prayer for Peace God of all generations, keep our covenants fresh in our hearts. We would respect the memories of our ancestors and carry forward traditions of generosity and peace.

Spiritual Practice: Connecting with God as Center Connect with God through journal writing or contemplation. Open yourself to God’s presence and share what flows from your heart and mind. Your “communication with God” might include thoughts, questions, feelings, needs, artwork, quotes, or scriptures. Or it might take the form of a prayer, psalm, or poem. Try to write or meditate at least five minutes each day.

What do you experience? Is this an effective way to connect with God? What surprises you? How do you feel God’s love? What deepens or changes in your relationship with God, Christ, Spirit?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will remember whose I am.

Gone but not Forgotten

Friday, September 19

9-19By Cindy Thomas of Independence, Missouri, USA

But the meek shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in abundant peace.

—Psalm 37:11, NRSV adapted

I went back several times over the years to visit the place of my youth. The farmhouse, outbuildings, trees, roads, pastures, and hills brought vivid memories.

Returning to my home caused me to reflect on where I had come from and how that place shaped who I am as an adult. I have not returned in the last few years because the farmhouse, trees, and buildings are now gone.

I realize the importance of that place is not in the physical buildings and landscape. The people, the friends, the community made the lasting changes within me. I know, too, the church buildings, reunion grounds, and people that nourished my spiritual growth throughout the years may no longer exist, but the friendships made leave a lasting and peaceful presence in my life.

Friendship is a two-way street,
sharing without measure
and often proving costly.
In this bond, lives are interwoven,
giving and accepting.
Humbly we try to meet
these exacting needs.
Even so, I beg of you—
May I call you friend?

                                                                                           —Peggy Michael

Prayer for Peace God of the past, present, and future, we thank you for the people in our lives. As they have blessed us in days gone by, may we bless others with friendship and by sharing Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Teacher-Learner The first disciples of Jesus followed to hear his words, to be taught, to learn a new way of living, to practice what they learned in daily life. Prayerfully consider your role as a teacher-learner, disciple-apprentice; a people cultivator in Community of Christ. In your journal write the names of several people you discern as teachers or mentors and several you feel called to nurture and encourage in specific ways. Ask God’s blessing on you and your congregation as a community of learners.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will remember those who helped shape me. I will consider who may need my help on their spiritual journey.