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.

The Leaves Keep Falling

Tuesday, October 28

Autumn LeavesBy Paul McCain of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

—Romans 14:19 NRSV

Across the street from my front door is a huge maple tree. Next to the driveway are two large Bradford pear trees. In the middle of the yard is a tall pin oak—the kindest tree, because it drops its leaves sparingly throughout the winter and spring. The others are relentless leaf-droppers, and the scene needs much attention with leaf blower, yard rake, snow shovel, and compost bins.

Like many tasks, if not attended to several times over the fall and winter, the mess becomes harder to cope with. The blower coaxes the leaves into piles, preferably on the drive or street, so I then can scoop them up with the snow shovel and load them into containers. Then I smash the leaves in the compost pile to make room for more. It is worthwhile work.

I find the same in other areas of life. Consequences develop in my spiritual life if I do not attend to the daily leaves that fall. These leaves are the insensitive treatment of friends and family, less-than-thoughtful reaction to requests by co-workers, and any response of mine that does not show how much I value people. I find this causes pain much worse than back pain. This too, is worthwhile work.

I give thanks for understanding the burdens that these “leaves” make. I give thanks to the Lord as we build better habits of encouragement and peace while interacting with others in life.

Prayer for Peace God of the seasons, may we build peace throughout the year. Help us respond to others with kindness every day. When we fail, help us pursue what makes for peace.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons Read Psalm 139:13–18. After each reading sit quietly and let the words sink deeply into your mind, heart, and body. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made”?

Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has for you and everyone. Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How does God invite you to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will be consistent in my spiritual practices for 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.

Invite All to Christ

Sunday, October 12

10-12

Karin Peter

By Karin Peter of Adrian, Missouri, USA

Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. …For many are called, but few are chosen.

—Matthew 22:8–10, 14 NRSV

My friend, Libby, was one of those people who always looked disheveled. She wore stained clothing, her hair was uncombed, and her manner was less than refined. But people who knew Libby knew she was a follower of Jesus, even though she was not raised in a church community.

As an adult, she was invited into the life of her congregation, and there she discovered a community of people who valued her just as she was. In our congregation, Libby found a home, a place of covenant and compassion. Among this loving community she blossomed. Her many areas of giftedness, her resourcefulness, and her endless hospitality brought blessings to friends and stranger alike.

Libby lived the last years of her life in humble service to others. Her appearance might have been unkempt, but the stained clothing she wore was the robe of a genuine disciple.

Prayer for Peace Loving God, we know we are worthy, just because you made us. Help us be more responsive to your call, so we may affirm the worth of others. Help us find new ways to Invite People to Christ and share in the peace found here.

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, when you share 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 listen for your call.

A Touch on the Shoulder

Tuesday, October 7

HandshakeBy Dorene Kilburn of Stratford, Ontario, Canada

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

—Romans 15:13 NRSV

It happened during a spontaneous moment when my husband and I decided to slip out to our favorite coffee shop for lunch. As Orme and I chatted over our meal, a young couple repeatedly drew my attention as they sat by the window about 20 feet away.

The coffee shop was busy, and I don’t know why I found myself focusing on this couple. Because Orme was sitting across from me at our table, his back was to them. He couldn’t see them. As the couple left, they passed our table. Suddenly the young man touched Orme on the shoulder and softly said, “You have a good day and God bless.” And he went out the door.

I often have thought about that unusual encounter. The young man was intentionally sharing God’s love. Would I have done that? Not likely! I would rationalize that perhaps I would be speaking to a nonbeliever and therefore wasting my words. Doing that would take courage I don’t have.

But Jesus shared God’s love with countless nonbelievers, and he changed their lives. A brief encounter of this kind might not result in an instant miracle, but it could brighten someone’s day. It brightened ours, and it gave me something to ponder!

Prayer for Peace Holy Spirit, help us have a keen awareness of where blessings are needed—where they might make a difference in a life. Help us find the words someone is waiting to hear. Help us find the eyes that need our heartfelt gaze, the hand that needs shaking, the hunger that needs feeding, the prisoner that needs visiting, the lonely that need a friend. Help us turn unusual encounters into usual, everyday experiences as we share 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 remember that it might take only a touch or a word to share the peace of Christ.

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.

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.

New House, New Chapter

Thursday, September 11

9-11By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, USA

He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

—Luke 14:12–14 NRSV

What time is it, I wondered? A time of old age might describe my answer—or it might be time for a fresh start. I realize it is up to me to choose how I view this interlude in my life. It gives me something to think about.

I have lived through many interesting seasons, and I value each one. Once my husband and I put down roots, we stayed. We lived in one house 40 years, and raised our family there. Then I moved into another house for 10 years.

With each move I faced the challenge of sorting trash from treasure. We lived modestly, and tried to practice good stewardship. Still, the inventory grew beyond my need. So I enlisted the help of friends, family, and even a few strangers and shared useful items with them. I set my space in order and settled in for the last time, I thought.

To my astonishment two major events happened to me. My call to the office of evangelist came first. Then my son suggested we gather our financial resources and build a modest cottage next to his home. I moved in, and my colleague evangelists and I are planning a house blessing service as soon as possible.

God enabled me to prepare this sacred space for God’s children. I will invite the weary to stop by and rest with God for a while. It will be a place of solitude and prayer. Together we will recognize that God is holy and worthy of our worship and devotion. How can I help but offer the place where I live to those who need affirmation, love, and peace.

What time is it? It is time to write a new chapter of life with zeal and anticipation of continuing my journey with our beloved Savior.

Prayer for Peace Create in us, O God, hospitality for the stranger. Make of us sanctuaries of Christ’s peace.

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 plan a feast for hungry souls.

 

My Walker and I

Wednesday, September 10

9-10By Lois Sloan of Salem, Oregon, USA

“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.”

—III Nephi 10:18

I regretted the move I was about to make. I lived with a dear friend in an apartment with a great view. My visual blessings included llamas with a newborn, a pair of foxes and two kits, vultures sunning themselves on a barn roof, red-tailed hawks, and rabbits.

Why would I leave all this? I was leaving because of doctor’s orders. An upcoming knee surgery put our stairs on the “no-no list.”

A senior-care residence with an elevator became my new home. When I went home after the surgery, my walker and I took a therapeutic 10-minute stroll, twice a day. I was healing well. I increased my walking to a mile—10 times around the balcony. This gave me a chance to visit my new neighbors.

I remember the first time I visited Lucile. As I entered her apartment I had a strong sense of God’s Spirit. The rooms were neat and welcoming. Just as we became friends, I had to make another move—this time across the country. I try to keep in touch with Lucile and other friends with letters. Letters are important to let people know how they make a difference in our lives.

So walk around, if you can. Get some exercise. Meet new friends. Then sit down and write some letters. Surely, an old friend, family member, or former teacher would love to get a letter of love today. Share your appreciation for their part in your life.

I have lost friends—
some by death,
others through my sheer failure
to cross the street.

—Virginia Woolf, adapted

Prayer for Peace Welcoming God, help us respond to opportunities to meet new people whom we can invite to Christ—new people with whom we can share 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 cross the street and meet a new friend. I will write a letter and meet an old friend, again.

Community Expands and the World Seems Smaller

Monday, August 25

8-25a

Australians and Grover’s – IYF 2014

By Janné Grover of Lee’s Summit, 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

Five young men from Australia became part of our family during their stay for the International Youth Forum (IYF) at the Temple and Auditorium in Independence, Missouri, this July. Brodey, Tarron, Zac, Sam, and Tim were delightful and generous guests who shared with us a glimpse into the similarities and differences of our cultures. They never did get used to vehicles and traffic being on the opposite side of the road from which they are accustomed.

On the first day of IYF, I walked into the Temple Sanctuary for the Prayer for Peace, and was immersed in the energy of nearly 1,000 young people from around the world. I was overwhelmed by the hope and potential these young people embody. What an amazing experience! My personal challenge is to live beyond the feeling of that moment. I want to be awake and ready to respond. I want to risk something new to be a blessing of God’s love and peace in the world. The great news is I’m not doing this alone. I am on this journey with my church family. We are on this journey with brothers and sisters around the world. Our community is ever expanding, and the world continues to get just a little smaller.

On the last night of their stay, we shared in a gathering with yet more Australians, as well as a group of young women from Tahiti. We learned how to play cricket and touch “footie,” and enjoyed some traditional Tahitian dancing. I marveled at the event that brought this particular group of young people, leaders, and host families together from different cultures to enjoy an evening of fun and companionship—transcending language and culture.

Events such as IYF and World Conference highlight the rich blessings of a diverse community. I feel at home among brothers and sisters from around the world, and as my sense of community is greatly expanded, the world grows smaller. I capture a glimpse of God’s vision for all of creation…each person finding voice and belonging in a community of oneness and equality.

How do we extend those experiences beyond church events happening every three or four years?

Becoming a radically invitational and welcoming community goes beyond our hospitality to those who walk through our doors. We have a message of hope and acceptance that has the potential to transform lives, communities, and the world. We do not keep it to ourselves; it is what “Christ’s Mission, Our Mission” is all about.

Prayer for Peace God of the wide world, God of the small world, bless us with hospitality inclusive of all. Expand our realm of concern; bring your finest details into focus. Help us gather your world into a community of peace.

Spiritual Practice: The International Community Find (or imagine) a globe or map of the world. Look at all the nations and find a country other than your own. Notice the geographic distance between your homeland and this one. Picture a person living there. Pray for this person. Sense God’s love connecting you just as the oceans connect the continents. Thank God for the spiritual connection you have with all of God’s people around the globe. Ask a blessing on the church as a community sharing Christ’s peace, drawing all into the family of God.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will expand my community to the world and get to know its people personally.