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Lost and Found

Friday, September 12

9-12By Sara Parkin of Midland, Michigan, USA

…If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.

—Matthew 18:12–13 NRSV

I lost my wallet. My money, credit cards, driver’s license, insurance cards, all lost in my missing wallet. Butch and I looked everywhere we had passed. We went to the security office, and they asked many questions, but I could not remember because of my Alzheimer’s.

Butch and I tried to retrace our steps. The memory loss scared me. And then, I went to my Higher Power. I calmed down. Butch said we should look one more place. OK.

Looking again, we saw nothing. The carpet was dark,, and so was the wallet. So I went to my knees. I used my fingers, I felt something, and I picked up my wallet. Thank you, God.

It was just a wallet, and yet, I cried. Not for the wallet, but for my memory loss. And when I found it I was so happy, and it felt like a blessing. I thought of the lost sheep and how the shepherd went back, he went out of his way, off the known path to find the sheep. It was lost and then found by love.

Get Lost, Be Found
Travel the known path if you must.
However, if you do, you will see nothing new.
In fact, you will see nothing at all—except your small
destination. Journey the mysterious,
the unknown, the curious,
and you will be led to pause
by the journey itself as it draws
you in. There you will know,
not where you go, but how you flow
from one moment to another—
and this, I vow, will allow
you the time to ponder the pond, spy the sparrow,
heed the road—so wide, so narrow.
In the here and the now, in the near and the far
Get lost, then be found where you are.

                                                                                                 —Lu Mountenay

Prayer for Peace Gentle Shepherd, we thank you for finding us, day after day.

Spiritual Practice: Joy of Gratitude With arms outstretched, imagine God filling them with all that you have: family, friends, and possessions. Sit for a time aware of your abundance. Ask God to help you share.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will not feel lost, being aware that you know where I am.

Because of Who God Is

Wednesday, May 28

5-28By Jackie Porter of Thornton, Colorado, USA

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.

—James 3:13 NRSV

I like company and didn’t want to go shopping alone. My husband, friends, daughter, and daughter-in-law were all busy, so I went alone. After about three minutes on the freeway, I saw trouble heading right for me.

A large truck tire was flying from oncoming traffic, heading for my car. The traffic was heavy, and I could see no way out. Big trucks were in front and beside me. Slowing down suddenly could be dangerous because we were going about 65 miles per hour.

My life passed in front of me in the space of seconds. Then an impression came to “hang on tight to the steering wheel, and lean left!” I saw the tire bounce up and head straight for my windshield. Terrified, I grasped the steering wheel and leaned to the left. I think I even closed my eyes for a second. I heard a loud bang as the tire tore through the windshield and the roof of my car. I heard and felt the tire fly by my head. Then an inner voice said, “Slow down and pull over to the left.” And I did.

I was alive! Relief flooded my soul. I knew God had been with me. As I finally stopped on the median, I sat there trying to take in what had just happened. A woman opened the car door and asked how I was. “Fine!” I exclaimed. She said I had a bad gash on my arm, which I hadn’t noticed. She made me stay there until the ambulance arrived.

As I walked to the ambulance, I looked at my car. The roof was rolled under like a sardine can. The space where my head was, before I leaned left, had a big piece of metal in it. Another big piece of metal was in the passenger seat. The tire lodged itself in the backseat—in the infant car seat! I was most grateful that I was alone in the car.

God was with me through this storm of terror and has been with me during other storms. The world became new to me that day. The next day a new baby blessed us—our first grandson! Had panic set in, I would have missed holding him in my arms. I was blessed, not because of who I am, but because of who God is.

Prayer for Peace Ever-present God, you are with us through all our storms. Help us to listen for your presence, your voice, and your desires for our lives. Help us respond to your longing for shalom by sharing Christ’s peace.

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? Reflect on when and how God’s voice speaks to you.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will be alert and responsive to your direction.

One Almost Forgotten

Friday, May 23

5-23By Lynda Lyons of Kansas City, Kansas, USA

That Spirit is even now touching alive the souls of those who feel the passion of discipleship burning deeply within. Many others will respond if you are persistent in your witness and diligent in your mission to the world.

—Doctrine and Covenants 162:3b

The older I get, the more I believe that nothing happens by chance.

Take for example last week. Ethel, Joan, and I scheduled ourselves to meet Jim for lunch. He canceled just a few hours before we were to meet because he was not feeling well. That meant we had to make a few phone calls to set up new appointments for our pastoral-care work.

The first call was to Jack. On calling him, I learned his brother-in-law had passed away the night before. It turned out this was a call for much-needed comfort. I told the pastor, so we could do further outreach.

The next call was to Dorothy. She was confused because she couldn’t find her daughter, who probably was at work. I scheduled a place on my calendar to make a home visit soon.

Next was Bea. I let the phone ring 12 times with no answer. This is not normal. Bea is 91 and in declining health. I immediately called her family and planned a follow-up visit.

I called Susan next, and she welcomed our offer to visit. In the conversation, we learned she had lived in her apartment five years and still had not had a visit from her congregation. She attends our women’s meetings but goes to a church closer to home. We also learned of some health issues to keep in our prayers. We had a delightful visit with one almost forgotten.

All of these encounters need follow-up action. I believe that first cancellation led to other opportunities for action. Thank you, God, for directing our mission.

Prayer for Peace Loving God, touch us, make us alive so we may touch others. Help us follow Christ’s example and seek out those who are lost, lonely, and in need. Immerse us in Christ’s peace that we may share, forgetting no one.

Spiritual Practice: Intercessory Reflection Sit quietly with your eyes closed as you enter intercessory reflection and prayer. Ask God to bring people to your mind and heart who need prayer. Listen for signals from their lives and let the depth of God’s love for them become powerful and real to you. Write, speak, or think a prayer of blessing and healing for these much-loved disciples and friends. Ask God to help you see ways to affirm and support them when you meet them in daily life.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will look beyond my everyday surroundings and discern who needs Christ.

The Light in the Rock

Saturday, April 19

4-19By John Bonney of Springfield, Oregon, USA

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.

—John 20:1

We walked to the rock in the predawn darkness. A large, bare mound of granite topped the rise in the ground. It was smooth and warm, still holding heat from the previous day’s sunlight. As we waited in darkness, no one talked. It seemed right. The air was still and heavy with potential. It was as if we waited for an expected but unknown appearance—other than the sun.

I lay on that rock and looked to the eastern horizon. I could hear my heart thumping the pulse of blood in my ears, the sound of my breathing, even though I suspect it was shallow. The seconds and minutes ticked on, and we waited. The sky remained dark, and there was no gradual lighting of the heavens by the approaching sun.

Then there was a sense of something about to happen. While we expected the sun to rise from the darkness, the moment the sun appeared over the distant ridge was still a surprise. A feeling of elation filled our hearts. The sliver of light broke and gradually increased until we no longer could look directly at it. The wonder of the moment was profound. The marvelous rays of that life-giving star shined on us with kindness, grandeur, and a mantle of gracious warmth. It was astounding! To this day, almost decades later, I can feel the emotion and the warmth of that moment.

The light of eternity grew and grew in my poor vision until I no longer could look. And, even in my inability to understand or fully appreciate the gift, still, it bathes me in blessing and acceptance. There is in that experience a testimony of the love of the One who creates for the created.

With you, I wait in breathless wonder the approach of the eternal movement of the rock, opening the tomb to shine the Light on the waiting world.

Prayer for Peace
God, who sets alight our life, remove the blinders from our eyes that we may see the Eternal in your creation; that we may see Christ’s vision of peace.

Spiritual Practice: Light
Close your eyes, and become centered with 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
Today, God, I will see beyond the darkness and know your light will come.

Sign of Humility, Symbol of Service

Thursday, April 17 (Maundy Thursday)

4-17By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. …I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

—John 13:14–15, 34

Community of Christ publishes a great series of bulletin covers for Sunday services. Each cover has a picture and a scripture reflection that follows the Revised Common Lectionary. However, for Maundy Thursday, worship planners need to create their own bulletin, or go to a Christian bookstore, which is what I did one year.

I met the clerk’s blank stare when I asked for Maundy Thursday bulletin covers. “We have only Sunday bulletins.” I tried to explain, but again, “We don’t have Monday or Thursday bulletins, only Sundays!”

I thought I was in the twilight zone. Thinking the clerk must be new, I looked around on my own, in vain, while the clerk watched with unmasked amusement and pity. So I thanked her and left.

What is Maundy Thursday? The Thursday part is easy, but Maundy? It comes from the Latin “mandatum” or mandate. A mandate is something we must do, a commandment.

The observance and symbolic reenactment of washing feet at the Lord’s Supper helps us remember Christ’s “new commandment.” We do as he has done. He took on the role of servant to his disciples and washed their feet. He showed them a sign of humility and a symbol of his message of service—a way to show “love for one another.”

Good hosts in the Jewish world provide guests the opportunity to wash before a meal. After traveling dusty roads to celebrate the Passover meal, this was a welcome respite. Jesus goes one step further and does the washing himself. Jesus, Lord and Teacher of this gathering, has done the opposite of what we might expect from hosts in high positions. We would not expect a president, prime minister, or head of state to attend to the personal needs of guests at a formal dinner. However, that is exactly what Christ does. He gives us an example of how to express love. He gives us a mandate, a new commandment to love one another as he loves us.

If your congregation has not planned a Maundy Thursday service for tonight, you might attend the service of another congregation or church. Plan to have a service next year—or next week—or have a Maundy Monday. Why not? The message of service and love is for every day.

Prayer for Peace
Servant Lord, you have stooped to ask of us the love of our poor hearts. We respond.

Spiritual Practice: Spiritual Hunger
Jesus discerned hungers of body and spirit, and he fed them through a physical, verbal, spiritual ministry of presence. In a time of listening prayer ask God to help you discern physical needs of people in your congregation, community, and global family. Invite the Spirit to move you to one hospitable act that “feeds” someone’s hunger today.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will take on the role of servant to show my love for another.

Every Word of the Psalm

Saturday, March 29

3-29By Hazel Sundell of Independence, Missouri, USA

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths *for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

—Psalm 23

One day as I was reading the Herald, I was attracted to a description of Christ’s mission of compassion. Everyone experiences suffering at some time in their life. When I was young I memorized the 23rd psalm. It gave me comfort and assurance of God’s love.

When I have a difficult time or am suffering, I always meet God through the Psalms. As I’ve grown into old age, I can’t always remember which line comes next, or I skip some words. This has bothered me.

Recently I discovered a growth on my skin. When the doctor was doing the painful removal, I began “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” And every word came back to me perfect and clear, just as I had memorized. I felt Jesus there beside me.

Such assurance of God’s love for me makes my cup overflow. Now that my husband has passed, I depend on the 23rd psalm to get me through each day. Truly the Lord is my Shepherd.

Prayer for Peace
Tender Shepherd, in times of suffering, we call on you to restore our souls. We praise you for your goodness and mercy. In our youth and in our later years, we feel you beside us—we feel your peace.

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 memorize a psalm.

Finding Nemo (in Murky Waters)

Wednesday, March 19

3-19By Cindy L. Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, USA

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

—2 Corinthians 5:17

Our fish sat listlessly on the bottom of its filthy fishbowl. The water was low, dark green, and murky. It was past time to clean the fishbowl. When I tried to get the fish out of the bowl, it swam away. It did not want to leave! It was happy in its familiar environment.

After several tries I finally caught it and put it into a holding dish while I cleaned the bowl and filled it with clean water.

Once back in the bowl of fresh water, the fish came to life! It swam happily up and down and around the entire bowl. No longer was it listless at the bottom of the bowl, content with the status quo. It was a new fish!

Like the fish, we easily can become content with the life we’re living, not realizing or willing to leave behind what is comfortable (and perhaps stagnant)—not open to letting go of the old life.

How blessed we are that through Christ we can change and leave behind our old life to swim in fresh clean water—to dwell in Christ, the Living Water.

Prayer for Peace
Understanding God, help us struggle from the confines of contentment. Help us move beyond apathy and indecision in our lives. Help us freshen our environment with change and new action. Help us risk the redundant for openness to a spirit of adventure for Christ’s mission—for Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Open Hands
Stand or sit with your hands extended in front of you. Prayerfully ponder all that you hold in your hands that makes you feel too full, busy, drained, or closed. Spread your hands up and apart to release these burdens, and then hold them open and empty them again. Thank God for relationships that fill and feed your spirit. Pray for a generous heart and open hands that reach out to make room for all in the circle of Christ’s community.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will take inventory of my life, and see if it’s time for a change.

Let Things out…Make Room for Christ

Friday, March 14

3-14By Linda Lyons of Kansas City, Kansas, USA

And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bonds of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace; pray always, that you may not faint until I come; behold, and lo, I will come quickly, and receive you unto myself. Amen.

—Doctrine and Covenants 85:38c

I was deep in thought about Christ and what he does in our lives if we let him. I was so deep in thought that everything I did that morning just kept coming back to the same scene. I was remembering a painting of Jesus knocking at the door, an image that had always affected me. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that a friend pointed out to me the door did not seem to have a doorknob.

I looked at several artists’ renditions and could not see a doorknob. One could assume Jesus was in front of the knob, and we just couldn’t see it, or we could imagine a possible message about why we can’t see it. I asked myself, “How could Jesus get in if we didn’t open the door for him to enter? Is someone inside waiting for him, while he waits for them to act?”

As I was getting ready for church that morning the bathroom had filled with steam, and I could not see clearly in the mirror. It wasn’t until I opened the door to let the steam out that I could see clearly. I also need to open the door to let distractions out of my life so Jesus can come in. I cannot see clearly until I let Jesus into my heart.

He is ready to receive me. He will always be there for me. Do I always open the door for him?

Prayer for Peace
Ever-present God, when we wait for you, help us to be aware it is you who waits for us. All we need do is create an opening so you can receive us into your peace.

Spiritual Practice: Open Hands
Stand or sit with your hands extended in front of you. Prayerfully ponder all that you hold in your hands that make you feel too full, busy, drained, or closed. Spread your hands up and apart to release these burdens, then hold them open and empty them again. Thank God for relationships that fill and feed your spirit. Pray for a generous heart and open hands that reach out to make room for all in the circle of Christ’s community.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will leave the door open with great expectation.

Christ’s Promises Are Sure

Friday, January 24

fire saleBy Patty Wiese of New Hope, Minnesota, USA

These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace…

—Zechariah 8:16

Something for nothing. How often are we tricked into thinking something for nothing is possible? I recently received a nice invitation to sign up for a new “rewards” program from my favorite clothing store. What attracted me was the $20 birthday coupon. Following the online instructions, I quickly discovered the real opportunity was to sign up for a credit card! Not exactly what I expected or wanted.

This is what the world offers. It entices us with false hopes, promises us rewards without effort, even encourages us to buy bars of gold that are “delivered in 10 days. But wait! If you call in the next 10 seconds we will double the offer!”

There is an adage I find true: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Jesus offers us more than this world can deliver. He offers spiritual blessings. He is our hope. His words are true. His offer of grace is freely given. No catches, gimmicks, or ulterior motives. No fooling!

Prayer for Peace
Deepen our roots, God, that we may be nourished by your Spirit. Help us not try to satisfy ourselves with shallow materialism but listen and discern what matters most.

Spiritual Practices: Spiritual Hunger
Jesus discerned hungers of body and spirit, and he fed them through a physical, verbal, spiritual ministry of presence. In a time of listening prayer ask God to help you discern physical or spiritual hungers of people in your congregation, community, and global family. Invite the Spirit to move you to one hospitable act that “feeds” someone’s hunger today.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will set aside foolish wants for Enduring Principles.