Spread the Word, Not the Disease: Ebola Facts and Fiction

Thursday, November 6

African child: "Should I be worried?"

African child: “Should I be worried?”

By Sherri Kirkpatrick of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering. Such conditions are not God’s will. Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children. Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:4a

The whole world is a community. Today the community has a common enemy—Ebola. It seems that everyone is carrying the concern and worry on their hearts. This worry erodes the sense of community. Our friends in Africa tell us no one is even shaking hands now.

HealthEd Connect is proactively planning a training program in Zambia in January with the topic: “Spread the Word Not the Disease: Ebola Facts and Fiction.” Sinkhani from Malawi and Wasaidizi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo will join the Kafwa (health care volunteers) in Zambia for a four-day training program. We are also inviting partner colleagues to join us from United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Time to Learn, Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ), and the Zambian Ministry of Health. This training is not in our budget. Who knew a year ago that this need would exist today?

Thankfully, because of generous donations to the Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Mission Initiative a Tangible Love grant is helping us meet this urgent need. We appreciate your prayerful support of our efforts and the efforts of individuals and organizations around the world who work to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering. Go to www.healthedconnect.org and learn more about HealthEd Connect.

Your contributions to the Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Mission Initiative help Community of Christ help those in need.

Prayer for Peace God of Hope, help us address the crises in our world community, which make you weep. Bless the ministry and training efforts in the places where need is so great, and where we often cannot go. Protect and enlighten those who can help. Let us hold in prayer and show our appreciation for those who risk their lives for peace.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Direct your mind to places where people have no homes. Think of the wars and natural disasters that destroy the homes of refugees. Be aware of the hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind. Offer a prayer for those who suffer. Imagine Christ tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying: “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will have the courage to risk for peace

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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.

One Minute, Please, across the World

Thursday, September 18

9-18By Donna Boyd of Independence, Missouri, USA

God is calling for a prophetic community to emerge, drawn from the nations of the world, that is characterized by uncommon devotion to the compassion and peace of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Through divine grace and wisdom, this faith community has been given abundant gifts, resources, and opportunities to equip it to become such a people. Chief among these is the power of community in Christ expressed locally in distinctive fashions while upholding a unity of vision, foundational beliefs, and mission throughout the world.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:11a

With moving day drawing close, I found myself thinking, “It takes only a minute” each time I considered packing an item. Finally, I realized that I had put off so much work that I had put myself under great pressure to be ready on time.

Looking back on God’s work entrusted to our hands in this place, I recall several jobs I intended to do. Because they would “take only a minute,” I had put them off, and they were yet undone. We cannot know the full results of these minutes. Too often, the opportunity is ours for only a short time, and then it is gone!

We can embrace the mission of Christ in minutes if we each give a few. We need to offer a minute of prayer, reflection, testimony, and active service each day. This Sunday, September 21, is the United Nations International Day of Peace. Peace is only minutes away. If it is to be, it is up to me.

Prayer for Peace Let me be a light, God, a signal on a dark, cold night. Let me be a smile, a handshake, a friend. Let me be an instrument of Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Peace Action Community of Christ is called to ministries of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit. PeacePathways is a church-sponsored website sharing peace and justice ministries, educational materials, ideas, and opportunities. Visit (www.peace-pathways.org/) and prayerfully discern one ministry that speaks to you or captures your attention. Offer a prayer of blessing on the peace ministry you select. Listen quietly to see if God is calling you to additional responses to this ministry or another ministry of peace, reconciliation, or healing. If you cannot visit the website, offer a prayer of blessing on all peace ministries.

Peace Covenant Let there be peace on Earth, God, and let it begin with…doing the very next task on my list.

Parking Lot Prayer

Wednesday, September 17

9-17By Eileen Turner of Portland, Oregon, USA

So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God…

—Ephesians 2:17, 19 NRSV

We face decisions every day. Some of us are planners, making lists of projects to which we commit. Others of us keep tasks in the back of our mind, and sometimes we do them. I am a planner. Some items I feel are important enough to add to my list, I might not do. And, sometimes I do not forward them to my next list.

One day as I left the grocery store and walked to my car, I noticed a young man. He hesitated but eventually knelt on a small rug. He was between two cars in the next row over. As I sat in my car, I realized this was a young Muslim, devoted to his faith’s daily practice of prayer at specific times. I sat quietly, not wanting to start my engine for fear I would disturb his devotion. I thought, “What courage it takes to kneel publicly like this.”

If my religion asked this of me, would I be able to commit to this? I regarded this young man, dressed as a store employee, as a brave follower. He took his “break time” to commit to his prayer regime. I am sure it was part of his spiritual formation, and he did not need to put it on a list to remind him.

Prayer for Peace God of diverse faiths, help us find common ground with people far and near. May we practice spiritual disciplines that become natural to our daily routine. Help us share peace as part of our daily practice.

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 add regularity to my spontaneous prayers.

We Are Children of God

Sunday, July 20

???????????????????????????????????????By Jim Poirier, Presiding Bishopric

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field…the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. …The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest…’”

—Matthew 13:24, 26, 28–30 NRSV

I shared in a closing ceremony that celebrated the life of a congregation in a small agricultural community. As people left the farms, they moved to other communities. Amid the celebration was a sadness that perhaps the congregation could have done better. As I was preparing for the message, I found a small, well-worn book with the name of each child carefully written. It was the Cradle Roll.

The congregation took care of its children and youth. Members taught them lessons that make for peace. They did not judge. They taught them to be generous because God loved them. The congregation walked with them in times of discovering meaning for their lives. Members knew each by name.

There was joy in seeing the lives transformed. Many became active in other congregations. Some were active in World Church ministry. Some have joined other faith communities. Some have chosen to be active in the communities where they live.

I would guess they all remember what they learned in this small, country church. They have compassion and faith. They have a hope in the face of trial. The values they learned help make this world a better place. The children continue to share the peace of Jesus Christ wherever they are. If any had walked through the doors that day, they would have felt right at home.

This congregation sowed the seeds now scattered all over the world. Members watered the seeds with love, and they grew to their true capacity. All knew they were children of God.

Prayer for Peace Nurturing God, just as our communities nurtured us as we grew, may we also nurture the generations to come. May we allow what we plant to grow beyond our expectations, to grow in your love and peace.

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 absorb your holy light, drink in your living water, and grow.

A Time to Laugh…Immediately!

Saturday, July 19

7-19By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: …a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; …a time to weep, and a time to laugh…

—Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, 4 NRSV

Tom observes: “The basement needs sweeping.” Time passes.

Tom makes a responsible choice: “I’ll sweep the basement…soon.” Time passes.

Tom clarifies: “I’ll sweep the basement Saturday.” Saturday arrives.

Tom redefines his clarification: “I’ll sweep the basement after the president’s speech.”

Tom states: “I’m going to sweep the basement NOW.” Lu: “Go for it.” Minutes pass.

Tom asks: “Hey Lu, can you get me some water? I’m downstairs sweeping!”

Lu: “Oh, is that where you are? I was wondering.”

Tom retorts: “I told you, I’m downstairs sweeping the basement!”

Lu: “Oh, I must not have heard you the first 10 times you said it.” The evening passes.

Tom announces from the bottom of the stairs: “Well, the basement is all swept and clean. You can come down and see if you want. Or maybe not…I don’t want you to fall down the stairs. The stairs are swept and clean though. You can just stand at the top and look down.”

Lu confirms: “Yep, the stairs look clean to me.”

Tom smiles: “I did it for you.” Lu praises: “Good job!”

God charges us with sharing the “good news.” This is something Tom does not put off. When someone needs comfort, help, or words of assurance, Tom drops everything, and is there to share immediately! The word “immediately” appears 21 times in Mark’s Gospel. Most of the time it is Christ saying when his disciples should act, or it is the results of Christ’s ministry—“immediately he regained his sight.”

Christ’s ministry happened fast—he didn’t have much time. How much time do we have left to share the good news?

Tom emerges from the basement, wiping the sweat from his brow, carrying a dustpan overflowing with basement debris. He lets the debris slide into the trash. As the dustpan hovers over the trash, Tom makes another keen observation: “The trash needs emptying.” Time passes…

P.S. Tom insists on this epilogue: “Lu exaggerates!”

Lu: “Not much.”

Prayer for Peace God of laughter and tears, help us laugh at ourselves when it helps us make peace.

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.

Peace Covenant God, I will do today what I might put off until tomorrow (or Saturday).

Use Words if Necessary

Saturday, March 22

3-22By Barrie Fox of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, England

And above all things clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is a 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

The Clay Cross Congregation in the British Isles recently committed to make emergency food available for people in crisis. To consider this service project, we met at the church. People attended from many congregations of other denominations. Most committed to involvement in the new program.

The general public gives non-perishable food, which volunteers pack into parcels. Doctors and social workers give food-bank vouchers to people in crisis. People can exchange these vouchers for a three-day food supply. Our congregation opens the food-bank about three hours a week. Other churches open their doors at alternate times.

While recruiting volunteers, I often see them hesitate. I see them looking doubtful. People think, at first, “I can’t do this.” What a blessing when I hear the words, “Yes, I’ll try to do that!”

Francis of Assisi sent his friars into the villages and cities, telling them to preach the gospel everywhere they could. He then told them to use words only if necessary. It’s the same today—actions speak louder than words! I praise God that our congregation “speaks” to the community in need.

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, bless us as we share with those in need. Open our hearts as we serve them. Open our doors that we may welcome them. Open our lives as we share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering
Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Let your mind be drawn to places where people have no homes. Think of refugees whose homes were destroyed by war or natural disaster. Be aware of the hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind. Offer a prayer for those who suffer. Imagine Christ tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying: “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will speak with charitable actions.

Soften My Heart, Lord

Saturday, June 29

6-29By Deb Crowley of Charlotte, Michigan, USA

“And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”

—Matthew 25:40

How can we work hand-in-hand with God to change lives? Perhaps it’s in response to a phone call to rush to the hospital. There we pray for a friend who received a life-threatening diagnosis. Perhaps we answer a midnight call that summons us to the bedside of one leaving this world. Maybe it’s in response to a stranger who seeks help paying a utility bill. There are no strangers among us.

A family in emotional, spiritual, or financial crisis needs someone to invest time. We can do that. Spend time. Be present. A co-worker needs a listening ear. We listen. A frenzied parent, stressed to the limit, needs help with childcare. Let them come.

God softens our hearts to respond to the plight of children sold into slavery in Africa, Asia, and other places. Are we aware, are we angered to action? We can travel from our comfortable homes to aid families in crisis after a natural disaster, nearby or far way. God nudges our conscience to dig deeper into worldwide issues and possible remedies. God calls us to do something about them. Perhaps our actions rely on world mission tithes.

“Abolish Poverty, End Suffering.” These are easy words to say. Acting on them can bring stunning results. Lives are changed.

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, humble us for your service. Soften our hearts in alignment with Christ’s mission. May we work together to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Embodying God’s Shalom
Find a way to express and embody God’s shalom. Begin by prayerfully listening to your longing for peace. Become silent and imagine you can hear the groaning of the Earth’s people, nations, and creatures. Prayerfully open yourself to God’s yearning for peace and the divine vision of shalom.

What images, feelings, and words come to you? What prayer for peace comes to you from your time of listening? Speak or write this prayer. What small act of justice, kindness, healing, or peacemaking does God invite you to consider this day?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will do my part to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering.

Make a Difference

Friday, June 28

6-28By Sara Parkin of Midlands, Michigan, USA

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 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 5:14–16

(Part 4 of My Journey with Alzheimer’s Disease)

Alzheimer’s patients can make a difference in the world. When we see someone who looks burned-out, fatigued, tired, or tapped out, we can make a change in their lives. We can pray, listen, place our hands on their shoulder, ask if we can help them, or let them know we care. We will make a difference.

To do this, we need to take care of ourselves. We need to keep our brains working and play games. We can risk doing something that is challenging to us—try it. If it doesn’t work, it is not a failure because we will have learned something new. We will have learned it is something we can’t do at this time. So, we can try something else.

We can exercise, walk, move in our chair while watching TV, or move our arms, neck, and fingers. We can laugh, dance, or do dishes. We can just move at our own rate and rest when we need to.

Eat fresh fruit, fresh veggies, lean meat, fish, rice, potatoes. Pray for others. Pray for self. Write in a journal. Have quiet time with God, who journeys with you.

Prayer for Peace
Thank you, God of light, for shining in our darkness. May we shine, too, for others. Use us in Christ’s mission. May we use our gifts and our light to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All
Reflect on God’s call in your life. Begin by prayerfully asking to recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come.

When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energies and gifts? When have you felt God’s love in your life? When have you felt disconnected or resistant to God’s call? How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will ponder how I can make a difference.

Example of Love

Wednesday, May 22

5.22By Evelyn Richardson of Nauvoo, Illinois, USA

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

            —Isaiah 11:6 

I can’t say I am always shining example of love. Children learn by copying what they see others do or what they hear others say. I was reminded of this one Sunday as I sat on the piano bench at church to play for A Disciple’s Generous Response.

Four young ushers stood ready to go forward for the prayer of blessing when a 2- or 3-year-old boy went up to one of them. He couldn’t wait for the basket to come to him. He dropped his offering into the plate with enthusiasm and returned to his grandmother.

If the rest of the congregation could have seen his face, members would have recognized what it means to be a cheerful giver. Are we cheerful in all our giving? Do we let our love shine from our faces? Are we examples of love and generosity for our children?

Surely that morning a little child was doing what he had seen some big folks do, and adding his example of how we can do it better. Are we sharing generously and according to our true capacity that others may know our hearts as we respond? What examples are we setting, not only in word and action, but in our attitudes and expression of how we feel about our action?

Yes, a little child shall lead us. May we follow the example of children as we follow Christ. Children are the church now and in the future. May we work together to develop communities of joy, hope, love, and peace for all of God’s children, big and small.

Prayer for Peace
Creator God, by witness of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, may we show our love for you and our neighbors. By example of our way of living, may we share Christ’s love and 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 persons 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 show love in a way children can understand.