Living Water

Wednesday, November 5

11-5By Val Walker of Plainfield, Indiana, USA

Therefore, continue to be strong in faith. To you who hear my voice and know my promises I will reveal myself and give my peace, even in the midst of your uncertainties.

—Doctrine and Covenants 158:11a

I planned a worship service to celebrate Communion, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, using the story of the woman at the well (John 4). Our worship center included a small fountain with water bubbling over rocks, creating a pleasant, falling-water sound as we shared in worship.

As part of my message, I wanted each one in the congregation to share in a symbol of the living water experience. I used a small medicine dropper to draw water from the fountain and offer a drop to each person. I practiced at home and found the capacity of the dropper was 24 drops. Normal attendance for us was about 40 people, so I planned to stop halfway and refill the dropper.

That morning I counted 38 people at church. As I talked about Jesus offering himself as living water, I walked through the congregation placing a drop of water from the fountain in the palm of each outstretched hand. I decided to go as far as I could with one dropper before refilling. I counted silently as I went. When I finished, I placed the last drop back in the fountain. There was enough and to spare—from one dropper of water.

I could not believe it, did not trust myself, and no one knew why I finished the message with tears in my eyes.

I went home to prove the “miracle” to my uncertain self, before I could share the testimony. Again I filled the dropper and counted—only 24 drops. I had not trusted God, had not trusted my math, and had not trusted my congregation to understand the experience. If I had not prepared and practiced before the service, I wouldn’t have realized the powerful message God had for us and especially me!

The following Sunday, I testified of the experience with the congregation, telling how God brought alive the living water offered by Christ. Be strong in faith, “even in the midst of your uncertainties.”

Prayer for Peace Faithful God, living among us, help us be aware of your presence. Help us drink in the experiences we might otherwise brush off. Help us immerse ourselves in sharing Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Vessel for Living Water Visualize or feel a vessel at the center of your being. Imagine drawing something from the vessel to share with someone, but as you reach inside you find only a tiny pool of stagnant liquid. You are thirsty, dry, empty. Then something clear and cool begins to pour over you. It splashes and tumbles into the vessel, filling it to the brim. The living water of Christ pours on and in you. Your vessel fills and runs over, blessing you with enough and to spare.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will place my faith in the results without the test.

 

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T is for Thankful!

Tuesday, November 4

11-4By Gwen Simpson of Lamoni, Iowa, USA

You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

—Psalm 16:11 NRSV

When our sons were young, every November we would get a piece of poster board and write in large letters at the top, “T is for Thankful.” Each evening, just before bedtime prayers, we all would think of things for which we were thankful. With pens or pencils we drew on the poster board and let the rest of the family guess what we had drawn. We drew pictures in the beginning because the boys were too small to spell. It was fun guessing what each child drew.

Throughout the month our poster filled with drawings. After the typical pictures of mom, dad, brother, our house, and friends, it became a game to see who could think up something new. Toilet paper, zippers, safety pins, fingernails, and doorknobs were some of our more unusual ideas. Each year we compared it to the previous year’s board to see if we had thought of more blessings than before.

The boys have grown now and have kids of their own. But each November, I remember that long-ago tradition. Throughout the month that joyful memory reminds me to count my blessings. The list is always long. I find when my heart fills with gratitude my whole attitude is different. I am more thoughtful, more caring, and yes, more joyful. At this busy time of year, that is a blessing in itself!

Prayer for Peace Generous God, we have so much for which to be thankful. Help us be aware of each blessing in our lives. Help us look on every day of the year as a blessing of your love and peace.

Spiritual Practice: Listening to Children Sit in your quiet place and center your heart and mind on God’s presence. Spend several minutes asking God to bring into your awareness the names and images of children in your life. You may see their faces or hear their voices as you receive these impressions. Listen deeply to the unique gifts and needs of the children who come to mind. Offer a prayer of blessing for each child and the needs you sense. If you feel led, you also may want to write a note or card and give a message of affirmation and love to each child.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will look right under my nose and find blessings too many to list.

Not Alone or Forgotten

Saturday, June 28

6-28By Sherri Kirkpatrick of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their refuge in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and rescues them…and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

—Psalm 37:39–40 NRSV

We met with the Kafwa health workers in Kasompe, Zambia. They took us on home visits to six clients. What a powerful experience! These incredibly courageous and upbeat people live in extreme poverty with few creature comforts.

To a person they thanked us profusely for visiting their little homes and beamed with pride that “visitors” had taken time to see them.

The Kafwa have an emergency fund provided by HealthEd Connect. It provides critically needed items for their clients. During the last six months, they spent about 90 Zambian dollars and accounted for every Kwacha (currency of Zambia) in a well-kept ledger. The ledger includes an account of the need with the items bought. It touched me that they had arranged transport to the hospital for a client who had no family.

Though the Kafwa workers essentially had done all they could and had placed her in the care of medical professionals, their care and compassion did not end. They took a few of their precious Kwacha from the emergency fund and spent it on bus transportation to the hospital to let their client know she was not alone and forgotten. She passed away while in care. However, she had Kafwa working for her until the end.

Prayer for Peace Comforting God, help us to be comforters, too. May those in need find refuge in us. May we bring hope to those who cry alone. May we share with them the peace of Christ.

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 stay by the side of a person in need, and not leave the person alone.

The Giving Tree

Saturday, June 14

Photo taken by Doreen Horsley

Photo taken by
Doreen Horsley

By Doreen Horsley of Independence, Missouri, USA

“…give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over… for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

—Luke 6:38 NRSV

We have a mature ash tree in our front yard. It gives great shade to our deck on the south side of our house in the evenings. That was, until 10 p.m. Friday, when we heard a loud noise like thunder. A heavy limb had broken and hit the roof and deck. There was not much to do in the dark but go back to bed for a restless sleep in preparation for cleaning up the next day.

I found the ash tree continued giving of itself in the most unexpected ways.

First we counted blessings. My husband, Jerry, and I had been sitting on the deck more than usual the day the limb fell because we were taking care of Charlie, a visiting dog. The limb fell when we were not on the deck.

The next morning, Jerry went out and bought the long-handled chainsaw he had been wanting. Too bad for Jerry! I enjoyed the exercise I got from hauling branches away, sweeping, and taking photos. Our neighbor and Jerry’s son, Jeremy, came to help. They all worked well together, figuring out the best way to cut the branches since the main branch was still precarious. No one was hurt, and no more damage was done to the house.

We now have firewood to give to Jerry’s mother (“Thank you, son”), and Jeremy took wood for his fire pit (“Thanks, Dad”). There was minor damage to the deck and gutters, but that was it. Six chairs, a table, and three flowers pots on the deck missed the limb’s crush. Only three flowers broke off. I put them in a glass on our kitchen table. Another gift! We expected much more damage.

So, never underestimate the effect of unexpected gifts. Be aware and grateful. As the adage says, “If you’re given a lemon, make lemonade.” As you give to your congregation and mission tithes, surprise someone (like your financial officer) and give more than expected.

Editor’s note: One Sunday, some youth made walking sticks for a journey. You guessed it: They were made from the limbs of the same fallen ash!

Prayer for Peace Loving God, the blessings we receive from you seem never-ending. Often they are unexpected and surprising. Help us find surprising ways for us to return your generosity. Help us find unexpected ways to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Generous Offerings Spend time meditating on the act of giving an offering. Begin by asking God for the spirit of generosity. Ask yourself, “What is my best understanding of A Disciple’s Generous Response? Do I feel I am giving to my true capacity? How will I respond?”

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will be aware and thankful for your generosity.

The Sentimental Value of Sharing

Tuesday, April 8 

4-8By Nanc Closson of Independence, Missouri, USA

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away…But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

—Matthew 25:14–15, 18

During the last several weeks my husband and I have been “letting go” by sorting, tossing, donating, and recycling items from every cranny in our house. We remembered, remarked on, and then removed anything we hadn’t used for a year or more. This entailed opening boxes, including a steamer trunk, that have made moves with us the last 30 plus years.

As a little girl, my mother encouraged me to start a “hope chest” for items I would need for my future marriage. So, I collected things a little girl growing up in the 1960s would like. There was a pink plastic napkin holder shaped like a windmill (everybody needs one of these!), head scarves, and small towels with large blue roses on them (love those blue roses). I had soap shaped like gingerbread men (or should I say gingerbread people?), and cotton pillow cases with lavender trim. I coveted and stored them in my mother’s steamer trunk.

When my husband and I opened the trunk, memories flooded me. Having not opened it in years saddened me. Of course the items were of no real value, other than sentimental. They had done little to raise my “hope” at the time I had collected them. You might say I found my husband despite this collection, rather than because of it.

I thought of the parable of the man whose master gave him money (a talent) that he buried instead of investing—putting it to good use and increasing it to share. I was sad that I had “buried” these items—never shared them with my family—not even my hoped-for husband.

God blesses us with so much, and wants us to share and celebrate our blessings. I realize this is the lesson my mother tried to teach me all along.

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, help us make a good accounting of our blessings and talents. You have taught us that by sharing, our blessings multiply. By sharing peace it comes closer to reality.

Spiritual Practice: Growing a Gracious, Generous Heart
Open your heart to God’s grace and generosity with a “breath prayer.” Let your breathing slow and deepen. Be aware of God’s breath moving in and out of your heart. With each intake of breath, silently name one gift for which you are thankful. With each breath out, name one gift you want to share from the overflow of your heart.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will use the good china from the cupboard. I will get it dirty, sharing with friends.

“Thank You” to Anonymous

Saturday, March 15

3-15By Denise Jensen of Independence, Missouri, USA

Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint. Break free of the shackles of conventional culture that mainly promote self-serving interests. Give generously according to your true capacity.

 —Doctrine and Covenants163:9

From the time they were 1 day old, I told my children they could become anything they wanted to become, to never let anything or anyone tell them differently. Everything is possible through Christ.

Like most, our family has had its share of challenges and joys! Living paycheck-to-paycheck was normal for us. Yet, from the time of my children’s births, I knew they would attend college and work toward their dreams.

When my daughter started college, we applied for every grant, scholarship, and student loan available. Shayla worked three part-time jobs on campus during her college years and worked full-time every summer.

In her freshman year she found a grant application for congregational matching funds. The university would match dollar-for-dollar contributions from members of the congregation. She turned in the application to the pastor. A few weeks later the pastor notified her that someone had made a donation but wanted to remain anonymous.

This support continued for several semesters. Although we will never know who gave the funds, we want to say thank you. You lightened our burden with your generosity. I want each member of my congregation to know their grace and generosity has touched our lives in many ways. In particular, I want to share how the care and generosity of just one person or couple changed our lives for the better.

I find such joy in giving and receiving! Our family is blessed by each person in our congregation. I pray all are blessed as they give, just as we are blessed to receive. We experience our congregation as a sacred place of grace and generosity.

Prayer for Peace
Universal, community, and personal God, thank you for the generosity you instill in your disciples. Thank you for the determination of the young to learn to show their appreciation. Thank you for those who share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Experience Congregations in Mission
Read and reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 164:9a–d. Reread the sentence, “If you truly would be Community of Christ, then embody and live the concerns and passion of Christ.” List the issues you feel mattered most to Christ. List issues that matter to your congregation. Reflect on the similarities and differences. How can you help align the lists? Throughout the day, as issues arise, ask yourself, “Would this matter to Christ?”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will give encouragement and affirmation to Develop Disciples to Serve.

Shrinking Print and Faded Ink

Wednesday, January 29

1-29By Karen Moreland of Independence, Missouri, USA

Listen to the Voice, for it cannot be stilled, and it calls you once again to the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom… 

—Doctrine and Covenants 162:1b

I once “was blind but now I see” is a wonderful phrase from a hymn by John Newton. It is rich in historical and religious meaning. For me it also has taken on a physical meaning. Vision is a blessing from God that I had not fully realized until I started to lose my sight. I complained to my husband about dim light bulbs and dingy paint—not realizing my vision slowly was fading.

I carried a magnifying glass, complaining about shrinking print and faded ink. After going to an optometrist, and glasses not being much help, I was persuaded by my husband to go to an ophthalmologist.

The doctor determined I had cataracts that needed to be removed. After another examination by a retina specialist, who agreed, I scheduled surgery. After the surgery, I could hardly wait to remove the eye shield and check my vision.

Everything was so bright, and colors were now vivid. The calico cat was beautiful. The neighbor’s house was bright white, and all the time I had thought it was beige. Successful surgeries on both eyes restored my vision to an almost-perfect condition, something I had not experienced since I was a child.

Now I praise and thank God daily for the gift of vision. God’s world is beautiful, full of color and bright sunlight. I have been blessed with precious vision to see and enjoy God’s wonderful creation.

Prayer for Peace
We can’t see you, God, but we do see your creation all around us. We know you are with us. Help us pause to enjoy it, pause to praise you, and pause to see more clearly Christ’s mission.

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 wholeness for all creation? Do we hear the “voice” of God calling to us in faces and eyes, in the sounds of suffering and joy, in scripture and sacred word, in tears and laughter, in silence and noise?

Spend a few moments reflecting on when and how God’s voice speaks to you. When did you first feel called to join God in the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom? How does that call come through the many “voices” of God?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, as I look at your beautiful world, I will listen for your voice.

Peace, Justice, Song: Peace Colloquy 2013

Wednesday, January 15

Young Adult Service at Peace Colloquy

Young Adult Service at Peace Colloquy

By Carla Crosser Harrington of Shenandoah, Iowa, USA

O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.

—Psalm 96:1–3

Music is a powerful medium for blessing hearts and souls. At the time I write this, I find myself excited to attend the 2013 Peace Colloquy for introducing Community of Christ Sings! When you read this, many blessings from the music in this hymnal will abound.

Through my ministry with youth and young adults, I have learned to keep an ear open for just the right song that will provide blessing and encouragement. God opens doors of blessing through music of many styles.

My husband and I help our mission center president, in co-directing a three-year training initiative for young adults. They learned skills to prepare them to be effective pastors and congregational leaders. Many World Church leaders shared their expertise and knowledge with the young adults. We have seen exciting growth among the participants. Besides training, we also provide spiritual practices and worship during the retreats. Music is often part of those nurturing activities.

This group of young adults is part of my being and soul. Our last training retreat is fast approaching. For several weeks, I have held this last session in my heart and thoughts. I ask God to open avenues of blessing for the young adults as they accept leadership positions in their congregations and in the mission center. God is weaving unique patterns of blessing. I see them as I consider what specific spiritual connections and worship experiences we need to incorporate in this final retreat. The Creator of Music continues to offer just the right songs to reinforce the blessings designed for these precious young adults as they consider their service to God and to the world.

Prayer for Peace
Master Composer, we await your direction. May we join with others in harmony to praise you and express our love for you. May your music inspire us to share your peace.

Spiritual Practices: Music for Meditation
Identify a form of music for meditation. If hearing music is not an option, choose a song you can sing or play on a musical instrument. Choose music that carries a soulful, spiritual, or healing quality for you. How does the music restore, nurture, heal, or move you to compassionate response?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will explore the texts of peace and justice in Community of Christ Sings, and find ways to respond to the inspiration shared by your creative hymn writers.

Noisy, But Nice Neighbors

11-20Wednesday, November 20

By Louita Clothier of Lamoni, Iowa, USA

…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’

—Mark 12:30–31

We remember well the “ice storm of the century” in Southern Iowa. It was soon after my husband, Dick, had major surgery, leaving his left hand and forearm in a thick, white bandage.

The weatherman’s forecast was for freezing rain, but we never expected anything like this.

Soon after midnight, a one-inch coating of ice began collecting on every twig, limb, and electric wire. We awoke in the night to sounds like rifle shots, as the limbs snapped. The fields became like frozen battlefields as limbs fell, echoing CRACK-BANG. Eventually a huge limb from our giant oak tree crashed onto our roof over an unused bedroom.

The light of dawn revealed the extent of the strangely beautiful destruction. Glistening limbs hung dangerously from grotesquely disfigured trees. Every foot of our yard became a sparkling fallen jungle.

We were helplessly wondering how we would deal with the frozen chaos with Dick’s unusable hand, when a friend knocked at the door. She asked how his surgery went, and if it would be OK if they worked on clearing our yard. “Would it be OK?!” we said with a rush of gratitude. We stepped outside and saw five strong men already beginning to cut fallen limbs with chainsaws and drag them to the curb. Soon, another friend and teenage son showed up to find out if the limb on the roof had done any damage. That was a dangerous task—with his son on the sloping ice-coated roof, the father carefully removing the trunk piece by piece with his chainsaw.

When the swarm of generous workers had finished, they had piled a wall of ice-covered debris along the entire front curb. Our property looked like a medieval fortress! Then they moved on to help another neighbor. Did you know—angels sometimes carry chainsaws?

Prayer for Peace
God of the storm and quiet snow, we thank you for neighbors to love and to help. We thank you for neighbors with whom we can 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 Covenant
Today, God, I will gather my tools and love my neighbor by offering help.

How Can I Keep from Singing?

Thursday, November 7

11-7By John Bonney of Springfield, Oregon, USA

Listen to its teachings and discover anew the principles. Do not yearn for times that are past, but recognize that you have been given a foundation of faithful service, even as you build a foundation for what is yet to be.

—Doctrine and Covenants 161:2b

I was a young music student and music was my life. This was how I could use my gifts and find fulfillment as well. I loved being able to perform and lead others in music. Although I played many instruments and conducted musical groups, singing was my primary joy. I felt a deep satisfaction in sharing my voice with others. I earned a doctorate in music education and vocal performance. Some of my most satisfying and deeply felt moments of singing came within the church. Music and singing were my identity.

When I left the field of professional music I still had my ability to sing! My voice came with me. With passing years my hearing suffered and it was difficult to hear some of the consonants. But I could still sing! Then chronic asthma slowly developed. Some medications reduced my voice to a bare, rasping whisper. New medications restored part of my voice. I no longer had much of a lower range, but I could still sing!

I was the speaker one Sunday morning when the theme was “Consecrate Your Blessings.” We sang a few hymns as I sat on the rostrum waiting to speak. In singing those hymns I began coughing and realized I no longer had the strength of voice that I had before. I no longer enjoyed singing as I once did. I realized it was over. The blessing that I wanted to “consecrate” was gone.

I realize now I can still serve and minister in other ways. I can still listen to music and to others singing. I can still wonder at the sky, the moon, the silhouette of a winter tree, and the sweet vulnerability of a child’s face. I still have my wonderful companion of 50 years and good friends and neighbors. I look forward to continuing adventures. So yes, I’m thankful to my God. I hope every day allows you to say “thank you for this day.” I offer my prayer of blessing on your behalf.

Prayer for Peace
Creator God, we are thankful for blessings that come and go in our lives. We consecrate them to you. May we use the gifts we have to share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Music for Meditation
Identify a form of music for meditation. If hearing music is not an option, choose a song you can sing or play on a musical instrument. Choose music that carries a soulful, spiritual, or healing quality for you. Sit quietly and soak in the melody and resonance. Allow healing waves of sound to pierce body, spirit, and emotions. What spiritual message comes? How are you being restored, nurtured, healed, or moved to compassionate response?

Peace Covenant
As long as I have stewardship of a gift, God, I will use it to share Christ’s peace.