God-size Job…We Need Not Apply

Wednesday, August 27

8-27By Deb Crowley, of Charlotte, Michigan

My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you. …Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge God, and he will make straight your paths.

—Proverbs 3:1–2, 5–6, NRSV adapted

God is God, and we are not. These words from a sermon resonate loudly for me. The job of administrator of close to a hundred congregations is daunting. On good days, there is excitement, camaraderie, and the Holy Spirit, giving insight, energy, and hope.

Other days, there is dealing with conflict, anger, heartbreak, and overwhelmingly heavy burdens. Do you ever have days like that?

A couple of months ago I had a hard day. Bickering members in a few congregations saddened me. Financial woes that go with every charitable organization depressed me. I cried to God in frustration because no easy answers could relieve the pain and suffering. “Why, God? What can I possibly do to make a difference? People are too stubborn. They’ll never get along, and it’s just too hard! I want to quit before the dark hole swallows me!”

At my lowest point, God spoke. Not in a verbal voice, but through a message in my mind that was clear and concise. “All you have to do is love them. I’ve got everything else under control!”

I could feel the weight fall from my shoulders as God reminded me that God is God, and I am not.

There is no way I can carry the weight alone. No way to solve the problems of the world. No way to stop the bickering over insignificant concerns that stem from fear or a sense of loss. It is a God-size job!

It is my job to administrate justly and ethically. It is my Christ-like joy to love unconditionally and pastor with tenderness and patience. It is also my job to trust God as directed in Proverbs. God is God, and we are not. Bring on the challenges! With God anything is possible, and there are plenty of good days for those who faithfully rely on the Lord!

Prayer for Peace God of wisdom, help us lay our burdens at your feet. Help us trust your love when life challenges us. We rely on you to help us share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Praying for Leadership of the Church An important spiritual practice for disciples is praying for members of the body of Christ, particularly those who carry leadership responsibilities. Ask God to guide your awareness of persons who lead the community of faith in congregations, mission centers, and the World Church. Pray for God’s outpouring of grace on each servant leader who comes to mind.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will be aware of your comforting presence when I face a challenge.

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God in the Everyday

Thursday, January 2

1-2By Janné Grover of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

—1 Corinthians 1:3

I find it hard to say “no.” Part of this comes from my need-to-please personality type, and part comes from my sincere joy in being helpful. Either way, I often get overloaded. I am not alone in this—I know many can relate all too well. Daily demands and responsibilities often crowd out the joy of serving, being open to God’s ever-present Spirit, and taking time to nurture our closeness with others.

Recently I felt consumed by daily tasks and responsibilities to the point that I had left little time for God. I know God did not move from me; rather I had allowed myself to move from God. Even as I sat in the Daily Prayer for Peace, I found it difficult to tune out the “noise” in my mind so I could be open to God’s Spirit.

My busy task orientation also began to affect how I engaged with my family and friends and how I made choices. One day I went to the Daily Prayer for Peace begrudgingly, expecting to obsess over my to-do list instead of being open to prayer and listening.

What I experienced was the opposite. When I needed God’s reassuring presence, the Spirit washed over me and filled me in ways that were unexpected. My mind was filled with reassurance, acceptance, comfort, and peace. I left the service renewed by the knowledge that God meets us as we are, even when we least expect it.

God desires this peace for each of us. We can find joy in the journey of service, even when responsibilities feel like burdens. When we allow God’s Spirit to refuel us, we become more aware of God’s love and compassion in the busy-ness of every new day and every new year.

Prayer for Peace
God of grace and peace, hear our prayer. We wait for our hearts to open to your ever-present and comforting Spirit. May our burdens become opportunities to serve. May the noise of our busy days become hymns of praise and peace.

Spiritual Practice: Daily Prayer for Peace
The Daily Prayer for Peace takes place year-round in the Temple in Independence, Missouri; the Kirtland Temple in Ohio; and weekly in many Community of Christ congregations throughout the world. Each day we pray for a specific country or group. Go to http://www.cofchrist.org/prayerpeace/2014_Calendar.asp to identify the group or country for today. Listen and ask God for images and insights about the people, environment, and needs of this country. Say or write a prayer of blessing and peace for this part of God’s world.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will leave my “to-do” list at the door when I enter my time of prayer.

Be Compassionate

Sunday, August 25

8-25By Becky Savage, First Presidency

…She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

—Luke13:11–13

A court judge ordered me to train the parents of one of our kidney patients. The court ruling took the baby into protective care shortly after delivery. The baby had multiple physical anomalies and the medical professionals believed the parents could not meet the baby’s needs.

The first time I met the parents the father swaggered in with the mother lagging behind. She was bent over nearly double with her eyes looking down at the floor. She did not rise, make eye contact, or speak. The father boasted he could take care of the child and would get the child’s social security money for his efforts. But he did not follow directions, acted bored, his breath smelled of alcohol, and he slurred his words. After two sessions he quit coming.

The mother continued to come alone and gradually her posture and behaviors changed. She learned to take a blood pressure and temperature, measure medications, apply a special body cast and splints, and to count sodium and protein in foods. By the end of the lessons, she learned to care for her child. In addition, her body was restored to a straight posture and this once mute woman found her voice. She also bravely left the father and found a safe place for her and her child to live.

Jesus compassionately called the woman bent double forward, touched her, and released her from physical deformity. God asks us also to see those burdened by life circumstances. We are to share the message of Christ’s peace and healing touch. Most importantly, our open eyes, healing hands, soothing words, and active feet can make a difference in people’s lives. Those bent double under burdens and oppression can stand upright when healed by our hands serving with healing touch.

Prayer for Peace
God of compassion, may we find those who suffer and share the message of Christ’s healing. May we find those who are voiceless and share Chris’s justice and peace.

Spiritual Practice: Tears of Compassion
Offer a silent prayer for the gift of God’s compassion. Cup your hands and ask God to make you aware of the suffering that causes the earth and its inhabitants to groan and weep. Be open to faces or places, sounds or voices; feelings of connection with those who suffer. Imagine catching the tears of those you see and holding them in your hands. Listen for prayer images or words God may give you. Discern any active responses of ministry or healing you are invited to complete for those who weep.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will listen closely for the nearly voiceless and respond with compassion.

I Forgot to Nap

Monday, July 15

7-15By Sara Parkin of Midlands, Michigan, USA

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

—Matthew 11:28–30

(Part 5 of My Journey with Alzheimer’s Disease)

Today, for me, Alzheimer’s clouds of weariness are forming where they are not wanted. One minute I feel great, and the next I am exhausted. I’m thankful it does not happen all the time.

I know there are times when I can’t understand why I don’t want to go places I usually like to go. It might be I worked too hard or did not take my nap. How can I forget to take my nap when I’m so tired?

I do know that I can make it better: I can pray for strength, for endurance or for freshness. I can dance with God as I sit in my chair, listening to music. This picks me right up! I can pick up a phone and call a sister who makes me laugh, or I can ask my husband for a hug. I prayed, wrote in my journal, ate healthy food, and walked around the block.

I also know Christ is with me whether I am down or up. When we think we are getting weary, bushed, jaded, or wiped out, we know we are not alone, and we have ways to stop the weariness. Thank You, God! I will rest in you.

Prayer for Peace
Burden-lifting God, may we be willing to let go and give our weariness over to you to carry when we’re not able. Help us be willing to be vulnerable to your grace. May we draw on your strength to help us share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Healing for Broken Spirits
Begin with quiet prayer. Ask God to help you discern some “sore places” in the body of Christ and in God’s creation. Become aware of people who feel separated, wounded, or left out. Reflect on or write a short journal entry of healing words to at least one person who comes to mind. Ask God for words that will touch this person’s broken spirit like healing ointment. Keep this person in your heart and prayers today and act on any ideas that come to bring blessing and wholeness. 

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will save my strength for that which matters most.

Lamenting Tears, Cleansing Tears

Tuesday, June 18

6-18By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, USA

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

—Psalm 69:1–3

O hard and rigid heart, why do you withhold yourself from those burdened with sorrow? Are you afraid to touch soiled hands and dusty feet? How much does a smile cost? Withholding smiles costs more.

Repent your stubborn ways. Feel the comforting warmth of bodies near you. Remember those far away—those whom only a prayer can reach. O hard and rigid heart, beware, lest your own tears mingle with the forgotten.

Despair mingles with hope as tears fall upon the ground. Tears recall moments of tenderness and regret. The unchecked flood sweeps away my pride and harsh thought. My head, now bowed low, is no longer cast about in haughty nods.

When my tears stop flowing I can see more clearly, for they have washed clean the windows of my soul.

Prayer for Peace
Creator God, your living water blesses us. It does not overcome us with deep, turbulent floods. We have not had to wait as long for you as those who suffer. Is it we, God, who have caused suffering by our apathy and greed? Prompt us to swift action so Christ’s justice and peace will not delay.

Spiritual Practice: Flowing Water
If possible, sit where you can hear the sound of water—a fountain, stream, the sea, (perhaps a recording of water sounds). Listen to the sound as you thank God for the life-giving, life-shaping power of water. Pray for God’s blessing on all the parched places of the Earth where there is injustice, oppression, violence, and disregard for life. Pray for God’s justice to be released and imagine it flowing over the Earth, restoring righteousness and wholeness. Now, get up and drink a glass of clear, cold water as you pray, “God, let your justice flow through me as a disciple of the Lord Jesus.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will respond immediately to tears. I will not make the suffering wait.

Surrender to Love: Transformation Journey (Part 2)

Friday, April 12

4-12By Nancy Hylton of Seattle, Washington, USA

I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

—Psalm 121:1–2

As I walked quietly toward the main campground, I heard the forest awakening around me. A family of bald eagles was out for a morning ride on thermal streams above the camp. At first they were close enough that I could see their powerful wings, holding weight against the air—I could see them lift with subtle but powerful precision.

Higher and higher they circled into the clouds, until they disappeared Yet, I knew those eagle eyes could easily see me! Another gift—gifts upon gifts. My heart overflowed like the psalmist’s.

I was there for a women’s retreat, which was coming to a close. It was time for the final meal. A good friend walked up to me and directed my attention toward the woman whose burdens I carried on my heart. “You need to talk with her,” she said gently. “I know…thank you,” I replied, praying, “Lord, I know you have this handled, just show me what to do.”

I smiled and asked permission to sit down across from my burdened friend. Neither of us ate much, but our presence continued with little awareness of what was happening around us. I was prompted to tell her how troubled I was about her sense that she could not ask for or expect forgiveness from God.

Finally, almost in desperation, I knew the transformation experience on the beach that morning was meant to be shared with her. I told her what happened; that I felt as if in an ocean of love with every fiber of my being! I told her, “A God that loves like that, does not condemn anyone who turns to and seeks the Divine with a broken heart.”

We embraced as the retreat closed. I hoped I could help open a small pathway toward healing. I hoped I was an instrument of God’s love and acceptance. For my part, the experience on the beach that morning changed my life forever. I continue to feel God’s infinite love washing over me. I know my Redeemer lives, and I am called to struggle with others who seek his love.

Prayer for Peace
God who permeates the world with love, grow love in us that we might share. Grow healing and peace in us that we may change lives.

Spiritual Practice: Chalice Prayer
The chalice prayer is a form of intercession. Create a cup or chalice with your hands in front of your heart. Open your heart to God’s concern for the human family as you hold them in your chalice. See beauty and suffering as you lift the chalice and release hurting persons (open hands) to be blessed and healed by God.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will wash in your ocean of healing love.

Casting Off

By Lu Mountenay of Independence, 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

While knitting last week, I completed the garment, and it was time to cast off. I sometimes get frustrated while trying to get the last row of yarn off the needle without dropping a stitch. That would leave a hole. Knitters know what I mean. What I’m trying to say is that it is so much easier to cast on than to cast off.

In my life, it’s the same. It is so easy to cast on, or accumulate things. We tie ourselves down and become burdened with stuff. Sometimes the worst stuff—grudges and hurts. These can add up if we’re not careful. When we finally decide to downsize and cast off these burdens, we find it’s not as easy as it was to cast them on.

This is when we can turn to the enduring principles. We need to make Responsible Choices and discern what is important—our relationships, our faith, our prayer life, our outreach and witness. Then we must choose what needs to go—ill will, resentment, bitterness. Then through Grace and Generosity we can forgive and ask for forgiveness. The needle begins to bare itself of the scratchy wool!

We Pursue Peace (Shalom) in our new state of freedom from chips that lay heavily on our shoulders. Our next garment will be softened with prayer and love. We encounter the faithfulness of the Lord, which endures forever.

Prayer for Peace:

Divine Garmentmaker, help us be diligent against harboring resentment and complaint. Make us crafters of peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Connecting with God as Center

Each day this week connect with God through journal writing. Use a notebook, journal, computer, or any available paper. Prayerfully center on your intent to open yourself to God’s presence and share what flows from your heart and mind.

Your “letter to God” might include thoughts, questions, feelings, needs, artwork, quotes, and scriptures, or it might take the form of a prayer, psalm, or poem. Try to write at least five minutes each day.

What do you experience? Is this an effective way to connect with God? What surprises you? What new images or questions from God emerge? What deepens or changes in your relationship with God, Christ, Spirit?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will not let bitterness crawl into my life. I will cast on your mantle of faithfulness.